A New Era

Welcome. This is intended to be a news and information site, with lots of stops in between. Feel free to barge right in and join – or begin – any conversation. I only ask that you observe the generally practiced niceties which we sometimes call “netiquette.”

 

  • Don’t swear at one another
  • Don’t take the Lord’s Name in vain

    At Prague Cafe, Kunming China

  • Don’t make personal attacks
  • Verify when possible.
  • Enjoy

You Can’t Handle the Truth


In the past few weeks I have brought up, in various venues, the question, “What is Truth?” With no set schedule, I would like to take a look at that question.


Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). This is a very good question these days, when everything is viewed as “relative”; law is built on sociology, not truth. Competing religions and belief systems call out to us like hawkers at a carnival: “Hey, you, look over here. I’ve got the best truth.” Others tell us that everybody has the truth – until somebody steps up and says they’re a Christian. Then we get a sort of “selective relativism.”

How can we know what’s true? How can we sort out the charlatans from the purveyors of truth? Related questions include: “What does it matter what’s true? Do we really need to know?”

If Christianity is true, then sin has invaded the world and men need salvation from the consequences of that sinfulness. If I cannot know that this is true, I will be lost – and suffer whatever those consequences are. If there is no God, as many modern teachers claim, then it really doesn’t matter what’s true. Is it worth the risk not to make an attempt to discover what’s true.

The correspondence view of truth, held by the vast majority of philosophers and theologians throughout history until recently, holds that any statement is true if and only if it corresponds to or agrees with factual reality. If I tell you that a hymnal is red I have made a statement which corresponds to reality or it doesn’t.
Another principle of logic, the principle of contradiction states that “A cannot be non-A in the same way and in the same respect.” The hymnal is either red or it is not red.


The theological statement, “Jesus is Lord of the universe,” is either true or false. Its truth or falsity does not depend upon the sincerity or the loudness or the brilliance of the person making the statement. It also does not depend upon the birth culture of the person making the statement. The statement either corresponds to reality or it doesn’t. If I claim that a ladder is sound, and firmly believe that it is, that does not make the ladder sound. It only means that I believe it is. If I’m wrong I could be endangering myself and anybody else who climbs the ladder.


What we’re embarking on, over the course of the next few weeks, (or, perhaps , months) is a study of something called worldview. It has become a popular term in the recent past, but it is a concept as old as mankind.

How we view the truth really matters. Think about abortion, marriage, ethics, euthanasia. How we view truth will color how we deal with such topics.

Christians today, especially in the US are often held captive by the so-called intellectual elites. These are the same people who agreed with the editorial in the Washington Post a few years back which referred to conservative Christians as “poor, uneducated, and easily led.” We’re cowed by them. We allow them to back us into a corner so that we check our intellect at the church door, effectively creating a dichotomy between our “sacred beliefs” and our secular beliefs.

A is not non-A. Either God is who He claims to be in the Bible, or He is not. We cannot have it both ways. If we believe that God is the Creator of the Universe, we have to believe it on Monday as well as on Sunday. More importantly, we have to act as though we believe it – every day.

This is the point of this excellent book by Nancy Pearcey. Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from its Cultural Captivity (Crossway Books, 2004).

Her purpose, Pearcey writes, is to help Christians “recover a place at the table of debate.” In order to do this, she explains, “Christians must find a way to overcome the dichotomy between public and private, fact and value, secular and sacred. We need to liberate the gospel from its cultural captivity, restoring it to the status of public truth” In other words, Christians need to stop checking their minds at the door to the office, the school, the shop, the gym. We need to have a full intellectual understanding of our faith and an ability to apply biblical principles in all areas of our lives.

Pearcey urges that Christians develop a full-orbed approach to their world. She addresses both the political activist Christians and those who would shrink from society and create evangelical ghettoes. Neither approach, she writes, has produced any lasting effect on our culture.

I will continue this discussion in the coming weeks.

I’d like to know your thoughts, now and along the way. Join me in the discussion.


Not My First Pandemic

A recent story in USA Today opened with the following,

For many Americans, the novel coronavirus pandemic has generated illness-related fears that have little precedent in our lifetimes.

But 60 million Americans over the age of 70 have seen this horror show before: the polio scourge that ravaged the world’s young from roughly 1916 until Jonas Salk’s vaccination arrived in 1955.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/03/21/coronavirus-quarantine-haunts-polio-epidemic-survivors/2868771001/

Epidemics and pandemics are nothing new. The first recorded pandemic occurred prior to the birth of Jesus Christ. What’s the difference between an epidemic and pandemic, you may ask.  The answer is reach. If the disease is localized it is referred to as an epidemic. If a medical catastrophe crosses multiple borders it may be designated a pandemic.  The Greek prefix pan…means all.

The deadliest pandemic in history is the flu outbreak of 1918. Not only did it kill millions worldwide, but much like today, people around the globe were “social distancing” and wearing masks, although they were more pleased with the mask situation than many today (https://www.history.com/news/1918-spanish-flu-mask-wearing-resistance).

Fast forward to the 1950s and ‘60s.Americans were recovering from WWII. They were sure that the world was now in good shape.  Then polio hit. The disease had been around for decades, but brought its full force in the 1950s. In 1952 alone more than 50,000 children were infected. Also known as “Infantile Paralysis,” children were the hardest hit demographic. 

Polio struck fear in the hearts of people worldwide. Having lived through this, I can affirm that the fear was palpable. Businesses and recreation areas were closed to the public. For me the greatest loss was the public swimming pool. A city kid whose family did not own a vehicle, this was a meeting place as well as our “swimming hole.” Schools were closed. Some churches closed, others were open but did not allow children to attend. No internet services were available. Kids couldn’t go to summer camps. As today, quarantines and lock-downs were part of life.

Parents worried that, having survived a world war, their family might not live through this viral plague. They had reason to be worried. The numbers of the afflicted rose, leaving many children paralyzed – or dead. We talked about it at school (I don’t recall my school being shut down) and gossiped about those we knew were affected. Fear stalked us. People we knew were being confined to iron lungs, steel cylinders in which the patient would be placed to help overcome paralysis of the respiratory system. They were that generation’s respirators. None of us wanted to end up in the lung.

In the late 1950s, help arrived in the form of a new vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. All over the US inoculation stations were set up in schools hospitals and commercial spaces. I remember waiting in a long line, extending down Weybosset Street in Providence, for my polio shot being administered at the Outlet Company, the largest retail store in Rhode Island (now gone).

I graduated from high school in 1962. The fear was still there. Many young men who were enlisting in the armed forces worried that they might not pass the physical. Later that year, on a flight home to Providence, I actually ran into a guy who had been a year ahead of me at Central High School. I didn’t know Skip well and was surprised to see him.  He had been a polio victim. He had been in an iron lung for a while and I think he still had to spend some time in one. He was weakened. He was never going to regain his former health. But he was a drummer in a band and was able to travel and play.

It was not an easy period in our history. Panic, fear, resistance to imposed authority were all part of life – as is also the case today. We, as a nation, got through it. If God wills, we will also get through this one. But we will be damaged. 

NOTE: The History Channel has a number of episodes on epidemics and pandemics.

Of the making of many books…

While completing an online application recently I came across the following question, “What is our favorite book? Why?

Naturally I assumed they were not interested in hearing that it’s the Bible. I can even come up with the “why” for that one.

We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the Church to an high and reverent esteem of the Holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the whole (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it does abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our heart.[i]

It wasn’t that easy, however. There ae so many favorite books. They didn’t even specify a genre. And I enjoy books from a number of different categories. I didn’t even know how deep my reading diversity ran until I was sitting in the living room of friends in Vilnius, Lithuania and, having run out of reading material, picked up a slim volume from their bookshelves. Not exactly my kind of book, I thought, but started reading and was quickly hooked. The book was At Home in Mitford, by Jan Karon.[ii] I have since read the entire series.

Not only do I read widely, but I read regularly. My grandson James asked me recently ”If you had to give up one, which would it be, coffee  or books?” Did I mention that he’s mean? I’m a coffee snob, but chose to give it up and continue reading. Fortunately, the exercise was hypothetical.

It took me some time, but I finally settled upon a title as my provisional favorite, knowing that were many others which could just as easily fit the description. I hope the readers enjoyed my answer. I wonder if they realized what a challenge they had presented me. I also wonder what they would have selected.

I this time time of quarantine for some, I wonder what book you, my readers, might have chosen, and why. Feel free to give more than one response.

ENJOY.

[i] Westminster Confession of Faith I,5.

[ii] First in a series of whimsical mysteries involving an unassuming Episcopal priest.

Think on These Things

I’m old. I’m also in that now fashionable category called immuno-compromised. These facts determine to a large extent my reactions to Covid-19.

Throughout my adult life, I have been involved in research and analysis. As a journalist and as a pastor, these were important skills. In today’s environment, with regard to coming to an understanding of what’s true and what’s propaganda, these skills are, for the most part, useless.

I have no problem admitting that I am not a scientist (neither is Bill Nye, by the way). But, who are these experts popping up all over the place to explain to us what our situation is? And why do they all contradict one another? Are these people seeing the same data?

Some tell us we need masks. Others say they’re actually harmful. It’s no more harmful than seasonal flu. Oh, but it may wipe out a large portion of the earth’s population. It’s Trump’s fault. Actually a lot of these experts and politicians seem to agree with that one.

Last week I asked the same question as Pontius Pilate: “What is Truth?” It seems that most of these experts wouldn’t recognize it if they tripped over it. The Bible has a lot to say about Truth. I’ll mention only one verse: Philippians 4:8.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Obviously, I have been thinking about these things. I’m still not clear on what’s fact and what’s fiction. OK, I’ll mention another verse. Joshua 1:9, 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
That’s the Truth that can sustain me.

If all these experts are looking at the same, or at least similar, data, why the confusion? How many people have died? Did they all die FROM Covid-19?
I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but this could convert me. It’s easy to see Orwellian double-speak here.

Now the nation is divided over the proper response. Crowds are showing up at State Houses and beaches to protest the closures. Some of these folk are armed. Today many states are allowing businesses to reopen. In others they are extending the “stay-at-home” orders. Where do they get the right to do this?

Sooner or later, I expect, this will end. What then? A lot of folks will rush to their favorite restaurant to dine and mingle. That’s assuming their eating establishment didn’t go out of business. The last one I ate at actually closed permanently last week.

I don’t know what to believe (regarding the pandemic. I know what to believe about God). Early on, before the quarantine orders started spewing from the microphones at City Halls and State Houses, I decided that for me it would be best if I stayed at home. In my situation I think that’s the right thing for me to do. That does not mean that it’s right for you. When the economy tries to restart, I will not be joining the happy throngs rushing to get back to whatever counts as normal. I’m old. I’m also in that now-fashionable category called immuno-compromised.


“We gave it all away”

In a novel published in 2012, Oliver North wrote the following conversation between a wife and her retired Marine Corps husband.

“Oh dear, dear Peter, how did we come to this point in this country?”

His response, in part, reads this way:

We gave it all away. In exchange for the promise of comfort and security, ‘We the People’ surrendered our freedoms to the government – and the ‘international community,” whatever that is. Our liberty has been ebbing away for decades and we just let it go. When the economy fell apart, we turned to elites in Washington for handouts and bailouts and did nothing when they took over our banks, industries, hospitals, doctors, even the press [NOTE from Curt: This sounds a lot like what Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want for America]. Our government surrendered our right to keep and bear arms to the UN, but did nothing to stop the Iranians and a half dozen others from building nuclear weapons. We legalized the use of illicit drugs, opened our borders to armed enemies, and offered amnesty to millions who came here illegally – because they would vote the right way. (Heroes Proved, p. 234).

Set in the year 2032, this “novel” seems all too “non-fictional,” here in the year 2018.

What do YOU think?

Commies in Government

We’ve been reading and hearing a lot recently about FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) and DOJ (Department of Justice)and State Department leaders and employees who seem, at the very least, to have no love for America. Let me state that this is nothing new. Nor is there anything revelatory in recognizing that Ivy League grads tend to be leftists. In a review article I wrote a decade ago I highlighted this tendency in U.S. government bureaus as shown by M. Stanton Evans, in his book Blacklisted by History. For those of you struggling to understand “cold war” history, it might be worth your while to find a copy of this book and give it a read. The entire review article can be found below. Please give special attention to the paragraphs in colored ink.

Blacklisted by History Jeopardizes Standard Liberal Storyline Wild-Eyed Myth Encounters the Real Joe McCarthy

Published in the Pearcey Report- http://www.pearceyreport.com/archives/2008/01/wildeyed_myth_e.php

By Curt Lovelace

At Friendship Street School in the early 1950s, we were taught that hiding under our school desks would save us from nuclear attack –- which, in the lingua franca of the day, the Satan-loving Commies in the Kremlin were poised to rain down upon us at any moment. These exercises were the famous “duck and cover” drills.   Yet, while we feared Communist-initiated death from the skies, as a nation we tolerated -– even fostered -– Soviet activity within our own government.

While trying to find a place to hide from nuclear destruction, we somehow felt safe

enough to vilify Joseph McCarthy, a U.S. senator from America’s heartland who tried to root out the Reds from service in our federal apparatus. So successful were efforts against the senator that the term McCarthyism has become synonymous with wild-eyed fanaticism.

I recall the tales of Joe McCarthy and the anxiety of the 1950s. At the very onset of the Cold War, Americans were told whom we ought to fear, and it wasn’t so much the Communists, though they were bad enough. Why, it was McCarthy and his “ism” that brought terror to men’s hearts.   But was this any way to treat a former ally of WWII? If so, why? Why the about-face to the Soviet Union? This is one of the questions M. Stanton Evans tries to answer in his recently released Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies.

According to Evans, the real Joe McCarthy has been lost, “vanished into the mists of fable and recycled error.” This new 600-plus-page book is an attempt to separate fact from myth, and in the process, Evans shows McCarthy to be, yes, human (his foibles are not overlooked), a whistleblower, and (gulp!) a patriot.

Coulter Factor

The recovery of the historical McCarthy as a genuine patriot is just one of many reasons liberal academics and “objective” modern journalists might hate this book. Then, of course, there’s the fact that Ann Coulter liked it. Coulter has written positively, in fact, glowingly, about McCarthy in her own book, Treason: Liberal Treachery From the Cold War to the War on Terrorism. She has also penned an essay titled “Joe McCarthy invented the Internet.”

In her review of Blacklisted, Coulter writes, “The true story of Joe McCarthy, told in meticulous, irrefutable detail . . . is that from 1938 to 1946, the Democratic Party acquiesced in a monstrous conspiracy being run through the State Department, the military establishment, and even the White House to advance the Soviet cause within the U.S. government.”   Not quite done, she in her typically understated manner says Blacklisted “proves that every conventional belief about McCarthy is wrong.” For example:

  •  “That he lied about his war service: He was a tailgunner in World War II”
  •  “That he was a drunk: He would generally nurse a single drink all night”
  •  “That he made the whole thing up: He produced loads of Soviet spies in government jobs”
  •  “That he just did it for political gain: He understood perfectly the godless evil of communism”

What can we say? When Ann’s right, she’s right. Based on years of research, Evans has indeed produced the goods. He shows from transcripts of memos, interviews, and testimony that McCarthy had it right.

Evans includes facsimiles of numerous documents that name names and prove connections.   Evans links names of Communists and fellow-travelers to the agencies of the federal government in which they worked as well as to the Soviet or Communist organizations to which they belonged. These federal agencies include the FBI, headed by radical anti-Communist J. Edgar Hoover. The Bureau was excoriated in the 1940s and 1950s for a lack of knowledge regarding the Communist Party and its various front organizations. The FBI was accused of both withholding facts from President Harry Truman and of allowing Reds to run riot in the federal bureaucracy. But according to Evans, the “FBI was neither fooled by nor indifferent to Soviet penetration efforts in the 1940s. Nor was it unaware that the Communist Party USA was a creature of the Soviet Union, up to its ears in spying, pro-Moscow influence schemes, and other species of subversion” (p. 136).  

Evans devotes an entire chapter (11) to Hoover and Truman, quoting from numerous internal FBI memos that prove not only that Hoover knew about the Communist threat, but also that he informed the President and administration. The chapter concludes with a copy of the “FBI Master Chart” from Hoover’s files. The chart offers an overview of memos, and other information, that were disseminated to the White House, the Office of the Attorney General, and federal agencies that employed suspected or known Communists.

Khrushchev 1956, Reason to Be Cocky

According to an AP report released late in 2007, Hoover had planned to arrest 12,000 Americans whom the FBI had evidence demonstrating disloyalty to their country. Evans contends that many in positions of authority knew how great was the infiltration of our government by those who would destroy it. Evidently, when in 1956 Nikita Khrushchev asserted, “We will bury you,” he had reason to be cocky. He knew what Hoover and McCarthy and Rep. Martin Dies before him all knew: The U.S. government was deeply compromised.   Dies, a conservative Democrat from Texas, was the “first and longest-serving chairman of what would become the House Committee on Un-American Activities” (p. 49). McCarthy, by the way, was never a member of this House committee, though his name is inextricably linked to it. He was a Senator, not a member of the House of Representatives.

According to common folklore, McCarthy “was spreading hysteria about an ersatz internal Communist threat and smearing innocent people as subversives, without a shred of evidence to go on” (p. 15). That story was and is knowably false, as Evans has so well demonstrated.   But one wonders why today that convenient mythology is held onto so fervently by liberal types who applaud propagandists Al Gore and Michael Moore for their respective Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award. Perhaps today’s Left seeks refuge in victimhood, feeling an affinity with those poor, afflicted anti-American souls upon whom Joe McCarthy unleashed what is now recast as a torrent of “hate” and “vitriol.”

Perhaps, modern Leftists hope to forestall scrutiny of their work lest their anti-Americanism is exposed to the common people and their time in the sun be all too brief. Leftist elitism runs rampant in our media, our universities, even in our pulpits today. As during the Cold War, one wonders about the loyalty and even the intelligence of those who offer aid and comfort to the enemies of our nation.

For example, what makes today’s liberal think that, if radical revolutionaries –- whether domestic born or foreign controlled — should scuttle the American experiment, that liberals themselves won’t be first in line for membership in the vast left-wing gulag or next on the executioner’s schedule?   Evans provides something of an answer to this question. He points out that the Communists who were exposed in Britain and the United States tended to be of the “upper crust.” McCarthy’s targets, Evans writes, “often as not, were Ivy League respectable types in the mold of Hiss or Duggan” (p. 64). Alger Hiss, of course, is one of the most well-known names in American treachery. Evans describes him as “a well-bred, respectable type with all the right credentials.” Hiss was “one of a numerous, often upscale, band of brothers. William Remington, Donald Wheeler, Henry Collins, Duncan Lee, Laurence Duggan, Robert Miller, and others involved in Red machinations in the United States had been to the best schools, spoke in cultured accents, and had upper-crust connections” (p. 62).  

Respectable Haters Of Republic of Freedom Flash-forward to the present and we see that today’s Leftist tends to be from Harvard or Yale and has, if not buckets of money, at least access to lots of cash. Much as with the European aristocracy of old, nationality means little to this modern nobility. Patriotism is something to be scoffed at, ridiculed, and perhaps outlawed. “Wrapping oneself in the flag” is a negative, outmoded manifestation of peasantry.

The global gentry has the ability to see beyond that kind of primitivism to a time and place in which the ever-growing “compassionate” state (manned, not jailed, by that very same nobility) orders our existence. After all, they are smarter than we the people. Isn’t that why the “smartest woman in the world” wants to be President?   The political affiliation of these respectable haters of the republic of freedom has changed little. Nor has their Marxian ability to change viewpoints to suit their need been affected by time. Evans points this up brilliantly when noting how Executive Privilege was then used to keep some federal employees from testifying before Congress regarding what they knew and when they knew it.

As a member of the House, and later as Vice President, Richard Nixon would be party to those discussions, which more often than not upheld the right of Executive Privilege. He, however, would be extended no such privilege during his own time of crisis. “If Nixon had such expectations,” Evans writes regarding the Watergate investigation, “he was in for a rude surprise. It turned out that what had been a sacred constitutional precept when invoked by Ike against Joe McCarthy wasn’t so sacred when invoked by Nixon against Sam Ervin. (p. 580).

Although some may find that this admirable book could be more readable in parts, no student of history should shy away from this wonderful resource. It is well worth mining for nuggets and even whole veins of truth.

In Blacklisted by History, Evans wrote a truly timely book. He sets out to verify what McCarthy tried to tell the nation: that we were being overrun from within. Evans has made his case. Then, as now, there was more to concern America and her freedoms than bombs falling out of the sky.

MY READERS, please note: this article – and the book about which it was written, appeared a decade ago.  The morass in which we find ourselves is no new thing. And it’s our own fault. We keep electing the American jihadis who hate the American way as they hide behind their own walls in their gated communities.

I really want your feedback Americans.

Curt Lovelace holds degrees in political science and history, and pastored several churches. His writings have appeared in Human Events, World, Chalcedon Report, and elsewhere.

Cheapening of the Worship Experience

I must be getting old. There are many who will tell you that it’s too late. I’m already there. This aging process has led me to go back and read some of my old writings. I don’t want to go back too far. That would prove embarrassing. But, as I read some of the things I’ve written in the last decade or so, I find that, for the most part, I agree with myself.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to serve as a mentor to two theological students. In the course of setting up this arrangement, I went through an application process. Besides credentials, I was asked to provide samples of my writing and to answer some theological questions. Below I will share (a slightly revised version) of one of my answers. The question was, “What do you think is the top theological issue facing churches today?” My response:

There are a number of issues which confront the churches today. I will focus on challenges within the Reformed churches. A friend (and pastor)  cites “easy believism” and lack of ecclesiology. Several of the reformed denominations are taking up the issue of racism in the church. I would add to the list creeping dispensationalism, loss of the Regulative Principle of Worship, and the advance of Federal Vision thinking.

An issue which has far-reaching implications is the decline of Biblical corporate worship. Having lived and travelled in many parts of the world, I have witnessed and been part of worship services of many kinds. The church has redefined “worship” to mean that period of singing and entertaining which comes before – and takes precedent over – any mention of God’s Word. I was once in a devotional session at a missionary conference, which was led by the newly commissioned leader of the organization. He said to us, “Well, we’re going to have a time of worship, then I’ll say a few things from the Bible.”

Worship as entertainment has been justified by the thought that we need to get people in the pews (or chairs) so that they will hear the Gospel. This is viewed as “seeker friendly.” The problem here is twofold. First, we use the world’s music, with little to no theological content to draw people in. The second problem is that precious little of the Gospel is presented in many of these seeker friendly congregations.

We need to understand that corporate worship is not intended to be evangelistic. Corporate worship is a family affair.  Worship is for worshippers – those who, in spirit and in truth, worship our Holy God. The writer to the Hebrews states “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” To whom is this addressed? The writer refers to his readers as “holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession” (Heb. 3:1). Certainly this does not mean that non-believers should not be invited to our worship services. The Gospel should be proclaimed in our corporate worship gatherings. The focus, however should be on the Savior and King, not on those assembled.

I am not against modern hymns or instruments other than piano and organ. I am against cheapening of the worship experience. I am not in accord with the modern trend of lessening the roles of prayer, scripture reading, and preaching the whole counsel of God.

The changing meaning of worship is one of the top theological issues in the churches today. From it arise all sorts of improper understandings of the Gospel and theology.