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While the Year 2020 has been and continues to be an annus horrilibus, a “horrible year,” Christians should be ready to give an answer of their hope.

We are living in chaotic times. Layered crises, one on the other, 

  • the pandemic, 
  • government-initiated economic lockdowns,
  • social unrest. 

America’s ideals:  life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, the historic Judeo-Christian values that formed the basis of American morality, law, education, and economic opportunity – all are under attack.

It brings to mind for me the first time, as a university sophomore, I spoke in a church.

My text was 1 Peter 3:15:

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

We live in times when people need to hear the reason for our hope. 

So you and I need to be prepared to give an answer – with gentleness and respect.

This means we must understand the issues, the questions, and we must confidently apply our Christian worldview in answering.

God is not disconcerted by breaking news. Neither should we be. 

We have reason for hope.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

The fear, even panic in response to the coronavirus pandemic that we’ve seen in the United States is unprecedented, not the virus itself

Young people in general, a lower risk group for contracting the virus, say they fear dying of COVID-19.

I cannot prove this, but I believe this fear is rooted in a lack of understanding of God and certainly biblical theology.  

In a country where 80% of the population say they believe in God, it’s another question entirely who that God is and what they believe about his person, character, and purposes. Christians say they believe in God’s love, omniscience, and omnipotence, but they, too, have been susceptible the fear of the pandemic. 

But Christians’ understanding and application of a Christian philosophy of life has declined precipitously. Just 6% of people claiming to be Christians actually demonstrate they hold a biblical worldview, and in the general public this biblical worldview has declined by 50% in the past twenty-five years. According to Barna Group, “A mere 2% of those 18 to 29 years old possess a biblical worldview.”

People are understandably afraid, and I do not knock them for this. But if their understanding of the character of God is a bit less than skin deep, they have nothing to fall back on for perspective, solace, and peace, nothing but screen time and celebrities. No wonder people are afraid. 

Fear is a part of human life and Christianity is nothing if it cannot help us deal with our fears. This is where faith comes in.

“Faith does not know why, but it trusts God who know why. We do not trust God because he guides us; we trust God and then are guided, which means that we can trust God even when we do not seem to be guided. Faith may be in the dark about guidance, but it is never in the dark about God. What God is doing may be a mystery, but who God is is not.” 

“We do not know why, but we know why we trust God who knows why.” Os Guinness, God in the Dark.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal,” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

“Dear Lord, Although I am sure of my position, I am unable to sustain it without Thee. Help Thou me, or I am lost,” Martin Luther.

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

I began reading Francis A. Schaeffer while I was in college in 1972. 

In the next few years after graduating and as a young teacher I eventually read all of his books—The God Who Is There, He Is There and He Is Not SilentEscape from Reason, How Shall We Then Live?, Whatever Happened to the Human Race?, A Christian Manifesto, including finally his last book, The Great Evangelical Disaster, which came out in 1984.  

I remember reading how he and the family rushed to finish this book, working in his hospital room at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, trying to get it ready for publication before what he knew was his imminent death from cancer. Thankfully, they made it. Dr. Schaeffer died May 15, 1984.

By the way, Schaeffer never published a book until he was 56 years old. Then in the next 16 years he published twenty-two books plus films that influenced the entire Christian community worldwide. He had learned the issues. He had learned how to address them in language people could understand. He was a philosopher/theologian and a master communicator.  

Schaeffer always used the term “historic orthodox Christianity” to identify his approach and doctrinal niche within Christendom, until that last book. Here he openly worried about what was happening and would happen to Fundamentalists and Evangelicals, particularly if they succumbed to what he believed the rest of culture had embraced, in his phrase, “personal peace and affluence.” Schaeffer pointed out that people would do about anything, give up almost any liberty and responsibility, even change their worldview if they could just be guaranteed “personal peace and affluence.” It was and is the blessing and pitfall of Western Civilization.

No Christian author has influenced my thinking more than Francis A. Schaeffer. I appreciated not only his ability to convey a Christian worldview but also the positive terms in which he did it. Unlike Schaeffer's contemporaries, notable Christian culture writers Rousas J. Rushdoony or Gary North, Schaeffer rarely used harsh terms to describe those with whom he disagreed. Would that we could have more of that again today.  

But beyond this, Schaeffer helped me to form my Christian worldview, to plumb the depths of my questions, to tackle anything question, really—another thing I appreciated about him: he had utter confidence in his Christian faith, so much so he was not afraid of any subject or issue. He was not afraid somehow, someway he’d find out his faith was a sham. No, he’d worked that out long before and talked about it in True Spirituality. Having grown up in a fine Christian home, yet one where some things weren’t talked about, and having struggled with doubt of my own, I could relate. 

In this article, the author reveals Schaeffer is clearly still prescient and relevant. I can find encouragement and edification yet today when I re-read his work.

I thank Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer, who I was privileged to hear in person just one time not long before he passed, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.

May I be as faithful to my Christian faith and as careful in my worldview formation and applications in my day as Dr. Schaeffer was in his day. 

 

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2020    

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact me or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com/, or connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/rexmrogers.    

Solomon. Just the name catches your attention. The man lived, and he lived as king during Ancient Israel's Golden Age.

Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. During his life he spoke more than 3,000 proverbs, left us with portions of Scripture, and undoubtedly spoke and did a lot more than has been recorded for us. But what we have is significant.

Solomon wondered aloud about the meaning of life, because his general observations led him to cry, "Meaningless, meaningless. Utterly meaningless. Everything is meaningless" (Ecc. 1:2). Now had he stopped there he would have ended up like Ernest Hemingway or Kurt Cobain, who took their own lives with shotguns because life didn't seem worth living to them. But Solomon did not stop there. He systematically investigated and tried just about all the world had to offer, then he came to his conclusion.

In the last chapter of the book of Ecclesiastes, one of the most philosophical and one of my favorite books of the Bible, Solomon said, "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth...Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man" (12:1,13).

Here's more from Solomon:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

 

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, and for that matter many other regions, people believe in something called the Evil Eye. It’s a superstition, but it’s real to those who believe it.

The Evil Eye is the idea that someone can look at you and, whether intentional or not and whether realized or not, cause you discomfort, injury, or bad luck. To “give someone” purposely the evil eye is the height of social ill will. The Evil Eye may also be sourced in demons or other worldly spirits that have in their power the ability to plague people with all manner of bad developments.

In the Middle East it is also possible, according to belief in the Evil Eye, to induce evil upon a person unwittingly, simply by calling attention to something good in his or her life. For example, those who believe in the Evil Eye would be horrified to hear you say they have “a lovely child” or are living in “a very attractive home.” Such compliments invite the negative attention of the Evil Eye.

Because people really do believe in the Evil Eye, charms of all shapes and sizes have been developed to ward off the potential and power of its curse. Usually such charms are made of dark blue glass or some other hard polished material on which a light blue circle is imprinted, which in turn is centered by a dark circle or dot. The design suggests an eye.

To me it’s paradoxical: wear an eye to ward off the effects of the Evil Eye. But what people believe they believe. I’ve seen these charms in shops in Cairo, Istanbul, cities in Cyprus, Beirut and other Lebanese cities. I’ve seen people wearing them on the street as necklaces, bracelets, or some other amulet. And I’ve seen them hanging from the rearview mirrors of cars.

It’s sad, actually, for the Evil Eye is nothing but a superstition, and the charms are nothing but powerless talismans. You might “give someone the evil eye,” as is said in America, but you’re giving them nothing but a glaring, frowning stare. You nor I nor anyone else holds the power of good or bad luck over anyone.

One reason we don’t hold the power of good or bad luck is that we’re finite beings. Another is that there’s no such thing as luck of any kind. Certainly Christians should believe this, though some Christians in the Middle East are susceptible to the cultural influence of the Evil Eye. But from the perspective of Christian theology you must recognize that the idea of a Sovereign God and luck are mutually exclusive concepts. Both cannot exist.

Yet people persist in believing in luck, “just in case.” Americans don’t often wear blue charms to ward off the Evil Eye, but Americans do, more often than we generally admit, embrace a host of good luck charms. Just walk through a casino and ask gamblers if they believe in luck; then ask them what’s their good luck charm. You’ll hear about rabbits feet, a special penny in a shoe, a certain piece of clothing, beads, baubles, crystals, crosses, even a given woman, and more. Professional athletes aren’t much behind gamblers in their belief in luck and lucky charms.

So while we don’t see many Evil Eye charms in America (we will), we do see our own version of lucky artifacts. Sad thing is though: it’s all a waste of time and money.

 

 © Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.

Tragedy is a fact of human life, or at least of human history. What seems to us to be terrible outcomes and heartbreak happen weekly somewhere in the world. Harm and death to thousands caused by disasters, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, accidents, hurricanes, tornadoes, "Acts of God," so many they run together in our minds.

Is God even aware? Is he involved? And if he is involved, why does a loving and just God allow human suffering? Does he care?

Tragedies are sometimes explained by a Christian worldview in terms of "theodicy." It's an attempt to reconcile the character of God--omniscience, omnipotence, love, righteousness--with human degradation, pain, evil, and suffering, including that which emanates from nature's weather.

Theodicy is a word Christians should learn. It helps bring perspective, meaning, and perhaps understanding to tragedy. Think with me some more on this topic:

© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2012

This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Rex or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.