In his new book about important shifts in Australian culture, entitled The Lucky Culture, Nick Cater writes about the Australian view of class and merit. Before (say, pre-1970s) Australia was a society structured by merit and individual ability. It was a relatively united meritocracy. Cater notes that our culture is now divided along class lines, but not in the Marxian paradigm of workers and bosses (or “labour and capital”). He writes, “There has always been divisions in Australia … but this was of a different order. For the first time there were people who did not simply feel better off but better than their fellow Australians.” (p. 6)
Cater describes a society divided, no longer by merit and lack of merit, but by moral superiority and inferiority. He longs for the older ethic of the meritocracy, where people did not consider themselves better than others, but merely better off. However, the Christian ethic is even more radical than that. Continue reading
There is plenty (more than plenty) of good Christian publishing occurring in the fields of theology, apologetics, biblical studies etc. Evangelically-minded scholars from seminaries and theological colleges around the world really do pump out some good stuff. However, there is still, in my opinion, a lack of Christian scholarly writing and publishing in those fields not found in the classrooms of seminaries. I want to point to a couple exceptions, which I hope are the beginning of a growth-spurt in this area of Christian witness. Interestingly, both are Baptist.
There seems to be somewhat of a resurgence of distinctly Christian and Baptist higher education in the United States. Two schools leading the charge are Union University, in Jackson TN, and Houston Baptist University, in Texas. These universities both publish journals (which I subscribe to) which focus Christian thought. The first one is the journal Renewing Minds, from Union University.
What is backsliding? In his book Getting Back in the Race: A Cure for Backsliding, Joel Beeke (the modern day puritan) writes, ”Backsliding is a season of increasing sin and decreasing obedience in those who profess to be Christians”. Backsliding is the dark and debilitating reality of disobedience. For some it is a season of compromise, whereas for others it is the process that begins to reveal that they are not genuinely converted. In Beeke’s excellent book, he reveals the signs of compromise: (1) coldness in prayer, (2) indifference under the word, (3) growing inner corruptions, (4) the love of the world, (5) declining love for believers, and (6) man-centered hopes (pp. 21-36). All of us battle with this and must be dealing with such practices daily by means of God’s grace.
What can we do for backsliders? At the end of his letter James writes these words,
“My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).