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The Next Chapter

Mon, 30 Sep 2013 06:05:34 +0000

Remonstrans began by drawing attention to an eccentric Christianity which seemed determined to satisfy every parochial enthusiasm that came along. Since then, in what might have seemed a perpetual list of grievances, we took eight years to illustrate the disarray. But if our remonstrances seemed incessant, I don't see how it could be helped: you can't make useful criticism of an entire culture by being partial, random, or selective; Christian tribalists have done that long enough.As Providence (or irony) would have it, the last post before the announcement of the end of Remonstrans generated several odd explanations for the inferior work the church is delighted to tolerate. It seems that the good, the true, and the beautiful are not really its standards. Most people appear to think that we ought to aspire instead to the acceptable, the useful, and the comfortable.We insist that the church cannot play at religion. People obsessed with temporary things cannot be expected to understand permanent things, and they certainly cannot be authoritative on eternal things.We have a long, long way to go, and in pursuit of that ideal we continue the discussion over on We are not closing the book, we are turning the page.You are welcome to join us.

The Penultimate Post

Fri, 27 Sep 2013 05:00:00 +0000

This is my 999th post on Remonstrans, and my next to last. Monday's post will conclude our discussions here. Post No. 1000 will be for some concluding remarks and an address for the new hideout—errr, office, I mean.Otherwise welcome changes in our lifestyle will, it is reasonable to imagine, make predictable posting difficult, and rather than let events beyond our control change the pattern and intention of Remonstrans, we thought it best to close this blog as one thing and move to a more accommodating arrangement to pursue another thing. Remonstrans will not go dark. There will be a continuity between the old and new, and the prejudices, antipathies, and animosities voiced here will inform much of what happens there. Dissidens will remain the bête noir, all the old enemies will be retained and—with only modest effort, I think—new ones will be added. But we anticipate that the new enemies will stink a lot like the old enemies and Remonstrans will be a helpful reference for newcomers and forgetful old-timers.The old blog will not be active however. It will be like a library; it will be for quiet reading and reflection, and those who don't go for that sort of thing can finally remove from their browser favorites.I also think we have witnessed a significant change in American Christianity and that that change is worth a separate discussion. Western Fundagelicalism is not what it was when Remonstrans began in March of 2005.So in addition to the practical considerations I mentioned (and the sense of closure we get from the number 1000, obviously) we might find fresh digs and a Post No. 1 a fitting and proper thing.

Just For the Sake of Comparison

Mon, 23 Sep 2013 05:00:00 +0000

Contemplating Christ on the cross is fairly common in religious poetry. One Remonstrans reader mentioned the work of Rossetti and there are others. (For readers who have an interest, it would be illuminating to collect the poems that use this device and compare them: what purpose did each serve? to what end was the contemplation put? what means did the poet use to achieve that end...)We saw what Ron Hamilton was capable of doing with this most profound and expressive subject. Bernard of Clairvaux[?], I think it is fair to say, "went another way with it". The differences are very revealing. The reader might notice Clairvaux limits himself to a consideration of the head of Christ. What do you make of that?Compare the skill involved—or should I say contrast the skill? Make some sort of aesthetic judgment as to the success of the poet in elevating the mind of the reader. Which reader comes away with the better thoughts? Which reader entertains the higher ideals? Which reader achieves the greater understanding of the event?Does not this afford us a special insight on Hamilton's line "so cold and dark within"?O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners' gain;Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.Lo, here I fall, my Savior! 'Tis I deserve Thy place;Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.Men mock and taunt and jeer Thee, Thou noble countenance,Though mighty worlds shall fear Thee and flee before Thy glance.How art thou pale with anguish, with sore abuse and scorn!How doth Thy visage languish that once was bright as morn!Now from Thy cheeks has vanished their color once so fair;From Thy red lips is banished the splendor that was there.Grim death, with cruel rigor, hath robbed Thee of Thy life;Thus Thou hast lost Thy vigor, Thy strength in this sad strife.My burden in Thy Passion, Lord, Thou hast borne for me,For it was my transgression which brought this woe on Thee.I cast me down before Thee, wrath were my rightful lot;Have mercy, I implore Thee; Redeemer, spurn me not!What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.Here I will stand beside Thee, from Thee I will not part;O Savior, do not chide me! When breaks Thy loving heart,When soul and body languish in death's cold, cruel grasp,Then, in Thy deepest anguish, Thee in mine arms I'll clasp.The joy can never be spoken, above all joys beside,When in Thy body broken I thus with safety hide.O Lord of Life, desiring Thy glory now to see,Beside Thy cross expiring, I'd breathe my soul to Thee.My Savior, be Thou near me when death is at my door;Then let Thy presence cheer me, forsake me nevermore!When soul and body languish, oh, leave me not alone,But take away mine anguish by virtue of Thine own!Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.---attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux

The Darkness Within

Fri, 20 Sep 2013 08:30:25 +0000

We consider one last time the apogee of Fundamentalist sensibilities: Ron Hamilton's grotty petition, A Heart of Stone.Have I a heart of stone,So cold and dark within,That I can view the SaviourIn anguish for my sinAnd never sorrow feelFor all He sacrificed?Have I a heart of stoneTo watch the bleeding Christ?Have I no eyes to see,That I can stand so nearAnd watch the Saviour wounded,But never shed a tear?Can I but coldly gazeUpon His painful loss?Have I no eyes to seeGod's Lamb upon the cross?As I behold the bloodAnd view the Crucified,The piercing thought o'erwhelms me:'Twas for my sin He died.Lord, make my soul to feelThy suff'ring on the tree.Lord, break this heart of stone.Lord, make my eyes to see.

Re-imaging Evangelicalism

Mon, 16 Sep 2013 12:26:18 +0000

Evangelicals should be holding conferences to discuss re-substancing; instead we get more re-imaging.A seismic cultural shift has taken place that has unsettled evangelicalism and the ministries it reflects, including your church. Come hear what has taken place, why, and how to deal with it. The way back is not to complain about where we are or to seek a past glory. John Dickerson will lead us into the way forward for effective ministry in our changing world.Seismic cultural shifts—and I think everyone knows this intuitively—simply must be "dealt with". Imagine what would become of us if we didn't deal with seismic cultural shifts. And John Dickerson is the man who can address all the questions about seismic shifts that men are asking today; apparently he's a kind of cultural shift seismologist.You might ask how he has come by these mysteries? What qualifies him to speak to us? Why should we listen to him rather than that unshaven man who hangs out at the bus station?Well, Mr. Dickerson teaches the Word in ways which are both accurate and applicable, he casts vision [sic], and disciples his staff team, of course.Pastor John serves at Cornerstone by teaching God's Word, casting vision and discipling the staff team. He has a heart to see men, women and children find their significance, purpose and salvation in Christ. As primary leader and teacher he drives Cornerstone's vision to build a culture of discipleship and to teach God's Word in ways that are both accurate and applicable.He has a heart to see people "find their significance, purpose and salvation", which is good, I think. Many are the times I have sought out men to explain to me my significance and purpose. So many people in the Bible didn't know their significance and purpose, and so few men in history have had "the heart" to leave us clear guidance. It's like they had no clue and were too embarrassed to speak with confidence on matters beyond mortal man.Now in the gloaming of Christendom a beam of light shines forth! and the good people at the Hendricks Center for Christian Leadership and Cultural Engagement are willing to share that with you for a modest fee.How can you pass this up?