APOLOGIA is a column in which I address issues having to do with faith, science, and ethics, and in which I try to use careful reasoning and evidence to seek what's true. Undoubtedly I will end up disagreeing with at least a few people. And probably I will make a mistake here and there. My hope is that I will show respect to those with whom I disagree, that I (and others) will learn from my mistakes, and that we'll get closer to what's true, good, and beautiful. - Hendrik van der Breggen
July 12, 2012
A thought and a prayer
APOLOGIA By Hendrik van der Breggen The Carillon,
July 12, 2012
A thought and a prayer
A man whom I've grown to
respect greatly is Harvard- and Oxford-educated Dr. Robert P. George, professor
of jurisprudence at Princeton University.
With Dr. George's permission,
below I share his "A thought and prayer for my fellow Christians (and for
myself)," written June 13, 2012:
"Surely no one is
surprised that many Christians are swept along by cultural trends, no matter
how antithetical they are to Biblical principles and the firm and constant
teaching of the faith. 'Twas ever thus. (Indeed, 'twas thus for the ancient
Hebrews, too, as scripture makes more than abundantly clear.)
"And Christians who fall
in line with a trend always find ways to say that the trend, whatever it is, is
compatible with Christian faith—even dictated by it! It's hard for human beings
to actually be countercultural, and Christians are human beings just like
"So when Marxism is
trendy, there will be self-proclaimed Christian Marxists. When Fascism is
fashionable, there will be self-identified Christian fascists. When racial
subordination and segregation is the cultural norm, we'll baptize it. When
eugenics is in vogue, there will be Christians claiming that eugenic practices
and policies constitute Christian love in practice.
"If polyamory becomes
the next cause embraced by the beautiful people and the cultural elite, we will
start hearing about the Christian case for group marriage—'love cannot be
arbitrarily confined to pairs.' And on and on.
"Being human, we crave
approval and we like to fit in. Moreover, we human beings are naturally
influenced by the ways of thinking favored by those who are regarded in a
culture as the sophisticated and important people.
"When push comes to
shove, it's really hard to be true to Christian faith; the social and personal
costs are too high. We Christians praise the martyrs and honor their memories,
but we are loath to lose so much as an opportunity for career advancement, or
the good opinion of a friend, much less our lives. So we tend to fall in line,
or at least fall silent.
"We deceive ourselves
with rationalizations for what amounts to either conformism or cowardice. We
place the emphasis on whatever happens in the cultural circumstances to be the
acceptable parts of Christian teaching, and soft-pedal or even abandon the
parts that the enforcers of cultural norms deem to be unacceptable.
"We make a million
excuses for going along with what's wrong, and pretty soon we find ourselves
going along with calling it right.
"Jesus says, 'if you
want to be my disciple, you must take up your cross and follow me.' We say, 'um,
well, we'll get around to that at some point.' May God have mercy on us."
P.S. I highly recommend Robert
George's and the late Charles Colson's six-part video series, Doing the Right Thing and its companion Doing the Right Thing Simulcast DVD,
available at The Colson Center or your local bookstore. In the simulcast video,
Dr. George helpfully
puts matters into proper perspective when he talks about the sanctity of human
life: "The issue is so foundational, it has to be given priority. There
are many other concerns: there is the environment, there is the economy, there
is the defence of the nation. No one would treat those as anything other than
urgent concerns, because they are. They are very important concerns.... But
even more fundamental, and therefore entitled to an even greater priority, is
the protection of innocent human life." Again, I say Amen.