Articles by Kevin Swanson
Compassion on the CheapWe all think in shorthand. Because we tend to be in a hurry, we have to file thoughts, propositions, arguments in a hurry. That is, we carry with us sundry mental shortcuts that move us from one thought to another. These give us license to dismiss some ideas quickly, or to answer objections swiftly so that we might be free to mull over other ideas. Which is why these shortcuts, when they are wrong, can be so wrong and destructive. We use the shortcuts over and over again, embedding them in our worldviews until they become recalcitrant, bedrock to what we think is our thinking. This in turn explains why we are called to be deliberate, why we need from time to time to examine our presuppositions, to test our assumptions against the Word of God. We need to hold them up to the mirror and see if they are true, likely to help us, or more likely to hinder.
The Christian worldview has lost considerable influence in the west since the 17th century. This is largely due to the powerful influence of humanism levied by the great literary giants of England and America. These were the apostates. Granted, apostasy is a slow process and a Christian nation doesn’t get corrupted within a mere twenty years. The masses of the 16th century would never have bought the blatant atheism we face today. But during the 17th and 18th centuries, the hearts of men began to turn ever so slowly towards a man-centered epistemology, metaphysic, and ethic. Once the 19th century arrived, men like Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain expressed their new-found faith in humanism with sharp tones and stunning clarity.
J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels is a true classic. His Matthew Study Guide was first published in 1856, and in his first preface to the work Ryle writes, “I indulge the hope that the work may be found suitable for use at family prayers. The supply of works adapted for this purpose has never yet been equal to the demand.” To which I say a hearty “Amen!” Generations with Vision has taken up the task of producing Family Bible Study Guides for the Western English-speaking nations. Christian denominations have produced billions of dollars of resources for Sunday schools, youth groups, women’s Bible studies, and the like. But where are the resources for family worship? Where are the resources to encourage and enable families to do what God has clearly commanded in His Word? (See Ephesians 6:4; Hebrews 3:13; Deutronmy 6:7.)
When my parents commemorated their fiftieth anniversary, all five of us children decided to express thanks to our father and mother for the same things, without consulting each other. Remarkably, all five of us thanked our mother for her prayers and all five us thanked our father for his leadership of our Sunday evening family worship. My brother said, “Dad, the oldest memory I have is of tears streaming down your face as you taught us from Pilgrim’s Progress on Sunday evenings about how the Holy Spirit leads believers. God used you in family worship to convict me, at the age of three, that Christianity was real. No matter how far I went astray in later years, I could never seriously question the reality of Christianity, and I want to thank you for that.”
Europe is on the brink of economic collapse. How this will affect America is yet to be seen. Yet, our nation is the largest debtor nation in the world, so Europe’s troubles can’t be good for America. The family is in worse shape than ever before (in the history of our nation). Social unrest is growing in the cities. The Baby Boom generation is retiring. The Social Security fund is bankrupt. The 30-something male crowd has never been more unmotivated and unproductive. Twenty percent of men in their prime working age are unemployed up from 5% in 1950. Birth implosions among the Europeans and Euro-Americans will rearrange entire civilizations. Now what?
As I study the history of theological controversies, cults, and denominationalism, I am coming to the conclusion that most if not all of the divisions inside and outside of Christian orthodoxy are a result of the incipient inability of men to deal with the incomprehensible mysteries and apparent paradoxes of determinism-free will, faith-works, unity-particularity, heart-hands, and the individual-corporate relationship with God.