Overwhelming importance

Some things to think about from Alfred North Whitehead, writing in 1925 in the preface to Science and the Modern World:

“This study has been guided by the conviction that the mentality of an epoch springs from the view of the world which is, in fact, dominant in the educated sections of the communities in question.” (p. viii)

Philosophy “builds cathedrals before the workmen have moved a stone, and it destroys them before the elements have worn down their arches. It is the architect of the buildings of the spirit, and it is also their solvent: –and the spiritual precedes the material.” (pp. viii-ix)

“The key to the book is the sense of the overwhelming importance of a prevalent philosophy.” (p. x)

I have at times feared philosophy, but I love it — what little I have dabbled in it. It is about knowing, and knowing can be scary, but it is also rewarding.

I love Whitehead’s line: “the spiritual precedes the material.” I fear we do to little spiritual or philosophical thinking.

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Learning to be on God’s team

I work with some great people, the Communications Team of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. We’re having a retreat this week, a time for us to get connected and become a true team providing service to the BGCT and its churches. Even though I’m the director of this team, I’ve stayed in the background this week and have let the others lead. They said some things about being a team that I really like. Here’s some of their paraphrased comments so far:

Looie Biffar: The best way to say “thank you” to God is to use your gifts.

Shirley Smith: One would think that Jesus, of all people, would need a team. … But He did — His disciples.

Glenn Majors: In relationship building we are constructing an uncommon unity.

Glenn: Harvest the boldness that is within you.

Glenn: Make what is inside come out.

Rand Jenkins: We do this because we love God.

Jason Hilliard: I felt the heat of the candle (referring to a candle that represented the presence of God in a spiritual labyrinth). … The more I thought about that verse, the less I wanted to leave that spot (which represented the presence of God).

I’m a fortunate man to work with such people.

Endless conversion

“Remember that you are weak, that you, too, need endless conversion. You are able to strengthen others only insofar as you are aware of your own weakness.”

Those are the words of the late Pope John Paul II. I picked them up from Richard John Neuhaus writing in the January 1995 issue of First Things. The Pope said it was as if Jesus wanted to give that message to the Peter. Those of us who would be modern-day Peters — read Christian leaders — would do well to heed such advice.

Salvation is divine

More from Iain H. Murray: “… the salvation of souls … is not finally determined by our efforts.” (Pentecost – Today? p. 11)

Yes, Murray is a Calvinist, but he’s not a hyper one. He recognizes that Scripture clearly says followers of Christ have a responsibility to share the good news. But while hyper-Calvinists make one mistake, others, let’s call them hyper-evangelists, make another. They basically reduce the salvation of souls to a rote process of cause and effect — if believers do this and that, then revival will invariably come. It doesn’t. Murray deals with this well, citing both Scripture and general experience.

Murray quotes Theodore L. Cuyler: “God always means to be God. He bestows spiritual blessings when he pleases, how he pleases, and where he pleases. We may labour, we may pray, we may ‘plant’, but we must not dictate.” (p. 12)

I’m not a Calvinist, but I sure love the importance they place on the sovereignty of God.

We should work, pray and plant; but we should always remember that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to save. There is no magic formula that we can concoct to produce one salvation, much less a revival.

In short, salvation is divine, in more ways than one.

The mystery of the Spirit

“The operation of the Spirit in believers … is a great mystery. He works more on them than they feel or know; and they feel more than they can express in words; and they express more than any who have not received ‘the same Spirit of faith’ (2 Cor. 4:13) can understand.”

Those are the words of Puritan Robert Traill. I read them this morning in Iain H. Murray’s book, Pentecost – Today? The Biblical Basis for Understanding Revival (Banner of Truth, 1998, p. 5)

I love to read something that resonates with your own thoughts or experience even though you have not been able to articulate it as such. This was such a reading.

Here are a couple of other quotes from Murray’s opening pages:

“If we could understand revivals they would not be the astonishing things which they are.” (p. 5)

“Our thoughts are not to be left hanging loose like clothes impeding one who must run. We must earnestly desire to understand.” (p. 6)

A start

Ever since leaving my job as editor of the Illinois Baptist newspaper, I’ve missed having an audience for my personal ramblings. So I will try this and see what happens.

Here’s what I’m interested in: Almost everything. But if I have to get specific, mostly I’ll be writing about religion, politics, music, the country life and my favorite subject — my family.

My goal: To share personal thoughts that might enrich the lives of others or generate responses that will enrich all of us.