This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Today is the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the United States. These days Thanksgivings seems to be more associated with shopping and sales than actually giving thanks for the many blessings we have. I’ll spare you a rant on that point, but I would like to talk a bit about Thanksgiving, particularly through the lens of popular hymns associated with the holiday. The first is “Now Thank We All Our God:”

Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in Whom this world rejoices;
Who from our mothers’ arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and bless├Ęd peace to cheer us;
And keep us in His grace, and guide us when perplexed;
And free us from all ills, in this world and the next!

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given;
The Son and Him Who reigns with Them in highest Heaven;
The one eternal God, whom earth and Heaven adore;
For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

The hymn was written by Martin Rinkert, a Lutheran pastor, in the midst of the Thirty Years’ War. The Thirty Years’ War is still remembered today as the most devastating war ever fought on German soil, including World Wars I and II. Rinkert moved to the city of Eilenberg in Saxony at the beginning of the war.  The city was overcrowded with refugees. It was taken by armies three times during the war, and also had multiple outbreaks of plague. In 1637, during a sever outbreak of plague, Rinkert was left as the only pastor in the city. He conducted up to 40 funerals a day, a total of 4,000 that year, including one for his wife.

In the midst of all of this chaos, death, and devastation, Rinkert wrote a hymn of thanks to God.

Or take another popular Thanksgiving Hymn, “We Gather Together:”

We gather together to ask the Lord’s blessing;
He chastens and hastens His will to make known.
The wicked oppressing now cease from distressing.
Sing praises to His Name; He forgets not His own.

Beside us to guide us, our God with us joining,
Ordaining, maintaining His kingdom divine;
So from the beginning the fight we were winning;
Thou, Lord, were at our side, all glory be Thine!

We all do extol Thee, Thou Leader triumphant,
And pray that Thou still our Defender will be.
Let Thy congregation escape tribulation;
Thy Name be ever praised! O Lord, make us free!

This hymn was written in 1597 by Adrianus Valerius in the middle of the Dutch Revolt against Spain, where the Dutch were fighting for their independence and the freedom to practice their religion. It was a nasty, brutal war, the echoes of which can be heard in the hymn. It was published in 1526, five years after the Dutch were drawn into the Thirty Years’ War as a continuation of their struggle for independence.

Our world today seems out of control, with war, terrorism, rioting, economic uncertainty, Ebola, …. The list is endless. And yet, in conditions worse than those we are facing, Rinkert and Valerius wrote hymns of thanks and faith. How much more should we be expressing our thanks to God for the unending blessings he has given us in this life and his promises for the age to come.

Monday, November 17, 2014

The New Covenant and the Law of Moses

The next article in the series on The Gospel and the Law is up. This one focuses on Maundy Thursday and the New Covenant.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Article: The Gospel and the Law

The Gospel and the Law is the first of a series of articles at the Colson Center focused on the relevance of the Law of Moses for the Christian. My argument, following traditional Christian reflections on the relationship of the Law and the Gospel, is that there is a logical and systematic reason why some aspects of the Law are binding on Christians but others aren't.