Recently, I was doing some thinking about Martin Luther King, and by way of extension, other courageous leaders. As a young Christian, I read King’s collection of sermons titled Strength to Love. I kept thinking, “This is my favorite sermon. No, this one…” King’s famous Letter from a Birmingham Jail is remarkable in so many ways, not the least of which is its courage, clarity and conviction.
In any case, it got me thinking how we appreciate courageous leaders, but we don’t necessarily want to emulate them. King, of course, was far from perfect. His adultery and plagiarism are well attested. However, his courageous leadership at a formative time in American history is worth more than appreciation.
Are we willing to be courageous in the places God has placed us? Too many of us are motivated by the fear of man. If we fear God, we will be the types of leaders who not only appreciate courageous men and women, but seek to emulate them.
Here is my most recent Patheos interview with a person who we Christians ought to slow down and listen to.
Heavily annotated final leaf of 1522 Bible. Some annotations tentatively ascribed to Martin Luther.
HT to: Thomas Kidd
So if Luther marked up his Bible, by all means we ought to mark ours up!
Some reminders never get old!
Lewis had a remarkable memory for what he read of others, but sometimes his memory of his own writings failed him. Though he had a large library, he did not keep all of his own books there! Walter Hooper adds, “Often, when I quoted lines from his own poems he would ask who the author was. He was a very great scholar, but no expert in the field of C.S. Lewis.”
(As quoted in Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully, by John Piper)
I have spent many hours in various Starbucks. My favorites are in Manhattan, Charlottesville, VA, and yes, here in Austin.
For those of you old enough to remember the TV show Get Smart, you will recall the infamous “cone of silence.” Instead of keeping those on the outside from hearing top secrets, it was those on the inside who could not hear each other!
I have found too many folks in Starbucks acting as if their conversations could not be heard. Over the years, I have heard couples discussing delicate details of their relationship, questionable business practices, and I recently had someone drop some F-bombs on me when I disagreed with their understanding of the New Testament.
Third places like Starbucks are wonderful, but let’s remember that other people are there!
I have read several books by John Piper. All have stimulated and challenged me to grow as a Christian. His recent, Seeing Beauty and Saying Beautifully is no exception. It is a terrific read on how language can be harnessed to showcase the glories of God.
Now to the possible blind spot…
In the chapter on Whitefield, we find a description of his incredible pace. Piper writes, “The daily pace he kept for thirty years meant that many weeks he was speaking more than he was sleeping.” Piper goes on to write of Whitefield never taking a vacation and so forth.
Piper has spoken publicly about his own father being gone for much of his years growing up. To his credit, he speaks without any evident bitterness. In fact, Piper underscores how this allowed him to learn certain skills from his mother like ironing.
Since any Calvinist must admit that God does not need them, and since good Calvinists are not Gnostics when it comes to honoring the human body, it would have been appropriate for Piper to at least raise some concern about Whitefield’s pace, especially since he was a married man during much (nearly twenty-seven years) of his torrid schedule.
Perhaps Piper’s affection for his own father makes it difficult to even raise the wisdom in going so hard. To his credit, Billy Graham has admitted his global travels were a hardship on his family.
Years ago, I had a conversation with a brilliant Stanford MD/PhD student. He was fascinated with the growing field of artificial intelligence. It was the late 1980s. I asked him how the complexity of human beings could come from inanimate matter. He told me this was a philosophical question and he just did “science.” It was a dodge, but I can’t even say it was a clever dodge because no one can escape thinking philosophically. We human beings are constantly wondering what the “good life” looks like so pondering the big questions (what the best approaches to philosophy are all about) is impossible to avoid. My Stanford interlocutor had confidence in the power of science for less than scientific reasons! He “believed” in science with a religious fervor which bordered on fanaticism.
This budding scientist had a working philosophy of science that matter is responsible for everything, even though that becomes illogical. There are various problems with believing science so called can explain everything. This view is called scientism. Here is a good summary of the problems attached to scientism:
It is self–refuting—one cannot prove the statement itself scientifically. That is, there is no way to use our senses to test whether or not the claim that the senses are our only sources of knowledge is true. Second, there are a number of things we know that are not known through scientific means: the laws of math and logic, our own consciousness and thoughts, the reality of certain moral claims, and, of course, that God is real. Some of these are actually pre-suppositions of science and, as such, science could not even begin without knowledge of them.
HT: Klaus Issler and J.P. Moreland, “Doubter’s Prison,” interview by Marvin Olasky, World, Sept. 20, 2008, 4 (Internet version).