CSLewisDoodle: Faith (Faith and Works)

C.S. Lewis broadcast second talks on Faith, entitled ‘The Problem of Faith and Works’.

You can find the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Mere-Christiani…

(2:51​) “If you are right with God, you will inevitably be right with all your fellow creatures”. I should point out that ‘right’ here does not necessarily mean ‘at peace’ with all your fellow creatures. Being in a right position to others can mean, at times, you are in a position of war with those against God, e.g. David was in a right position to Goliath in his Holy Spirit-inspired anger “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”.

(5:41​) The story of Bunyan’s conversion: ‘Bunyan says, “I did set the commandments before me for my way to heaven; which commandments I did also strive to keep, &, as I thought, did keep them pretty well sometimes, and thus I should have comfort; yet now and then should break one, and so afflict my conscience; but then I should repent, and say I was sorry for it, and promised God to do better next time, and there get help again; for then I thought I pleased God as well as any man in England. Thus I continued about a year; all which time our neighbors did take me to be a very godly man, a new and religious man, and did marvel much to see such great and famous alteration in my life and manners; and, indeed, so it was, though I knew not Christ, nor grace, nor faith, nor hope.” But one day, after Bunyan had removed to Bedford, as he was passing down the street, he noticed a few poor women in conversation in a doorway. He drew near, and listened a while to their talk. They were speaking of the new birth, and the work of God’s Spirit in their souls, and their personal experiences of the saving power of God’s grace through Christ. He stood amazed, and realized that they possessed something of which he was entirely ignorant. He then began to perceive that salvation is not from anything that comes from man, or that man can do, but that it is from God, and that to possess it he must have to do with God Himself—that it was something new he must possess in his soul which none but God can give, a forgiveness of sins which none but God can administer. These poor women were basking in the sunshine whilst he, with all his doings, was shivering in the cold.” (C. Knapp)

(6:20​) “I think we must introduce into the discussion a distinction between two senses of the word Faith. This may mean (A) a settled intellectual assent. In that sense faith (or ‘belief’) in God hardly differs from faith in the uniformity of Nature [that Nature behaves in the same way from the remotest nebula to the shyest photon] or in the consciousness of other people. This is what, I think, has sometimes been called a ‘notional’ or ‘intellectual’ or ‘carnal’ faith. It may also mean (B) a trust, or confidence, in the God whose existence is thus assented to. This involves an attitude of the will. It is more like our confidence in a friend. It would be generally agreed that Faith in sense A is not a religious state. The devils who ‘believe and tremble’ (Note James 2.19) have Faith-A. A man who curses or ignores God may have Faith-A…”

“I doubt whether religious people have ever supposed that Faith-B follows automatically on the acquisition of Faith-A. It is described as a ‘gift’ (Note: https://biblehub.com/ephesians/2-8.htm​ , https://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/12…​ ;). As soon as we have Faith-A in the existence of God, we are instructed to ask from God Himself the gift of Faith-B…” (‘Is Theology Important?’ [i.e. Are Theological Proofs of God Important to Faith?])

(11:02​) “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,’ but you must have it in you before you can work it out.” Trembling” I notice but not “sweating”, i.e. not doing good works in order to be saved.

(12:16​) Similar principle here, in the saying ‘you can give without love, but you cannot love without giving’.

(12:44​) “Morality is a mountain which we cannot climb by our own efforts; & if we could we should only perish in the ice and unbreathable air of the summit, lacking those wings with which the rest of the journey has to be accomplished. For it is from there that the real ascent begins. The ropes and axes are ‘done away’ & the rest is a matter of flying (Man and Rabbit).”

The original broadcast had the following words italicised which add to understanding (shown in CAPS): “if one COULD understand it now, it would only do one harm”, “because it MAY be a help”, “I mean REALLY discovered”, “will soon learn to SAY that we have nothing to offer to God that isn’t already His own”, “it MUST follow that you are trying to obey Him”, “wouldn’t BE good actions but only commercial speculations”, “or trust IN HIM, but only intellectual acceptance of some theory ABOUT Him.”SHOW LESS

The American Mind: True Populism is Pro-Family

The following article comes from Helen Roy at The American Mind – True Populism is Pro-Family.

Things are looking up for the Hungarian people.

Over the past ten years, the country has adopted a body of policies to promote a traditional conception of family life, relieve the economic pressures on young families, and boost national fertility. These include a litany of generous tax exemptions and family-first stipend and loan programs, including subsidies for minivans and home renovations, a family allowance for grandma, three years of maternity leave, as well as interest-free marriage loans of $36,000 for young couples to be cancelled once they have three children.

Though it could always be too soon to tell, vital rates point in a promising direction. Minister for Families Katalin Novák tweeted just last week that the period between 2010-2020 was a decade of demographic explosion for Hungary, during which the country’s fertility rate increased by 24% and the number of marriages nearly doubled.

Last year, Novák offered commentary on the reason behind the country’s radical choices: “The recent demographic figures speak for themselves. The number of marriages is at its 40-year high, [and] the fertility rate at its 20-year high, while the divorces haven’t been as low as last year in the last six decades.” She explicitly juxtaposed Hungary’s position on family policy with that of other European countries, highlighting that the Hungarian government favors family policies that grow the country’s population without relying on mass migration.

“The Hungarian point of view is that we have to rely on our internal resources, namely supporting families and enabling young couples to have children. The other approach says that there is overpopulation in one half of the world, while there is a population decline in the other, so let’s just simply balance the difference,” Novák said. “[We] are lectured and stigmatized simply because we took a path that is different from the mainstream…[and] exposed to continuous attacks for years, but facts are facts, our results are clear, and we also enjoy the support of the Hungarian people.”

Unshrinking cultural, political, and economic support of traditional family life has earned Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz (“Hungarian Civic Alliance”) Party the enduring support of the Hungarian people. One wonders if such a thing might be possible in America.

American Anti-Natalism

Alas, a toxic combination of conservative austerity and liberal feminism together have produced a situation in this country that, in comparison, bodes very poorly for young families.

In June of last year, Lyman Stone and Bradford Wilcox of American Enterprise Institute and the Institute for Family Studies published an article in Newsweek entitled “Empty Cradles Mean a Bleaker Future.” They write:

Financial, educational and housing-related factors are major reasons why people don’t marry and have children in the United States today. That’s why we have written, testified and argued extensively in favor of practical proposals to provide reasonable financial support to families, remove obstacles to marriage and create a more family-friendly society. Birthrates are not too low because the economy or the public budget needs more babies—they are too low because people want more babies, but are prevented from having them by financial and policy obstacles that can and should be addressed.

In America, bootstraps break under the dream-crushing weight of hospital bills, housing, and student loans. Each of these is an opportunity area for legislators. Over the past decade, the story of family policy in this country has been, basically, an overproduced kabuki theatre show wherein the Left makes a show of leaning into paid parental leave, the Right dutifully winks at geriatric donors while flinching at anything that resembles “socialism,” and the issue goes no further.

The Trump moment offered a brief reprieve for the people against the tired consensus. There was some action by Ivanka Trump to mandate parental leave for federal workers and provide universal state daycare for the rest. But, as I wrote in September, her logic was basically more of the same. Providing universal state daycare so that women can remain a clean 50% of the American workforce sounds like it was dreamt up in a Biden cabinet. The position ignores the fact that most women would rather be moms than girlbosses because, in fact, most women have jobs, not careers. Many moms, also, are rightfully mistrustful of day care. Of course, there is much more to family life than two breadwinners keeping their one point five children passively fed and entertained until they turn eighteen.

But our elites don’t believe this. American technocrats see people and all of their most essential roles, from parent to citizen, as fungible. The most important thing that everyone fails to offer American families is a clear vision for what family is, and what role it and its members play in the broader political picture. Contrary to neoliberal consensus, it is not a training ground for the workforce.

A Populism Worthy of the Name

Hungary’s approach is multidisciplinary, but policy is undergirded by an explicit proclamation of what family is, most essentially: the most important source of joy and meaning in a person’s life, and the spiritual foundation of man. The official Hungarian public diplomacy About Hungary site states: “The focus of policy is not just on reversing population decline, now an EU imperative. It’s not about ‘natalism’. It’s an expression of a deeper political and moral philosophy that seeks to enable women and young couples, if they wish, to marry and enjoy the experience of rearing their family.”

Under this umbrella, policymakers then enjoy the freedom and creativity that a clear expression of purpose affords. Their policies are effective to the extent that they dovetail with one another toward unified ends, and, ultimately, because Novák and her peers do not regard the country as a petri dish for utopian social experimentation nor as an economy arbitrarily circumscribed by porous entrypoints for future workers. Instead, their family policy is designed to address the real needs of their own people— political theatre be damned.

Self-identified American populists must prioritize the amelioration of economic pressure on young middle- and working-class families. Otherwise their self-identification is fraudulent. This probably means a near-moratorium on immigration, a reexamination of more generous fiscal policies for family, including but not limited to tax breaks, family allowances, and at the very least, some form of subsidized parental leave.

But what if, beyond the practical help, it were perceived as the most honorable thing a person could do to have children and raise them well? What if we held women who sacrifice their salary to raise their own children in higher regard than those who outsource motherhood to keep their career? What if families, aside from financial concerns, also did not have to worry about being sneered at for their fertility? What if parents didn’t have to worry about predatory gender ideology or critical race theory robbing their children of sanity through public school?

These what-ifs aren’t idle dreams. They’re realities treasured in the secret hearts of embattled, nearly abandoned citizens. Words alone don’t solve problems, but if our politicians made bold statements in support of a more wholesome way of life, they would rally millions and millions in support of even bolder policies.

The Hungarian government amended the Constitution last year to include the provision of “an education [for children] based on the values of the Christian culture of Hungary and guarantee the undisturbed development of the child according to their gender at birth.” The proposal states: “Hungary protects the right of children to self-identify according to their gender of birth and ensures education according to the values ​​based on the constitutional identity and Christian culture of our country.” It also explicitly specifies that “the mother is a woman, the father is a man.”

American “conservatives” would never. And the fact that they would never reflects our facile neoliberal attitude toward family that will guarantee its demise. A multifront approach to the war on family has worked for our enemies, and in Hungary, it appears to be working in favor of our friends. Will the American Right ever have the temerity? Or will it wave away our despair and decay as just another “blessing of liberty”?

The Trumpet: Hagia Sophia and a Clash of Civilizations

Hagia Sophia church being converted for opening as mosque

From The Trumpet, Hagia Sophia and a Clash of Civilizations:

Turkey has just taken Orthodox Christianity’s greatest cathedral and turned it into a mosque.

There’s a lot of history here. When Hagia Sophia was opened by Emperor Justinian in a.d. 537, it was the largest, and possibly the most impressive, building in the world.

This one building may have impacted the lives of billions. Early Russian history records the story of Vladimir the Great, ruler of the Rus in the 10th century. Vladimir wanted to choose a religion for the Rus, and sent out envoys to neighboring civilizations. Once the envoys saw Hagia Sophia, their minds were made up. “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on Earth,” the envoys reported, “nor such beauty, and we know not how to tell of it.” Vladimir converted to Orthodox Christianity, and that religion has shaped Russian and Slavic history ever since.

In 1453, Constantinople and Hagia Sophia fell to the Ottoman Turks. And so they turned one of Christendom’s greatest churches into a mosque.

Hagia Sophia went through a third revolution in 1934. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk transformed Turkey from an Islamic empire into a secular state—as a powerful symbol of this, he transformed Hagia Sophia from a mosque to a museum. It is now Turkey’s top tourist destination, drawing 3.7 million visitors a year.

Which is why Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s decision on July 10 to turn it back into a mosque is so significant. His political allies have hailed it as a second conquest of Istanbul. It is a deliberate statement. Turkey is no longer the secular state of Atatürk. It is an Islamic nation, aiming to become an empire.

Turkish writer Orhan Pamuk said the conversion of Hagia Sophia back to a mosque “is to say to the rest of the world, ‘Unfortunately we are not secular any more.’ There are millions of secular Turks like me who are crying against this, but their voices are not heard.”

This reversal away from secularism runs against the grain of Western thought. To many, history runs in one direction: Europe used to be religious, but is becoming very secular; this is the march of progress that all nations will eventually follow.

Erdoğan’s reversal is the latest proof that the world is not on a one-way track to secularism.

Look around the world and you can see evidence of this. In 1989, Central Asia had only 160 active mosques. Four years later, there were 10,000. Moscow had 50 churches in 1988. Four years later, it had 250. Around the same time, nearly a third of Russians under age 25 said they had switched from being atheistic to believing in God.

In the still officially atheistic state of China, the World Religion Database shows the total number of followers of all religions jumping from around 300 million in 1970 to around 700 million today. Despite government attempts to stop it, religion has spread much faster than Chinese population growth.

In South Korea in 1962, 2.6 percent of the population were Buddhist and 5 percent were Christian. Now 23 percent are Buddhist and more than 29 percent are Christian.

“In the modern world, religion is a central, perhaps the central, force that motivates and mobilizes people,” wrote Samuel Huntington in his book Clash of Civilizations. “It is sheer hubris to think that because Soviet communism has collapsed, the West has won the world for all time and that Muslims, Chinese, Indians and others are going to rush to embrace Western liberalism as the only alternative.”

Time has proved Huntington dramatically correct. He wrote his book before 9/11, when radical Islam made itself a major concern to everyone in the world. He wrote it before head coverings became one of the major political issues in Europe, the bastion of liberal multiculturalism.

The big question is, could Europe be swept along by such a trend?

At the other end of Europe is what could be Hagia Sophe’s mirror image. The Grand Mosque of Córdoba in Spain was built in the eighth century a.d. To the locals at the time, “the beauty of the mosque was so dazzling that it defied any description.”

But the Grand Mosque is now the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, after the Spanish conquered it in 1236.

My point is not to set up some kind of moral equivalency between the two. Hagia Sophia is the fifth church of that name to be converted into a mosque in Turkey in recent years. I know of no Western country running the process in reverse.

Instead, my point is to show that Europe and the Middle East, Christianity and Islam, are closely connected. What happens in one affects the other—and has for centuries.

Religion is already rising in Europe in reaction to Islam. When Russia voted on its new constitution at the start of the month, most attention was focused on President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to extend his time in office. But the vote also added God into the constitution.

In Poland this month, incumbent President Andrzej Duda was reelected. Duda’s Law and Justice party has close links with the Catholic Church. “In hardly any other EU country are the state and church as closely connected as in Poland,” noted deutschlandfunk.de.

Across Europe, religion is making a comeback—not in terms of religious observance, but instead with symbols and rhetoric.

Across Eastern and Central Europe, leaders have made clear that they view their countries as Christian and that Muslims are not welcome. In May 2015, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said, “I think we have a right to decide that we do not want a large number of Muslim people in our country.”

“Let us not forget, however, that those arriving have been raised in another religion and represent a radically different culture,” he wrote in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “Most of them are not Christians, but Muslims. This is an important question, because Europe and European identity is rooted in Christianity” (Sept. 3, 2015).

Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico said in May 2016, “I do not want to see a Muslim community in Slovakia. … We do not want to change the traditions of this country, which are built on the Christian tradition.” The president of the Czech Republic warned in January 2016 that integrating Muslims into Europe “is practically impossible.”

The same trends are arriving in Western Europe. Since 2018 all government buildings in the German state of Bavaria have been obliged to display a cross.

In the West, upstart political parties like the Alternative für Deutschland in Germany and the National Rally (formerly the National Front) in France have taken up the mantle of politicized religion. National Rally leader Marine Le Pen pushes “a secularized Christianity as culture,” Rogers Brubaker, a sociologist at the University of California–Los Angeles, told Atlantic magazine. “It’s a matter of belonging rather than believing.” Brubaker described it as a Christianity that says, “We are Christians, precisely because they are Muslims. Otherwise, we are not Christian in any substantive sense” (May 6, 2017).

The AfD is the same way. Its election slogans, such as “Burkas? We’re into bikinis,” are hardly paragons of chastity and virtue. In the culture wars, they are on the side of the Christian right, and the Christian right is happy to accept them.

The AfD’s stunning election success—coming from nowhere to become the third-largest party in Germany’s parliament—shows the appetite in Germany for this kind of religion in politics.

In Europe it tends to be Islamist terrorist attacks or migration from Islamic countries that triggers this kind of religious fervor. Absent of that, it dies down…

Click here to continue reading at The Trumpet.

The Forgotten Founding Father

From American Founding Principles comes an article on John Calvin, The Forgotten Founding Father.

In a nation that appears to be doing everything possible to expunge the remnants of its Christian foundation and heritage, it is no wonder that John Calvin has been forgotten as the virtual founder of our nation. John Adams, America’s second President; Leopold von Ranke, a nineteenth century leading German historian; and George Bancroft, a Harvard educated historian known as the “father of American history”, all testified to the significant influence Calvin had upon the foundation of America.

Unlike Locke or Montesquieu, however, Calvin did not write a political treatise on how to organize civil government. Instead, he wrote Biblical expositions that completely changed how people in western culture thought about their relation to God and, subsequently, how they thought about their relation to their civil government.

Although he did not write a political treatise, Calvin did popularize three Biblical principles and took one action that helped shape western culture and influenced the founding of America more than anything else he said or did. First, he explained that the civil magistrate and his work are a divinely established order. Second, he explained that although civil disobedience to the magistrate is forbidden, there is a limitation to the magistrate’s authority. Third, he explained that the lesser magistrate is a check on unlawful use of power by a higher magistrate, and fourth, his ecclesiastical organization heavily influenced the political structures of Scotland, England and, ultimately, the American colonies…

In the US Constitution, one can see a reflection of the three main Christian denominations that were prevalent in America in 1787. Over ninety-seven percent of the approximate three million people living in America, around its founding, were Protestant Christians. Of that ninety-seven percent, the three most common denominations were Anglican (Episcopal), Presbyterian, and Congregationalist. The Episcopal Church government was hierarchal, or the rule of the one; the Presbyterian Church government was representative, or rule by the few; and the Congregational Church government was democratic, or rule by the many.

The Executive Branch of the United States national government is a reflection of Episcopal Church government; rule by the one. The Senate, which prior to the Seventeenth Amendment, was a reflection of Presbyterian Church government; rule by the few. The House of Representatives, the only entity in the United States national government that was intended to be elected by the majority of the electorate, is a reflection of the Congregational Church government; rule by the many. In this, one can see the United States national government is a reflection of the different forms of church governments most prevalent in America in 1787. Two-thirds of the United States national government reflects the two-thirds of the Calvinist population living in America at that time and their form of ecclesiastical government…

Click here to read the entire article at American Founding Principles