• youtube

Joseph – Man in the shadows

[This article was originally posted on December 19, 2014. Additional posts on “Revival” will resume in January 2018. Have a blessed Christmas.]

During my lifetime I have probably looked at dozens of nativity sets and observed many Christmas plays depicting the night of Christ’s birth. The cast of characters includes baby Jesus, Mary, the shepherds, the three wise men (who actually appeared much later in time), assorted cows, chickens, sheep, and other animals typically found in a stable. Oh yes, we must not forget Joseph. In arranging our nativity scene, Jesus is always placed at the center with Mary hovering nearby or holding the child. Inconspicuous Joseph is standing there, seemingly as an afterthought, merely because of his status as the husband of Mary. In modern parlance, Joseph was the typical wallflower, a fifth wheel, the original invisible man. Never in the spotlight, Joseph was a man who always seemed to be in the shadows.

Prior to the birth of Jesus, Joseph is mentioned only once in Luke’s first chapter, “To a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of house of David…” [Luke 1:27. RSV] In Chapter 2, Joseph is mentioned a second time when he […] Continue Reading…

Tis the Season for Secular Silliness

[This article was first posted on on December 13, 2013. Given the growing hostility of the majority of secular culture to all things Christian,it seems appropriate to publish it a second time.]

Holiday letter to my secular humanist friends,

The first signs of the holiday shopping season peek from store shelves in September. October’s chill warns that Halloween nears. We must select a costume that tops last year’s. November heralds that most wonderful time of the year—Black Friday. But Oh My! What shall we do with December and that highly embarrassing “other” holiday? You know the one I mean. We once masked it by calling it Xmas. But the X could be misconstrued as a cross. And a cross can be associated with you know who, and that will never do. Now we call that “other” holiday by many names such as Winter Solstice celebration, Festival of Lights, and Winter Carnival. Those are so inclusive, so democratic…so…so generic. (I almost said ecumenical, but that sounds too religious.) With these new names, the holiday season can mean whatever one wants it to mean rather […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 5 – Spiritual Conditions in America 1620-1720

What occurred among the New England Puritans between 1620 and 1660 is a remarkable story that began with a rag-tag band of beleaguered separatist Puritans (Pilgrims) that landed on the shores of a vast wilderness in 1620. By the end of that decade many of the prosperous, well-educated members of the Church of England also began immigrating to New England. Unlike the Pilgrims, they still considered themselves to be members of the Church of England, although separated from their corrupt brethren that remained in their homeland. Known as Puritans, they formed the great migration to the Massachusetts Bay Colony which by 1640 had grown to a population of twenty-six thousand. For these Protestant Puritans who strongly followed the teachings of John Calvin, religion was the beginning, center, and end of all social and political life. The Puritan adventure in their New England colony began as a theocracy, but the Massachusetts Puritans were not alone in their religious affections. Religion and religious liberty were the fundamental reasons for the founding of most of the original thirteen colonies, and nearly all were founded upon various social and religious experiments.[1]

However, none were so well organized or advanced in their religious […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 4 – The British Great Awakening

Conditions in England 1688-1739

As discussed in Chapter 3, the Catholic Church and the various branches of the Protestant Church were in great turmoil from the beginning of the Reformation in 1517 until 1648 when the peace agreement at Westphalia substantially ended the Catholic-Protestant wars on the continent of Europe. However, the conflict would not end in Great Britain until the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and the triumph of Protestantism under William III.

All wars invariably lead to post-war periods in which the Christian faith is neglected which leads to a general decay of national morality. This was the condition in which the British people found themselves at the end of the seventeenth century. Not only had the opposing camps of Christianity fought among themselves, but England had been involved in almost constant civil and international warfare for almost two centuries by the end of the 1600s. As a consequence there existed a significant decline of morality and the general religious impulse within the nation. This decline was deepened by the ascendance of competing Enlightenment philosophies and deism in the late 1600s and all of the 1700s throughout Europe and Great Britain. By the time the British Great Awaking began […] Continue Reading…

Revival – 3 – Purifying the Reformation – England and America

To understand the origins and nature of the great awakenings and revivals beginning in the eighteenth century, we must first look at the history of God’s people in England and the American colonies following the Reformation. Much of their history presented in this chapter is drawn from Chapters 6 through 9 in Evangelical Winter-Restoring New Testament Christianity.[1]

Although the reformers readily affirmed their allegiance to “the scriptures alone” as the authority of the church and living the Christian life, it was a far more difficult matter to shed centuries of the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church that conflicted with or undermined faithful adherence to the Scriptures. Therefore, implementation of reforms in the new Protestant churches often carried with it many of the old Roman Catholic ways of doing the business of church.

By 1550, the church in the West had settled into three branches of state religion: papal Catholicism, Lutheranism (Christianity allied with the state), and Calvinism (theocracy).[2] The Protestant branches were similar in that each was a compulsory religion, had strong ties with the state in one way or another, retained certain unbiblical elements of Catholic orthodoxy, and attempted to use the state to impose a […] Continue Reading…