Rob is wrestiling with the complex of problems that arise from the way the Gospel and the Bible are both honored and ignored by American society and American churches. The pressure is felt most acutely when you try to fellowship with people who share your basic theological commitments (incarnate, atoning Christ, inspired Bible) but do not seem to be looking at the same world you are seeing, or do not seem to value the moral priorities that the Bible stresses.
He starts by talking about the use of the human mind.
What happens when we are taught that thinking for youself is bad? …
Why should i ‘let God take care of it’ as if it’s never for us to understand what’s happening around us? …
Why, to paraphrase Galileo, would an intelligent person forego the use of their mind in the name of the God they believe designed it, redeemed it, and now guides it? …
Why shouln’t i try to understand what God is actually up to, when everyne likes to agree that 1) finding your purpose is seeing where God works and joinging Him there, and 2) Jesus said basically this before He died, ‘I call you my friends because no servant knows his master’s business, and I’m telling you what I’m doing beforehand.’
… stewardship? Do they want me to take my clue, my mind, my so-called sight and bury it all as an act of faith?
Or, as a quote that I love, remembererd from somewhere (Bernard Lonergan, I think) puts it: “He (God) loves to be inquired of!” But we human Christian Americans often don’t want to do any serious inquiring.
… i think some of them are subconsciously angry because ignorance is bliss and also their last defense. So i’m trying to rip them out of their dreamworld …
Then Rob brings an important insight. We get both good and bad moral / spiritual input through the same channel – our mind.
i have to be careful not to submit to my own mind, even while it’s still necessarily what i use to listen to God. The signals come on the same wire, but telling them apart is difficult.
Then he makes a very valuable observation – there is a certain crucial function, and weakness, that our minds share with our country.
Our minds must be used – because God gave them to us for that purpose, and will hold us accountable for using them. Nevertheless they can, and do, bring us good mixed with evil – and we are responsible to sort that out.
So also the USA (the nation, the political system, the culture) constantly feeds us both good and evil input. And, as with our own minds, so also with input from our country, our culture, our churches, we are responsible to sort it out.
The mess in my head is analogous to the mess in the USA.
As much as i have to work in my mind according to the rules of the mind, we all have to live in theis country according to the laws …
In the same way as my mind is supposed to be God’s property, this is supposed to be a Christian nation (so i’m told). In both areas God doesn’t make a whole lot of … flashy power shows. In both, there is a problem of two conflicting command streams coming from the same direction.
For me, it’s my mind. For all, it’s the government. In both cases, there is a grave danger of confusing the two.
The focus of the paper is on that confusion of “command streams” coming to us from the government and the USA in general.
There are things coming from the USA that sound like God, and things that came from God that sound like the USA because we [historically have] kept and implemented them.
But there are very godly ideals that the US is consciously destroying, and there are very popular ideals that God will someday destroy.
These are important distinctions to consider, because the impacts are profound and eternal!
He goes on to talk about how to discern the distinctions.
How to tell them apart? SIGNATURE. God’s signature is on the Bible, and on anything that will outlast our country.
You have to read and understand the Bible … you have to be listening to the Holy Spirit.
Maybe in a few days I’ll put up some quotes and comments on what signature indications he is detecting in America and in the American church.