The Town Drunk on a Park Bench

Marco RubioLast night I watched Marco Rubio announce his candidacy for the presidency, and as far as such speeches go, I thought he did a very good job. I also observed that those who want him to go far thought he did a better job than he actually did, but still, I thought it was a credit-worthy launch. I am sure that I will have more to say about Rubio as the campaign unfolds, but for the present I just want to take his marked emphasis on the American dream to make a few observations of my own.

We are well beyond the ability of course corrections to help us. What is needed is a volte-face, and such an abrupt turnaround is not really a political technique. It will be very much like the town drunk at the tent meeting revival, and not very much like a refined woman deciding not to have cheesecake for dessert at the upscale bistro.

When America repents we will see several different kinds of repentance. I’ve written about the first many times before. Repentance means a change of mind before God, and that means simple abandonment of certain practices that God finds to be detestable. “And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the abominations thereof from thence. And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh” (Eze. 11:18–19). We will be done with chopping babies into pieces, we will turn away from homosexual practices with loathing, and we will reject the open-bar-at-the-Fed approach to bankrupting our great-great-grandchildren. In these instances, and many others like them, repentance looks like turning away from vice as vice.

Repentance will also need to return to a proper foundation for our remaining albeit tattered virtues. A number of aspects of our Puritan founding are still with us, and still very much part of the American character. They are secularized, deracinated virtues, but they are still observable. We still have these characteristics — only without Jesus. Is a very bad deal to have such things without Jesus, but they are still admirable in their way, as far as they go. That isn’t very far because it does not profit a man to gain the whole world but still lose his soul. Still less does it profit a man — or nation — to not lose all of the world after having lost his soul.

To return to the image of the town drunk – he used to teach English literature at the University, and he still remembers a lot about the books he used to read. If you catch him in the morning, you can sit down with him on the park bench in a spot of sun and have quite a nice conversation. The conversation can be real and engaging, but that doesn’t change how sad it all is.

So with all such appropriate qualifications being made, America is still Calvinist, still postmillennial, and still entrepreneurial in a Deuteronomic sense. Some foundational aspects of each are still operative in our national DNA. I hope to write more about each as the opportunities present themselves.

19
Leave a Reply

avatar
 
18 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
12 Comment authors
katechoMatthew AbateEric StampherRFBDoug Sayers Recent comment authors

  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
prayersofadoration
Member

“entrepreneurial in a Deuteronomic sense”

Do you mean entrepreneurial down in the DNA?

Tim Etherington
Guest
Tim Etherington

“still postmillennial” In what sense? In the sense of optimism for the future? I guess I could see “postmill without Jesus” and will bite my tongue on the obvious joke this historic premill sees in that statement. But just for clarity sake, is that what you’re getting at with that one?

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

The godless Puritan is not some beneficial holdover from our past. That is exactly the Antichristian moral crusader you find yourself up against with the gay cakes, etc. The American church has a taste for moralism wherever it can be found and is very vulnerable to adopting the godless moralism of the culture at large. Renounce Whiggishness.
Do you have any historical examples of national repentance and renewal? I would request examples other than ancient Israel since I consider them a somewhat unique case.

timothy
Guest
timothy

She was a beautiful country. I love her because she was good.

Your blog post on the covenental nature of our founding and God’s attribute of enforcing covenants gives me great hope for her yet.

Something too, pastor. The Holy Spirit has given me such a calmness as these days unfold. In a very real sense, I am not ‘here’ anymore, but ‘there’ where God is taking this nation and her people. Its like being home again.

cheers.

t

BJ
Guest
BJ

Barnabas,

The Great Awakenings of American history may be good examples of what Doug is referencing. I can also think of two big Scottish revivals something like 1850ish and another about 100 years later. I don’t suspect he means a full-on postmil onslaught.

Under His Mercy,
BJ

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

Tim — still postmillennial in the sense that:

We expect that at the end of this present era will come an immediate reckoning.

That this era will not be followed by a golden age (millennium) that will be followed by another era of revolt that will be followed by a final era of reckoning= your historic premil position.

Postmil is here defined not in the more recent Jonathan Edwards dispensational postmil way but rather in the more classic Augustinian-Kuyperian model that keeps amillennialism under it’s wing.

Jack Bradley
Guest
Jack Bradley

“It will be very much like the town drunk at the tent meeting revival, and not very much like a refined woman deciding not to have cheesecake for dessert at the upscale bistro.”

Douglas, I’ve been listening to Twain a lot lately, and your characteristically hilarious/apt metaphors are right on that par.

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

While I appreciate the souls won during the Great Awakenings, I think that overall they were damaging to American religious orthodoxy and good governance.
Amillennialism appears to me to make the most sense both scripturally and historically. I can’t help but think that those reading Postmill from scripture are reading through a lens of their own progressive sensibilities.

mikebull1
Member

Hi Barnabas – postmill just means that history will allow the fruits of the Gospel to ripen just as much as it allows the fruits of godlessness to ripen for judgment. There will still be a great sorting at the end. But history will not be a great souring. It will be a repeated vindication of the words and works of Christ.
On revivals, pitting orthodoxy against them is like pitting planting and watering against harvest. Harvest time is meant to shake things up. But harvest time isn’t supposed to come every day either.

doug sayers
Guest
doug sayers

“So with all such appropriate qualifications being made, America is still Calvinist, still postmillennial, and still entrepreneurial in a Deuteronomic sense. Some foundational aspects of each are still operative in our national DNA. I hope to write more about each as the opportunities present themselves.” That would be a boatload of qualifications; so much so that the assertions may die the death of a thousand of them. Perhaps Calvinism is still operative in our national DNA in the sense that we are still pretty good at making the Bible say that which it doesn’t. Often, in our country, that which… Read more »

BJ
Guest
BJ

Doug Sayers, “Perhaps Calvinism is still operative in our national DNA in the sense that we are still pretty good at making the Bible say that which it doesn’t. Often, in our country, that which is explicit in Scripture still takes a back seat to the desired inference.” Alright, I’ll bite. I am willing to call your bluff on this. (You know, in a blogosphere friendly iron-sharpening-iron sort of way). To where would you point in the Scriptures that Calvinists deny the obvious meaning for the desired inference? Keep in mind that while I am happy to call myself a… Read more »

Barnabas
Guest
Barnabas

I’m still hoping to read some interesting comments on the influence of Calvinism and post-Calvinism on American thought. Please don’t chase Sayers down a ridiculous rabbit hole.

Doug Sayers
Guest
Doug Sayers

BJ Your request for specifics is fair and it would not be my desire to run us way off the course of Doug’s post. I’ll be brief. Doug’s comments, as usual, were thought provoking and (along with Barnabas) I really do look forward to his future explanations. There is something to his remark but I think America’s “DNA” is mostly due to the residual effect of biblical Christianity and not so much the Calvinist variety. He gives Calvinism too much credit, thus my so called “backhand” comment. After further review, (having once been a Reformed Baptist) here is what I… Read more »

RFB
Guest
RFB

“…it is never said that anyone is born *dead* in sin.” Ephesians 2:1-6 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with… Read more »

Eric Stampher
Guest
Eric Stampher

Hi Mr. Sayers

Please explain how or why we suffer the consequences.
Did God throw some punishment Adam’s way and we get collateral damage?

And why must we be born again?
When did our initial birth become inadequate?

Matthew Abate
Guest

Barnabas,

Does Nineveh’s national repentance/renewal in the book of Jonah count as an historical example?

Over and out…

Katecho
Member

Doug Sayers wrote: Scripture never explicitly teaches (or necessarily infers) that the guilt of Adam’s sin is imputed to his posterity. We each suffer the *consequences* of God’s curse on Adam’s sin but not the *culpability.* It is biblically (and rationally) impossible that the guilt of Adam’s sin could be imputed to his posterity because sin is not imputed where there is no law. Sin is not imputed by natural generation. Rom 4:15; 5:13 We are each born in sin but it is never said that anyone is born *dead* in sin. Consider that Scripture says that the wages of… Read more »

Katecho
Member

“its own”, not “it’s own”.