I think it is only appropriate to make a slightly political blog today. My place is certainly to not be partisan. I try to avoid being too political, but the church does have a role in politics indirectly.
I said yesterday in discussion of Edwards' Resolutions that it takes 30 minutes to deliver a sermon and 30 years to prepare one. The same is true of debates. The message here is the need for life-long intellectual preperation, for you never know when you will be called to serve your country or your church in its hour of need.
The church is called to produce men and women that are the best intellectual and moral thinkers of their community and who are filled with strategic and tactical wisdom. If anyone is to be trustworhty, it should be the Christian leader (or the leader who is a Christian). After the debate, I am struck with only one real thought, "We are in a time of crisis, so where is our Thomas Jefferson, our George Washington, or our Abraham Lincoln?" I think that is a pretty fair way to say that the leaders of the past certainly appeared to be more sophisticated and more intellectually mature and honest than our present leaders.
The Puritans, when they came to the new world, saw it as their first priority to build places of education, so they built Harvard. The worst thing the Puritans feared was that they would have an uneducated clergy. The clergy must know the original languages. The early reformed revivalists and preachers carried Greek New Testaments into the pulpit. The clergy and the Christian should know church history and world history, so too the statesman. The leader was required to know philosophy and the history of thought and the development of technology and science. The leader was trained in warfare and strategy and understood the errors of commanders in chief in the past throughout all European and American history so as not to repeat the errors of the past.
Such men would either enter the pulpit or become statesmen. Today we have personal injury attorneys running for office. We as a nation do not really respect the mind and the understanding, and our leaders do not approach us, the electorate, with much sophistication. We probably could not follow them if they did.
In the church as well, we are almost anti-intellectual. We as pastors are often told to dummy down our sermons. Is that the answer to mediocrity in education?
What is a Father to Do
Whenever my children do something unkind or unloving, they are sent to their room, but they are not allowed to just sit there and be grumpy. I require them to "write an essay" explaining what they did and why dad requires them to be on time out for this infraction. My children need to learn to think and reason deeply. I often return their "essays" for further support. Or I say, "No that is no the right answer". No weak thinking in our home is allowed. Actually, when we are done with the excercise the children are very joyful. The excercise of thinking and talking and working out a problem as a family is fun. The method is a win-win. They become moral thinkers and I fulfill my duty to provide correction.
Do not under-estimate the value of a challenging education and the need to press our children to be lifelong moral and indeed philosophical thinkers. Edwards, for example, entered Yale at 13. We see by looking at the diary and respolutions of Edwards that every day he spent on some form of intellectual and moral self-improvement. We may not have the potential of an Edwards, but we do have the responsibility of being faithful with what we have been given. We must be intellectually prepared to fight for our ideas and to lead in wisdom in our families, our church and, Lord willing, our nation.
You never know when your nation may need you.