Sermon Notes

During the holidays I reviewed and renovated my filing system. While rearranging the files I discovered some sermon notes from my former pastor the late Dr. Wayne Fulton. I thought it would be fun to look at some of the notes that I took while in  my early and late teens.

“A rippling effect of revival is ‘thinking right thoughts about God.'”

1. God is a giving God
2. God is a good God
a. Holy
b. Righteous
3. God is a gracious God
4. God is a great God

God is a giving God so pray.
God is a good God so live pure.
God is a gracious God so praise Him.
God is a great God so seek to please Him.

Psalm 63:1,2
O God,  you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.

Psalm 27:4 (true revival)
One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

A revived person prays!
A revived person needs help!
A revived person understands that God is giving!
A  revived person sees Him as a good God!
A revived persons sees Him as a gracious God!

Only God can give pleasure!
Satan can only give amusements. In a world so sinful we try to get by with alibis.

Perhaps a kid’s notes from an inspiring spiritual disciple of Christ will be encouraging to you this day.

Music Monday

To God Be the Glory

by Fanny J. Crosby

To God be the glory—great things He hath done!
So loved he the world that he gave us His son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin
And opened the Life-gate that all may go in.

O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood!
To every believer the promise of God
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.

Great things He hath taught us, great things He hath done,
And great our rejoicing thru Jesus the Son;
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.

The French Revolution

twilight-of-atheismThe Twilight of Atheism The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World by Alister McGrath (homepage or biography)

French Revolution (Chpt 2)

McGrath argues 18th century France provides clues to the rise of atheism. How would atheism gain momentum and build excitement for a country inundated with the Catholic Church? France during the time of Louis XVI was led by three estates aristocracy, clergy, and middle-class bourgeoisie. McGrath suggests that the middle-class bourgeoisie were marginalized and muted by the aristocracy and the clergy / church. Pressure mounted from the voiceless as they froze through the winter, starved during the famine, and barely escaped starvation. While life was miserable for the middle class, royalty was basking in extravagance, cozily warm in the winter, and steadily enlarging their plump stomachs. The church and aristocracy’s flagrant abuse of power and privilege stirred up eloquent influential critics. Voltaire who insisted on the importance of a Divine Being, chastised the Catholic Church for its exploitation. The middle class linked the Church leadership to the Christian faith so it hastily sought to curb if not overthrow Christianity and its god.

McGrath introduces a historical analogy by comparing two of the eighteenth century revolutions, French and American. The American Revolution was due in part from an effort to purify religion from a “compromised state church”, while the French Revolution insisted on ridding one’s conscience from the idea of a god.

Although renowned thinkers like Rene Descartes and Marin Marsenne challenged atheism by philosophically arguing for the existence of God, their plans “backfired” through failed arguments. Descartes and Marsenne were not alone church theologians argued about how they should respond to atheism, unfortunately their arguing indirectly contributed to the spread of atheism.

Atheism gained momentum and popularity while religion grappled with its fall from stardom. The destruction of religion in France brought erotic experimentation. Sexual repression was due in part to religion, but if God did not exist sensuality and pleasure take the forefront which includes sexual promiscuity.  Obviously the promulgation of sexuality publically did not sit well with proponents of the church who lived in the shadows of Reason and Nature. Atheism, through the Revolutionary,  eventually showed its ugly head in attempting to silence its opponents in the Reign of Terror. The rise of atheism had come full cycle-they had once been ignored by the aristocracy and clergy, but now they chose to ignore voices. McGrath’s closing thoughts to this chapter are…

“Inspiring and ennobling, the project of the French Revolution was at the same time brutal and repressive. The same movement that made such a powerful appeal to nature and reason for its justification ended up using systematic violence to subdue those who were unpersuaded of its merits. The movement that gave the world such noble monuments as the Declaration of the Rights of Man also gave it the Reign of Terror. To those who suggest that religion is responsible for the ills of the world, the Revolution offers an awkward anomaly. As the historian Reynald Secher has shown, pressure from Paris to eliminate counter-revolution in the south of France led to the deployment of Turreau’s colonnes infernales of 1794, whose wholesale destruction of villages and their inhabitants came close to genocide. The new religion of humanity mimicked both the virtues and vices of the Catholicism it hoped to depose. It might well have a new god, a new savior, and new saints. But it also had its own inquisition and began its own particular war of religion. During the French Revolution, for the first time in modern history the possibility of an atheist state was explored. That exploration was incomplete, inconsistent, and not entirely encouraging. Within a decade, the fledgling French republic found itself overtaken by events, as Napoleon Bonaparte entered Paris and seized power.”

The Dawn of the Golden Age of Atheism

The Twilight of Atheism The Rise and Fall of Disbelief in the Modern World by Alister McGrath|

The Dawn of the Golden Age of Atheism (Chpt 1)

McGrath suggests that part of the fallout of Protestantism was atheism, due not insignificantly to the church’s power, influence and wealth. We cannot be too cautious when power is assigned to us or others. Power can substantially twist and ultimately destroy its owners; so we must walk with humility carefully guarding our hearts from the infestation of pride.  His development of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin was encouraging since the leadership was passionate about developing the church with its original purpose in mind.  These leaders flinched not in the face of the established church and its great might, but cowered in submission to written Scripture. Much to the demise of many countries Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin were not the only ones to revolt against the church. Those who considered God useless revolted against the church with far different demands. Their goal was to expel any thought or mention of God since those who had collectively acknowledge God were the ones exploiting the human race. Their strategic area of attack was the battleground of ideas wherein the church was orchestrated. These individuals spent no time on the limbs of the church they went straight for its jugular; their ideas. I find it very interesting that the reflex of the people was not as a proponent of atheism, but as an opponent of a church out of control. Several kept the faith alive by following the line of Deistic faith that was buttressed by Bishop Butler’s Analogy of Religion (1736) insisting on “probability, but not certainty”. This sounds like 21st century arguments on Christian college campuses. Nonetheless, while churches (German Protestants, Lutheran) gave their attention to open theological debates their churches sputtered into insignificance. While they sputtered, Pietism found momentum as individuals became more important than the church.  The Wesley’s and Philip Spener became movers and shakers as individuals repented of their sin.  McGrath often brings up memories of the Christian faith that we would rather skirt around then stare at, but how grateful I am for an honest individual. McGrath’s grasp of history helps us synthesize the progress of atheism across the English Channel in France, England’s formidable foe, and wrap our minds around the spread of Atheism, which McGrath once defended.