Tag Archives: Christianity

Stonewall Jackson’s Faith Speaks to Christians Today

I have happily returned to reading Robertson’s biography of Thomas Jonathan Jackson. Because the writing is good, and based on both first hand accounts, private letters and contemporary reports, I feel I almost know the man. And I admire him. We need people like him in our country today, those who are public servants in the best sense: committed to fulfilling public and private duty. But more than that, I admire him as a Christian, a man who struggled to know and do God’s will.

The following section from the book occurs shortly after the Harper’s Ferry incident and the ensuing anxiety about sucession.

From the book:

“For Jackson, Lincoln’s election meant that, barring divine intervention, the days of the Union were numbered. Now was the time for serious discussion and mediation. He joined with eleven other Lexington gentlemen in issuing a call for a town meeting to consider the state of the Union. ‘By expression of our opinion,’ the group stated, residents could band together and ‘contribute our mite [sic] to arrest, if possible, the impending calamity–and if that is impossible, then to consult together as to what is the safest course for us to pursue in the event of a dissolution of the Federal government.’ Several gatherings took place, and a number of study committees came into being. Each produced much rhetoric but little resolution. As meetings became more inflammatory, Jackson’s support dwindled. He soon stopped attending the sessions.

Within a few days, Jackson relaxed. He had decided, as was his custom, to put his trust in God. Deacon Jackson would await further developments. Meanwhile, and as a deacon, Jackson had the responsibility for securing accommodations for visiting Presbyterian clergy. Jackson usually found it expedient to extend to such guests the hospitality of his own home.

The Reverend J. B. Ramsey of Lynchburg was at that time staying with the Jacksons. One morning the family had just risen from family prayers. Ramsey expressed lamentations over the state of the country. Jackson listened patiently, then gave the preacher a mini-sermon. “Why should Christians be disturbed about the dissolution of the Union? It can come only by God’s permission, and will only be permitted if for His people’s good; for does He not say, ‘All things work together for good to them that love God?’ I cannot see how we should be distressed about such things, whatever be their consequences.”

To See the King in His Beauty

Your eyes will behold the King in his beauty.  Isaiah 33:17

The more you know about Christ, the less will you be satisfied with superficial views of Him; and the more deeply you study His transactions in the eternal covenant, His engagements on your behalf as the eternal Security, and the fullness of His grace that shines in all His offices, the more truly will you see the King in His beauty. Learn to look at Him this way. Long increasingly to see Jesus.

Charles Spurgeon


Myth and Universal Longing

My introduction (years ago) to the idea of true myth came from reading C.S. Lewis, and then Chesterton.  Dwight Longenecker wrote about that recently.  From his article:

“Myths (whether they are about ancient superheroes or comic-book superheroes) are not simply fanciful stories that are untrue; they are simple, fanciful stories that are very true. They are true even though they are not factual.   A myth reveals truth through a fanciful tale. It does not do so like a fable, where a moral is tacked to the end of a fanciful story; nor does it do so like an allegory, where the characters represent certain truths. Instead, in a myth the truth is dressed up and acted out as in a drama. In a myth, truth and love and beauty put on masks and wear costumes and engage with lies and error and death and destruction. This is why superheroes do the same, because they are acting in a mythic manner….The themes of the overworld and underworld, the need for redemption and sacrifice, the story of the lost child, the hero’s quest, the virgin mother, the dying redeemer, the rising god—all these are woven not just into the imagination of human beings but into their perception of everything in the world around them. The myths were linked with their own sufferings and fears and joys and sorrows, and also into the very fabric of the universe they perceived….The poems and parables and myths and stories all gave flesh to the deeper and more mysterious meanings that were otherwise difficult to unlock, and as the meaning was incarnated in the art, it hinted at a far deeper and more disturbing possibility that the meaning could one day be incarnated not only in art but in reality. ”

A fairy tale I like is the story of Hansel and Gretel (art by Jesse Wilcox-Smith).

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Also from the article:

“Critics of the Christian religion will say that the whole thing is nothing but an amalgamation of pre-Christian myths. The dying and rising god, the hero-god born of a virgin, the gods become incarnate in human form—it was all there before Christian theologians thought it up. They say that Christians purloined the lot. ‘In fact,’ say the rationalist critics of Christianity, ‘their founder was just another ragtag preacher from a backwoods province of the Roman Empire.  The idealistic nincompoop got caught up in some unfortunate political intrigue and was crucified for his mistake. Then the clever fellow Paul came along and began to make a god out of him, and his followers took the ball and ran with it. All sorts of myths, legends, mysterious rituals, and rites were swirling around the Roman empire, and the early Christians took a bit of that myth, a smidgen of this ritual, a pinch of that legend, a dash of this mystery religion, and mixed it all together with some ancient mumbo jumbo, a few miracle stories, and an atmosphere of mythic romance, and—hey, presto!—they came up with Christianity.’  This fabricated story is then used to debunk Christianity as a fabricated story.
There are several problems with their theory. First of all, congruence of time does not demand causation or even influence. In other words, just because two things occur at the same point in history does not necessarily mean that one caused the other or even influenced the other—even if it seems so.
…Instead of invalidating the authenticity of Christianity, the connections validate it. The connections between paganism and Christianity do not show that Christians copied pagans, but that Christianity is part of a much larger, universal human religious context.  If this is the case, then something else is going on in the rituals, mysteries, and myths of humanity, both in the ancient and modern worlds. If the same symbols and stories arise time and again throughout human culture, then we ought to conclude that these stories and symbols lie deep within the universal consciousness of humanity. If this is so, we are onto something truly remarkable. There seems to be a kind of symbolic religious literary code written into human experience. The matrix of meaning runs deep.”

Here is another article about true myths, this one related to the thoughts of  C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and Chesterton.