I had the privilege of delivering the convocation address for New Saint Andrews College this past week. It centered on the need for a chest given the times. And low and behold, as I sat to write this week’s blog, I wanted to say the same thing again to a broader audience. So here it goes. It is time for a Reformed Evangelical chest. Check that, 2019 was the time for a Reformed Evangelical chest. But since we didn’t have one back then, we should go ahead and develop one now because we still need one. The only thing is, this chest will be harder to develop now after so many have been sucking wind through those masks for a couple years.
But, fret not, ye of little faith. Our God puts the camel through the needle’s eye. He sends even the rich man into the kingdom of heaven. And while it may stretch your faith beyond its usual bounds, I declare to you that he can even put a chest in an American Evangelical. This kind is only driven in through fasting and prayer. But driven in it must be.
Not every moment in the novel is as gripping as other moments. And not every battle in the war is as crucial as another battle. Sometimes you even enlist in the army during peace time. But it is not so with us my friends.
We are in the fray. For those just enlisting in the good fight, you are enlisting with bullets flying. God has seen fit to drop you into the story at the very moment when everyone is on the edge of their seats. We are like the Spartans at the battle of Thermopylae. A Pagan army has assembled and they really do threaten everything godly. As happened at Thermopylae, the battle is coming to a point, the lines are clearly drawn, and there is nowhere to hide.
It is said that the Spartan women would tell their sons to come back from battle with their shield or on it. As a Spartan soldier, your shield protected not only you, but your fellow soldier. So Spartan mothers told their sons to keep their shield and protect their fellow man, or die. For the Christian, the shield is the shield of faith. Paul said, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7). Now it is our turn to keep the faith once for all delivered to the saints. And it will be a fight.
Deep Heaven Pulled Down
I’m not just throwing that word “Pagan” around. We have observed the rise of a new religion over the last few years. It is a religion that has been around for some time, but it has manifested itself in these last few years in a manner unforeseen.
I have referred to the French Political Theorist Chantal Delsol before. Her article The End of Christianity highlights an important truth about the inevitability of religion informing society. She writes, “At the start of the twenty-first century, the most established and most promising philosophical current is a form of cosmotheism [paganism].”
Delsol explains that this Pagan philosophical current yearns to establish itself on earth. She writes, “Our Western contemporaries no longer believe in a beyond or in a transcendence. The meaning of life must therefore be found in this life itself, and not above it, where there is nothing.” Delsol goes on to say that monotheists view this world as “temporary lodging.” But it is not so, she says, for the cosmotheist or pagan. The pagan has nothing greater to look to. So Delsol writes, “The postmodern mind is tired of living in a temporary lodging! It needs a home of its own . . . One becomes a cosmotheist again because one wants to reintegrate oneself into this world as a full citizen.”
Delsol is right about the present impulse of Paganism to establish itself in our cultural and political life. The battle for earth is on. You can tell by looking around at all of the yard signs and rainbow flags. You can tell because in spite of the recent Dobbs decision in which Roe v. Wade was overturned, Joe Biden’s Justice Department has moved to sue the State of Idaho, in order to keep up the slaughter of unborn children created in the image of God. You can tell because you live in a world where a man has won woman of the year. You live in a world where the United States Assistant Secretary of Health is a man who presents himself to be a woman and encourages young American boys to think and act like they are girls and young American girls to think and act like they are boys. This is the manifestation of a new and pagan religion. As Lewis said, we “have pulled down deep heaven on our heads.”
But in a very real sense, we are grateful for this moment. We are not afraid. The middle way of secularism has proven to be inept. And we now see it is not whether you will have religion but which religion you will have. You could have shrugged that point off only a few years ago. You could have argued for neutrality in the public square, in economics, government, the sciences, and many other dimensions of human life and knowledge. But God has destroyed that myth of neutrality in American life and culture.
C. S. Lewis demonstrates how this process unfolds in his Ransom Trilogy in which a cold and unspiritual science turns into sorcery and the black arts. Christiana Hale has captured the progression in Lewis’ novels quite well in her book Deeper Heaven. She writes, “The materialistic and reductionistic philosophy that began by exalting reason and objective science as the only path to ultimate answers has degenerated into necromancy and dark magic. The philosophy that led Weston to reject the claims of human feeling and emotion in favor of unmoving, objective science and hard facts is now driving men to reanimate decapitated heads, level small villages, and take orders from dark spirits whose natures are far beyond what their hard ‘science’ can explain.”
We have seen this progression in our day. Rational and Modern Man went after science without divinity only to bend the knee at the altar of the very spiritual scientism. Postmodern Man himself, with his denial of objectivity and all of his “to-each-their-own-ing,” has become Pagan Man who demands that you say the pronouns or else be sent to the Gulag.
This cultural fruit (which is cultural rot) stems from a doctrinal root, which is the teaching of demons. The Christian Minister, Peter Jones, has said, “The millennial generation, is the first generation of our modern era to receive a fully developed neo-pagan cosmology masquerading as the correct view of history and demanding to be inscribed in public policy. It is indeed a well-worked out cosmology, that is a worldview, about the nature of existence. And it is thoroughly pagan.”
I might add that it is also thoroughly foolish. It is thoroughly hopeless. We meet that fully developed neo-pagan cosmology masquerading about with a true Christian cosmology that has no need to cover its face. We know that, as Lewis said, this organized rebellion we are up against, the one that would deChristianize our culture and society is made up of men without chests.
Accept this threefold division for a minute, and you will see the glory of the present moment and the need for a Reformed Evangelical chest. Consider man with his mind, chest, and belly. His mind is his intellect. His chest is “the seat of emotions organized by trained habit into stable sentiments.” And his belly is his more natural or animal appetites (think desire for food, sex, money and the like).
The day of adversity has come upon us over the last few years, and sadly, many Christians who had the truth in their minds, failed to stand up and fight. They knew the folly of the times. They saw the tyranny. They had the right answers in the intellect, but they had no chest. And, as Lewis said, “You can’t remove the organ and demand the function.” The head rules the belly through the chest. And the head rules the world through the chest. If you have no chest, then you’re simply a nice big decapitated head that the bad guys will use as a mouth piece to advance their agenda. On the other hand, we have seen parts of the Christian Church simply give into their appetites, mindlessly becoming “visceral man.” The lusts of the flesh arising from the new religion have had their way with them and they have joined the woke march with its woke lusts. As Paul said, “their god is their belly.”
In other words, it is a wonderful time to be alive. Decapitated heads won’t do. Knowing what needs to be done won’t do. You have to do it. And that means honor, devotion, courage, these things re in order. We need a chest. We need what Spurgeon said of the Reformers, “These men loved the faith and the name of Jesus too well to see them trampled on… It is today as it was in the Reformer’s days. Decision is needed. Here is the day for the man, where is the man for the day?”