Campus Episodes (Part One)


“She kept dropping F-bombs throughout her talk.”

Episode #1

My text notification chirped. She was writing from a classroom lecture.

“I’m in a world language course. In our random reading this week we read the story of Adam and Eve. The professor told the class it was a myth that teaches women are useless, scapegoats for world evil. This is not the first time our language studies prof has denigrated Christianity and the Bible. In a class that is supposed to be teaching me a world language we just spent an hour discussing the inappropriateness of the Bible’s sexism.”

My response included the obvious question “Is this a Spanish class or a theology class?”

I sent my young protégé a link to my teaching (here) attacking the “Genesis as myth” claim.

The text exchange left me wondering how often other professors speak outside the framework of course objectives, turning Spanish class into an attack on Christianity.

As it turns out, I didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Episode #2

Depending on your point of view, “multiculturalism” can be welcoming or hostile.

In one class, “hostile” would be the proper definition.

The student sat across from me at the lunch table. “I was just attacked in my class for being a white Christian dominating other cultures.”

The young woman told us at the lunch table, “She kept dropping F-bombs throughout her presentation. It was pretty obvious she was trying to intimidate the class. Her eyes locked on each individual around the room. Her angry gaze was meant to demean, humiliate, making students submit to her way of thinking.”

This kind of rhetoric and abuse from speakers on college campuses is not new (examples here).

“Imagine a Muslim student being asked to tolerate this kind of abusive rhetoric,” I replied.

She shook her head up and down. “What really got me, though, was her conclusion. ‘Go be who you are’ was her final admonition. It totally contradicted everything she had just said!”

Indeed.

Episode #3

Students do a lot of reading in college, as well they should.

But sometimes the reading can challenge basic beliefs that Christian students hold.

Just last week I spent a couple of hours with a young man helping him with an article he had to read for class. The essay was positing that the Christian understanding of humans being sinful, corrupt in our thinking, is outdated and wrong. In fact, the prof intoned that students needed a more “up-to-date, educated reality of peoples’ diverse motivations.” The emphasis of the class was to suggest that human beings are basically good that we should, and I quote what the student heard in class, “be set free to follow our own secular ways.” The professor went on to say that the Christian viewpoint just wanted to control people, calling this “a religious stigma.” Of course, the professor said nothing about his own “control” which was actually “stigmatizing” students’ Christian beliefs!

My young friend and I had a rousing discussion which, I understand, turned into quite a rousing discussion in the class after our talk.

I LOVE talking with Christian young people at college about their studies and what they are hearing in the classroom. If you know of a Christian college student in Indianapolis who could benefit from these kinds of discussions, let me know. MORE “Campus Episodes” next week!

 

Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video).

Picture credit: snappygoat.com, www.easyfreeclipart.com

 

Together


Working together is better than working apart.

Dr. Clyde Posley, Dr. Mark Eckel, co-host Warp&Woof Radio

Government “shutdowns” or legislative stalemates do little to overcome disagreements. Entrenched, combative pugilists seek only to dominate and humiliate. “Victory” comes at a cost, a cost not always immediate in its impact. Proverbs 18:18 says, “The lot puts an end to quarrels and decides between powerful contenders” (ESV).

Better to settle and lose a little, than to fight and lose a lot. When there is truth on both sides of an argument, “winning” an argument is not worth the cost. Two powerful contenders must ask themselves, “What am I willing to give up to get most of what I want?” Living together in harmony necessitates compromise and conciliation on both sides.

It’s better to throw lots than to throw punches. “Lots” functioned much as our sealed bids do today. As long as both sides agree to the outcome, no one can argue the result. A former student, now a lawyer and mayor his town, told me, “When both lawyers leave the courtroom dismayed by the verdict you know that the judgment was about as good as it gets.” The second statement confirms and augments the first in Proverbs 18:18 – settle out of court.

We can create verbal combat zones. Territorial attitudes sometimes leave little room for hearing others. “We have done it this way for years” or “You will never change my mind” are non-starter discussion points.

Professor Karen Swallow Prior of Liberty University addressed the ideal of disagreement in an academic setting. Instead of feeling threatened, responding defensively, she said,

In academia, the underlying assumption is that the discussion of ideas is part of the larger pursuit of truth. Disagreement is not intended to be personal, but to be part of a shared, transcendent objective. How much more is this so in the church? My desire is for Truth, and while I hold many deep convictions and even more opinions, my commitment to the Truth of God is stronger than these.[1]

Professor Prior’s comments ring true when one reads Philippians 4. Two strong women – Euodia and Syntyche – struggled with agreement (Phil 4:1-3). Paul encouraged them and all who worked with them to see the bigger picture. Not only did they labor side by side but for the same cause. Whatever our position our mission remains the same. Agreeing to a larger issue, finding the means to hold our disagreements in tension with each other, is a way that “strong contenders” can work together.

Dr. Clyde Posley and I now co-host our Comenius Institute sponsored Warp&Woof Radio show.[2] We are both academics, each have earned Ph.D.’s, speaking in various venues around the country. We agree that any disagreements we may have are nothing in comparison to the agreement we share both to The Kingdom of Christ and the authority of God’s Word in our lives. Our collaboration together as friends and brothers in Christ seeks agreement and oneness in every arena of God’s world.

This essay will appear with some alternations this coming Sunday at Emerging Scholars Network (here). Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video). Picture credit: snappygoat.com, liberty.edu

[1]Karen Swallow Prior, “Interview with Karen Swallow Prior,” sheworships.com 13 April 2016 https://sheworships.com/interview-with-karen-swallow-prior/

[2] http://comeniusinstitute.com/videos/radio/

Pro-Science, Pro-Life


Science and human life.

Both depend on an origin outside human decision.

The Atlantic published “Pro-Life, Pro-Science” this past Thursday (here). Emma Green documents the obvious science behind neonatology studies.

March for Life, 2018. LifeNews.com

She suggests that pro-life groups are “winning” the debate on abortion since science is “instilling a sense of awe that we never really had before at any point in human history” quoting pro-life mother Ashley McGuire. Citing the latest scientific advances McGuire contends there is a fundamental

Shift [in] the moral intuition around abortion. New technology makes it easier to apprehend the humanity of a growing child and imagine a fetus as a creature with moral status. Over the last several decades, pro-life leaders have increasingly recognized this and rallied the power of scientific evidence to promote their cause. They have built new institutions to produce, track, and distribute scientifically crafted information on abortion. They hungrily follow new research in embryology. They celebrate progress in neonatology as a means to save young lives.

In a “science obsessed” culture, Green’s article is powerful. She points out that the debate has shifted in the last decade away from science supposedly supporting abortion. McGuire continues

When you’re seeing a baby sucking its thumb at 18 weeks, smiling, clapping, it becomes harder to square the idea that that 20-week-old, that unborn baby or fetus, is discardable.

Yes, we live in an age when science is dominant. “Studies show” and “doctors tell us” preamble any news broadcast with the latest knowledge about space exploration, communicable diseases, water usage, genetic engineering, or robotics. Global warming advocates point to their interpretation of data contending for environmental legislation. Flu shots are said to be the physician preferred response to winter viruses. Businesses tend to run productivity on so-called quantitative “big data,” knowledge based on numbers.

Yes, scientific advances have given a louder megaphone to the pro-life movement. For those of us who are unabashedly pro-life we are grateful for affirmation of what we already knew was true.

And there is the rub. “Truth,” “rights,” “life,” and “science” are all dependent upon an ethical origin.

I do not need science to tell me that my grandchildren, while in the womb, were human, needing protection, care, and compassion.

The pro-life movement does not depend upon science for its truth.

All human life has worth, value, and dignity ONLY because there is a transcendent source of ethics.

As a Hebraic-Christian thinker I attest without question nor equivocation that The Personal Eternal Triune Creator of the universe is the source of human life.

On this, the sordid anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the day given to remember the murder of 60 million of our fellow citizens by judicial fiat, I once again speak for the voiceless. Any pro-death positions – infanticide, euthanasia, abortion – should rule the day if humans arbitrate truth, rights, life, or science. But justice issues begin with our beginning. If we are not truly human in the womb, than we are not truly human outside the womb.

I am glad science can affirm the pro-life position.

But I am pro-life not because of science but because God said, “Let us make humans in our image.”

January 22nd marks the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision entitled “Roe v. Wade” which is gave women the “right” to decide to abort a child through the 28th week of pregnancy. As I have stated many times in the past, I will always speak unapologetically for life.

I also celebrate the lives of many of my students – not to mention my daughter and son-in-law – who have given birth, adopted, provide compassionate services for single moms, give nursing care, and have generally sacrificed time, treasure, and talent on behalf of those who cannot care for themselves.

Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video). Picture credit: snappygoat.com, lifenews.com

Approach


Nine out of ten times we will agree.

Speaking with Christian brothers in a recent on air interview, I made the suggestion above.

It was a group of men whose political, cultural views were widely varied.

As we discussed issues, it was clear that we all adhered to the same biblical principles, we all held the same philosophical perspectives, we all agreed that certain things were right or wrong.

The conclusion seemed obvious: our differences revolved around approach.

Our approach to issues has to do with how we

Treat others with whom we converse

Use language which invites not alienates

Speak publicly about those with whom we may disagree

Support another’s right to speak even if we disagree

Listen to those whose voice, culture, or background is different from our own

Consider the following examples.

Identity. Some want us to accept their self-identity based on their individual definitions of sexuality or gender. My agreement or disagreement with self-identity in the culture means little if I do not accept people as fellow human beings. Worth, value, and dignity are based on our being made in God’s image according to God’s creational law (Genesis 1:26-27). If I approach individuals as people rather than categories, reception may be reciprocal.

Government. There are those who vilify anyone with whom they disagree. Responses to the president, congress, judges, or law enforcement crosses the line of visceral hatred for some. I may be willing to listen to reasoned responses to people or policy but I will not abide disrespect of anyone. The biblical vantage point begins with the admonition to honor those in authority (1 Peter 2:13-17). If I approach authorities with a spirit of generosity – no matter their belief or behavior – my approach may bring with it an opportunity for collaboration and conciliation.

 

Media. If we are only given to one perspective on any given issue we will never be able to live with each other in cooperation. Those on the so-called “left” tend to read Slate, Salon, Huffington Post, The New York Times, NPR, or The Washington Post. Those on the so-called “right” tend to read The Drudge Report, The Weekly Standard, National Review, The Washington Times, City Journal, or First Things. Scripture clearly teaches that one should consider the second point of view after the first (Proverbs 18:17). If I approach other perspectives with an attitude of respect – without giving up my perspective – it could lead to everyone being heard.

 

Two weeks ago Warp&Woof Radio celebrated our 100th show at the state capital building in Indianapolis. Thanks to Matt Barnes and Tim Overton, HB Bell and I were able to interview a wide cross section of senators and representatives as they began their 2018 legislative session.

 

What struck me then and what continues to reverberate in my thinking is how much each elected official cared for their constituency. Each person brought forward what they wanted the general assembly to consider. What was true of each governmental official was their generous approach toward everyone, even those “across the aisle.”

 

Nine times out of ten we will agree with basic beliefs. It is often our approach to problems which divides us. May we first seek to find God-given, creational principles to live this life. Then may we discover the communication which will attract others to listen, to consider, and to respect approaches different than their own.

Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video).

Help Comenius reach its $40,000 giving goal in this new year! The Comenius Institute [501(c)(3)] (website hereDonate online (here), mark@comeniusinstitute.org, (text/talk 630.303.4891) Checks to “The Comenius Institute,” c/o Collaborate 317, 4202 N EMS Blvd #180, Greenfield, IN 46140 And ask Mark what Comenius would do with $1 million!

Picture credit: Snappygoat.com, personal pictures from HB Bell

Poverty


The rich are judged by how they treat the poor.

Poverty is real, has real consequences, for real people, with real needs.

Poor people in particular are targeted as the “have-nots” in American politics.  Poverty seems always to be a “wedge issue” for debate.  One party will tend to label the other as “the party of the rich” speaking of themselves as serving the needs of the poor, when, indeed, American politicians tend to be rich: they bear the burden of poverty-politics.

Sex, money, and power are said to control the world. It strikes me as I read the Hebrew prophets, however, that the latter two issues are much more pronounced in God’s judgment than is sexual sin, which is almost never mentioned. Over and over again God rails against those that “have” misusing those who “have not.” [For an example of biblical-social-justice see my essay here entitled “Morality”.]

Scripture, on the other hand, labels people in a different way.  The economically powerful are to protect the economically weak. [For instance, read my essay here entitled “gleaning”.] God warned people that political leaders would come with economic conditions causing severe consequences (1 Sam 8:11-17). The awfulness of land-grabbing, lying, court-corrupting, murdering, self indulgent leaders is no where better captured than when Ahab stole land from Naboth (1 Kings 21).

Laziness may be cited as one reason for poverty in Proverbs (6:11; 10:4, 15; 13:18; 20:13; 22:1; 28:11; 30:8-9). However, Proverbs chapters 28 and 29 specifically indicate that the “ruling classes” bear responsibility for economic direction of a country. [See my essay here entitled “peace.”]

Uncaring attitudes for the poor that arise from wealth and privilege are cited as reasons for judgment (Isa 3:16-26; Amos 4:1-3; 8:4-6).  The exile of Judah was largely the result of economic injustice (Amos 2:6-7; 5:7-12; Micah 3:8-12), as was the flood (Gen 6:6, 11, 13). In Genesis 6:11 and 13 when God judged the “earth filled with violence” the Hebrew word hamas was used. God desires to fill the earth through human procreation (Gen 1:28; 9:1), whereas the greedy fill the earth by procreating violence (Ezek 8:17; 28:16). [1] The prophets use the same word to describe the exploitation of the poor by the rich (Amos 3:10; Micah 6:12).

Dishonesty (Amos 8:4-6), selfishness (through loans, Amos 5:11), loving things over people (Isa 5:8; Micah 2:1-4), and courtroom bribery through unjust judges (Isa 1:23; 3:13-15; Amos 5:7, 10, 12) are targets of prophetic condemnation. Scripture judges the rich by how they treat the poor (Job 29:12, 16; Ps 112:9; see also, Deut 15:1-11; James 2:1-7, 15-16; 4:13-16; 5:4; 1 John 3:17).

 

Economic justice is a prophetic imperative (Isa 11:5; 42:1; Ezek 45:8; Zech 14:14, 21). Biblical injunctions concerning financial justice are often tied to indebtedness. The responsibility is directed toward the creditors—those who have the financial ability to abuse others by lending at interest (Ex 22:25-27; Lev 25:35-38; Deut 23:19, 20).  Judgments against the lending-borrowing practice focused on exorbitant interest charged to those in need while “the rich became richer” (2 Kings 4:1-7; Neh 5:1-13; Ps 15:5; Prov 28:8; Jer 15:10; Ezek18:13; 22:12; Hab 2:7). [See “financial rape” [2] below.]

A communitarian emphasis developed in the early church where people shared the wealth they owned with each other, which included monetary gifts demonstrating participation in ministry (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37).  The Greek word koinonia includes monetary gifts as “fellowship” as seen in Philippians 4:10-19. [Further comments on fairness, social consciousness, equality, and equity can be found in my essay here entitled “That’s Not Fair!”]

Christian teaching on poverty must include the following ideas and ideals: (1) God, not humans, owns everything; (2) custodial conservation of the earth is dependent upon faithful, responsible, creative people; (3) giving is to be “open-handed” versus “tight-fisted” (Deut 15:7-11); (4) stewarding creation should be prompted by and considerate of the next generation; (5) history curricula should include a poverty focus from the vantage point of corrupt governments as much as it might corrupt businesses; (6) teaching on private ownership and responsible stewardship should be wedded; (7) wealth produces accountability and opportunity to benefit all (1 Tim 6:17-19). [On these and other points see my essay here entitled “giving”.]

Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), interprets culture from a Christian vantage point (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church each fall (video). Picture credit: snappygoat.com

[1] Mathews, Genesis 1-11:26, p. 359.

[2] It should be noted that borrowing is always viewed in a negative light in Scripture (Prov 17:18), something one would want to avoid (Prov 22:7).  However, borrowing is not altogether outlawed (Ex 22:25; Ps 37:26; Matt 5:42; Lk 6:35).  It should be also noted that the original etymological range of the word “loan” meant to take a bite or consume.  “Don’t bite off more than you can chew” or “be careful he doesn’t take a bite out of you” are common reminders.  So borrowing is allowed though not advocated. See Alysa’s excellent essay here on “financial rape.”

Terror


We will never forget.

This essay is dedicated to all who were murdered in Las Vegas on the night of October 1st, 2017, all who suffer from their wounds (seen and unseen), the families who grieve loss, those who gave their lives for others, and those who helped in great or small ways. We stand with the people of Las Vegas, silent, arms around their shoulders, tears streaming down our cheeks, heads bowed.

I had just finished lifting weights at the Solheim Center at Moody Bible Institute. Workers were turning on televisions around the facility. Gaggles of students began to cluster around them. We saw the plumes of smoke rising from one building just as an airliner slammed into the second World Trade Center. Announcements across campus and throughout Chicago directed residents to stay inside, commuters to leave the city.

As I walked a mile and a half to the train station I witnessed empty sidewalks and traffic-less streets. Fighter jets broke the sound barrier overhead. We found out later officials believed big cities like Chicago could be next. All America was in shock. We clung to every news report. Each bit of new information became its own story-line.

The date was September 11th, 2001.

At 4 a.m. yesterday morning I began seeing news reports of a shooting in Las Vegas a couple of hours before. Two people had been killed. My phone chimed over and over with the latest news, the death toll rising. Finally I turned on the television to see the video, much like I and everyone did on 9/11.

Eyelids barely held the tears as I listened to the description of the worse mass shooting in American history: the carnage, the loss of life, hundreds hospitalized. I raged against the abject cowardice of a madman shooting at concertgoers in downtown Las Vegas.

Flashbacks continued throughout the day. I remembered going back to Chicago on the train soon after 9/11. I was supposed to teach next gen teachers about classroom teaching. I thought then as I thought yesterday, “How can I teach/write as if this is just another day, another part of the curriculum?”

I couldn’t then, I can’t now.

During a 45 minute train ride sixteen years ago I wrote a lesson for teachers entitled “How to Teach After the World Changes.” I referenced the laments of the Psalmist, the wails of Job, the anger of Habakkuk, and longing for peace from Malachi. My words focused on how to minister to people who had suffered loss.

The encouragement I brought to students then I bring to readers now; a list of suggestions.

Don’t focus on the person who committed the atrocity, focus on the people you can help in their calamity.

Don’t focus on the political concerns of what should or should not be done, focus on the concerns of spirit, the wellspring of human suffering and love.

Don’t explain, interpret, or conclude, rather comfort, calm, and cry.

Don’t clamor for a cultural response, calling for gun control, rather stand in line at the Red Cross to give blood.

Don’t believe this is the “worst” or the “last” but recognize that “awful” and “horrific” will happen again; how we respond now will help us react then.

I will never forget September 11th, 2001. Now I will never forget October 1st, 2017.

I will also remind myself that my best response to any terror-filled situation is how to prepare myself, my readers, and my students for suffering.

Mark believes that lament is the proper biblical response to suffering (essay), that human horrors will continue until Jesus returns (essay), and that the problems we face are problems of the human heart (essay). Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video). Picture credit: snappygoat.com

Person


“That’s not the person I was talking about.”

It was the greatest experience of my teaching life.

I taught for over forty years in the poorest public schools in and around Indianapolis. My students came from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds. I taught math.

The most important aspect of education is relationship. Trust is the essence of that relationship. If a student knows they can trust you then math teaching – any teaching – becomes a delight.

She came to me after class wanting to talk.

We found some time during school to meet. A demure young woman, she hesitated divulging her true need.

I asked some mundane questions to draw her out but I already knew.

“Are you pregnant?” The word momentarily hung in the air.

“Yes.” She hung her head.

“What will you do?” I asked.

“I already have an appointment,” came the matter-of-fact reply.

Her decision, it seemed, had been made. I wordlessly waited for further explanation.

“A relative is driving me to Louisville on Monday. I can’t have the procedure here in Indiana because I’m too far along.”

It was Friday afternoon.

72 hours from now a young woman was going to make a life altering decision.

Any time a student had come to discuss anything with me in the past I always asked questions. I wanted them to consider their situation, their obligations, and their potential response.

Imposing my views did not build trust.

 “Have you considered the other person in your decision?” I began.

“The father doesn’t want me to have it. He won’t help if I do.”

“That’s not the person I was talking about.”

She was startled, looking up at me after I uttered those words.

She knew.

“You have talked about how this decision will impact your life. What about the life of the baby inside you? Your future will be very different depending on the choice you make on Monday.”

I spoke about the life she was carrying and the potential that life could have in the world. I asked her if she had the right to take the life of another. I told her that I believed only God had the right to terminate a life because only He could restore that life.

I repeated, “The other person in your decision is the person of the child in your womb.”

We talked for some time that Friday afternoon focused on the life of another.

Monday morning found me on the front steps of the high school where I taught. It was my normal practice to greet students as they came in to school each day.

I was shocked to see her.

“I thought you were going to Louisville today!”

Her smile radiated joy.

“I changed my mind.”

I was stunned.

“It was our talk on Friday,” she could tell by the look on my face I needed help understanding.

“Thank you Mr. Wilson,” was all she said, passing me on the stairs.

The dean of women, however, was not thankful.

“Don’t you know how you’ve destroyed her life??!!” she began her tirade.

The young woman’s presence in school on Monday had surprised the dean too. After a brief conversation with the pregnant girl, the school administrator called me out of class.

The dean’s tone was vicious, berating me for my interference.

For ten minutes I stood in her office enduring the verbal assault.

I said nothing.

The year was 1994.

In May of 2017, I saw Facebook pictures of a college graduate posted by a glowing, proud mother.

A young woman’s decision one Monday had given her a thousand Mondays with her baby.

This story stands as the greatest experience of my educational life.

 

Dennis L. Wilson told me this story over coffee. Wiping away the tears I asked if I could retell the story for our audience at Warp & Woof. Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (website), spends time with Christian young people in public university (1 minute video), hosts a weekly radio program with diverse groups of guests (1 minute video), and teaches weekly at his church (video). Picture credit: snappygoat.com

Charlottesville


Bigotry is the seedbed of genocide.

In the past year I have been both demeaned by a white, female, liberal professor for not saying enough (in her estimation [1]) against racism and disparaged by a white, male, nationalist for not defending my “blood kin,” my nationality, my skin color, my “whiteness.”

The most recent incident occurred when I posted this 12 August 17 statement on Facebook:

“I stand with my black brothers and sisters against racial hatred #Charlottesville”

One man took issue with my statement, posting over one hundred replies. Here is one, direct, unedited comment about my “stance”:

“Sorry, but many white believers are growing weary of white weakling professors of faith who loathe the very skin God gave them, all the while “standing” with the perceived downtrodden. Weak, vacillating Professors.”

I doubt any of my students past or present, or anyone who knows me personally, would agree with the descriptors “weak” or “vacillating.” My public posts and staunch commitment to any “stand” I have taken should explode any connection to weakness. [2]

Making a simple statement that I stand with my black friends was vilified because I was not maintaining the “purity” of the “white” “race.” [3]

Further, I was called “an alienist.”

“Mark exhibits classic Alienism. . . . “a prejudice in favor of the alien, the marginal, the dispossessed” . . . In Christianity, . . . we have a greater responsibility to our own family, race, town, state, region, and country, than we do to “the other”. Christians should favor the native and the normal over the alien and the novel. . . . Shame on those who despise their own flesh, who God Made them.”

Far from ashamed as to who I am [4] I am not ashamed to speak out on behalf of others. As an “alienist,” then, I stand with Yahweh who chose to give the same love He gave to His people (Deut 7.8) to the “alien.” The identical Hebrew word is then used to command His people’s love for the “alien.”

              “He loves the sojourner . . . love the sojourner” (ESV, Deut 10.18-19)

 

“The sojourner” is the non-resident, the alien, the outsider, one from other nationalities or ethnicities.

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself(ESV, Lev 19.33-34)

My responsibility is to love (support, uplift, esteem, give to) everyone no matter their religion, gender, ethnicity, nationality, creed, or self-identity.

There are no boundaries given.

There are no “what if ___” given.

There are no “what about ___” given.

There are no “but they did ___” given.

There are no rationalizations given.

“Love the sojourner.” Period.

Some would say – as did my interlocutor this weekend –  that I should defend my ethnicity. No one is disparaging their origins here! But that is NOT the issue. The issue at hand is “How will I respond to the history of oppression against my fellow countrymen and women?”

As a white man, my responsibility is to reach out to my black neighbors. I bear the responsibility to initiate, making intentional my communication and action. Ethnic superiority, purity, and division is NOT the gospel.

So to my liberal collegiate counterpart and my white nationalist Facebook “friend” I say the same thing: only the love of Jesus breaks down all the barriers.

My “whiteness” has nothing to do with the gospel of Jesus.

There is MUCH more to say against quotations ripped from context, misapplied arguments, non-sequiturs, hate-filled videos, and memes which conflate ideas into ideology. Many have thanked me online and in private for allowing false belief to be seen for what it is. Readers can see much more of my stand in the footnotes below. Dr. Mark Eckel is President of The Comenius Institute (site) (video).

 

 

[1] Readers can find many writings from me about ethnicity [use the search line]. Among them I wrote a three-part series with my brother, Pastor Brian Green on “Oneness” (one, two, three) and my personal responsibility as a professor is explained in the essay “Race” (here). Currently I am working on a journal article with my friend Charlie Mitchell on the theological foundations of the 20th century civil rights movement. Find my essay about “Charlie” here.

[2] After I read comments about my supposed “weakness” I continued to remember Paul’s comments, “God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1.27).

[3] “Race” denotes the “human race.” It is better to use the word ethnicity when referencing a person’s origins.

[4] See my faith statement here and biography here.

Stealing


I was too poor to buy books.

The caught thief, Constant Wauters

No, I didn’t steal them.

Years ago, I was asked by a local group to give a talk about business ethics.Since my degrees focus on “ethics” but not “business” I decided I should visit a bookstore to see what business leaders were saying.

bookstoreBook stores were still plentiful in the 1980’s. I visited one closest to me. The business section was clearly marked, I found half a dozen books to peruse, and began to scan the pages.

It took me all of thirty minutes to make the startling discovery.

All the books and their authors were stealing their ideas from Solomon in The Bible.

Authors were using biblical principles straight out of Proverbs to communicate business principles.

I was shocked. My research, document-everything, graduate-education persona was incredulous!

SolomonHow could business leaders, bound by ethical principles espoused in their own books, steal from Solomon?!

And then it hit me. The authors couldn’t help themselves. The books simply reflected what theologians call “common grace.” I realized that I was viewing an example of God’s beneficence to all people.

We find ethical principles for everyday living in any subject; business is no exception.

The book of Proverbs commends itself to all people, cultures, places, and times because God has embedded basic principles within His creation. Life “works” a certain way because God’s consistency and dependability are woven through His Works.

How to readThis summer I have been preparing to teach on “wisdom”in my church body to adults on Sunday mornings. In my study I was re-reading Tremper Longman’s book How to Read Proverbs. I was struck again by the “common grace” approach to life when I revisited Longman’s connection to Daniel Goleman’s book Emotional Intelligence. Dr. Longman tied EQ ideas directly to proverbial wisdom. In his words, Goleman’s “knowing how” is the connection to wisdom. God’s Word in Proverbs explains there is much more we need to navigate in life than “knowing what.” We need to know how.

Proverbs is a “how” book. We are taught about situations that arise in daily life for which we need foresight and thoughtful pondering. Proverbs teaches us how best—not how perfectly—to respond, react, remember, or resist.

OdysseyI am presently teaching a literature course to high school students where “how” will always be linked with everyday living. Juniors and I will recite the importance of memory, navigating Odysseus’ return home in Homer’s Odyssey. We will ponder the distinctiveness of the Genesis origin ideals against the materialistic ways of the Enuma Elish. Virgil’s Aeneid will point us to our need to live piously, loyally, and respectfully.

Here is how I have connected everyday life with God’s view of life elsewhere:

Common Grace allows

Common Truth to establish

Common Law for the

Common Man finding

Common Ground with all.

I am no longer surprised by the commonality of agriculture, business, the arts, or education principles with Scriptural prescriptions.

waifs stealingHow can anyone steal something which is already there?

Mark’s own study of Proverbs shows how much more wisdom he has to learn. Dr. Mark Eckel is president of The Comenius Institute.