Center for Cultural Leadership

Posts by P. Andrew Sandlin

Responsibility as a Personal and Cultural Imperative

Posted on December 9, 2017

  Slightly revised from remarks delivered at the 2017 CCL symposium in San Francisco, California   Introduction   Sometimes the topics that the Center for Cultural Leadership targets might seem far removed from your life: D.C. politics, tax-reform legislation, the political correctness of elite Leftist universities, or Hollywood screenwriting worldviews. But today’s topic bores itself into our day-to-day life, into our family, into our very backbone. Responsibility is big a part of what it means to be human in God’s world. We were created in God’s image. God immediately gave our first parents responsibility: to steward the rest of creation, to exert dominion for his glory (Gen. 1:28–28). Think about that fact for a moment. God didn’t first draw attention to a mystical union…

Sola Scriptura — What It Does, and Does Not, Mean

Posted on November 9, 2017

  In the 500th year of the Protestant Reformation, it’s helpful to rehearse the five Reformation solae, of which sola Scriptura might be the most well–known. What does it mean, and what doesn’t it mean?   Not the exclusive authority   Sola Scriptura does not mean that the Bible is our only authority. The Bible makes clear that God establishes subordinate human authority: valid authority under his sovereign authority. God, as it were, deputizes certain institutions to carry out his will. This is why God says in Romans 13 that if we resist civil authority, we resist God’s authority.   We live in a time obsessed with individual autonomy. Autonomy means “self-law.” Ours is an era deeply resistant to external authority of any kind.…

To Rod Dreher: Ours Is a Pre-Christian World 

Posted on October 15, 2017

Rod Dreher has solicited responses from ordained ministers asking whether they are sufficiently courageous to acquaint their congregants or audiences with the present dire apostasy afflicting our society. Below is my response: Rod, I am a long-ordained Reformational minister committed to credal, Bible-believing Christianity. I’m a member of the Fellowship of Mere Christianity. I agree almost entirely with your diagnosis of the present apostasy, both ecclesial and cultural, but not with your dire prognosis. Everywhere I travel, I preach and lecture on the very evidences of cultural evil you raise; but I would suggest you abolish the moniker post-Christian, or at least replace it with the more accurate post-Christendom. The vestiges of the Constantinian Settlement are disintegrating, but the best days of Christianity are…

Real Differences, Real Commonalities 

Posted on October 13, 2017

On the verge of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, it is imperative for Protestants to neither exaggerate nor underestimate the differences with Roman Catholicism. The original reformers were quite happy with the basic inherited orthodoxy they shared with the Latin church (for example, Nicene Trinitarianism and Chalcedonian Christology), as well as what Christopher Dawson termed the historic reality of Christian culture. However, they disagreed firmly (and relentlessly) with the Roman church on the relationship between the Bible and tradition (sola Scriptura), and on how the benefits of Christ’s redemptive work are applied to the believer (sola fide). Understanding both these truths today will tend to prevent among Protestants — and Roman Catholics — a mean-spirited bigotry on the one hand and a…

Creation and Sexuality Conference in Western Pennsylvania 

Posted on October 7, 2017

Hosted by Living Church International, Summerville, Pennsylvania David Shay, Pastor  WEDNESDAY 5:30 – 6:45pm – Dinner Provided at Parsonage for out-of-town guests 7:00 – 7:15pm – Hymn & Invocation 7:15 – 8:00pm – “Creation Lost and Regained” with Dr. P. Andrew Sandlin 8:00 – 8:45pm – “Sexual Order IS Social Order” with Jeff Shafer, Esq. 8:45pm – Benediction & Dismissal THURSDAY 8:15 – 9:00am – Continental Breakfast 9:00 – 9:45am – “Creational Normativity” with Dr. Sandlin 9:45 – 10:40am – “Same-Sex ‘Marriage,’ Transgenderism, & Beyond: Law, Inhumanity, and the Path to Totalitarianism” with Mr. Shafer 10:40 – 10:50am – Break 10:50 – 12:00pm – Stategy Session 12:00 – 1:00pm – Lunch Provided 1:00 – 1:45pm – “Gnosticism: The Primal & Perennial Heresy” with Dr.…

Joy Bell: A Eulogy for My Mother

Posted on October 7, 2017

How within a handful of minutes does one take measure of a life, especially the life of a parent, and particularly the life of an extraordinarily godly, Christian parent? It cannot – and perhaps should not – be attempted. But to say something is preferable to saying nothing, even if the something is woefully insufficient. That is my difficult task today. My mother exhibited many Christian virtues, and she exhibited them extraordinarily, but I’ve chosen only one to enumerate. It is the one that, in my view, characterized her life more than any other. For social media, my mother selected the name Joy Bell. There is a reason for this: she considered joy a vital part of the Christian life. She valued joy. She…

Recovering Personal Responsibility in Our Culture of Victimhood, Blame-Shifting, and Identity Politics

Posted on September 25, 2017

  Every year, the Center for Cultural Leadership hosts for its friends and supporters at least one major symposium on a critical cultural issue. CCL is a think tank, so we value thoughtful discussions that can lead to godly change in our families, churches and wider society. In addition, and no less importantly, we value friendships, and we are confident that godly change occurs as much by cultivated friendships as it does in other ways.    Our 2017 symposium will be Saturday, December 2 at a gorgeous hotel on San Francisco Bay. The theme is “Recovering Personal Responsibility in Our Culture of Victimhood, Blame-Shifting, and Identity Politics.” At this time in our culture’s history, I’m not sure there are many topics as relevant. Presenters include David L. Bahnsen, Brian G. Mattson, Jeffery…

Romanticism in Prayer

Posted on September 13, 2017

We live in a time drenched in the Romanticist notion that spontaneity is king. In the church, this means that godly habits and customs are sub-spiritual, while spontaneous, carefree, “Spirit-led” actions truly please God. The less we ponder and plan and premeditate, the godlier we are. Nothing could be further from the truth. The same Spirit who leads prophets to speak spontaneously leads them to spend time in prayer every day at the same time, and in the same way. Godly habits and customs aren’t somehow less spiritual than godly spontaneity — and are almost inevitably a great deal weightier. I urge you to set aside time, like Daniel, every day, to pray, to call out to God: When Daniel knew that the document…

The Nashville Statement and the False Teachers

Posted on September 6, 2017

Pete Enns, self-appointed champion of the burgeoning anti-inerrancy wing of evangelicalism, joins a chorus of “progressives” opposed to the Nashville Statement. That statement is a simple, direct, bold affirmation of the Bible’s teaching concerning human sexuality, particularly with reference to homosexuality, signed by leading biblical evangelicals. Enns assaults the statement with satire and irony, but in particular a heavy dose of epistemic skepticism. We can know that there’s a God, but for some reason we cannot be rock-certain about what he’s like. We know that he’s given us a revelation, but we really can’t be quite sure what it is teaching us.  There’s nothing new or interesting about this form of skepticism. Postmodernism dictates the unreliability or uncertainty of textual meaning. It blankets the…

Two Forms of Racism 

Posted on August 31, 2017

There are two chief forms of racism in the West.  First, the garden-variety, traditional racism of the antebellum South, the KKK and the current white supremacist sort. It is abominable and abhorrent. Fortunately, this form of racism is proportionately less pervasive than at any time in history. Second, there is the ideological racism of Libertarian Marxism. This is the racism instigated to subvert the rule of law, equal treatment of all citizens, and merit-based rewards and replace it with a politicized culture dictated by power-hungry elites. It is abominable and abhorrent. Unfortunately, this form of racism is proportionately more pervasive than at any time in history. As Christians, we should oppose, expose, and abominate both forms of racism.

How Modern Marxism Is Libertarian

Posted on August 29, 2017

  Today Communism as a political system, if not dead, is on life support. It survives only in North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam — and the campuses of elite American universities. That last sphere is the one that concerns me, and it should concern you, and it does concern you, whether you want it to or not. It’s not a Communism identical to Leninism and Stalinism, but a development of it, and it’s more pernicious and successful than anything Lenin or Marx or Pol Pot could have imagined.   This evolved Marxism is the leading social vision of our time. Some call it neo-Marxism, a refinement and development of the vastly influential 19th century German philosopher Karl Marx.[1] Others label it existential Marxism. Still others…

Today’s Contest of Rival Religions 

Posted on August 26, 2017

Secularism is simply a temporary, transitional intellectual and cultural phase between the Christian Faith and neo-paganism, as Peter Jones has demonstrated. All of us are created in God’s image and therefore are at root religious beings. When we turn away from the triune God, we do not become irreligious; we eventually adopt another religion, even if under the guise of irreligion. There are no honest atheists. All of them embrace a covert, and apostate, religion.   The sheen of Enlightenment rationalism had already begun wearing off with the Romantic movement in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Romanticism in art, literature, and music championed the religious spirit in man without returning to a biblical faith. Even by then, secularism was no longer uncontested.…

The Ideological Roots of the Present Political Upheaval 

Posted on August 18, 2017

Over the last 300 years, three chief political ideologies have dominated Western societies. While they can coexist and have coexisted, they do not coexist peacefully, and each seeks dominance. First, there is old-line, caste conservatism, including (sometimes) racial slavery. This version of conservatism is often, though not always, associated with monarchies: British, Spanish and French, for example. In the modern world, there are few old-line monarchies, but the ideology persists in strongmen political leaders; annoyance at negotiated politics; and tribal, identitarian social cohesiveness (for example, White Supremacy). It’s an attractive ideology to people weary (and wary) of rampant cosmopolitanism and the gradual erasure of national borders. It is a slander to consider most of these people racists, but they are much more committed to…

A Blunt Christian Statement on Racism 

Posted on August 16, 2017

Biblical Christians, of all people, should not avoid or tiptoe around the issue of race. Shout it from the housetop without fear or favor: racism is anti-Christian. White supremacy is evil. Leftist identitarianism is evil. The idea that whites are superior to blacks is evil. The idea that whites are “structurally” racist is evil. The defense of racial slavery by the South in the Civil War was evil. Using the history of racial slavery to attack whites, Asians, and Hispanics is evil. Nazi ideology is evil. Libertarian Marxist ideology is evil.  For Christianity, this is what really matters: all races are created in the image of God; all races fell in Adam and Eve’s sin and are born into sin; and all races can…

The Christian Purification of Sex

Posted on August 2, 2017

  Long before our lifetime, the West gave up on Christianity, so even we Christians aren’t aware of the cultural capital we owe to Christianity. It’s not possible to conceive of the West without the influence of Christianity. Our civilization, though now secular and pagan, is unthinkable apart from Christianity.   Jesus Christ was born as a Jew into the Roman Empire. Israel was a satellite of Rome. It was governed locally by fellow Jews, but Rome pulled the strings. The Romans had supplanted the ancient Greek Empire, and Rome had assimilated many Greek ideas and practices. This is why we refer to the beginning of the classical world as Greco-Roman. This was the world within which Christianity emerged and which it finally vanquished.…

John M. Frame’s Doxological Life

Posted on July 15, 2017

  I’ve never read an autobiography (or a biography) quite like this, and I never expect to again. Perhaps the best description of my reaction after finishing it in three multi-hour sittings (after all, I did have to eat and sleep) is John Wesley’s memorable portrayal of the effect on him of his conversion experience: “strangely warmed.” This book’s objective is not so much to recount life’s leading events as to show God’s good grace and providence in those events, and how theology shaped — and was reshaped — by them. The present review, therefore, won’t be analytical (the sort of review Frame himself advocates in the book), for the simple reason that this book doesn’t invite analysis; it invites love, joy, sadness, hope,…

Introducing Cultural Theology

Posted on July 12, 2017

  Introduction   Ours is an age of specialization. This is particularly true of vocation. At one time, “doctor” denoted an expert in general medicine; he was called a GP, General Practitioner. Some simply called him “The family doctor.” Today it seems as though GP’s are few and specialists are many: podiatrists, cardiologists, oncologists, ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, osteopaths, anesthesiologists, hematologists and scores more. The same is true of law. The wide-ranging expert in law is hard to find. Instead, we have tax attorneys, trial attorneys, estate attorneys, criminal attorneys, bankruptcy attorneys, immigration attorneys and many else besides. Specialization might be most prominent in academia. There are so academic specialties today that attempting to catalog even many would severely understate the number. As much as we…

Must Christians be Crusaders?

Posted on June 17, 2017

  In the summer of 2011, the well-known evangelical campus ministry Campus Crusade announced it was planning to change its name to the strange abbreviation “Cru.”[1] The word “crusade” had negative connotations, particularly overseas. It was identified with the medieval Christian crusades against Islam. Apparently the word became a barrier to today’s campus evangelism. Similarly, when I attended Christian schools in the 60s and 70s, many of them chose as their team name “the Crusaders.” This in fact was the name of my own high school in northern Ohio.   Times have changed. Many people even in the United States believe that the Crusades were a great blot on Christian history. It’s true that they were far from perfect, and Christians committed atrocities. On…

Prayer and Sovereignty

Posted on May 16, 2017

  Pastor Sandlin – do you have a trove of quotes on prayer? You for quite a while were posting on prayer and it really affected me. A lot of great Bounds quotes.     I sometimes feel like we Purtianical Reformed in certain parts pray without expectation to justify a theological position. Where is there faith without expectation?   The questions are hard when one prays fervently for an outcome that does not happen. But i now believe prayer to be more powerful than I ever thought it was.         Dear –––––,   I’m so sorry this has taken so long to answer. Sharon and I have been out of town a lot lately.   The best quotes that I…

The Covert Agenda of Contemporary Pluralism

Posted on May 2, 2017

  God-glorifying Christianity sustains a collision course with contemporary pluralism. This pluralism says that you can believe what you want in your private life, but the public realm, including politics, is a lovely, rainbow-hued cornucopia of competing beliefs, none of which is especially important. The public realm is religiously neutral. Pluralism defined in this way is not only entirely false. It is also disingenuous. There are no neutral realms of life.[1] There are either covenant keepers or covenant breakers. There is either covenant-keeping private life and/or public life or covenant-breaking private life and/or public life. No individual, no family, no culture, no politics can be religiously neutral.[2]   Contemporary pluralism, child of secularism, is not religiously neutral. It is actively hostile to Biblical Christianity. It…