CENTER FOR CULTURAL LEADERSHIP

Posts by P. Andrew Sandlin

Religious Liberty or Redeemed Culture?

Posted on February 26, 2016

  Why would evangelicals flock to the candidacy of Donald Trump, a philandering, thrice-married, profane Manhattan businessman? One chief reason is that many of them have given up on the “culture wars”: they just want a president who will protect their religious liberty in a time of rising persecution (if you don’t believe it, just try refusing as a business to bake a cake or create a flower arrangement for a gay wedding). Evangelicals of the 70s – 90s were “values voters” — they wanted a Christian candidate who championed life, family, and civic virtue. They longed and worked for a national revival and reformation, and politics did not exhaust but was included in that program. That program is changing. Feeling they’ve lost the…

“Risen”: A Cinematic (and Theological) Triumph

Posted on February 20, 2016

Explicitly Christian movies, or what are nowadays in our increasingly desacralized culture euphemistically termed “faith-based” movies, have come a long way since the rapture-fever flicks from the 70s like “A Thief in the Night” and “A Distant Thunder.” (Earlier classics like The Ten Commandments and David and Bathsheba were not produced by Christians for Christian reasons). The more recent movies based on the “Left Behind” series are an improvement on the 70s iteration. After ceding movie-making to a distinctly non- and increasingly anti-Christian Hollywood since almost the beginning of modern commercial film, Christian filmmakers have been playing catch-up. The breakthrough movie was Mel Gibson’s 2004 The Passion of the Christ, a stark, realistic, mesmerizing — and lucrative — contribution.   Thematically, Risen picks up…

15 Top Movies of 2015

Posted on February 13, 2016

  2015 was another mediocre years for movies. Our last great year was 2007. The last great one before that was 1972. At this pace, watch out for 2032.   This is the first year ever that a children’s movie scored #1 on my year-end list. The strangest movie on this list is #3. The most beautiful is #15. The most suspenseful — and most moral — is #7. Here’s to hoping 2016 bests 2015.     Paddington. A “practically perfect” movie in every way.     Sicario. If you don’t like the CIA before watching this movie, you’ll abominate it afterward. Another memorable performance by Benicio Del Toro.   Mad Max: Fury Road. The whitest-knuckled movie since … maybe ever.   Creed. A…

Older Books, Recently Read

Posted on February 4, 2016

We bibliophiles occasionally issue recommended reading lists for our peers, but the present list is somewhat unique in that it consists of books from 20-80 years old that I have not read until the last two or three years. I read so much that I don’t have time to read many books recently published, but get far behind, and don’t get around to reading important books, sometimes as late as 10 to 15 years after they’re published. I’m sure this means that I am not up-to-date on the “current literature,” but the compensation, I imagine, is that I have waited long enough to allow these books’ theses to percolate and get an assessment among readers I respect before I myself get around to assessing…

Unhealthy Cultures Invite Political Quacks

Posted on January 28, 2016

Heather Wilhelm’s “America’s Daddy Issues” documents the federal government’s recent proposal to enlist the public schools to be “equal partners” with parents in rearing their children, including teachers visiting parents’ homes and providing assessments. I’m afraid to ask what the feds will do if the parents are deemed to be “failing.” It’s easy — and right —to blame the (literally) “nanny state” for this unconscionable infringement, but it could never have happened without massive familial failure: divorce’s broken homes, absentee fathers, feminist mothers, drug-addicted teenagers. This is a profound cultural illness that has invited a political “cure.” In fact, we can say that statists have seen this cultural illness as a golden opportunity. When the family and church fail, the political quacks are right there to…

Christian Culture Is the Cure

Posted on January 15, 2016

  Introduction I’m sure you’ve seen the bumper sticker or billboard, “Jesus is the answer.” Cynical agnostics sometimes respond: “What’s the question?” The answer is: it doesn’t matter. Jesus Christ is ultimately the answer to every question. And that answer is truer than even many Christians suppose. Jesus isn’t simply the answer to personal guilt or addiction or despair. He’s also the answer to a homosexualized Hollywood and activist courts and runaway inflation and Obamacare. We Christians must get over the idea that “public” life should, or can, be religiously neutral, or that God has one standard for the family and church and another standard for public life. Lesslie Newbigin wrote: Christians can never seek refuge in a ghetto where their faith is not…

A 2015 Gift for 2016 Battles

Posted on December 28, 2015

Friends,   2015 is nearly over, and if you want tax credit for your year-end donation to CCL, now is the time to give.   CCL’s mission is bold, broad — and biblical: influence Christians to take the lead, wherever God has placed them, to create a new Christian culture. We are the Lord’s “adversarial intelligentsia” in an age driven by secular-pagan elites. We believe in the power of the Holy Spirit employing holy people to communicate holy ideas to restore a holy culture.   We need holy resources to do it.   Would you be willing to send a gift today?   Before December 31, 11:59 Pacific Standard Time, please send a tax-deductible gift here.   Or you can send a check, postmarked…

Pistol Packin’ Jesus?

Posted on December 14, 2015

  Jesus’ message was the Kingdom of God (Mt. 4:17, 23; Lk. 8:1). The Kingdom of God is the rule of God in the earth.[1] Near the heart of that kingdom-rule lies justice (= righteousness, [Mt. 6:33; Heb. 1:8]). That justice includes (as I intend briefly to show) the defense, including lethal defense, if necessary, of judicially innocent life.[2] Therefore, Jesus, by implication, would have supported — and does support — carrying firearms to defend that life. The fact that this line of reasoning should pose controversy shows how far justice and the Kingdom of God have been relegated to the periphery in the thinking of today’s world, including among many Christians. Concealed-carry Jerry For instance: Jerry Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, the…

Family Is Gospel

Posted on December 7, 2015

Introduction On October 31 we celebrated Reformation Day, commemorating Luther’s nailing 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg 500 years ago two years from now. But the Reformation must be an ongoing fact. The church must be constantly reforming, espousing “a theology of permanent reformation.”[1] As Reformation people we take the Gospel and salvation seriously. I fear that sometimes, however, we become imbalanced in our soteriological (salvation) emphases. For instance, we stress justification, being declared righteous before God’s heavenly tribunal. That was certainly Luther’s great soteriological concern or, some might say say, his, or at least his followers’, almost exclusive soteriological concern.[2] Or if we’re evangelical in a more recent sense, we greatly emphasize regeneration, being “born again.” Of course, the Bible teaches…

Creation Stewardship: The Christian View of Environmentalism

Posted on December 2, 2015

Preface In light of the Climate Change Summit in Paris, please consider this distinctly Christian view of environmental responsibility, which contrasts sharply with the secular view championed by all leaders of the participating Western nations. Introduction Global ecology is a notable action item on the agenda of Reformational Christianity, the form of Protestant Christianity traditionally most committed to a world-affirming Faith. To understand this Reformational conception of global ecology, however, we must situate it in the context of the Christian worldview, best summarized for our present purposes as the creation-sin-redemption paradigm. Creation’s Goodness The creation of humanity was God’s crowning achievement, male and female fashioned in His image. Humans, animals, plants and microorganisms share a single status as God’s animate created order (the Creator/creature distinction);…

Financing a Cultural Reclamation

Posted on December 1, 2015

Advent 2015 Dear Friends and Supporters, Our Lord was born into a world riddled with political turmoil, revolutionary fervor, social chaos, and religious apostasy. Sound familiar? That is now our world, and the incarnate God birthed at Bethlehem that grew to be the redeeming King of Glory who transformed that world is transforming ours. CCL is one of his agents of cultural transformation, and you are keeping us in the thick of the transformation business. Thank you so much for praying for and supporting my successful fall Southwest speaking tour. God blessed in ways I have no room to enumerate here, but here are just a few plans for 2016 — The Oklahoma Center for Cultural Leadership, a national quarterly school for 100-300 pastors,…

No Debate About It

Posted on November 29, 2015

  I was an opponent of the Patriarchy Movement from almost the beginning, before it (rightly) became the pariah among Bible-believing conservatives it is today. I have justly been identified as one of its leading public antagonists. Here is an example; and another; and yet another. My views on this issue have been well-known for many years. Godly people have disagreed with me, and I respect their disagreement. Last week I posted a succinct Facebook update criticizing “patriarchy” in this precise vein. Pastor Douglas Wilson, after all these years, seemed to take umbrage at my snippet and drafted a long, defensive blog post to express himself. From what I can tell, he agreed with most of my criticisms of “patriarchy.” He agreed so vehemently…

Bad Church Ideas That Produce Bad Political Consequences

Posted on November 20, 2015

You may have heard the saying, “Ideas have consequences.” That’s actually a famous book title from a political conservative just after World War II.[1] And it’s true. Ideas do have consequences. And bad ideas have bad consequences. This is just as true in culture and politics as anywhere else. If you look at the cultural and political evils that surround us today (abortion, same-sex “marriage,” Obamacare, gun confiscation laws, judicial tyranny), at their source are bad ideas. It’s hard to get rid of the bad politics without getting rid of the bad ideas that feed them and give them sustenance. But the bad ideas I want to address right now aren’t so much bad ideas in the culture and in politics. I want to…

Come as You Are?

Posted on November 7, 2015

All of us have seen a church marquee. We have seen the amusing maxims. Years ago I saw one which read, “Prevent truth decay; burn a Living Bible.” Some are not amusing. They are pithy and true: “A Family Altar Can Alter A Family.” One that I have seen increasingly is “Come as You Are,” or some variation of it. This is an example of a statement that is true, but one which leaves so much unsaid that it could easily create a false impression. It’s necessary, but not sufficient. It needs more. The statement is a welcoming statement. “You don’t need to change in order to come to this church. Please, come just as you are.” There is even a famous old gospel…

Worldview Clustering

Posted on October 26, 2015

Delivered at the Center for Cultural Leadership West Coast Symposium on “The Brave New Sexual World(view), October 24, 2015   Did you even notice how people often line up together on an entire range of seemingly unrelated social and political issues? Why are socialists usually pro-same-sex “marriage”? Why are most environmentalists against capital punishment? Why are the strongest advocates of gun control usually pro-choice? Why are most pro-life Americans also committed to American exceptionalism? Why are the chief defenders of the traditional family usually also defenders of the free market? Why are the most vocal opponents of the theory of man-made global climate change also opponents of judicial activism? At the recent Democratic Presidential debate in Las Vegas, why did every candidate express or…

Dualism: “Christian” Enemy of Christian Culture

Posted on October 11, 2015

One of the greatest enemies of Christian culture within the church is dualism. Broadly speaking, dualism is the division of life into two overarching spheres or principles, generally antithetical to one another. Likely the earliest dualism was Gnosticism,[1] which posited two gods, the good god of the mind and spirit and the evil god of nature and materiality. The Gnostics perceived salvation as deliverance from the material world by means of secret knowledge (gnosis) to a few, select initiates. Gnosticism was a pagan invention, but it did not leave the church unaffected. Prime early heresies in the church were gnostically tinged (an example was Docetism, which denied that Jesus had an actual body). Dualism comes in many forms, but it almost always privileges one…

Why the Culture Wars Cannot Possibly Be Over

Posted on October 3, 2015

Behind the “culture wars” lies a foundational biblical premise: that man’s creational calling is to steward the earth for God’s glory (Gen. 1:26–28). Man is God’s deputy in stewarding the entire created order to bring all glory to him. We denote this calling the “cultural mandate.” This means that God’s interests are larger than the church, and that, consequently, man’s calling is wider than the church. The church is God’s agency for propagating the Gospel and discipling the nations and edifying the saints and protecting and perpetuating orthodoxy (1 Tim. 3:15), but it’s not the kingdom of God, which is the reign of God in the earth.[1] The church is only one aspect (though a vital aspect) of that kingdom. Reducing man’s calling to…

A Brief Clarification

Posted on September 30, 2015

UPDATE: November 30, 2015 Pastor Randy Booth recently contacted me to remind me that it was he, not Pastor Wilson, who had contacted me to endorse the book mentioned in the post below. (Pastor Booth is the co-author.) In my initial post, I mentioned Pastor Wilson and not Pastor Booth as the contact since I surmised that the former had enlisted the latter to approach me on his behalf. Pastor Booth assures me this is not correct: Pastor Booth approached me exclusively of his own accord. Therefore, my second sentence as it stands, while not intentionally inaccurate, is inaccurate. I sincerely apologize for any confusion or injury this misattribution may have caused. INITIAL POST: I was surprised to learn of the appearance of my…

Fall 2015 Southwest Speaking Tour

Posted on September 29, 2015

October 23–24 West Coast CCL Symposium, Saratoga, California (private event) “Sexual Worldview: Christian v. Secular”   October 28, noon Oklahoma City Political Action Committee Location TBD “Bad Church Ideas That Hinder Godly Political Obedience” October 30, 7 p.m. Fellowship of Mere Christianity Living by Faith Church, McAllen, Texas “The Church Gospel and the Gospel Church” November 1, 10:30 a.m. Church of the King, McAllen, Texas “Reformation Life” November 8, 10:45 a.m. Trinity Evangelical Church, Pratt, Kansas “God Abides No Competitors”

The New Religious Establishment Jailed Kim Davis

Posted on September 5, 2015

Kim Davis was jailed not because she refused to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples but because a new religious establishment has finally reshaped the law order on which the United States was founded. The fundamental transformation is religious, not legal. Law as religion Every law order reflects the religious foundation in which it is anchored. Law is to be applied impartially, but the very idea that law is to be applied impartially is partial to a particular religious conviction. What is civil law but an imposition of a particular morality in external social life? When we ask why it is illegal to drive an automobile 130 mph in a school zone, or take an iPod from Wal Mart without paying, or strike a rude…