Center for Cultural Leadership

Posts by P. Andrew Sandlin

Marriage: Communion, Community, Cosmology

Posted on August 7, 2016

Homily for the wedding of our son Richard A. Sandlin and new daughter-in-law Samantha Matheson, July 23, 2016, Grace Church-Vancouver, Canada     Introduction   “The history of the human race begins with a wedding.”[1] If we’re under the impression that marriage is a casual, carefree legal arrangement, we’d do well to ponder that fact. Every human, with rare exception, was created for marriage. The creation of man and woman is inextricably linked to marriage. To be created as human is (in most every case) to be created for marriage.   God created humanity in his own image, but he didn’t create just one — a male or a female. A single individual wouldn’t have fully reflected that image. Man and woman both, in…

Racist Democrats and Crooked Clintons: A Review of Dinesh D’Souza’s “Hillary’s America”

Posted on August 4, 2016

    Long-time friend David Souther once told me that whenever there’s a radical discrepancy between the verdicts of the critics and those of the commoners on the popular movie review site Rotten Tomatoes, you should safely go with the commoners. This is certainly the case with Dinesh D’Souza’s explosive new (and highly successful) documentary Hillary’s America: The Secret Life of the Democratic Party. At this writing, the certification is 4% fresh for the critics and 80% fresh for the commoners, the greatest discrepancy I’ve ever seen.   The commoners are mostly right, but the critics are not entirely wrong.   D’Souza, convicted of campaign finance violations in helping a friend’s failed political quest, served the evenings of eight months in prison and must…

Cultural Truth Is Ecclesiastical Truth

Posted on July 4, 2016

  “Culture,” Henry Van Til memorably wrote, “is religion externalized.”[1] It’s the outward, external manifestation of the internal religious impulse driving and shaping a society. If you want to know what a society’s dominant religion is, look at its culture. Unfortunately, the Western church in recent decades hasn’t always been perceptive or relevant in assessing the culture in which God placed it. Much of that failure is rooted in diffidence toward culture. Culture just isn’t worth bothering about.   Dividing Gospel from Culture     The propensity to sequester God’s truth for culture from his truth in the church is becoming harmfully common. The formerly orthodox Christ Church-San Francisco abandoned its requirement of celibacy for those members inclined toward or committed to homosexuality.[2] The…

The Brexit Lesson: Decentralization is Progress

Posted on June 27, 2016

    The howling disappointment from the transcontinental elites over the stunning victory for Brexit should come as no surprise. (Tony Blair’s is a prime example.) And David French is astute to point out that the patronizing “history is on our side” mockery that usually accompanies the political successes of the elite progressives seems to have hit a brick wall. What if, after all, history isn’t on the side of the elites? Actually, history doesn’t pick sides; people do. And a small majority of Britons chose against the elite progressives. History, apparently, isn’t cooperating.   The Meaning of Progress to Leftist Elites   However, I’d like to dig deeper on one point. Brexit didn’t only signal the end (for a while, at least) of…

The Law Is God’s Blessing

Posted on June 5, 2016

  Introduction   If Christians are confused about the Gospel, they are flummoxed about the law. Many of them know a few biblical texts that have become dismissive catchphrases: “You’re not under the law, but under grace” (Rom. 6:14). “We’re free from the law” (Rom. 8:2). “The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor. 3:6). “Christ is the end of the law” (Rom. 10:4). Armed with these and a few other texts, they see the law as at best obsolete and at worst, harmful. Jesus came to get rid of the law (Jn. 1:17), and that is that. The NT writers (they think) have given us some instructions for life, but it has nothing to do with the law.   This dismissal…

Preventive Grace Beats Recovering Grace

Posted on April 17, 2016

  God’s grace in Jesus Christ is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. We are saved by God’s grace, not by our works (Eph. 2:8–10), but God’s grace operates differently in different classes of people. First, there is the class of those converted as adults, who have lived lives dominated by sin and its injurious consequences. God’s grace when they trust his Son is his recovering grace.   Second, there is that class of children generally reared in a Christian home and the church who, while born sinners, are spared the deep, injurious effects of sin since God’s grace captures their little hearts before sin’s effects run deeply in their lives. This is God’s preventative grace. These are two…

Those Populist Élites

Posted on April 4, 2016

  We live in the days of pitchfork populism. Populists are always saying they are against the élites, but don’t believe them. They might think they are, but in reality, populism couldn’t exist without its own form of elitism. Populism is supposed to be antithetical to and at war with elitism, but actually populism necessitates a very peculiar and dangerous kind of elitism. In our present political climate, general wisdom has it that populism is represented by the likes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, and elitism by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Paul Ryan. Actually, all are élites. Given the wide differences and distribition of gifts and talents inherent in the human condition, elitism is inescapable. The only question is whether they’ll be good…

The Year of the Politically Aggrieved

Posted on March 31, 2016

This is the Year of the Politically Aggrieved. For the Democratic Party, the aggrieved have long been racial minorities, women, homosexuals, and union members. For the Republican Party, the newly aggrieved are lower-middle-class whites, unemployed factory workers and manual laborers, and the white undereducated. Their cultural grievances drive their politics, and cynical, demagogic charlatans inflame those grievances. The irony of aggrieved culture is that the West has probably never been healthier and wealthier. It has, however, been more grateful — back when our culture was more Christian, back when there were fewer grievances, and back when there might have been greater warrant for grievances.   CCL’s Anti-Grievance Agenda   Christian culture stands solidly against aggrieved culture. Christian culture is gratitude culture: “We give thanks…

Easter Culture versus Death Culture

Posted on March 25, 2016

  It’s easy to think about the implications of Jesus’ resurrection for individuals. It’s especially easy to do this in our time, because we are a highly individualistic society. What’s most important in life is what affects me. I am the sole judge of my “values” and my fate. “No one has the right to judge me.” Or so goes the mantra of pop postmodernity. So when postmoderns in the church think about Easter, they naturally consider primarily, if not exclusively, its implications for them as individuals: what has the resurrected Jesus done for me. Better: what has he done for me lately. This attitude fits quite nicely with the self-centeredness and the downright narcissism of postmodernity.   But if we understand the resurrection, we can’t escape the…

Cultural Egalitarianism: Enemy of Christian Culture

Posted on March 14, 2016

  St. George and His Dragons If you want to understand cultural egalitarianism, you might want to think of the legend of St. George and the dragon.[1] St. George devoted his life to killing dragons, and when he’d killed them all, he lost his life’s passion, so he invented new dragons. St. George, you see, needed his dragons. In the same way, the Left began by killing the dragon of arbitrary state authority, but quickly moved on to slay alleged arbitrary church authority and fascist authority and, more recently, Caucasian authority and family authority and paternal and maternal authority and capitalist authority and, in these last decades, male and heterosexual authority. The Left are liberators eternally in search of the oppressed whom they must…

Evangelicals: Stripping God’s Gold to Panel Trump’s Tower

Posted on March 9, 2016

The number of evangelicals supporting Donald Trump is a complete surprise. They are not a majority, but they are a large minority; and they have delivered him victories in several Southern (and other) states. Apart from the evangelicals, it’s possible Trump wouldn’t be leading the GOP presidential race.   Why are so many supporting him? The best explanation, offered in mid-January by David Brody of CBN and more recently by politically conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer, is that they are looking for The StrongMan to protect them from an increasingly hostile society. As I wrote recently:   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…

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…