Monday, September 13

The Star Spangled Banner

The War of 1812 was fiercely raging when Francis Scott Key, a Washington attorney was sent to the British naval command to secure the release of a prisoner when the fleet began to bombard the placements of American fortifications in Baltimore at Fort McHenry. Key had to watch in agony, wondering if his nation could possibly withstand such a barrage.

Though the battle raged through the night on this day in 1814, the American defenses stood firm. The sight of the flag still flying over the fort the next morning inspired the young lawyer to pen the immortal words of the Star Spangled Banner.

Later it was set to a popular English hymn tune, Anacreon in Heaven, and it became a standard in the patriotic repertoire. Congress officially confirmed it as the national anthem more than a hundred years later, just before the First World War.

Though the first verse of the anthem is well known-sung at the opening of most political and sporting events-the other verses are almost entirely unknown:

O! say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming:
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming,
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there:
O! say, does the star-spangled banner still wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? On the shore, dimly seen through the mist of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam-
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is the band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country would leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave!
And the star-spangled banner in triumph cloth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the foe's desolation;
Bless'd with victory and peace, may our heaven rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just-
And this be our motto-“In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Total Truth

My good friend Byron Snapp is not only a busy pastor and educator, he is one of the best-read men I have ever met. His book reviews are always informative and insightful. This past week he sent me his take on the remarkable new book by Nancy Pearcy, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity (Crossway Books). It was so helpful to me that I decided you might like to benefit from it as well:
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How are we to make sense of the world in which we live? The answer to this question will say much about our worldview. It will point out whether we are developing a Christian worldview and whether our worldview is segmented into a public and private realm.

In this very important and well-researched work, the author passionately desires to help the reader define and form a Christian worldview. She concludes her stimulating and insightful book by providing help in living out a biblical worldview.

She begins by pointing out that Christianity does not allow for a division between one’s heart and one’s brain. Christianity is to be applied to every area of life in thought and practice. It impacts our public life as well as our private life. It is central not only on the Lord’s Day but throughout the week.

Although this is very clear on the pages of Scripture, a two-tiered approach of heart/mind, private/public, secular/religious is rampant in our culture, in churches, and in academia. Mrs. Pearcy gives an excellent overview of the development of this appraoch in philosophic thought. She is not hesitant to point out how the First and Second Great Awakenings influenced Christians to believe that a two-tiered outlook is normal. She openly acknowledges that God brought much good out of these eras. However, church leaders and Christians failed to teach and apply Christianity to all of life. She, also, examines the impact of Darwinism and the industrial revolution in promoting a two-tiered worldview. The church unfortunately became a follower of culture rather than a leader in culture.

She provides the reader with the grid of creation, fall, and redemption to show how Christianity is to be interpreted and lived out in life. This grid is also applied to various nonchristian worldviews to show how each has redefined creation, fall, and redemption inconsistently. This teaches the reader how to think through arguments that are raised by nonchristians. Her work in this area should encourage readers not to be stymied when they encounter such arguments.

God used Francis Schaeffer to teach her the validity and reality of Christianity as the true religion. The Bible is total truth and is to be applied throughout culture. Building on Schaeffer’s work she develops ways that Christianity is integrated into life.

This work is multi-faceted. It looks at philosophy, history, and the changing social and ecclesiastical climate in the United States over the years. It does so within a Biblical framework. Readers are encouraged not to be concerned with the status quo. They are challenged to begin to develop their own thinking. A Christian worldview provides the only basis to optimistically and compassionately engage nonchristian ideas.

The author provides many illustrations and relevant scripture passages to drive home her points. Her writing style is very engaging.

This volume would be very useful for church officers and laity. It should be of particular help to those involved in campus ministries, Christian education, and families. Parents desiring to teach their children how our culture arrived at this point and how to begin to regain a biblical worldview will be especially encouraged with this resource.

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