Thomas Paine once wrote, “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Our forefathers’ resistance against British aggression and tyranny established, by God’s gracious providence, the foundation for the nation we now enjoy. These men and women were robustly “Christian” in how they viewed and interacted with the world around them.
It has been famously said that “ideas have consequences.” These consequences may be negative or positive. Most of the time they include aspects of both. The danger for those of us (or any generation, for that matter) who find themselves further up the road from their predecessors is to no longer remember where those consequences came from. Like the small child growing up in the city, we think the fruit we are enjoying today came from the grocery store down the street. You know, the big, fancy new one. We fail to realize that the fruit in our hands were plucked from trees that have been growing for many centuries.
As the great Puritan minds had enjoyed the fruit of Reformation thinking so the generation of founders that followed enjoyed the fruit of the great Puritan mind. Powerful enemies, daunting challenges, and great suffering were met with strong faith, undiminished hope, and unconquerable love. Their children for generations to come were blessed because these men and women chose to stand and fall for Truth.
We again find ourselves in perilous times. The difference being that our forefathers had trees of wisdom and understanding from which to nourish their own minds and hearts. We, on the other hand, have cut down many of those trees in the name of progress and enlightenment. Our thinking has become all mushy and bruised. It has been removed from the tree for far too long. As the Puritan Cotton Mather once quipped, “Religion begat prosperity, and the daughter has devoured the mother.”
We are about to find out just how grown up we are as the Church. Like the Roman Empire of Augustine’s time, what will Christendom look like when it can no longer hide behind the light of this nation’s greatness? If we hope to think and live as those who belong to the City of God, we need to pray that the Spirit of God would give us the mind of Christ that we might take every thought captive. Our thinking will either become a reflective pool or a reforming fire within the city of man.