Monday, October 27, 2008

Wesley on Discerning God’s Will

“Perhaps some may ask, "Ought we not then to

 inquire what is the will of God in all things? And ought not His will to be the rule of our practice?" Unquestionably it ought. But how is a sober Christian to make this inquiry? To know what is the will of God? Not by waiting for supernatural dreams; not by expecting God to reveal it in visions; not by looking for any particular impressions or sudden impulses on his mind: no; but by consulting the oracles of God. "To the law and to the testimony!" This is the general method of knowing what is "the holy and acceptable will of God."

23. "But how shall I know what is the will of God, in such and such a particular case? The thing proposed is, in itself, of an indifferent nature, and so left undetermined in Scripture." I answer, the Scripture itself gives you a general rule. applicable to all particular cases: "The will of God is our sanctification." It is His will that we should be inwardly and outwardly holy; that we should be good, and do good, in every kind and in the highest degree whereof we are capable. Thus far we tread upon firm ground. This is as clear as the shining of the sun. In order, therefore, to know what is the will of God in a particular case, we have only to apply this general rule.

24. Suppose, for instance, it were proposed to a reasonable man to marry, or to enter into a new business: in order to know whether this is the will of God, being assured, "It is the will of God concerning me, that I should be as holy and do as much good as I can," he has only to enquire, "In which of these states can I be most holy, and do the most good?" And this is to be determined, partly by reason, and partly by experience. Experience tells him what advantages he has in his present state, either for being or doing good; and reason is to show, what he certainly or probably will have in the state proposed. By comparing these, he is to judge which of the two may most conduce to his being and doing good; and as far as he knows this, so far he is certain what is the will of God.

25. Meantime, the assistance of His Spirit is supposed, during the whole process of the inquiry. Indeed it is not easy to say, in how many ways that assistance is conveyed. He may bring many circumstances to our remembrance; may place others in a stronger and clearer light; may insensibly open our mind to receive conviction, and fix that conviction upon our heart. And to a concurrence of many circumstances of this kind, in favour of what is acceptable in His sight, He may superadd such an unutterable peace of mind, and so uncommon a measure of His love, as will leave us no possibility of doubting, that this, even this, is His will concerning us.

26. This is the plain, scriptural, rational way to know what is the will of God in a particular case. But considering how seldom this way is taken, and what a flood of enthusiasm must needs break in on those who endeavour to know the will of God by unscriptural, irrational ways; it were to be wished that the expression itself were far more sparingly used. The using it, as some do, on the most trivial occasions, is a plain breach of the third commandment. It is a gross way of taking the name of God in vain, and betrays great irreverence toward Him. Would it not be far better, then, to use other expressions, which are not liable to such objections? For example: instead of saying, on any particular occasion, "I want to know what is the will of God;" would it not be better to say, "I want to know what will be most for my improvement; and what will make me most useful?" This way of speaking is clear and unexceptionable: it is putting the matter on a plain, scriptural issue, and that without any danger of enthusiasm.”

from Wesley's Sermon #37 – The Nature of Enthusiasm

(text from the 1872 edition - Thomas Jackson, editor)


Monday, October 20, 2008

OWU President Warns of Loss of Intellectual and Religious Freedom

Bartlesville, Oklahoma-- Oklahoma Wesleyan University President, Dr. Everett Piper, is speaking out about Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s statements regarding staffing practices for faith-based organizations.

“I am very concerned” says Piper. “Senator Obama’s statements that appear on his campaign’s web page, as well as, those spoken at the Saddleback Civil Forum and his July 1 speech in Ohio, should cause all universities that are Christian in faith and practice to be concerned for their very existence.”

“The issue is one of freedom of association in staffing” Piper states. “Since the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, all faith-based colleges and universities have had a religious exemption when it comes to hiring faculty and staff.”

Piper goes further: “By definition an Evangelical college has always had the right to expect its teachers to be Evangelical, a Jewish college could hire only those who are Jewish, a Catholic school could require its faculty to be Catholic and so on. This has been common sense and common practice. The logical privilege and legal right of a school to refuse employment to those who hold views antithetical to the institution – to its ideological, theological, and historical moorings – to its very mission statement and reason for existence – has been a given. It would be absurd to force a Jewish school, for example, to hire an advocate of Al Qaeda ideology. Students and parents choosing such a school would assume that, by definition, they would not have someone teaching such a worldview.”

Piper says his concerns stem directly from Obama’s own words. “In Obama’s July 1, 2008 speech in Ohio the Senator contends that if an organization benefits from federal grants it can''''t make any staffing or hiring decisions ‘on the basis of religion.’ Furthermore, on his official campaign web page Barack Obama clarifies that under his presidencyreligious organizations that receive federal dollars cannot discriminate with respect to hiring for government-funded social service programs; and [faith-based organizations] can only use taxpayer’s dollars on secular programs and initiatives.’ Finally, in the Saddleback Civil Forum with Rick Warren, Obama commented specifically on Christian colleges and said ‘When it comes to the programs that are federally funded, then we do have to be careful to make sure that we are not creating a situation where people are being discriminated against [in hiring practices].’”

Piper says the problem in Obama’s statements is this: “Almost every college in the nation – religious or secular – has students who qualify for and receive federal funds in the form of grants, loans, and scholarships. Students have always been able to use these dollars to go to the college of their choice. But Obama’s position clearly indicates that this freedom could be in jeopardy and that students may only be able to use such grants and loans to attend schools that are secular in their worldview and behavioral codes.”

Piper goes further: “My question is this (and Senator Obama does not provide an answer): Will students be prohibited by law from using their financial aid to attend any school that hires faculty in a manner that is consistent with its Christian faith, values and theological distinctions? Will the funding that flows from the student to the institution – funding that has been available since the GI Bill of the 1940s – be averted? Will students lose their ability to attend a Christian college and will the colleges by default lose a primary source of revenue?” “If so” says Piper “hundreds of colleges and universities across the land would be forced into immediate financial exigency and imminent closure.”

Piper summarizes by saying “As far as I can tell, this conversation at this level is unprecedented. At no time in our history has the religious and intellectual freedom of the academy been held up to such ambiguity. Does it really make any sense to require Christian organizations to hire those who explicitly deny Christian orthodoxy and explicitly violate Christian orthopraxy?”

Oklahoma Wesleyan University is a Christian liberal arts university recognized by U.S. News and World Report and for its excellence. Its mission statement calls for the integration of faith, learning, and living in all disciplines with the Primacy of Jesus Christ, the Priority of Scripture, the Pursuit of Truth, and the Practice of Wisdom as the University’s distinct foundation. For more information on Oklahoma Wesleyan or Dr. Piper go to or call 918.335.6234.

Oklahoma Wesleyan University
2201 Silver Lake Road
Bartlesville, OK 74006
President’s Office: 918.335.6234
President’s email:
University web site:

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Casting My 1st Presidential Vote...

Marriage: Wedge Issue or Prelude to Disaster?

by Bishop Harry R. Jackson Jr.

The last few weeks have been filled with political drama. The economic bailout, discussions about Sarah Palin, and the vice presidential debate have kept millions of Americans occupied with their own debates about America’s future.

While all this excitement is taking place nationally, there is a quiet tragedy brewing that can have just as much impact as the financial crisis. It is the battle to protect marriage. Three states have marriage amendments on the ballot this November - Arizona, California, and Florida. The California battle is especially significant because judges have made same sex marriage into law in that state. These battles have been relegated to the back pages of the national papers and hardly covered at all on national television because the protection of marriage is often called a “wedge issue.”

Due to the lack of media coverage, many people are unaware of how much is at stake in this battle. Same sex marriage could become the law of the land in three years or less. The only speed bump that could slow this process down (or derail it) is passing a constitutional amendment in these three states.

The problem with redefining marriage is that it is more than a civil rights issue concerning how gay people are treated. It has the potentially unintended effect of hastening the decline of traditional heterosexual marriage. It also may blur the lines of morality and sexual behavior for centuries to come. Studies have shown that in the nations that have legalized same sex marriage or other forms of “faux” marriage, the change has devalued the institution of marriage as a whole. This devaluation has resulted in heterosexuals waiting longer to marry, increases in single parent households, and an overall alienation of many children from their birth fathers.
Let me explain these findings in a different way. Once we redefine marriage, we automatically redefine the family. After the family is redefined, we must redefine how kids are educated and trained in our “brave new world.” For example, in the second grade in the State of Massachusetts, students in public schools are required to read books like The Prince and the Prince. This book lays out the romance and courtship of two gay men who become “the King and the King” and live happily ever after.

As appalling as it is to me that an 8-year-old is exposed to this process, it actually begins earlier. The dangers of primary school “re-education” of children are illustrated by the true story of David Parker who was outraged when he opened up the book Who's in a Family? This book was given to his 5-year-old son in 2005 at the Joseph Estabrook Elementary School in Lexington, Mass. Parker deemed that both the message and the method of the book were highly inappropriate. The book depicted different kinds of families, including same-sex couples raising children.

As innocent as the title Who’s in a Family? may sound, it is the beginning of announcing an insidious change in the nature of families and marriage. By the time Massachusetts’ kids reach the 8th grade in some classrooms, they are hearing lessons about gay and lesbian sex complete with diagrams and charts.

These negatives of same sex marriage are not the only alarming trends. As an African-American preacher, I am convinced that traditional marriage in the black community is on the verge of becoming extinct.

Let’s take a look at a snapshot of the condition of black families. Over 50%+ of black marriages currently end in divorce. In addition, over 70% of black babies are born out of wedlock today. Moreover, as high as 40% of young black woman will never get married, if current trends continue. With marriage left in this kind of freefall, we could quickly reach a time when most black adults will grow up without the stabilizing influence of a father in the home.

It is no secret that fatherless homes contribute to increased poverty, educational underachievement, juvenile delinquency, and a host of other social problems. National legalization of same sex marriage will undoubtedly accelerate the decline of black families. Therefore, many leading pastors are speaking out about the need to protect the definition and legal status of marriage.

In conclusion, black and white Christians alike must recognize the slippery slope upon which we stand. Where the black community is today, the white community will be in just a few years. Let’s remember that our battle to reclaim biblical marriage has to consist of more than preventing the redefinition of marriage. It has to include American churches doing a better job of equipping our members to develop and maintain strong marriages.

The truth is…the battle begins with you and me. If we do not safeguard our own marriages and teach our children to do the same, we will not be able to argue against gay marriage with any authority. Let’s get help or counseling when we need it for our own marriages, let’s be advocates for family support within our communities and churches, and let’s draw a line in the sand and let our representatives know that we will not allow our families to erode from the inside out or the outside in. This battle is worth the fight!