Emerson, Scripture, and Our Permissive Society

Markings on long journey-TimmermanContinuing my readings in the collection of John J. Timmerman’s writings titled Markings on a Long Journey (Baker, 1982), I came across this good commentary in connection with an article Timmerman wrote for The Banner back in October of 1970. 
 
The article is titled “Emerson and Our Permissive Society” and treats the permissive youth culture that was becoming rampant in his day and that has only continued into our own day.
 
Timmerman first describes how Ralph W.Emerson’s philosophy (along with Henry D. Thoreau, leading 19th century Transcendentalists) influenced his own generation and subsequent ones, including our own:
‘What have I to do with the sacredness of traditions if I live wholly from within? ..No law can be sacred to me but that of my own nature. The only right is what is after my constitution. The highest revelation of God is in every man. Make your own Bible.’
Concerning which he states: “This is the ultimate permissiveness. Trust your own instincts, trust only your own conscience, and make your own Bible” (160).
 
But then Timmerman ends with what must be our only standard and guide in answering to a society gone utterly permissive, a standard that will alone help our youth conquer this “Emersonian individualism in which each man does his own thing as seems right in his own eyes. …We have to transcend personal conscience; we must find an objective law to which young and old can submit, a set of sanctions which we find in Scripture.”
 
And from there he adds these significant words:
The cogency of this answer will depend upon the value we place upon Scripture and the way we interpret it. If the Bible is a book whose historical accuracy has to be established by extra-biblical documents, if we have to find its meaning through highly sophisticated mythological approaches, if we see in the biblical stories recurrent archetypes, symbols or images whose origins lie in a shadowy evolutionary past – then we are, it seems to me, destroying the uniqueness of the book. If we disregard the testimony of traditional Christian experience as it has been illuminated by the Spirit through generations of Christians, if the main lines of scriptural truth are no longer plain over the ages and have to be reinterpreted by each generation, we will wonder just how valid our temporary interpretations are. I do not that my grandmother, who was a life-long reader of the Bible, or that my father, who was a gifted student of the Bible, came to basic convictions about the creation of Adam and Eve, redemption, grace, and Christian duties without the guidance of the Spirit. If basic interpretations have constantly to be changed instead of being rooted in the past and developed in conformity with it instead of repudiation of it, then Emerson was right when he said, ‘God speaks,’, not spoke once for all (161-62).

14 Best Books of 2014 | T.Reinke

14 Best Books of 2014 | Desiring God.

The lists of “best books” are starting to roll in on various blogs and websites. I will begin posting the ones that I am interested in and that I believe will be of benefit to you.

This is Tony Reinke’s list for 2014, posted at “Desiring God”. As always, his “best” or favorites may not be mine, but they are still profitable to see and be aware of.

Here is part of the introduction to his list, along with his first pick. Find the rest at the link above:

In 2014, delicious non-fiction Christian titles ran off presses like hot donuts rolling off the assembly line at Krispy Kreme. As I narrowed my list of finalists down (to about five dozen!), it dawned on me that I should begin with thanks to the wise and dedicated writers, editors, and publishers who brought us such an excellent offering. Thank you!

The bibliophilic bounty makes choosing my top list difficult (in a fun way). I pulled it off by using my scientifically subjective algorithm of intuition about what books I think (1) serve the widest crowd, (2) offer the most unique insights, (3) and seem to promise the most enduring impact in the years ahead.

Here’s my top 14 (with 14 runners-up).

Top 14 Books of 2014

1. Tim Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (Dutton). Unique, fresh, and deeply rooted in history — this book is vintage Keller in his most carefully researched and most Reformed self. In part, it’s a celebration of the rich tradition of prayer enjoyed by our forefathers. But its greatest strength is the use of Scripture to frame the prayer life (a bulk of the book is about how Scripture is essential to it). When I finished this book, it instantly topped this year’s book list. Reformed to the core, practical, comprehensive, God-centered, Christ-focused, and joy-saturated — the book is rich on many levels. (And be sure to read the footnotes, where you’ll discover a second book of bonus content!)