Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Reason Bees are Dying

As a beekeeper, I have been watching for scientific evidence of colony collapse disorder over the past several years.  The article linked below is the first one that seems to report science that has gotten to the bottom of the problem.  This is considered the single greatest threat to the world food supply, since bees pollinate many crops, which would not produce well or at all without them.  Long story short...

" But three new studies point an accusing finger at a culprit that many have suspected all along, a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids.  In the U.S. alone, these pesticides, produced primarily by the German chemical giant Bayer and known as “neonics” for short, coat a massive 142 million acres of corn, wheat, soy and cotton seeds. They are also a common ingredient in home gardening products."

Due to copyright restrictions, I can't repost this article, so here is the original link to read:

What should Christians do about this?  What does the Bible say about this?

Monday, September 17, 2012

What Does a Project Manager Do?

Since you are all learning how to either be a project manager or work with the project manager team, here is a helpful orientation to what a project manager can be expected to do. (ref.

A project manager manages a team of people in order to get a project completed. Project managers work in every industry and are held accountable for the outcome of projects. The main duties of a project manager are planning, organizing, managing, controlling and following through on all parts of a project.

Project managers start with the objective or purpose to be achieved in a particular project. Then, determined on available resources such people, equipment and budget, they plan how the project will be achieved step-by-step. Project managers usually ask for ideas and suggestions from the employees who report to them.

A project manager must organize the project by deciding who will complete each step and by when. In larger organizations, the project manager may appoint team leaders to handle different project areas. These team leaders supervise a group of workers and report directly to the project manager.
The ability to delegate tasks and accomplish objectives through other people is a necessary project management skill. A project manager has to be able to successfully control how the project is executed so that the end result is successful. Schedules and tracking must flow. Project managers have to be prepared to step in and make needed changes if a problem or delay occurs. They have to have trouble-shooting or problem-solving abilities because it's their responsibility to keep the project on track or to get it back on track when things go wrong...

Following through in all project areas, whether there are team leaders or not, is absolutely crucial for the project manager's success. If he or she neglects to follow up in even one part of the project, it may mean that the objective isn't reached and the project didn't go as planned. The success or the failure of a project is ultimately the responsibility of the project manager.

Machines and Families

What are the positive and negative aspects of advancing technology's impact on  your family? What does God, in general, what men and women to do with their time? Since some individuals are interested and gifted in working with technology, how can the advancement of technology best fit with other Biblical truths? What is "standard of living" in a Biblical definition?

Here is an artilce to bring some historical and biblical analysis to this issue, this is part one of two parts. I read the book referenced and it is very interesting in how family based economy has been replaced with corporation based economies with negative affects on family and church etc.  Feel free to ask questions, since this article may bring up some that are not herein answered.


Machines and Families
By Howard King

Christians today are deeply divided on many issues that are vital to the advancement of the Kingdom of God. Some believe that the world has no future and that it is therefore a waste of time to debate what the future ought to look like. Others imagine a future that looks a lot like the present technological society, only "cleaned up" by the influence of a dominant Christian majority. A small minority of us see a radically different design for the establishment of God's Kingdom in the world. We believe in a kind of Christian Agrarianism.

The technological model focuses on tools, while the agrarian model focuses on the task itself which God gave to man at his creation — to make the whole earth into a beautiful and fruitful garden. The Technologist believes that the key to a better future is better and better tools. Efficiency at all costs! If the institutions and conventions of society have to "evolve" to accommodate the quest for greater productivity and a higher standard of living — so be it! Of course Christians who are Technologists must draw the line at some changes (usually to retreat and re-draw the line somewhere farther back later on). The status quo dictated by the technological establishment generally prevails. Even Scripture must bend to accommodate it.

The Christian Agrarian, on the other hand, asserts that industrialism as it has existed historically is not an acceptable way for man to exercise dominion over the earth. He maintains that as a system:
  1. It is based on defective and unbiblical principles [money and corporations v. serving God and others].
  2. It tends to the destruction of nature, rather than its cultivation [GMO, floride, chemtrails..].
  3. It is hostile to the institutions requisite to a godly social order [family, church, school, hospitals, corporations..].

To date, no work has appeared (to this author's knowledge) which provides an adequate defense of Christian Agrarianism. Until this occurs, I know of no better critique of industrialism available than This Ugly Civilization, by Ralph Borsodi. Published in 1929, just before the Great Depression, this book clearly pointed to some of the problems which created the greatest economic downturn in our history. It is a wide-ranging, thorough-going and utterly damning critique of the causes, nature and ultimate results of industrialism. But it goes further, showing also how it is possible to resist and proposing alternatives for the living of life as it was intended to be lived.

Though the world Borsodi bravely takes on is the world of the 1920s, I believe that his work is still relevant. High technology is, after all, just the advanced stage of industrialism. It is accelerated and intensified industrialism — the factory on steroids. As such. both the quantitative gains and the qualitative losses produced by the modern factory system are accentuated. And the already-stressful pace of change has been vastly accelerated.

It will be plain to the reader of Borsodi that he was not a Christian. I wish he had been, but he was in fact a militant atheist and a nihilist. His concern was only with the things of this life. Taking this into account, I would not favor the unedited re-printing of this book. However, its value remains, and I suggest we make use of it in a spirit of gratefulness to the One who is the source of all truth, wherever found, and who lays up the wealth of the wicked for the just.

The style is vigorous and passionate and exceedingly clear. As compared with the abstractedness of Jacques Ellul's The Technological Society, it is concrete and specific — both in its critique and in its proposal of alternatives to the status quo. (I was never quite sure what Ellul wanted us to do.)

Neither Borsodi nor Christian Agrarians are against the use or the improvement of tools. Rather, we insist that machines are to serve man — not man the machine. By destroying the village and the productive homestead, the Industrial Revolution has wreaked a calamity upon mankind of incalculable dimensions. Though enriched in the number and variety of possessions, we have been impoverished in terms of human values like community, family life, self-expression and fulfilling work.

Borsodi boldly asks the question, "Where would we be today, if the genius of the Industrial Revolution had been applied for the benefit of domestic production [home businesses], rather than to centralized mass production?" I suspect we would see a very different world — one in which massive waste of resources, pollution, urbanization, social upheaval, displacement of small-scale farmers and craftsmen, degradation of work, socialization of national life, class warfare, reduction of product quality, weakening of the family, and the virtual extinction of the homemaker had never occurred.

Instead, if machines had been developed and refined for the improvement of the homestead, the quality of our lives would have been made better — not worse. And here is the bright spot in Borsodi's assessment of our predicament. It is not too late for an "industrial counter-revolution." Residential electric rates are low today. Power is cheap. Technology is being developed for homestead applications as never before. All we need is the vision and courage to step out and challenge the system that we are sick and tired of anyway!

Borsodi goes into detail to show us that it is economically feasible to build productive, more self-sufficient homesteads that will provide the satisfaction of living more meaningful, natural, comfortable lives. For Christian Agrarians, this is more than an option — it is mandated conformity to the Divine plan. It is the shape of things to come. "But every man shall sit under his own vine and his own fig tree, and none shall make him afraid."(Micah 4:4)

This Ugly Civilization is available online at:

(This article originally appeared in "Patriarch Magazine" edited and copyrighted by Phil Lancaster. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

What is Christian Agrarianism?

Below is one of the articles that was influential in the Bartlett family transition from city life to country life in 2004.  Howard King, a pastor, wrote a series of articles and book reviews along these lines originally published in Patriarch Magazine. Howard King challenged us to rethink the impact of technology on family life and Spiritual life.


The Biblical Basis of Christian AgrarianismBy: Howard Douglas King

What in the World is Christian Agrarianism?
Agrarianism is a philosophy that is based on the belief in the primary importance of agriculture. Agrarians attempt to understand and articulate the ideal relationship of agriculture to the various social institutions. We believe that the physical, spiritual and social well-being of mankind depends on a common understanding of, and commitment to, man's most ancient, and only necessary, occupation. Accordingly, we seek to articulate social theory that gives agriculture its due honor; and to urge reforms that will tend to encourage homesteading and subsistence farming as a way of life. Unfortunately, most of the agrarian literature does not represent a biblical worldview. I am trying, therefore, to propound a form of agrarianism that is both distinctively Christian and consistently scriptural, by gathering the truths scattered throughout the agrarian writings into a coherent system that rests firmly on the foundation of Holy Scripture. That is what I mean when I use the term, "Christian Agrarianism".

What then is my purpose? Ultimately, I want to show that some of the most massive, intractable problems that we face as a society are the result of a fundamental error -- the failure to define the proper corporate calling of humankind by the Word of God. That's right! One of the main reasons that we are in the mess we are in today is because we have neglected the simple Scriptural fact that God appointed man to be a tiller of the ground. And we will never see the establishment of a truly godly social order until we return to our agrarian roots. Please take note that for some of us this point is not merely academic. As a Postmillennialist, I cherish the hope that the world will yet see a flourishing Christian social order before the bodily return of Jesus Christ to this world at the end of history. But whether or not you share that expectation, the question of man's corporate calling is still relevant to our critique of the dominant culture.

But before I can hope to demonstrate the connection between our modern world's repudiation of agrarian social order and the prevalent evils of modern society, I must first show a biblical basis for my agrarian belief. That is my aim in this series.

A Proper Historical Perspective
I have been accused of teaching a new and extreme doctrine. And I admit that it may appear to be novel or extreme if it is misunderstood. So please note: I am not saying that we must all immediately sell our homes and set up farming homesteads. What I am saying is that, according to Scripture, mankind was created to till the ground. I am saying that this truth of man's corporate duty must begin first to register, and then to resonate in our consciences. I am saying that society as a whole must somehow, sooner or later, return to a social order directed to the end for which man was made -- the subduing of the uncultivated earth, the re-creation of Eden on a worldwide scale, the conversion of the wilderness into a garden that will bring forth the wholesome and the beautiful, for the praise and glory of the Creator.

This is not a new idea, but it was held almost unconsciously, as a pre-supposition, until the modern age, because there was no practical alternative to an agrarian order. Food production simply demanded the labor of the larger part of mankind. Man ate bread by the sweat of his brow. The rich and powerful were those who owned the most of the productive land and livestock, and the shape of society reflected this reality. Only recently have other forms of wealth superseded in importance the ownership of real property.

There never has been a church council or synod that declared the Bible to be an agrarian book. But that was never necessary, because before the industrial revolution, society was founded on agrarian principles. Since the beginning of time, most people were engaged in some way in the cultivation of the soil. No one doubted that this was proper and natural, so there was little reason to discuss it. But now we have only two percent of the population engaged in agriculture, an all-time low. The family farm is disappearing.

The shift has been drastic, but few foresaw it, for it came suddenly and unannounced. Theologians didn't debate the probable impact of the abandonment of the agrarian order beforehand -- the few that raised the issue were not heeded. It is a little known fact that the great American Puritan, Jonathan Edwards deplored the change from a village-based agrarian lifestyle to an urban and commercial society.

The chief calamity, for Edwards, was the temptation to market behavior: "exceeding extravagant" consumption, "continual" indebtedness, "common people" pursuing status through wealth, and "county towns" affecting "to be like the metropolis."(Law and Providence in Joseph Bellamy's New England, Mark Valeri, p.81)

Joseph Bellamy, a crucial figure in New England during the years leading up to the War of Independence, and a disciple of Edwards, spent the latter part of his life defending Calvinism, while warning against the consequences of offending God by a mad rush towards commercialism and away from traditional agrarian community life. Valeri comments on the connection between the theological and the economic:

Contrasting theories of human nature revealed profound disagreements about the growth of commerce and its chief premise: the autonomous pursuit of wealth in an open market. Bellamy wrote of self-denial and the subjugation of self-interest when the proponents of the market lauded self-interest as the proper means to prosperity. The debate about original sin was furious because it referred to that most mundane of matters—the economy. (Valeri, p.77)

For Bellamy, not only the agrarian way of life, but Christian society itself was at stake:

In 1762, he warned Connecticut's magistrates at the annual election that the spread of market behavior portended the total collapse of society. In the fluctuating values and prices of the market, merchants filled "their traffic full of deceit and fraud." Commerce lured people to forego their stewardship over and cultivation of the land, only to deal in the chimerical and fabricated world of money, where "luxury, idleness, debauchery" and "dishonesty" reigned. (Valeri, p.89)

Seeing The Trees, But Missing The Forest
We tend to accept without question the things that were already established when we came into the world. A native citizen of Rome under the Caesars would never have seriously considered that the great Empire to which he owed his status and privileges might rest on a false foundation -- that it was in fact an unrighteous nation, committed to the idolatrous worship of false gods and wicked men, that could only survive by preying upon the weaker surrounding nations. He would not be very open to the suggestion that his wicked nation was doomed from the start, and that, however long it survived, it carried within it the seeds of its own destruction.

In the same way, modern man takes for granted the legitimacy of the modern world, and is not easily persuaded to entertain the thought that it might be built on a false foundation. Even Christians, when they begin to see that the technological society has certain elements built into it that are harming the church and the family in obvious ways, find it hard to believe that the technological society itself might be the problem. The initial response is to look for some adjustment that can be made -- ideally an easy and quick adjustment -- in order to render at least that part of the technological society upon which his own welfare depends more bearable.

As an example: the godly man who learns that "public education" is just a euphemism for the systematic enslavement of his child to the state religion through the corruption of his child's mind and soul is apt to see that he must do something immediately to protect his child -- but he will rarely look further than is required to solve the immediate crisis. He may lack the categories of thought to deal with the deeper crisis of creeping statism. The same man may be frustrated that he can't support his family on one salary, and may reluctantly ask his wife to work outside the home as a solution to the urgent necessity of his present need for money. Ask him why the system is putting such financial pressure on his family, and he may answer. "Life is complicated and exhausting enough! It takes all my time and energy just to keep up. I don't have time to worry about things I can do nothing about!"

And so it happens that the question is rarely asked -- are the evils of our modern world inherent in its system of organization and in its foundational principles? My aim is to show that technological society could never have existed if the rulers of this world had not decided that it was in their best interests to set at naught some of the most basic teachings of God's word -- that the system would be impossible to sustain if mankind ever began to operate on the principle of obedience to the whole word of God.

The Idea Of A Corporate Vocation
The assumption of modern man is that any occupation is as good as any other, as long as it's not outright sinful and pays well. But this view is seriously flawed. Let me illustrate it this way: a fire company has a basic mission -- to put out fires. While everyone in the company has a specialty, and a defined role, yet each one is there to fight fires. The driver does not sit in the cab while the others risk their lives. Furthermore, there is no entertainer in the company, no banker, no merchant, and no attorney. In terms of the mission of the fire company, such skills are not needed, and would constitute a waste of resources.

In the same way, mankind has a mission which every human being ought to be somehow involved in furthering. For God has given the human family a clearly-defined mission. That mission is the sacred stewardship of the soil from whence it came, and by which all life is nourished. It is the cultivation of the soil for the production of nutritious food and beautiful living things, to the glory of the Creator. That is the distinctive message of Christian Agrarianism -- that whatever our individual gifts and callings may be, our corporate task is -- and has always been -- to make the world a garden.

This is not to deny the Great commission. It is to understand it. For the goal of redemption is not only to save us from wrath, but to save us to the fulfillment of God's original purposes for mankind. God was not mistaken in creating man as he is, and the ultimate happiness of the creature called man is naturally to be found in the work that God gave to him in the beginning. Next, we shall look at what Scripture has to say about the proper corporate vocation of mankind.

The Proper Corporate Vocation Of Mankind
Let us begin at the beginning -- the Book of Beginnings. Here the Christian finds the only authoritative account of the origin of man, his true nature and Divine calling. Here we learn that after the whole creation had been completed and furnished more gloriously than any palace, populated with magnificent creatures and decorated with an abundance of fruitful vegetation, provided with rivers of pure water and abundant minerals, ceiled over with a sky that never threatened -- God planted a garden. It was not enough that God had created a whole beautiful world for His children -- His care was so great and so personal, that He set aside a special spot in the midst of its natural (but uncultivated) beauty for them. Here, He Himself planted a garden! The first gardener was God Himself!

The garden has been planted. All is in readiness. What remains to be done? What is lacking? "There was no man to till the ground."(Gen. 2:5) Just as the narrative in Chapter one stops to tell us that "the earth was without form and void"(Gen.1:2) before it tells us that God imposed order on the confused mass (vss.6-9); just as it informs us that "darkness was upon the face of the deep"(vs.2) before the Divine command," Let there be light!"; just as we are shown that the man could find no suitable helpmeet in the creation (vs. 20) before we are told of the creation of woman -- so we are shown a "defect" (of incompleteness) in the perfect world before the second account of man's creation. The thoughtful listener will in each of these cases find an indication of purpose. Just as the woman, for example was made for the purpose of being a helpmeet to man, so the man was made for the purpose of tilling the ground.

Not that it was the only purpose for which God made mankind. Man was created for the purpose of manifesting the glory of the Creator in many ways. But the specific way in which the creation of the first man is presented in this crucial narrative is that the man was made to meet the need for the cultivation of the garden. (Even in a perfect world, it seems, a garden will become a jungle if it is not tended.) But not only here (2:5) -- but in verse 15 we find the same truth -- "God... put him in the garden to tend and keep it."

From this I conclude that the proper, basic calling of mankind is the cultivation of the soil. First, Adam and his family were to maintain ("dress and keep") the Garden of Eden in which they had been placed. But in time they were to address the task of bringing out the beauty and utility of plant and animal life throughout the whole world for God's glory and the benefit of mankind. In the original benediction of the first pair, the words "fill the earth and subdue it" show that the uncultivated lands outside the garden were gradually to be brought under cultivation as the human family expanded. The garden was a God-given model or prototype for the rest of the earth.

The Adamic Benediction and Man's Original Dominion
This understanding of things is based on the benediction found in Genesis 1:28. The well-known passage in Genesis 1 which relates the creation of man on the sixth day reads as follows:

26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Now, it is not hard to see that in verse 28, God is not telling Adam, or anyone else, to take over an ungodly society for Christ (as some teach) -- but rather making explicit man's relationship to the lower creation in the time before that terrible event which we call "the fall of man". In this all-too-brief period of innocence, Adam is serving the purpose for which he has been created -- to be God's gardener, a tiller of the ground. God has provided for him and His wife a wedding present -- a home of surpassing beauty, comfort and convenience, made by His own hands with special attention to the needs of the first pair. But the rest of the earth is left in an uncultivated condition.

Clearly, it has been left for Adam's progeny to make its own place in the un-cursed earth after the pattern of the Garden of God, progressively expanding the actual dominion of man until the whole earth is occupied, and under cultivation. In the historical and literary context, the words, "and subdue it" could have reference to nothing else but to the cultivation of the virgin soil, and the conquest of its wildness for man's ends. The earth was not yet under a curse, and so would offer no resistance to man's efforts, and there was no human opposition to subdue. In any event, this is not a command to subdue the earth, so much as a blessing on man's efforts to do so. (Of which, we will have more to say in a moment.)

The animals played an important part in the ecology of the garden, and were by these words explicitly declared to be under the authority of Adam. If the birds wanted to eat the berries before man could pick them, presumably Adam had the moral justification to exclude them by whatever means was necessary. Likewise, the cattle could be denied the delicacies of Eve's flower plots. If Adam wanted some muscle to plow his cornfield, he was entitled to yoke oxen, and use their labor as he pleased. He could ride the horses. He was free to use the milk, the honey, and so forth made by other creatures.

Moreover, this affirmation of man's dominion takes place in connection with a blessing of fertility upon his kind. The words are "And God blessed them, saying…" What he said was then a blessing or benediction-- not a mandate, command, covenant or commission. (Though it has been called all of these things.) The triplet, or double-parallelism "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth" is used for rhetorical effect. God is going to bless Adam with an exceedingly great number of descendants. This is more in keeping with the language of a promise than of a command. The verb used, furthermore, is not "take dominion", but "have dominion". It was not something to be attained, but something freely granted as God spoke the words.

This is not to say that the words are not a revelation of the will and law of God for mankind. They do reveal the natural order that God established for man and the lower creatures. To affirm that they are a benediction rather than a command has to do rather with the form in which God has revealed his will here. It also sheds light on how the words are to be interpreted, and on what that will is -- specifically that man's chief and central occupation is to be farming.

A further proof that these words contain a benediction rather than a mandate is found in the fact that nearly identical words are used in the immediately-preceding context with respect to creatures that could not have understood them at all -- much less have been obligated to obedience by them. They make sense only if understood as a benediction in this case:

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. (Genesis 1:22)

This benediction is repeated at the inauguration of the "new creation" after the great flood:

And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. (Genesis 9:1,2)

The scope of the benediction (And God blessed Noah … and said…") is otherwise the same, giving Noah and his many descendants dominion over the animals, but with this notable difference: the animals will now have to fear for their lives, for they will be food for man in accommodation to the scarcity of vegetarian food caused by the ruin of the earth's surface and the destruction of its precious topsoil.

When the original economy of the world is alluded to in the eighth Psalm, it is once again quite clear what it is that God conferred on Adam, and what the proper scope of his authority is:

6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: 7 All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; 8 The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. (Psalm 8:6-8)

Again, the Adamic Benediction would have been understood by Adam as a blessing on him and on his progeny as they engage in the culture of the soil outside the garden. He did not need to be told to multiply, or to lay the earth under cultivation; he would have known to do this out of godly self-interest. Every species of living thing naturally pursues its own interests.

Neither does this benediction have in its purview our ungodly Technological Society, although the development and use of tools of all kinds is implied (God needs no tools to plant a garden, but man does). These words of Divine blessing would have been understood as having reference to Adam's place and role in the world as a tiller of the ground. The development of machines as a means of enslavement and conquest would never have occurred to him. The false ideal of technological "progress" for its own sake had not yet arisen.

The original dominion of mankind was a peaceful dominion. Even the lives of the animals were safe, for Adam and his wife were explicitly given a vegetarian diet, as were the wild "beasts of the field". There is no reason to assume that Adam's dominion included the right to kill, anymore than man's headship over his family contemplates that possibility. No doubt it included the right to breed them for desirable traits, to restrain them (fencing), to train and work some of them and to use their products (milk, honey, wool, horn).

We have seen what was the original calling of man, in the period of innocence. Now let us consider what Scipture teaches about man's calling in the period subsequent to the fall.

After the Fall
Man served God for a brief time in a state of innocence. But this idyllic state was not to endure. Sin entered in, and death by sin. The first indication that man's relationship with the world had been sadly altered was the curse on the ground. No more was the ground to "bring forth abundantly" the food of man. Whereas man had had a daily feast of rich fruits, he was to be reduced to eating the food designed for animals:"...and you shall eat the herb of the field."(3:18b) The ground was henceforth only to yield its increase reluctantly.

The second indication of a dreadful change in the fabric of the world was the covering that God made for them -- "tunics of skins"(3:21). Animals had been killed, sacrificed for man's sake. But not yet by man -- God was the first shedder of blood. Permission to eat flesh was not granted until after the deluge had wrecked the earth's productive capacity, and that vegetable diet that the world had always known in abundance before had become scarce.

The third indication that man's relation to the world had changed was the ejection from paradise. Man was not worthy to remain in the beautiful house God had built for him. The cherubim and the flaming sword were to remind him that there was to be no way back. Paradise was to be left to decay, rather than house a miscreant. "...therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken." (Genesis 3:23) Once again, the vocation of the man is explicitly stated. His status had altered, his location also -- but not his basic calling.

What does Scripture say, then, about man's calling in the restored Paradise?

The great disruption had occurred. The life of the man was no longer easy. His very survival would often be in question. His life, though greatly prolonged, would never reach to a thousand years. More importantly, Adam now had to concern himself with the terms of his new relationship with God. That he had such a relationship is clear. He had a specific promise that his seed would finally destroy the serpent. That this was a promise of redemption in Christ is beyond doubt. It implies all that the Bible teaches regarding the restoration of paradise for the new redeemed humanity through the second Adam.

Christ our Redeemer is the great theme of Scripture and of human history. Redemption restores creation to its original purposes. In the prophecies of Scripture, God is depicted as reversing the curse, restoring the fruitfulness of the ground. Man is to enjoy the fruits of his labor, and rest in them without molestation. This shows that the vocation of mankind abides unaltered. In the restored paradise, he is a gardener still. God's plan for man has not changed.

Individual versus Corporate Calling
Now, let me state an important caveat. To say that man's corporate calling is agriculture is not to say that every individual is called to be a farmer. For God has not limited all men to the identical task, nor given all men the same gifts or aspirations. Godly Abel was a shepherd, and his murderer was a tiller of the ground. The Scripture allows for many vocations, and the division of labor is a sound principle. But the fact remains that the task set for mankind as a whole is to make the earth a fruitful garden. If we specialize in -- for example -- tool-making, it should be to make tools which will help in some way to accomplish the overall task. They may be tools to make clothing, or tools to build houses, or tools to plow the ground or harvest crops. They may be simple hand tools, or the more complex tools that we call "machines". But what gives the specialty legitimacy is that it improves the way that the whole community works together to support the common agricultural enterprise, realizing the God-created potential of the land.

It ought to be clear that modern man is in rebellion against his God-ordained corporate vocation.

If as a society we have a different goal than "subduing the earth" in this Biblical sense, then we are in outright corporate rebellion against our Maker. If we are employed in work that undermines this Divine plan, or we are in a legitimate field, but using methods which work against the purpose of God, we are also in rebellion against God. We cannot excuse ourselves by saying "I have to make a living!" God knows how to provide for those who put His purposes ahead of their own earthly interests.

A Dangerous Course
In most of human history and over most of the world, man has had no alternative to agriculture. Only in recent times did it occur to us to abandon the ancient norm and leave our food production in the hands of a few specialists. The final cost of this risky experiment has not been measured. But it is clear that we are using and destroying more resources than any generation in history. And it is becoming more obvious that the food produced by mass industrialized cultivation is inferior, unwholesome and sometimes dangerous.

We have taken a detour from the biblical plan in favor of hedonistic lifestyles and the values of materialism. We have abandoned our calling to exercise godly dominion over the earth, and instead are exercising an ungodly and destructive dominion. Modern man no longer sees himself as God's image, but as God himself! He claims autonomy and sovereignty over the universe. He is making up his own rules as he goes along -- he sees no need for a knowledge of the past. But as a result of our rebellion, we are nearing a crisis, as productive agricultural land becomes scarce.

If we valued the earth's resources according to their utility in sustaining and enriching our lives, then air and water would be joined in the same class by topsoil. If we honored men according to the value of their contribution to the well-being of society, the farmer would be among the upper classes. This alone shows how upside-down the values of the popular culture are.

We Americans who have been born since the Second World War have never known hunger, but that is no guarantee that we will not. If God is still the moral governor of the world, then it is all but certain that we shall experience hunger before long -- in spite of our present domination of the world, and in spite of the apparent security which our wealth and influence provide. And it is likely that we will be ourselves the cause of it. For we are on a suicidal course of destroying the productive capacity of the earth.

G. T. Wrench, in his book, The Restoration of the Peasantry documents the history of Roman agriculture, and shows that mighty Rome could not sustain its agricultural output because the productive lands passed out of the hands of the farmers into the hands of urban moneylenders and thence to the effete aristocracy. Thus, the lands were only an additional source of income to the owners, and not their very lives. They were neglected or else exploited, and soon lost their fertility. Rome relied in the end on North Africa to feed its millions. This is not the only cause of the decline of Rome, but it is one that few are aware of today. We are on a similar course, with multinational corporations and bankers owning most of the productive soil in America, rather than freehold farmers.

Our Utter Failure as God's Stewards

Man was made from the ground, and his natural environment is the fertile land and the open air. Nothing can change this -- it is how we are made. Moreover, the Creator gave mankind in the beginning a stewardship over the soil. Coordinate with dominion is responsibility -- a steward is accountable for what he does with his Master's resources. Modern man has failed miserably in this regard, and when he is called to account, he is likely to lose all that he has or ever hopes to have. For history shows nothing even approaching the rate of destruction of productive land that we achieved in the last century, and are continuing apace in this new millennium.

We have sown the land with death, rather than life. Millions of unexploded bombs and shells and land mines defile the land in the war zones of modernity. In southeast Asia, making prosthetics for people who have stepped on mines is a major industry. How shall we answer to God for this new abomination of desolation?

We are “making progress“ in other areas, as well. The EPA notwithstanding, pollution continues but slightly abated. The Chesapeake Bay is cursed with an over-abundance of a tiny but deadly creature called physteria, which attacks fish and man. The cause seems to be the runoff from chicken "factories". The chickens live in a cruel captivity out of the fresh air, and their droppings are piled up to compost outside, and then be mixed with cattle feed for extra protein. (Remember that next time you want a hamburger.) The cattle eat it -- they have no choice. But large quantities of the droppings wash into the water and nourish physteria, which are threatening the fishing industry around the bay.

And what of the productive farmland taken out of use by developers to be paved over to make roads, parking lots, or airports? Or, if not, turned into golf courses, parks or suburban estates, where food will never be produced? What of the so-called "public lands" where private ownership and agriculture are outlawed? And the landfills that leak toxins, farming practices that deplete the soil and kill beneficial microbes, massive erosion, mega-mining, nuclear testing and accidents, large-scale clear-cutting of forests, oil spills -- the list is endless! These things are often condemned, but they go on because of the money behind them. Some people don't care if they kill us all, as long as they can have more -- and ever more -- to waste on their own useless selves.

Rates of erosion were already high enough in the twenties that our national government took action and formed a bureaucracy to deal with it. Now it is much worse. Whence these unprecedented floods of the great rivers all over the world? It's very simple. Precious soil eroded from the lands cleared but not protected by vegetation fills up the riverbeds, leaving little room for the water that fills them during the rainy seasons. These floods will continue to devastate the lives of millions of the world's peasant farmers, and increase, for each flood carries more soil away -- unless there is drought. Drought is equally destructive -- the soil dries up and blows away.

What is it going to take for us to abandon this suicidal course? Judgments of God may depopulate the earth and end our capability to destroy. Or a true revival of biblical faith and subsequent reformation may come in the mercy of God, and change man into a preserver and life-giver instead of the most destructive beast on the planet. But something must end it. It is God's earth, after all -- and He will act -- we can be sure of that. Are we going to be on His side then? Or will we be the ones opposing His purpose?


What do you think about Christian Agrarianism?

Monday, September 3, 2012

John Knox would like Legacy High School

I read some of the First Book of Discipline this past weekend which covers the necessity of Christian education to the advancement of the Kingdom of God.  This First Book of Discipline was written in about 1560 by Scottish church reformers which included the influential reformer John Knox. 

The Book was designed as a blueprint to transform the Scottish church and nation into a society which would be reformed in manners, as well as doctrine,  in other words to guide the development of a Christian nation. These Christian leaders had a positive vision for the future, which was influential in the American colonial times also. Regarding education, the First Book contains a visionary program for Christian education. The authors proposed an extensive system of schools as an essential component of national reformation.

Below are a few paragraphs to give you a sense of how important Christian education is to the spread of Christianity in a nation, hence, why I think John  Knox would like Legacy High School and classical education."

From the First Book of Discipline (ref.

For the Schools

Seeing that the office and duty of the godly magistrate is not only to purge the church of God from all superstition, and to set it at liberty from bondage of tyrants; but also to provide, to the uttermost of his power, how it may abide in the same purity to the posterity following; we cannot but freely communicate our judgments with your honours in this behalf.

The Necessity of Schools

Seeing that God has determined that his church here in earth shall be taught not by angels but by men; and seeing that men are born ignorant of all godliness; and seeing, also, God now ceases to illuminate men miraculously, suddenly changing them, as that he did his apostles and others in the primitive church: of necessity it is that your honours be most careful for the virtuous education and godly upbringing of the youth of this realm, if either ye now thirst unfeignedly [for] the advancement of Christ's glory, or yet desire the continuance of his benefits to the generation following. For as the youth must succeed to us, so we ought to be careful that they have the knowledge and erudition to profit and comfort that which ought to be most dear to us-to wit, the church and spouse of the Lord Jesus.

Of necessity therefore we judge it, that every several church have a schoolmaster appointed, such a one as is able, at least, to teach grammar and the Latin tongue, if the town is of any reputation. If it is upland, where the people convene to doctrine but once in the week, then must either the reader or the minister there appointed, take care over the children and youth of the parish, to instruct them in their first rudiments, and especially in the catechism,[10] as we have it now translated in the book of our common order, called the Order of Geneva. And further, we think it expedient that in every notable town, and especially in the town of the superintendent, [there] be erected a college, in which the arts, at least logic and rhetoric, together with the tongues, be read by sufficient masters, for whom honest stipends must be appointed; as also provision for those that are poor, and are not able by themselves, nor by their friends, to be sustained at letters, especially such as come from landward.

The fruit and commodity hereof shall suddenly appear. For, first, the youth and tender children shall be nourished and brought up in virtue, in presence of their friends; by whose good attendance many inconveniences may be avoided, in the which the youth commonly fall, either by too much liberty, which they have in strange and unknown places, while they cannot rule themselves; or else for lack of good attendance, and of such necessities as their tender age requires. Secondly, the exercise of the children in every church shall be great instruction to the aged.

Last, the great schools, called universities, shall be replenished with those that are apt to learning; for this must be carefully provided, that no father, of what estate or condition that ever he be, use his children at his own fantasy, especially in their youth; but all must be compelled to bring up their children in learning and virtue.

The rich and potent may not be permitted to suffer their children to spend their youth in vain idleness, as heretofore they have done. But they must be exhorted, and by the censure of the church compelled, to dedicate their sons, by good exercise, to the profit of the church and to the commonwealth; and that they must do of their own expenses, because they are able. The children of the poor must be supported and sustained on the charge of the church, till trial is taken whether the spirit of docility is found in them or not. If they are found apt to letters and learning, then may they (we mean neither the sons of the rich, nor yet the sons of the poor) not be permitted to reject learning; but must be charged to continue their study, so that the commonwealth may have some comfort by them. And for this purpose must discreet, learned, and grave men be appointed to visit all schools for the trial of their exercise, profit, and continuance: to wit, the ministers and elders, with the best learned in every town, shall every quarter take examination how the youth have profited.

A certain time must be appointed to reading, and to learning of the catechism; a certain time to the grammar, and to the Latin tongue; a certain time to the arts, philosophy, and to the tongues; and a certain [time] to that study in which they intend chiefly to travail for the profit of the commonwealth. Which time being expired, we mean in every course, the children must either proceed to further knowledge, or else they must be sent to some handicraft, or to some other profitable exercise; provided always, that first they have the form of knowledge of Christian religion: to wit, the knowledge of God's law and commandments; the use and office of the same; the chief articles of our belief; the right form to pray unto God, the number use, and effect of the sacraments; the true knowledge of Christ Jesus, of his office and natures, and such other [points] as without the knowledge whereof, neither deserves [any] man to be named Christian, neither ought any to be admitted to the participation of the Lord's Table. And therefore, these principles ought and must be learned in the youth.

The Times Appointed to Every Course

Two years we think more than sufficient to learn to read perfectly, to answer to the catechism, and to have some entry in the first rudiments of grammar; to the full accomplishment whereof (we mean of the grammar) we think another three or four years, at most, sufficient. To the arts-to wit, logic and rhetoric-and to the Greek tongue, four years; and the rest, till the age of twenty-four years, to be spent in that study wherein the learner would profit the church or commonwealth, be it in the laws, or physics or divinity. Which time to twenty-four years being spent in the schools, the learner must be removed to serve the church or commonwealth, unless he is found a necessary reader in the same college or university. If God shall move your hearts to establish and execute this order, and put these things in practice, your whole realm (we doubt not), within few years, shall serve itself of true preachers, and of other officers necessary for your commonwealth.


What do you think as you compare modern public school or Christian schools to this document?