The Cornerstone

In my reading this morning, I was reflecting on Paul’s words in Romans 9:33.  He speaks of Christ as the stumbling stone when he writes:

“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

Evidently the early church combined two passages from Isaiah (8:14; 28:16) to recognize that Jesus was the Messiah; the heir of the Throne of David.

Jesus is, in fact, the Stone of Offense.  Humanistic religion puts man at the center of the universe, reason as the savior, and man’s own good works as the means of salvation.  The motto is In man we trust! Christ, in fact, challenges all of that.  God is the center of the universe.  Man is a sinner, personally and corporately.  Reason without revelation leads to illusion.  Christ is the Savior.  Our motto is In God we trust!

This simple fact of the Stone of Offense is true on both a personal and a corporate level.

The French Revolution and the American Revolution, while occurring at the same time in history, were of a radically different order.  The French were overthrowing - revolting – the old order, thus making the state sovereign, reason alone, the source of all knowledge, and looking toward the perfectibility of man.   The American Revolution was not so much a revolution as it was a reformation - a re-forming – a building on the older order where God is sovereign.

The French experiment was led first by anarchists and then, as society broke down, by tyrants.  The American experiment was led first by God-fearing Puritans and then by their children from the Second Great Awakening (1790-1840).  The mindset and actions of the French Revolution left man at the center of the universe, and stateism-Communism , Socialism and  Fascisms – as the model of governance.  The American experience was an experiment of freedom where God is sovereign and citizens are self-governing - obeying all that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28: 19-20).  Since then, nations around the world have been reflecting on the two experiments, the French and the American, to discover the root and nature of free societies.

When Atheism reigns, “freedom” is spelled license – the right to do wrong and to promote evil.  When God is sovereign, freedom is spelled liberty - the right to do good and promote righteousness in every area of life.

Christ is the Rock of Offense.  He is who He claimed to be, the Lord and Savior of mankind and of nations.  For individuals who want to save themselves, they will stumble at the Stumbling Stone.  For people to find themselves, they must have an internal conversion from self to Christ, from “I am OK, you are OK,”  to “I am a sinner who needs the blood of Christ for my sin and his righteousness as my righteousness.”

Likewise, nations who long for freedom must experience an internal conversion – a new metaphysic – the worldview of the Kingdom of God.  A nation under man leads to chaos, and ultimately tyranny.  A nation that longs for freedom must first deal with the Stumbling Stone, and seek a metaphysical conversion – becoming one nation under God.

For freedom to reign in the hearts of men and nations, the Stumbling Stone must become the Cornerstone (1 Peter 2:6).

-Darrow L. Miller

Click here to see this translated into Brazilian Portuguese.

  
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5 Responses to The Cornerstone

  1. StanH says:

    Darrow, this commentary reminds me of “John Adams”, written by David McCullough. McCullough goes to some extent to point out the philosophical differences between the American and French revolutions and how Adams and Jefferson were at opposite poles in their feelings about the kind of change that was needed, both reflecting on these two famous experiments. McCullough echoes your comments, in his own way. Excellent blog!!

  2. Hi Stan

    It should have reminded you of John Adams. I read McCullough’s “1776″ and “John Adams” this fall. Great books! Since then I have read two very different books each making a similar argument, but using different language.

    Balint Vazsonyi is a Hungarian concert pianist and historian who writes, in “America’s 30 Years War,” a history of what I would call the culture wars in the USA.

    Now I am reading an American historian K. Alan Snyder’s “Defining Noah Webster: A Spiritual Journey.” Webster was known as the father of American education and the nations early lexicographer. Webster was a contemporary of Adams and support Adam’s stance to keep America out of France’s war.

    So, Stan, while I would have made this argument years ago from a philosophic perspective – Atheism vs Theism, it has been fascinating for me to read three very different historians making the same arguement.

    Thanks for your feedback,

    darrow

  3. Hi Darrow

    This is such an important teaching for Brazil, especially because in Portuguese the term for both freedom and liberty is LIBERDADE. Since words are the building blocks of ideas, it becomes absolutely indispensable to define them biblically as your attitude to life stems from the word definitions on your mind.
    Just a thought: Freedom is intrinsically associated with self-centredness (doing whatever will satisfy YOUR flesh’s desires for YOUR own benefit); Liberty is others-centred as it considers how your actions will affect your neighbour.

    fernando guarany jr
    Parnamirim [Natal] RN – Brazil

  4. Dear Fernando

    It is so good to hear from you. Thank you for your insight on the use of “liberdade” in Portuguese.

    Your distinction between self-centeredness and other-cenredness is very helpful as we think on this issue. However, I would attach your definition regarding self-centeredness to the English word “license” and fight for the restoration of the word freedom as a synonymy of “liberty.”

    We are currently working on a new book on the Great Co-Mission. There is a section in the book where we discuss the difference between liberty and license. Your words are very helpful as I think through this part of the book.

    darrow

  5. Thank you, Darrow, for helping me to bake my ideas on Liberty a wee bit more. I’d always thought that freedom simply stood for the “ease or facility of doing ANY THING” [Webster's 1828 Dict.], which in my mind would render it a quasi-synonym with license.

    Thank you once more for clarifying that.

    fernando guarany jr
    Parnamirim [Natal] RN – Brazil

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