Welcome to VFBC Online!
We've been studying the
Book of Psalms in
our Evening Services from time. We've started to put
the notes from these studies up on the website. You may also want to take a look at
Farrow's VFBC Blog - There is
always something that makes you think and directs those thought
to our Lord Jesus. We started a study in Sunday
(while Steve was away) - "Let
If you are in the Valley Forge area visiting or if you are looking for a church home in the area, please stop by and visit one of our services! We are small, but fervent and zealous church that loves the Lord and seeks to worship, serve and learn about Him. It is our fervent desire to honor God and His Word in all that we do. Come out and be a part of what the Lord is doing here in Valley Forge!
I've been reading about Cotton Mather - a relative from the 17th century, just starting the book, mainly about his relationship with his father, Increase, early in his life. Increase was a moody man, angry, actually at the treatment he received at the hand of the congregation he served in Boston. They were stingy (according to his estimation, which I no reason to doubt) and did not give enough to meet his needs adequately. This feeling was perceived by his family, a mistake in my mind. Increase was a Puritan, one who perceived his relationship with God largely in experiential terms. He did understand the theological truths that were present in the Bible, certainly so, but these were understood in practical terms and applied in "everyday" terms. I believe that this crated a tension for men like Increase and Cotton Mather. They were very consistent in their lives. What they believed they lived, to the "T"... Even in the way they dressed and spoke. They could not understand the inconsistencies present in the lives of others. They simply could not understand them. Their Puritan mindset forced them to a legal perspective that pushed them to a place where they had no room for graciousness or the loving kindness that Christ showed even His enemies (we are commanded also to do...). I think that he wanted to...but he simply could no... he was driven, again and again (Increase we are talking about now) to resentment and anger.
This demonstrates that even those who are basically Calvinist in their theology can go askew when their eyes drift aside to themselves and away from the God who cares for all and specially for those become consumed with circumstances and allow that become the focus of their attention and not the person of Christ. Increase would have argued with that assertion, rather vehemently (angrily n fact!) but at this stage of life I don't think we can deny it. The Scripture is clear that it is the persuasion of the heart that drives the actions and it is this time of both Increase's and Cotton's lives that are setting up what happens later up to and including the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Increase finally interfered and denounced spectral evidence. Cotton sought to find the truth, but from his skewed point of view, it was near impossible. The minister of the church at Salem was from his own church and thus was really an extension of his own point of view.
The really terrible thing here is that the modern perception is that all of this what went on at Salem is what Calvinism is, it is what Puritanism is, and that is surely not so! Nothing could really be further from the truth. What happened there was a case of mass hysteria, similar to what goes on with folks that get caught up in the "aliens are here" or "big brother is hiding things from us" mindset. They are sure and you can't tell them differently. If you hint at anything other than what they believe then you are a part of the problem and might even a part of what is striking against them! That is what happened in Salem. There were a few "trusted" people and whoever spoke out against them quickly became targets.
Fundamentalism has, sadly, become this kind of group. If you say anything, ANYTHING about them, against a given doctrine, then you very quickly become a heretic, a target for them. This ought not be so. We must be very careful that this mindset does not overtake us, as it is so very to allow to happen. Cotton Mather was 11 and 1/2 years old when he entered Harvard. He took notes at his father's sermons in LATIN (good grief!) His school Master was (and is) considered to be the greatest of the early School Masters in early America - one Ezekiel Cheever. And yet, despite his intelligence, and the advantages of being full of the Scripture (he had memorized the NT and significant parts of the OT by the time he entered Harvard) he STILL allowed himself to participated in the horror of the Witch Trials. One can only speculate on the whys and the wherefores - but I suspect it trickles back to the experiential emphasis and the leaning on self and what I think and what God says to me rather than what He has said and what He has said ALONE for the rule of faith and practice.
Paris Reidhead - "Agony"
If we can help you with you walk with the Lord, don't hesitate to ask - just drop us an email and we'll be glad to be whatever help you need!