What We Believe
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August - September 2022 Ordained Servant

A Journal for Church Officers

E-ISSN 1931-7115

Current Issue

The Plague of Loneliness

 
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Gregory Reynolds

From the Editor. One of the greatest social problems in modern America is loneliness, and it does not simply affect older people. Judith Dinsmore in “Connecting Some Dots on Disconnection” explores some of the reasons for loneliness. Chief among them is our efficiency and performance-oriented lives as well as the nature of social and mobile media. Dinsmore offers some very thoughtful ways to help us overcome our part in creating loneliness. Thoreau was properly concerned about contextless information purveyed by the telegraph, exemplified by a telegram reporting Princess Adelaide’s whooping cough. Our increasingly contextless lives, disconnected from other human beings, would have appalled him.

“11 Passages to Read When You Feel Lonely” is a recent post by Crossway’s Passages to Read series. It reminded me that God’s Word applied by his Spirit is the most tangible way by which we experience God’s presence.

On the same topic, John Fikkert reviews an important new book: The Loneliness Epidemic: Why So Many of Us Feel Alone—and How Leaders Can Respond by Susan Mettes. Mettes is a behavioral scientist and Christian who “illustrates the physical, emotional, and social toll of loneliness in our country. . . . [and she] offers meaningful ways the church can minister to lonely people” (from the dust jacket). The book is written for church leaders. She also looks at the impact of social media, insecurity, churchgoing, and privacy on loneliness.

Loneliness and the Internet, especially social media, are definitely related. Elon Musk is asking if social media are destroying civilization. While that is too broad a statement, it is the damage that social media is clearly doing that concerns many people just now. In “Global Pillage: Stealing Our Data, Our Intelligence, and Our Souls,” I review an important new critique of the social media, Terms of Service: The Real Cost of Social Media by Chris Martin. I also recommend a book written by a Presbyterian pastor, Three Pieces of Glass (2020),[1] that relates loneliness directly to our world mediated by screens. The three pieces of glass are our computers, our mobile devices, and our automobile windshields. Each in its own way distances us from embodied life and community.

Along similar lines, T. David Gordon reviews Mark Bauerlein’s sequel to his earlier book The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future (2008). In “Dumb and Dangerous” Gordon reports an even more dire assessment of the generation whose twin educations from the cultural media and academia form a mutual admiration society in place of the critical sensibilities academia once cultivated.

Painting generations with a broad brush, however, especially when the focus is on its negative traits, can be dangerous, leaving out the many exceptions. One reason is that the educations of Millennials are quite varied. The Millennials I know were ordinarily homeschooled and or attended Christian schools focusing on a more classical education. They are also members of a solid biblical church. Maybe in their generation they are the adults in the room. We should also keep in mind that each generation should take heed to its weaknesses, to which none of us is immune. For the Christian this should be a very important part of the process of sanctification.

Alan Strange begins a new commentary on our Book of Discipline with a very informative preface in which he describes the unique nature of church discipline; and he distinguishes between inquisitorial and adversarial approaches in judicial matters. This should prove a very useful and necessary commentary since sessions are always seeking help in applying this portion of our Book of Church Order to various disciplinary matters.

John Mahaffy “First Things in Acts and Paul,” reviews In the Fullness of Time: An Introduction to the Biblical Theology of Acts and Paul by Richard B. Gaffin Jr. For those of us who were present when Dr. Gaffin taught the classes at Westminster Theological Seminary (1977–2010) upon which this book is based, this is a special treat. But for every serious Christian this book will prove an enduring legacy to Gaffin’s contribution to the Reformed discipline of biblical theology.

Our poem this month, “The Deluge of Data,” is complement to my review of Terms of Service.

The cover photo is of Mount Chocorua in Albany, New Hampshire, the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range in the White Mountains.

Blessings in the Lamb,
Gregory Edward Reynolds

FROM THE ARCHIVES “PERSONAL PRESENCE, REST”

http://opc.org/OS/pdf/Subject_Index_Vol_1-30.pdf

Ordained Servant exists to help encourage, inform, and equip church officers for faithful, effective, and God-glorifying ministry in the visible church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Its primary audience is ministers, elders, and deacons of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, as well as interested officers from other Presbyterian and Reformed churches. Through high-quality editorials, articles, and book reviews, we will endeavor to stimulate clear thinking and the consistent practice of historic, confessional Presbyterianism.

[1] Eric O. Jacobsen, Three Pieces of Glass: Why We Feel Lonely in a World Mediated by Screens (Grand Rapids: Brazos, 2020)

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Contact the Editor: Gregory Edward Reynolds

Editorial address: Dr. Gregory Edward Reynolds,
827 Chestnut St.
Manchester, NH 03104-2522
Telephone: 603-668-3069

Electronic mail: reynolds.1@opc.org

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