This Chivalry Thing

by Kirk Spencer

00 ThisChivalryThingWhoopi said “You have to teach women, do not live with this idea that men have this chivalry thing still with them… Don’t assume that’s still in place. So don’t be surprised if you hit a man, and he hits you back! You hit somebody. They hit you back. Don’t be surprised.”[1] The “chivalry thing,” of which Whoopi speaks, is a Christian thing. It is the marriage of the pagan virtue of ruthless strength with the Christian virtue of humble submission. The “vir” in “virtue” is “man.” And, originally, in classical times, the Latin term “virtus” meant the active and somewhat ruthless strength of “manliness.” The classical mind tried to control virtus with “disciplina” (ordering through preparation). However, this rarely worked. That brute strength of man as a brute let loose and “took care of business.” In chivalry, this brutish ruthless strength was submitted to God’s control to direct strength in order to protect the weak. So the “chivalry thing” is strength submitted and the submission was to God. Christianity made virtus into virtue and disciplina into discipleship.[2] It was a reflection of the meekness of Christ in Christian men—with the understanding that meekness is not weakness; it is strength under control, strength that protects. Chivalry was Christian meekness in defense of the defenseless.

Now if we have a culture that moves away from God and its men no longer seek to place their strength under God control, we should not be surprised that “this chivalry thing,” even in its vestigial form, is no longer with us. We should not be surprised if, when the elevator doors closes, giving us supposed privacy, there will be fighting. The bell rings and the next round begins. We should not be surprised if there is fighting when the doors of our homes close… And, if this “chivalry thing” in not still with men, if it is not still in place, the weaker vessels will suffer, rather than being protected. In the midst of all the fighting, however, God’s Good News, is still “with us.” It is still the same. The same transforming grace that inspired the ideal knight is still available to men (and women). God’s love is still unconditional. We can still be forgiven. No matter what kind of monsters we have been, God can make us new creatures. And one of the marks of a new creature is the ability to forgive, even as we have been forgiven.


[2] I, in no way, want to imply that every knight (especially crusaders) were ideal in following the ideal of chivalry.

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Book Club with Dr. Barry Creamer

book clubCriswell College is excited to announce an opportunity to join a book club with our own President and Professor of Humanities, Dr. Barry Creamer, from October 6 to November 17, 2014! Continue reading

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The Supremacy of Voluntary Community

by Barry Creamer

communityEvery person experiences a tension between the desire to be an individual and to be part of a community—to act freely on immediate desires on the one hand, and to belong securely to a well-defined group on the other. But well-defined groups limit personal liberty. And personal liberties often perforate well-defined boundaries. Hence the tension. Continue reading

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The Deep

by Kirk Spencer

00 TheDeepI was multi-tasking in my backyard—digging and listening to the radio and thinking about my Bible study. I was thinking about the darkness on the deep and the Spirit of God there hovering; about how the ancients feared the deep (the ocean). The deep came to represent danger and chaos and absurdity in life; like the chaos I was listening to on the radio, bad news all around—as usual—but recently, more bad than usual: celebrities taking their own lives, terrorist taking whole cities, Kurdish Christians killed, barbaric butchery, babies killed, human shields, terror tunnels, street riots in mid-America; a new scandal every news cycle; and a continuous crisis of leadership. It was so depressing. I put down the shovel, went over to my vintage “boombox” and changed the station. I tuned to KCBI (something I do often when I need a little escape from the absurdity).

And then I had this thought. Continue reading

Posted in Christian Life, Christian Spirituality | 2 Comments

Seasons (Part 2): Sol Invictus

by Kirk Spencer

00 SolInvictusSol Invictus

I shine like the sun alone

Invincible the soul unconquerably cold

While all below me drones

In insect wings and summer heat

I reach down with the willows00

To touch the watertop and seed

A symphony of circles Continue reading

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Discipleship, Tradition, Community, and Virtue

by Barry Creamer

dv1636041Those who are committed to following Jesus learn over time that one of the most important aspects to their obedience to Him is helping others become better followers. In terms of the New Testament, it is as simple as the phrase, “teaching them to observe all the things I’ve commanded you” in the Great Commission, or recognizing the prescriptive nature of Paul’s direction to Timothy: “the things you’ve learned from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others in turn.” A fundamental of following Jesus is leading others to follow Him. Continue reading

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52,000 Immigrant Children and the Call to Love Outsiders

erlcOver at the ERLC, our new president, Barry Creamer, joins Brandon Smith in discussing the U.S. immigration problem and the way in which Scripture addresses our attitudes toward it. Here’s a snippet:

As Christians, we simply need to be more like Christ in how we respond. The children are here and need care.  Let’s not shout from the rooftops, “Send these criminals back!” Such a calloused response is irresponsible and inconsiderate; it simply won’t do.

We don’t punish the children because their parents may have acted negligently or naïvely; we love children that God brought into the world, no matter how they got here. If a woman gives birth and then gives her child away, we don’t say, “That mother is irresponsible! Let the kid suffer!” No, we adopt the child. This situation is no different.

A Christian immigration policy does not have to be an open border policy. Don’t misunderstand. But the Lord will not punish anyone for taking care of children, even ones we erroneously think don’t deserve care. Kudos to anyone seeking to take care of them–even an administration that we regularly disagree with on a variety of subjects.

Continue reading

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