Faith: August 2015 Archives

"Men, you know me. You remember me when I led you out to war. I went first, and what I told you was true. Now I have been away to the East, and I have learned about another captain, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he is my leader. He goes first, and all he tells me is true. I come back to my people to tell you to go with me now in this new road, a war that makes all for peace and where we never have only victory..."

(From Okuhhatuh's first sermon to the Cheyenne people, June 19, 1881. As posted by Wade Burleson, A Captivating Story of God's Saving Grace: From Cheyenne Warrior to Christian Missionary.)

The diaries of the Rev. David Pendleton Oakerhater, a warrior of the Cheyenne Nation who became an Episcopalian missionary to his own people, have been donated by his family to the Oklahoma History Center. Oakerhater is the first American Indian added to the Episcopal Church's calendar of saints; September 1 is the Feast of St. Oakerhater.

In his journals, which date to 1895, Oakerhater wrote of his everyday life and ministry as an Oklahoma Episcopal missionary, with several notable exceptions, including his mention of meeting the ill-fated George Armstrong Custer at one time and his participation as a warrior who fought against the U.S. cavalry at the Battle of Adobe Walls in the Texas Panhandle.

Oakerhater, known as O-kuh-ha-tu or Making Medicine before he adopted Christianity, was a Cheyenne warrior who fought European encroachment on his homeland until he was imprisoned by the U.S. Army at Fort Marion in Florida in 1875, along with many other American Indian warriors.

He eventually converted to Christianity in 1878 in New York and returned to the Cheyenne and Arapaho people in Oklahoma working to influence many American Indians to receive Christ, make peace and learn the value of education.

Oakerhater, known as "God's warrior" among the Cheyenne people, was ordained an Episcopal deacon in 1881 at age 34....

[Michelin Butler] Lopez, 39, said she prayed for months before deciding to donate the diaries belonging to "Old Grandpa," as her family members fondly call their ancestor.

In the end, it was not so much his journal entries about who he met or what he did, but rather the person who changed his life forever -- Jesus -- that finally convinced her that the journals deserved to be preserved at the history center.

They would, she said, help promote his powerful spiritual legacy.

"Through my grandfather's faith, he didn't turn his back on his people," Lopez said. "He fell in love with Jesus, and he stayed true to his faith so that we would all come to know Christ."

Be sure to read Wade Burleson's article on the life and faith of David Pendleton Oakerhater.

MORE: Oakerhater made it to the "Saintly 16" round of "Lent Madness" this year, losing to King Kamehameha of Hawaii.

Author A. N. Wilson has a beautiful testimony of his "Road to Damascus" conversion to atheism 20 years ago and his "slow, hesitant, doubting" return to the Christian faith. The trigger for his return: The self-evident reality that mankind was created in the image of God.

Do materialists really think that language just "evolved", like finches' beaks, or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where's the evidence? How could it come about that human beings all agreed that particular grunts carried particular connotations? How could it have come about that groups of anthropoid apes developed the amazing morphological complexity of a single sentence, let alone the whole grammatical mystery which has engaged Chomsky and others in our lifetime and linguists for time out of mind? No, the existence of language is one of the many phenomena - of which love and music are the two strongest - which suggest that human beings are very much more than collections of meat. They convince me that we are spiritual beings, and that the religion of the incarnation, asserting that God made humanity in His image, and continually restores humanity in His image, is simply true. As a working blueprint for life, as a template against which to measure experience, it fits....

I haven't mentioned morality, but one thing that finally put the tin hat on any aspirations to be an unbeliever was writing a book about the Wagner family and Nazi Germany, and realising how utterly incoherent were Hitler's neo-Darwinian ravings, and how potent was the opposition, much of it from Christians; paid for, not with clear intellectual victory, but in blood. Read Pastor Bonhoeffer's book Ethics, and ask yourself what sort of mad world is created by those who think that ethics are a purely human construct. Think of Bonhoeffer's serenity before he was hanged, even though he was in love and had everything to look forward to.

My departure from the Faith was like a conversion on the road to Damascus. My return was slow, hesitant, doubting. So it will always be; but I know I shall never make the same mistake again. Gilbert Ryle, with donnish absurdity, called God "a category mistake". Yet the real category mistake made by atheists is not about God, but about human beings. Turn to the Table Talk of Samuel Taylor Coleridge - "Read the first chapter of Genesis without prejudice and you will be convinced at once . . . 'The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life'." And then Coleridge adds: "'And man became a living soul.' Materialism will never explain those last words."

I've often though that there are two propositions in Scripture that are self-evident to the honest observer: That man was created in the image of God, and that man is fallen, totally depraved.

Consider a highway. Not long ago I drove the Overseas Highway from Miami to Key West. The highway was built in the late 1930s to replace Henry Flagler's Overseas Railway, which was destroyed by the 1935 Labor Day hurricane. Several sections, including the Seven-Mile Bridge, have been replaced more recently. Each new bridge is built with more durable materials and techniques than the bridge it replaces.

Beavers build dams, ants build hills, bees build hives, but their designs haven't advanced in all the years of recorded history. No species other than man builds new things that build upon the successes and failures of others, new designs that incorporate the designs of others in creative ways. We are creators, reflecting the image of our Creator.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Faith category from August 2015.

Faith: June 2015 is the previous archive.

Faith: December 2015 is the next archive.

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