Front Page Article
"The Lenses of Reformation Concerning Illinois Monuments"
by Dr. Patti Amsden
The word monument comes from the Latin monumentum meaning memorial and from monere meaning to remind or at mind. The first known use of the Latin word came from the 13th century as reference to a stone laid over or erected near a grave usually bearing an inscription to identify and preserve the memory of the deceased. The word has come to mean a statue, building, or other structure erected to commemorate a famous or notable person or event.
Reformation lens #1 – A monument is a marker that serves to keep alive the memory and to bring tribute to a person or an event.
Mankind memorializes at every level of personal and societal culture. Birthdays and anniversaries are observed as a memorial to something that has transpired in the past and is important to be kept pertinent to the present. National holidays take on traditions, and those traditions serve like markers or memorials to preserve the memory and the meaning of a past event. God chose to set memorials in the form of holy days, holy places, and landmarks to act as reminders of His work among His people.
Reformation lens #2 – The history of all nations in all eras demonstrates that mankind follows God’s lead in setting up monuments and markers to remember and pay tribute to important people and events.
Because a monument recalls a past notable person or deed, it functions like a foundation upon which the culture rests and to which the culture aligns, thus strengthening continuity between the past and the present. Families’ ancestors provide the genetic and inheritance lineage from which the sons and daughters advance. Soldiers who died in battles secure the liberty through which a nation is empowered to exist and progress. Scientists and entrepreneurs build platforms for increasing cultural advancements. Today is built on yesterday, and tomorrow is built on today. Monuments mark continuity.
Reformation lens #3 – Monuments and markers serve society by providing continuity between the past and the present.
When a society continues to honor past events or persons, monuments holds significance. If a society seeks to dishonor the past or break from the foundations laid in former generations, monuments must be destroyed as they serve to give tribute and function as reminders. God told Israel to destroy the monuments (altars and pillars) erected to the gods of Canaan because God wanted to lay a new foundation of His deeds for His people. Monument destruction was, in part, a breaking up of Canaan’s old foundation with the goal of discontinuity. God only chooses to employ discontinuity when the old has no merit or integrity upon which to build.
Reformation lens #4 – Discontinuity, or a radical break from the past, is only employed when the events or persons that laid the foundations of family or a nation are deemed as worthless or intrinsically flawed.
As reformers, we must seek out the truth of God that is discovered within the pages of scripture and that can be demonstrated in the lives and labors of those who have gone before us. Honor is a vital component to kingdom advancement. Commandment five tells us to honor our parents. Romans 13 tells us to give honor where honor is due. Honor is due when God’s will and His ways are applied and is not contingent upon the perfection of the work or the worker. Perfection, flawlessness, sanctification – these are points to which we aim but are not totally demonstrated in our lives, even God-called and Word-aligned deeds. Honor secures continuity. Before a person or a nation decides to withhold honor and to destroy continuity found in its history, careful examination of historical facts and notable persons must be prayerfully and humbly evaluated. Discontinuity is a pathway only to be chosen as a last resort and by the direction of God’s sovereign guidance. Continuity and honor strengthen a people and secure the future.
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