Blogroll: Blog & Mablog
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Confession of sin is a basic activity that all Christians need to understand and practice. It is the most fundamental form of spiritual housekeeping. There is no way for us to maintain covenant life together without this sort of understanding being woven into the fabric of our community.The Text
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10)Summary of the Text
If we decide to lie to ourselves, then obviously the truth is not in us (v. 8). One of the lies we like to tell ourselves is the lie that our current condition is “normal,” and that we have no sin. Or at least we have no sin to speak of. John tells us that this is self-deception, period. And if we lie in this way, we are making God into a liar (because He says we have sinned), and His word is obviously not in us—a lie is (v. 10). The meat of this sandwich is in verse 9, but these two pieces of bread make it a sandwich. Don’t kid yourself, John is saying—we all need to hear this. In the ninth verse, John gives us a conditional statement. If we confess our sins, God will do something. The word for confess is homologeo, and literally means “to speak the same thing.” If we say the same thing about our sin that God says about it (i.e. that it is sin), then God will do what He promises. What is that? God will be faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and He will cleanse us from all unrighteousness.Two Houses
Imagine two mothers with a robust family—six kids each, let’s say. One home is bombed all the time and the other is spotless. The difference between the two homes is not that in the second home nothing is ever spilled, or knocked over, or left on the coffee table. The difference between the home that is trashed and the home that isn’t is the difference between leaving things there “for the present,” and picking them up right away.
Given God’s promise above, we need to recognize what this means. The promise is good on Monday mornings, and Thursday afternoons. The promise is good in May, and good in October. That means there is never a legitimate reason for refusing to deal with it now. The vacuum cleaner is never broken, never at the shop, never too far away, never too hard to operate. The word is near you, in your heart and in your mouth. “God, what I just said . . . that was sin.” That is confession. And God’s promise is fulfilled at that moment.Tanglefoot
The writer to the Hebrews describes what sin does when you leave it unattended. It starts to trip you up—it starts to really get in the way. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us . . .” (Heb. 12:1). Sin clutters, sin gets in the way, sin weighs you down, sin gets tangled around your feet. Set it aside we are told, and then run the race. You can’t run the race with a two-hundred-pound backpack on. You cannot run the race with snarls of rope tangled around your feet. Stop trying to be good with unconfessed sin in your life. Talk about fruitless. It just makes you more irritable than you already are. John tells us how to get untangled. Don’t try to do that and run at the same time. Get completely untangled, take off the backpack, and then run.Clutter and Backlog
Let’s change the image. Suppose you haven’t cleaned the garage for twenty years, and you are overwhelmed at the very thought of trying to straighten it out. Every time you go open the door, you just stare helplessly for about five minutes, and then go back inside. All you can think of to do is pray for a fire. Now suppose that is what your pile of unconfessed sin looks like. You are tempted to think that you have to remember everything that is in there first, and then set about cleaning it up.
But you don’t have to remember the sins you don’t remember—just confess the ones you do remember. The ones you stuffed just inside the garage door just last week. Don’t try to remember what is at the bottom of the pile; just look at what is on the top of the pile. If you deal with the sin you know about honestly, then God will cleanse you from all unrighteousness. The confessing is your job; the cleansing is His.Honesty
The central virtue here that of honesty. No blowing smoke at God. No spin control. No attempts to make yourself the flawed hero in this tragic affair. We saw that homologeo means to speak the same. If God calls it adultery, don’t you call it an affair or indiscretion. If God calls it grumbling and complaining, don’t you call it realism. If God calls it theft, don’t you call it shrewd business practice. As the Puritans might have put it, had they only thought of it, bs and honest confession accord not well together.A Few Practical Considerations
This is not meant to sound flippant. Sin is a ravening wolf, and has destroyed many things. If you have held back from confessing your sins because you know that to do so could threaten your marriage, or cost you your job, or get you expelled from college, you really do have a significant practical problem. I am not saying you should charge off and start confessing your sin like a loose cannon on deck. But you should decide today to deal with it honestly, and depending on how tangled up it is, get counsel and help today in putting things right. Commit yourself now. Busting yourself is the best thing you can do to rebuild trust with those you may have wronged.
And last, allow me to consider your feelings. You may feel like a hesitant cliff-diver, toes curled over the edge, and here I am poking you in the back with a stick. There are any number of things you might want to do—anything but jump. You might rationalize. “What I did wasn’t really wrong.” You might excuse. “What I did was not started by me.” You might postpone. “In my honest opinion, the best day for jumping will be sometime tomorrow afternoon.” You might blame somebody else, anybody else. “I think they should be here jumping, not me.” You might use vague terms to try jumping sideways along the cliff edge. “I think that, generally speaking, I have certainly sinned in some ways.”
It is easy to dismiss this kind of emphasis as morbid introspectionism, but actually it is the opposite. If you confess your sins, and lay aside the weight of that backpack, you never have to think about it again. Now, with it unconfessed, you think about it frequently.
The letter of Second Thessalonians was written shortly after the first letter. The purpose of the letter was to correct certain misunderstandings that the Thessalonians had about eschatology, and some might argue, to create some new misunderstandings for us. There are some challenges here.The Text
“Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:5–12).Summary of the Text
The steadfastness of the Thessalonians while facing persecution was evidence given by God that He was going to judge the wickedness of the persecutors (v. 5). Their courage was a manifest token that they were going to be counted worthy of the kingdom, on behalf of which they were suffering. It was obvious that it would be righteous for God to punish those who were troubling the saints with real tribulation (v. 6). They will enter into rest, along with Paul and company, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels (v. 7). That manifestation of Christ will bring the vengeance of flaming fire on those who do not know God, and who do not obey the gospel of Christ (v. 8). These people will be punished two ways—everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (v. 9). When He comes, it will be so that He might be glorified in His saints (like the Thessalonians), and so that all who believed in response to Paul’s message might be amazed at Him (v. 10). That was the reason why Paul continued to pray that God would count them worthy of their calling, and that they might fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness, along with His work of faith with power (v. 11). The result will be a mutual glorification, Christ in them, and they in Christ (v. 12). This would all be in accord with the grace of God and Christ.The Man of Lawlessness Awaits
In the next chapter of this book, we are going to be dealing with one of the most complicated eschatological passages in all of Scripture. We are probably dealing with twenty percent more interpretations than we have interpreters, and the whole thing is very sad. We have a few intimations of these difficulties in this chapter, and so some words about it now are in order.
As I understand it, our fixed anchor point should be that all passages that address the general resurrection of the dead should be located at the end of history, when the Lord Jesus comes back to judge the living and the dead. That would include 1 Thess. 4:16-17, and it would also include 2 Thess. 1:7-10 and 2 Thess. 2:8. The challenge comes when we try to fit some of the surrounding statements on a timeline that appears to extend from the first century to the end of the world. Here are four basic positions:
“(1) All the preliminary signs and the day of the Lord have already occurred; (2) All of the preliminary signs have occurred, so there is now nothing preventing the coming of the day of the Lord, but the day of the Lord has not yet come. (3) Some of the preliminary signs have either occurred or begun to occur, but since all of them have not yet occurred, the day of the Lord cannot come yet, and (4) None of the preliminary signs has yet occurred, so the day of the Lord still cannot come” (Mathison, From Age to Age, p. 521).
Like Mathison, my preference would be for the third option. The day of the Lord has not yet come, and yet Paul appears to be making clear reference at places to the sorts of events that happened in the course of his lifetime. Remember that Caligula had attempted to have a statue of himself erected in the Temple at Jerusalem in 40 A.D. and only his murder prevented it.Take Care Not to Miss the Central Point
But it would be a great mistake to get caught up in the study of when the flaming judgment was going to come, and neglect the fact of a flaming judgment that was going to come.
In this passage, we see who will be judged, and who will be vindicated. The Lord will appear in flaming fire, he says, and He will exact a strict vengeance when He does. This will fall on those who do not know God, and it will fall on those who did not obey the gospel (v. 8). So what will be the nature of that damnation? The punishment is described here as an exclusion. They will be shut out from the presence of the Lord, and they will be shut out from the glory of His power (v. 9).
What is the gospel that commanded their obedience, and which they refused to render? That gospel is the message that Christ died, was buried, rose again, and ascended into Heaven. From that place, He summons all men to believe in Him. The work we must do is the work of hearing and following Him on the basis of His death and resurrection.
When we contrast those who are shut out with those believers who admire Him (v. 10), we can see the very nature of damnation and salvation. These are the states where we arrive at what we have been becoming. And this means that the very fact of Christ is a great invitation.
“Fueled by massive amounts of money from multiple governments and international organizations, climate change research was a growth industry, a boom town, a cash cow that emitted no methane, only cash”
Ecochondriacs, p. 2
“The malevolence of Grendel is hot, like malice always is. The rage of the dragon is cold, like the gold it is acquiring or defending. The dragon hates, but it is nothing personal. Grendel hates, and everything about it is personal. With the dragon, killing is a means to an end. With Grendel, killing is the end itself. The dragon is a night-flying outsider. Grendel is a cannibal. So this society is surrounded—hot enmity within and cold enmity without”
A friend of mine makes holsters, and they have a great deal running. You really ought to check it out here.Jars of Pickles
“There is no meaningful distinction between men and women.” pic.twitter.com/5Ydy0Zpeho— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) April 11, 2021 Sky Above You Optional
As always, and quite consistently, more here.So Aren’t You Ashamed of Yourself? Dino Vaccine This One Had Feet . . .
So we recorded this Ask Doug not so long ago, and for some reason it took off. So maybe you should watch it too. You don’t want to be left out, do you?
“The morning after Grendel is killed, Hrothgar receives the good news and comes out to look at the grisly arm. He comes, a great warrior king, having spent the night in a warm bed with Wealtheow, and when he comes, he advances with a troop of maidens following him (922-926), a bevy of curvaceous thanes”
Check out Man Rampant on the Canon app: https://canonpress.com/app/
At times it may appear to us that America is like that fat kid in boot camp, and God is acting the part of a drill instructor who won’t lay off, with an apparent insatiable desire to get that kid to throw up two more times today.
To change the metaphor (you’re welcome), it seems that our country is some sort of engineered vehicle like a plane or a boat or a car being, and is being put through a series of stress tests by a team of demanding engineers. And failing all of them.Appearances Deceive, Right?
When George Floyd died of his drug overdose, as it now appears to many, there was a cop kneeling on him at the time. It sure looked like he couldn’t breathe because of that cop, a man named Derek Chauvin. As a result, Minneapolis, and much of the rest of the country, went up in a sheet of flame, and Chauvin was charged with murder. That trial is currently under way, and as it now appears that Floyd had enough fentanyl in his system to kill a Percheron draft horse, it is quite possible that there might not be a conviction for murder. And that means another sheet of flame.
And then just a few days ago, Daunte Wright died at the hands of police incompetence when, according to the police chief (and as indicated by the video), an officer mistook her gun for her taser, and shot him at close range. This was also in the Minneapolis area. This explanation of events was offered by the police chief, and it seems plausible, but I assume that there will be an investigation and/or trial, and we should wait for that. The officer’s name was Kim Potter, who must be held accountable for her actions, and who at the same time must not be offered to a mob. In the meantime, while we wait on the results of due process, there should be no violence or threats of violence.
In the meantime, we can and should offer our condolences to the Wright family. This was an awful thing, and there is no good reason not to react to it as an awful thing. We don’t need to offer any explanations in order to sympathize with the family—that can be a stand-alone sympathy. When things like this happen, we feel sick about it, as we should.
And poor Minneapolis. They are being put into situations that absolutely demand accountability and reform, while at the same time the pressures that are demanding it from them will not allow them to do what is necessary. In other words, the demand amounts to a demand that something be done for show, and that nothing be done that will actually change anything.An Intersectional Snarl
Both George Floyd and Daunte Wright were black, and so naturally that has been immediately assigned as the reason they died at the hands of the police. But this is an intersectional snarl, and so here is where I ask what many are allowed to think but no one is allowed to ask. And note at the top, that I am asking to ask, not asking to assert.
It appears that this happened because an armed police officer did not know where her gun was. It happened because in the heat of the moment, she mistook her gun for her taser. And I would ask you to notice that I am using the feminine pronouns she and her.
So here’s my question. Should we reconsider our willingness to put women in combat roles, which, in urban areas, front line police work is? Now I would ask you to please notice what I am doing here, which you should be able to do if you stop yelling for a minute.
I am simply asking for this to be on the agenda. May we raise the question? May we examine the empirical evidence about the suitability of women for front line tasks in fire departments, police departments, and the armed forces? And the answer our current received wisdom gives to all such questions, quite naturally is, no. And not only is the answer no, but that same received wisdom is willing to examine the empirical evidence for any such questioner’s bigotry, prejudice, hatred, malice, and all-round wrongthinks.The Standards, My Friends, Have Been Jiggered
But we should all recognie what is going on. For example, the physical tests for the armed forces have been lowered, in order that women won’t fail at significantly higher rates, and they have been lowered for political reasons. They were lowered because of politics, and they were not lowered in the interests of improving combat readiness.
If all the old standards had been tenaciously retained, but women were allowed to apply, and if they passed, they passed, that would be one thing. A traditionalist like myself would certainly consider it unseemly, but I would not consider it a diseased corruption of the entire system—which is what it currently is. In other words, the central problem here is all the lying that is being done for the sake of an egalitarian agenda.
This is why it is nothing to the point to find an individual woman who would perform better than a given individual man. Of course that is the case. There are women who are stronger, faster, more clear-headed, and more intelligent than a number of men. But those men shouldn’t be cops either. In the old system, the tests weeded out nothing but men.Just the Facts, Ma’am
In situations like this, we should care about the truth, pure and simple. In any given individual case, what actually happened and why? When a situation looks really bad, there should be a full and complete investigation, and then a decision should be rendered.
But what do you do when the entire system has been corrupted? If the entire system has fallen prey to politics, then that means that the investigation into a particular corruption will be conducted by a more generalized corruption.
As someone with a biblical view of man, I want to remember that cops are people too. They perform a valuable and essential service for us all, and so I am among those who deeply appreciate that thin, blue line. But I also know that because cops are people, they are also sinners. They are also fallen. They don’t operate outside accountability any better than anyone else does. But unlike the current monomaniacal system of evaluation, this means that I believe that cops are capable of more sins than racism. They are capable of deceit, sloth, ineptitude, greed, cowardice, power-tripping, feather-bedding, and lots more.
Recent events here in Moscow have given us a front row seat on the kinds of things that happen when politics drive everything, including police departments. And what I have seen is two tons of no good.
So this is not to hold a brief for cops against blacks, or blacks against cops, or men against women, and so on. Rather it is to ask if we can raise the question of truth against lies, of truth against politics.
The post Allow Me to Ask What Many Think But Are Not Allowed to Ask appeared first on Blog & Mablog.
“But to represent this epic poem as a portrayal of the internal subjective struggles of a narcissistic modern is as anachronistic and foolish as to start looking for Beowulf’s inner child. The poet is addressing a problem which this people as a people knew they had. A poem like this should not be used as a blank screen on which we project problems that we know we have. Maybe Hrothgar was actually worried about global warming or high cholesterol”
Recommend for Man Rampant guest invitation: Pr. James Coates from Grace Life Church, Edmonton. Thanks for all you are doing in our Lord and Saviour’s name.
Ian, thanks. Good idea.Theonomy Stuff
I have a question after studying parts of Old Testament Law and what Jesus said about them. What are the food laws (do not eat shellfish etc…) to be specified as? Are they creation laws, or redemptive laws? If redemptive, I know that of course, Jesus is the sacrificial Lamb of God and thus are all fulfilled in Him. However, what about the food laws? I know what Jesus says in Mark 7, so I do not believe we are to not eat them in order to be set apart, but then what exactly were they in Old Testament Law (what classification)?
Also, if Christ fulfills the Law, how are we to look at the Law today (creation law)? I have been researching this a lot and there does not seem to be a lot of good material out there. I keep running into either Hebrew Roots Movement on one end, or super progressive people saying that homosexuality is no longer a sin. I do not believe either is correct and would love your help on this.
Hope all is well with you and your family,
Grant, my understanding is that the dietary restriction law were part of the holiness code, intended to train the people of God in making distinctions. This, not that. The unclean foods represented the Gentiles and all their ways, and the pure foods represented the Jews who were following the law of God. This holiness code is referred to in Ephesians (the commandments contained in ordinances), and so we take our applications of holiness (this, not that) to a higher level.
Have you responded to this sort of argument before? I live in a world heavily influenced by TGC, and the fact that they are posting this sort of thing tells me postmill thinking is actually penetrating places I need it to. This guy seems to be trying to inoculate people to the questions postmills ask, but his answer is basically, “yeah, that’s a good point, but you’re wrong.” Any thoughts, previous posts, or interactions planned? Thank you ahead of time.
Jerrod, I think that the circumstances are forcing us to deal with the implications of biblical law in the modern era. Secular law is a full-orbed system, but in order to answer it, biblical law must be held as a full-orbed system. But any attempt at that raises theonomic questions. Thus any Christian who wants to answer and refute the secularists (as Andrew Walker does) has to grapple with these questions.Cultural Mandate
Re: Making Disciples or Taking Dominion?
I really appreciate your explanation of the underlying unity of the cultural mandate and the great commission. It amazes me how often we see dispensationalized theology raise its ugly head in the reformed community; in this case the questioning of whether the cultural mandate is even operational now.
When asked if unbelievers can carry out the cultural mandate, you said they could in part, but would make a mess of it. I agree and would add that the reason they make a mess of it and that they could never complete it is because unbelievers stand in opposition to the cultural mandates’ purpose: preparing the world as a dwelling place for God with man. Does that agree with your understanding of the cultural mandate?
Bill, yes. Very much so.Derek Chauvin
Any thoughts on the possibility of mayhem in the Minneapolis area if Derek Chauvin is not convicted in the current trials?
Uriah, I would say that it is more than a possibility, and is almost an absolute certainty. And I would say that responsibility for the mayhem will be shared by all those who wanted the sentence first, and the trial later. And that includes many evangelical leaders.
Now that the Derek Chauvin murder trial looks like it will go the way of the George Zimmerman one can we expect a hearty round of repentance from all of those “evangelical leaders” who called for national repentance and marched for “justice” in the wake of Floyd’s death? How long should I be holding my breath?
Tim, I would recommend against holding your breath at all.Chestertonian Calvinism
This article introduces an exciting and new (for me) understanding (of thIs humble/happy/buoyant/grateful Puritan mind, This “Chestertonianism”) and then abruptly ends without any sequel or “for more, check out …”. I’d say I fall short of the mark of gladness, and rather resemble the “anxious”, “motive-scratching” “self” from the second Lewis Quote. Seriously do you have any more on this?
Michael, I am working on a short book with that title now. Wish me luck.Rendered to Caesar
Re: Man Rampant Season 3 Episode 2 with Glenn Sunshine What exactly does it mean to “render ourselves to Caesar?” If it is not permissible to give ourselves to Caesar, this would seem to preclude military service, which almost requires us to give our rights to the state. Or at least that’s the impression I had when I was serving.
Eric, yes. There will be those who demand the kind of whole-hearted surrender of yourself, and they do in the name of patriotism. But what they say faithful service means does not need to be defined by them. As long as a soldier holds his allegiance to Christ in reserve, meaning that he will disobey any order that conflicts with his allegiance to Christ, he may serve—regardless of what they may say.Short Modern Poems
Regarding your textbook “A Rhetoric Companion” I am currently working my way through your Rhetoric Companion, and in the chapter about memorization, one of the exercises is to memorize a contemporary free verse poem of at least 25 lines. I’m having a difficult time finding a poem of that length that is of the sort a Christian would want to memorize.
Could you suggest an author or poem for me to look at?
I am enjoying the book very much.
Nathan, I would check out some of the poems of Billy Collins.Gentle and Lowly
I would like to read your review about the book “Gentle and lowly” by Dane Ortlund.
It has been recommended by many I know and at a recent conference we had, the book sold like hot cakes. I want to be careful about what I read.
Liz, I haven’t read it, but got it after you mentioned it here. It looks like a worthwhile read.Not the Future
Loved your recent video on Secularism being on its last legs. I particularly agree with your statements saying:
“Stupidity never wins.”
“That’s not the future.”
However, I’d like to point out that the time required to get through the insanity and arrive at that stupidity-not-winning future is often longer than we are comfortable with, and those of us stuck in the interim are made to suffer these fools (and the consequences of their foolishness) terribly?
Guymon, quite true. So buckle up.College?
I’ve recently started working as an ACT/SAT test-prep tutor, and the mother of one of my students (who attends a Christian high school) asked me if I could recommend colleges for her daughter. She wants to attend a college in the southeast, and she wants to study either clinical psychology or occupational therapy—she’s leaning toward the former. Unfortunately, at this point she’s only looking at secular colleges. I’d like to offer her a healthy selection of (faithful) Christian schools to consider, but the only southeastern ACCS college that offers a psychology degree is Faulkner University. Before becoming a believer (in 2018) I was suspicious of psychology as an academic discipline, and now I’m even more suspicious. I really don’t want to encourage my student to study psych at a secular school, but I don’t want my feedback to be simply negative and discouraging. I’d love to point her to some solid Christian books, articles, or other resources that could help her think more biblically about clinical psychology as a potential career path, but I don’t know enough about this subject. I noticed that New Saint Andrews doesn’t offer a psych major. Do you have any thoughts on whether (or how) psych can be a fruitful field of study for a Christian? I can’t find any Blog & Mablog posts that address this topic systematically. Are there any introductory books or articles (or any other solid Christian colleges in the southeast?) you might recommend to a young Christian who wants to pursue a career in this field? Thank you! Blessings.
André, sorry. I don’t have any recommendations that would fit that bill. But here is one short thing I have written on the general topic.Is Mission Being Left Out?
“You want to save America? Here’s the plan. This is the play we need to run, on three. Love your wife. Respect and obey your husband. Control your temper. Stop drinking so much. Learn to be as precise and as honest in your business dealings as a person can be. Get your kids a Christian education. Bring your family to church, every week bring them to church. Throw yourself into your Bible reading. Sing psalms. Laugh at the theocratic pretenses of mortal men. Eat the fat and drink the sweet. Mow your lawn. Have a cold beer afterwards.”
Living our lives in a culturally Christian way that can open our neighbors’ eyes to the light of the gospel makes perfect sense of course.
But what about missions?
In the whole process of being satisfied in God and savoring his creation, I have, multiple times in the past, felt a bit guilty that I’m not “fulfilling the great commission” in a more boots-on-ground sort of way, such as via mission trips, helping build schools, churches or hospitals in foreign countries that are needy or gospel-deprived, supporting missionaries in a very direct manner, such as financial giving or hospitality outreach, etc.
In other words, I often ask myself whether I should be at home entertaining and “witnessing” to my non-Christian neighbors with a wonderful glass of wine and a ribeye steak, or whether that time would better be spent under the bridge serving soup, or wearing sandals, holding a hammer, climbing a ladder, and getting eaten alive by mosquitos somewhere in Africa.
What is your take on this, Doug? I’d dig some of your wisdom on this matter.
Ben, I guess my response would be “why not both?” I don’t think that embracing gladness in Christ in our lives here precludes in any way an aggressive take on missions and evangelism.Homeschooling Question
I have a question for you. After reading the book, Standing on the Promises, my husband and I decided it was best for us to homeschool our children in order to train them up. Our options for a solid classical Christian education is not an option in our area. We felt quite blessed to be introduced to Classical Conversations right from the get go and have considered ourselves a CC family for the last 5 years. This past year I even took on the role of director in order for a community to begin in the new town we had recently moved to. My question is what is your take on CC’s business practices? They seem to get torn down quite a bit by self-proclaimed CPAs and those who have had poor experiences. As of yet this is not my experience and our personal CPA has no issues with the way they handle business. I see that they helped produce the Riot and the Dance: Water, which we loved by the way. I also saw the Classical Conversations logo on the sign up for Fight, Laugh, Feast, which my husband and I will be attending in SD). I’m just curious if you take their constant beatings as Christian persecution or are they truly in the wrong? Thank you for your time and maybe we’ll bump into each other at the end of the month in Rapid!
Tristan, I wouldn’t convict anyone on the basis of rumbles you may have heard. If your experience is good, then go with that. All Christian organizations are operating in a fallen world, so pray for them, but in biblical law the burden of proof is on the accuser, and the accuser should not be listened to unless he also is under accountabiity.Back in the Closet
I attend a PCA church that has its flaws but has overall been a good church to me and been faithful to the gospel. Of recent we’ve had much turnover in leadership and currently have an intern pastor. While the world seemingly flipped upside down in 2020 nothing was addressed to the congregation (from George Floyd and BLM to coronavirus and lockdowns). We do not own our own building but rent space from a local private school. We have a mask mandate not enforced by the government but instead (by what I’ve been told) by the school we rent from. I do not know how seriously we have pushed back on this to them or just accepted it since it’s the norm. Overall everyone has complied (including myself). Of recent, though, people seem to be “waking up” (including myself) and are done with all the masking. One deacon informed the session that he was no longer going to mask up and was told he and his wife then can enjoy service from a closet in the side of the sanctuary. I do not want to cause divisions or factions in the church. I want us to be united as it seems necessary since we are already being attacked from all sides outside the church. That said, it feels as though we are being led more by a board of actuaries than of shepherds. I can see what is coming down the pipeline (see our neighbors to the north) and I know if we don’t start working on our “bravery muscles” they will be completely atrophied by the time we truly need them. What do you suggest?
I have been recently wearing the mask in and out of entering the building but taking it off for the service but still sitting in the congregation. Do I continue this? Do I put it on but sit with my brother in the closet to commend his bravery and show that what he is doing is good (even if you disagree with going maskless)? Do I take it off and join him in the closet? I just want to honor God above all and be as best a help to the congregation as possible.
Andrew, I assume you meant interim pastor, and not intern pastor? What I would do in a situation like this is to ask the elders if they would be open to a petition from members of the congregation. Propose something like a cordoned off section in the back, where all those who desire to be done with the masks can sit, maskless, during the service. Ask sweetly.Yes. Should Have Mentioned That.
E. asked for recommendations on a book about how to read like a Christian. I would like to highly recommend “Reading With Purpose, Applying the Christian Worldview to American Literature” by Nancy Wilson. Short, to the point, with a method that can be used far beyond American Lit. I bought it as a homeschool mom wanting to teach it to my children but found it to be highly beneficial for myself. It is now marked up and coffee stained. If I’m not mistaken Nancy has adult children who are authors and her husband has written a little here and there as well.
Jenny, yes. I should have thought of that book. Highly recommended.Peace Proposal
In a recent article you made a quip about “Lesbyterians”. I must needs inform you that my hilarious wife, in her typical, and I hasten to add, delightful, dry deadpan, coined that term several years ago. Were it not for the fact that litigiousness between Christians is forbidden, you might be in some legal hot water.
But since lawsuits among brothers are a no no, I’m going to do the next best thing and inform the Twitter Sisterhood of your latest bit of unforgivable malfeasance. They’ll know what to do. “A prophet of their own has said, ‘Moscow Man is always bad. This testimony is true, therefore complain about him on Twitter sharply.'” You’re in it now, sir.
Outraged in Wisconsin
Dear Outraged in Wisconsin, let there not be friction between us. I propose this as an explanatory solution. Remember that Leibniz and Newton came up with calculus independently. Sometimes these things happen.Charlotte Mason Again
Through my discussion with others on homeschooling, I’ve come in contact with those that esteem the Charlotte Mason philosophy. I’ve read a little bit about it but it is new to me and I wanted to get your quick thoughts in regards to this teaching philosophy.
Chris, I recently answered another question along the same lines, and had to confess that I didn’t really know enough to comment. But other readers did, which means you can go back through the letters (sometime in the last month or so), and look at that interaction.Support the Arts
You probably have not heard of Minna Sundberg, but she’s a very talented young artist from Finland who publishes a weekly science-fiction webcomic called “Stand Still, Stay Silent.” She has been an atheist for years.
She recently announced that she has become a Christian, and took a break from her webcomic to share a new tale called “Lovely People,” featuring Christian themes, set in a near-future techno-dystopia, and starring cute fuzzy bunnies. The reaction from her fan base has been . . . mixed. It was brave of her, and the craftsmanship is really good.
I thought somebody in your circle might want to look at it, as it seems like the kind of thing that Christians ought to be doing in these days and times. It may not be your cup of tea, but one of your kids might enjoy it.
“Comic synopsis: “Lovely People” is a comic about three best friends; an aspiring social media influencer, a Christian homemaker and a mother-of-three grade-school teacher, enjoying their lives in a Social Credit system. Until they run into trouble.”
Brian, thanks for the heads up and the link.
The only real science involved in all the corona-panic anymore is the science of crowd control. And however poorly our governments may have done with regard to the virus itself, having run out of rest homes to put the contagious in, they have done a marvelous job when it comes to manipulating and all-round spooking the general population.
Now there are plain indications of significant restiveness here and there, but over all the totalitolerance brigade has gotten away with a whole lot more than I think even they believed possible. They are not interested in the science called virology. It is more like the science of compliance.
But one of the things that has been revealed as a consequence, at least for those who have kept their eyes open, is the exact nature of the end game we are facing. That end game is control—control without brakes, control without limit, control without any system of restraints. Just as Richard Rorty once said that truth is whatever his contemporaries let him get away with, so also human rights (to the current managerial elite) are in that same malleable category. Whatever they can successfully seize must somehow belong to them. Due process is whatever their lap dogs in the media are prepared to let them get away with.Those Pockets of Restiveness
I have been pleased and surprised at what has started to happen in Canada—things that make me the right kind of proud of my Canadian heritage. Have I mentioned that my mom was from Alberta? No, I am not referring to the Canadian government, which is being every bit as demented and twaddlesome as the government reigning over my place of birth, that being the state of California, which is saying something.
I was rather referring to the patrons of the restaurant in British Columbia chanting at the inspectors to “get out.” I was referring to the Polish pastor in Canada who managed to abbreviate that simple message down to the pithier word “out,” along with a postscript of “psychopaths.” But preeminently I am referring to Pastor James Coates who was imprisoned for refusing to stop preaching. And after he was released, the officials then felt constrained to build a big fence around his church, and they padlocked it. The official guardians of freedom Alberta-style then dispatched 200 cops to keep people from worshiping at the barricade. When this is all over, a lot of pastors need to contemplate what is happening, and then they all need to put on their Coates coats.
In California, the governor has announced they are going to reopen on June 15. They are going to do so despite the ongoing minuscule danger of death. He is doing this, be aware, on account of the recall election breathing down his neck. Millions signed the petition for that recall, those millions being among the remaining Californians who didn’t move to Texas or Idaho.
And then in Florida, their governor has banned vaccine passports, and good on him. He was followed in this by the governor of Texas, and just the other day, our governor here in Idaho did the same thing by executive order. Further, our governor forbade any state agencies from sharing any vaccination status info with anybody, whether private companies or other government agencies. Given how singularly unhelpful our governor was on the whole lockdown question, this stand almost certainly indicates a politician’s sense of some shifting winds.
So, like I said, signs of coordinated resistance developing here and there.All Downstream from Darwin
People act the way they do for reasons. As Richard Weaver taught us, ideas have consequences.
If you believe in God, if you think that the cosmos was created from nothing, if you believe that mankind was created in the image of God, then it is possible for you to believe that we have rights. And by rights, I do not mean privileges, but rather actual rights. These rights cannot be revoked by bureaucratic fiat, they cannot be abridged by executive order, and they cannot be adjusted or trimmed by the winners of elections, stolen or otherwise.
But if you don’t believe in God, if you believe that this material universe is a meaningless concourse of atoms, if you believe that life originated all by itself accidentally in a primordial goo-pond somewhere, and that we are simply simians that learned to shave, then it follows of necessity that we do not have any rights at all. We are nothing more than meat and bones and protoplasm.
So which is it?
If we were created to reflect the image of God, and if the countenance is the principal place where we are being restored in Christ to reflect that image, from one degree of glory to another (2 Cor. 3:18), then mandatory mask mandates for all are a huge deal. But if we are the end product of so many blind years of evolutionary groping, with the result that we are just so many ugly bags of mostly water, then putting a small covering over your pie hole is a small thing to ask. It is a small sacrifice, one that enables the other ugly bags of mostly water to pretend that your little submission flag is somehow protecting them.
It is not actually accomplishing that task, but it is accomplishing the thing it was assigned to do, which was to reinforce the hegemonic control lusted after by the ugliest bags of mostly water.
So the real travesty occurs when people who affirm the content of the first scenario, which is that we bear the image of God, decide for some mysterious reason go along with all the dictates of those who affirm the second scenario, which is that we don’t bear any such image, and that we are all so many mere carbon-based survival units.
Like I said, that is the real travesty. And that is why everyone is astonished when a pastor like James Coates stands up and acts like he genuinely believes what he preaches. He acts like a real pastor. No, more than that—he acts like the prerequisite of a real pastor, which is to say, an actual human being.
This, of course, is intolerable for our secular managerial elite, schooled as they have been in all that Ivy League jive. Coates is out there acting like a free man, and the effect on those accustomed to nothing but the shuffling of slaves can be startling.
“It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites. ”Thomas Sowell But Let’s Go Back and Review Something Important
Our heritage of law, with its foundation in biblical law, recognizes that the magistrate does have a responsibility for public health. That responsibility brings with it the authority to quarantine or isolate the diseased and contagious. When this is done, there is no tyranny involved at all. When this is done it is an act of responsible authority, not an act of tyrannical overreach. Those who object to such “tyranny” because their personal autonomy was restricted in some way are actually the kind of atomistic individualists who set us all up for this tyrannical nightmare.
To say it again, if you lived in a small town that had a population of 100, and the bubonic plague swept through killing 50, and 30 of the survivors were really sick, the local county magistrates would be out of their minds if they let anyone come out of there. That is not authoritarian—although it is authority.
But if you have the kind of mind that reasons from that scenario to a completely different one, where the whole population is buttoned up, not because of an outbreak of the bubonic plague or the Spanish flu somewhere, but rather because of an outbreak of a respiratory disease with a 99% survival rate, then you are a coward and a poltroon, with the only difficulty being the decision of which of those two words to use on you first.
Suppose there was an outbreak of pickpockets in a city, and the magistrates tried to solve the problem by making everyone with a wallet stay home. And let us say that the White House was contemplating an executive order that would require us all to turn our wallets into them for safekeeping. For good measure, Congress took up a law that would outlaw pockets. What will the pickpockets do then, eh?
The answer is simple. They will continue to run the country. Now they have all the wallets. They will continue to run your life. And they will continue to do so because we continue to let them.The Way Out
The only way out is through a flat refusal to cooperate. If the managerial elites running this clown show have a worldview that allows them to do whatever they can get away with, the first order of business is to refuse to allow them to get away with any of their enormities.
Christians argue that civic actions are lawful if they are consonant with the character of God as revealed in Scripture. Our law is based on the nature of our God, as revealed in the Word, in the world around us, and in the conscience of man. This foundation is not subject to repeal.
The secularists have no external brake or check. They have no God outside their system because their system is their god. This is why they serve a god of power and control. That means that they deem any actions lawful if they manage to leverage their power in such a way as to control the outcomes. Their system is a system of natural selection, survival of the fittest, and so they act accordingly.
They also serve the father of lies, and hence have no problem with lying. If lying doesn’t work, they won’t do it, but if it does they will. And whether or not it works has nothing to do with whether or not we know they are lying. It is possible for their plan to be visible to us and still work.
“We know they are lying, they know they are lying, they know we know they are lying, we know they know we know they are lying, but they are still lying.”Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn
Look. Think about it. We have no business appealing to their god with any hope of getting the kind of determination that we would get if we were appealing to our God.
That was important enough that I really think I should say it a few more times, varying the angle so that it may be seen plainly.
You can’t gather figs from thistles.
You can’t get sweet water from a brackish spring.
You know. You can’t order a Whopper at MacDonalds.
You will not get Christian blessings from pagan gods.
We cannot hope to walk up their mountain and come back down with stone tablets containing a law inscribed by the Spirit of God. No, if we go up their mountain, what will happen is that we will come back down with an idol, one that looks like a carved and grimacing monkey. And why anybody expects to get the deliverance of Jehovah-Sabaoth from that carved monkey I am sure I don’t know.In the Meantime . . .
In the meantime, for those Christians who think that the way through all of this foolishness is roll over onto our backs, all four paws in the air, in the hope that our secular overlords will deign to rub our tummy, I do have a suggestion that might work for them. Call a special meeting of the church where everyone shows up with a plastic face shield, and with double-masks underneath the face shield. Because an important personage somewhere, and lets make him a cross-dressing tranny in charge of determining what is healthy, has decided that random droplets that might occur while singing to God in worship are a true hazard, you can have everybody simply hum their way through the hymns. That’s not too much to ask, is it?
I propose that you start with “Rise Up O Men of God.”
“Their long-established way of doing things gives them all the civilization-building power of a biker gang. It is hard for us to imagine Viking angst, but I want to argue that the author of Beowulf is delivering a vision of exactly that”
One of the things that happens when you move into Reformed or Presbyterian settings is that you start hearing the word covenant a lot. I had a friend who once accused us of talking about covenant peanut butter and covenant jelly. He wasn’t wrong, but then again, neither were we.The Text
“The meek will he guide in judgment: And the meek will he teach his way. All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth unto such as keep his covenant and his testimonies . . . The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him; And he will shew them his covenant” (Psalm 25:9-10, 14).Summary of the Text
The Scriptures are covenantal from front to back. The Old Testament is actually the Old Covenant, and the New Testament is the New Covenant. God made a covenant with Adam in the Garden, but Adam transgressed that covenant of life (Hos. 6:7). God made a covenant with mankind, promising not to inundate the world again (Gen. 9:8). God made a covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:9), and we are gathered here this morning because the covenant-keeping God continues with His faithfulness to Abraham (Rom. 4:13). And marriage is described as a covenant (Mal. 2:14; Prov. 2:17), not a mere contract. In short, our lives together in this community are a tight weave of covenantal bonds.
It is our responsibility to understand what this means. But if we need to learn to judge rightly, it must begin with meekness (Ps. 25:9). If we are meek—teachable, humble, receptive—then God will teach us His way (v. 9). For those who learn what He is teaching, and who keep His covenant and testimonies, all His ways are mercy and truth (v. 10). This shows us that what we learn dictates the way it goes with us in the way as we walk there. We learn mercy and truth, and the Lord shows us mercy and truth as we walk in that way. A few verses later, we are told that the secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, which adds another component (v. 14). We are to fear God, walk before Him in meekness, and He will surround us with mercy and truth. And He will show us His covenant.Covenant Bonds
A covenant is bigger than the sum of its parts. A covenant is stronger than the mere agreement that caused the parties at the first to enter into it. The covenant over-arches everything, and exists in its own right. Your families are held together by covenant. This congregation is a covenant community. We are also in covenant with all the saints all over the world, and every week we partake of the cup of the new covenant.
I said earlier that a covenant is not a “mere contract.” The signatories to a contract could together decide that neither of them wanted to be under contract anymore, and this means they could shake hands and be done with it. Smith didn’t have to deliver the widgets any more, and Jones didn’t have to pay for them. This is because the parties to a contract (mutually) have authority over it. But this is not true of a covenant. A landlord and a renter could mutually agree to tear up a lease, and nobody did anything wrong. By way of contrast a man and woman could not decide that neither of them wanted to be married any more, and just walk away. A covenant has objective existence outside the current wishes of the parties. A covenant is greater than the sum total of individual choices.
The covenant of grace is like the peace of God—it passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). Also like the peace of God, it serves as a shield. Certain evil darts simply cannot get near you.Multitude of Sins
Now one of the things we have commented on frequently is the fact our church community is enjoying extraordinary growth. We are grateful to God for all of it, and yet one of the first things we should reflect on and anticipate is the likelihood of increased frictions and difficulties. Why would the devil want to leave us alone? “Now in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplying, there arose a complaint against the Hebrews by the Hellenists, because their widows were neglected in the daily distribution” (Acts 6:1, NKJV).
A multitude of people means a multitude of sins. And why is God bringing us a multitude of sins? So that our love might have something to cover.
“Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.”
James 5:20 (KJV)
“And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8 (KJV)
“Hatred stirreth up strifes: But love covereth all sins.”
Prov. 10:12 (KJV)
Love “beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
1 Corinthians 13:7 (KJV)Fervent Charity Among Yourselves
This is Peter’s express instruction to us. Forbearance is characteristic of koinonia fellowship, and it grows out of fervent love, it flourishes because of fervent charity.
When a new member comes into fellowship with us, he is looking out over a sizeable lake of sins and foibles. Not only so, but he is bringing some new ones in. The next new member to come in after him will be looking out over a sizeable lake of sins and foibles, but one that is a little bigger now.
So this is not an arrangement where we all come together once a week, with the implicit agreement that we will all pretend that nobody has ever struggled with anything. Not at all. That is not what church is supposed to be. The covenant community is not a place where nobody sins. Neither is it a place where everybody has acquiesced in their sin, surrendering to it.The Christ of the Covenant
I said earlier that a covenant has objective reality outside the will of the parties to it. It would be more accurate to say that this objective reality is one of the parties to it—Christ is Lord of the covenant. He is the Head of the church, the new covenant community, but He is also involved in all our lesser covenants, such as marriage.
The reason we are able to love one another fervently, thereby covering a multitude of sins, is because Christ is here.
One of the more difficult things for us to learn concerning our sanctification is the difference between repairs and growth. Both are involved in sanctification, but they are not at all the same thing. Imagine a potted flower that you have sitting on the window sill, flourishing there in the sunlight. Let us say that the cat knocks it over, shattering the clay pot. Now of course you repot it, and you hover over it carefully for a few days, and the plant seems to be doing okay. But then some weeks later, you are thrilled to see extra blossoms and more leaves, not to mention a couple of extra inches. This is all wonderful, but the thing to remember is that replacing pots is not the same thing as the growth. Unless you replaced the pot, there would have been no growth, but they are not at all the same thing.The Text
“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure” (2 Thessalonians 1:1–4)Summary of the Text
This letter obviously has Paul as the main author, but the salutation also includes Silvanus (Silas) and Timothy (v. 1). It is addressed to the church of the Thessalonians, a church which is in our Father God and in our Lord Jesus Christ (v. 1). The church is in the Father and the Son, and the apostle extends a blessing to that church—grace and peace from the Father and Son (v. 2). Remember that all the New Testament epistles begin this way, with only two persons of the Trinity mentioned explicitly, and with grace and peace proceeding from them. My understanding is that this is because the “grace and peace” refer to the Spirit. Paul then says that he is obligated (bound) to thank God for the Thessalonians, and to do so constantly (v. 3). This is fitting because their faith was growing “exceedingly,” and their love for one another was something that was “abounding.” Their faith and their love were both overflowing the banks. Paul says that he glories in them “in the churches of God.” What he means here is that he sets the Thessalonians in front of the other churches as a pattern or example for them to imitate. They were setting this pattern in the midst of persecution and tribulations that they were enduring (v. 4), doing so in “patience and faith.” We will see next week that the fact that they are so patient under fire is a token to them from God that He will in fact bring a fiery judgment on those who mistreat them (v. 5), but we touch on it now to help make sense of our passage. It is a sign, incidentally, to both the persecuted and the persecutors.Superlatives
In the third verse, Paul says that their faith “groweth exceedingly (v. 3).” In the Greek, this is just one verb, not a verb and adverb, and to get the effect in English, we would have to say that their faith was hyper-growing. He then goes on to say that their love for one another was abundant (v. 3). It was full, complete, increasing. Not only so, but they were doing this over a long haul—they were enduring their tribulations and persecutions (v. 4). Not only was it an extended time, but it was an extended time of trouble and affliction.
Put all this together, and you have a genuinely antifragile congregation. That means that they were able to thrive under adverse conditions. The more they went through, the more they flourished. Their faith was super-charged. Their love was running a ridiculous surplus. Not only so, but they just kept on going. No wonder Paul would point to them as a remarkable congregation worthy of imitation. We should make a point of imitating them as well, even though it is over a great distance, both in years and miles.The Role of Faith
But with your permission, I am going to mess with the metaphor just a little bit. This is because in Paul’s thinking faith is both the plant that grows and also the fertilizer that causes the growth.
Affliction, or tribulation, or trouble, or trial, whatever you want to call it, like everything else in this fallen world, is not an automatic blessing. Remember what Jesus taught us about what can kill a plant dead.
“And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended” (Mark 4:16–17).
This plant dies because of affliction and persecution, which is the same thing the Thessalonians were going through. But the Thessalonians were thriving, and these people were not. What is the difference? Jesus said that those that are offended and fall away are those who “have no root in themselves.” The Thessalonians, on the other hand, are in the Father and the Son, and they have the Holy Spirit of God, grace and peace, from the Father and the Son. They are rooted.Return to the Top
For too many Christians, getting their Christian life squared away always seems to consist of replacing the broken pot. It is necessary to confess our sins, true. It is necessary to put things right with your brother, that is also true. It is necessary to do such things as a precondition of growth. But we must never forget that God calls us, not only to growth, but with the example of the Thessalonians before us, to extraordinary growth.
Your sanctification is not simply a matter of less malice, but of more love. Your growth is not simply a matter of less unbelief, but of more faith. Not less impatience, but more patience. Not less complaining merely, but more endurance. You don’t want to be the gardener who gets so focused on pulling weeds that he forgets that he is doing so in order to grow something else. It is flower garden, not a no-weeds dirt patch.
And there is only one place where it is possible for this to occur. We must be rooted in the Father and the Son, and we must be watered by the Spirit of grace and peace. When that happens, and when we as the people of God blossom, it fills the room with the aroma of Christ.
“The paganism that is so evident throughout this poem is presented to us by a thoroughly Christian poet, and he does not show us this paganism in order to say, ‘See, pagans can be noble, too—even without Jesus!’ Rather, he is doing precisely the opposite—he is refusing to engage in a fight with a heathen straw man of his own devising. He acknowledges the high nobility that was there, but then he bluntly shows us that nobility at the point of profound despair . . . This is nobility at the end of its tether”
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“She dreaded doom of battle, the days to come
Would be devastating, deadly, dark, and shameful.
There would be sorrow and sadness. The sky drank the smoke”
The folks at Warhorn are republishing Man and Woman in Christ by Stephan Clark, and here is your opportunity to help out.