Blogroll: Blog & Mablog
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 146 posts from the blog 'Blog & Mablog.'
Disclaimer: Reproducing an article here need not necessarily imply agreement or endorsement!
Get Jeremiah Burrough’s “Rare Jewell of Christian Contentment” with an introduction by Nancy Wilson, today: https://canonpress.com/products/the-rare-jewel-of-christian-contentment-introduction-by-nancy-wilson/
“She was also delighted to be talking about a subject like music in the church, and not about another subject that might set her emotions to rioting in the streets.”
One of the perks that comes from being related to writers is that you get to read early drafts. I bring this up because just yesterday I read the first chapter of The Silent Bells. As you may recall, this fourth book in the Ashtown series is going to be published in serial form, and you can have each chapter delivered to your door. Like I said, I read the first chapter, and it is a hummer.
I also bring this up because you can continue to subscribe until the first chapter ships, and then after that you will have talk your cousin into loaning you his copy. And we all know how tightfisted he is. Put another way, subscriptions are closing this week, but you still have time if you hotfoot it over here.
Hi Pastor Doug (great name, btw)
I agree with your post about Trump’s declaration that he made last Friday if it were an executive order outside the bounds of his jurisdiction. What he did was counter the error of the governors (like you said), but he didn’t do so of his own ideas but rather in defending the first amendment. The tenth amendment protects the states but also allows the federal leaders to protect the states against rogue governors. That is what I see Trump doing: using his executive power to override rogue governors in protection against the first amendment (and assuring more votes of course:)).
This is exactly why Lincoln worked so hard to make the 13th amendment. That would then justify his overreach with the states because he could then claim he was defending a federal constitutional amendment, which by the 10th, is within his jurisdiction to do so.
I have greatly appreciated your posts through all of this craziness. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on my limited understanding of these things.
Thank you and God bless!
Doug, thanks for the feedback. I don’t have a problem in principle with a federal check on abusive state power. I do have a problem with it being done through decree. It would have been sufficient, I think, if the president had simply said that the governors were out of line, and that he supported those resisting.You think your commute is tough?
Re Sumo Wrestling post: Speaking as an attorney involved in litigation against an unnamed American governor who has imposed unconstitutional restrictions on corporate worship, the irony in all this is enough to choke on. Democrats have taken to notions of federalism and restraints on executive power like an inmate up for parole conveniently finds jailhouse religion in the months leading up to his review. I propose a simple experiment: Go to the liberal pundits decrying Trump’s lack of constitutional authority to enforce the First Amendment against governors and ask these learned persons if Eisenhower had the authority to nationalize the Arkansas National Guard to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment to compel racial integration at Little Rock Central High in 1957.
Joe, right. The silence would be deafening. But the irony argument cuts the other way also. I don’t want to be among those conservatives who think that Eisenhower was out of his lane, but who then applaud Trump in this.
So my wife is an avid runner and often she will go to the gov’t school to run on the outdoor track as we live in a farming community and during this time, the amount of semis and farm equipment on our road can make her feel unsafe (she does 10-16 miles). We home school but do pay our property taxes and utilize the gov’t school speech therapist for my son born in China with a cleft pallet/lip so we have some connection there.
This past week my wife finished her run and was leaving the parking lot when the principal came out and explained to her she could not run on the track per the governor’s orders for her health and safety. She was kind and pushed back slightly and the principal explained that she understands the track gets used and maybe she should camp out for the evening to stop everyone. My wife asked if she could run around the parking lot and the principal said, “maybe, but you could be trespassing there as well”. My wife left and told me what happened, we discussed and I asked her if she would like me to call the principal understanding that she could just go after hours or on weekends (bc I believe this is unlawful) but if I call, it will push it to an agenda. My wife said I should call and she’s ready for the pushback from the school.
I called and spoke with the principal and she explained again the Governor’s orders, etc. and I stated that it’s possible his orders could be ignored by using discernment bc they aren’t necessary for a woman running by herself for an hour outdoors at a “public” school. She advised that she knows this happens and my wife just happened to be the one she saw and she should possibly padlock the track to stop the “problem”.
I asked her if looking at it from a long range view, her response of “elementary school principal padlocks mother out of track for health and safety” is a measured response, I did tell her I’m not into cancel culture, just wanting her to look at it objectively. I got the company line and was directed to her superintendent, to which I left a message and have not received a call back.
Yesterday, I saw two men who are hired from a local landscaping business mowing inside the track, no masks, no social distancing, they mowed, they chatted, they acted like free men enjoying their outdoor job in a free country . . . three cheers!
My question finally, do I push the agenda and point out how illogical this entire issue is at a school board meeting . . . Or, do I leave it alone because In a week the gods in the Governor’s office say she can run again? I’m trying to work through this the best way I can. Thanks and thanks for reading all the way through.
JP, I wouldn’t do anything for the sake of the running. Like you say, you are likely to be able to return to the track soon enough. But if you want to do something in order to make a point (that desperately needs making), and if you have the time, I would certainly do so.
First, I am responding to “All divvied up.”
You wrote, “In our system of government, both the federal and state level have embodied in their most authoritative documents the fact that the people are the foundation of all political authority.”
However, just because this is asserted in our founding documents does not make people the foundation of all political authority. We must go to God for that answer. And that answer is never found in Scripture. The only times any follower of God disobeys (or disregards) the laws of the government it is because the government’s laws contradict an explicit command to preach the gospel, pray to God, bow down to God, etc.
Our government got it wrong. We are not the foundation for government. Our nation was untimely born out of the idolatry individual freedom and that idolatry has matured, infiltrated the church, and has been giving birth to death at least since 1775.
In your article, “Breaking the Law and Cases of Conscience” you ask, “Does our system of law recognize the possibility of rulers who try to seize more power than they have any right to possess?”
From what I’ve seen, governors do have plans to roll out churches meeting inside and outside. The plan is to open. People’s rights aren’t being taken away, period. They are being given back — just not as fast as people want. And they have to deal with it by submitting to the government and not making their governor’s work a headache (Romans 13, I Peter 2, and Hebrews 13:7 – even though this last one is chiefly spiritual leaders I think it’s good advice for secular ones as well).
There is no command to meet in church buildings. No command not to go more than 10 weeks without meeting inside a church building. If churches cannot meet as they have in the past right now, then we can go back to the way it was with house churches before. Or be innovative in some other way. The governors aren’t saying we cannot meet, period. It’s for now during this time.
In your article on “Masks” you said, “If this were an experiment conducted by our elites, in which they tried to see how much it would take to get us all to start singing that old Twisted Sister hit, “We’re Not Going to Take It”. . . ” I know you used the word “If” carefully, but I sense that you don’t agree with my last sentence of my last paragraph on the grounds that “the elites” are seeing how much power they can take from the people. I just can’t buy that. There is no structure or space for “the elites” to be “in on something” right now. Mohler explains it well in his Briefing on May 19th. It is highly improbably that they are keeping churches limited to their great hurt for some kind of “power hunger” in them.
I think you might be gutting Romans 13 of its teeth (pardon my mixing metaphors). It was written under the government that killed the author of Romans 13 and the author of I Peter 2. It was the government that killed God. If we’re called to submit to that kind of government, then I’m pretty sure we can find a way not to “neglect to meet together” (Hebrews 10) while we wait on governors. And if we are waiting on governors forever (which I do not for a moment believe) then we continue not to neglect to meet together.
Although I happen to differ with you on these points, many thanks for your ministry to the church. I appreciate your wit, clear analogies, and help in understanding how to love my son (Father Hunger).
Mike, there is a lot here to respond to, and so I am just going to pick up on a couple points. In the Old Testament, the people were the ground of authority. The people made David king at Hebron. The people, under Jehoida’s leadership, removed Athalia from her position as queen. So first, there is a basis in God’s law for including the people in the “power structure” of a nation. And that is what we in the Western tradition have done. So a governor of Idaho, elected by the people, is not the same position as a Roman governor, appointed by the emperor. According to our “established authorities,” our constitutional documents, the people have a say.
Re: “Not Very Much Feck At All”
Yet you support a liar of liars, Donald Trump. You flaming HYPOCRITE.
Marc, what gave you the idea that I supported Donald Trump’s lies?
Great article. I myself have noticed a similar principle at work with social distancing, required masks, business shutdowns, and sheltering at home. There’s a huge disconnect between how all the important people (media, corporate e-mails, government officials, etc) talk about them and how they actually “work” in real life. Is this little cloth mask really screening out microscopic viruses? Considering how many people in this store are standing and walking within 6 feet of each other- as indeed they must- does shutting down every other register actually promote social distancing? Or does it make for more people in the store because we have to wait twice as long? If Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart, Giant (grocery), and Target can be open without risking people’s lives, why not the little guys deemed “non-essential” who sell the same things? Come to think of it, does social distancing even work? It’s all about the image. It’s all fake. I can hardly stand it. I hope I’m not like that.
Nathan, yes. It is like security at the airports. We don’t have security there, we have security theater. This health scare is not prevention, it is prevention theater. Anyone who has marveled at a person driving along alone in his own car with a mask on knows this.
Not Very Much Feck At All was like a breath of fresh air. Or, even more so, like a taste of No Quarter November! Hard times call for hard measures. On a related note, for me, the Panic of 2020 has been not so much revealing but confirming. I’m sure there are some that have come out of the closet, but for the most part the not entirely feckless public figures–political and religious–have been acting as expected. As has President Trump. He never claimed to be a small government conservative, so it is no surprise to see him embrace Big Government solutions to the Panic. The refreshing thing is Trump is pretty much acting as advertised, whereas our not-so-full-of-feck leaders are acting as a careful observer might expect, but not as they advertise (at least in their press clippings). So while I do not like much about how Trump has responded to the Panic, I don’t feel betrayed and nothing he has done has changed my mind about voting for him (for the first time) in 2020. How about you?
Bill, same here. Trump has been a wild card disruption agent, and has disrupted far more on the left than he has on the right. In the post-Trump era, when liberals and conservatives are sorting through the rubble, trying to find their stuff, the liberals are going to have a much harder time of it.Male Idols
Last week on Canon Press’ All of Christ podcast there was a lecture by you called Male Idols: Indolence and Passivity. You spoke at length about vocation and men’s main idols. Two questions can I purchase a transcript of this? I would like that as well as the cd. Secondly, where can I read up on a theology of vocation?
Jonathan, I don’t believe there are any transcripts available, but you can check with Canon Press. And on the theology of vocation, I highly recommend Gene Veith’s book, God at Work.Vampires
In a dinner gathering the other day I mentioned that I recalled you, several years ago, blogging through Twilight (the vampire book, not the hour). There was an immediate and general interest among the assemblage in seeing the result . However, a search of the blog revealed that this was actually done on Credenda’s website, which appears to have gone the way of all flesh. Is there, perhaps, any other copy of this review floating around that could be posted for the edification and merriment of the interested?
James, I believe, as the saying goes, you’re in luck. That series of articles was turned into an ebook, which can be obtained here.Man Rampant
You were interviewed by Jonah Goldberg?
Where/when will it be available?
Ron, actually I interviewed him for an episode of Man Rampant (season 2). It was a good show. The filming of season 2 has been completed now, and should begin appearing on Amazon Prime soon.Grace Upon Grace
I am really enjoying your father’s autobiography. I was excited to hear it was in the works. When my wife gave it to me as a birthday present last week I was surprised at its length, thinking maybe it was about twice as long as it should be. Now that I’m about a hundred pages into it, I’m wishing it was twice as long as it is. I’m sure you have passed on a lot of thanks and appreciation. Please add mine to the mix. God’s hand is truly amazing.
Nathan, thanks very much.Um, Perhaps You Should Know . . .
I’m not sure I always grasp your sense of humour but thought I ought to alert you (if you don’t already know) to the fact that feck is a swear word in Ireland. British and Irish readers of your blog would be surprised at a minister using such language and it would cause offence. No minister would use such language unless you are talking about Father Ted (an amusing but not godly! sitcom about priests set in Ireland where the main characters use the word repeatedly and there were many complaints ).
Of course you may know this and be using the word for comic effect– in the blog post it makes more sense but as a headline it sounds like click bait.
Emma, thanks for the heads up, and I had no idea. I was working off the word feckless, in a way similar to what Wodehouse did once — if he was not disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled. The word feckless comes from the Scots applying their magic to the word effect. So feckless is a reduction from effectless, and I was making a joke out of that.
As most of you know by now, just the other day President Trump said that churches, synagogues, and mosques needed to be opened up ipso pronto. This was said with a true populist instinct, because thousands of churches were gearing up to open anyhow, regardless of what their governors were saying. Trump’s comments simply served to make everything a little more festive, and to give us all an opportunity for yet another civics lesson. That’s what you all were yearning for, wasn’t it? Another civics lesson?
“I call on governors to allow our churches and places of worship to open right now . . . These are places that hold our society together and keep our people united . . . The people are demanding to go to church and synagogue and to their mosque.”
Okay. That was reasonable, and very welcome. But then there was this.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now, for this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
Override the governors? But states are not provinces or federal administrative districts, and governors are not satraps. Executive orders are not imperial decrees. We need to back up for a hot minute.Some Background on That Good Old Tenth Amendment
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
U.S. Constitution, Tenth Amendment (Dead Letter Division)
Let us unpack this, shall we? I will here be discussing what the Tenth Amendment actually says and actually requires, and not what a congeries of demented court decisions have twisted it into.
Our Constitution is an enumerated powers document. The Federal Government only has lawful power when and where the Constitution expressly delegates that power to the United States. So, this amendment says, if a power is not plainly given to the central government, or expressly denied to the States, then those powers are “reserved” to the states respectively, or to the people.
Now, how does this not set up a potential cat fight between the respective states and the people in those states? Which powers are “reserved” to the states, and which powers are “reserved” to the people? But instead of regarding this as an invitation for the states and the people to fight it out among themselves, we need to remember that that states were sovereign states coming into a federal union, and these states were already performing the functions of government. The people of those states also had certain God-given rights, which they were fond of exercising, and were very aware of. In the sovereign states that first formed the federal government, there was a state/people balance worked out already.
So what the Tenth Amendment was saying was this. If the Constitution does not grant a power to the central government (like the power of making treaties with foreign nations), or if the Constitution does not prohibit an activity to the states (like minting their own money), then everything remained as it had been worked out before. The Constitution, except for certain specified areas, was preserving the status quo ante, which is to say, the previous arrangement.
So for those who understand how the American system was designed to work, this arrangement excludes creative shoehorning of centralized do-goodery into the general welfare clause, and it certainly does not find a right to privacy and abortion emanating from various constitutional penumbra.
And, to cut to the chase, this means that the governors did not have the power to do what they did, and the president does not have the power to countermand them. The check on this gubernatorial over-reach must come from below, and not from above.Akkk! Romans 13!
In the meantime, Trump’s proclamation puts various Romans-thirteeners into a bind. There have been numerous Christians who have been urging churches to obey their governors, no matter how inconsistent or demented their proclamations, because . . . Romans 13! And, they hasten to add, let us have none of your constitutional casuistry and logic-chopping about whether the gubernatorial orders are lawful or not, or legal, or whatever. You heard what the governor said. Just do it. Be a good testimony.
Well, you guys heard what the president said. Back to church!
But if you lock down lovers get to question the constitutionality of what the president just did (and you would have a good case), then we lock down haters get to question the constitutionality of what our governors have been doing. The right to challenge our leaders is one of the rights that our people have had for centuries, a right that antedates the Tenth Amendment, and it is a right that is recognized and protected by that Amendment.
We have procedures for this. We have liberties that we may exercise in times like these. But a constitutional check on these unwarranted lock down orders needs to come from thousands of churches and businesses just opening, and not from an authoritative voice from the top, decreeing it. If Trump were to encourage the people not to listen to their local authoritarians, that would be fine. If he were to serve as a cheerleader in the bully pulpit, that would be fine too. But him talking this way, while good politics, is not fine.Nested Absurdities
What all this means is that the governors didn’t have the right to declare these lock downs in the first place, and the president doesn’t have the right to reverse them. As much fun as it might be for us to watch the liberals oscillate between a deep commitment to federalism and states rights, on the one hand, and a strong centralized government, on the other, depending entirely on what Trump tweeted this morning, we have to be careful not to be our own conservative version of that. More is required to sustain limited government than just “owning the libs.”
We need to remember that governmental powers are like guns — they can be pointed in any direction. For example, those conservatives who vote for surveillance powers that will be vested in a hard-working and noble and diligent president from a Tom Clancy novel, because “we must combat the clear and present danger,” will actually find that they have given all those powers to someone like Hillary, which means that what they are doing is refusing to protect us from the clear and present danger.
If the president can just “countermand” the blue state governors when he feels like it, what is to prevent the next president from countermanding the red state governors when he feels like it?
The only illegal countermanding that I feel comfortable with would be things like executive orders that reverse previous executive orders. Take out your pen, and sign as many “never minds” as you like. But when new holes are being punched in the hull of an already sinking constitutional republic, I cannot say that I am any kind of a fan.
But with that said . . .On the Merits
Now on the merits of whether churches and other places of worship should be allowed to open, the answer should be obvious. Of course.
But because our constitutional order is largely in shambles, and not one person in a hundred knows anything about basic civics, and because our population is deeply polarized, everything we try to do has turned into one giant, continent-wide sumo wrestling contest. And in that kind of a contest, the only real issue is strength.
But in a healthy republic, a healthy measure is one that is sound on the merits, AND which honors the established processes. I am not here appealing to the “civility” argument. This is the civics argument.
The rule of law is a way of instantiating the golden rule into rough and tumble politics. Do as you would be done by is the standard formulation. Consider this a variation on the theme. Build a government that you wouldn’t mind living under if your enemies won the election. But the golden rule means that turnabout is fair play. It means that when your team wins the election, there are certain things you can’t do. And you can’t do them, even if they are wonderful ideas, constructed entirely out of pure thoughts.
And on this one, I am not convinced that the president’s position is constructed entirely out of pure thoughts. In saying this, I have no doubt that the president really wants churches open, but I also have no doubt that he is positioning himself (shrewdly) for the election in the fall.
Think about this for a moment. The American people are beyond chafed at the lock downs. This blow back against the shut down was already going to be an issue in the election, but how was it going to work? Just about everybody, excluding the fine governor of South Dakota, was agreeing that the lock downs were necessary.
I mean, President Trump was king of the lock downs. He presided over the best lock down in history. He saved countless lives by means of his stupendous — ask anyone — lock downs.
So how is he going to benefit from the electorate’s exasperation over lock downs?
Allow me to explain. The electorate is pretty savvy when it comes to detecting deep sympathies, whether hidden or not. Let’s take an example from the left. Back before Obergefell, what was the position of front line Democrat politicians on the question of same sex mirage? I am talking about people like Hillary and Obama. You remember? It was that hate-filled view that maintained that marriage was a sacred union between a man and a woman.
Now why weren’t they devoured by the progressive left for this commitment to traditional marriage? And the answer is a pretty simple one. They were not devoured because absolutely no one believed them.
But Governor Cuomo believes in his lock downs. Governor Whitmer believes in her lock downs. Governor Newsom believes in his lock downs. Governor Inslee believes in his lock downs. And everybody knows they believe in them. They have prayed sincerely, and asked the lock downs to come into their hearts.
And President Trump has signaled, by various and sundry means, that he doesn’t believe in them. He brags about them, certainly. He exults in how much he has been able to achieve through them. He makes a pile of them, sets them on fire, and does a little touchdown dance around them. But when armed protesters show up in the capital building in Lansing, he opines that the governor needs to listen to their “concerns.” When thousands of churches are marshaling themselves, preparing to open in defiance of the lock down true believers, Trump hitches his wagon to that.
I believe that, short term, the results may be good. But I also believe that in the post-Trump era, if we want a constitutional republic, with limited government, committed to the rule of law, we will have to rebuild one. This is not because Trump destroyed it — it was in the main destroyed already. What has happened is that when these things are done from “the right,” all reasonable people can see it happening. But it has been happening from the left for many decades, and reasonable people have been blind to it, and impervious to evidence. And when your reasonable people are impervious to evidence, things are in a bad way.
But in the meantime, coming back to the sumo contest, Trump is currently doing far more damage to the plans of the progressive left than he is to the plans of conservatives. This is because the left actually had a plan, which they were industriously implementing like a bicyclist flying down a 45 degree hill, and Trump threw a stout stick into their spokes. Trump is not disrupting the plans of conservatives because conservatives actually had no plan, unless you want to count “lose slowly” as a plan.
Which I don’t.
The apostle Paul knew what it was like to do a little kvelling in his people, as do I.
“. . . we are your boast as you also are ours, in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
2 Cor. 1:14 (NKJV)
The video clip above is an invitation to the Summer Bible Reading Challenge, a venture that has grown to include tens of thousands of people all over the world. The video was made here in Moscow, by a bunch of the saints in our community, who love to read their Bibles, shoot and edit footage, make musical arrangements, perform them, and listen to their Bibles while doing the sorts of things shown in the video.
I can tell you this. That preaching to a congregation of people who are steeped in the Word is truly a joy.
For more info, you can go here.
One of the great difficulties that modern Christians have is that we do not let the two testaments inform one another. Because of this neglect on our part, we miss many visions of the coming glory that the Old Testament prophets set before us. And as a people starved for glory, we ought not to miss any of it when God offers it. We ought not to be shutting out any of God’s promises for our planet.The Text:
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).Summary of the Text:
In the night visions, Daniel sees someone like the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven (v. 13). This one like the Son of man approaches the Ancient of days (God the Father), and is brought before Him (v. 13). When this mysterious figure approaches the Ancient of days, the end result is that universal dominion is then bestowed on him—dominion, glory, and a kingdom. The nature of this kingdom was that all people, nations, and languages would serve Him (v. 14). His dominion was to be everlasting, and the kingdom he was receiving would never be destroyed (v. 14). And therefore preaching the kingdom of God, among other things, means preaching this.
Remember how John the forerunner appeared out of the wilderness, preaching the kingdom. “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:1–2). Recall that Jesus came, also preaching the kingdom. “And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people” (Matt. 4:23). Realize that the early Christians did the same. “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women” (Acts 8:12). And behold, then came some of the modern Christians, preaching self-care and your best life now.The Son of Man:
The first thing to note is how Jesus identifies with this phrase—“the Son of man.” Although the phrase is common in the Old Testament, this passage in Daniel is the only place in the entire Old Testament where it is used in a messianic sense. Thus, it is a messianic term here, but not a common messianic term. The Lord Jesus uses it of Himself, and this simultaneously conceals and reveals His identity. Some common examples would include Mark 2:10, 8:38, and 10:33.
The Lord Jesus did not want His disciples proclaiming His identity until the time was right. After His resurrection and ascension (Rom. 1:4), the time was more than right, and so two thousand years into it, this reality now must be declared until the end of the world. This is what we are charged to declare—the universal lordship over (and consequent salvation of) the entire world. The king is in His heaven, He rules over earth and Heaven, and today is the day we mark to celebrate His coronation—for that is what this passage from Daniel 7 is describing.The Clouds of Heaven:
We must let the Bible tell us what a phrase means. When we think of “the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven,” what do we tend to think? We almost always think of the Second Coming, with Jesus descending to earth on the clouds of heaven. But this is not what it means at all.
The fact that Jesus ascended into heaven on the clouds (the event we are commemorating today) is not meant (with regard to this prophecy) to point to another event many thousands of years later. Although Jesus will come again the same way He left, His manner of going was the beginning of the fulfillment itself.
“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).Where This is Quoted:
The first place to consider is in the Olivet Discourse. “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (Mt. 24:30-31).
This is not a sign in heaven, but rather a sign concerning the Son of man, who is in heaven. The tribes of the earth see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven. Now, in Daniel, where does He come? Into the presence of the Ancient of Days. His authority is apparent on earth (the tribes do see it), but the coming is most apparent in heaven. Put simply, He is crowned in Heaven; we see the ramifications of that coronation on earth.
The Jews who put Jesus on trial understood the ramifications of this phrase better than many modern Christians do. This is why, tearing his clothes, the high priest considered the statement blasphemous. “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” (Mt. 26: 64-65; cf. Mk. 14:62-64). We should pay close attention to it—for this was the passage that brought about the conviction of Jesus. These were the words that condemned Him.Lord of All:
Returning to Daniel, what did the Lord Jesus receive after He departed from the disciples’ sight in a cloud? What did He receive when He approached the Ancient of days? The Scriptures are exceedingly clear on the point. He received everlasting dominion, glory, and an indestructible and universal kingdom (Dan. 7:13-14). This is the kingdom we are supposed to preach.
He received the heathen for His inheritance, and the uttermost ends of the earth as His possession (Ps. 2: 8). He received the worship of all the families on earth, and the remembrance of all the ends of the world (Ps. 22:27). He will receive all men as they stream to Him, the ensign of Jesse (Is. 11:10), and His rest shall be glorious. The earth will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord Jesus as the Pacific Ocean is wet (Is. 11:9). He will receive all His adversaries, fashioned by the power of God into His footstool (Ps. 110:1). He will receive the human race, unveiled (Is. 25:7), and will set a feast of fat things, full of marrow, full of fat, and wine on the lees, well-refined (Is. 25:8).
This world, the one we live in now, will be put to rights, before the Second Coming, before the end of all things. The only enemy not destroyed through the advance of the gospel will be death itself (1 Cor. 15:26)—and even that enemy will be in a confused retreat (Is. 65:20).
The ramifications of this are many, but one of the things it means is that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. So return to your labors encouraged. You know your weaknesses, that is true enough, but now hear the words of your God. Ours are invincible weaknesses because one like a son of man has entered into the throne room of the heavens. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is why the laughter of the saints needs to be deep, and full, and rich, and filled with faith. One throne stands absolutely secure.
“The woman who did play for the church, Mrs. Addie Bradshaw, was nowhere near as adept as Savannah had been that night, and as far as anyone could tell, had only one speed, which was moderately slow.”
Marriage, as designed by God, is a glorious instrument of dominion. If we want to understand what is going on here today, we must understand this. Weddings are the front door to marriage, and marriage and dominion are woven tightly together.
When God created our first parents, He gave them dominion over the entire world. He did this in what is called the cultural mandate (Gen. 1:28), which He again renewed after the cataclysm of the great flood (Gen. 9:1-3).
But we have to pay close attention because there are two pieces to this. One of them is the world over which they were to exercise dominion, and the other was their own nature and character—the place from which they were to exercise dominion.
God created them, and then gave them the task of dominion. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:27). This means, among other things, that God did not give them dominion over what marriage is. Rather, He gave them marriage as a fixed given, as one of the central instruments for exercising dominion.
It is the difference between having a workshop and a workbench, and whatever project is there on the workbench, on the one hand, and having a concrete floor under your feet, on the other hand. You exercise dominion over the task on the workbench, but you rely on, stand on, and simply assume the floor. Marriage is that kind of floor for us. It is not one of the projects we get to tinker with.
One of the great mistakes that modern secular man has made is the mistake of thinking that we—our bodies, our relationships, our own in-built nature—are part of the world “out there.” As part of the world out there, we think we must have authority over it. If we get to plant the wheat field, or the apple orchard, or make the table, or sail the sea, then we also should get to determine what marriage is, or what marriage should be like. This is not only false, but it is radically false. It is a falsehood that has ruined countless modern marriages. It has made many husbands and wives most miserable, and with no idea of the actual source of their unhappiness.
In our attempts to reinvent how God actually created and fashioned us, we run ourselves into misery after misery, and then we blame God for the mess that we have created for ourselves. But a husband is a husband, and wife is a wife, and they are not interchangeable. It is true that the palm of your hand and the back of your hand are both essential to your hand, but if you start trying to pick things up with the back of your hand, you have only yourself to blame for the troubles that will necessarily follow.
Happily married couples are made up of individuals who are happy with how God created them, whether as men or as women and, more to the point, are happy with how God created their spouse as entirely different. Happily married couples are also those who are content to submit to God’s explanations in Scripture of how He created us. Because we live in a generation that has mounted a full-scale revolt against the created order, and against God’s Word about that created order, we have thereby multiplied our miseries.
The most common way of doing this is by demanding that your spouse conform to your own specifications of how everything should go. Let me come at this from another direction by using a musical illustration. God gave men a masculine note to sing, and wives a feminine note to sing. These notes are completely distinct and different, but when a husband and wife are matching pitch the way they ought to, their notes harmonize wonderfully. There is nothing like it on earth.
But when we are discontented people, we make a musical hash of it. Either we accept the roles assigned to husbands and wives, and sing them flat and sharp respectively, which usually results in blaming the spouse for the resultant cacophony, or we insist that everyone must conform to our way of doing things, demanding that everybody in the household sing in a dull unison. This is an expression of discontent over how God ordered the world. In both cases, the result is a miserable caricature of what a marriage ought to be.
Because we do not understand the glory of our triune God, we do not grasp how He created a world in which form and freedom go together. But they only go together if we are walking in fellowship with Him, loving His world and His Word. Apart from Christ, diversity will blow apart into a million little pieces. Apart from Christ, unity hardens into a lump of misshapen gray concrete. But where Christ is Lord, headship and submission are twin glories in a beautiful dance, and not death rivals struggling for mastery.
Calvin, my charge to you is this. You are about to become a husband. Scripture assigns to you the role of protection and provision. You are to guard your bride, and you are to feed her. You are to do this in imitation of how Christ did it, which means that you protect to the death, and that you are willing to die to provide. You have true authority in the home as the husband, but the Christian faith knows of only one kind of authority, the kind that bleeds for others. This is your charge.
Lyzie, my charge to you is this. Your assigned task is to receive all that Calvin brings to you, glorify it, and return it again. You will receive his protection, and glorify it by being worth protecting, his central treasure. You will receive his provision of grain, and return it to him in glory as hot bread. Just as he is about to become a husband, so you are about to become the crown of your husband. This is your charge.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.
“They had no notions beyond the rudiments of roaring the melody—the other lines of music in the hymnal they just assumed to be footings and pylons for the higher notes. Musicians fooled around with things like those. Nobody was supposed to sing them.”
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“‘I take your meaning,’ he continued. ‘Or at least I think I do. A gentle and quiet spirit, truly such as Peter describeth—a real Christian. As well as a spitfire and a beautiful hellcat, as per Paul in Titus 2.’”
The time has come, I muse to myself, about the need to jot down some thoughts in a stream of consciousness fashion, as one floating on a air mattress, the kind with arm rests, and a little umbrella drink at my right hand and a good book in my left, perhaps a Brad Thor potboiler or perhaps Augustine’s Confessions, I am not sure. Some people have complained in the past, not too cogently but recognizably, that they find it hard to follow my reasoning at places, and they even suspect the presence of a non sequitur betimes. To them I say, you think that was a non sequitur — ho! — I’ll show you what a non sequitur looks like. They won’t actually be non sequiturs because I just find myself making sense, I can’t help it, but I certainly can arrange to have them look like non sequiturs. But thus far, as we continue to float down the river that we have been pleased to call 2020, I notice a massive log approaching, but it could be an alligator, which distracts me from my reading for just a moment, but then I realize that it is just a log, the kind that is noted for its good deeds. It is a happy log.
Still with me?A Body of Observations
We should learn to look for the sunny side of these things. The weather is good, and the river is slow. If you have not had time to reflect, not spending enough time on an air mattress of your own, and shunning the whole idea of umbrella drinks as too worldly, this whole COVID business can seem like an unmitigated disaster, stem to stern. But do not think of us at the bottom of a mountainous avalanche, groaning under these indiscriminate boulders. This was no avalanche, carrying all before it. This was the hand of providence, with a billiard table that had hundreds of thousands of balls on it, and the hand of providence just accomplished a trick shot for the ages, with thousands of balls streaming toward their respective pockets, like soldiers marching in a precision drill team.
The stars fought from their courses against Sisera, as we all know, but they also fought against Disney. This last fall, Netflix was trash talking Disney for some inscrutable reason, and Disney, that juggernaut, arose and moved to respond. Disney the invincible had an Avengers-sized portfolio — their massive wealth was ensconced, if ensconced is the word I am looking for, oh, in things like docked cruise lines. And empty theme parks. And ESPN, reduced to showing curling competitions between Laplanders. And empty movie sets, and no open theaters to show movies in anyhow. Man, whatever did Disney do? It must have been awful, kind of like whatever it was that Joe Biden did.
Biden! Remember Biden? He is the champion who arose from the ashes and slew the Bernie. And not content with that, he immediately turned around and slew the #MeToo movement. Talk about an effective politician! An allegation of sexual assault was levied against him, and presto, all the #MeToo advocates sold out faster than toilet paper in a New Jersey CostCo. And he accomplished these great feats while at the same time proving himself incapable of completing a coherent, you know, the thing.
And then there is California and New York. These two states, electoral powerhouses for the left, decided in a previous era to be governed by men who would not only drink the Kool-Aid, but who would drink the whole pitcher. In a game of true brinkmanship, they are vying with each other over who can come the closest to putting their states in play for the Republicans in this fall’s presidential election. Neither will succeed, of course, but it is ennobling to see them try. One appreciates the effort. But completely independent of whether they succeed in that, what they will have succeeded in doing is sidelining their state’s overall influence. They are going to need some time to recover, and that is not going to go well for them because their idea of recovery is going to include staying shut down as long as possible as a matter of progressive principle. And in the meantime, not all states can be South Dakota, but even the spooked red states are emerging from their bomb shelters far more rapidly than the blue states are. The blue states do not want to become the bloodbath that Georgia experienced when they opened up. If they did open up like Georgia did then they would have to admit that they were, you know, WRONG ABOUT EVERYTHING. That is kind of a bitter pill to swallow, and also kind of big — as in, three feet long — and therefore we may deem it unlikely.
Oh, right. Colleges and universities. You know, the lymph nodes of our body politic, riddled with the cancer of cultural Marxism, and exuberantly pumping it out into the rest of our society? They are all, almost down to each institution, about to be admitted into the ICU. A bunch of them were about to be admitted even before all this, but with this? Stand by for all the creative lawsuits! It couldn’t happen to a group of more over-extended recipients. “How could this happen to us? Our lazy river/rock climbing center came in close to budget.”Conclusion
Having said so much, I must hasten to add that gloating is a sin, actually, and so as these (and other) events unfold, those who have kept their wits about them need to prepare themselves for such outcomes spiritually. Schadenfreude is a moral failing, and so conservatives need to start rejecting an ethos of “owning the libs,” or “drinking liberal tears,” and so on.
“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the Lord see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.”
Prov. 24:17-18 (KJV)
But it is no sin to observe what is happening, and to rejoice (in a right spirit) over it. After all, in the verse just cited, the reason for not gloating is so that you don’t provoke the Lord into not finishing the job. And there are a lot of jobs that need finishing out there, I can tell you that.
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“Pastor Thomas walked toward Savannah, but a little uncertainly. There had been nothing in seminary about this kind of thing at all. She was plainly a firecracker, a pippin, a beautiful volcano.”
I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on what’s been happening with this pandemic. One issue that I’d love to hear your thoughts on is mandatory vaccinations. Recently, Alan Dershowitz said in an interview that no one has a constitutional right to not wear a mask or to not get vaccinated; and that if people refused, then the government has a right to force you to the doctor and to force a needle in you because you’re putting people at risk. He said he would argue this to the Supreme Court. I personally am not against vaccines per se. From what I’ve been able to learn, they have been effective for the most part, however, there are risks and people can get seriously injured and die from vaccines, however minimal. The government even has a compensation program to address this. What are the moral and ethical issues involved with regard to getting or not getting vaccines? I’ve heard people say that if a vaccine can save a million people then it’s ok if 10,000 people get seriously injured or die from them? I find this argument disturbing. How should Christians think through vaccines in general and mandatory vaccines in particular?
Kevin, I am against forced vaccinations. But I do believe that a family with whooping cough can be lawfully quarantined. And I also believe that if they break quarantine, and someone else catches it from them and dies, then they are liable. And the fact that they did not “believe in” vaccinations would not soften the sentence, but should rather be an exacerbating factor.
Governor Whitmer never made planting beans (or any other crop) illegal. What she did was temporarily close garden supply and landscaping stores, by classifying them as non-essential commerce to get Michigan through the pandemic. This type of straw man cherry picking is intellectually dishonest. I’m truly disappointed to see such shallow spin doctoring coming from someone for whom I have such respect.
Daniel, her initial order said that stores over a certain size had to cordon off and close their garden centers, so that a person could go to WalMart and buy shampoo there, but not a packet of seeds there.
Re: Breaking the Law and Cases of Conscience
It seems to me that we have a plethora of examples in Scripture where the people of God turn aside to worship an idol of one sort of another and the punishment visited on them is that they actually have to serve the evil proclivities of said idol. Are we not in the same situation in America? For the first, say, 150 years of the American experiment the nation was a Christian nation (February 29, 1892, Supreme Court declared in Holy Trinity v. United States that the United States “ . . . is a Christian nation.”). For the past 100 years or more the secularists have been driving Christianity from the public arena. We are now suffering the result of making our god the state.
David, I believe this is exactly right.
Breaking the law and cases of conscience: Pastor Wilson, thank you for this article. I think a prime example of what you are getting at here is found in Matthew 17:24-27. We may choose to obey “the kings of the earth” so as to “not give offense”, but we have no moral obligation to do so when they have overstepped their bounds.
The question I have – about which I have written to you before – is whether or not the Bible gives a clear limit to the civil magistrate’s sphere of authority? In relation to this article, how do we know when the “governor is being disobedient”? How do we know when our rulers “try to seize more power than they have any right to possess?”
It seems that without some overarching principle – sort of like a regulative principle of government — all we are left with is ‘private judgment”. As valuable as that doctrine is, it can’t on its own provide any sort of pedagogical value.
Practically speaking, does the civil magistrate have authority over vague issues such as “safety of the community”? Or does it have authority only over activities that God — as outlined in his divine word — has seen fit to categorize as crimes?
The Christian church desperately needs clarity on this matter.
Isaac, I agree. We desperately need clarity on these matters. I think a good place to start would be Gary DeMar’s God and Government work.
Thanks for your piece “On Breaking the Law and the Case of Conscience.” Do you think your reasoning would apply to employers/institutions that impose unbiblical requirements, such as a requirement to abstain from all use of alcohol? Some Christian institutions impose this requirement on their employees, without scriptural warrant. I understand the need for Christians to limit their own freedoms to avoid tempting those with weaker consciences, but when institutions seek to regulate the private (non-sinful) behavior of their employees, do those employees have an obligation to comply?
Leroy, I believe that private employers have the right to require that kind of thing in their own name. But Christian private employers do not have the right to require that in the name of Christ — because they are making a false claim about Scripture. That said, for the sake of good manners, if I worked for somebody I would want to comply with their requirements for employment.
Mr. Dr. Prof. Wilson, PhD YMCA,
This is another one of those COVID letters; I assume you have been receiving others like this. My wife and I live in Houston, TX, and have been going to church since week two of TX’s “lockdown”. After week one, our Pastor and Elders reckoned that splitting the service into two would be sufficient to give the congregants enough distance to follow the guidelines from the CDC.
My parents live out of state, my in-laws live in town here, and my wife has eight siblings, raised by parents who have made every attempt to live in the middle for their whole lives. They and the siblings have not been attending (we all attend the same PCA church), accusing us of being reckless, irresponsible, all the rest. Aside from the Lord turning the wine into everclear, I am not sure what would spur them to go back.
Well, I know what would, it would be the government telling them to go back. And that is the point I have been hammering with the in-laws who are not interested in debating this at all: all of this is the result of state-worship and disregard of Christ.
States are disallowing churches from meeting, yet governors are holding serv…I mean press conferences daily.
That Lutheran gal in Dallas was told to kiss the local officials lest they be angry.
And yet still my relatives, when presented with less jocular evidence and more, would rather live in fear of the state, in fear of the virus, and in the fear of death.
I have begun to realize that this ends in one way of two: reformation or enslavement. And I suspect that the enslavement might not be a foreign country but would instead be ours, seeing as some in our government want basic income, contact tracing, etc., basically neutering any independence we would once have had.
So my question is this: aside from doing our best to tell the world about its slavery, what should our next move be against this worldly tyranny?
CW, the best response to fear is to live free of it. And be as gracious as you can be.Open Road Recommendations
I love your open road pictures. A fun drive has always been a great stress reliever for me.
For a road that might be more challenging than most, search for “stelvio pass” in Italy.
After that, check out “Transalpina” and “Transfăgărășan” in Romania. To pronounce the latter properly, you will need to sample plenty of local libations (fetească neagră and țuică come to mind), but do that after the drive lest you and the whole car rush down a steep bank into the valley scattering a legion of parts.
John, thanks for all the good advice.Postmillery
I watched the postmill doc in your Content Cluster, and I was intrigued enough to pursue further. After reading some sections in systematic theologies, I was wondering if you could point me to a book/article that might help me along. Specifically one that deals with the problem texts for the postmill position. I feel like I have a solid grasp of the position in general, so I don’t need one that lays out the postmill case. I’m looking for something that rebuts the rebuttals so to speak.
Daniel, the best book I know for all the “whattabouts” would be Ken Gentry’s He Shall Have Dominion.
Hi Doug, my wife and I started watching the recent documentary on postmillennialism that you feature in last night. To put it bluntly, we feel stupid for not having seen this before. Two questions follow: (1) how would you handle 1 John 5:19? and (2) if you had to recommend a single book on this subject for those wanting to get stuck in, what would it be?
Martin, I take 1 John 5:19 as descriptive of the way things were at that time, a situation we are commanded to change in the Great Commission. I would recommend Gentry (above), Mathison’s Postmillennialism, and my book Heaven Misplaced.Different Direction
I would love to see you review the major systematic theology options available.
What are your top three systematic theologies? Single volume v. Multi-volume? Modern ones?
Joshua, first, please note that I am probably not the best person to ask, as I am not exactly steeped in the literature. But when it comes to reference, I have found Dabney and Turretin and the Hodges profitable. For just reading through, left to right, I really enjoyed John Frame, and am currently working my way through Berkhof.
The post The COVID Panic Is Waning. We Are Starting to Get Letters About Other Stuff. appeared first on Blog & Mablog.
“It seemed to her like that moment when a toddler crashes in the next room, and nothing follows but an eerie silence. Experienced parents know that the child is busy gathering up all the available oxygen in the room, and a wail of wails may be expected presently.”
What have we learned in the COVID panic? Or, closer to the point, what have some of us learned, and what should the rest of us be learning shortly?
We have learned that the establishment is bankrupt. We have seen that the scientific establishment is bankrupt. The public health system is bankrupt. The media is bankrupt. The educational system is bankrupt. Our politicians are bankrupt. The end result is that the general public has been fed the most shameless lies, and (thus far) are still largely willing to have it so.
There was a time, early on, when the lies had at least a veneer of plausibility, but now, the whole mendacious scam is out in the open, naked and covered with goose bumps. The falsehoods are now so apparent that we are in a position to count the goose bumps.
The stupidity has grown to epic proportions, and I believe that as time goes on, we will discover that we are just now beginning to catch a glimpse of merely the half of it.
It is time to drop all references to coronavirus or COVID-19, but not because the virus was imaginary. It was really there, but it was not really doing what the authorities said it was going to do. Rather, we should start referring to this tangled series of events as simply the Panic of 2020. What set everybody off is not the central item of interest right now. The main thing is for us to recognize that it was in fact an irrational panic, and not an apocalyptic pandemic. What set the chain of unreason off in the first place is a matter of lesser importance. This is because the real story is found in why we were all so spookable — when a people are that spookable, pretty much anything might do it.A Climate of Lies
I think we all understand what goes into the making of an individual lie. Someone does something he ought not to have done, the voice of authority asks an awkward question, and the easiest way out appears to be that of lying about it. But what are the ingredients when we find ourselves living in a climate of lies? When lying appears to be as natural as eating, or sleeping, or walking? When lies and lying are the very air we breathe?
“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”
Eph. 4:13-15 (KJV)
“But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
James 1:6–8 (KJV)
Reading these two passages together, it appears to me that a climate that is conducive to lying is one where the people are immature, where they are unstable, and where they do not love the truth of God. They are immature, and so Paul longs for the day when they are “no more children.” They are unstable — tossed to and fro, carried about, driven with the wind and tossed. They panic easily. And because they do not have faith in God, they are not speaking the truth in love, and they are not growing up into Christ.
This kind of immaturity and instability provides us with the kind of black soil chaos in which the big weeds, the great lies, the mega-con, can all grow readily.
As has most certainly happened.What Do I Mean by “Lies”?
I am referring to both little lies and the big ones. Whether big or little, they are the common ones.
Say, for example, that you are the administrator of a hospital that cannot get new N95 masks for your hospital personnel to wear. The masks are intended to be thrown away at the end of the day, but you aren’t going to get new ones for a week and a half. Do you tell the staff to wear the old masks, even though that would be more objectively unsanitary, or do you tell them to wear no masks, although that looks more unsanitary? In short, would you rather be more responsible or would you rather look more responsible? Because we are a lying people, led by liars, we go with the latter.
Say, for example, that you were told that the lock downs were in order to flatten the curve, so that the hospitals would not be overwhelmed. When the hospitals were in fact underwhelmed, and even in a hot spot like New York, they had to send the relief hospital ship away because they didn’t actually need it, did the announcement then come that we have “good news, we flattened the curve, you can all come out now”? No, the lie morphed as it went along. Lock down until we flatten the curve, until we have a vaccine, until we have three vaccines, until Biden (or his replacement) is elected. Because we are a lying people, led by liars, we go along with it, acting as though moving the goalposts is part of the game, included in the rule book.
Say, for example, that you got people hunkered down into their lock down corner by predicting mega-death. Hundreds of thousands dead in Seattle by this weekend! Over a couple million in the United States! Over 500K in the UK! Spectacular numbers indeed. And what did we get? If you were to gather up all the fatalities from all respiratory air-borne illnesses, and put them on a twenty year graph with the years unlabeled, you wouldn’t be able to pick 2020 out of the line-up. When it comes to respiratory air-borne illness taken all together, we had a year, well within the average oscillations. But if you did the same thing with bankruptcies, business closures, unemployment, the stock market, or GDP, you would be able to pick out the year 2020 from fifty yards, even if the graph was a small one,Our Christian Leaders
In the meantime, where have all our first-tier Christian leaders been? You know, the kind who headline the main conferences? If not entirely feckless, it must at least be said that they have not exactly been displaying any great amounts of feck. We are not exactly running surpluses on our feck.
When given a choice between actually caring for their people, and looking like they are caring for them, the choice is naturally an easy one. The camera is over there, champ.Hail, Process
This is the perfect storm. As such has been a time of great chaos — most of it deliberately and unnecessarily induced by blind leaders in the grip of a blind faith. But contrary to their foundational pagan belief that chaos gives birth to the gods, we find that chaos actually gives birth to more chaos.
So bear with me for a moment as I explain the deep sources of what has brought us to this dire dumpster fire of a spring.
The world is currently divided between two fundamental faiths — the Christian faith and the secular faith. For purposes of this discussion, I am leaving Islam out of the picture, as Islam is at bottom a Christian heresy. So these two faiths are characterized by two words — event and process, respectively.
Creation from nothing was an event. Not only an event, but an historical event. The inauguration of history, the beginning of history, was itself historical. And God did it. He spoke and it was there, heaven and earth, big as life. He created all things from nothing through His Word, and then shaped the world with His words, and so there it was, ready for our first parents to live in.
So God is eternal, and the world is not, and the world is the result of a raw creative event. The two existent realities are now therefore two — the uncreated God and the created cosmos. The first result of God speaking at the very beginning was the establishment of these two realities. There was God, and then there was not God, and behold, it was very good.
In contrast, the evolutionary faith is all about process. If there is no eternal God overseeing all things, then all things are the eternal process. If there is no God, then all things are one. Those who argue for the Big Bang have to have the whole operation explode out of “almost nothing,” but it can’t be simply nothing. There has to be a long continuity of something.
So in some fashion, matter and energy must be eternal, and if that is the case, then all things are just one massive Heraclitean river. What is reality but change, fluctuation, evolution, variation, inconstancy, transformation, inconstancy, and process? In this cosmos, anything can morph into anything else, and moreover, did so. On top of that, when everything is constantly changing like this, there is no such thing as a lie.
If we accept the foundational lie that there is no Creator, then this (most conveniently) erases even the possibility of lying downstream. If you are in the service of the father of lies, this comes to you as a great relief.
So either God is eternal, and created matter the event, and the objective truth matters, or matter is uncreated and itself eternal, floating down an endless river of process. And sitting by that river of process, like an aspiring Siddhartha on the brink of enlightenment, a moment of illumination comes to the secularist. A light bulb comes on, but it is one of those new spooky looking ones — a boy is a girl, insanity is best practices, the healthy must be quarantined, ignoring the Constitution is constitutional, none of us claimed what we were all claiming just two months ago, and all the rest of it. As Richard Rorty once put it, speaking for all of our establishment poobahs, “Truth is what your contemporaries let you get away with.”
We are long past due the point where we should develop a radical intolerance for all such shameless lying. But we cannot develop that intolerance without Jesus, who is the truth itself.The Long War
So what contributed to this perfect storm of chaos? What established this newly-arrived chaos where before there was the order of Christendom?
The factors were many, and so the following list is not exhaustive. And it is worth pointing out — even today — that items on this list have their ostensible Christian defenders. They want to defend orthodox Christianity and evolution, but which is like defending a living patient and his cancer.
This perfect storm of our chaos has been made up of Darwinism, public schools, egalitarianism, feminism, cancel-culture, fault-free divorce, abortion, same sex mirage, recreational sex, secularism, cultural Marxism, transgenderism, rampant pornography, totalitolerance, statism, eugenics, drug use, and a therapeutic approach to just about everything. All of that was thrown into the crock pot, and all of that explains why the stew tastes so rancid. And if you are wondering about my metaphors, and are asking how a storm can be a stew, remember to adjust. Try to get a little more flexibility in your joints. You are living in a time when anything can be anything else, if only it wants to — remember the cosmological context for the big lie outlined above. So if you don’t try a little harder to adapt to our mandatory unrealities, I will have to show you a picture of Dr. “Rachel” Levine, health secretary for Pennsylvania, and demand that you not laugh out loud. Laughing out loud might cause penalties to accrue. Laughing out loud contains an implicit misgendering, you science-denying fundamentalist cave dweller.
The ancient pagan faith is that when the frenzy of chaos reaches its final meltdown, then a new order will spontaneously arise from the ashes. Chaos gives birth to the gods, as Ovid described it. So their hope is that the older order of Christendom will descend into chaos, the final fever will kill all the old vestiges of faith in a Creator, and Nietzsche’s new man, that uber-goober, will stride forth, ready to face the dawn of a new day. That will be the day when man is the god who has fashioned himself. In the sentence just prior to this one, try to focus on the part of the sentence that simply reads that will be the day. This particular Nietzschean wet dream is probably the result of Friedrich getting laughed at in junior high by a couple of the cute girls. But nevertheless, it remains important for scholars to take his insights seriously, and it is important for the high-minded thought-thinkers among the evangelical elite to furrow the brow when we talk about him. Him, and Heidegger the Nazi.Christ or Chaos
When we turn to Christ, we are turning to the Lord of the event. I am referring to the event of creation, the event of the flood, the event of the calling of Abraham, the event of the Exodus, the event of the Incarnation, the event of the cross and resurrection, the event of the Ascension, and the event of the Second Coming.
This applies particularly to the event of the cross, where all of our lies were crucified in Him. They went into the grave with Him as shabby little lies, and emerged in His resurrection as the everlasting truth.
And this is why we need to turn away in true repentance from our yearning lust for a life of fluctuating process. That life is nothing but an elastic haven for lies, especially the big ones. It is Christ or chaos.
Or, to put it in a nutshell . . . why do you have so many of your leaders lying to you? Because it works.
The lock down orders that have been imposed all over the country have revealed to us a number of things—whether outside the church, in the relationship of the church to our broader society, and within the church. The thrust of this message has to do with the latter. What have we learned, if anything, about true Christian fellowship, true Christian koinonia, true Christian community?The Text
“Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:41–42).Summary of the Text
In the second chapter of Acts, the Holy Spirit is poured out on the disciples of Jesus (Acts 2:2-4), and the first great gospel sermon was preached to the people of Jerusalem (Acts 2:14ff). Thousands began to flood into the church, and Luke describes for us how the church began naturally to assume its ordained shape, and our text describes four features of their community, four features of the shape the church took.
Those who received the word were baptized, which ushered them into the body of Christ. About three thousand came in that first day (Acts 2:41). And what did these three thousand people do? Luke tells us that they did four things, continuing in them steadfastly. The first was that they submitted to the apostolic teaching. The second was that they continued in fellowship with one another (koinonia). The third was the Lord’s Supper, the breaking of bread together. And the last was prayers (Acts 2:42).
These four: doctrine, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer.Two Questions:
Back in the seventies, the great question was what is truth? Today the pressing question is a bit different—where is community? Some might make this kind of observation in order to set the questions against one another, but rightly understood they are complementary questions. Truth is foundational to any true community, and community is the only appropriate response to the truth. “If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth” (1 John 1:6). Fellowship exults in the truth, and truth generates fellowship. In our text, it was dedication to the apostles teaching (truth) that resulted in fellowship (koinonia). Ask where is community? and the answer comes back—where the truth is.Koinonia
And so here is how the fact that the biblical word for fellowship is koinonia, connects to true discipleship. Think of how Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem in the Triumphal Entry. In order to welcome Christ into Jerusalem you have to go down to the street He is on. When you do so, you are not just praising Him as He travels by you. You also have a necessary relationship to those people on your right and left who are also praising Him. Christ was welcomed to the week of His passion by a crowd, and not by the last true believer. Save us, they cried, and that is what He did.
But the crowd had to come to Christ. They could not have gone two blocks over, turned and faced each other, and establish a little koinonia by themselves. It never works. The point of integration must be the incarnate truth. But at the same time, life that doesn’t congregate around the truth is not really alive.
In modern church parlance, fellowship means coffee and donuts. But in the biblical world, fellowship meant mutual partaking and indwelling. Fellowship is what we have in the body together, as we are being knit together in love.One Another
So a body is what we are. We do not act in a particular way in order to become a body, we are to act that way because we are a body and we desire to be a well-functioning one. “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another” (Rom. 12:5).Receive
When it comes to life in the body, there are all kinds of offenses. There are business offenses. There are family offenses. There is petty rudeness in the parking lot, and there is glaring sin within a marriage. What in the world are we to do with other people? “Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God” (Rom. 15:7).
It glorified God when Christ received us, and it glorifies Him when we receive one another. When we receive a brother or sister, we are not promising to “look the other way.” That is not biblical receiving. We are promising to let love cover it, when that is appropriate, and to confront it, when that is appropriate. We are promising to not complain about it to others. We either cover it or confront it, and this principled communion is why it is possible to excommunicate in love.Love
Of course the center of this is love. When we look at the “one anothers” of Scripture, this has a central place. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). “These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:17). “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law” (Rom. 13:8).
We can only love because we have been loved. And we can only know that we have been loved if we grasp—through a living faith—the glories of the gospel. Christ died and was buried, Christ was buried and rose, and He did it so that you might be put right with God. You are ushered into the fellowship of love that He offers, and this is what makes it possible for you to love your neighbor.Strive
But it is very tempting for us to conceive of love as a generic disposition to “be nice.” But love rolls up its sleeves, and gets into the dirty work. If all we had to do was sit around and radiate love rays at one another, I am sure we would all be up to the task. But what about all those provocations that come from . . . you know, other people?
We begin by making sure that we do not rise to the provocations. We need to have peace with one another. One of the characteristics of the band that traveled with Jesus is that He had to caution them to preserve the peace with each other. “Salt is good: but if the salt have lost his saltness, wherewith will ye season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace one with another” (Mark 9:50).
We should labor to think alike. We noted earlier that truth is the foundation of community, and the more we share in the truth, and walk in it, the greater will be our unity. “Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 15:5). Our modern temptation is that of simply “agreeing to disagree,” which is fine as a temporary measure—but it is not the ultimate goal that Scripture sets out for us.
But the “one anothers” we pursue should not be limited to staying out of fights. “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another” (Rom. 12:10). Scripture tells us to point the honor away from ourselves, and toward the other.Conclusion
As the people of God, we are being gathered. But we cannot be gathered without being gathered together. And once we are gathered together, we face the glorious calling of life together. But in order to maintain this, we have to keep emphasizing the basics—gospel, love, forgiveness, truth. And the fact is that in the time of the coronavirus scare, these truths about koinonia must be prioritized by us, and not placed on the back burner. One of the things that has happened over the last couple of months is that we have started to accept some unbiblical definitions of words like essential. The only way to say that our gathering, our worship, our singing, is unessential is by saying that the church is unessential.
We cannot invite Christ to accompany us without inviting His bride to accompany Him.