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 94 posts from the blog 'Blog & Mablog.'
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Over the years, I have sought to make the point that deception is to lying and bearing false witness what killing is to murder. All murder is killing but not all killing is murder. Murder is prohibited in Exodus 20:13, and capital punishment required in the next chapter (Ex. 21:12). And all false witness is deception but not all deception is bearing false witness. The rule of thumb, as we see in Scripture, is whether or not it is occurring in time of war, or in what is tantamount to war.
I just recently noticed a striking and very clear example of this. The apostle Peter says this about guile.
“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile”
1 Peter 3:10 (KJV)
If you want a blessed life, in other words, keep your mouth far away from deceitful speech. This is a citation from Psalm 34:12-16.
And what was the occasion for the writing of this wonderful psalm, and its celebration of truthfulness? It was when David feigned insanity before the king of Gath, who uttered one of the great sentiments of Scripture—”did you think I had a shortage of lunatics? It looks to me as though I am running a surplus.”
Now either David was a hypocrite with a huge blind spot, or those Christians who take an absolutist position about every form of deception . . . have a huge blind spot.
How would the author of Hebrews put it?
“And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets”
Heb 11:32 (KJV)
Time would fail us, all right. Gideon, mentioned above, who tricked the Midianites into thinking there were a whole lot more of them than there were. The Hebrew midwives, who were blessed by God with large families for deceiving Pharaoh. Rahab, who was justified by a faith that testified to its reality when she said that the spies went out in a different direction than they had actually gone.
And in pick-up basketball, it is no sin to fake left and drive right.
“Some have interpreted the FV as thought it were some form of Arminianism or semi-Pelagianism. So early in the book [RINE], I set aside a chapter to demonstrate that I wish that the Synod of Dort had promulgated a couple extra points so I could believe them too.”
It has become our custom—and why shouldn’t it have become our custom?—to review the month of November once we turn the page of the calendar, and all the pieces have fallen out of the sky. And the drone. The drone too.
In short, how did it go? Did the month of November live up to expectations? Were we happy with how things went? And the answer comes back as a solid, resounding yes. Best November ever.
The trick is to learn how to take the truth seriously without taking yourself seriously at all. This is the reverse of the strategy urged upon us by Anthony Bradley. He is big on dignity, and all this horsing around comporteth not with the kind of dignity he has in mind. Ah, well. If we can’t horse around and have the approval of Anthony Bradley, then it appears we shall have to continue to horse around.
Of course, you do want to be careful with the high jinks. If there is too much of that, you can draw the reproach of those who would quote the great James Denny.
“No man can give at once the impressions that he himself is clever and that Jesus Christ is mighty to save.”
But there is more to this principle. We really need to think it all through. Denny’s observation is quite true, but because we live in the kind of world we do, quite a number of words can be substituted in for clever, and the spiritual lesson remains every bit as valuable. For example, try pious. Or scholarly. Or censorious. Or dignified.
The great danger is in the phrase give the impression, and not actually in the characteristic you are seeking to project. It is not bad to be clever, or pious, or dignified. But if you are striving to be known for whatever it is, then that is where the trouble is. In short, it is awfully difficult to proclaim that Christ is mighty to save if you have one eye on your own reflection. It doesn’t much matter what part of your fetching good looks has captured your attention while you were presenting the gospel, it is still a distraction.
Some really are distracted by their own cleverness. But others are distracted by their own fastidious rejection of anything clever at all. Some are distracted by how wide their phylactery is, while others can’t stop glancing at their bare forehead—no phylactery at all. Some are distracted by the title the Rt. Rev. Murphy, while others want to cop a humble posture and insist on being called Brother Murphy.
In short, the ego is like a little cracker. It can serve as the delivery platform for all kinds of dips. There is the clever dip, and the pious dip, and the sanctimonious dip, and so on. What many in the pietist camp don’t realize is that the common usages and customs of their subculture have conspired to make their sanctimony invisible to them. But it is not invisible elsewhere. It is not invisible to others.
The key is to point to Christ, magnify Him, and sometimes this is best done if you can just let yourself unbutton a little.Giveways & Stats
We are most grateful to everyone who took advantage of our giveaways. Here in our quaint little Mablog Shoppe, we were pleased to give away almost 3,000 books. They were all made out of ones and zeros, so the boxes weren’t that heavy, but that is still a lot of content for a little operation like this one.
Over on the Canon side of things, that publishing powerhouse, we gave away over $400K worth of Kindles to hungry and inquiring minds. We have received reports that some people are reading them.
Over the years, you have heard us mention the embargo that has been deployed against our Moscow content, and I think we can mark this year as the time when we can now run the blockade with impunity. There will be more on this in the next section, but here are some stats related to the embargo. The NQN 2023 Flamethrower video had 590K views across all platforms, which is four times more than last year. Our little talk show, Doug and Friends, garnered over 159K views over the course of the month. We are not claiming that every last one of these folks are friends exactly, but we know that at least 144,000 of them are. On top of that, a full dozen fine American homes will be receiving their very own their NQN flamethrowers in time for the twelve days of Christmas (11 purchases + 1 giveaway). These worthy citizens will be able to melt all the snow in their driveway in about two and a half minutes, and at the same time become the talk of the neighborhood for the next two and a half years.
And of course . . . because we called to show honor to whom honor is due, it should be noted that Nancy’s spanking advice received 3.1 million views during the month of NQN, and was taken up as a newsworthy event by Newsweek. The rest of us here can only aspire.The Strategic Level
In previous years, we would do our thing, and you guys watched, ordered books, and enjoyed it right along with us. We kept taking shots at the regnant follies, but the regnant follies rarely shot back. Oh, there was some behind the scenes stuff, and I did get a visit from the FBI that one time, and it wasn’t like we were yelling into a can or anything. We did get some feedback.
But this year there was, as the diplomats would put it, an open and frank exchange of views. An altercation on X occurred between Karen Swallow Prior and Joe Rigney about empathy, and this helped us to make the point we never tire of seeking to make. This also helped to highlight what our point was in flaming Disney princesses in the November trailer. The zeitgeist catechism of our day is a “follow your heart” catechism. This is all tied up with the empathy nonsense, and the whole thing is a deadly poison. You can tell how much you have been affected when “follow your heart” seems kind of innocuous. But it is toxic folly. “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: But whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” (Proverbs 28:26).
And then, some of the assiduous worker bees who have been combing through our archives released a video clip of Nancy, Mistress of the Paddywonking, describing how more people in future YouTube comment threads needed to have been treated in their nonage. But they weren’t, and now here they are, driving around in public with a Bernie sticker on their car. As mentioned above, that video clip shot up into the Ionosphere. This helped to start a national discussion about where the seat of wisdom is actually located.
There is one good thing about about all this research that the Intoleristas are conducting as they come after us. As they pour through our material . . . they are getting a lot of good teaching. And the Lord can do wonderful things. I just got an email the other day from a gent who was among our adversaries back in the day. “I searched your blog to find more evidence of racism, and I accidentally found the Gospel. I had never heard the Gospel before. It took me by surprise, and I came to Christ in 2008.” So thank the Lord for Andrew, and pray for others like him.
And then . . . Kevin DeYoung’s article came out right at the end of November, and helped us to create something of a grand finale. That was the whipped cream on the frappacino.A Brief Word to Christian Institutions
We live in a time when Christian institutions—colleges, churches, schools, parachurch ministries, publishers—must learn how to be antifragile. Antifragility in this troublous time is a survival necessity. If you are looking at the controversy swirling around Moscow—and other potential controversies like it—as something of a PR and marketing nightmare, then by definition you are not antifragile. If you are having executive council meetings on how to manage all of this, you are not antifragile. If you are constantly activating all your response teams, you are not antifragile.
So if a major sleaze magazine like Vice were to drop a hit piece on some close friends of yours today, what should you call it? You should call it Wednesday.Submarine Evangelism
We are coming up on a transition point, and I think it is coming soon, and so I need to mention this next principle.
This is a phenomenon I first observed during various evangelistic imbroglios in the Navy. As many of you know, I did a hitch in the submarine service which, let us be frank, is not a bastion of righteousness. Given the fact that I was an open Christian and interested in sharing my faith, there would be occasions where a conversation in the crew’s mess would grow to a substantial size, and it was almost always a case of “me against everybody.” This was fine, because while most of the sailors were rank unbelievers, only a few were openly hostile and/or blasphemous. In fact, I only remember one guy who was like that. I think he was a machinist’s mate, but we shouldn’t generalize from that too broadly.
But that is not where the lesson was. I would regard these apologetic embroilments as a positive thing, and was grateful for them. The thing that was instructive was that, when it was all over, various sailors would come to me privately in order to encourage me. “Don’t let them get you down. I’m with you. Thanks for standing up. I agree with you.” But it was privately, and after the big conversation was over.
There was another lesson, a corollary to the first. This tendency of some Christians to hide out, refusing to dive into the fray while it was going on was not a permanent state of affairs. On the second submarine I was on, a number of men either became Christians, or became much more open about their faith, and this happened over the course of a year and a half or so. When I was discharged, on my way out I had an exit interview with the captain (who become a Christian later), and by that time about ten percent of the crew were open Christians. The captain told me that the tenor of the entire crew had been transformed, and in a positive direction. The morale of the whole boat was better. One of the reasons it had not been safe to come out is that people had been acting like it was not safe to come out.
There are two lessons in this. Don’t be surprised or offended at private support. It is easy to think something like “you know, it would have been really nice if you had spoken up earlier.” And of course, some people who sympathize with you stay in hiding permanently. That happens too. But others don’t remain there. Nicodemus, a ruler among the Jews, came to Jesus by night (John 3:2). It really was risky for someone in his position to be seen in deep conversation with Jesus. But this same Nicodemus stood up for Christ later, and at a time when the feelings around him were running hot. However it is noteworthy that the apostle John made a point of identifying Nicodemus by his earlier nocturnal visit. “Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them) . . . ” (John 7:50).
There are people who will try to encourage you privately, and that is all they will ever do. Keeping their head down is a way of life for them. There are others who are trying to be strategic, and they know there is a moment coming when they are going to fly the flag. And perhaps they misjudge the moment, and perhaps they delay longer than they needed to. But this is still the kind of person that makes up a preference cascade, and we should thank God for them. Gideon won a great victory, but Ephraim still joined in the pursuit.
Then there are those who are called upon to take a lonely stand. They are the ones who set things in motion. The lesson for these people is the lesson that the Lord graciously gave to Elijah. That position felt a lot more lonely than it actually was.
“But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal.”
Romans 11:4 (KJV)
“If I say that I believe in the Westminster Confession’s red use of the word election, but that I also believe that the Bible in various places uses election in the blue sense, I am not maintaining that blue is red. This is not redefinition; it is an additional definition.”
Regarding “Mud Fence Ugly”
Reformed scholar Calvin Seerveld rightly said “When Christianity abandons the arts, they really do go to hell.” Unfortunately, a century of the Protestant church largely ignoring the cultivation of faithful artists and makers has led the church to simply play copy-cat to secular culture, just 10-50 years behind the curve, “conservatives” conserving the last generations artistic faithlessness.
Christians and pagans both can’t choose what they haven’t seen, and it will take a multi-generational effort of faithful Christian artists to course-correct and begin making art that truly loves our neighbors and glorifies God. This won’t mean merely repeating medieval Catholic aesthetics and arbitrarily cutting off our style at a particular historical date, nor will it means slavishly copying the cool kids of the present, NOR will it mean pretending several millennia of artistic development don’t matter and that we are somehow able to “start fresh” (while actually just naively recreating bits and pieces of what others probably have done better).
We need to be Christians who really do believe the Lord is working out redemption for His people in the happenings of history, and that means we don’t spite the common-grace sun and rain of the arts just because it falls on the unjust too, lest we too be cursed and burned from our lack of artistic fruit (Heb 6). We need to be ready to plunder the artistic knowledge of the world like God’s people plundered Egypt and received the cities and vineyards of the Canaanites. Do they have good artistic possessions? Of course! Does every good thing come from the Lord, the Father of lights? Of course! Are we afraid to possess the artistic land because we don’t believe that the Lord is with us, or that He gives discerning Wisdom by his Spirit to those who seek it? Hopefully not, but if we disobey due to fear, don’t be surprised if the next forty years are subject to futile wanderings in an aesthetic desert until we repent and turn back to the Lord.
We need good churches that are theologically clear, who think the arts matter, and who don’t sneer when a young man says he wants to be a poet, or a painter, or a sculptor, or a designer. It’s not enough to say that it’s hard to support a family as an artist—if the church will have faithful artists, it’s our job to teach them how to do it as courageous entrepreneurs. We need churches that encourage, expect, and affirm artists who act like hard working craftsman, apprenticed to the trade of art-making, rather than unpredictable slackers enslaved to their passions who are easily manipulated by the world.
We need to care about the arts because God made a universe, called it good, and then commanded us to fill it by the glad exercise of responsible dominion over all things, improving, elaborating, and adorning what He has given us just as a wife does with her husband’s gifts. We must refuse to believe that anything, including our spreadsheets or plumbing or factory work or art-making is religiously neutral, for Christ is Lord of all.
It means we don’t ask whether Christians will use the arts in all aspects of life, but rather “which art will we use”. Not whether we will spend money on art, but “upon which art will our money be spent?” It means the art we make and use should be like the Bible: sometimes direct, sometimes oblique; sometimes clear, sometimes requiring many hours of meditation; sometimes shockingly stylized, sometimes deadly realistic; used to help us laugh, cry, work, praise, grieve, wage war, and make peace; sometimes showing us the glory of creation, the wickedness of sin, the surprising treasure of redemption, and the cosmic victory of restoration. It will sometimes be like Jesus, the perfect Image, who the prophet Isaiah said did not on the surface have a beautiful appearance. It will sometimes be like the Father, who’s glory is beautiful to the saved and terrifying to the sinner. It will sometimes be as seemingly unimportant as a cool cup of water given to another in charity.
The world needs Christian artists who can provide leadership to the imaginations of God’s people, and to the elect within the nations who God desires to save.
Shameless promotion: I’m committed supporting the training of the next generation of Christian artists by working for the Maker Institute of Studio Art + Theology. If you care about the Christian future of the arts, we’d love to talk with you. Our first academic year is planned to start August 2024.
Oh, and Angels in the Architecture is in the curriculum.
Cody, thanks very much. As we used to say, “keep on keeping on.”The KDY Affair
I greatly enjoy both the writing of yourself and KDY and have been helped by each (with disagreements at time for both). KDY the individual has been a great writer, often challenging TGC-types in his own group with things like “I Don’t Understand Christians Who Watch Game of Thrones,” “I Still Don’t Understand Christians Who Watch GOT,” “Have More Children and Disciple Them.” He was full-throated in denouncing Revoice. Openly calls out the wrongness of same-sex identification. So it seems he has no problems standing up the ‘Respectables’ when needed. It’s also clear to me that KDY has been quietly distancing himself from TGC for a few years now. His writing is out of step with TGC. He pulled his blog from TGC and publishes it himself now. I’m willing to bet he cringes when he sees Taylor Swift-like articles and Brett McKracken’s movie reviews being published. That all being said the fact that he hasn’t fully distanced himself from this group is the ball-and-chain that’s drowning out his argument. Why he stuck up for the ELRC is beyond me. It’s inconsistent with his writing. Why he has chosen to go the ‘respectable’ route in this case, but is willing to have a backbone in most others baffles me. Any ideas why now?
I wonder if KDY is writing based on something he’s seeing at his church. One thing I’ve noticed in my church among the fiercest defenders of the Moscow Mood is that they latch onto the serrated edge but miss out on any of the substance that goes with it. Men who use your no-holds barred style in their personal communication. Men who talk about their large families but haven’t changed any of their little one’s diapers. Men who have many of thoughts about how church should function (more like Moscow of course), but can’t be bothered to get involved. I’m not faulting you for that. You are not responsible for how others might take your writing in an irresponsible way. When KDY talks about the “negative long term spiritual effects” I wonder if this is what he’s referring to. It’s possible that some pastors like KDY see this kind of behavior, connect the dots, and conclude ‘this Wilson guy is the source of all this trouble.’ If this is what KDY’s writing against, it is a problem, but he shot at the wrong target.
Last, you should be most grateful for KDY writing this article if for no other reason that the term, “Moscow Mood” is a great line. It’s worth embracing and it should stick around for quite some time.
Anthony, thanks. I have no idea if Kevin has to deal with that particular problem, but I do know that it is a problem out there.We’re Gonna Sola Fide Even Harder
Tom Hicks and his comrades have bolstered themselves and, as of late, are vying for a full time position at Examining Moscow on Twitter. He is not just channeling his inner RSC on Twitter, Tom has also written a piece on you here.
It is supposed to be damning evidence for why you are dangerous. I pray you, sir, unsheathe your pen and respond to Tom Hicks before his “tweets delete.”
Matthew, thanks. Yes, I have been hoping to get to that.Christian Nationalism for Foreign Nationals
I have been tremendously blessed by your content over the years being a reformed Baptist. I agree with you on most things and enjoy the use of rhetoric and metaphors in your blogs. I think you are a story teller like Jesus was and I desire to be one myself . . .
I’m originally from India and grew up in a charismatic church in the Middle East. I’ve always struggled to understand the American individualism and smooth talking, as opposed to direct talk, since coming to the US in 2016 and being part of reformed churches. Foster, you and others were a breath of fresh air but also it took me a while to get used to the spice because that was not characteristic of the direct speak in our churches in India or Middle East. I also struggle with the idea of Christian nationalism and mere Christendom on two accounts.
1. I’m not American and so how can I be a nationalist and what happens if America attacks India or the Middle East where most of my people live?
2. I’m married to a godly American woman who is of a different ethnicity. So did I sin? Or was it sub-optimal? I don’t think so, but my mom thought so till she saw her godliness. Shouldn’t Christ unite than divide over ethnic lines? Is there a solution? I want to share with you what weighed me down more than any of those things. My desire is for the western church to learn from the eastern church and vice versa. In the matter of hospitality and brotherly love, your camp is one I think speaks most closely to what I’ve experienced in the East. Yet, my wife and I visited your church on a business trip to CDA early this year. I could sense in the church service that there were some newer people or people that were still getting to know each other at the church. So I want to give a lot of grace to this critique. We came there with a desire to see, share, learn and partake in godly fellowship so that we could take back that Moscow mood back to Columbus OH where we live. But, not one person except you spoke to us and I am hoping that it is an exception. Back in India, when a new person came to church we made it a point as a congregation to cut short conversations between regular members of the church to greet and get to know the new person. It was an intentional movement because we knew that as the regular members of the church we would be in spaces of community all through the week and even the rest of the day. Would you say that my experience was not the norm?
All this to say, I appreciate your ministry deeply and have shared you with people in India. Praising God for what He is doing through you and hoping that you have many more years in this role!
Johann, thanks. In Christian nationalism, the nation is not absolute—the Word of God is. It is that standard that makes it possible for us to stand up to our own nation when they are doing wrong. As regards your marriage, no, of course that was not a sin. And about your visit to Christ Church, I am sorry that was your experience. I would say that was not the norm. We are working hard to keep up with all the new folks, and yet we know that some slip through the cracks. I am sorry that was your experience.Are Babies Saved?
In the Man Rampant episode with Voddie Baucham, you mentioned that you believe that all babies who are killed in the womb as a result of abortion are saved (if I understand you correctly). How do you come to this conclusion? If election is a result of God’s sovereign choice before the foundations of the world, and the hidden things belong to God, how could we ever know definitively who is elect? Of course, we can see outward fruit of regeneration, but in the case of an unborn baby where we cannot see outward fruit of regeneration, how could we know that the baby is saved? I certainly believe it is possible for a baby in the womb to be regenerate (as I believe was the case with John the Baptist), but apart from supernatural revelation that we have in the case of John the Baptist, how could we ever know that an infant is regenerate? If I am correct in understanding your position to be that all babies killed in the womb are saved, do you have a cut off point at which you are no longer sure that the child is saved? E.g. if babies killed in the womb are saved, are babies who die right after delivery saved? What about those who die after two weeks? As pro-life activists have insisted, there is virtually no difference between a baby right before it is born and right after, but would you say that one is saved for sure while we are not sure about the other? I know that you affirm the doctrine of original sin, so I imagine that your position would not be based on an age of innocence, but do you have some other criteria for determining a cut off point?
Also, how would you respond to the argument that if all babies who die in abortion are saved, abortion is accomplishing a greater good. We generally accept the principle that it is worth sacrificing temporary money, heath, resources, etc. for the sake of the Gospel because those things are temporary while eternal life in heaven lasts forever, would the same principle not apply to aborting babies if this secures their eternal salvation? I certainly think some of them could be saved, but I don’t see how we could know that they are all saved. It seems to me that the best we could say is that the judge of the universe will do right, but we do not know what exactly the result will be in each case.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and please correct me if I have not understood your position correctly!
Will, you have correctly seen my position, but not the reasoning for it. I do believe in original sin, which means that infants are in Adam and are by nature objects of wrath. They are subject to the curse, which is why they are able to die at all. I don’t believe they are innocent, but I do believe that sin is not imputed where there is no law. I believe that infants who die in infancy are saved, but they are saved by grace, and not by right. And as to the cut off point, the omniscient one is the judge, and the judge of the whole earth will do right.That’s Fine, I Think
This is a question for Doug..
Is there any issue with someone doing a quiet hobby during church service, like crocheting, drawing, or other busywork with hands, while listening to the sermon? An adult person that is.
Katie, I think this kind of thing would be a matter of wisdom and manners. My reflex response would be to say no to something like drawing, and sure to something like crocheting. The two questions would be whether it interferes with paying attention, and whether it looks like the person is paying attention.Prophecy Questions
Thank you for focusing on the typology of Christ’s first advent in ‘By Prophet Bards Foretold.’ This got me ruminating on how much the prophets themselves understood of their typology while penning the Scriptures, and how that might relate to the apostles in the NT regarding the final advent of Christ. From 1 Peter 1:10-12 and Ephesians 3:4-11, it seems like the writers of prophecy in Scripture could write true things about a more immediate reality without knowing that it foretold (by the Spirit) something more ultimate/final in the future. They did not have the full type/antitype picture, even though their message included it.
My question is this: Is it possible that when the apostles refer to the future coming of Christ, they did not necessarily see a distinction between his coming in judgment in AD 70 and the final judgment at the end of history? I say this because the language used in the NT often seems to blur or overlap the two realities (coming of Christ, day of the Lord, etc). Obviously, the Spirit knew during inspiration and Spirit-guided interpreters can know this now through careful exegesis, but did the apostles know this while writing or were they similar to the prophets in 1 Peter 1, searching and inquiring while they wrote?
Jeremy, I grasp your question. I believe that they knew there was a distinction, but I also think there is no need to claim that they knew the precise nature of the distinction.
I am not responding to any post in particular. My question is on post-millennialism. How do you good people at Christ Church interpret Luke 18:8? Jesus seems to ask this question in a rhetorical way, as if the answer is obviously no. I am interested because I am one of those people who think that post-mil would be great if it were true. I have always been taught that everything will get worse before Jesus comes back.
Ariel, I believe that this is referring to the coming of Christ in judgment on the land (ge) of Israel in 70 A.D.
I grew up in a dispensational premillennial church, and one of the chapters they always hammered away on was Joel 3.
Try as I might, I simply cannot find a postmillennial, preterist, or even amillennial commentary on Joel 3.
I’m so utterly perplexed about this chapter because its Armageddon-style, end-of-the-world nature seems to fly in the face of the postmillennial/preterist interpretation of history. Are there no postmillennial resources on Joel 3?
Any help you can give here is greatly appreciated.
Brooker, I take it as a continuation of the judgments of chapter 2, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. The decreation language of Joel 3:15 maps onto the Lord’s use of Isaiah’s prophecies in chapters 13 and 34. And then the prophecy of Joel opens up into the gospel era.What I Would Recommend Writing-Wise
I’ve been watching your videos, hearing some of your sermons, and reading your books for two years now. You could say I’m a fan of yours. I thank you for all that you do, and I believe you are carrying out the Lord’s work faithfully.
I should tell you that I’m currently writing my own blog. Like you, I enjoy writing about Christianity and cultural apologetics. I must confess that my blog posts are somewhat inspired by yours.
Do you have any advice for a younger, newer writer like me? I ask because I aim to become a journalist in the near future. I would particularly like to be a Christian journalist.
Brandon, I would really encourage you in this desire. And what I believe aspiring writers ought to learn, know, and do I put into this book.An Idaho Loser
You’re really an embarrassment to Idaho. What amazes me about judgmental so-called Christians like you is that you typically behave in a manner that is antithetical to Jesus and the life that he lived. He must be truly aghast at the things that are said and done in his name (for many centuries). Maybe you should move to Africa or South America and try to do some real good instead of rabble-rousing here. I’m totally disgusted with the religious right. You misinterpret the Bible regularly. Forgiveness and acceptance is much of what Jesus is said to have preached. You and your ilk are more like Inquisitors in Spain centuries ago! Please go away!
Robert, you are so right to rebuke us for being so judgmental. It is our besetting sin. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to show us how it is supposed to be done. It is so important to have good models.Our Infinite Triune God
Re: On Authority, Order, and Equality within the Godhead
Reading this reminded me of something that was bothering me. Several times this statement uses the word “infinite” with respect to the Godhead. On what Biblical basis can “infinite” be used to describe God? I can accept “eternal” as time can and will extend for infinity, but an infinite attribute of God would swallow up the universe and then some. Something that is infinite is really, really BIG!
Now I understand the these infinite attributes are in no way physical, but anything described as infinite would be all encompassing to the detriment of other, finite, attributes.
Ron, I don’t believe that God’s infinitude need displace anything. “Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5).To Be Mentored
I’ve been a listener/reader of your stuff for about a year now. I appreciate your straight-forward approach and Get the Girl was a very encouraging and challenging book to me.
I have a question about finding mentorship as a young man. I’m in my 20s and am fresh out of college moving to a new city. I’ve never had really solid, close, and consistent mentor/mentee relationship with an older believer in my life. I used to think having a “mentor” was one of those marketing gimmicks that rolls through the Christian scene every couple of months, but as I’ve stepped out into adult life for the first time i truly realize how much I don’t know and how helpful having an older believer to talk to and ask questions of would be incredibly helpful.
My question is how do I go about finding this when moving to a new city? Do I just find the first solid Reformed church I see and start talking to the old folks? Or is there a better way to go about this that would be more effective? I appreciate any advice you have!
Thankful for Christ’s work through you and your help,
Sam, I have no objection to close discipleship training, but I tend to pull away from the mentor/mentee approach, which I think assumes too much at the beginning of a relationship. I would seek out a solid Reformed church that preaches the Word, identify what teaching venues they currently offer, and throw yourself into those. I think individual instruction and discipleship is most likely to arise out of that.Learning to Be Combative
How would you counsel a man in starting fires/picking fights? What would be your guide in picking up the flamethrower, so to speak? I am an apprentice in this art and want to understand how to fight well–jovially and in good faith.
Many thanks for your fiery ministry!
GS, don’t start with your mom. And I wouldn’t start with firefights with the workers of iniquity either. As a young man, you probably have a peer group, and in that peer group certain common sins fly that shouldn’t. I would start by having awkward conversations about tolerated sin within the peer group. You will learn a lot.Not Enough Tears?
I recently read DeYoung’s article about you and the Moscow Mood. I love you both and have really benefited from both of your work and ministries. So I’m looking forward to how you two may continue to interact. Here is a question I’ve had about you for a while, and DeYoung’s article reminded me of it. I think I recall a video of your family talking about you (you had left the room to take care of your dad, I think) where they said they had never seen you cry. That struck me as interesting. And as I considered everything I’ve ever heard or read from you, it occurred to me that NO WHERE do I recall a tone of weeping or sorrow. Righteous anger, yes. Biting sarcasm, yes. Prophetic truth-telling, yes. Biblical teaching, yes. Even tenderness, yes. But a sense of weeping? Deep sorrow? Mourning? No. Not to my recollection anyway.
It seems to me that for someone to really imitate Jesus Christ, and others like Paul or Jeremiah, one would have to have the character quality to, at least occasionally, weep at one’s own sin, weep at the sin of God’s people, and weep at the state of the lost.
So my question is (and I’m asking this as a greater admirer and someone who is very thankful for your work and wants to see your influence and the influence of Moscow continue and grow stronger): When was the last time you wept at your own sin, the sin of the church, and the state of our lost world? And if the answer is a long time ago or hardly ever, might that not indicate some lack in you and a potential weakness that will be reinforced to others who look to you?
Nick, thanks for giving me this opportunity to share my feelings. As a result of family culture, lineage, and personality, there is a definite absence of weeping. There have been great blessings that came from this, but I believe there are some deficiencies involved also. I think I saw my father cry once, and he was in his nineties at the time. But the absence of crying does not mean an absence of intensity of feeling—but it does express differently. I do periodically get choked up, and when it happens while delivering a sermon . . . I hate it.Lordship Salvation
I was reading Berkhof’s Reformed Dogmatics the other day and found a section where he recounts the Gottschalk controversy where he ultimately comes to the conclusion that “this controversy proved to be after all little more than a debate about words. Both the defenders and the assailants were at heart Semi-Augustinians.” I imagine there is very much of this “debate about words” going on today in many different theological areas. With that, I’ve wondered: Does your view of faith and works resemble what MacArthur brands as Lordship Salvation in any way? I don’t believe he teaches a works based gospel, and understand his reasoning, but I have seen detractors lump you and him together in their accusations regarding that issue. Me being way off in left field on this could also be a likely reality. I am grateful for the work that both you and he have done for the Kingdom but have wondered if there is perhaps some common ground in how that issue is addressed.
Luke, yes. I am grateful for the stand that MacArthur took on that issue. Christ is not received on an installment plan . . . first as Savior, and then later as Lord.The Hit Comes Later
I live in a city in the Midwest of about 1.3 million people. I attend a faithful and vibrant Reformed church that also has a ACCS school that was just launched (literally the only one in the entire city). I can’t tell you how many people want to come to our church AND send their children to our school but don’t do so because it would be an inconvenience for them to drive an extra 10-20 minutes a day to do so. Instead they attend ho hum churches that usually don’t line up with their theology and send their children to local public schools/non classical Christian schools that are closer to home.
You’ve been in the game a long time . . . what gives? Any word you have for these types of people?
Tim, yes. I would say to them that two things are obvious about the debt they are seeking to pay off. The first is that they believe they can handle the monthly payments, and perhaps that it true. The second is that they clearly know nothing at all about the enormous balloon payment that is coming their way within ten years or so. And when that day arrives, and their delightful little girl wants to be called Bruno, and here are her pronouns, they will look back with yearning on the lost opportunities found in those extra drive-time minutes.Knowledge and Regeneration
This question is a follow up to my Justin Peters question: Peters was saved while he was serving as a pastor, and it was only, according to his testimony, after he understood and believed that repentance is gift from God did he get saved.
You said “nobody is saved by Calvinism.” Agreed. But you might agree that Calvinism is the best representation of the gospel. And God requires one to understand certain proposition before He gives saving faith.
So my questions are: what are the bare minimum propositions one has to believe in order to be saved? And are there any resources on this subject you would recommend?
From what you’ve said previously, the proposition that “salvation is by faith alone by grace alone” and “repentance is a gracious gift of God” are not necessarily to be understood before the gift of saving faith is given, for that would rule out Arminians.
Peter, knowledge comes from regeneration, not the other way around. In the providence of God, He promises to bless a clear and accurate presentation of the gospel (which would be Calvinistic), but he is not limited by that. I believe that an ordained evangelist being examined by presbytery should be like an electrician becoming a journeyman. You want him to understand all of Turretin’s schematic drawings of all the circuits. If he doesn’t, you run the risk of your house burning down. But a two-year-old can still turn on the lights.Retaking the Mainlines
In my last letter, I asked for your thoughts on Operation Reconquista, an effort to re-take the mainline Protestant denominations back for conservative, traditional theology. I was highly grateful and happy that you responded in your always welcome trademark snark and wit (that my wife and I quite enjoy), but I found your trademark willingness to fight notably absent. Not to be dismayed, I’d like to ask a couple of follow up questions.
What then shall we do with the wonderful tradition of the mainline Protestant denominations, including their beautiful buildings, most of which were built out of a glorious understanding of theology and its out-workings, especially in architecture? Shall we cede that ground to the liberal invaders (for invaders they most certainly are, notwithstanding the fact that they are quite entrenched at this point)?
Secondly, does your strategy of “great if it works but don’t kid yourself” carry over to the leftist influence in American government as well? Are we to let the wonderful institutions and buildings in this country, even the Capitol building itself, fall solely into the hands of the liberals or should we seek to reform, revive, and restore these institutions to their former faithfulness?
Is there not great merit and worth in fighting back the onslaught on the very ground that once belonged to our forebears?
I say this in all the charity and encouragement that I can muster. I hope this is an exhortation to consider a different effort. I am grateful for your influence and work. And I anxiously await your response.
Many thanks again,
JR, here is the challenge. I believe in the good fight, and would want to encourage everyone who is still in the fight. But in the mainlines, I don’t see how it is possible to fight honestly. The reason liberals can take things over is that they are not honest. They fight dirty. They lie about their intentions. We can’t do that. I would prefer to grow healthy vibrant evangelical churches that are then in a position to buy the sanctuaries of the mainlines from their moribund congregations. This is already beginning to happen.Reading on Revival?
I am trying to learn more about the detrimental effects the 2nd great awakening has had upon modern Christianity, and the ways in which it differed from the 1st GA. Do you have any resources (books or articles) that you would recommend on the subject?
CC, I would start with Iain Murray’s Revival and Revivalism.Say Again?
Forgive me, I believe I asked a similar question some time ago, but lost the answer. Glenn Beck is calling for renewing our covenants with God. While he does have attachments to some of the weirdness that is Mormonism, it still makes me wish to study what covenants we’ve neglected which we’re under here in America. I know about the Mayflower compact and some of Lincoln and Washington’s actions, but I remember you once mentioned a book about some of the covenants we’ve inherited from Britain. Can you please re-link it, along with any others you or the readers can recommend?
Ian, I believe you are referring to The Anglosphere’s Broken Covenant by Michael Wagner.Speaking in Code
My wife and I have agreed several times that we shouldn’t argue in front of the kids. Yet when disagreements come and I suggest we talk about it later, once we’ve cooled off and the kids are not around, she demands we discuss everything ‘right now.’ How am I to navigate this? I really don’t want our kids to see us arguing.
MH, if she agrees when it is not in the heat of the moment, but forgets all that when the disagreement arises, what I would do is have another talk with her (in a calm setting), where you not only agree to not do this any more, but also agree on two other things. The first is that you agree on some kind of non-verbal signal that means “this is happening again, and we need to stop.” You would both agree to shut it down immediately if that signal is sent. And secondly, you need to both agree that if this is forgotten in the heat of the moment, that the offending party will go to the kids and seek their forgiveness for the disagreement.Sorry. Really Can’t Remember
Do you have any book recommendations on how to read, study, retain, consume, and manage information?
Peter, I have probably read something like that. but I forgot what it was . . . seriously, I have read books like that, but the people who write them have minds that work very differently that mine does. I just throw everything in the crock pot, and eat the results. I don’t mind, so long as its hot.Okay, But . . .
Where’s the line between duty and love? The way I look at it, I have a responsibility to protect, provide, and lead my wife and kids. I have a responsibility to worship with fellow believers every Lord’s day (morning and evening service), to give tithe, and to give some more cheerfully. Other than that, I try and do what I love with my time.
Am I obligated to give more of my time to other people? After fulfilling my duties, I find working and studying to be a better use of my time than socializing. I also find it infuriating when people seek help for the troubles they face after being irresponsible. How do I look at this correctly?
Jake, there is a sense in which you are quite right. You don’t want to hand a blank check to the guilt manipulators, who never hesitate to put you on the hook for a “little more,” always a little more. God requires certain definite things from us, and we should rejoice to do them, and then we should feel the liberty to hang out under our own fig tree. That certainly is part of God’s blessing. But at the same time, there is going to be a temptation associated with this. There is a difference between living as a Christian, on the one hand, and settling down into a comfortable and politely religious middle class life on the other. The thing to guard against is that infuriating feeling toward others when they do what every true Christian has done—which is to seek help in our troubles after having been irresponsible.Many Thanks, and I Quite Agree
I think Paul’s thoughts about Philemon are very similar to mine about Nancy — “I thank my God, making mention of you always in my prayers, hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and toward all the saints, that the sharing of your faith may become effective by the acknowledgment of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. For we have great joy and consolation in your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you” (Philemon 1:4-7).
Nancy has been a source of refreshment to me for almost 50 years. May the Lord continue to use and bless you both.
Susan, thank you for writing. She is an enormous blessing to everyone.
“I have two definitions of Christian in this chapter—someone who is born again by the Spirit of God, and someone who is baptized in the triune name. Suppose we have someone who is a Christian in the latter sense only. Do I believe in a distinction of benefits between the two? Yes. I hold to a radical distinction of benefits.”
So Kevin De Young set off a national conversation with this article. When his article dropped, I was in the middle of wrapping up my November posts, and so a response had to wait until today. But I did have enough time to tweet that I thought Kevin’s critique was a responsible critique from a reasonable man, and so I asked all those who thought of themselves as being “in my corner” to respond to him judiciously and in that spirit.
As far as I could see, this is something they largely did—but that did not mean that the responses were not pointed, telling and forceful. I am going to try to do the same. I thank Kevin for this opportunity, and look forward to meeting him as a result of all this.
This response is kind of a beast, but what are you going to do?Our War With Crapola
Below please find the latest promo ad for Canon+. After you watch it, you might wonder if we rushed it through production over the last week in order to respond to Kevin’s piece on the Moscow Mood. But no, it was in the works already, and it summarizes our approach to all these things nicely. We are at war with crapola, and are willing to use words like crapola as the occasion demands.
Here is the video.Come for the Mood, Stay for the Substance
As the header for this section indicates, I am willing to play with Kevin’s point that some people are being attracted by the mood, and that doctrinal concerns are not really all that front and center. But this is just a rhetorical playing around, because you can’t cover everything in a short little header. So I would also want to note that as I have interacted with many of the people who are attracted to Moscow, I find all sorts of variations on the central theme of “reasons for coming”—”come for the practical teaching, get used to the mood,” or “come for the grand kids, stay for the postmill stuff,” or “come for the community, misunderstand the mood,” “come for a classical education, stay for the worship,” and so on. In other words, I believe that Kevin’s thesis is genuinely a small part of what is going on, but is by no means the whole thing. It is accurate as far as it goes, but that is not very far, and there is a lot more going on. The word I hear mentioned in this regard, overwhelmingly, is community. This is in reference to a blessing we have been given—and do not deserve—and that gift is something the apostle Paul would have called koinonia.
So, sure. Come for the mood, stay for the substance. Come for whatever reason, and stay for the only reason that ultimately matters.
“. . . which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.”
Colossians 2:17 (NKJV)A Quick Round Up
There were various responses to Kevin’s article from various quarters, and I appreciated a lot of what was said in them. Joe Rigney did a marvelous job in The American Reformer here, Toby Sumpter responded here, and Jared Longshore here. It is an honor to be associated with these men. Here is one, and another, and yet another. There were also some words of real encouragement. And here is another response from someone who had come to Moscow for a visit just a few weeks ago. And Tom Buck, no big fan of Moscow rhetoric, pointed out a glaring inconsistency here. And Michael Foster did some valuable work in pointing that everyone everywhere has a mood, and maybe we should have a discussion about all of them. And Brian Brown knows what time it is. So does William Wolfe, and he applies a crucial insight from John Piper to the whole situation.
Coming from another direction, Justin Taylor promoted Kevin’s article on X, and reinforced some of its main points himself. He also recommended this piece. And as much as I appreciate the proffered explanation for my behavior, this take seems to me to be an exercise in after-the-fact damage control by means of long-distance and entirely unsupported psychoanalysis.
What I think is happening here is that a discussion is ongoing about how best to distance from me, but it can’t look as though it is happening because of heat from the left. Anthony Bradley has complained pointedly about how I have been platformed in the past by Desiring God, The Gospel Coalition, etc., which is true enough, but in order for them to not look like they are caving to pressure, the line has to be that I am the one who has changed. An offered explanation for the dark turn my mind has taken in recent years is that it was Rachel Held Evans “what done me in.” Let me just say that I engaged with Rachel Held Evans quite a bit because of the damaging traction she was getting in the broader church, which shouldn’t have been happening, and because she was really quite easy to answer. But had she had gotten under my skin? Hardly.
So with my jim-jams-diagnosed-from-a-distance out of the way, let us turn to the real subject at hand.What Kevin Did Well
Kevin offered a critique of our Moscow project, and his critique was far more effective than the standard fare that comes after us. By “standard fare,” I mean the kind of assault that appears to be afflicted with an advanced case of rabies. In other words, Kevin was being a critic, and not someone with a frothing Moscow Derangement Syndrome. In my responses below, I will get into why I believe his criticisms miss the mark—by a mile, actually—but they were in fact real-world criticisms, and not simply spleen-venting. Kevin was obviously trying to be careful, and for this I thank him.
The tell that indicated this, and what made his critique more effective than others I could mention, was the fact that Kevin was willing to give credit where credit was due. He was not attacking us for being sociopaths, or orcs, or Klingons, or pedophile-apologists. He recognized that there is something genuinely attractive about what we are doing, and that it is attractive to reasonable Christians. At the same time, he believes there is a kink in our hose somewhere, and he clearly wanted to warn these reasonable Christians about that. This was on the basis of his belief that something is seriously wrong down underneath all the good stuff.
But he does see, and was willing to talk about, the good stuff.
“I know a lot of good Christians who have been helped by Wilson . . . Wilson is to be commended for establishing an ecosystem of . . . deserves credit for being unafraid to take unpopular positions . . . He offers the world and the church an angular, muscular, forthright Christianity in an age of compromise and defection. On top of that, Wilson has a family that loves him and loves Christ . . . the cultural aesthetic and political posture that Wilson so skillfully embodies.”KDY, The Article In Question (TAIQ)
And now, because November’s over, I hasten to qualify. I am not saying that Kevin is to be treated as a quality critic simply because he said some complimentary things about me. So long as I get a bit of flattery coming my way, I am somehow willing to flatter in return? No, that’s not it.
I am simply saying, as someone who knows how rhetoric works, that few things are more helpful to us than the unhinged critics are. For any reasonable person who has spent any time here in Moscow, or who knows anything at all about us, it is evident that many remarkable blessings are taking shape here. Kevin sees this, and is willing to say it, which means that he is not blind. And it should always be possible to profit from critics who are not blind.
And at the same time, his concerns are not trifling. They are weighty, and need to be taken seriously, and answered thoroughly. That is what I intend to do here.
I have been answering such questions about mood or “tone” for forty years now, and it is not a new subject for me.
But judging from the fact that Kevin felt the need to address it now in this way, at this level, indicates a mood shift within the rest of evangelicalism. And I believe that this article by Kevin actually presents us with a wonderful opportunity to get some things settled.
Here is the heart of his concern:
“My bigger concern is with the long-term spiritual effects of admiring and imitating the Moscow mood. For the mood that attracts people to Moscow is too often incompatible with Christian virtue, inconsiderate of other Christians, and ultimately inconsistent with the stated aims of Wilson’s Christendom project . . . what you win them with is what you win them to.”KDY, TAIQ
So that is the charge, and what follows would be the basic answers that I would present in reply.Short Term, Long Term
What is the short term fruit that Kevin sees?
“He offers the world and the church an angular, muscular, forthright Christianity in an age of compromise and defection. On top of that, Wilson has a family that loves him and loves Christ.”KDY, TAIQ
But this is the very sort of thing that so many Christian families are hungry for today—a forthright Christian faith that stands against compromise, held out to the world by families that are united in their love for Christ and their love for one another. Isn’t this the very sort of thing that Jesus said to judge by (Matt. 7:20)? For Kevin to grant this made his critique much stronger, as I noted above, but only on the surface.
That is because if you take the concession seriously, you realize that it unravels the critique itself. What he conceded seems like a strong upside pitch for Moscow. So what is the downside? The downside is that imitating a mood that is incompatible with Christian virtue could have long term deleterious effects. My question here has to do with that phrase long term. Yes, you can see all this good fruit now, but what about an unspecified future time when that fruit isn’t here anymore? Well, when the good fruit turns bad, you should point that out. But in the meantime, you don’t predict bad things that could happen years from now, and go bury your one talent in a napkin because something could go wrong.
For example, there once was a time when The Gospel Coalition produced a lot more good fruit than they do now, but that was before they fell in love with Taylor Swift. Times change and so should the criticism. Well, and if a time comes when I am no longer presenting a forthright Christian faith in an age of compromise, and my family no longer loves Christ, and no longer loves me, then I would hope that somebody would point that out.The Worldliness Snare
“I fear that much of the appeal of Moscow is an appeal to what is worldly in us.”KDY, TAIQ
Hold on a sec. What is worldliness? The thing that drives it is a deep desire for the world’s respect. Does Kevin really think that this is what I have been striving for? That I am trying to get the world to like me? To respect me? The only way people like me ever become respectable is after we’re dead and deep. And if that ever happened, it wouldn’t go to my head because I will be in Heaven and have better things to think about.
“How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?”
John 5:44 (KJV)
So the world only praises Christians within a very limited range, and it is happy to blame us for all manner of. things. If someone has an itch for respectability, that means that they have placed a huge steering wheel on their back, right between their shoulder blades, and the worldly-wise are never hesitant to take the wheel.
The desire to be approved by God puts the standard in the text of Scripture (2 Tim. 2:15 ). The desire to be found winsome by the world puts the standard completely in the grasp of Old Slewfoot. He is the one who now determines whether or not you are being winsome. No, no. Scoot farther to the left.
Here is how worldliness is diagnosed in Screwtape.
“No doubt he must very soon realise that his own faith is in direct opposition to the assumptions on which all the conversation of his new friends is based. I don’t think that matters much provided that you can persuade him to postpone any open acknowledgment of the fact, and this, with the aid of shame, pride, modesty and vanity, will be easy to do. As long as the postponement lasts he will be in a false position. He will be silent when he ought to speak, and laugh when he ought to be silent.
The Screwtape Letters, p. 50
In contrast to this, my desire, when confronted by the world’s rebellious and insane folly, is to speak when I ought to speak, and to laugh when they forbid laughter.
There are ways that this can go wrong—because this is a fallen world—but our temptation here in Moscow is not that of caring too much what the respectability-mongers are selling this season. Too many Christian leaders believe that our witness and testimony depends upon buying up the world’s fall line. Next spring it will be the spring line. Our temptations here in Moscow lie elsewhere. I would tell you what those temptations are, but there are people out there who would weaponize it right off the bat.
The temptation to ache for worldly respectability is, however, rampant throughout the evangelical world. Vast sections of our evangelical establishment have gone down before this alluring temptation, like dry meadow grass before a sharpened scythe. This article by Kevin is a marvelous case in point. He is not going to lose any respectability points from the cool kids over this, is he?The Thumbscrews of Catholicity
“The strategy is not to link arms with other networks, but to punch hard and punch often, all the while forging an unbreakable loyalty to the one who is perceived as the Outsider-Disruptor.”KDY, TAIQ
Now speaking frankly—which I suppose by this point I need to—this is rich.
I am a fundamentalist, in that I believe the fundamentals with all my heart. But I am not a cultural fundamentalist, and I am not a schismatic or separatist. When I am invited to go speak at a conference, I would not decline because of any intramural doctrinal differences. I am more than happy to go. Not only so, when I am invited somewhere and I actually get to go, I really do behave myself. I conduct myself like a gentleman. If I were invited to the great evangelical banquet (not going to happen, fret not), I would not throw my dinner roll at the server with all the champagne glasses. Neither would I make fun of any of my hosts. For some curious reason, some people have assumed that if I am willing to smite infidelity under the fifth rib, I am therefore willing to do the same to pretty much anybody, including the organizing pastor’s wife in my opening remarks. This assumption makes people jumpy.
But there is more. Sometimes I am invited to speak somewhere, and am then uninvited after the ecumenical thumbscrews are applied to the organizers behind the scenes. Then I don’t get to go. Yes, that happens. It has happened quite a bit, actually. And when we invite a speaker to come here to Moscow, and they accept, if they are anywhere in the Big Eva orbit, we don’t count on it until after they get the treatment. This is because it is quite possible they will withdraw after agreeing to come, the way Karen Swallow Prior did. We have invited multiple people from all over the Reformed evangelical world, and most of them have married a wife and have bought them five yoke of oxen (Luke 14:19-20).
In this vein, Kevin complained about the jab I took at the ERLC and G3.
“He takes a swipe at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission and at the G3 Conference. Both are conservative Baptist groups—groups, we might add, that would be on the same side as Wilson in almost every important cultural battle.”KDY, TAIQ
With regard to the ERLC, this is simply not true. The increasingly progressive tilt of the ERLC has been a matter of public controversy in the Southern Baptist Convention, and the fact that Kevin is not aware of how far left they have drifted on a number of issues is itself an indicator of how bad the situation has gotten.
G3 really is a conservative group, but one that brings us back to the theme of this section, which is catholicity and “who is actually the standoffish one?” CrossPolitic was invited to participate in a G3 conference a few years ago, but then they were told they could not have me on as a guest on their show while there. I would have been happy to participate, and pleased to associate with G3. It didn’t go the other way. Perhaps Kevin should admonish G3, telling them that Wilson is a conservative, and that he would be on their side in “almost every important cultural battle.” See if that works.
Look. We know all about the pressures that are applied to people to keep them from having anything to do with us. We know. We were there. And please know that this does not hurt our feelings. We long ago learned how to put on our big boy pants. But then . . . for Kevin to come out and say that we are the ones who are being fastidious about who we associate with . . . well, now. Okay, that doesn’t hurt my feelings either. But it probably ought to have.
Kevin really ought to know how willing we are to link arms with people who are outside our native orbit. We have certainly invited him to come work with us enough times. Kevin does good work, and we support it. I have appreciated reading his stuff. We would be willing to work with him despite the fact that there are men with him on the TGC council that we believe to be badly compromised. But if Kevin were ever to accept an invitation from us, do you think that he would get any fierce pressure from them? Just a thought experiment, and we already know the answer. In short, we are not the ones thinking ourselves “better than other folks.”
Balance in Writing
Kevin believes that I am capable of writing stuff that is good and wholesome and balanced, but that for some reason I just don’t want to. He points to what he considers to be the comparatively rare instances where I let my abilities in this line show, as in my kind comments after the death of Rachel Held Evans. Kevin wonders why I couldn’t do more of that kind of thing.
Now here is a novel criticism—someone wanting me to write more stuff. I tell people that I write for the same reason that dogs bark, and usually barking dogs are not encouraged to step it up a bit.
Kevin wonders where he could find a . . .
“month of posts on the loveliness of Christ, or the power of prayer, or the finer points of Reformed soteriology, or the wonders of the cross, or the total trustworthiness of the Bible, or soteriology, or the holiness of God, or the glorious intricacies of trinitarian theology.”KDY, TAIQ
A little bit later, he had even more suggestions for my “to do” pile.
“Wilson’s online persona is not about introducing Reformed creeds and confessions, or about explaining the books of the Bible, or about global mission to the uttermost parts of the earth, or about liturgy, preaching, prayer, and the ordinary means of grace. I’m sure Wilson cares about all those things . . .”KDY, TAIQ
Yes, I do care about all those things. But I do more than just care about them. I have written a book on about three quarters of them.
And I really do hate to talk like this, but you have driven me to it, man (2 Cor. 11:16). I believe that with just the books that come off the top of my head, I can put this concern to bed pretty quickly: “the power of prayer,” “the finer points of Reformed soteriology,” “the wonders of the cross,” “the total trustworthiness of the Bible,” “soteriology, “introducing Reformed creeds and confessions,” “explaining the books of the Bible,” “global mission to the uttermost parts of the earth,” “liturgy,” and “the glorious intricacies of trinitarian theology” (for this last one, I wrote the draft). And on those remaining topics where there isn’t a book in print yet, the chances are pretty good that there is something in process. Give me a minute, wouldja?
This point that Kevin makes here is what I call the Cave of Adullam phenomenon. Back in the day, we ran a magazine for about twenty years (Credenda/Agenda). It was about forty pages of teaching on family, church life, the civil magistrate, eschatology, and so on. Near the back was one page we called the Cave of Adullam, which was dedicated to skewering what we called the “regnant follies.” We would also occasionally horse around in the masthead, or in an editorial up front, but in the main the bulk of the magazine was clothed and in its right mind. But what would happen is that people would get the magazine, turn immediately to the Cave, read it with a guilty chuckle or two, spend the rest of the evening being harangued by their conscience, and then write us a concerned letter about our writing habits—when they really ought to have been more concerned about their reading habits. This is called reading all the snark, and ignoring the rest. This is called picking all the bacon bits out of the salad, and then complaining about the paucity of greens.
So please note that the point Kevin tried to make here is simply risible. What is the word like risible, but for howlers? Kevin either did not know about all these other emphases—multiple books on marriage, multiple books on children, multiple books on education, multiple books on church life, and down the street and around the corner—in which case he was critiquing a movement he does not understand at all, or he did know about all this voluminous material and chose not to acknowledge it for the sake of scoring a cheap point. And if that is the case, then his critique is disingenuous.
Our tag line, our motto, is “all of Christ for all of life.” It is not “all snark for all of life.” But if Christ is Lord of all, and He is, then He is the Lord of sarcasm. To acknowledge this is to submit to the Bible, and to the proportions set forth in the Bible. It is not to enshrine Sarcasm as Lord. That would be bad.A Very Short Section
The next section is going to deal with Kevin’s objection to my language at certain points. But before getting to that, I think that a few distinctions are necessary beforehand. I believe we should not muddle up and confuse certain things that are routinely mixed all together, but which shouldn’t be. I do write in a particular way. I think in metaphors, and whenever I open the spigot, what comes out is whatever was in the pipes. But bright yellow metaphors and incarnadine similes are not the same thing as snark. Writing in an interesting way is not the same thing as sarcasm.
It is not that I don’t know how to use the satiric bite, because I do know how, but I am not doing it nearly as often as some people assume.Cussing and the Tu Quoque
There is an informal fallacy in reasoning which is called the tu quoque fallacy. This is Latin for “oh, yeah? well, you do it too.” But a man who is charged with stealing something cannot defend himself appropriately by saying that his accuser stole something earlier. This is a fallacy of deflection, an attempt to change the subject. If you are a thief, then you are a thief, regardless of whether there are others who are also in the same category.
So Kevin is a council member for The Gospel Coalition. When I point to the standard for language set by the TGC approach to movie reviews, I need to explain how this is not the tu quoque in action. Rather, this is a straightforward inconsistency pointed to in the link to Tom Buck’s tweet linked above. The tu quoque retort happens when it is assumed and acknowledged that both sides are doing the same thing—both stealing, as in the example above.
But my use of hot sauce language is completely different than the use commended by multiple TGC movie reviews. The thing I am accused of, I am not doing, and the thing the accuser attempts to throw at me, the accuser is doing. And so for me to be the one to point that out is not a fallacy of distraction at all.
What this amounts to is a recognition of a basic biblical truth.
“For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”
Matt. 7:2 (NKJV)
“And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?”
Romans 2:3 (NKJV)
“Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
Galatians 6:1 (NKJV)
What I believe this point reveals is that the objections to my language has more to do with where that language is aimed than it has to do with the presence or absence of certain words. Kevin, and the men in his circle, do not mind being associated with certain words. They embrace that association. They recommend that Christians go to movies that are filled with it. But they do mind that kind of language being deployed against the sins of the age by a fellow Christian.
Just before writing this paragraph, I went back and reread the famous piece where I used the c-word. I would be willing to write every syllable of it again today, and moreover to defend it as a stand for righteousness—because that is exactly what it was. That article was filled to the brim with arguments, and had one stark word in it. Everyone wants to gasp and point to the word because they think they can score some easy points that way, and they refuse to engage with any of the arguments because they know they can’t engage with them. No one answers the arguments.
And in something of a surprise twist, I find myself in broad agreement with Paul Tripp on this, where such things should be evaluated on the basis of context and intention.
And this is why I would say that Kevin (and Justin Taylor with him) are simply being hypocritical. I am not saying damned hypocrites, like the Pharisees in Matthew 23. But they are being manifestly hypocritical, the way Peter and Barnabas were at Antioch—good men doing a bad thing. They really ought to quit it.
You can support movie reviewers finding “gospel themes” in a secular movie with over a hundred F-bombs in it? But you can’t find gospel themes in a blog post that had overt and hot gospel in it because there was one crude word there? And that one word was aimed at the heart of a particular sin for which the blood of Christ would bring true forgiveness?
What this boils down to is that the camel is all gone, and we still can’t find the gnat.
Just know that in some of my hardest-hitting posts, I have routinely made a point of concluding with a jet fuel gospel presentation. That doesn’t happen by accident. I am a minister of this gospel. And if you can’t find the gospel themes in that kind of direct gospel presentation, but you can find them in a Taylor Swift tour, then something is seriously off.
For those just joining us, this question of language is territory that is well-traversed. My most recent post on this can be found here, and there are a bunch of links in that post that you can follow to get more goodness.
So keep this principle in mind. The apostle Paul said that we were to have our speech be gracious, seasoned with the occasional red hot chili pepper (Col. 4:6). In my cooking, over the course of millions of words, I have on occasion put in a red hot one. True enough. I have done this deliberately, seeking to be obedient, mindful of the context, and with great care concerning what kind of dish it is supposed to be. The way I use it, the pepper is not a sin—I am not arguing that it is okay to sin if you only keep the ratios right. Rather, it is not a sin if it is being deployed righteously.
Now what Kevin did (and Justin Taylor after him) was gather up all those peppers, grind them into an asterisk paste, and put them all on one Ritz cracker, to be served to your sainted Aunt Millie in one bite, in the hope that she will be aghast and stop listening to Nancy’s podcast.
That’s not how it is supposed to be done.Q & A Is Mandatory
Right near the beginning of Kevin’s article, he said this:
“I’m not looking to get into a long, drawn-out debate with Wilson or his followers.”KDY, TAIQ
I am sorry that I need to explain this, but that is not how this works.
You don’t get to launch a critique like this one, designed to make a lot of good-hearted people think twice about their attraction to the Moscow Mood, and then with a flourish refuse to take questions, or to be too busy for replies. You can’t launch an attack and then call for a cease fire.
This is particularly the case when your critique failed as a knock-out blow. If there were no possible answers, and we defenders of the Moscow Mood were all just sitting around shamefacedly, you could easily afford to take questions, because there wouldn’t be any. But if turns out that this was a swing and a miss, and there are consequently a host of questions, many of which would be very awkward for Kevin to try to answer, you cannot just say that this would “take a lot of time.” Yes, it does. It takes up a lot of our time as well. Why did you start this then?
The reason for starting it is that the Big Eva world is starting to see significant “defections,” and it is concerning them very much. They consider them defections; we just call them reassignments. There are the rank-and-file “defections,” and there are the high-profile “defections” like Jared and Joe. But in this climate, I cannot imagine anyone who was already being drawn to the Moscow Mood being in any way slowed down by Kevin’s piece. The reactions I have seen online bear this out.
We have seen critiques like this before, and the online support we have gotten in the aftermath of this one has been significantly more robust than what usually happens. After Kevin published his piece, and after Justin tweeted in support of it, a crowd naturally gathered. And this time around, the crowd had a lot of trenchant and observant things to say.
On top of all that, a lot of people who would have loved for Kevin’s piece to have been devastating to us have been grumbling about it—the way ardent fans of a football team complain about their own coach after a loss.
So I believe that the questions raised in the pieces I linked to at the top require answers. I believe that the quite reasonable questions I raised throughout the course of this post require answers. Responding in writing would be fine, but I believe that person-to-person, face-to-face, would be far preferable. Uri Brito, presiding minister of the CREC, has offered to broker something like that, and I would be delighted to participate in such an event, or in anything like it. Uri would be a faithful moderator.
But if that seems too lopsided a set-up, I would certainly agree to an event like the Evening of Eschatology, chaired by a moderator of Kevin’s choosing, with me discussing these issues with Kevin and two other men of his persuasion, and also of his choosing. I would be happy to be outnumbered and without any home court advantage. I would show up to the designated venue promptly, and would be happy to go through security. You know . . . those metaphor-detectors. I would wear a clean shirt. And a tie.
And not so incidentally, this last point ties in with the point I made earlier about who is keeping their distance from whom. We are far more willing for association with our brothers than our brothers appear to be. At any rate, there is the invitation, laid honestly on the table, and it is an open invitation.P.S.
Kevin also commented on a “Clint Eastwood-style closeup of Wilson puffing a massive cigar . . .” That was not a massive cigar. It was a plain old cigar.In Sum
I am not really trying to make this post any longer. This last section simply contains the major points of my response in summary, one sentence for each major section. Kevin worked hard to be even-handed, but he was so even-handed that he diluted the force of his subsequent critique. Worldliness is a hunger for respectability, which is far more in evidence in Kevin’s circles than in mine. To be isolated, shunned and avoided is not the same thing as being a loner by choice. The people aligned with our movement are the people who appreciate the full breadth of what the movement represents; the people who focus on what they have dubbed my inflammatory “online persona” are the ones who are exhibiting tunnel vision. Colorful writing is not the same thing as cussing. The real objection to the sharpness in my writing has to do with where the spear is aimed, and not the words themselves—there is all sorts of evidence that the words themselves are taken in stride by Kevin and company just so long as they are not targeting the sins of the age. And Kevin now has a moral obligation to engage with us on this subject, and to help us get it all resolved.
I would love that.
What we are going to do in this season of Advent is take a closer look at a number of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the birth of the Messiah. We are going to look first at the geographical predictions. What places are involved? After that, we will take up other aspects of His nativity, week to week. Remember that all of God’s promises were wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in the manger.The Text
“But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).Bethlehem, the House of Bread
Bethlehem was known as a little town (Micah 5:2). Nevertheless, despite the small size, it was a town that was going to produce a son that was to become a ruler in Israel (v. 2). This son is going to be from two apparently inconsistent places. He was going to be from Bethlehem, a small town in Judah. He was also going to be from of old, from everlasting. He was to be from Bethlehem without in any way being contained by Bethlehem.
Bethlehem was a little town, but one that figured largely in the history of Israel. Rachel died there (Gen. 35:19; 48:7). In the book of Judges, we are told the story of a Levite from Bethlehem who became a compromised priest for some freebooting Danites (Judg. 18:20). The murdered concubine—whose death started the war that almost wiped out the tribe of Benjamin—was from Bethlehem (Judg. 19:1). Ruth, the Moabitess ancestor of David and Christ, followed her mother-in-law Naomi to settle in Bethlehem (Ruth 1:19). This is what anchored the ancestry of Christ to this particular town. Samuel anointed David as the future king there in Bethlehem (1 Sam. 16:13).
With regard to Bethlehem, we have something of an intersection of prophecies. Balaam prophesied that a star would arise out of Jacob and that a scepter would rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17). Remember that the wife of Jacob died at Bethlehem, and it was she who would not be comforted after the slaughter of the innocents (Matt. 2:18). The star that was predicted by Balaam, in combination with our text, led the wise men to Bethlehem. Balaam also mentioned a scepter, which should make us think of Jacob final blessing of his sons. “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be” (Gen. 49:10).
Now we know from Scripture that Balaam was a wicked man (2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11), but at the same time he was a true prophet—meaning he had a true prophetic gift. He would not curse Israel while using his prophetic gifts because he could not (Num. 24:13), but he was willing to give Balak some carnal and cynical advice on how to use the Moabite women to seduce the Israelite men (Num. 31:16; Rev. 2:14). Because of this, the Israelites killed Balaam with the sword (Josh. 13:22)Out of Egypt
Joseph was warned in a dream about the murderous intent of Herod, and so he gathered up Mary and the baby, and they fled to Egypt.
“And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
Matthew 2:15 (KJV)
There are two lessons we can gather from this, and we can see in both of them how typology works. A type is an enacted prophecy, and the fulfillment of a type is called the antitype. Thus Adam is a type of Christ (Rom. 5:14), and Christ is the antitype of Adam (John 19:34). Noah’s ark was a type of Christian baptism, which made baptism the antitype (1 Pet. 3: 20-21).
The Exodus from Egypt was a type with two layers. God led the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt. That was the type. But then when the baby Jesus was called out of Egypt, that was the prophesied antitype. “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.” (Hosea 11:1). This is fulfilled in two directions. When Herod died, Joseph brought his family back, coming up out of Egypt. But when they fled in the first place, they were running from Herod, who had become a new Pharaoh, killing Jewish babies, and so Israel had become a new Egypt. Both meanings fit well, but the primary meaning should be the holy family coming up out of Egypt. Matthew says that they stayed there until the death of Herod so that . . . If it was completely fulfilled when they first fled from Herod, then they wouldn’t need to wait for the death of Herod for it to be fulfilled.
But we must not forget the next layer. When Jesus communed with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, what were they talking about? In Luke 9:31, it says they were speaking of the Lord’s decease, but the word used there is exodos. His death, burial, and resurrection were our spiritual Exodus from sin and bondage. He was going to be the new Moses, leading us all out of a spiritual Egypt.Light in Galilee
When Nicodemus objected to the attitude of the Pharisees, their retort had to do with the place where Jesus had grown up. “They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” (John 7:52).
But notice what these students of the law were doing. They were insulting Nicodemus over his lack of scriptural knowledge when their own obtuseness in this department was glaring and apparent
“When at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: They that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:1–2).
This is declared by Matthew to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Remember that Christ grew up in Galilee, and Matthew says that His return home (to Galilee) and ministry in Capernaum (Zebulun and Naphtali) was the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah.
Isaiah tells us that this the place where the light dawned. But as the sun rises to its zenith, the thing to remember is that Christ is the light that shines on every man. “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). What then is our Christmas message?
“Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”
Ephesians 5:14 (KJV)
I saw a video clip of me talking with James White about authority and submission within the Godhead, and I think some people were going to get worked up. So I told some other people that I would post this statement that our presbytery adopted four years ago. So . . . here it is. The comments are open and, as always, behave.
Endorsed by Knox Presbytery CREC
October 9, 2019
Commended to Council
Affirmations and Denials Preamble: Statement of Intent
In light of the recurring debate over the “eternal subordination of the Son,” it was our desire to make a statement that all orthodox believers on both sides of this discussion could affirm. While acknowledging that great care must be taken when it comes to our choices of words in all discussions of the Trinity, we do not want unnecessary division on the basis of mere terminological differences. This calls for a delicate balance, which Michael Ward describes quite well: “Lewis accepted the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds with their insistence on the co-eternity of the Son with the Father, but believed that the essential equality of divine being among the Persons of the Trinity was not incompatible with an ordering, even a kind of hierarchy, therein. Obviously, Christ was subject to the Father as man; but Lewis also thought he was to the Father as God. This position is distinguishable from the heresy of subordinationism; its locus classicus is 1 Cor. 15:27-28”[i] We submit the statement below to the candid evaluation of all those who love the truth of orthodoxy, the purity of the faith, and the peace of the church.A Digest of Our Statement
We affirm, without qualification, the truths we have inherited from our Fathers in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds, and as confirmed and reaffirmed in the Reformed standards.
We deny that the high mystery of the Trinity means that we cannot discuss it in edifying ways, conducive to true worship and as an encouragement to righteous living.
We affirm the utter simplicity of God.
We deny that God is in any way a composite Being. He is not an aggregation of His attributes, and He is not the sum total of three beings.
We affirm that the Father is the ultimate and infinite Speaker (Gen. 1:3), that the Son is the ultimate and infinite Word (John 1:1-2), and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate and infinite Interpreter (1 Cor. 2:10).
We deny that the eternal generation of the Son by the Father, and the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, are in any way an indication of inferiority in the one begotten or in the one proceeding.
We affirm that, even as Scripture reveals to us the names of Father and Son, so God has placed real meaning in those words, and our mortal relations, such as earthly fathers and sons, are analogical but real reflections of the eternal Father and Son.
We deny that creaturely realities of finitude, mortality, or sin invalidate the archetypal nature of the Trinity with respect to man, or the capacity and responsibility for us to learn fatherhood and sonship from their immutable archetypes in the Holy Trinity.
We affirm that even as God is the Father of the Son, and the Author of all being, so there is real authority (auctoritas) within the Godhead.
We deny that the authority of the Father and the “responses” of the Son and Spirit are according to essence, divinity, rank, or station, but rather that they are according to eternal origin, generation, procession, operation, and order.
We affirm that in His incarnate state, the Son in His humanity submitted to the will of His Father in Heaven.
We deny that scriptural statements concerning the submission of Christ in His humanity can be transferred without qualification to the relations of the persons internally within the Godhead.
We affirm that the Son and Spirit in their respective missions reveal the authority and order of God the Father from all eternity.
We deny that within the Godhead this authority and obedience contained any tension, distance, conflict, friction, or resistance whatsoever.
We affirm that when God speaks a command, the Son is Himself the very Command that is spoken.
We deny that the asymmetry affirmed in this statement in any way contradicts or threatens the doctrine of divine simplicity or the Godhead’s single will.
We affirm that the unified will of God is in no way in contradiction with the dispositions of the persons toward the Father, or with their distinct yet inseparable operations in the cosmos.
We deny that this is in any way a contradiction, while confessing that it is a high mystery.
All statements regarding the eternal God, and above all those truths regarding His triune nature, are a mere knife’s edge away from heresy. Yet we speak, not that we may try to explain the unfathomable, but lest we be completely silent, as Augustine said, remembering that while the secret things belong to the Lord, those things that are revealed belong to us and to our children (Deut. 29:29).Our Statement in Full
We affirm that God’s wisdom is unsearchable (Rom. 11:33), and that He dwells in unapproachable light (1 Tim. 6:16). His ways are not ours, and His thoughts are not ours (Is. 55:8). The doctrine of the Trinity should therefore be handled by us with all due humility, and this is particularly the case when reasoning by extension to or from that doctrine. Such humility should check us from any rash speculations, as well as from hasty accusations. We affirm, without qualification, the truths we have inherited from our Fathers in the Nicene and Chalcedonian Creeds, and as confirmed and reaffirmed in the Reformed standards.
We deny that the high mystery of the Trinity means that we cannot discuss it in edifying ways, conducive to true worship and as an encouragement to righteous living. We therefore insist that the doctrine of the Trinity is not an irrelevant doctrine when it comes to a practical Christian life—we worship the eternal Father, after all, from whom lesser and temporal fatherhoods derive their name (Eph. 3:15). The doctrine of the Trinity is essential to all rightly-ordered Christian living, and particularly to our worship. In our Christian discipleship, we are called to imitate things that we cannot really duplicate (John 17:21; Eph. 5:25), and we accept our responsibility to do so.
We affirm the utter simplicity of God. The fact of His triune majesty does not negate the truth that our God is in fact one God (Dt. 6:4). The one true God is infinite, omnipotent, utterly and inexhaustibly sovereign, without shadow of turning, variation, or change, without body, parts or passions, all-sufficient, all-knowing, and without any contingency whatever.
We deny that God is in any way a composite Being. He is not an aggregation of His attributes, and He is not the sum total of three beings. He is not a large version of anything we might conceive or experience. What we know about God is what He reveals to us, not what we project into His place. Every earthly illustration or analogy of the Trinity taken from human experience is, if pressed inappropriately, simply the illustration of some heresy or other. But because our knowledge of God is analogical, it is necessary to use such illustrations, and possible to do so responsibly.
We affirm that the Father is the ultimate and infinite Speaker (Gen. 1:3), that the Son is the ultimate and infinite Word (John 1:1-2), and the Holy Spirit is the ultimate and infinite Interpreter (1 Cor. 2:10). And the Speaker, the Spoken, and the Interpreter are all one truth, the one true God. And so there is only one will within the Godhead, not three competing wills or three agreeing wills. As Father, Son, and Spirit mutually indwell each other, so also each glorifies the other in accordance with the love they share for each other.
We deny that the eternal generation of the Son by the Father, and the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and the Son, are in any way an indication of inferiority in the one begotten or in the one proceeding. All that is begotten by God in this way is God, and all that proceeds in this way from God is God. At the same time, the revealed names of Father and Son bring with them some indication of authority and order within the Godhead, as addressed below.
We affirm that, even as Scripture reveals to us the names of Father and Son, so God has placed real meaning in those words, and our mortal relations, such as earthly fathers and sons, are analogical but real reflections of the eternal Father and Son. In God the Father Almighty resides all authority, dignity, dominion, might, majesty, and honor. He is the Origin of all that is, including the Son and Spirit. He is the Monarch of all Being, and the First Principle without Principle. Solely His is the property of Fatherhood within the Trinity, so that in God, the name Father signifies not only relation, but indeed His very Person. As Father, He is the Origin or Auctor of the Son and Spirit, and so it is necessary for Him to be the Teacher and Sender of the Son and Spirit.
We deny that creaturely realities of finitude, mortality, or sin invalidate the archetypal nature of the Trinity with respect to man, or the capacity and responsibility for us to learn fatherhood and sonship from their immutable archetypes in the Trinity. In descending from His loftiness to communicate with men, God speaks as with a lisp, as Calvin says, accommodating His eternal realities to our weakness, yet revealing through His Word such truths as are necessary and edifying for us. That we cannot understand or map all aspects of the Trinity onto those of human experience is sure; yet to use this to deny the truths that are revealed is impudence and an affront to the Father’s gracious condescending revelation.
We affirm that even as God is the Father of the Son, and the author of all being, so there is real authority (auctoritas) within the Godhead. This authority is the pattern for all authority delegated by the Father to men, yet intra-Trinitarian authority differs from this insofar as the Son and Spirit are uncreated, and share with the Father all power, might, divinity, and equality. This authority is therefore the asymmetrical authority of the Father with respect to the unique paternity He possesses: it is the dignity of authorship, the preeminence of principle, the distinction of generation, and His own, peculiar, and unshared honor of Fatherhood.
We deny that the authority of the Father and the “responses” of the Son and Spirit are according to essence, divinity, rank, or station, but affirm rather that they are according to eternal origin, generation, procession, operation, and order. Even as the Son and Spirit are of one substance with the Father, there are no gradations of divinity, rank, or dignity among them; yet as they are “of the Father,” so they are not of themselves, but Son is of the Father, very God of very God, and the Holy Spirit is from the Father and the Son. By affirming this we in no way deny the equality of the Son and Spirit, but rather join them in magnifying the original sovereignty of the Father.
We affirm that in His incarnate state, the Son in His humanity submitted to the will of His Father in Heaven. The Incarnate Christ learned obedience through the things that He suffered (Heb. 5:8), and was obedient even to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:8). For example, Christ in His humanity has God for His head in some way analogous to how a man has Christ for his head, and woman has man for her head (1 Cor. 11:3).
We deny that scriptural statements concerning the submission of Christ in His humanity can be transferred without qualification to the relations of the persons internally within the Godhead. Texts that display the obedience of Jesus of Nazareth cannot be simply applied to the eternal Son as though they were talking about the same thing, or addressing the same issue. For example, the Incarnate Son, Christ in His humanity, was sent to Jerusalem to die (Matt. 26:39; Phil. 2:8), and He obeyed His Father as He went. This is not the same thing as the eternal Son being sent into the world, but is still analogous to it.
We affirm that the Son and Spirit in their respective missions reveal the authority and order of God the Father from all eternity. The Son has nothing but what is begotten and received from the Father; even as the Son has received all honor and glory from the Father (John 8:54), so all that the Son receives is to the honor of Him who begat Him before all worlds. So also the Spirit speaks nothing but what He has heard from the Father and the Son, and so all honor given to Him redounds first to the glory of the Father from whom He principally proceeds, and then to the Son, who for us men and our salvation sent Him as the Lord and Giver of Life.
We further affirm that prior to the Incarnation, and independent of it, the eternal Son was sent into the world (John 3:17; 10:36; 17:18) which He created. Even as it would be unfitting and impious for the Father to be sent, and as the Son always does what pleases the Father, so the eternal Son received and carried out the will of His Father.
We deny that within the Godhead this authority and obedience contained any tension, distance, conflict, friction, or resistance whatsoever. The relations of the persons within the Godhead are always and necessarily harmonious.
We affirm that authority as it exists within the Godhead cannot be fully imagined by us, and must not be understood as though the Father were barking orders, and the Son were obeying them as a subordinate. Rather, in fear and trembling we remember (as Augustine reminded us) that when God speaks a command, the Son is Himself the very Command that is spoken. Insofar as His will is indissolubly one with the Father’s, the Father’s command is also the Son’s command, yet insofar as the Father is the Origin, it is first, principally, and authoritatively the Father’s command.
We deny that the asymmetry affirmed in this statement in any way contradicts or threatens the doctrine of divine simplicity or the Godhead’s single will. We acknowledge it is impossible to fully conceive of one unified will issuing in the economic works, order, or subordination of the distinct persons of the Trinity, but since this is how Scripture speaks, we must be content with the revealed mystery. We also cannot comprehend how the reciprocity of the Father’s love for the Son, and the Son’s love for the Father, can be a function of one will. And yet our salvation depends upon this being so.
We affirm that the unified will of God is in no way in contradiction with the dispositions of the persons toward the Father, or with their distinct yet inseparable operations in the cosmos. God the Father as Sender and God the Son as Sent and God the Spirit as Enabler act as one, so that when the Son came into the world and obeyed the Father, He was acting in a way absolutely fitting to the eternal relation between Him and the Father. In obeying the Father and always doing what He sees His Father do (John 5:19), Jesus acts in a way consonant with the eternal relation between them, in which the Son’s will is also the Father’s, even as He received it from the Father.
We deny that this is in any way a contradiction, while confessing that it is a high mystery. The will of the Father and the will of the Son are the same will, and so the authority of the Father results necessarily in a relation wherein the Son and Spirit delight to magnify the Father’s authorship, regency, dignity, and prerogative. Such authority is unseen by men in its perfection, yet is the archetype and pattern for the authority, power, and dominion the Father has distributed among men, even in this world wherein we see “through a glass, darkly.”
All statements regarding the eternal God, and above all those truths regarding His triune nature, are a mere knife’s edge away from heresy. Yet we speak, not that we may try to explain the unfathomable, but lest we be completely silent, as Augustine said, remembering that while the secret things belong to the Lord, those things that are revealed belong to us and to our children (Deut. 29:29). With firm reliance on Holy Scripture, then, and in accord with the holy fathers of our faith, we magnify and exalt the Holy Trinity: the Father in His authority, the Son in His nativity, and the Spirit in His communion—authority and response, order and equality, in perfect and ultimate harmony. “Unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Tim. 1:17).
[i] Michael Ward, Planet Narnia (Oxford: OUP, 2008), p. 135.
The post On Authority, Order, and Equality within the Godhead appeared first on Blog & Mablog.
“Now a central part of the FV critique of the broader Reformed world is that we have accommodated ourselves too much with the American baptistic tradition, and this has affected how we read our confessional standards (which do not represent such an accommodation). For example, a number of our critics think they have put distance between themselves and the baptists (as they have, some) by saying that the sacraments are means of grace. But they hasten to add that this is always sanctifying grace. The language of salvation is inappropriate here. The problem with this is that the Westminster Catechisms both ask how is it that the two sacraments are effectual means of salvation. And so I say in this title [“Reformed” Is Not Enough] that you are not necessarily in the confessional tradition just because you call yourself ‘Reformed.’ That is what it meant.”
“I set out for Geneva (and have been settling in here for almost twenty years now), but a bunch of American friends think that I moved to Rome. They can’t tell the difference between Rome and Geneva because both of them are across a lot of water and are way east of Kentucky.”
As per usual, more here.A Song I Really Like for Some Reason Um . . . HT: Samuel Cherubin
Vladamir VolegovA Possible Church Plant in East Tennessee?
A note from some friends . . .
A Rocky Top Remnant?
We live in interesting times. Truth is routinely rejected and assailed by most of the cultural prophetic mouthpieces of our day. Much is heaped upon the altar of Secular Humanism and offered up to that insidious idol. Most of our leaders seem untethered from reality and the Higher Authority from which their authority derives.
Even with all the modern trappings and wrapping paper, today’s situation is similar to the circumstances of the prophet Elijah in 1 Kings 19. In his day, Elijah was confronted with the faithlessness of the Israelites. They had turned from the worship of the God of hosts, rejected His covenant, torn down His altars, and murdered His prophets. Because of this, Elijah was in full lament mode. He believed he was the only faithful prophet left. He would’ve surely been shocked had he known the number of faithful prophets God preserved! And yet, he wasn’t the only one.
When Elijah sought the Lord, the Lord informed him that, in addition to himself, He had preserved 7,000 who had remained steadfast. Thousands of others, like him, had remained faithful to Yahweh and refused to embrace or bow the knee to the god of the day (1Ki 19:14-18). There was a faithful remnant God had preserved. Even so, at this present time, there is a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom 11:5).
If you find yourself in a similar place as Elijah, looking around wondering if you’re the only one who understands the times and desires to obey the Lord in every area of life, we want to invite you to prayerfully consider joining us to find and connect with a group of people who: understand the times like the sons of Issachar (1Chr 12:32), are unified doctrinally (more on that in a moment), desire to forge strong relationships in a local church community within Hamblen, Jefferson, Sevier, and Cocke counties of east Tennessee (Morristown, Talbott, Jefferson City, White Pine, Dandridge, Sevierville, and Newport).
Unity in Community
It may be obvious to everyone reading this, but community requires proximity. A compelling community needs closeness. If you haven’t already, please take the time to watch this message on the logistics of community before moving on.
Additionally, for a community to thrive, there needs to be a high degree of agreement (Amos 3:3, Eph. 4:13-14). We are looking for those who hold absolutely to the Word of God as their standard and authority, not the zeitgeist or experts of our day. We are looking for strong men and wise women. We are looking for those eager to get busy building a strong church community and repairing the ruins of our day in the place the Lord has put us. Those who would be comfortable in the CREC, and see the Word of God similarly to the Biblical
Counseling Coalition would most likely find it easiest to avoid unnecessary quarrels and arguments and to come together with like-mindedness (1Cor 1:10). For further reading: CREC Creeds, Confessions, and Governing Documents.
God is always at work, providentially working His sovereign redemptive plan in the world. Our call is to participate in that plan as proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ—the victorious Gospel. If you are interested in seeing a community come to be, centered around worship of the Living God, submission to His Word, and fruitful, productive faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ, please reach out via email for more information.
Thank you for considering,
Blane Tarr (RockyTopRemnant@gmail.com)
This small book is consists of commentary and notes on the First Epistle of John the Apostle. Unfortunately the book has unsettled the assurance of many Christians—he who is born of God does not sin—but this is the result of misunderstanding John’s intention. He wrote so that we might know that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13), not so that we would doubt that we do. My hope is that this book …$1.00 Shop now
“How am I put right with God? By grace through faith. How do I earn money to feed my family? By grace through faith. How do I keep the weeds down on my three acres? By grace through faith. How do I see answered prayers? By grace through faith. There is nothing whatever that any obedient creature can ever do, in this world or in any other, in this generation or any other, in this covenant or any other, that is not done by efficacious grace appropriated by living faith. Ever. Period. For this doctrine of mine, I am sometimes accused of trying to undermine the doctrine of sola fide, which I don’t quite understand either.”
It is commonplace for traditionalists to describe the well-balanced life as built on the foundation stones of truth, goodness, and beauty. This structural support seems intuitive to us now, or at least to some of us, but we also have to budget for the fact that we are living in a time when the culture built on these things is now coming down around our ears. Not only is the culture generally doing this, but our evangelical Christian subculture is also coming down at much the same rate.
For a time, a few decades back, it seemed that evangelicals were doing a decent job defending the idea of a fixed and objective truth—if it was true on Monday that Jesus rose from the dead, it was also true on Friday. The same thing could be said about goodness. If abortion was a wicked thing on Monday, it was also a wicked thing on Friday. The place where we struggled, however, was in the realm of aesthetics. If someone condemned your favorite band for producing as much treacle as they did, the response was frequently a relativistic “who’s to say?” response, instead of any appeal to objective aesthetic standards. That was challenge enough back in the day, but now we are all living in a morass of radical subjectivism—doctrinal, ethical, and aesthetic, all at once.
For those who still have their wits about them, this means that we are all now staring straight at the consequences of our own subjective relativism. We can see far more than the fact that it is “in error.” In addition to being erroneous, we can also see how everything has gotten kind of mud fence ugly. And most of it, I want to argue, has been on purpose.
God is altogether lovely, and He dwells in the beauty of holiness. Anything that strives to touch the ineffable reminds us of Him, and as a people, we don’t want to be reminded of Him. It makes us feel things we do not want to feel. Living in disjointed and misshapen surroundings doesn’t make us feel that way. So beauty is a reminder of the glory of God, and a people as far advanced in sin as we are want to get out our cans of spray paint, and vandalize what we can.Stunning and Brave
The glory of the man is the woman (1 Cor. 11:7). The crown of a man is a gracious wife (Prov. 12:4). So one of the central goals of the modern feminist movement has been the ongoing uglification of women. “This is what a feminist looks like” on a t-shirt, accompanied with a snarl, or, “no, you make me a sandwich,” however witty somebody at the print shop thought it all was, are sentiments that are quite effective at making men miserable, and the women who succeeded in making them miserable, even more so.
A few weeks ago, Victoria’s Secret abandoned their foray into using plus-sized models, and determined that they were going back to the sexy ones. I tweeted at the time that things had gotten so bad that evangelicals were going to be tempted to treat this move as the harbinger of reformation and revival. I was kidding, but not entirely.
If a good-looking woman shows up without the appropriate amount of clothing, the received and approved opinion is that she is contributing to the objectification of woman, and this is greatly to be disparaged. If a body-positive model weighs in to do the same thing, with the same amount of skin exposed, she is hailed as stunning and brave. The move to celebrate and advance the uglification of women could not be more obvious. And then women who could be good-looking if they tried are allowed to be stunning and brave also, provided they augment their immodesty with chains, or dog collars, or Halloween hair. All of this is encouraged by the sexual propaganda of the regime, which uses porn stars as airbrushed exemplars, creating the delusion that if a woman is as immodest and abandoned as that, she will also be as attractive as that. Which, as it turns out, is not true.
The alternative is the biblical teaching that women ought to adorn themselves, seeking to be lovely, and to do so by means of a gentle and quiet spirit.
“For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands.”
1 Peter 3:5 (KJV)
Scripture teaches us that when a woman cultivates a submissive demeanor toward her husband, this is a good thing to do. The fact that it is a good thing to do means that it is a true thing to say. So there is the truth, and there is the goodness. But Peter also says that this is a practice that makes a woman lovelier. This is how the holy women in olden times used to adorn themselves for their husbands. The lemma here is kosmeo, the same word from which we get cosmetics.
The biblical doctrine of submission is therefore a doctrine that promotes the loveliness of women. The false doctrine of feminism, a teaching that denies that there is any kind of marital hierarchy at all, is an idea that has robbed our civilization of our feminine glory. And this was kind of a disturbing feat, when you think about it. How was it possible to take something as glorious as woman and wreck it? As wonderful as woman, and turn that glorious gift into a surly, disobedient, miserable cohort, loaded up on anti-depressants? Something that beautiful transformed into something that ugly?Art, Falsely So-Called
A number of decades ago, when I first started writing about cultural issues for our local newspaper, I quickly noticed that there were two subjects that would get the intoleristas all fired up. There are way more topics than that now—because the whole world’s a trigger now—but at the time, there were two guaranteed show-stoppers. One was homosexuality, naturally. The second was modern art, a subject that could also get the chimps jumping.
We really need to recognize that the artists were the ones who led the way, step by step, into this aesthetic madness. They took us by the hand, and instead of escorting us up to the upper mezzanine of the art museum, they took us down some rickety stairs to the basement, where there were rats, some old papers, and the sump pump, dirty rags, and a few Gertrude Stein paperbacks.
To make the decision to stop swimming upstream is, in that same moment, to make the decision to float downstream. Living things swim against the current, and dead bodies float with it. It follows from this that to abandon the artistic pursuit of the beautiful is, in principle, to float down toward the ugly. There is no neutrality anywhere, and this includes the world of the arts. If you are not trying to make it beautiful, which requires a standard of beauty from outside the world, then at some point in the near future, you are going to start trying to make it ugly.
When our artists abandoned their pursuit of the lovely, this did not usher in a period of inactivity. We still had artists, and they still produced their works of art. But it turns out that to stop pursuing the beautiful is the same thing as to start pursuing the ugly. We are pretty much there now.
If you doubt what I say, take a walk through a college campus in order to take in the various twisted metal sculptures they have on display there. Play a little game with yourself, where you try to guess how much the university paid for that thing.
Visit your local art museum. On your way out, thank the person at the front desk for having a museum there at all. You really appreciated. And yet you have noticed that most of the displays seem to have been vandalized. Can anything be done to beef up security?Everyday Monstrosities
The disease has spread to everything, including architecture. This includes high architecture, and the architecture that shapes residential homes, and the apartment complexes that look like they were designed by chimpanzees that were high on meth.
There was a time when architects designed residential homes with the golden ratio in mind when sizing the first floor windows with the second floor windows. That ratio (1 to 1.618) is particularly pleasing to the human eye, which we know because God used it everywhere. And He appears to have used it with a considerable amount of abandon. In the old way of seeing, we placed windows that were pleasant for the neighbors to look at, because we were thinking of the neighbors first. Now the windows are scattered any old way over the side of the house, and maybe they are pleasant to look out of, but they look like they were placed by a carpenter who marked a spot when the fit took him.
We used to build fences around our back yard that had “the works” on the inside. Now we face the nice part of the fence in, treating ourselves to the good part, and saying in effect to anyone passing by on the street that we ardently wish they might go stick their head in a bucket.
There used to be front porches, where people could talk to the neighbors. Now there are a couple of misshapen lumps on the front, with automatic garage doors there, so that the motorized work-attendance pod can launch in the morning, take the pilot to some drive-through, and deposit at some place that houses lots of cubicles. The cubicles are lined with Dilbert cartoons, a sign of silent despair.That Sartorial Schlumpy Vibe
People always dress for comfort. That is inescapable. But in Christian cultures, the emphasis is on dressing for the comfort of others. But in our day, the emphasis is on the comfort of self. Schlepping around Safeway in droopy sweats and flip flops at 7 am was certainly a lot easier than showering and stuff, but it did have the effect of putting an extra eyesore into everybody’s day.
Was that the goal, people? Making sure to become that extra eyesore?Relentless Giveaways!
November 29th-Dec 3: The Case for Christian Nationalism by Stephen Wolfe
Get the The Case for Christian Nationalism kindle free and listen to the audiobook free on Canon+. Stay notified of everything we’re giving away at noquarternovember.com.Your own NQN flamethrower closes Nov 30th: The giveaway is over, but you can preorder a NQN-branded flamethrower for yourself through the end of November (no, we’re not kidding).
And the Mablog giveaway this week is . . .N.T. Wright Rides a Pale Horse
Over the years, N.T. Wright, a prolific Bible scholar, has made a number of pronouncements about economic matters in the developing world. And also over the years, I have found myself interacting with his views on these economic topics. While appreciating many of his insights on exegetical matters (not all, but many), I have generally found that his economic views are not only not in accord wit…$0.00 Shop now
I must thank you for your work in Collision—your debates helped persuade a Hitchens fan into Christianity.
Do you have any advice on learning how to initiate and handle confrontation for those of us who are conflict-averse?
Is it a matter of experience and trial and error? I figured you might have some insight based on your public events and your pastoral experience.
John, thanks. And I would only work on the sort of situation where you avoided a conflict, and your conscience bothered you afterwards. You shouldn’t strive to have a conflict every time one is possible. But in those moments, because you have been praying to recognize them as they are arising, you should 1. notice it coming, 2. make your decision, 3. lean in, and 4. view the game film afterwards with the expectation that you will find things you could have said or done better. So yes, trial and error.A Democracy Whiff
Regarding those who worship at the feet of Dame Democracy; Nazi Germany was democratically elected using Rank choice voting. If that isn’t a reason to vote against such a voting system…
Zeph, the point is noted.Pomo SloMo
In the last week or two you told us about the penny dropping, and your understanding that a lot of clown-world flows from the definition of outrage. You also included in the Content Cluster a humorous ”Postmodern Drinking Song” from Jordan Peterson.
This caused my own penny to drop—at least part way, I think it’s jammed up—but Peterson said in one of his lectures that a fundamental idea of Postmodernism is that meaning is impossible, which he affirmed as a proven point. (He does pretty good considering he doesn’t have Christ’s weapons.)
So I think Clown-World is flowing from Postmodernism more generally than just the definition of outrage. I think the world is making it up for themselves because Postmodernism says they may as well. It’s the perfect excuse for something they’ve wanted to do anyway.
Craig, I think this is right, but it doesn’t nullify the point I was making about insanity (not outrage). In saying that everything is ultimately meaningless, postmodernism is actually saying there is no such thing as sanity. And because they are basically existentialist, saying that existence precedes essence, they are free to impose their own idea of sanity on an absurd world.Children and Salvation
Would you say that we should assume faith is present in our children and treat them as such?
Brandon, I wouldn’t use the word assume, which makes it sound like you are on cruise control. I think the biblical word believe would be much better. And it is very different.Processing Household Complaints
What do you do when your wife goes off on a complaining fit over things you can’t change/aren’t your fault? I.e. the toilet overflowed, so she goes off on a tangent about how she doesn’t like where we live (it’s the best I can do while she’s home with the kids and we’re trying to get out of debt).
How to respond?
Kyle, if you respond to that kind of thing in the moment, the only thing that is going to happen is a quarrel. But at the same time, you don’t want outbursts of complaining to be acceptable in your home. So, after the toilet is fixed, and the situation is calm, and it is a day or two later, and the kids are in bed, you schedule a talk with your wife.A Cluster of Questions
1) Why do charismatics attract all the supernatural drama? The casting out of demons, the “John, you will find a wife in 89 days,” and John does, and “God is telling me to tell you to join this university.” Why is it so calm in the Reformed circles?
2) Justin Peters was saved while he was serving as a pastor. From his testimony, it sounds like Arminians are not saved because they do not understand monergism. What are your thoughts?
3) Isn’t adultery or the sin of sexual immorality the greatest sin? All sins lead you to hell; but for a believer, isn’t the sin of adultery the most consequential? It is after all the sin that warrants radical amputation? Not that amputation is the final solution, but mortifying that sin does call for drastic measures, no?
4) Do you agree with Garris’s argument (in Masculine Christianity) on women deacons? If no, why not?
Peter, some people like drama, and so they make stuff up, but sometimes God likes drama too, and throws something in to keep everybody on their toes. I don’t know about Justin Peters, but Arminians who are saved are saved by Christ, and not by Arminianism. But nobody is saved by Calvinism either. No, adultery is not the greatest sin. It is a very grievous sin, but there are others that are far worse. I am working through Garris’s book very slowly, and haven’t gotten to that part yet. But you can find out what I think about women deacons in The Pillar of the Truth. There were deaconesses in the early church, but they constituted a separate office—there were not women on the deacon board, in other words.Another Ground for Divorce?
My brother is not a Christian, is married and is dating a woman who professes Christ and who claims to have “deep knowledge” regarding Jewish law. I spoke with my brother in August and encouraged him to not divorce his wife. He basically told me to mind my own business. However, I did manage to tell him that there are only two valid reasons for divorce. The first is sexual immorality outside of marriage and the second is utter and complete abandonment.
His girlfriend jumped into the conversation to defend their very unbiblical relationship and she told me there were actually three reasons God allowed divorce, not two. The third is for lying. They are in counseling (online, watching videos, no actual counselor) and she attends some sort of Jewish bible study where apparently she learned of this third reason for divorce.
This woman also claims that because my brother’s wife had cheated on him (he has zero proof of that by the way and the wife maintains her innocence), he is free to not only marry but God already sees him as single due to the lying and sexual immorality.
Truth be told, this is his second marriage and he wanted out. Period. End of story. However, I am curious as to what OT law she is referring to regarding permissible divorce due to lying?
My parents are not believers and are pretty disgusted with both my brother and the choices he has made. I can’t help but think of what a horrible testimony that woman has been to my parents, the neighbors and the community at large.
T, if she says that the ground for divorce is lying, she is probably referring to the provision that allowed for the marriage to be dissolved if the bride represented herself as a virgin at the time of the wedding, but it turned out afterwards that she had lied about that. But the marriage was dissolved through the bride’s execution, not divorce.Another Crowd Source Problem
I have been trying to research an event in Feminist history for my disputations with TERFs, on X. My premise is that feminism is one of the poisonous roots that produced trans-insanity. A mother who excused her son’s cruelty to family pets, shouldn’t be surprised that he beats his wife in adulthood.
Feminism destroys family, men, women & culture. These TERFs can’t use the very ideologies that produced the wave of AGP ‘womenXY’ to defend womanXX spaces from these perverts. Poisonous roots produce poisonous fruits. You mentioned in one of your posts a meeting of radical feminists in late 60’s (coven of witches) that started with some ritual of chants that they would destroy families, encourage homosexuality etc. I can’t find the historical reference to look into this issue.
I did a close search of your blog & AOMIN to see if I could find it. I failed.
Do you remember? Thank you.
SJW, I think, but am not sure, that the source is Gilder’s Men and Marriage. Does anybody else remember more clearly?Eunuchs for the Kingdom
Problem passage. What is the point Jesus is making to the disciples in Matthew 19:10-12 about the eunuchs? Does his point equally apply to women? Resources I’ve looked at seem either sparse or they just glaze over it. Some think Jesus is saying ‘do whatever you want’ others go on about homosexuality.
Justin, no, women cannot be eunuchs. A eunuch is a castrated male. Some are born that way (birth defect), some happen to have been made eunuchs by men already when they come to Christ (Ethiopian eunuch), while others voluntarily do it to themselves.Some More on Parenting
Just wanted to say, I’m thankful for the advice you gave my wife and me with regards to my two year old daughter repeating, “amen.” We have followed the advice you gave, and keeping in mind “its a get to, not a got to.” It’s been very helpful, thank you. Also, just finished “Reforming Marriage,” and “Standing on the Promises” books. Next up, “The Covenant Household.” A lot to apply and by God’s grace over time, those biblical ideas/practices will be enjoyed in our home.
Another ask, that I know is related to the books above.
I didn’t grow up in church. When I came to faith and the churches I’ve attended, it’s all been under a Baptist/Pre-mill context. I’m relatively new to the paedobaptist and post mill conversations. Would you be able to recommend a book on both subjects for beginners? I have the Canon app as well, so if it’s something on there, great! But if not, I don’t mind buying the right books.
I don’t have a firm conviction on Baptism, (apart from it’s important, more to that but short and sweet of it) and eschatology (apart from the conviction that Jesus is coming back.)
I really enjoy what y’all do there and I’m sold on a lot of it. But I’m also not interested in being fan boy and go with the flow of it type of guy, just because I agree with someone on “big issues” type stuff. God opened my eyes to the truths of “Calvinism” and the truths of “six-day creation” as He has done with many others through out church history. Nothing new, but it is new to me over the last 15 years. And I know now that what I believe will affect how my home will go in the future. I’m a first generation Christian (in my family) and I want to lead my wife and kids well. Like I said, I’ve learned from what y’all are doing out there in Moscow, and I’ve seen the fruit of those labors, both in your life-long ministry and currently the fruit I’m seeing in my wife and I, thanks to your ministry, to God be the glory alone. So, it’s become increasingly more important for me to delve into baptism and eschatology as I know now what I believe, or don’t believe will have an affect on what my children and grandchildren will adopt. And since you have had a positive affect on my home so far, I want to start this journey with baptism and eschatology with what yall believe first and pray God would do in those areas what He has done for me and my family with the truths of “Calvinism” and “Six-day creation.”
Long post, I guess I could have just said thank you for the advise and what books do you recommend for this or that. But wheres the fun in that?
God bless brother
Do you plan to release a Kindle version of your book “American Milk and Honey”?
Daniel, yes, and here it is.Double Predestination
Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe you would hold to the classical Reformed view of double predestination, namely that God elects certain persons to salvation and that he simply passes over others, that is, he does not create evil or unbelief in the hearts of the reprobate and does not cause them to sin. In this sense, God does in a certain sense predestine the reprobate to hell, but he is not equally active in damning them as he is in saving the elect. This would be in contrast to another view of double predestination that says that God does in fact create evil or unbelief in the hearts of the reprobate and therefore God is equally active in causing the salvation of the elect and the damnation of the reprobate. I am inclined towards the first view, since the second view would seem to make God the author of sin, since he would be causing people to sin. However, I am struggling with how to understand Romans 9:19 in terms of this view. Paul anticipates the objection that “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” This comes right after Paul gives the example of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. I have heard is said that God did not actively harden Pharaoh’s heart, but that Pharaoh hardened his own heart and that God hardened his heart only in the sense that he gave Pharaoh up to the hardness of his own heart. However, if this is the case, why doesn’t Paul say so? If Paul were teaching that God did not actively harden Pharaoh’s heart, when the objection that no one can resist God’s will was raised, why wouldn’t Paul just say that Pharaoh’s heart being hardened was not a result of God’s irresistible will but that Pharaoh hardened his own heart and God simply refrained from restraining this hardening? Instead, Paul points to God’s right as the Creator to make vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Romans 9:22). If Paul is granting that Pharaoh’s hardening is because no one can resist God’s will, does this not imply that God actively willed and caused Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened?
The first view of double predestination in which God is not equally active in saving the elect and damning the reprobate makes better sense to me theologically and in terms of other things that Scripture teaches, but I am struggling to see how it fits with the argument that Paul is making in Romans 9.
Will, you are right that I hold to double predestination, and also that the first version is one that I would be more comfortable with. But the first version is still inadequate. When God “passes by” the reprobate, this does not make it a “hands off” sort of thing. It simply means that God does not harden the reprobate in the same way that He softens the elect. God is equally active with both, but the actions are not symmetrical.
Thank you for your tireless efforts. Your content really ministers to me. Are you familiar with Off the Kirb Ministries—a YouTube channel? When I first watched a few of his videos several years ago, they were pretty straight forward Gospel messages. Lately, he (I forget his first name. Last name is Kirby) is opening each video with something more sensational, but in all fairness, does tie in a strong Gospel message at the end.
I watched one recently that talked about mysterious holes in the earth, some of which after being dug, produced terror in the hearts of those digging the holes, and they abruptly stopped the digging, and sealed them up. Apparently, they put a microphone down in the hole and heard multitudes of people screaming in terror. Hell.
I don’t generally go for this type of fantastic occurrence, but it got me to wondering that the Bible tells us that hell is deep in the earth. Am I being just silly to think that they could have possible dug that far? Is there any reason why we should not assume that when talking about hell being in the earth, that it is not literal? When Jesus departed the earth, he went up. We assume that heaven is in the sky. There must be a literal place ‘up there,’ so why would there not be a literal place, ‘down there?’
When I heard the supposed recording, it was very chilling. So many people make fun of the seriousness of hell. I watch Ray Comfort a lot, and I am so dismayed when folks kind of laugh hell off, like it’s no big deal. Maybe a recording of this horrific type could put the fear of God in them, as Ray says. I am born again, and it has troubled me, especially because I have so many loved ones that will not hear anything related to Jesus. They shut their ears. Do you think it is reasonable to share something like this with them? I am asking because I have mixed feeling about it. On one hand it seems too out there and could be just a hoax, on the other hand, if it is real, it could give someone pause, and hopefully at least make them think.
Here is a link to the video. I know that you do reaction videos, and I often watch and enjoy them. Would you consider reacting to this?
While I’m on it, another one I would love to see you react to is Jonathan Pageau. He is Eastern Orthodox, and is becoming quite popular. Steve Turley has interviewed him (I just saw you on a Turley interview). When I have watched a few of Pageau’s videos, I find that he doesn’t present the Gospel, but is really into Symbolism. It’s all very human-centered and mystical. My son, who is not walking with God, is quite enamored with him, and it is difficult to figure out where to tackle this beast with him.
Well, thank you for all you do. I do feel that you have given me tools to be a stronger Christian in our culture. I appreciate you
Debbie, I believe in Hell also, but it is not the sort of place you could stumble into if you got lost in Carlsbad Caverns. I wouldn’t give that sort of thing the time of day. As for EO mysticism . . . that would be too much like getting lost in Carlsbad Caverns.Muslim Dreams
Did you read that article about 200 men in Gaza coming to the faith because Jesus appeared to them in their dreams? Do you believe such stories? If yes, then how do you explain Rom 10:14-15?
Technically, that doesn’t rule out Jesus. Guess I’ve answered my own question. But what do you think?
Peter, I am not familiar with the Gaza story, but I have read similar accounts. Here is a fascinating book on it.In Defense of Flogging
Have you ever read Peter Moskos’ “In Defense of Flogging”? Every time flogging is brought up in discussions people accuse it of being savage or inhuman, but the book presents this very simple argument: “Imagine you’ve just been convicted of a crime, and you can choose your punishment, either you spend 5 years in a prison or you receive 30 lashes and you’ll sleep in your own bed tonight. Which one would you choose?” Given that the majority of people would choose the lashes, how is flogging more savage than the current penitentiary system?
I’ve always found this one of the worst cases of untethered empathy. Flogging was practiced universally, and recommended by Scripture, but it was pietistic Christians who (in a very similar way to the spanking discussion) decided to be more godly than God and argue that what criminals “really needed” was a timeout to sit in the corner think about what they did, and thus the most impious and cruel punishment was born: The convict’s family loses their breadwinner and law-abiding citizens are forced to pay for the convict’s expenses, his children grow up fatherless, the convict is subjected to the highest rate of rape in the nation, small criminals are pushed to join gangs, the convict is subject to way more violence than the lashes could ever do, etc.
Looks like the quintessential example of how untethered empathy is way more cruel than the supposed cruelty it tries to thwart.
Joao, there is a great deal of sense in what you say. The tender mercies of the wicked are cruel (Prov. 12:10).Lies Everywhere
“This is because to be red-pilled at all is to struggle with the fact that you have been lied to about virtually everything your entire life, and those lies were affirmed by the insider-stupidity guardians, all of them nodding solemnly. And let us be frank. The Establishment did lie, and more than a little bit. But it is no improvement to abandon your reliance on factory farm lies, and go out to the country in order chase down your free range lies.”
The thing I’ve been trying to explain to those who are near this situation is that the media zeitgeist/narrative—which I absolutely believe is demonic—is so all pervasive that those caught in it are totally convinced of everything, even as it changes moment to moment. But those who manage to pierce the bubble and get out of it are caught floundering for anything not part of the bubble that they can try and hold on to as some sort of anchor of truth. And while most of what the media says is based on lies, there are plenty of lies that aren’t part of the media narrative.
Ian, exactly so.Recovering the Mainlines
If you haven’t already heard of it, I’d like to direct your attention to Operation Reconquista. This is a movement amongst mainline Protestant denominations to retake them for conservative, traditional theology. According to the website:
Operation Reconquista is a movement of Bible-believing Christians in Mainline Protestant denominations who recognize that our denominations have drifted away from the historic Christian faith. We are fighting to restore our churches to the true faith and revive them, because we do not want the great institutions built for God’s glory to be used against His Kingdom.
While the majority of Mainline Protestant churches have been hijacked by secular liberalism, there is a strong minority of churches in each Mainline denomination (PCUSA, TEC, UMC, ELCA, RCA, UCC, ABCUSA) that have remained faithful. We encourage evangelical Christians to join, strengthen, and revive these non-liberal Mainline churches. Since liberal churches tend to die out, the conservative minority will eventually become a majority if we keep it strong. This is how we will recapture these institutions.
I’d like to know if you support this effort and have any words of wisdom for those that do support it.
JR, it would be wonderful if it worked. But my only advice would be “don’t kid yourself.”
My pastor has kids that ended up not Christian. He was also converted later in life when his kids were already in their teens. Does this disqualify him? How or should I take parenting advice from him? Should I cause trouble by saying it was his fault . . . I was escorted out of one church and quietly left another for being Calvinist and post-millennial respectively. Now I’m at a church with many middle-aged men and women who raised terrible kids and I’m here with my wife, both 26, standing on the promises. I want to say what I actually think but, am not sure if a group Bible study is the right place or time to do it.
I get my instruction from your lessons in proverbs, reading the Bible and from a few books that Canon has published i.e. “Father Hunger”, “Men and Marriage”, “Standing on the Promises.” I’m going to go through “The Case for the Christian Home,” “It’s Good to Be a Man,” and “Eve in Exile.”
Dave, to your question, I would also add The Neglected Qualification.Yes, But Language Warning
Enjoy this comedian channeling his inner Van Til in a hilarious take down of the atheist origins myth.
Rafael, yes, I saw that. Quite good. But before you gather the kids around, language warning.
I have a question for you regarding literary fare for my 3-year-old son. I also have a 1-year-old. We are coming into the period of their lives when “Bible stories for children” come into the picture. I do not like the idea of a Bible story books for children. The words of Scripture are important, their accuracy is important, and I do not feel these are preserved in said stories.
I could be overthinking an issue of little importance here, but I was relaying to my wife yesterday that what I would really love to be able to purchase for my son is a collection of illustrated Bible storybooks that draw their text directly from the text of a faithful translation of the Bible, so that my children can be raised pondering the actual life-giving words from the earliest age. (When I say faithful translation, a few that come to mind would be ESV, NASB, KJV, NKJV . . .)
By no means have I exhausted the vast literary resources of Christendom in my search, but thus far I have unable to locate something fitting this description. My default when I cannot find the Christian resource I desire would be to find out how to make it and be off. You are far more acquainted with the world of Christian literature than I. My question is—do you know of a children’s storybook fitting that description and if not, would you be willing to give me guidance in making one? Do you think it is even worth it?
Thank you ,
Judah, I don’t know of anything just like what you describe. But perhaps you should check out this.RUF Woke?
In “The Bottom of the Empathy Hole”, you gave a list of additional groups to be called out beyond Revoice and Exiles in Babylon. As to compromise, Christianity Today and Calvin University I am familiar with, but not RUF. I would appreciate a quick summary along with links to where I can read up on the compromise being referenced here.
Zack, RUF is Reformed University Fellowship, the college ministry of the PCA. I don’t have links because I was going off various personal communications from people dealing with woke chapters. If you have experience with an RUF chapter that isn’t woke, or soft, could you please post something here? Thanks.
“Numerous Reformed theologians, from the Reformation down to the present, have seen God’s covenantal dealings with Adam as essentially gracious. It would be tedious to list them all, but I can if I need to.”
In the aftermath of our blowout holidays, it is not uncommon to survey something of a culinary debris field—half-finished pies, cold turkey, a measuring cup full of gravy, half a pan of rolls, and you know. In order to finish up right, you have to take care of a bunch of different things at one go. Leftovers are an important part of the celebration.
There is a similar challenge we have with November, a season that is rapidly becoming something of a Reformed Festivus, in which we conservatives air our culture warrior grievances. But of course, we only do so in a manner consistent with the sermon outline posted right before this NQN installment.
Now what has happened to our November proceedings is that our ruling elites have started to beclown themselves at a pace that is pretty hard to keep up with. What are we to do? No Quarter April? Until we figure something out, the approach taken below will have to do. I say all of this by way of simple introduction. Today’s installment is going to address an array of issues, as sort of an NQN leftover table. Some of it, like revenge, is best served cold. Enjoy. After that, assured we have gotten most everything on the record that we needed to, there will be final NQN installment on Wednesday.Subsidized Gunk Gremlins
Every single year, a new crop of thirteen-year-olds arrives in our midst. Nothing can be done about this, as the conveyor belt of time has no off-switch. And just as the conveyor belt of time has no off-switch, so also the hormone factories contained within those thirteen-year-olds never shut down either. They are on a wartime production schedule. Those kids have so many hormones going on inside them, they slosh when they walk.
And this is the moment when blinkered and purblind parents, swayed by the reassurances from other blinkered parents at church, decide to give their precious but still very adolescent “hormone-bundle-with-feet” his very own smart phone. The other kids have them, he needs to be able to text when basketball practice is over, they don’t want him to feel like that lone loser kid, and besides, how else is he going to be able to see thousands of naked women before he is fifteen?
These same parents will pay many thousands of dollars for a private, Christian worldview education, and on top of that they are paying for the phone, and so every night, after the work of the Christian school is done, like Penelope unraveling her work. the gunk gremlins come in to destroy everything. The only difference is that Penelope did the work, and then Penelope undid the work . . . actually, no, that’s not a difference.
The parents pay for the Christian school, and the parents pay for the gremlins also. They work both angles, just like Penelope.Click Bait Whores
One saying attributed to Andy Warhol was that in the future everybody would be world famous for fifteen minutes. This is an interesting sociological observation in its own right, and we should ask all the scholars in our Thinkeries to ponder it a bit more.
But the real action has to do with the psychological implications of this. It used to be a sociological prediction, but it has somehow become a widespread person-by-person expectation, and all the people are anxiously waiting their turn. And some are doing more than simply waiting. The trouble arises with the strivers and the climbers and the yearners, those who will do absolutely anything to get that fifteen, or that might extend their fifteen minutes out to twenty. All the world’s a stage, Shakespeare said, but it took You Tube, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram to provide the means for everyone to clamber onto it for their allotted time.
Some of those who spend their time slandering this Moscow project of ours do so because they are full of bile, and have a lot of time on their hands. Others are calculating ideological enemies, and they circulate slander simply because they find that it is pretty effective. It works, and is nothing personal. They don’t believe it themselves, but they do expect it to work on gullible Christians, who remain plentiful. These marks have not yet realized that lying is a serious sin on both ends, both in the telling and the hearing (Prov. 17:4). Their expectation that “it works” is not without warrant, it must be said.
But the true foot soldiers of slander are frequently those who realize that an attachment to Moscow is very likely their Warholian ticket to ride. It is a pretty sure fire way into that fifteen minute spotlight. Move to Moscow with a bundle of problems. Seek counsel for the problems. If someone actually has grievously sinned against you, so much the better—and see the next paragraph for more on that. Don’t follow any of the counsel you receive because that involves humility and work and stuff. Head for the tall grass, somewhat disillusioned. Wait for your problems to catch up with you, which they surely will. Jump on an online platform that will enable you to tell your story. Wait for a call from an investigative journalist who will tell the world that you are stunning and brave. You will remain stunning and brave until that fifteen minute timer goes off, or they are done using you, whichever comes first.
And when a true victim, already mangled by some groomer, steps into this vortex, the stage is set for them to be mangled even further by groomers of a different sort, but every bit as selfish and cynical. They say that some publicity will bring some justice to bear on the sad situation, but what the publicity actually does is distort the record, defame those who tried to help, and drag unwilling family members into the mess. On the positive side of the ledger, those who retweet such things can experience for a time the sensations of virtue, almost comparable to the real thing.
So if an arsonist set fire to your house, the best bet for getting out to twenty minutes is to attack the firemen who came. Don’t bother with the arsonist. He already has an agent, and is more likely to get out to twenty minutes than you are.
Not exactly world famous, but that will have to do until the true moment of destiny arrives.Democracy, Believing In
John Stott once said that fuzzy thinking was one of the characteristic sins of our age. Nowhere is the truth of this maxim more in evidence than when it comes a near universal faith in democracy. But instead of thinking of democracy as a reasonable mechanism for a large population to make decisions, it has morphed into an ideological faith in an ideal democracy, trusting that if the people just “spoke” it would inevitably lead to good outcomes.
From this blind faith in Ideal Democracy, it was child’s play for the commies then to affirm the consequent, and advance the idea that whatever leads to good outcomes therefore had to be democracy. And because they had in the meantime appointed themselves to be the editors-in-chief of our cultural dictionary, good outcomes were defined as such by them.
Bad outcomes—as when a hurtful candidate wins a straight up election—were then relegated to the status of a “threat to democracy.” Right. The winner of the election was the threat to democracy.
So we live in a time when democracy has been fundamentally redefined. Democracy is, for the left, anything that advances their agenda. Burning down federal buildings is therefore democracy, if it helps the left. Right wing riots are a threat to democracy, as in Ireland, while left wing riots are the voice of the people.
And so it is that winning the majority of the vote fair and square is also a threat to democracy if it impedes their program in any way. Look at the freak out that is happening over the recent elections in Argentina and in the Netherlands. And speaking of freak outs, I would like to ask you to consider what is likely to happen if old Donald J. wins this next time around. Now I recognize that our managers and handlers have declared this to be an impossibility, which doesn’t explain why they are working so hard to get him into a jail cell.
At any rate, if Trump wins, there will be riots in the streets protesting the majority’s assault on the marginalized voices of democracy. Count on it.Fertility and Economics
The foundational error of the planners and schemers and engineers is that of refusing to budget for surprise. The central planners hate more than a couple of variables, because whenever you get above three variables, their pretensions to omniscience turn a little sickly and blue around the edges. And in a free economy what we are actually dealing with would be trillions of variables—the kind that only the living God can superintend.
Because they don’t deal with surprise, the planners operate with a zero-sum calculus, assuming that if anyone gets a bigger piece of the pie, then that means—by definition—that someone else is getting a smaller piece of the pie, which they define as UNFAIR. This zero sum approach to everything keeps the envy crackling, and also keeps the math simpler.
But this envy-ridden assumption only works because they assume that the pie cannot ever grow. If the pie grows, however, this changes everything. Would you rather have 1% of a million dollars or 50% of ten dollars? The fraction of the former is smaller, and that’s unfair. No, you can’t have paper and a pencil.
Yes, but what does this have to do with babies?
The left hates fertility because babies make the pie grow. And when the pie grows, it complicates their planning, and every new patent refutes their fundamental error every fifteen minutes or so. People are born into the world with two hands and only one mouth, which means that we should stop calling them “consumers.” How about producers. If they are born into a society that recognizes and respects the way God made the world, then people have to be considered to be the ultimate resource. As thinking, innovating, questioning individuals, they introduce the kind of surprises that central planners hate and despise.
Babies are green. More babies are greener. Environmentalists are a fustian brown, and always have been.Paul Simon’s Significant Error
Paul Simon is to be praised for recognizing that all the crap he learned in high school was indeed crap, and that it was a wonder that he could think at all. Thus far he is to be praised. His significant error was in that follow-up shrug, as least as far as others were concerned. Simon did all right, I suppose, but if we are talking about the rest of the country, the sentiment is radically false—”though my lack of education hasn’t hurt me none . . .” Collapsing educational standards do in fact do a lot of damage. It is just hard to isolate and identify because everything is in slow motion.
It is not possible for a society to abandon the standards of first world education without, at some point, losing their first world status.
Civilizations not only must be built in order to be there at all, they also must be maintained in order to remain there. And the funny thing about deferred maintenance is this . . . after a short while, the mechanism decides all on its own to stop going along with the deferments, and just simply breaks. And it turns out that a competent, well-trained, highly motivated work force cannot just be whistled up when that day arrives.
And so one day it just happens. You are in your seedy little apartment, reading up on your upcoming surgery. You are doing this with great anticipation because you have concluded that you needed something like this to fix all your problems. Because you were 350 pounds and didn’t have any friends, the conclusion followed, as night follows day, that you must be another gender. You are trying to puzzle out why, since there are now scores of genders, the surgeons are only able to offer two. And because their client was already one of those two, they really only can offer one. But then, in the midst of your deep-dive research, you find out that because of a worker shortage, Door Dash won’t deliver your sub sandwiches anymore.
Those who saw the problem coming, and who tried to address the looming crisis beforehand by building a classical Christian school system across the country, one in line with biblical and traditional values, were of course enemies of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and were consequently tagged by you as theofascists and Christian nationalists. There is always something.And Another Thing
And how did I get this far without mentioning the average Christian kid’s Spotify playlist? And the movies he watches? The ongoing Gramscian rot depends absolutely upon the corruption of morals, and the time to corrupt the morals is when they are young, still taking shape, and vulnerable. Gramsci carves his initials in your kids’ souls when the concrete is still wet.
Free republics are never built by slaves to sin. Decrepit republics are never restored by slaves to sin. Republican institutions cannot exist without republican virtues that are widespread in the populace. And you cannot have those virtues without a widespread acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
But once that gospel is received and accepted, it is necessary to walk in a manner worthy of the grace of God that has been extended.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age.”
Titus 2:11-12 (NKJV)
When kids grow up in the grace of a true Christian home, this is not the enabler of low standards. And if it is not the enabler of low standards, it follows that it is not the enabler of low entertainment standards. Grace is not the co-dependent enabler of sin, but rather the destroyer of sin.
We have gotten to the point where some Christians, ever on the alert, will see grace doing what only grace can do, which is to crucify sin, and they call it legalism. They say we are “not under law, but under grace,” as though grace winks at sin, and law sternly prohibits it. This is not the complete picture, not even close. Law is that which prohibits sin to a slave of sin, thereby condemning him, and grace is that which liberates him from that bondage by liberating him from that sin. Being under law does not mean you don’t sin. It means that you can’t stop sinning, even though the law prohibits it. Being under grace does not mean you get to sin, but rather that you have been freed from having to sin.
“For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.”
Romans 6:14 (NKJV)
This is what Presbyterian parents promised to understand and pass on to their children when they brought their children to be baptized. If that is not happening, they need to find out what the deal is and address it—by grace through faith. If they say they cannot, because all of this is a grand mystery, and child-rearing a crap shoot, then they should quit arguing with Baptists, and instead join them.Women & Sports
There is at least one similarity between the Lord’s Supper and sports for your kids, particularly girls—and no, the comparison is not a disrespectful one.
This is a limited comparison, but if approached with the right understanding, there are blessings to be obtained in athletic competition that can be obtained in no other way. And at the same time, approached in a thoughtless or careless or perverted manner, it does far more harm than good (1 Cor. 11:17).
When everything is going swimmingly, this is because the parents have a wise understanding, the school has a wise understanding, and the coach has a wise understanding. That would be a sports program running on all cylinders. Sometimes when the home is a disaster, a good coach can make a dramatic difference in a kid’s life. Other times, when there is a poor coach, wise parents can teach their child some life lessons via their time on the team, and they can throw in some extra lessons about navigating life generally when under foolish authority like, say, the coach.
But if you want your daughter competing in the shot put, or you want her to be a defensive tackle on the boys’ football team, then you don’t know the first thing about any of this, and need to take a seat. A woman’s glory is a feminine glory, and if your daughter’s participation in sports is not helping and equipping her for that role, then you have lost the thread. There should be some sports that are for the boys only (football), and there should be others where the style of play is completely different (lacrosse). Wise coaches and wise parents cut with the creational grain, which means resisting the pressures of the world’s zeitgeist.
If you don’t want your daughter playing volleyball because of all the lesbianism in college athletics, and so you have her playing the violin instead, then you are being oblivious to the moral condition of most colleges of music.
In high school athletics, you are not primarily shaping future professional athletes. You are not even shaping future college athletes. The point of athletics is to shape people who will be living actual lives out in the world. And if your kid is a decent enough athlete to compete successfully in high school, but daydreams of the Big Time have impelled him or her to pursue Division I ball, the price of which is a fourth-rate education at Leviathan State U, even if he makes the team, then what you have done is taken the entire point of participating in athletics at all, and have burned the whole thing to the ground.
But, however wise the parent, team sports create a team culture, and that culture can be quite a bit stronger than the impact of just one families’ influence. As the adage has it, if there are twelve clowns in a circus ring, you can jump down there and start quoting Shakespeare, but to the audience you are just the thirteenth clown. There are certain team cultures where the game would not be worth the candle. But there are other marginal team cultures where a student athlete is actually being given the opportunity to step up and lead. Everything depends.
There are just a few principles to remember. Boys are not girls, and coaches and parents need to remember that. There are certain lessons that can be learned on a field that cannot be learned in a classroom, or from a book. The point of athletics is not promotion into future athletics—a program can achieve all of its goals even if only three alums go on to play college ball, and no one makes it into the pros.Kvelling in Conclusion
The normal drill for NQN is that I provide no qualifications. You all know this. Whereas during other seasons of the year I usually embed a second paragraph filled with qualifiers to give my adversaries something to ignore, in the course of November I charitably do that work for them, and ignore all such qualifications myself. Now normally a qualification would take the form of saying something like, “Now please don’t understand my argument as saying that all Swedes are sociopaths because nothing could be further from my intention.”
But qualifications can be attached to positive statements also, as when I am about to say something that reflects well on, say, a family member. Under normal circumstance, it is important to say something like this: “All of this is entirely by the grace of God, and for which we give Him all the praise, but our third-grade granddaughter’s first novel has been shortlisted for the Newbery.” Under normal circumstances, I make sure to say soli Deo gloria about such things, which of course runs the risk of sounding like the Pharisee of the Lord’s parable, praying in the temple that way. Even with qualifications, the thing is risky.
But this is November, and I have something to say about the women in my family, and so it creates something of a dilemma. But I have resolved upon the plan, and I will keep my resolve. Into the valley of death rode the six hundred.
Things have progressed to the point where our adversaries are making a point of dragging our womenfolk into the melee, and of course the point they are trying to underscore is that I am a misogynistic purveyor of barrel-proof patriarchy. Yes, of course, but can we at least grant that, if this is the case, I am very, very bad at it? We have only one high-performance Jew among them, and the rest are high-performance Gentiles, and we all scarcely know how to keep up with even looking at what they do. Raising stellar kids, writing textbooks, making extraordinary sabbath dinners, writing regular books, considering a field to buy it, teaching seminars, being a merchant ship that brings goods from Spokane, running successful podcasts, featuring in documentaries and, of course, making spanking great again. Speaking somewhat frankly, I rate myself as the worst misogynist ever.
Feminism is a perverse doctrine, like a snake eating its own tail. They began with first rate women, and decided in the grip of an egalitarian fever to transform them into first-rate men, which resulted in a major crop of fourth-rate women. This in turn inspired the men to slouch down into becoming third-rate men, which gave the women even more to complain about, and so life between the sexes continued to circle the drain. But you really want to know where the first-rate women are, they do still exist, but they are all over here. Our churches are full of them. You should stop calling them names, and take some notes.Relentless Giveaways!
November 27th-Dec 1:
Angels in the Architecture by Doug & Doug
Get the Angels in the Architecture kindle free and listen to the audiobook free on Canon+. Stay notified of everything we’re giving away at noquarternovember.com.Your own NQN flamethrower preorder closes Nov 30th: The giveaway is over, but you can preorder a NQN-branded flamethrower for yourself through the end of November (no, we’re not kidding).
And the Mablog giveaway this week is . . .N.T. Wright Rides a Pale Horse
Over the years, N.T. Wright, a prolific Bible scholar, has made a number of pronouncements about economic matters in the developing world. And also over the years, I have found myself interacting with his views on these economic topics. While appreciating many of his insights on exegetical matters (not all, but many), I have generally found that his economic views are not only not in accord wit…$0.00 Shop now
As we have all enjoyed the blessings of a Thanksgiving holiday just a few days ago, I thought it appropriate to spend some time on a little understood aspect of gratitude, or thanksgiving. We of course understand how pleasant gratitude is. In addition, we readily grasp the duty of expressing our thanksgiving to God. We grasp that gratitude is something that is critical in keeping our faith renewing and constantly growing. The spiritual food we partake of every Lord’s Day is called the Eucharist, from the Greek word for giving thanks, which is eucharisto.
But what I want to focus on this morning is what might be called the authority of gratitude.The Text
“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” (Philippians 2:14–16).Summary of the Text
The opposite of thanksgiving is grumbling or complaining. The carping, critical voice is one that repeatedly came under the judgment of God in Scripture, and being under the heavy hand of God is the very opposite of growing into an authoritative position. Paul here instructs believers to do everything without complaining (v. 14) The result of this is that it will not be possible to assign blame or fault to such a one—“blameless and harmless” (v. 15). It is fitting that there be no blame or rebuke because we are the sons of God, and we are to contrast sharply against the backdrop of a crooked and perverse generation. It is as though they are the pitch-black sky, and we are the stars arrayed across that sky. Such non-complaining Christians are privileged to hold forth the word of life, and this is a cause of great rejoicing for Paul. His race was not run in vain, and his work was not conducted in vain (v. 16).Without Complaining
Paul requires that we do everything without complaining or grumbling. Realize that word everything encompasses quite a lot. No complaints about the weather, or the food, or the traffic, or the husband, or the wife, or the children, or the economy, or the administration, or the tool that just broke.
Now there is a tightrope to walk here. This is a very imperfect world, and many things in it require correction. Many professions are correcting professions, and they are lawful professions—coaches, teachers, copyeditors, judges, policemen, reformers, guitar instructors, driving instructors, pastors, parents, and so on. Now with so much correction being required, what are we to do with this requirement to do everything without complaining or grumbling? We are to enter into the task of helping others without exuding the sense that we are personally aggrieved by the mistake or shortfall. Those in positions of authority over others must banish from their lives every trace of selfishness or ego-interest.
“Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).Three Markers of Authority
In this short passage, Paul gives us three phrases that we can tie into the gift of authority. Those phrases are sons of God, lights in the world, and holding forth the word of life.
Sons of God: There is authority involved in becoming a son of God. “But as many as received him, to them gave he power [authority, exousia] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). There is authority in putting to death the sins of the flesh. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:14). And there is an authority that is building to a crescendo. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).
Lights in the world: Shining as lights in the world is something that the world knows how to link back to the Father in heaven. “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14–16).
Holding forth the word of life: A messenger or a sent one always brings with him the authority of the sender. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; That bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; That saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth!” (Isaiah 52:7).
When our lives are characterized by gratitude, and we are freed from the whining spirit that affects us so easily, what does this do? It proclaims that we are living out the message that we are holding in our hands. It means that we shine like an array of stars against a very dark night. It means that we are the adopted sons of God, and that when the world comes into its rights, we will be manifested as the sons of God. And all of this, taken together, means that authority will come to you naturally. It is not something you will need to raise your voice in order to get. In fact, just the opposite.
Gratitude is one of the basic foundation stones of all true authority.The Thankful Christ
In this, as in everything else, our task is to look to Christ. We look to Him first as our Savior, and then, having received the gift of a full and complete salvation, we look to Him as our example. If you look to Him as your example first, there will be nothing for you there but despair. You can’t jump that high.
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21).
We look to His suffering first. And then, after that, we follow in His steps. And what does Christ do after His great triumph? He praises God in the midst of the congregation (Ps. 22:22, 25). He sees the travail of His soul, and is satisfied (Is. 53:11). He did what He did because of the joy set before Him (Heb. 12:2). And He, with the most gratitude, has been granted all authority (Matt. 28:18-20).
“There is the Abrahamic and the Sinaitic, clearly but what ws the form of the covenant here? Was it the covenant at Sinai as God actually made it, or was it the covenant of Sinai as construed by those who desired to be under the law (Gal. :21). The Judaizers, by their self-righteousness, transformed an historic manifestation of the covenant of grace into a contemporary covenant of works. This is why they were condemned. Elsewhere, Gordon tells us his rule of thumb for identifying Auburnites—anyone who speaks generally of ‘the covenant’ . . . The problem is that this would include the Westminster Confession, which plainly identifies the Synaptic covenant as a manifestation of the covenant of grace.”