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Theology That Bites Back
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The Content Cluster Muster (11.23.17)

Thu, 23/11/2017 - 20:00

Have a (Safe) and Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Here’s the most disproportionately consumed Thanksgiving side dish in each region: https://t.co/WDpqVXnoSY pic.twitter.com/j8GuNSxmjx

— FiveThirtyEight (@FiveThirtyEight) November 22, 2017

The history of cranberries at Thanksgiving…

Click Here to READ

Hard Knocks from André the Gentleman

Andre the Giant. pic.twitter.com/2VQ4YwmOqK

— You Had One Job (@_youhadonejob1) November 21, 2017

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Categories: People I don't know

Unbelief and Pumpkin Pie

Thu, 23/11/2017 - 15:29

So we have come to Thanksgiving 2017, year of our Lord.

On the one hand, we have an enormous amount to be grateful for. Things are still relatively stable. We were able to buy the turkey at CostCo with little difficulty. On the way home, the traffic lights were all still working. The roads were in decent condition. We are able to provide for our families. Today hundreds of thousands of turkeys will be placed on tables, surrounded by millions of smiles.

But on the other hands, when we consider our culture’s understanding of itself, the contradictory confusions are rampant. When we look at our society’s attitude toward sex, sexual fruitfulness, sexual entitlement, sexual abuse, sexual androgyny, and sexual morality, what we have is a cross between a David Bowie concert gone wrong and a Hieronymus Bosch painting having nightmares. We have an established organization that is selling the parts of its human victims, and not only will Congress not stop it, they won’t even stop subsidizing the ghouls.

In the face of this great incongruity, and many others like it, many Christians wonder about the propriety of celebrating Thanksgiving. How can we do something like that when things are so terrible? How can we reconcile such rampant unbelief with pumpkin pie?

But thanksgiving is not some incongruous juxtaposition to the thrashing of a cultural unbelief drowning in its lusts. Prideful unbelief is the disease. Rampant lusts are the pus coming from the blisters. Gratitude and thanksgiving (only through the blood of Jesus Christ) are the only possible salve. Celebrate Thanksgiving today with your people, knowing that this is precisely what an unbelieving generation needs to see, hear, and smell.

“Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over” (Ps. 23:5).

“Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Neh. 8:10).

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened” (Rom. 1:21).

“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” (Phil. 2:14–15).

Put them all together. God sets a table for us in the presence of our enemies. They can see our joy; they can hear the clink of the glasses as we toast the advancement of the kingdom. The gladness we exhibit around the table is not some weird form of denial, but rather is our sustenance, our joy, our authority, and our strength. The unbelievers are doing their level best to suppress the two fundamental truths that confront them every day, and those truths are the need to recognize the absolute sovereignty of God, and the corresponding duty to render a life of thanksgiving to Him. And we set this contrast before them, like blazing stars against a Bible-black sky, when we do all things without murmuring—when, in short, we live our lives filled to the brim with thanksgiving.

One more thing. When we abandon our responsibilities for deep gratitude, this does not leave a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum, and when gratitude is gone, the Scriptures teach us that the emptied space fills up with demented lusts.

Allow me to appear to change the subject for a moment.

“Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28).

Here Paul names a particular sin, stealing, and then tells us what the thief ought to be doing instead. The antidote for his thieving is honest manual labor, of the kind that will result in a surplus that he might be able to share with those less fortunate. The word translated rather here is key. That word is mallon.

He uses the same construction, and the same word mallon just a few verses down:

“But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks. For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5:3–5).

Instead of sexual corruption, what does Paul say to substitute? Not fornication and lust, he says, but mallon the giving of thanks. What an honest job is to a thief, so also is thanksgiving to a diseased imagination.

But because America, in her sleek and defiant self-sufficiency, is running pell mell away from the disciplines of gratitude, it is our responsibility to celebrate in such a way as to make it impossible for them to escape the plain facts. They did not evolve from the primordial goo, they are descended from Adam and Eve, and God delivered their great grandfather from the Flood in an ark. He sent His Christ to die and rise, and so remake pagan civilization, which gloriously happened. But our fathers turned away, despite having been given staggering amounts of wealth—for which we refused to give thanks.

“Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deut. 8:12–17).

This is an important part of our message to unbelieving pagans. They must be told that they are to stop being ingrates. Christ is declared to them in all things, and this includes the pumpkin pie.

“Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17).

This is the God we preach to them. This is the Christ who restores them to fellowship with their estranged Father. This is the Spirit who touches our lives, and makes our laden tables mean something worthwhile again.

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Categories: People I don't know

On Bear-Hugging Our Troubles

Wed, 22/11/2017 - 17:38

Job tells us that man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward (Job 5:7). But there are different kinds of trouble, different kinds of adversity, different kinds of affliction.

First there is the kind that we pull down onto our own heads.

“For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: And drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags” (Prov. 23:21).

“He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: But he that heareth reproof getteth understanding” (Prov. 15:32).

And so it is that we have STDs, cirrhosis of the liver, expensive ER visits after drunken “hold my beer” stunts, prison time, lawsuits for loutish groping, messy divorces, and ruined careers. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Country music really does have an excellent grasp of this principle. “Turned my life into this country song . . . I got nobody to blame but me” (Chris Stapleton).

The second kind of trouble is the conflict we find ourselves in with others, and the whole thing is inexplicable to us. A relationship with a good friend goes south for no apparent reason. A previously amicable work environment turns rancid. Euodia and Syntyche have their falling out. A pastor and his elder board, who worked together smoothly for years, suddenly find themselves at loggerheads.

When conflict and trouble arise this way, what we need to do is turn to James for wisdom. He explicitly seeks to answer the question for us. He both poses the question and answers it in one breath, and spends the following passage developing the answer in detail. “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?” (James 4:1ff, ESV). I have written a goodish bit about this kind of conflict in the past.

The third kind of conflict is a particular kind of conflict with God. Now the first kind mentioned above is conflict with God the way arguments with gravity are conflicts with Him. The second kind might well be something that He is using in the course of this third kind, but it is still helpful to distinguish them. So this third kind of conflict is a struggle with God, in the course of which He helps us in that fight with Himself. The model here is Jacob wrestling with the Angel of the Lord, who turned out to be God Himself. “He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God” (Hosea 12:3).

The striking thing about this episode is that Jacob wrestled the angel to a standstill, in some mysterious way matching him. At the same time, he refused to let the angel go until He blessed him. In Scripture, blessing is an acknowledgement of superiority. “It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior” (Heb. 7:7, ESV). But the most remarkable thing about this great wrestling match is that it was an agonistic struggle for Jacob—it was a great affliction. And what did he do with this affliction? He refused to let it go without a blessing.

If I might, I would like to finish this out by citing Calvin’s commentary on this great passage. Calvin says that God intends “to represent all the servants of God in this world as wrestlers.”[1] Cotton Mather once said that for the faithful, wars will never cease. Calvin again: “We, also, are to learn from him, that we must fight during the whole course of our life.”[2]

Distinguishing different kinds of trouble, as I did above, Calvin also says that “adversity is either the rod with which he corrects our sins, or the test of our faith and patience.”[3] Discipline can be corrective, meaning chastisement for sin. Spanking a child for getting into the cookie jar is discipline. But enrolling the child in third grade is also discipline. This latter kind is positive discipline, inculcating certain habits that the child will most certainly require later on. You do not enroll a child in the challenges of third grade because he did something wrong. You do it because he did second grade right.

“Jacob, therefore, having been accustomed to bear sufferings, is now led forth to real war.”[4]

When God determines to bless us with this kind of trouble, He confronts us with Himself. We wrestle with Him in a mysterious way. But when He does this to us through our external circumstances, He is also doing something internally, something that is much hard for us to see. We see the trouble approaching, and we think we see the entire picture. But if that were the entire picture, why would James tell us to count it all joy when we meet these kinds of conflicts?

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:2–5).

We are to count it all joy because the external trials outside are God’s means of strengthening and establishing us internally. And if we don’t quite see this yet, we should ask God for that kind of wisdom. The promise in v. 5 is not a promise that God will give you wisdom about whether to turn left or right at the intersection. It is a promise to give you the kind of wisdom that sees the point of your trials.

Or, as Calvin puts it, He “becomes in us stronger than the power by which he opposes us.”[5]

God wrestles from the outside, and God equips us on the inside through the means of the pressure He is applying in both directions.

“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Rom. 5:3–5).

James says to count it all joy when we meet various trials. Paul says that we are glory in tribulation. What is the point of this instruction? The point of the instruction is the same thing as the point of your trial, and in both passages it is patience.

You are grappling with the angel, and you are called, like Jacob, to fight to the point of stalemate. When you get to that point, you are to grasp your affliction with both arms, bear-hugging it, and you are to refuse to let go until you have the blessing.

 

End Notes

[1] John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 195.

[2] John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 197.

[3] John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 195.

[4] John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 197.

[5] John Calvin and John King, Commentary on the First Book of Moses Called Genesis, vol. 2 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), 196.

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Categories: People I don't know

The Avenging Angel of Lust

Tue, 21/11/2017 - 17:18
Special Note Right Up Front:

A few of the references in this post do not employ circumlocutions or asterisks. The need of the hour is generational repentance, and repentance names the sin. The biblical word for confess is homologeo, which means to “speak the same thing.” It means that we do not get to sugar glaze our sins, asking God to “forgive them” by means of glancing at them obliquely.

Introduction:

We are not dealing with a scandal here or there, or even with a minor cluster of scandals. What this appears to be is a full-scale reckoning.

Consider Harvey Weinstein, Al Franken, Glenn Thrush, Kevin Spacey, Bill O’Reilly, Bill Clinton, Charlie Rose, Anthony Weiner, James Toback, Ben Affleck, Chris Savino, Roy Price, Mark Halperin, Michael Oreskes, and Lockhart Steele. The Office of Compliance on Capitol Hill has to date paid out $17 million dollars, much of it settling sexual harassment complaints.

Roy Moore flatly denies wrongdoing but is among the accused and, depending upon how the election and further investigations go, may possibly join the list above.

Whatever else you might say, this is not part of a normal news cycle. Something more significant is happening.

But it is necessary for us to insist upon this—a reckoning like this cannot be accommodated or managed by means of legislative reforms, or tougher standards handed down to the HR department. There is a generational complicity involved that can only be addressed with repentance. And by repentance, I mean the kind of thing that followed hard after preaching by John the Baptist.

“And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” (Mark 1:5, ESV).

We live in a corrupt and evil generation, but the good news is that Scripture does describe true repentance as a gift that has at various times been given by God to cities, nations, generations, and times. The city of Nineveh repented (Matt. 12:41). The men of Judah and Benjamin repented (Ezra 10:9). The people repented under the leadership of Hezekiah (2 Chron. 29:36). Repentance is a message that must be preached to all the nations, including our own. We are not exempted from this duty by our distorted understanding of the First Amendment, and we are most certainly not exempted by our upright way of life. “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47).

But if America can repent, as other wicked nations in history have done, someone must tell them of their obligation to do so. How will they hear without a preacher (Rom. 10:14)?

What We Did:

In a nutshell, we decided that God could in fact be mocked (Gal. 6:7), and that we could sow one crop and reap a different one. We could sow thistles and harvest barley; we could sow morning glory and harvest bumper crops of our much acclaimed amber waves of grain. We could sow the wind, and reap little pleasant zephyrs that would cool us off in the evening.

But now, right on schedule, just like the Scriptures teach, we are reaping the whirlwind (Hos. 8:7).

Bill Clinton was plausibly accused of multiple sexual offenses, up to and including forcible rape. Running interference for him, the media smothered that story—the account of Juanita Broadrick. Ken Starr was vilified for investigating a story that was “just about sex,” and the reckoning for that grand lie has now come due. The Democratic nominee in just this last presidential election was the Queen Bee of complicit enabling, attacking the victims of her husband’s predations as “bimbo eruptions,” and all in the name of feminism.

She did all this with official permission from the feminist establishment to behave in this way. All the creeps that have since been uncovered, from that day down to this one, were given a pass, provided their politics were in order. Others, whose politics were not in order, took up that permission anyway and ran off with it. When the morals are generally corrupted, it is hard to police the boundaries of your double standards.

Feminist writer Nina Burleigh said this, back in the day:

“I would be happy to give [Bill Clinton] a blowjob just to thank him for keeping abortion legal. I think American women should be lining up with their presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs”?

Leftist bloodlust, in other words, trumps a culture’s responsibility to treat women with respect. Gloria Steinem famously said that if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament. Well, men still can’t get pregnant, but abortion has become a sacrament anyhow.

Burleigh argued in effect that she would be willing to do evil, that evil might come of it. The religious right, more understandably, and therefore more hypocritically, decided to do evil that good might come of it. In reaction, a phalanx of evangelical leaders made a deal with Mephistopheles, agreeing to put up with a pussy-grabber, so long as he delivered on the kind of judges they wanted. I understand their temptation in a way that I do not understand Burleigh’s, but either way, when repentance comes, it will encompass us all.

And when I say it will encompass us all, I mean all. Of course, Al Franken needs to repent of his wicked and loutish behavior toward women. But Leeann Tweeden, his first accuser, was not simply “a model.” She was a woman who would take her clothes off for the camera, working for a one-handed magazine—one that catechized young men everywhere, teaching them how to behave like aspiring Al Frankens. And so she needs to repent of that. All who are guilty need to repent, and all who are complicit need to repent.

A special note for the reading-impaired: The previous paragraph does not mean that Tweeden “deserved” whatever Franken did. We as a people are now being confronted by the avenging angel of lust, and he appears to be dealing with a lot more than we counted on. In that picture up top, take away his sword and give him a gigantic weed-whacker. He is headed over to the cluster of weeds at your place of employment next. Anyone who thinks that we are anywhere near done with this is kidding himself. If the guilty flee when no man pursues (Prov. 28:1), what will they do now that the pursuit is joined? A lot of guilty men have to be sweating bullets right about now.

A Hypocritical Frenzy or Something More?

Feminists made the deal with the devil they did in order to protect abortion. And by this I mean that they thought that their faction on the Supreme Court was in great danger, and they would do anything to defend Roe. But listen. Here, in the midst of this sex abuse frenzy, we are possibly just weeks away from another battle over a Supreme Court nominee. What if Kennedy retires? If Trump appoints another Gorsuch, it could easily swing the balance of the Court. Have the feminists repented of their willingness to tolerate all manner of abuse in order to protect their right to continue to abuse their own offspring? I think the clear answer is not yet, although when God efficaciously grants repentance it will be a gift that cannot be refused.

And evangelical leaders made a deal with the devil to overthrow abortion. Repentance is necessary there as well. This is why statements like “the end does not justify the means” were first coined. So while I reject that strategy, and lament the fact that it was adopted, I nevertheless admire what I believe God is doing in and through all this. We have ourselves a presidential wrecking ball, and God is accomplishing His work.

“O Assyrian, the rod of mine anger, and the staff in their hand is mine indignation. I will send him against an hypocritical nation, and against the people of my wrath will I give him a charge, to take the spoil, and to take the prey, and to tread them down like the mire of the streets” (Isaiah 10:5–6).

God is bringing us low, all of us. He laughs at the pride of man.

“And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30).

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Categories: People I don't know

Tribal Truth

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 18:02
Introduction

I want to offer a “get yourself oriented” explanation for the lunacy that has apparently descended upon virtually everybody. A fogbank of dunsical folly, stretching the length of the entire East Coast, has worked its way across the nation, and so it is that we hear distant, muffled cries, from out there in the fog somewhere, “Who’s to say what a little boy is?”

Change the metaphor. The degradation and collapse of our civilization proceeds apace, and while millions of Christians in that civilization think that “something is wrong,” few of them have any idea of just how wrong it all is. And we have erstwhile leaders who have assumed the role of reassuring us, trying to make us think that, provided a culture is unbelieving, there is no appreciable difference between its rise and its disintegration. Take a glance to the right in order to check out a recent promo vid on a glossy web site for one of those Big Name Christian Conferences.

And so let’s begin with the theopolitics of this, and then move on to cite a few illustrations of it snatched from today’s headlines. I won’t say what these examples are about exactly, but one of them rhymes with Sal Planken.

The Tie That Binds

Every social order requires an arche, a point of integration. That point of integration ties together a society’s beliefs, symbolic customs, shared narratives, and lifestyles. If that point of integration fails, then you don’t have a society that exists as a counter-example to my statement, but rather you have a failed society. For a society to cohere, there must be an adhesive. If these elements are not held together, then what you have is a non-society. Now this point of integration, this adhesive, is what I call the “god of the system.”

For the Muslims, this is the will of Allah. For the Philistines it was Dagon. For the Jews it was Jehovah. For the Greeks it was Zeus. For the Amorites, it was Martu. For the Egyptians, it was Ra. I use the phrase “god of the system” to indicate that this reality of societal cohesion is shared both by worshipers of false gods and worshipers of the true and living God. To appeal to Henry Van Til’s formulation, culture is religion externalized. All cultures are some religion externalized.

For secularists, this point of integration is Demos, the people. The catch for them is that they want to believe that their Demos is a predictable god, just as the Christian God is. Our God is immutable, without variation or shadow due to change. Their god is fickle, but they still like to pretend that what “everybody knows” will always remain that way—when it transparently will not. Stability is a feature of the older order that they have been busy replacing without knowing it. Demos has violent mood swings; Demos needs to be sedated sometimes. Jehovah is constant, the same yesterday, today, and forever.

So for Christians, the arche is the Lord Jesus Christ, the one who holds all things together. “And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning [arche], the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1:18). He holds everything together; He has the preeminence in all things; He is the arche.

Christians assert that the claims of Christ are universal and transcendental. He is the Lord of heaven and earth. He has authority over everything He created, and He created everything. “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). There is not a quark or a photon anywhere in this cosmos that was not spoken into existence by the Word of God, who is the Lord Jesus. In short, He is no tribal Deity. And His omnipresent authority does not mean that He is rolled out thinly over everything, stretched out to cover it all. No, all of God is present in every place.

It angers Him when the impudence of men tries to “isolate Him,” tries to locate Him in one place to the exclusion of another. “And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord” (1 Kings 20:28).

It is also great folly to fall into the trap of the “religious,” those who think they can get God to stay put in a decorated box called a sanctuary, provided they layer it with enough gold.

“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hand made all these things?” (Acts 7:48–50).

Christ is therefore a universal king. He is not Lord of one place, and not of another. He is not Lord of one category (sacred) and not of another (secular). He is not the king of one religion and not of another. He is therefore the king (thus far unacknowledged) of the Jews, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and all others. Our task as Christians here on earth is found in the Great Commission. We are commanded to disciple every Muslim nation, every Hindu nation, the one Jewish nation, every Buddhist nation (Matt. 28:18-20).

And will that happen? Of course it will. It is happening now.

“They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, As the waters cover the sea. And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, Which shall stand for an ensign of the people; To it shall the Gentiles seek: And his rest shall be glorious” (Is. 11:9–10).

God’s instrument for accomplishing this is the proclamation of the gospel, the preaching of the crown rights of King Jesus, with His eternal throne established on the everlasting foundation of His shed blood, His three days in the tomb, His resurrection in power and glory, and His royal reception by the Ancient of Days. Preach that, and you will find that that will preach.

God’s instrument for accomplishing this is not a craven and cowardly demeanor on the part of His servants, going out into all the world to find common ground, to split the difference, to search out the lowest common denominator, to seek the peace of Gomorrah, or to tell the world that their deepest felt needs were the compass that Christ steers by.

So Christ’s saving authority is absolute. It is universal. It is transcendent. It is consummate, final, complete, simple, unlimited, total, and utterly unrivaled. Thus far the Christian gospel.

Now when worshipers of false gods seek to approximate and counterfeit this, they have to take their local deities on some kind of a promotional tour. What this means is that the local deity has to become the god of some empire or other, and the followers of Christ must be harried, persecuted and marginalized. In centuries past, this promotion of a local god was done by means of overt conquest . . . in these times, it is done by the lying tricks of the cultural Marxists, the sitcom laugh track being just one of them. Gramsci called for the long march through the institutions, in just the same way that drywood termites commence their long march through the floor joists. Their idea was to get Demos to stop trying to make sense, and to just follow the gonads.

So What Is Truth?

Truth is that which serves and worships the Deity. Christians believe that truth is absolute because their God is absolute. Truth is an attribute of the eternal God. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Pilate asked what truth was when the final and ultimate answer to that question stood bleeding in front of him (John 18:38). True truth is that which therefore honors the true God, which it has to do, being an aspect of His Being.

The world is structured in such a way that devotees of localized religions and finite gods, despite themselves, have to function in the same way. Truth will always be defined as service to the god of the system. When someone say that “that is true for you, but not for me,” what they are doing is confessing their faith in a finite god. Your god requires you to say and do certain things, as does mine. This approach is polytheism—and the political name for that is pluralism.

And when the false universalism of empire, or of globalization, fails—either fails to cohere, or coheres for a time before collapsing—what is the result? The result is that all unbelievers default to their respective natural tribes. These tribes may be ethnic, national, ideological, or political. And truth becomes whatever the god of that little system requires. But little systems requires the truths to be little truths. “That’s true for me.” “That’s true in our faith community.”

Absent a universal arche, there is nothing whatever that can be done to stop this—it is a necessity. Courses in logic won’t fix this because man is of necessity religious, and truth is always a matter of religious dogma. Examples to follow, further down.

Tribal Truth

So when the god of an empire fails, or the god of the cosmopolis no longer commands the respect of the people, if the people have not in the meantime been converted to Christ, then they will necessarily default to their local baals. Nobody thinks the United Nation has any religious mojo anymore. Neither does the federal government. Those centers have lost their adhesive powers.

And so when it defaults, it defaults to locally congregated groups. For some it is ethnicity. For others it is ideology. Truth is what serves the interests of Black Lives Matter. Truth is what advances the hard leftism of Bernie Sanders. Truth is what reinforces the assumptions of the alt-right. Anything but Jesus.

Now some might object and say that I am lathering too much theology over the top of this. We have always had hyper-partisanship, have we not? And isn’t that what you are talking about? People who are so “into” their cause that absolutely anything is pressed into the service of that cause?

Yes, we have always had that, but such fanatics have been outliers. When a society is intact, the center holds, even if it is a false center. But when a culture starts to balkanize, and the hyper-partisanship becomes standard operating procedure for most groups, then local tribal truths start to play smashmouth with other local tribal truths. And when someone points out a contradiction this has the effect of just highlighting the conflict, which is the whole point, and the other guy just doubles down. And the conflict intensifies.

So we have always had people who could not be convinced by any evidence whatever. There is the story told about the guy who was always critical, never saw the good side of anything or anybody. This exasperated his friends a great deal, so imagine the delight of one of those friends who bought a retriever for his duck hunting, and discovered on his first outing that his dog knew how to walk on water. His first thought was that this would impress his critical friend. So he took him out duck hunting the next day, shot a duck, and the dog ran out over the surface of the water, and returned to the blind with the duck. The critical friend said nothing. This happened two more times, and still the critical friend said nothing. In the truck on the way home, the exasperated man asked in frustration whether his friend had noticed anything. “Well, yes,” the man replied. “I didn’t want to mention it because you all never want to hear my perspective. But since you asked, I did notice that your stupid dog can’t swim.”

We have all known people for whom no evidence was sufficient. But what is happening when this is descriptive of all the major factions in a culture?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

And This is Why . . .

So let’s start with the Franken example. The point of this is not the tawdry scandal itself, but rather the way people are talking about it, how they process it, how they rationalize after the fact.

I saw a reporter in the White House press corps, pressing Sarah Sanders on why the president had tweeted something rude about Franken, and hadn’t done the same thing concerning Roy Moore. Isn’t this inconsistent? Well, no—whether or not you believe that Moore is guilty or innocent.

For the reporter, it was simply a matter of “a” sexual accusation made against a member of his tribe, and there was also “a” sexual accusation made against a member of the opposing tribe. The fact that they were wildly different situations was totally ignored—and here is the different. The one person denies it ever happened, and in the other instance we have a photograph of him doing it.

That kind of difference doesn’t matter if truth is whatever advances the cause of your tribe. If there is any kind of semi-plausible argument that can be made, and enough people are willing to push it for the sake of the tribe, then that is what truth is.

This works when we are talking about the true and living God. Truth really is what pleases the triune God. But this approach results in absurdities everywhere else. All local gods of necessity come a cropper, all of them face plant like Dagon.

Blocking Your Own Teammate

Another example of this problem is something I have seen in nominally conservative circles. One similarity between two disparate individuals is picked out, the whole thing is flattened, and that one similarity is regarded as the only relevant thing. For example, I have been told before that my satiric language, directed at the forces of secularism and unbelief, is equivalent to the cutting language used by Euodia on Syntyche. Elijah mocking the priests of Baal is equivalent Shimei mocking David. After all, are they not both “mocking?”

This objection reveals that the true tribal allegiance is to the referees (falsely understood), and not to one of the teams. Many professing Christians have fallen for this. They know enough not to cheer for the devil’s team, but they don’t know enough not to cheer for what they believe to be the “neutral” refs. But everyone pretending to neutrality is on the devil’s team, whether they intend it or not.

So this is like saying there is no difference between your left tackle blocking the man across from him, and your right tackle pulling and blocking your own right guard. Are they not both blocking? Or if your running back gets spun around, and starts running with the ball in the wrong direction? Is not the essential thing that he be running, and maintaining good ball control? Well, that is essential to his task, but it is not the only thing that is essential. Running in the right direction is also suggested.

The Grace of Privilege

All the talk we hear about white privilege, or white fragility, or ubiquitous white racism, is an example of the same kind of thing. And, by the way, I am not here talking about blacks and whites who know that the only true possibility of ethnic reconciliation is to be found in the gospel of Christ—the teaching that blacks and whites are equally trapped in sinful rebellion against God, and are offered forgiveness on equal terms, which is to say, on the basis of the blood of Christ. That is real reconciliation.

But there is a tribal truth version of ethnic reconciliation out and about. In this version, being white automatically entails guilt. Possessing any kind of privilege at all (parents not divorced, taught math as a child, growing up in a crime-free community, etc.) is considered to be a mortal offense against underprivileged groups, instead of being what it actually is—a gift from God. Egalitarianism is driving this, and envy is what drives egalitarianism. The tribal god is demanding that the happiness of people in other tribes be denounced.

And then when certain whites, suffering from what can only be called incurable whiteness, join in with this, and call upon fellow whites to recognize their inescapable racism, this is what is happening. Contrary to the opposing tribe, which would be the alt-right, the whites who do this are not being race-traitors. It is far worse than that. They are reality-traitors.

The problem is not that they are betraying their people. Rahab did that, and was thereby justified (Jas. 2:25). The problem is that they are betraying the arche that rules over all nations, all ethnicities, all tribes, all men. Truth is not what serves and helps blacks. Truth is not what serves and helps whites. Truth is not what helps the progressive left. Truth is not what helps the reactionary right. Truth is the belt around the waist of Messiah the Prince.

Conclusion

We are caught in a maze of confusions because we continue to insist that secular democracy, which of necessity denies any ultimate arche, is a viable system. It is not. It is moribund, defunct, teetery, doomed, done for, and perishing. It is lying on its back in the pasture of its discontents, with all four feet pointing toward the sky. In the great words of that Monty Python parrot skit, it has joined the choir invisible.

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Categories: People I don't know

The Answer to White Racism, White Fragility, Black Fragility, and Black Racism Is Always the Gospel

Mon, 20/11/2017 - 00:25

Some of you may not have seen this one. I have had a number of my blog posts on racism gathered into one e-book. You may click here, or on the cover below in order to get to the Mablog e-tail outlet. The cost is one clam for shipping and handling. You have no idea how many ones and zeros get knocked around during one of these purchases. It is available in Mobi, EPUB, and PDF.

And if anything in the title of this post offended you, you need to get the book.

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Categories: People I don't know

Because That’s How Bogus Rolls

Sun, 19/11/2017 - 23:58

A few posts back, I noted the fact that a counter-accusation against The Washington Post was circulating, and linked to it. The story said that WaPo had paid money to women to testify against Moore. I said that I didn’t know if there was anything to that or not — but I now do. A friend sent me a link about the source cited in that story which shows definitively that the source is a huckster, a con, a mountebank, a fraud. The link he sent me is here. And if you go back and watch the news story I originally linked to, you can see that there was more than a little prestidigitation going on. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

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Categories: People I don't know

The Apostles Creed 19: The Forgiveness of Sins

Sat, 18/11/2017 - 16:41
Introduction:

One of the central features of the new covenant is the glorious reality of forgiveness of sins. In Hebrews 8, Jeremiah’s prophecy of the new covenant is quoted at some length (Heb. 8:8-12). But several chapters later, it is quoted again, but this time in abbreviated form. This abbreviation shows what aspects of the new covenant are being emphasized as central. There are two such aspects—they are the internalization of the law (Heb. 10:16) and the remission of sins (Heb. 10:17-18). It is therefore not surprising to find the forgiveness of sins included in the Creed.

The Text:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Summary of the Text:

“And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me” (Acts 26:15–18).

The apostle Paul is recounting his conversion, and how the Lord Jesus appeared to him. He asked the Lord who He was (v. 15), and received the answer that it was Jesus, the same one he was persecuting. Jesus then told Paul to stand up so that He could make him a minister and a witness, both of what he had seen and what he would in the future see (v. 16). The Lord promised to deliver him from the people and from the Gentiles, those to whom he was being sent (v. 17). As he preached to them, there would be three aspects to their coming into their salvation, which is described as “forgiveness of sins” and an “inheritance among the sanctified.”

Three Stages of Conversion:

The first thing is that his preaching would “open their eyes.” The second is that they would be turned “from darkness to light.” The third is the transfer; they are moved from the power of Satan unto God. This is what it means to be ushered into the forgiveness of sins.

To have your eyes opened is here to be made aware of your need. A person in the dark who has had his eyes opened becomes aware of the fact that he is in the dark. But to be in dark despair is no solution; it is simply the awareness of the need for a solution. The second thing is to turn them toward the light, which is the gospel message. At this point they are made aware of the fact that they are in the dark here, but the light is over there. The third stage effects the actual change, where the person is moved from the dominion of the dark into the dominion of the light. That dominion of light is described as receiving forgiveness of sins, and the inheritance of the saints.

First, we are in the dark looking at the dark. Then we are in the dark looking at the light. After that we are in the light.

Intelligent Evangelism:

Giving the gospel to people who have not had their eyes opened is like turning blind people toward the light. Giving the law to people without preaching grace is like healing a blind man down in the depths of a dark cavern. How would he ever know he was healed?

The holiness of God’s law, God’s righteousness, is what opens eyes. The message of Christ crucified and risen is what shines the light. When the person’s eyes are opened, then they should be turned. The last step is what actual conversion accomplishes.

What Forgiveness Entails:

Forgiveness does not mean that God will now accept your excuses. Forgiveness does not mean that God has somehow lowered His standards. Forgiveness does not mean that things weren’t that bad to begin with.

Forgiveness, being grounded in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, has to be complete and total. You are cleansed. You are washed. There is nothing in between you and God. In the Book of Life, there is no asterisk by your name. If someone is forgiven at all, they are forgiven completely. There is nothing shaky about it. All your sins, past, present, and future, have had anvils tied to them all, and have been thrown into an ocean of mercy, there to drown at their leisure (Micah 7:19). In the resurrection, you will be at the eastern end of forever, and your sins will be at the western end (Ps. 103:12). This is the good news.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14).

Freely You Have Received:

Those who are recipients of God’s gifts truly are people who are prepared to give in the same way they have received (Mark 10:8). If we received forgiveness, but are surly when required to extend it, this demonstrates that we never really grasped the concept. A man who refuses to forgive is not a man who has had his eyes opened, or who has been turned from darkness to light, or from the power of Satan to the power of God. No, he is just a man who just said that this is what happened. We can see whether it happened or not in the forgiveness he shows.

“And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14–15).

So is forgiveness of others a “work” we must perform in order to earn our own forgiveness? Not a bit of it. Rather, it is simply a recognition of the truth that when God rescues a man from drowning He does not leave him on the bottom of the pond.

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Categories: People I don't know

And There Slain

Sat, 18/11/2017 - 16:31

When envy has you by the throat, what can you do? It might appear to you in virulent forms, or it might seem almost invisible—camouflaged nicely to fit in with what you have come to call the principle of the thing. Envy is one of the hardest sins to admit, and it is one of the most widespread. So if you struggle with it, or you think you might be struggling with it, what do you do?

Standing opposite to the sin of envy is the grace of gratitude. Thanksgiving for all things, and particularly thanksgiving for the gifts that God has given to others, especially the others you are tempted to envy

But it is all very well to say gratitude is opposed to envy. How to feel grateful? Is there a magic switch somewhere? No, no magic switch, but there is a gospel. There is an answer. When Jesus died on the cross, the object of sinful envy and hatred, He was crucified in order to be the very death of envy—and He was.

This is the only salve for this wound. This is the only thing that a sinner can do about the perpetual craving to be somewhere else, to be someone else. When you look to Jesus Christ on the cross, you are someone else—I have been crucified with Christ, Paul says, and I no longer live. If you are going to be someone else, be—by faith—the someone who was flayed for sin. Through your baptism, see that you identity with the one on whom all the vain desires of men were placed, and there slain.

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Categories: People I don't know

Not Taking It for Granted

Sat, 18/11/2017 - 16:24

We considered last week the problem posed by repetition, as well as the great blessing that flows from repetition.

Some, seeing the very real problem of getting into a liturgical groove, have sought to address the problem by changing the liturgy constantly. But this approach seeks to address a spiritual problem through mere physical means—which is like trying to help out a troubled marriage by rearranging the furniture in the living room.

Liturgy is like a dance. When you are first learning a new dance, you are not really dancing but rather counting. One, two, three, one, two, three. But once you are accustomed to the dance, and you know it, you are freed up to think about the one you are dancing with. Of course, with this freedom comes the freedom (and temptation) to think about something else entirely, or someone else entirely.

This problem will not be removed by eliminating the defined dance steps. What happens with some modern dances, when people simply gyrate aimlessly? Well, they are still free to think about something else, or someone else, only now a lot sooner, because they never have to think about counting.

The Lord’s Table here is the culmination of our worship service. We have been thinking of Christ, and worshiping the Father through Christ throughout the course of the whole service. If you are used to what we do here, it is quite possible that your mind has been wandering while your body still stands and sits at the appropriate times. And now your body is here, about to partake of the bread and wine. What will keep you from taking this for granted? The means that God has assigned is the declaration of the Word that accompanies the sacrament, and repentance and faith stirred up by the Holy Spirit of God in your heart.

You are receptive to that work, so come to the Table, and welcome.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

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Categories: People I don't know

How God Wrote 2017 in Such a Way as to Vindicate the Pence Rule

Fri, 17/11/2017 - 13:15

While some might wonder why I write so much about life between the sexes, you have to admit that when your culture is a teeny kayak on the swirling lip of a huge sexual maelstrom, it is hard not to. Not only does a new scandal break every day or so, but in response to each new scandal, armies of people then write enormous volumes of nonsense about it. It is like living in the El Dorado of material suitable for satire.

And so shortly before the Al Franken news broke, The New York Times published a piece by an editor named Katelyn Beaty, an editor for Christianity Today. In the course of her piece, she said this:

“The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away. Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.”

Let us approach this two ways. The first is to lean in to Beaty’s simplistic reduction, and point out that even on her own terms, the Pence rule is starting to appear more and more sensible. What has it been about the behavior of powerful and well-situated males over, say, the last month, that has given Beaty the urge to give gents such a strong vote of confidence? Furthermore, how many women who go to college today will be sexually assaulted over the course of their four years? What statistic is the received wisdom? Twenty-five percent? If you believe that statistic, then stop yapping about the Pence Rule. Embrace the Pence Rule—for the same reason that airlines have you buckle up. Just simple risk management, right?

If we actually do live in a rape culture, as some people incessantly tell us, then the Pence Rule makes perfectly good sense. If we don’t, then it is not the same urgent necessity, but that means we should stop claiming that we do in fact live in a rape culture. Do not manufacture crises in order to get funding for the Women’s Center on campus, and then expect us all to forget the statistics you touted once the building is complete. Or once the election is over.

But there is a second way to reply to Beaty’s reductionism. It is to deny her supposition. She says “if that is the case.” But the problem is that it isn’t the case.

She says that refusal to meet with a woman one-on-one is tantamount to saying that you can’t because it creates too great a temptation to assault the good lady. But there are a host of other reasons why a gentleman might decline to meet with a woman one-on-one. It might be to guard against false allegations against him, by that woman or by third parties—whether it is an investigative reporter or just the town gossip. It might be to protect against the appearance of impropriety, giving no room for jealousy to arise in his marriage. It might be to guard against actual impropriety. It might be to keep a distance so that temptations to impropriety don’t ever arise. It protects against sexual aggressiveness from the other direction. Or finally, maybe Pence doesn’t meet with women one-on-one in order to avoid all those regrettable micro-aggressions.

Think of it this way. Do you think that Roy Moore now wishes he had followed some variant of the Pence Rule faithfully? If he is guilty of the alleged offenses, following the rule would have protected him from immorality. If he is not guilty of them, following the rule would have protected him from these accusations.

Or fast forward thirty years. Suppose Roy Moore was at a nice restaurant with some cute intern, and he was explaining to her how a bill becomes a law. If a photographer from the Post showed up, camera at the ready, would he ask Moore’s permission before taking the shot? “Because, after all, we professionals know that this is probably just business. We at the Post do not wish in any way to hinder the advancement of women . . .” The way some people expect us to not be able to see through their protestations could make a cat laugh.

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Categories: People I don't know

Maybe Has Happened a Time or Two

Fri, 17/11/2017 - 13:00

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Categories: People I don't know

The Content Cluster Muster (11.16.17)

Thu, 16/11/2017 - 17:00

Google Is Clearly a Verb

Wow

Blue dragon river – Portugal pic.twitter.com/mJrTyy5JSL

— AtomicFact (@Atomicfact) November 10, 2017

I Have Not Forgotten the Open Road

And more can be found here. Lots of motorcycles.

Well, Yeah, That Would Seem to be a Problem

I Suppose This is Perk of Living in the 21st Century?

Levi Wokes

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Categories: People I don't know

Discussion After the Half Brick

Thu, 16/11/2017 - 13:38

So in the wake of yesterday’s post responding to Elizabeth Bruenig’s, um, critique, a number of scattershot questions have arisen. You can track some of that by looking at @ebruenig and @douglaswils.

For example, one friend cautioned me offline that Bruenig is not a moral liberal. But in my calculus, the beating heart of liberalism is egalitarianism, and she definitely is egalitarian. That is what the whole discussion is about. More about that in a minute.

Now I am prepared to acknowledge that when I first had her half brick bounce off the back of my head, I didn’t know who she was. I of course read her dismissal of my (most reasonable) traditional sexual ethic as psychotic, that being the half brick, and then looked up her Twitter feed. Just a few tweets down I noticed her eff-bombing about something or other. And so I responded to her incoming friendly reminders as coming from the same kind of source these sorts of things usually come from. But I am happy to acknowledge that there is a sliding scale on these things. Principled conservatives > nice conservatives > decent liberals > ardent liberals > demented liberals. Not everyone who is sowing the wind is, as of yet, reaping the whirlwind. I am more than willing to acknowledge that she is not as far along as her tweets represented her as being. But that does not alter the center of my response at all. Egalitarianism is moral liberalism in principle.

One commenter noted that Russell Moore “liked” her initial tweet, and there’s another instance. I am experimenting with using the Twitter page instead of HootSuite, and still getting used to it, and so I presume his liking it was less accidental than mine just was.

I said above that egalitarianism is the problem. The central disease in the sexual revolution is the egalitarianism that drives everything else. Because it begins by setting aside portions of the plain Word of God, it ends by us discovering that the hidden intent the entire time was to dispense with the entire Word of God. And when that happens, there is no law to convict and no gospel to save.

Being pressed for time this morning, I will leave it there for now. I am more than willing to have a serious (and friendly) discussion about these things with Elizabeth Bruenig. Open door. Liberty Hall.

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Categories: People I don't know

Outrage Goes in the Purple Bin

Wed, 15/11/2017 - 13:36

So in something of a prescient move, in my last post I mentioned my widening circle of irrelevance—my particular brand of toxicity is now being increasingly opposed, and out of the blue, by various important voices, modulated voices, voices of sweet reason. The latest is from Elizabeth Bruenig, a columnist with The Washington Post, who tweeted about me just yesterday.

And speaking of modulated voices, here is what she had to say:

“This is such destructive, unscholarly, psychotic theology, and it turns churches into dens of iniquity. It makes me sick to see self-described Christians spreading this poison.”

We could have a contest here at Mablog . . . what passage from what book of mine is she talking about? I know there are those out there who would argue that it is really hard to say because they know the ubiquitous darkness of my puritanical heart. Or, in a more supportive and positive vein, they might argue that it is hard to say because they know the caliber of my literary critics. In other words, it might be possible that anything I write could set them off like this. In that regard, I am kind of like all-purpose catnip for progressives.

But the passage in question has actually been through all this before. There is liberalism for you—they recycle everything. They even recycle outrage, placing it carefully in their purple bin and setting it out by the curb. The passage in question caused something of a set-to a few years ago also, that one involving Rachel Held Evans. The toxicity under discussion is from Fidelity (pp. 86-87), and when I looked at Bruenig’s footnote at the bottom of her tweet I saw the book was published in 1999, and my initial reaction was perhaps not what Bruenig might have hoped for. Where I should have blanched pale white, gasped, and checked myself into rehab, instead I found myself wondering how I could have had that much sense almost twenty years ago. I was still in my forties. Those punks don’t know anything.

In the offending passage, I argued that sexual relations are not egalitarian, and that when this reality is ignored, a perverse form of that reality comes back at you in pathological forms. In other words, if you follow their sex ed training out to the end of the curriculum, and you graduate (with honors) into not knowing what a boy is and what a girl is, the end result is that you have no defined boundaries to restrain anything anymore.

Incidentally, this is like introducing a new geography curriculum, hot and fresh out of some teachers’ college, but which, at the end of the day, leaves the students not knowing where North America is. But leave that aside for the nonce.

Back to the point at issue. Because you have no notion of wholesome authority, you find yourself lusting after perverted forms of authority. And so it is that the graduates of a generation of whatever-wave-feminism-it-is-now are the ones who caused 50 Shades to sell in the millions. So you don’t like my thesis about where rape fantasies come from? Okay. You tell me where they came from then. You tell me, o enlightened generation, where mass-media rape fantasies come from. You tell me how important Hollywood people (that bastion of sexual health) managed to release the 50 Shades movie on Valentine’s Day without picking tar and feathers out of their hair for the following three months. Surely the phenomenon requires an explanation . . .

Not only do progressives not provide any explanations for the colossal failure of their sexual project, they wheel on the normals in an attempt to make them out to be the perverts.

In the meantime, while we wait for our explanation (which—because you can’t unpack anything from an empty box—will not be forthcoming), let us deconstruct this baby:

This is such destructive . . .
I should hope so. As long as we are destroying evil things, I think we should have at it. This is an inescapable concept; it is a fight to the finish. Either normal will be destroyed, or abnormal will be. God is not mocked, and it needs to be one or the other. Whatever else Lot was doing when he fled from the cities of the plain, he was not seeking the peace of the city.Whatever else Lot was doing when he fled from the cities of the plain, he was not seeking the peace of the city.

unscholarly . . .
Naturam expelles furca, tamen usque recurret! (Horace, Epistles i. x. 24)

psychotic theology . . .
Just when you think we have turned a corner, and believe that writers in the public square have finally learned not to use the names of medical conditions for vilifying their enemies, something like this happens. This sort of business is simply just hurtful. But at least she didn’t call me a retard.

and it turns churches into dens of iniquity . . .
But isn’t that the agenda? Wasn’t that the point? Didn’t you want us to become havens of acceptance? The old way was to keep iniquity at bay, as best you could anyway. The new way is to be welcoming communities. But if you open the doors wide, and nobody is watching them anymore, all kinds of critters can come in. And I mean the kind of unclean creatures that make dens.

It makes me sick . . .
With the state American health care is now in, I am sorry to hear that.

to see self-described Christians . . .
So I do self-identify that way. I heard that you could be anything you wanted to be. I want to be a Christian. The kind that believes the Bible. The kind that goes to Heaven. The kind that loves Jesus.

spreading this poison . . .
Again, major regression. If certain positions are rejected flat out, treated as poisonous, then that means relativism cannot be the case. But if relativism is not the case, then that means some form of ethical absolutism is the case. However, if we are now living under a new-fangled absolute code, one that overarches us all, and one that defines the beliefs of Christians over the course of millennia as toxic poison, then surely some apostle should stand up and tell us the name of their new god. What book did he give us? Why is he in charge of us? Did he create us? Does he love us? Did his son die for us? And how are we to know these things are true?

In short, ma’am, define poison please.

Look. If instead of holding to my destructive theology, I abandoned my post here in the opposition, told the world I was very sorry, and came out in favor of little boys having their penises cut off by money-hungry surgeons, would you be willing to stop calling me destructive then? Suppose I was desperate to be accepted as one who would never purvey poison, and consequently signed off on dismembering little children in the womb, and selling the pieces into the American economy? Could I stop being poisonous then? Imagine I acquired that progressive lust for flattery that characterizes so many, and insisted that not only should Planned Parenthood be allowed to keep their iniquitous profits, but that American taxpayers should continue to surrender their honest profits so that Planned Parenthood could continue to grow rich by trafficking in baby bits. Would you admit that I was nice then?

Anything to not be thought of as destructive. Anything to not be treated as psychotic. Pleeeeeease?

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Categories: People I don't know

Nubile Young Women, The LA Times, and Me

Tue, 14/11/2017 - 13:48
Introduction

The trick is to write a headline that gets people to read just the first couple paragraphs. After that, the overall quality of the writing has to hold them. So wish me luck.

So taking the occasion of the Roy Moore story, last weekend The LA Times published an op-ed piece by Kathryn Brightbill that lamented an evangelical predilection for nubile young women. So far so good. But in the course of this drive-by editorial, there was a short segment in there that was dedicated to having a bullet whizz by my ear. So far not so good.

An Exchange of Letters

Thereupon I decided to write the opinion editor of the Times, and I typed on this wise:

Greetings. I am writing you to ask about your policy on allowing people to respond if they are named in one of your editorials. If possible, I want to object to a gross misrepresentation in the piece by Kathryn Brightbill. She said:

“Prominent conservative Reformed theologian Doug Wilson has a documented history of mishandling sexual abuse cases within his congregation. Nevertheless, he continues to be promoted by evangelical leaders such as John Piper, whose Desiring God site still publishes Wilson’s work. When a 13-year-old girl in Wilson’s congregation was sexually abused, Wilson argued that she and her abuser were in a parent-sanctioned courtship, and that this was a mitigating factor.”

Given the context of her piece, this is almost a photo negative of the reality. I look forward to receiving your guidelines.

Cordially,

Douglas Wilson

So that you may see for yourself how far I first thought politeness gets you these days, I received this prompt reply:

Dear Douglas,

Although we don’t run response op-eds, we can and do run letters to the editor in these situations. The address for that is letters@latimes.com and you can let the letters editor know I sent you.

Best,

So then I wrote the letters editor, and here is the beginning of the reply I got.

Thank you for your submission to the letters page of the Los Angeles Times. We have received your e-mail and will review it within seven days.

 A reminder about our guidelines:

 Submissions should be no longer than 150 words and must respond to stories that have appeared in The Times; please include the title of the article, preferably in the subject line . . .

The email continued on with more boilerplate, but I have by this point learned that I have the opportunity to respond to a false allegation about a controversy that spans a decade or more, and that I have 150 words to do it with. That many words is what we writing professionals call the Tweet Premium.

And so I thought to myself, nah. I’ll just blog about it. Way more people will read my response that way, and I can use 200 Tweet Premiums in a row, and more than that if I feel like it and get to going good.

But then, after I had written much of this response, I got another letter from The Times, explaining that I could use 250 words in a print edition letter, or 700 words for an online response. Extra words are an irresistible temptation for me, and so I chose the latter and sent that off last night. I will notify all of you guys somehow when it runs.

But my thanks to The Times for chance to respond.

A Brief Aside

There is one other thing before we get to the good stuff. I do want to say that it is nice to have my ragamuffin theological outlook being dismissed on larger and larger platforms. At this rate I will soon be a nobody on the international stage. My irrelevance as a spokesman for conservative Reformed Christianity is, as they say, burgeoning.

The Central Difficulty

So what was wrong with Brightbill’s lame attempt to work me into her thesis? Well, the main problem is that I am on her side on this one. I hope you see that this presents something of a difficulty for her. What she did was kind of like Robert E. Lee shooting Jeb Stuart.

There are sectors of the conservative homeschooling world that have a big problem with regard to the issue she raises. Now saying that, I want to be careful not to generalize too quickly, or too broadly. Homeschooling is a big city by now, with lots of nice areas. But there are some sketchy neighborhoods still. I know this because I have been in conflict with them, on this issue, for several decades now.

I have fought with those who had an impulse to leave their daughters uneducated or undereducated. I have labored to box out those who taught that homemaking was a low-skills calling. I have two daughters and a son, and my (college-educated) wife and I sacrificed a great deal to ensure that our daughters were educated the same way our son was. Their education was aimed at different ends, but it was every bit as rigorous. I have countered those who had low expectations for their girls by telling them that the level of education they provided for their daughters was going to roughly predict the level of education that their grandsons would receive.

And when it comes to older guys courting younger girls, I have taught that because all men are hungry for respect, some of the lazier ones are tempted to garner this respect on the cheap. They do this by vying for girls who could only compare them to all the fifteen-year-old boys they knew. In fact, I made some fun of this pattern in my novel Evangellyfish.

In sum, when a 25-year-old guy sets his sights on a 15-year-old girl, I think it is safe to say that I hate it with the heat of a thousand suns, more or less, give or take.

And yet, instead of trumpeting my loyalty to this most reasonable cause, Brightbill drags me into the fray, pretending that I think that a parent-approved courtship in a situation like the one in the case she mentions mitigates anything. It mitigates nothing. “Mitigates” would mean that Crime X becomes, as a result of this mitigation, crime x. Rather, my hostility to this kind of thinking meant that I thought that Crime X was actually Crime Y. It means “statutory rape” instead of “lewd and lascivious.”

For the case she mentions was a prime example of the kind of thinking she critiques throughout her article. It was a prime example of it, and it did happen in our church community. But my opposition to that kind of thing is one of the reasons why the courtship was kept a secret—because the climate of our church community was and is decidedly against that kind of thing.

And so here is my lament, too long to be published (in all its fullness) in The LA Times. Why does Kathryn Brightbill complain about evangelical creepiness on this score, and then sideswipe an evangelical leader who takes what amounts to that same stand?

Actually, Here’s Why

That was a rhetorical question. I’ll tell you why. It is because I am willing to say that young women are nubile.

By the way, if my periodic use of that perfectly acceptable word has had you fuming since you read the headline, this is because somewhere down in your secret heart of hearts you have turned over all questions of moral authority concerning gender to the feminists. But here at this blog we don’t care what they think. We care what God thinks, and specifically, we care what God says.

Men and women are different. Foolish men and foolish women are different. Wise men and wise women are different. And both classes of men and women are different from each other, with all of them different in different ways.

Starting with the foolish, they value different things. A certain kind of man values certain traits that are at their peak when a woman is young (I would use the word nubile here again, but I don’t want to tax your patience). A certain kind of woman values certain traits that are at their peak later when a man is older (e.g. wealthy, successful, putting off a most-interesting-man-in-the-world vibe). These two types will often meet at parties (or, in Brightbill’s story, at worldview conferences). It will not be long before they hook up to make a deal.

It is a human thing, not an evangelical thing. Whenever the population of any subculture gets large enough to have successful fools with distinguished-looking beards, and a substantial cohort of nubile young hotties, you will see the carnal coalitions start to form.

This is what has happened in some of the corners of evangelicalism described by Brightbill, and this is also what has been happening in that skanky-fest called Hollywood. Welcome to earth, kid.

And this is where you see the difference between biblical prudence and feminist resentments. Feminists hate the fact that there even are hot bodies. They want socialism applied to sex, surgically-imposed on the one percent if necessary. Wise Christians know to look past the look, but they don’t resent the existence of it at all. They know its place. Sexual attractiveness is a factor, but by no means the most important one.

“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Prov. 31:30, ESV).

So please note that the idea is not that charm is nonexistent, but rather that it is a liar. And, in particular cases, it is pretty good at lying.

“For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil, but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps follow the path to Sheol” (Prov. 5:3–5, ESV).

But in the strange new world of feminism, when godly mothers warn their sons about the painted ladies, this is taken as some form of conservative misogyny, an attack on any women anywhere who were working on their own empowerment. This is why our ruling overlords are trying to transform our language. They want to turn hoochie mamas into unionized “sex workers.”

Got it? By rejecting those believers who say that certain women are sexual fools (and that the men who pursue them are another kind of sexual fool), our new establishment wants to create a new rule, one that says a critique of any woman is an attack on all. And by this clever means, they are trying to remove the hope of the gospel from the earth.

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Categories: People I don't know

In Which I Suggest We Not Vote for Dirtier Elections

Mon, 13/11/2017 - 13:00

So I begin these ruminations with a most necessary qualifier, necessary at least in these troubled days of ours. To defend due process is not to defend the dirty deeds that must be prosecuted or rejected under a system of due process. A civilized society, in order to institutionalize a bias against lynchings—against a populace taking what they might call “direct action” based upon what “everybody knows—must insist upon due process.

That said, here is the qualification yet again. I indent it so that certain people can find it more easily. If Roy Moore is guilty of what his accusers say, then he deserves everything he is going to get, good and hard. With a career and reputation in shambles, he would have no complaint against the Almighty over what transpired. As the bluesman Paul Butterfield once put it, trenchantly enough, “Ain’t no one to blame but myself.”

But if he is not guilty of the charges, then the Washington Post and the suborned women who accused him are the guilty ones. Not only are they guilty of false accusation, but they are guilty of something every bit as bad as what they accused Moore of doing. “And the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; Then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you” (Deut. 19:18–19).

We have an accusation of a disqualifying sexual crime; if guilty, Moore ought not to be a senator. We have the counteraccusation that WaPo was offering money to women if they were willing to accuse Moore. This too is disqualifying; people who do this should be run out of the business of journalism. But notice that I am withholding judgment in both cases. I do not know if Moore molested a girl decades ago, and I do not know if the WaPo paid women to lie about Moore. Let’s investigate and examine the evidence. But that means getting all the evidence, both ways, out on the table. After that is the time for decision. Until then, let’s not play “ready, fire, aim!”

So a defense of due process is not a defense of the guilty, considered as such. It is a defense of us all. It is a defense of civilization against anarchy.

The biblical view of justice requires the presumption of innocence, due process, the right to cross-examination, and more. Now David French tries to argue against this, and is quite right that there are certain venues where a certain kind of due process does not and cannot apply. But this should make us more careful, not less. Why?

The requirements of our justice system are requirements that are derived from the general biblical approach to justice. They apply in a particular way to courts, but because they are matters of justice, they also apply everywhere else. For example, the requirement of two or three witnesses to condemn is tantamount to the presumption of innocence. This is required in a court system (Deut. 17:6; 19:15), but naturally—since we are talking about justice—it also applies to disputes within a church (2 Cor. 13:1). If school teachers are wise, it would apply to disputes that boiled in from the playground, and if parents are wise, it would apply to arguments between their teenagers.

The principles of justice apply anywhere it would be possible to act in an unjust fashion. French is quite right that with regard to the courts, it only applies to such things that courts have jurisdiction over. But this does not mean that justice is a matter of indifference so long as prosecution is out of the question. If the adage that you get more of what you subsidize is true—and it is true—then do we really want to encourage scurrilous accusations at the moment of maximum vulnerability? If you think that Moore is a skunk because of these charges and the Clarence Thomas is a statesman because he survived charges of a similar nature, then the day might come when you think Moore is a statesman too.

If you are a resident of Alabama, you shouldn’t change your vote based on these accusations. If you were already against him, stay that way. If you were already in his corner, stay that way. If you were in the process of making up your mind, then his behavior in the course of this controversy is fair game. Public statements are also fair game, of course. But don’t change anything on the basis of a late hit.

I will put it this way. If you change your vote because of unsubstantiated allegations, you are actually voting for political campaigns to get increasingly dirty. You are voting for more of what apparently works. You are voting for our October surprises to get exponentially more lurid. Why? Because it changed your behavior last time. What did you think would happen?

A few other things should be noted.

Someone asked somewhere online why I am taking this line with Roy Moore, and didn’t with Harvey Weinstein or Kevin Spacey. And the answer is simple. If Moore had said it was a long time ago, and he couldn’t remember because there were lots of girls, and then checked himself into some rehab, then I would have treated him the way I did Weinstein. And if Moore had said that he was done with his double life and that it was time to come out as “a gay man,” then the same. But he is denying everything stone cold. This is a he said/she said, and that could not be said about the Hollywood scandal.

The Scriptures treat false accusation as a big deal, which means the possibility of false accusation is also a big deal. One of the Ten Commandments is aimed at it. “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Ex. 20:16). Notice that this is perjury in service of accusation. This is false witness against someone. This is a lying heart using the court system as a weapon. There is not a huge difference in principle between that and using the WaPo as a weapon.

Important notice, also indented, as above. By saying this, I am not defending either sins or crimes, committed by anybody, whether right, left, or in the middle. I am defending American liberties. We are up against an astonishing ignorance, like the juror in the Menendez trial who asked, “What is a senator?” “What is the presumption of innocence anyway? What is due process?”

Apart from Christ, slanderous accusation is the natural language that men speak. “Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good” (2 Tim. 3:3). And this is not a temptation limited to men. Women are told specifically to guard themselves against it. Older women are to set a good example for the younger women in this area. “The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3).

“Thou shalt not follow the [click traffic] to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment” (Ex. 23:2).

“The insolent smear me with [memes], but with my whole heart I keep your precepts; their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law” (Ps. 119:69–70, ESV).

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Categories: People I don't know

The Apostles Creed 18: The Communion of Saints

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 18:51
Introduction:

As we turn to discuss the communion of saints, we first have to deal with how the term communion itself has been downgraded into something fairly mundane. We tend to think of something like community, and since there is a religious tint to it, we make that a nice community. But in our day, we also have the step dancing community, the ham radio community, the LGBT community, and so on. In our idolatry, we have come to believe that we are the tie that binds. But by all that is holy, we are not.

The Text:

I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only begotten Son, our Lord.  He was conceived by the Holy Ghost, and born of the virgin, Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into Hades. On the third day He rose again from the dead, ascended into Heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Summary of the Text:

“That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ . . . But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:3,7).

As always, we must begin with gospel. That which was from the beginning, the Word of life, was in our midst (v. 1). This life was manifested to us, and the apostles bore witness to the eternality of this life (v. 2). Our fellowship is both vertical and horizontal, and only horizontal because it is vertical (v. 3). This is written so that our joy may be full (v. 4). God is light, and in Him there is no darkness (v. 5). It is not possible to have fellowship with Him while also having fellowship with darkness (v. 6). But if we have fellowship with the light, then we also have fellowship with anyone else in the light (v. 7).

And so this is what the communion of the saints means. It is the communion of light. Through the gospel, we have union with Christ. Because we have union with the bridegroom, this means that, of necessity, we have union with the rest of the bride. The unity of the saints flows from the head. The unity of the saints pervades the entire body of saints precisely because of their connection to the Lord. If we have fellowship with the Light, we have fellowship in the light.

Partaking: The Greek word in the Creed for communion is koinonia, and this is echoing the deep and profound meaning of this reality in the New Testament. You could translate it as fellowship, but for too many Christians, fellowship just means coffee and donuts. Communion is a bit better, but it still does not pack the wallop that koinonia does. The closest I can come is to render it as mutual partaking.

Reformed According to Scripture:

Because this phrase came into the Creed a few centuries after the initial composition of it, and because there was so much misunderstanding in the medieval period about the nature of sacraments and saints, churches and so on, it is important for us to register our particular Reformed understanding of this. So permit me to quote the Westminster Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism on this, and I trust you will see the same vertical/horizontal emphasis that we find in our text.

“All saints, that are united to Jesus Christ their Head, by His Spirit, and by faith, have fellowship with Him in His grace, sufferings, death, resurrection, and glory: and, being united to one another in love, they have communion in each other’s gifts and graces, and are obliged to the performance of such duties, public and private, as do conduce to their mutual good, both in the inward and outward man” (WCF 26.1).

“What do you understand by ‘the communion of saints’?
First, that all and every one, who believes, being members of Christ, are in common, partakers of him, and of all his riches and gifts; secondly, that every one must know it to be his duty, readily and cheerfully to employ his gifts, for the advantage and salvation of other members” (HC.55).

Union with Christ is first, and then, as a necessary consequence, you find yourself loving those others whom Christ also loves, and loving those others who, together with you, love the Lord Jesus.

And All by His Spirit:

“But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15–16).

The biblical logic of partaking works in this way. We grow up into Jesus, and as a result of this, we find the body being knit together. This knitting is truly mysterious, like a child being fashioned in the womb. How and why does it work? How do all the various parts know what to do? This is the mystery of a biological body, and the spiritual body works in a similar way, under the hand of our infinitely wise God.

And it is by no means limited to the people in this room, or to the people who have signed off on your denominational distinctives, or even to the people who happen to be alive at this moment. Those who have passed on before us are still connected to the Head, just as you are. That means that, while you must not pray to them, you also must exult in the body together with them. You pray with them. And as for your great, great grandchildren, they also have their appointed place in God’s eternal purposes, and that place is where all of us must turn.

Again, always and forever, this is all about the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Categories: People I don't know

All of That Must Die

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 15:48

Everyone here wants things, and there is no problem with that. That is a design feature; it is how God made us. But there are frequently deep problems with how and why we want things. And the central problem is that we tend to want things that God gave to someone else, simply because that is what He did. This is not simple creational desire; it is what the Bible calls sin, in particular the sin of envy.

Some desires are given to us by God so that He might fulfill them. The created world is full of created things, all fashioned by the wisdom of God for the delight of man. But the world is also full of created others, who are helping themselves to those created blessings, and we don’t like how the lines formed. This is source of all of our conflicts.

I speak particularly to you young people. Take this coming year as a time to learn the difference between those desires that you should simply fulfill, and those desires that you should simply mortify. You should fulfill the desire to eat dinner, to sleep, to scratch what itches, to stand in the sunshine, and to get in out of the rain.

You must mortify the desire to be like her, to get ahead of your brother, to win that prize so that she won’t, to compete for your mother’s approval. All of that must die, if you want conflict to die.

And how are such things to be mortified? Glory to God, He has done it already. You cannot die in this way, but one has died on your behalf. Look to Him.

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Categories: People I don't know

Repetitive Food

Sat, 11/11/2017 - 15:36

We come to this Table every week. For some Christians, this repetition means that we will necessarily drift into religious complacency or sloth. This does happen, and so the Word must always accompany the sacrament, to keep us mindful of our responsibilities here.

But one of those responsibilities is to be repetitive. The liturgy of the worship service is the most fundamental catechism we have, particularly for our little ones. Though they do not know what I preached on five weeks ago, they do know when we came to the Table five weeks ago, and they do know when we raised our hands in the Gloria Patri, and they do know when we stood for the Scripture reading. They know all these things (which are important things to know) through repetition.

The entire worship service shapes us, and not only prepares us for worship next week, and the week after, but also steeps us in certain realities. We know that we do not come before a holy God without confession. We know that once we have confessed our sins, He really does forgive us and receive us. We know that all our dealings with Him must be governed according to His Word alone, and not by our own inventions and devisings. We know that we are to be a joyful people, and are to sing before Him, hearts overflowing with gratitude. We know that as a gentle Father, He feeds us and provides for us, giving us everything we need for life and godliness. All this we gain through repetition. But, let it never be said, through thoughtless repetition.

You are called, here, now, to be mindful of what Jesus Christ did for us. You are called to this, just as you were last week, and as you will be next week. Repetition, when offered in faith, is glory.

So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.

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Categories: People I don't know

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