Blogroll: Blog & Mablog

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Theology That Bites Back
Updated: 2 hours 31 min ago

Drunk in the Gutter

Thu, 19/05/2022 - 02:00

“Although the memory is dim, we still refer today to ‘the Protestant work ethic.’ This is like an impoverished man in the gutter recalling how wealthy his great-grandfather was.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 23

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Categories: People I don't know

On Avoiding Romantic Reverie

Wed, 18/05/2022 - 15:49

Dear Darla,

In my last letter I talked about the surreptitious competition that women tend to engage in, as opposed to the “out in the open” competition that is preferred by men. Men tend to compete about everything, women included, while women tend to compete over men, in a way that extends into everything.

Not only is this the case, but there are gradations to that surreptitious competition. Take a hypothetical case, the one I used earlier. Say that an eligible bachelor moves into your community, into your circle. One of the first things that people do is that they start matchmaking in their heads, and they start doing this almost immediately.

This can be done in a way that exhibits really bad manners, and it can be done in a way characterized by modesty and good taste—but it is going to be done. All the older church ladies immediately begin wondering if “he would be good for . . .” The bad manners come in when they start wondering this out loud, or if they fail to give the young gentleman a minute to unpack his suitcase.

The younger women do the same thing, but will usually be more reticent to talk too much about it—because their circle of friends includes others who might be lining up the options differently. “I hope he gets to meet Suzy Q. . .” That is less likely to be said if you are present and you are not Suzie Q. And of course, it might be said, and loudly, if you are present and you are Suzie Q’s main rival.

Now all of this can be done in a way that is gossipy and wrong, and done by people who seem to think that pairing people off is the most important thing that God assigned to us in this life, which is not the case. But meeting members of the opposite sex is one of the more important things we do, and for those who are in your age group, it should be one of the top three.

Nothing is served by pretending that this is not the case. If an activity is inevitable, then we should be trying to figure out how to do it biblically and well, which is quite a different thing than pretending that it can’t be happening because we think that somehow it ought not to be happening.

So the trick is to do this intelligently, without investing all sorts of emotional capital into it. In other words, you do not want to start daydreaming—you are evaluating whether or not a man could be a good fit, and not running headlong into a romantic reverie.

But here is the thing. This temptation is likely to come from outside you, from your circle of friends, and if you are not guarding the combustible materials in your heart, you are setting yourself up for some real grief. You do not want to be Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, but rather Elinor.

Excitements are contagious, and if your friends are all in a doo dah over the arrival of whoever this guy is, and if two of them have nominated you for the lead role when it comes to attempts on capturing his heart, you might be tempted to remain placid on the surface, but to give way to woolgathering in the midnight hours. That kind of thing is really unfruitful. If you don’t have anything to go on, don’t go on.

Daydreaming is occurring when you skip over certain preliminary things, like him actually showing an interest, or him exhibiting the kind of character that would make it wise for you even to be interested, and, having skipped over those things (to be “settled” later), you find yourself thinking about the wedding day, or a honeymoon in the Bahamas.

The whole situation is taking shape in a competitive environment, even though not everyone is competing the same way. Think of it this way—there are the players competing on the court, there are different teams, there are the players on the bench who go in and play periodically, and then there are the season ticket holders at court side, playing vicariously. These people sitting court side could well be running various kinds of proxy wars—she is not after this guy herself, but she wants her friend to have a shot at him, and not you. And that is why that snide comment was made at church two weeks ago. She had never been rude to you before.

Now your responsibility in this kind of situation is to always act, never react. You should want to act on principle, and not to be reacting to circumstances. And because you are the woman, your range of activity when it comes to how you “act” is going to be fairly limited. You don’t get to ask him out, in other words.

But even though you don’t ask him out, you have every right to be in places where he is likely to be—just so long as it does not look like you are in hot pursuit. In other words, if he goes to the early service, there is no problem with you going to the early service too. These things happen. You are not stalking, or chasing, or taking the initiative. You are simply giving him the opportunity to initiate, if he so desires. But if he is taking a welding class at the community college, and you take up a sudden interest in welding, finding it fascinating, then that would be rhetorically problematic.

But prior to all of this should be the thoughtful, prayerful deliberation about the characteristics of the kind of man you would like to marry. You can do this with no bachelors in sight, and you can do this if a candidate has appeared on the horizon. You are not out of line to ask yourself questions about a particular guy. This is due diligence. It is a godly activity. It is not ridiculous, and you are not being brazen. This is all between you and God, remember?

Most of your responsible actions will be centered on how you think of him, and what you allow your emotions to consequently do. You want to think like a godly Christian woman, one who has a godly set of Christian priorities.

So if you are avoiding daydreams, and if you are avoiding bad manners (e.g. where you were the one who made the rude comment at church), then you are simply being a responsible Christian woman. Make a list. Describe the kind of man you would be interested in. Share it with no one, except perhaps your mom or dad. Pray through it. Feel free to make adjustments as you learn more.

You are making a working list, not pouring a concrete foundation. What sorts of things should be on the list? Well, that is largely up to you, but here are some suggestions. Some would be obligatory for any intelligent Christian woman, while others would be a matter of personal preference.

Is he Reformed? Is he a reader? What kind of a work ethic does he have? Do the other men look up to him? Is he taller than you? Is he athletic? Could he serve as an elder in the church some day? Does his family have a similar culture to your family? What is his view on Ephesians 5? And so on.

And, of course, you should do this realistically, remembering what I have mentioned before. A man who fit the description of this list is a man who could well have a list of his own. How would you do with regard to that list?

“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”

Romans 12:3 (KJV)

Your uncle,

Douglas

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Categories: People I don't know

Affection, Not Affectation

Wed, 18/05/2022 - 02:05

“Next to the Scriptures, nothing makes a sermon more to pierce, than when it comes out of the inward affection of the heart without any affectation.”

William Ames, as quoted in Kent Hughes, Power in Weakness

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Categories: People I don't know

Rebellion in Seed Form

Wed, 18/05/2022 - 02:00

“To understand our culture’s inability to resist the claims of ‘gay activists,’ we must understand that they are reasoning from premises held by most of straight America, i.e. that sexual autonomy and sexual wisdom are consistent with one another.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 21

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Categories: People I don't know

Letters Help Us Understand One Another, and Isn’t That What It is All About?

Tue, 17/05/2022 - 15:30
Gideon and Pursuit

Curiously, after citing the account of Gideon pursuing the Midian kings in Judges 8:4 you mention the importance of local churches setting aside bread for state action. Given what happens to Gideon and his army in the verses that follow, we should also be prepared for a disappointing response from within our own gates.

David

David, what you say is quite possible. You have a point.

Revisiting Revoice

Thank you for your ministry to us all. May the Lord grant you many more years of faithful labors.

I have a question which came to me listening to a podcast by those responsible for the Revoice conference. One of the startling things they noted was the great number of attendees who are in a covenanted relationship with a member of the same sex for the purpose of companionship and committed care. Some of these people live together, etc. The podcasters (Preston Sprinkle and Nate Collins) spoke of this trend as something which could inform the church in terms of friendship. (No thanks.)

It occurred to me while I was listening to this that what they have basically done is craft a form of marriage that doesn’t incorporate all of the vows God has given to us—like Mormon baptisms. Now, shifting back to the hetero-side, as a pastor, I have done both pre-marital counseling and regular marriage counseling where it was apparent that the counselees did not realize what they were into or getting into. To be specific, they didn’t understand what a covenant is, they didn’t understand what headship is, they didn’t understand how submission works, what to think about children, etc. My question (finally) is this: If these marriages went on ignorant of fundamental Scriptural understandings of marriage, are they basically doing the same thing as the Revoice people? If the vows are seriously deficient (I vow to be your very best friend for life), are they married? Should we re-“vow” them? Or is there a tacit covenant work even if those wedding do not fathom it.

Thanks for your help.


Devin

Devin, I think that an actual marriage comes into existence when you have two things occur—the vow, and the consummation. The vow may be deficient, but if it is present, I think you have a marriage. At the same time, I think you are correct to see the connection between hetero-marriage-lite and homo-friendship-marriage-lite.

Trump Again

You touch a few times on something I thought I had as a divine insight in 2016 (and which I certainly hold lightly, as one does when one feels they’ve been given something prophetic), and that is essentially the book of Habakkuk as being highly applicable to what God was doing with Trump—i.e. bringing in a deeply flawed individual to destroy those whom are overdue for a smiting. And while there have always been some radical and anti-Christian elements within the Democrat party, TDS has really served as a sieve to not only make people choose whether they’re going to side with those radical elements, but put those elements front and center. And I sincerely hope the coming judgement is to destroy the Satanism, and the gender, sexuality and racial identity politics that have coalesced there, and not the whole country in the process . . .

Ian

Ian, that is the hope and prayer.

Ride Sally

Releasing the audio of the first chapter of Ride Sally Ride in the All of Christ podcast was the greatest marketing strategy ever devised. I had barely listened halfway through when I ordered it up for myself. I haven’t been able to put in down upon receiving it! I am extremely blessed by your gift to rebuke culture with a jolly smile upon your face! This book exemplifies that attitude. If Roe v. Wade is overturned (Lord willing) this year the events laid out in the book do seem to follow. I know you’re not a prophet but the times and dates on the events do seem awfully uncanny!

In gratitude,

Aaron

Aaron, yeah. Some of it is kind of spooky.

I am finally getting around to Ride Sally Ride now that is on audio on the canon app and all I have to say is that if the Charismatic Movement is looking for a prophet, they should all move to Moscow!

Chapter 1, sex robots, check! Roe v. Wade, coming soon check! Country self dividing, check! Obergefell, that’s the future hope… check!

Well done.

Jordan

Jordan, thanks. But I don’t really want to become a charismatic prophet. What would Dan Phillips say?

Go a Little Deeper

I am a shipwreck, a pig and a dog that now and then manage to wear a suit sailing.

God has cast me several times to the ground and I come up as no Paul at all. I am still being violent, still watch porn, still drink and still have gross humor and being a bitter 50 year, selfish old fart.

I am as Mr Badman and want to be Pilgrim !? I love to live but I hate life, because my part is a villain not a chief of sinners. And I am very, very angry on God for not saving me from myself and all I do and say.

Best regards

Carl

Carl, not to make light of your dilemma, but perhaps I can say something that can help. Fast forward in your mind to the day of judgment, the day when every mouth will be stopped, and God will be vindicated in absolutely everything He did to you, and for you. At that time, there will be no room for evasion at all, or for putting anything back on God. The thoughts you will have on that day will be true. Try to think them now.

Cluttering Is Not Decluttering

Repentance, repentance, repentance My husband has been repenting to me about 5 times a day for lust struggles with thoughts about other women. We’re practicing the Decluttering Your Marriage style with fast repentance and fast forgiveness.

He repented to me tonight about a desire for me to die so he might be free to marry. He said it was a brief thought and it’s not actually what he wants.

I’m emotionally exhausted. It has hurt and I feel myself tense when he walks into the room, wondering what it will be this time.

What needs to happen here? Am I being too sensitive with having pain here? Should there be any emotional baggage, or not so much because he says that’s actually not his desire?

At what point is change expected? Are men forever doomed to struggle with lust multiple times a day? In no way does he feed sin. He doesn’t have a porn problem. Can lust actually be eradicated from a man’s life? Even if it will always be a temptation, is it also expected to be a sin they fall to every now and then?

Exhausted, but pressing forward in hope

Exhausted, you can only declutter your marriage by confessing your sins. Do not confess your temptations. The devil can get you chasing your tail in nothing flat that way. The only responsibility you have for fleeting thoughts is the responsibility of rejecting them. Martin Luther said that you can’t keep birds from flying over your house, but you can keep them from nesting in your chimney.

Islamic Witness

I just noticed an “Islamic centre” as they call it, has been opened up in my town. We ought to pray for their salvation and that the centre would be brought to nothing, but how should the churches and individual Christian’s in my town respond to this?

Jonty

Jonty, I would recommend contacting James Rayment, (james@al-maidah.org), who has a flourishing ministry to Muslims.

General Advice

Please pardon as my letter is not in regards to a particular blog post, but just seeking some wisdom in general.

My family and I have been trying to move out of a deep blue state to South Carolina for the past couple years, and the Lord just blessed my husband with a remote job, giving us our pick of the litter in regards to where in the state we’d like to relocate. However, now that we actually have some wheels in motion, I’m reading predictions that the economy will crash as early as June. Although I obviously don’t believe everything I read, with the way our political captors are spending I think this might be a fair guess. Are we too late to get out of Dodge? Houses there are very expensive, and I’m terrified of moving so far just to lose everything we have. We have small children. On the other hand, our current state is deeply wicked and a threat in itself. Any thoughts on the matter would be a blessing.

Thank you,

Lost and Confused

Dear Lost, of course something can always go wrong, but my advice to you would be “steady as she goes.”

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Re: “On Not Being Catty About It” When I get to Heaven, I’m gonna ask Euodia and Syntyche what his name was.

Kyriosity

Kyriosity, let’s just hope it wasn’t Clement.

Jonathan Pageau?

I have really been enjoying the things I am watching on YouTube coming from Canon Press and Doug Wilson. This letter is more of a request. I am trying to make sense of Jonathan Pageau. My son is fairly enthralled with him, and so I have tried to watch his YouTube videos, but I feel like they pretty much make my head explode. He can sound so intellectual, and yet I don’t hear Biblical truth, but jut lots of almost Gnostic double talk. I tried to find some Reformed views on his teaching, but so far have not found anything. I can envision Doug doing one of his ‘reaction to’ videos while watching one of Pageau’s. What made me think of it is that I just watched Dougs video titled…hmm…something like ‘There is no Forgiveness.” In it he talked about sacrifice. That reminded me that I had just that day noticed a Pageau video on Sacrifice, probably dated 5/10 or 5/11. I then tried to watch Pageau and again, it sounds like crazy double talk. He does not go to Scripture for his ideas. They are very human oriented. Yet, there are apparently a good amount of people – professing Christians – that watch him. My son had walked away from the Lord in early adulthood, and now is telling me that he has come back to God, but it is with these sorts of mystical, symbolic undertones. I would sure like to have a little help in how to sort out Pageau’s teachings. Is he totally off base and a heretic? Does he sometimes hit the mark? Babylon Bee interviewed him. I will have to watch that and see what they came up with. So, my letter is a request for help in making sense of Pageau’s teachings. Thank you.

Debbie

Debbie, sorry. I won’t be much help. I don’t know much about Pageau particularly. I would assume that our differences would be the standard sort of differences you would find between Reformed Protestantism and EO.

What We Have in Common

Bret Weinstein and his partner Heather Heying are the sort of individuals who live and reason by a completely different philosophical grounding, but reason very deeply about it and so can be quite useful to listen to. They come at this topic from an incredibly different direction, but essentially point out that men grow up with overt modes of competition, and women grow up with covert modes of competition—and also that our modern society has -probably to our collective detriment—replaced many forms of overt competition with more covert forms . . .

Ian

Ian, I agree. And the thing we have in common with folks like them is that we all believe in objective reality. That we cannot tailor that reality to suit ourselves.

More Postmill Questions

1 John 5:19 (KJV) And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

1 John 5:19 (ESV) We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

In what sense does the world lie in wickedness/the power of the evil one since Christ is King and currently reigning from His seated position at the right hand of the Father?

Todd

Todd, I take this as referring to the world at that time, the world of that generation. But there was a world to come, which we are in the process of inheriting. The devil was the ruler of that age, but he was then thrown down.

I must admit defeat (or rather, victory) of coming to the Postmillennial position. You’re right. It is more fun this way.

But more importantly, I wanted to receive some pastoral counsel on this as it regards my current pastoral role. I am serving as a pastor amidst a plethora of Dispensational premillennial pastors/elders either by confession or osmosis. We are not confessionally/doctrinally of this position, but we are historically and by majority. There are also mischaracterizations of postmillennialism (and preterism at that), and I know I am walking into a type of sticky goo.

As cool as it would be to see them all be postmil, I don’t expect it but would rather advance patiently and properly amongst my brothers in Christ. I do not suppose I am the only one who reads your blogs who is going through something similar. I was wondering what your counsel would be in this regard.

Evan

Evan, my advice would be to play it cool, and stay away from any postmill cage stage stuff. Keep it out of your explicit teaching (but not out of your cheerfulness). Pray that God would get you to a peaceable settlement where you are, and, failing that, to a peaceable transition where you are going to be.

Are you aware of any Postmillennialists who have interacted with the idea that global climate change may be used to vastly increase the world’s resources to support increased populations? Less Arctic and more tillable land seems like it would be a positive.

Joshua

Joshua, I had not seen that argument. But it is fun to see it now.

Social Security

From “On Humming ‘A Mighty Fortress’ through your Masks” Pastor Doug,

You reference your objection to Social Security in this post. Have you developed that elsewhere? I am set to be ordained in the first part of next year and would like to think through the issue more thoroughly? Any direction appreciated!

Chris

Chris, my case against Social Security is not all that sophisticated. “Thou shalt not steal.”

Being Fastidious Is a Sin Too

I have been vary edified by many of your sermons. The one titled Confession of sin was a great blessing to me and helped open my eyes. But now I’m struggling with remembering something I did wrong every two weeks. I’m willing to deal with them but the problem is they are all small things from five or six years ago, like a mindless comment that was a lie or some bad joke I said to someone that I haven’t seen in a long time, I’ve have repented of them to God, but is that still something I need to confess to that person? Most of the times I have brought something up, like lying about using someone’s bathroom, and they don’t know what I’m talking about, they’re always nice about it but I wonder if I’m sounding legalistic and poorly representing God to them. Also, with the bigger things I felt a heavy burden on me before I confessed the sin, but with these small things the affliction seems more self-enforced, if that makes sense. No sin is small sin but what sin needs to be confessed to one another? I know that since you don’t know the specific it might be hard to give an answer, but just some general principles would be very helpful.

Daniel

Daniel, I think your question is really a reasonable one. I would apply the Golden Rule. If someone sinned against you in that same way ten years ago, say by coveting your plaid slacks momentarily, would you want them to confess it to you? And depending on your circle of friends, you can let them know that things are different with you now with a “hey, everybody” confession. But if there is any doubt, I would still confess specifically.

Forgiveness and Expiration Dates

My question is, Is there a statute of limitations on adultery as cause for divorce? Here are some of the facts:

*I was unfaithful, not my husband

*When discovered, we went to our pastor/church for confession and guidance

*My husband chose to forgive me and stay in our marriage

*He never received the support and guidance needed to really heal from bitterness

*Now, 8 years later, he believes there is no healing and no one can give him a biblical reason why he should not seek divorce

Of course, there are so many more nuances to our relationship, and I’m sure they factor in heavily. But this is a main overarching issue that I cannot seem to find guidance on. I want to save my marriage. Thank you in advance for any guidance.

Sarah

Sarah, your husband had grounds for divorce at the time, but once he forgave you and stayed with you for years, those grounds disappeared. Your adultery cannot be reactivated as an issue—if it could be, then the forgiveness was meaningless.

The Torah and Christ

I am a relatively new Christian, a few years since I committed to Christ. I have people whom I respect on both sides of this issue and I am very conflicted on it currently. I am inquiring about keeping Torah and more specifically Old Testament dietary and social law as Christian Gentiles.

I found a video where you were answering this but the sound was distorted and unable to be listened to.

I understand Faith and faith alone is what saves and it seems to me that keeping to dietary law is steering towards salvation by works.

Matthew 5 17-19

Revelation 21 1-4

Matthew 28 19-20

These verses seem to say that we should still keep Torah as Gentiles and that, We are being grafted into Israel.

I appreciate any insight or advice you could offer

Sincerely,

Conflicted

Conflicted, we are grafted into Israel, but as wild olive branches we have brought in something new. My recommendation to you is that, as a new Christian, you should not study stacks of verses from different parts of the Bible. You don’t have the narrative flow yet. I would encourage you to read Hebrews through 10 times, and then Galatians 20 times. Do it with these questions in the forefront of your mind.

An Observation

I’ll be praying over Stickergate.

Thanks for the constant flow of free, or in the case of Canon+ very high value to dollar content as usual. I have been working on low heat on the back burner a larger email for you covering major topics to which I’ve alluded in the comment sections at various times, but refuse to make an only half-baked effort and time management with four small children and financial concerns while trying to save money in this climate being what they are, it is slow going. I did want to comment briefly on something I heard just now in Man Rampant Season 2 (the one with Peter Hitchens), You question why, in Football, a team will be able to execute a brilliant and dynamic 2 minute offense in the fourth quarter, but why couldn’t they score like that in the first? You conclude that the deadline is giving added motivation, and then compare that to the far left using emergencies as justification for power grabbing.

The problem here is that deadline motivation has nothing to do with difference in football play, and the oversight in the sport is being carried over to an oversight in the politics. In the fourth quarter of a football game, the material conditions of the game are different from what they were at the start of the game. As you well know, there’s less time left. What you haven’t considered, at least not in the content of your comparison, is the chain reaction of strategic changes this makes on the game that have nothing to do with motivation. With little time left, the opponent has no time to make careful adjustments to new strategies. With little time left, the penalty for catastrophic failure is nonexistent, you can’t lose the game *more* than you already are, while the reward for success, instantly winning the entire game, is as high as it can be. This changes every decision about play calling across the board. A 50/50 chance at a touchdown vs. an interception would be a borderline insane choice in the first quarter. You have no way of calculating the ultimate effect of the decision. At the end of the game, you know precisely how much or little effect both the interception and the touchdown would have. You have had the benefit of watching them react to your offensive choices for hours at that point, and hundreds of examples of their strategic choices from which to devise an ideal strategy.

Simply put, it is a substantively different game late in the 4th quarter. This is part of the reason why I criticize so sharply when I see people criticizing the study of games as a generality as I did a few months ago. Many of the principles of analysis at play carry over significantly to the real world. In this case, the reason the left was able to make so much headway recently was not simply because they are claiming an emergency. There is a confluence of circumstances that allowed this window of opportunity to exist, from a refusal for churches to participate in mainstream culture, to conservative media being more interested in selling to existing conservatives rather than outreach to the center, to internal divides still rippling outwards from those that despise Trump too much to allow the right to succeed so long as he is at the helm. We’ll call that the David French effect.

The point is, the analysis of both the football and the politics is more complicated than all that, and Christians tend to be allergic to strategic thinking. We may be required to be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves, but we tend to be more of dogs in both respects. You might describe a dog as loyal, but never innocent. He whines and begs for what he wants, and scratches up the walls when denied his comforts, and has all the strategic inclinations of walking in a straight line towards the thing that he wants.

I don’t expect you disagree with any of this. The flat game theory analysis just popped out at me and I felt the need to comment. God bless.

P.S. Oh, I just recently watched your debate with James White and your older one with Andrew Sullivan. I have to compliment you across the board, as in every debate I’ve seen of you, you are not just delivering your thoughts, but also playing your opponent. Hitchens’ trademark was to steal the moral high ground away from his religious opponents, something most of them were completely unused to, and most are just never able to recover from being in such unfamiliar territory, so you by contrast standup and declare how pointless and without power his condemnations were. White by contrast is an exegetical heavy hitter. He was *expecting* to throw down on issues of Biblical interpretation. Rather than lean in to that expectation, you present your point of view as, for lack of a better singular word, “cute”.

You’ve taken one of the primary lessons of David and Goliath to heart. You don’t beat a Goliath by fighting like a Goliath.

Justin

Justin, thanks. And thanks for the good explanation on the Hail Mary pass—although I still have questions about the rapid fire completions, three in a row, each for fifteen yards.

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Categories: People I don't know

Sin Is a Lousy Teacher

Tue, 17/05/2022 - 02:00

“We have come to believe that experience in sin qualifies us to speak authoritatively. Christians should know better. The only man who can speak with full authority on the subject of sin is the Lord Jesus—who never sinned.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 20

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Categories: People I don't know

Stickergate Staggers On

Mon, 16/05/2022 - 22:30

I will let you all know more as things unfold, but Rory’s trial has now been completed, and the jury is currently deliberating. In the meantime, you can get more of a factual update here.

Because justice on such a trivial matter is way more expensive than it ought to be, I am again providing a link to those who want to help with the guys’ legal defense.

As some of you may know, some time back the county (as opposed to the city) dropped the charges against Seamus, Rory’s younger brother, requiring that he write a paper for them, which I have included below.

I am publishing it here for your amusement and edification. Comments are open.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND STICKERS IN THE TIME OF COVID

By Seamus Wilson

INTRO TO CIVICS

What is civil disobedience? Is it good? Is it evil? Is it an unfortunate necessity? And what does it have to do with #stickergate?

As an innocent fourteen-year-old Idahoan who had never been in any kind of trouble, my uneducated assumption was that civil disobedience was when somebody ignored a law or an authority to make a point or achieve a political goal.

But then I found myself stuck in a string of civics lessons that has forced me to think about it more seriously. For the last sixteen months and counting, I have been prosecuted for allegedly disobeying a city ordinance to make a political point. It has been confusing, because if l had really, truly broken that ordinance just to look for Aspen the lost dog or advertise a yard sale, then I would not have been prosecuted at all. It was the political nature of my alleged offense that triggered my prosecution and put me in danger of indefinite meetings with social workers or trading some of my high school experience for a sentence in juvenile hall.

Throughout this process, I’ve also had a front row seat as others have ignored or broken far more serious laws to accomplish their own goals. Which has made me wonder, what’s the difference between civil disobedience and just law-breaking to get your way?

BACKGROUND

This whole thing started when my brother and I ( and hundreds of others) attended an outdoor psalm sing in protest of the city’s extension of a mask mandate. Some people thought the psalm sing was an example of civil disobedience. Were we breaking a law (or a mayoral order) to make a political point? The mayor’s order exempted religious activities, so the psalm sing wasn’t actually disobeying anything. But someone had painted social distancing dots in the parking lot, and it seemed like we were supposed to stand on them. And when we didn’t, the MPD showed up and started arresting people. If those dots were actually laws with authority over religious activities, I guess not standing on them would count as civil disobedience. Either way, the whole thing ended up all over national media, not always accurately, but always in a way that made our city government and the MPD look embarrassingly out of touch with the Constitution. President Trump even tweeted about it.

I think it stung local officials and hurt some feelings. Our local police force didn’t enjoy messing up on a national stage and looking like bad guys. And I doubt city officials appreciated being derided by Trump. I know my brother’s prosecutor lashed out in private about my church’s “sh*t” and “bullsh*t”, also calling us “Christ Church assholes” and “religious idiots.”

As for my brother and I, we were bothered by the mayor’s refusal to define “emergency” in his emergency mask mandates. We were bothered when the city council placed an ad in the paper with a snitch line where people could report their neighbors for violations. And we were bothered by the city’s mask mandate slogan: “Enforced Because We Care.” That’s why we were at the psalm sing protest. But we were far more bothered by the illegal arrests made at that protest. And this is where we allegedly broke an old, never before ­enforced city ordinance that prohibits the placing of advertising matter on poles and things without permission.

Our alleged crime? The placing on poles of red, non-damaging stickers that said, “Soviet Moscow: Enforced Because We Care.”

You can see where the lines of civil disobedience become confusing. Was the psalm sing civil disobedience? Maybe. If cops were commanding people to stand on dots and they were refusing, would that qualify? Were the arrests civil disobedience? If the arrests really were illegal and were done to make a political point, would they qualify? Do you have to know if you’re breaking a law to make it civil disobedience? And does it count if you’re in power, wearing a badge and carrying a gun? What if you’re in power and breaking the law to achieve a political goal?

AUTHORITIES

Dr. King said this: “One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” Interesting. And I agree. But is the disobeying of unjust laws all it takes to make something civil disobedience?

In A Theory of Justice, the political philosopher John Rawls (someone I had never heard of before this paper) asks the question: “At what point does the duty to comply with laws enacted by a legislative majority (or with executive acts supported by such a majority) cease to be binding in view of the right to defend one’s liberties and the duty to oppose injustice?” He goes on to define civil disobedience as, “a public, nonviolent, conscientious yet political act contrary to law usually done with the aim of bringing about change in the law or policies of the government.” To boil that down: the public, political, nonviolent, and conscientious breaking of law, done with the aim of bringing about change.

Dr. Rawls goes on to say that the law being broken is often not the law being protested, but can be a lesser law, basically sacrificed for attention. The Canadian truckers are a recent example. They broke traffic and parking laws to protest covid restrictions at the border. Illegal sit-ins to protest government action, or pro-life protestors trespassing to protest Roe. That kind of thing. If our local mask mandate had not exempted religious activities, the psalm sing protest would be a great example.

When police did not mirandize me or when they defied a subpoena and didn’t hand over video of my interrogation or when they’ve fudged the truth under oath, they were not engaging in civil disobedience, because they were not trying to bring about change in an unjust system. They were just trying to get me to settle or to protect themselves.

When a city council member partied with her friends on Polk Street with open containers of alcohol while painting a UI logo on the asphalt, was that civil disobedience? It was nonviolent, public, and illegal. Were they effecting change, protesting injustice, or just flexing insider privilege?

When a man posts many hundreds of fliers looking for his lost dog, Aspen, and gives multiple interviews to the paper about it, he is openly violating the ordinance that the city alleges that I, my brother, and my father have broken. He checks every box on the criteria for civil disobedience except two. What he’s doing isn’t political, and he’s not trying to protest an unjust law or action. And I think that’s been the rub in my case. My speech was political and critical of those in power. A dog owner gets a pass, somehow receiving automatic permission to “break the law” because the system isn’t threatened at all. But someone critical of the city’s actions is prosecuted. The distinction has nothing to do with the amount of posting, as the number of dog fliers posted for Aspen dwarfed anything I was alleged to have done. And to be clear, I don’t want that dog owner prosecuted, and I’m glad he found Aspen. But I think our city needs some time alone with the first amendment.

CONCLUSION

When someone with power bends or breaks codes, laws, or ordinances, it is not civil disobedience, even if they are doing what they are doing because they think it’s what’s best, or because they are trying to achieve some greater good. And that’s an addition of mine to what little I know of Rawls. In order to engage in civil disobedience, you have to be without power, and you break a law as a way to bring attention to injustice or corruption. The powerful don’t need to do things like that. Civil disobedience is for the powerless, for the people who are not in charge to disrupt the security of the power above them.

And so, while I don’t think the psalm sing was illegal, it was very much that kind of thing. A church organized a nonviolent, religious event in protest of the actions of those in power. And it worked how civil disobedience should, bringing tons of attention and getting even more when the powerful tried to step on it. But when officers of the law or the court choose to break laws themselves and apply ordinances only to political opponents and members of a despised group (sh*t-religious idiot-assholes), they are very much on the other side of the civil disobedience story, part of the system that needs to be challenged.

My alleged ordinance breaking is also very similar to civil disobedience. The only problem is that I didn’t break any law. Although I wouldn’t have minded if l had. The illegal arrests needed protesting and political speech is protected by a very old permit. That permit came from a bunch of dead guys in wigs, along with the full ratification of the states. That permit has since been upheld by the courts and defended by millions of men and women, hundreds of thousands of whom have sacrificed their lives to defend it. And that’s the strongest political permit anyone could ever hope for. And it’s a permit we can’t let ourselves lose.

Bottom line: none of the players in and around #stickergate have been engaged in traditional civil disobedience, although a lot of it feels that way.

Better luck next time, I guess. We’ll figure this civil disobedience thing out in Moscow eventually. Given the way city government views us, we are bound to have opportunities.

BONUS LESSONS

I have always instinctively liked and trusted cops. I have learned the hard way to never, ever talk to them. I have learned the hard way that officers are trained to lie to you and that some are even willing to lie under oath, being willing to sacrifice the future of a couple kids, even potentially imprisoning them, rather than admit personal or professional fault.

My advice, tips, and lessons for the next time you or I are dealing with cops is basically this: Do not trust them. Don’t believe them. Don’t even speak to them. Remember that you have the right to remain silent and you have the fifth amendment. If you are genuinely arrested (like me and my big brother were) the cops are required to read Miranda warnings to you.

If I could go back to that night and do it again, I would have ignored the cops completely. I would not have stopped doing what I was doing or answered them or obeyed them in any way. And even that would not have been civil disobedience. I would have forced them to cuff me and read me my rights. And the only word they would have heard coming out of my mouth would have been: “Lawyer.”

I write this now preserving all my civil and constitutional claims against MPD, individual officers, the city of Moscow, Latah County, and individual officials, as has been agreed by my prosecutors.

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Categories: People I don't know

7 Things to Remember in the Debris Field of Roe

Mon, 16/05/2022 - 14:30
Introduction

As I write these words, the Supreme Court is poised to strike down Roe. One rumor has it that this may be done as early as today and, if true, would be cause for great rejoicing. If we had our church built already, and if the bells were installed, those bells would be ringing all day.

But as I write these words, it is not done yet. The preliminary draft of the majority opinion striking down Roe was leaked beforehand, in a last ditch attempt to have public pressure applied to the conservative justices on the Court. Their home addresses were doxxed, protesters appeared at their houses, Justice Alito was taken to a secure location, and the White House declined to condemn the pressure being applied.

Why would they condemn it? They don’t believe in the rule of law. They believe in a higher law, one that they call “getting their way.”

The Lay of the Land

What a reversal of Roe does is this—it returns the issue to the states. A state may continue to allow abortion, as New York, and California, and Massachusetts, and Illinois will do. Sixteen states have laws in place that will continue to protect access to abortion. But multiple states already have laws in place that will restrict abortion as soon as a Roe reversal happens. What this decision will do is turn a large war into fifty different battles. And that in turn means that the average Christian should be preparing himself to remember certain related things. Seven, in fact.

Review the Pro-Life Apologetic

The progressive left is going nuts over the prospect of losing Roe, and if Roe in fact does go down, they are going to lose it completely. In their anger, they are going to lash out and blame evangelicals. While I would prefer to use the term responsibility over blame, I think their central point is a fair one. Evangelicals made a deal with Donald Trump. They would rally behind him, tawdry background and all, if he in turn would commit to appointing the kind of judges who would see Roe for what it was. Because of this deal, three such judges were appointed to the Supreme Court, and here we are.

But because the progressive left will blame evangelicals, and because they are very angry, the chances are pretty good that many evangelicals will find themselves in situations where they will be called upon to give an explanation for their egregious support of “this eradication of women’s rights.” So even if you have not been a pro-life activist, I would encourage you to review all the arguments. Review the biblical arguments, the political arguments, and the medical arguments. The chances are good that your church has someone connected to it that would be in a position to give a presentation to your people. It is going to be very relevant to a lot more people, and this will happen very soon.

Some angry questions are likely to be thrown at you. Be prepared for it.

Remember the Principle of Pursuit

One of the principles of war is pursuit. When a general wins a great victory, there is often a temptation to settle for that glorious victory while neglecting to pursue a disheartened foe. Because Meade was unable to pursue Lee and the Confederate forces after Gettysburg, the war dragged on for two more years. The great biblical general Gideon did not fail to observe this principle.

And Gideon came to Jordan, and passed over, he, and the three hundred men that were with him, faint, yet pursuing them.

Judges 8:4 (KJV)

So if Roe goes down, do not be one of the voices asking, “can we be done now?” No, we cannot be done. This development will mean that one big war can been cut up into fifty small battles—and each of these battles must be won. They will not be won unless believers stay mobilized.

Ask your elders if your congregation is going to support a state-level pro-life organization. Ask if they are going to be written into the budget.

Call This A Smashmouth Success

I believe that this is a golden opportunity for responsible pro-lifers and responsible abolitionists to make a peace treaty. But it must begin by recognizing that this opportunity we now have is an actual and real-live incrementalist success.

In the past, I have argued in favor of a strategy I call smashmouth incrementalism. Here are some resources on that—here, here, here, and then there is this and that, and don’t forget here and here. This is a strategy that does not make the best the enemy of the good, and is willing to take any pro-life legislation as a win, so long as it is remembered that we must come back immediately in the next round looking for more. We do this until we reach the final goal which is the outlawing of all human abortion. This set of arguments I advanced was in response to the rise of the abortion abolitionists who regarded this as a compromised temporizing.

So as just mentioned, what I would like to do here is propose a peace treaty between pro-lifers of good will and abolitionists of good will.

I want principled abolitionists and principled pro-lifers to be able to come to an agreement. I want unprincipled “abolitionists” and unprincipled “pro-lifers” to be excluded from it.

As I said five years ago

Please note that I acknowledge that there are pro-lifers who are actually not pro-lifers, and that there are abolitionists who would rather fight fellow Christians than fight abortionists.

So the peace treaty I am proposing would exclude the politician who says he is pro-life, but who would refuse to vote for any legislation that did not have rape and incest carve-outs. Such a politician can be useful, remembering our incrementalism, but by no definition is he an ally. Someone who says that abortion must be allowed if the father of the child begat that child through a criminal act is someone who doesn’t understand the pro-life worldview at all.

And the abolitionist who would rather spend his time calling upon responsible incrementalists to repent rather than using this incrementalist victory as a staging area for legislation that would protect all human life is someone who doesn’t understand the basics of strategy, let alone his own heart.

So as we pursue fifty strategies in fifty states, I would call upon everyone on our side of this battle to be extremely reluctant to engage in public controversy with abolitionists (or pro-lifers, as the case may be). Avoid it if you can. And if it happens, it should be after you have exhausted all your other options. Save your ammo for the real battles.

Brace for Round Two

One of the points that abolitionists make, and it is a good point, is that when Roe was first decided, the states should simply have refused to comply. They should have said that they were not going to go along with the summary execution of any of their citizens. To put it in a nutshell, no.

The reason I mention this is because abortion is the blood sacrament of the American Left, and they are not going to allow it to be taken away from them without a truly vicious fight. I do believe that their attempts to pack the Court, or impeach Alito, or assassinate Thomas, whatever it is they come up with, will fail. But suppose for a moment that it doesn’t fail.

What should the states do if Roe Round Two comes down the pike? The answer is that the states should do what they should have done the first time. Even if the Roe reversal is struck down within a year, whether that majority opinion is written by Hook or by Crook, the states must simply refuse to go back again.

And you should want state legislators who would in fact refuse to go back again.

Remember What “A House Divided” Means

In my novel, Ride, Sally, Ride, I anticipated the crack-up of the United States, and with that crack-up being the result of the repeal of Roe, Having now mentioned Ride, Sally, Ride, I cannot fail to mention also that it is now available in audio, as read by the author, at mycanonplus.com. Come for the exciting tale, and stay for the discovery of words I know how to write but don’t know how to pronounce.

Jesus is the one who first framed the phrase “house divided,” referring to the fact that Satan couldn’t really be in the exorcism business (Mark 3:25). Abraham Lincoln applied the logic of this, aptly enough, to the slim chances of a republic remaining intact if it were half slave and half free. A slam dunk a fortiori argument can be made from this—how much more will a country blow apart if a third of their states encourage and applaud abortion on demand, and the rest of them restrict it as murderous manslaughter. Can two walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3)?

So if Roe returns this issue to the states, and the states eventually come to one generally coherent approach to abortion, then the United States as we know it can be saved. If they remain two Americas, then the eventual result will actually be two Americas. We cannot rejoice in the overturning of Roe without also recognizing this as a very real possibility. And we need to be good with it. But I would rather live in a piece of America that loved life than in an intact America that was in the process of turning into Charn.

Prepare to Wreak Havoc in the Midterms

I referred earlier to the deal that evangelicals made with Trump. He promised them judges, and he kept his word. They promised their support, and they kept their word. There was great lamentation in the halls of cooler-than-thou evangelicals, and there were many think pieces written about how evangelicals had lost their way, sold their soul, bought into mission drift, and so on. Now I did not support Trump in 2016 because I flat did not believe him. I did not think that we would get those judges. But we did, and as I said above, here we are. We should stop being so astonished. God draws straight with crooked lines.

Now some of the scenarios I sketch above could go in a pretty grim direction. We are in a battle with the entire Democratic party, and are fighting a flanking action with half of the Republican party. So vote accordingly. In the coming mid-terms, vote accordingly.

Idaho’s primary is tomorrow. In that primary, vote against anyone who is a RINO, or who might be a RINO, or who is friends with someone who used to be a RINO. In the general election, vote for the candidate most likely to displace a Democrat—even if that candidate is a RINO.

We should want the mid-term elections of 2022 to be the end of the Democratic party. We should want the word devastation to be a gross understatement. Catalog in your mind all the outrages of the last five years, identify the party responsible, and drop the hammer.

And returning to an earlier point, this is not discrediting the gospel with “right-wing politics.” This is thinking like adults instead of wanting like children.

Remember That Blood Guilt Needs a Blood Gospel

However much we rejoice at the overturning of Roe, we still have to settle accounts with God. While we rejoice that we will not be incurring blood guilt at the same furious pace that we have been doing, the stark fact of the millions already slaughtered still requires a reckoning. Couple that with the fact that significant portions of our country will carry on with the bloodshed, just like before. So the fact that have successfully slowed down the murder rate is not sufficient. We could repeal Roe, and impose pro-life legislation in all fifty states, and hold that stance for fifty years, and that would still not atone for what we have already done.

One of the reasons God established cities of refuge in Israel is that God cared about the shedding of innocent blood.

“That innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.”

Deuteronomy 19:10 (KJV)

God detests those who wantonly shed innocent blood, as we have been doing. In fact, we have been guilty of everything on that entire list.

“A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood . . .”

Proverbs 6:17 (KJV)

It certainly looks as though Roe is going to be “walked back,” and for that I do rejoice. But when all of Judea went down to the Jordan to see John the Baptist, they were not “walking anything back.” They were repenting. They were not coming to John with mouths full of mealy excuses. They were repenting of the things they have done.

America still requires cleansing. We still need forgiveness. We are still in desperate need of a Savior—and there is only one Savior. We are still carrying around a massive amount of blood guilt, and nothing that we could ever do or say can even touch it. A nation as guilty of blood as we are is a nation in dire need of a blood gospel.

Fortunately, there is one. God has provided us with a blood gospel. However, there is a catch. You cannot appropriate the benefits of this blood gospel without applying this blood gospel—and applying it means naming the one who was sacrificed—His name is Jesus—and naming the sins we are repenting of. There are many such sins, but the atoning blood is sufficient.

As the old gospel song has it, “What can wash away [our] sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”

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Categories: People I don't know

Keeping the Mules Honest

Sat, 14/05/2022 - 15:45

So I haven’t had an opportunity yet to view 2000 Mules, but what with the buzz about it, and clips floating around, together with other bursts of info and what not, I need to say something. There is one aspect of the whole story that simply encapsulates our fin-de-siècle cluelessness in a nutshell. This one thing, better than any other thing could, illustrates how the guardians of our republic are simply a bunch of palookas, while the children of darkness are much, much shrewder than the palookas are, as the Scripture also testifieth.

A mule is a ballot trafficker, traveling through the night to drop off twenty or so ballots at each ballot drop-off point. There were hundreds of them, their routes captured via cell phone tracking, and their activities were captured via surveillance cameras pointed at the ballot drop boxes. Okay, got the set up? The mules are doing this for money, and in order to get paid, they then had to step back and take a snapshot of the ballot drop-off box in order to prove that they had been there.

And here’s the thing that just tickles me. The mules had to take these photos to guard against cheating.

The people attempting to steal an election have a better grasp of the importance of true accountability than do scores of election officials, all of whom apparently promised their constituencies that, if elected, they would make sure to be asleep at the switch. The people running this operation, in other words, unlike our election officials, knew what kind of people they were dealing with.

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Categories: People I don't know

As In Our Own Time

Sat, 14/05/2022 - 02:00

“Malcolm Muggeridge once quoted the wit who identified a similar problem in the time of Britain’s decline: ‘Everything was at sea except for the fleet.’”

The Cultural Mind, p. 17

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Categories: People I don't know

Meanwhile at Disney

Fri, 13/05/2022 - 14:00

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Categories: People I don't know

Salutation from the NSA Board

Fri, 13/05/2022 - 03:00

I bring all of you greetings from the NSA board, and with particular congratulations offered to our graduates here assembled. Grace and peace to you from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I have only a few minutes, and so I wanted to take these minutes to register something that I believe to be very important. I do not have time to argue for it, although the arguments are sound. As I said, I have only a few minutes, and so I simply wanted to make a bold assertion in the hope that it would enliven your car ride home, or many of your household discussions.

The challenge that was faced by the progressive Left, from the French Revolution down to the present, and which they accomplished, was this. Without anybody really noticing all that they were up to, they wanted to make so much progress, as they defined it, such that when the Christian faithful finally saw the true condition our condition was in, and if we resolved to do something about it, we could quite plausibly be accused of megalomania. “Who do you think you are? Saviors of Western civilization?”

So in a word, yes. This is my assertion. Foibles and all, here we are. Blind spots and everything, we can still see better than all the nation’s purported seers. This cloud may be only the size of a man’s fist, and yet still be capable of ending the drought of a sure word from a transcendent and triune God. And that is what, by the grace of God, we intend to do.

So this is the tip of the spear. This is the hinge upon which all turns. This is the moment. There is no other place in the line of battle that is more strategic than here. As was wisely said by Reagan in a different but quite related context, “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

And if someone charges us with megalomania, of believing that we are somehow starkly unique, the answer is a simple one. No putting on airs at all. We are not unique—God always does it this way. However odd it may look within each generation, when we look at the long line of God’s deliverances, the thing begins to look monotonous. And when they all get to the day of glory, church history’s eccentrics, oddballs, visionaries, and angular personalities will finally be revealed as making up the divine consensus.                                         

“For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (, NKJV)

1 John 5:4 (NKJV)

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Categories: People I don't know

The Three Branches

Fri, 13/05/2022 - 02:00

“One of the principal causes of grief in our broader culture today is that we have taken His instructions to Larry and assigned them to Moe, and the instructions given to Curly have been taken up by Larry.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 16

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Categories: People I don't know

Content Cluster Muster [05-12-22]

Thu, 12/05/2022 - 17:00
And This Web Site is a Total Blast

Try Greenland first though.

Always Good to Check A Song I Really Like for Some Reason Bad Day at the Warehouse A Bit of All Right

And as always, more here.

Autumn Leaves Optional Jokes I Like to Tell

Back in the pioneer times, before Seattle was a regular town, the sidewalks were boardwalks, and the streets, unfortunately, were simply dirt. This is something you could get away with in a place like Dodge City, but Seattle had a rainy season, and, truth be told, it was an extensive rainy season.

A certain young man, newly arrived, was there and ready to make his fortune, and so he spent a few days just walking around, trying to get the feel of the place in his bones. He was not deterred by the fact that it had rained steadily for a couple of days straight. He was resolved to become a native, and dealing with the rain was apparently going to be a part of that.

Unfortunately, there were more than a few times when he had real trouble getting across the street to the opposing boardwalk, and this was because by the second day of rain the streets had turned into long stretches of surly, angry, and very brown mud.

So that afternoon, he was walking along the boardwalk when he saw, out on the street, a really nice Stetson hat. It was really nice, and he didn’t have a hat. And so he gingerly walked down some wooden steps that went down to the street, grabbed a pole, and leaned out over the street and picked up the hat.

To his utter astonishment, there was a head underneath it. “Oh!” the young man said. “I’m sorry. I thought the hat was lost. Very sorry.” He started to put the hat back, and then, with a second thought, said, “Say, do you need any help?”

“Ah, naw,” the man said. “Got a good horse under me.”

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Categories: People I don't know

Principled Thought

Thu, 12/05/2022 - 02:00

“As we look at the eternal antithesis between right and wrong as it looked when clothed in the details of another time, we will be equipped to see what can never be buried and what should be. We will see ideological fads and fashions, as well as the permanent things.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 14

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Categories: People I don't know

238: Managers, Misery, and Immortals

Wed, 11/05/2022 - 16:00

Check out the Eve in Exile documentary, streaming now on Canon+: https://mycanonplus.com/tabs/discover/videos/3704

 

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Categories: People I don't know

On Not Being Catty About It

Wed, 11/05/2022 - 15:31

Dear Darla,

I told you in my last letter that guys are pretty straightforward. This is not to say that there are no complicated men, for there are, but taking one thing with another, guys are less complex than women. It can take a women some adjusting to get used to this, because underneath each simple action he takes or simple word he utters, she suspects deeper forces at work. Consequently, men can be hard for women to understand because they represent an alien thought form.

But women can be hard for women to understand as well, and this is for the old-fashioned reason—the complexity. Some of the complexity that women exhibit is easy for other women to follow because it is their native language. They see and understanding what is happening. But some of a woman’s complexity is as hard for another woman to follow as it is difficult for the men to follow. It is a masked complexity.

This usually happens when sin gets into the picture, and the sin I am talking about is usually the sin of envy or striving. When it breaks out in a circle of women who are friends, classmates, roommates, or acquaintances, it comes out in the form of cattiness. Now the Bible doesn’t really talk about cattiness, but it does talk about envy.
“A sound heart is the life of the flesh: But envy the rottenness of the bones” (Proverbs 14:30).
“Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers” (Romans 1:29).
Envy is no good, and it frequently comes out in the form of cattiness. And cattiness is a sin that makes everyone wonder afterwards, “Where did that come from?”

Now I want you recognize that I am going to be generalizing again. No doubt you will able to think of exceptions to what I am about to say—I certainly can. But nevertheless, the exceptions should not prevent you from using these generalization to navigate some complex situations. There is safety to be found in these generalizations.

You might be wondering—when you wrote and asked about relationships with guys—why I have veered off and am talking about relationships with your friends and roommates. The reason is this. There is something about girls you will have to understand if you want to know about guys. And that is the fact that the other girls are really interested in your interest in guys. And there are landmines there.

Guys are competitive, and will compete over anything. This can get tedious for the sisters, but one advantage it has is that they are accustomed to competing. They compete over who can throw the rock farthest into the river, they compete about who got to church first, they compete about whose birthday came first in the year, and so on. Guys compete, and they are pretty good at taking it all in stride. They all know the rules.

The girls are not competitive in the same way. They don’t turn everything into a competition. “Ha ha! I finished my book first!” Girls are not ready to compete at the drop of a hat . . . unless they are competing over a guy . . . or guys. When it comes to the guys, everything tends to reduce to a competition. Hair, clothes, make-up, jewelry, and so on. Women are very competitive when it comes to masculine attention. Sometimes we think that women are not competitive because their lives are one great big competition.

You can see this unfolding when a new guy shows up in your community. There is a tendency with the women, some openly and some more discretely, to start posting up under the basket. This first reaction is a carnal one—nothing spiritual about it. But the thing that is carnal is not that you want to make a good first impression on the new guy. That by itself is fine. The problem is what happens when you are doing it in a crowd, and the thing has become competitive. The problem is identified in the desire to start throwing elbows.

This is worth isolating. If you were a rancher’s daughter out on a remote spread in the hinterlands of Montana, and a friend of your brother from college came to visit, there would be absolutely nothing wrong with you trying to look nice for the visitor. I am not talking about trying to look attractive when it is lawful and right for you to want to be attractive. I will get to that in my next letter. For the present, I am talking about collisions with the other sisters. I am especially talking about inexplicable collisions with the other sisters. I am talking about the dynamics of envy.

Envy is a sin that must be mortified, and for women the sin is much more likely to arise when you envy another woman’s success with a guy, or with the guys, or when you are peeved at her transparent attempts to be catty with you.

This is a sin that is sinful right on the surface, but it is also a sin that rests upon a deep doctrinal foundation. Let’s start with that foundation, and then move on to what it means to mortify the sin of envious striving.

God has laid out a purpose and plan for your life. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared beforehand for us to do (Eph. 2:10). The good works He has prepared for you include your children, and their names, and their father’s name. And when it comes to such things, God never double books. This means that this guy, whoever he is, cannot be the Lord’s will for more than one of you—and maybe he is the Lord’s will for less than one of you. No one has decretal dibbles.

Now if you are not right for him, then he most certainly is not right for you. It is never a perfect match in one direction, and a mismatch in the other. When mismatched couples marry, and it does happen, the result is a trial for both of them, and not just one of them.

The exhortation therefore is to trust God. If you are invited to be a bridesmaid in yet another stupid wedding, you need to rest in Him, trust Him, rely on Him. Now I am talking to you this way because I am in the highest degree confident that you are going to be married in the foreseeable future. But there are women who very much want to be married, and no one suitable has approached them, and they are getting on in years. That is for a separate letter also.

Right now I am talking about a cluster of girls who are all going to get married. Now if they all get married, it is going to happen in a particular order. Somebody is going to be first, and somebody is going to be last. If you are settled on the doctrinal point, getting married to the right man is far more important than getting married first, or early in the line-up. But if you have given way to envy and striving, it is going to be possible to start making poor decisions.

Now there are some girls who are pretty steady, and I rank you among them, and they are not prone to the sin of competing with the other girls over the guys. But this by itself won’t keep you out of snarls. Suppose that there is a girl in your circles who is prone to envy. She identified herself in this way when you went out and bought a cute blouse, and two days later she came home with the same one. This was not an accident.

So suppose this guy shows up, and you are not interested. Nevertheless, she starts competing like crazy with you. This is when the inexplicable cattiness enters. She starts making snide comments and odd comparisons. As soon as you figure out what is going on, there will be a temptation to think, “You know, I don’t really want to compete with her over him, but if I were to do so, I would win, darn it.” That is the sinful part. That is the part that must be mortified.

Your uncle,

Douglas

The post On Not Being Catty About It appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

The Devil’s Stragglers

Wed, 11/05/2022 - 02:00

“The biblical pattern of evangelism was not at all like our modern method of picking off the devil’s stragglers, but rather a pattern of bringing the good news to household after household.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 8

The post The Devil’s Stragglers appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

But It Is Not Close Enough

Tue, 10/05/2022 - 02:00

“Too often the picture of men at church is that of the hapless drone, maneuvered through the doors by a pious wife. He is not exactly spiritual, but he is docile, and that is reckoned to be close enough.”

The Cultural Mind, p. 7

The post But It Is Not Close Enough appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

Categories: People I don't know

Unusually Cogent Responses to Letters Today

Mon, 09/05/2022 - 15:38
Those White Orcs

No Forgiveness/White Orcs

For the most part I really enjoy your blog. But every now and then I get the impression you’re in a war against the content you find in memes instead of actual issues. Can we agree that sin in the form of racism is a thing that exists? Can we agree that humanity has a tremendous ability to ignore or not appreciate the depth of their sin and its consequences? Is it at least plausible that some of that overt or underappreciated sin has crept its way into countless aspects of our life from day to day interactions all the way to official policies. If any of these is possible why in the world would the practical wisdom of taking a step back and listening for a moment be a bad thing? I can’t tell you how many times I thought I was 100% in the right regarding a tiff with my wife. Fully expecting an apology and after doing the hard work of figuring out what really happened realized that I was blind to all sorts of habits, routines, rhythms that had cause the spat that were entirely my fault. So I think people are just taking a moment and stepping back and giving space to the idea that maybe the way we’ve been seeing the world is not entirely accurate. Maybe I’ve experienced benefits that others have not based on nothing more than the color of my skin. My wife’s sister (white) is married to a black man in Tampa. The stories involving buying their home for example were astounding.

I just wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate much of the wisdom and viewpoints you express on this blog that challenge me. And I think I’ve been reading long enough to get a feel for what you think your mission is, at least online, and understand that tough things need to be said and said bluntly. But man, giving sin and justice issues a second look just seems wise to me. And the flare and accusations of “Precisely because they have spent many decades excluding a transcendent God from all their reckoning, and precisely because they have necessarily rejected Christ, the Son of that transcendent God, the one who came as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, they have been consigned to a closed system of guilt and retribution, a system that demands a never-ending line of sacrifices” is just way off the mark, in most examples I think.

BTW I’ve always really enjoyed how the Bible Project explains justice in their video.

Jim

Jim, first, thanks for the kind words, on the basis of which all is forgiven. Second, I think that stepping back and reconsidering our national double standard on race is precisely what happened half a century ago. And third, that is when the Trojan Horse was brought into the city. So my arguments are derived from books, and decorated with memes.

You named a name! Ligon Duncan. Just look at his suggested resources on race and you can see how his influence on RTS and the PCA, with respect to race issues, has been, let’s just say, less than stellar.

Mark

Mark, thanks.

Dilbert for the Win

Last week’s Dilbert (start with this) skewered the diversity thing brilliantly. Today’s cartoon pokes the aberrant alphabet group with the term “sapiosexual”.

It is sad that Scott Adams, a non-believing cartoonist, continues to mock the current Zeitgeist in ways that evangelicals are afraid to. (Note that I exclude you and Cross Politic from this assertion.) Please encourage the high-flying evangelicals in your acquaintance to step up the pace.

John

John, high-flying evangelicals in my acquaintance, eh?

McConnellery?

Does the following quote from Mitch McConnell bother you like it does me? ““And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible,” ​McConnell told USA Today Saturday when asked if a nationwide abortion ban is worthy of debate.”

1. Why say this? Inflame Dems more?

2. “One way or the other”??

3. We’ve been saying this is a state issue – but he thinks it should be Federal? Makes us look like hypocrites for debating purposes.

I’ve been trying to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, but the only way to continue that now it to assume he’s getting as senile as the Resident.

From Epoch Times: “McConnell: Nationwide Ban on Abortion ‘Possible’”

Craig

Craig, it does seem like an odd thing to do right now. At the same time, if Roe actually does go down, McConnell should get a good portion of the credit. Whether he wants it or not.

Answered Prayer

I enjoyed hearing your story about your dad Jim Wilson’s book Answers to Prayer on the Plodcast this week. I would like to know your thoughts about this approach to Christian living and use of finances, which was made famous by George Muller’s example. Do you think this approach should be entirely voluntary as God leads, or should it be something every Christian should aspire to?

Over the last few years as I’ve read about George Muller, Hudson Taylor and others, I began to feel a lot of guilt that I didn’t live that way, either because I didn’t have that kind of faith, or I just didn’t sense a leading to take their approach to my finances. I would just work, save, give, etc, as God provided opportunity. But it would nag me sometimes that I was just selling out, or lacked faith, if I didn’t take their approach to money. I know this is not a good approach to living by faith in light of Christ’s salvation by grace, but it has been hard to shake this mentality.

Something else that I would like to know your thoughts on that is related to this: If I remember correctly, Muller did not believe in going into debt for any reason, which means no mortgage for a house. “Owe no-one anything, except to love each other”, as Paul says in Romans 13 (on the face of it, it’s pretty hard to argue with that exegesis!). He also did not believe in saving money for a “rainy day”. Do you think this is simply a particular approach that some Christians are personally called to through a leading of the Holy Spirit?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for responding to the letters I have written to you in the past. I’m blessed every week by your ministry.

CD

CD, I don’t believe that this pattern of life is for everybody—although trusting God for our daily bread is for everybody. Some people are singularly gifted with this kind of faith, and sometimes it helps them get the exegesis wrong, but God still blesses them anyhow.

Antichrist and Beast

I am reading the man of sin article and I’m quite confused. I remember elsewhere you basically stated that the antichrist was already fulfilled and so was the beast. Is this not the antichrist? Couldn’t this have been an idea that Paul had rather than a prophesy? Maybe Nero in 70AD?

Jason

Jason, the man of sin and beast are a persecuting civil ruler, first fulfilled by Rome, but imitated many times since. The antichrist is quite distinct, and is a false teacher within the church who denied the incarnation. A modern beast would be Stalin. A modern antichrist would be a liberal Methodist bishop.

Nephew and Niece

Thank you for the way you share Biblical wisdom combined with life experience, applied to our time and presented in an engaging way!

In several of the “Dear Darla” and “Dear Dawson” posts you have mentioned something about the girl asking her father before going on a date with a guy. Is the assumption here that the girl still lives with her parents? How should the relationship be between a father and an unmarried adult son or daughter who has moved out?

Ruben

Ruben, the assumption was not so much a living arrangement as it was a close and healthy relationship with the dad.

Source Please?

I have a bibliographic question on one of those Sweater Vest Dialogues, The Trinity & The Patriarchy. At approximately 31:30 you speak about an observation of Augustine that the Son as the Word of God is not a passive recipient to the Father’s call to save His elect, as it is portrayed in Paradise Lost. Rather, when the Father speaks, His speaking is the Word. Where in Augustine do you draw that from? The best I can find is that you may be paraphrasing sections of De Trinitate or his commentary on John 5:19. Also, do you have a preferred edition or translation of De Trinitate? I’ve decided it’s time to really sink my teeth into it.

Thank you for providing what are the equivalent of seminary lectures basically for free.

John

John, I don’t remember the exact location, but it was from De Trinitate. And sorry, I don’t know enough to be able to recommend one edition over another.

Emergent Woke

Do you think there is any substantial difference between the woke church of the 2020’s and the emergent church movement of the 2000’s (where did they all go, by the way?), or are they pretty much the same thing at the root?

Mallory

Mallory, I think it was the difference between being 4 months pregnant and 8 months pregnant.

An Admonition

Hello! I’ve been aware of your work for years (‘Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning’ had an enormous impact on my life), but I do not explicitly recall reading much of your theological writing until a few weeks ago.

I do not expect you to reply to this letter; I address it to the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of your blog simply because I can see that you do faithfully read and respond to those who write to you. I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned.

Brother Doug—and I take the liberty of addressing you that way because you proclaim yourself to be a Christian. I follow C.S. Lewis’ notion that in this life, rather than presuming to know the states of men’s souls, we should assume that those who call themselves Christians do in fact mean that they believe Jesus is Lord. Brother Doug, I am troubled for your soul. I am troubled because, in all your years of pastoring and writing (in which it should not be contentious to acknowledge that you have occasionally made mistakes, however well-intentioned), you do not seem on any occasion to have actually practiced repentance.

I do not say this lightly: I have spent many, many hours trawling through your prolific writings. I have not only been through your ‘Controversy Library’ with its attendant links, but also through the blogs and articles and interviews of many with whom you have been in dialogue with over the years. You have occasionally expressed a public willingness or desire to apologize for being misunderstood—which is of course sometimes a case of people failing to understand you—when it comes to questions of race, slavery, or what has been called ‘Federal Vision’ theology. You have expressed regrets for carelessness over some of your publication controversies. But, my brother, as best I can tell, you have never indicated that you have experienced real remorse for anything greater than failing to do due diligence in your editing work, or for contending somewhat belligerently during the height of the FV controversy.

I am not your judge and do not know you personally: of course the fact that I cannot find much evidence of repentance at any point in your life is not the same as saying that it does not exist. Nevertheless, I was even more troubled when I began searching your prolific online writings for any teaching about repentance.

Brother Doug, it is not there. You preach about the need for national repentance—all very well and good; you are not wrong. Americans as a group have many sins, many of them ongoing, for which we must repent and turn to God for forgiveness and correction. But repentance that is exclusively corporate (or would you say, covenantal?) is no repentance at all. Corporate repentance is a result of personal repentance, as we see for example in Daniel 9: it is not a replacement for it.

You acknowledge every so often that repentance is an aspect of the process of church discipline governed by Matthew 18—good!—but my brother, I have yet to hear a sermon of yours in which you exhort the congregation to repentance, or refer to any experience that you yourself have of repentance. (It is of course likely that you do that, somewhere, and that I have just missed it.)

My brother, you speak in tongues of men and angels, but I cannot tell whether you love your brothers and sisters in Christ. You speak of Christ, but I cannot tell whether you love him. I commend to you the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians—so often quoted at weddings, and yet written primarily as a rebuke to a church that was failing to live out the good news in many ways.

I love many of the things that I can see your love for: the works of Lewis and Tolkien and Sayers, philosophy of education, the singing of the Psalms. Whatever my other concerns about your spiritual welfare, I appreciate whole-heartedly your commitment to carrying on the worship of God last year. My prayer is that I will see you before God’s throne in the new heavens and the new earth, standing next to our shared intellectual heroes, singing together—

Holy, holy, holy LORD, God of power and might: heaven and earth are full of your glory!

With sincerity,

EEF

Brother, thank you for your willingness to tell me frankly what you think, and I will return the compliment. “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). You read one book of mine years ago, and then recently spent hours scrolling through many of my blog posts, doing so over the course of weeks? You then make a judgment that I would not make about a person if I had been counseling them weekly for six months. Such evaluations are at times necessary, but from your own description of your process, and from my knowledge of what you didn’t find or recognize, I am afraid you did not do anything that was even close to due diligence.

Raise the Age

I have been working through my sample ballot here in North Carolina, looking for candidates who uphold Biblical values and true justice. An issue has come to my attention about something called Raise the Age, which would raise the age of being prosecuted as an adult from 16 to 18. I desire to face every issue in the light of Biblical law, but am at a loss of how to approach this. What do you think about this bill? Do you know of any laws or principles laid out in Scripture that can help me wrestle through this issue?

Thanks,

Levi

Levi, the age of adulthood in ancient Israel was 20, but I am not convinced that we are bound to that particular age. The main thing I am concerned about is consistency—privileges and responsibilities should generally go together, like voting, enlistment ages, able to be prosecuted as a n adult, etc.

An Odd Problem

For context’s sake, I have been a ravenous consumer of all things Canon Press since just before the beginning of the great reset. My wife, on the other hand, has never heard of you or Canon Press. Some of your work and the work of Canon Press have largely influenced my marriage and my self-identity (Fidelity; It’s Good to Be a Man). Over the past few years, I’ve striven to put the godly, biblical principles of manhood and husbandhood (not a father yet, D.V.) into practice. My wife is a faithful believer and was instrumental in my conversion out of atheism. Though fallen like us all, she is a faithful wife who strives to live a life as a woman and wife as described in the Scriptures. We’ve been married for 4 years and have had our ups and our downs (mostly ups, thankfully).

My question is more of an appeal for advice. My wife has no interest in watching “Eve in Exile.” I believe this lack of desire is more rooted in cynicism than rebellion, but either way, I think that just as “Fidelity” and “It’s Good to Be a Man” helped me tremendously, “Eve in Exile” will help her. She often comments on feeling “lost” in modern femininity and torn about how she should go about being a Christian woman in the 21st century. What would be your advice on helping her consume “Eve in Exile?” Should I persuade her, watch it with her, tell her she needs to, or just put it on while she’s on the couch and hope that she doesn’t run off?

Many thanks,

FA

FA, don’t push it, and don’t insist. You might think about getting her the book, or Rachel’s book You Who, which addresses those very concerns. But on something like this, I would really give her some space.

Decision Making

My question is a simple one, but one I think important, and one that weighs heavily on my heart. When it comes to making establishing dominion, we as men are called to lead and make decisions. Those decisions should be backed by Scripture and the courage of our convictions, and should always strive to do that which is right.

However, what does one do when they do not know what the right thing to do is? How may I decide which Church I am to join, or whether I should attempt to pursue my ex-girlfriend once again, when my convictions on either are not concrete?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and the mind clouded by doubt. How am I as a man to do that which is right when Scripture does not address the specific circumstance? Please let me know.

Sincerely,

Kyle

Kyle, the heart really is deceitfully wicked, but it is no less so when you are not taking a particular course of action. First, surrender the whole thing to God. Second, determine if God has prohibited anywhere in His Word. If He has not, then it is lawful and the only remaining question concerns whether it is wise. Surrender it to God again, and ask yourself three questions: What are my abilities? What are my opportunities? What are my desires? When those three line up, go.

Jury Nullification

This excellent video by CGP Grey convinced me that jury nullification was a viable option if I ever served on a jury and did not agree with the law. CGP Grey presents an interesting quandary, though. He says that lawyers will get around this by asking questions such as: “Do you have any beliefs that might prevent you from making a decision based strictly on the law?” If you say yes, you will never make it on the jury. If you say no, then you have perjured yourself, which is a crime. If you decide to say no to the question and then try to convince you fellow jurors about your plan it may also get you in trouble. If you were ever in a position where you might want to nullify the law, how would you handle this?

David

David, jury nullification is one aspect of the law. It is part of our system. I would interpret “the law” more broadly than this attorney is because he is simply talking about the law that the defendant is being charged under. But there are other laws that relate, and you are a law-abiding citizen.

Just a question regarding your post on “The Rights of Juries.” I am not convinced by the argument that juries sit in judgment on the law itself. What about woke jurors? or Muslim jurors? such people are likely to disagree with many laws (perhaps even, in a sense, all laws made by our Christian, white, patriarchal society). Should such people also sit in judgment on the law itself?

Surely the only hope we have of juries not descending into anarchy is for it to be made clear that a juror’s job is not to judge the law, but simply to determine whether the defendant is guilty of breaking the law for which they are charged? Surely a court is not the place to argue about the validity of a law, but only to deem whether it has been broken or not?

Richard

Richard, first, you are right that unbelieving juries could abuse this system. But the people are more likely to be abused with ungodly laws than they are to be afflicted with ungodly juries.

Masks and Church

Littlejohn, MacArthur, and the Binding of Conscience: My church required masks to be worn from June 2020 to July 2021. I brought up my concerns to my church leaders just recently about whether they had the authority to implement such a mandate and whether they believed it to be binding. Their question to me was “Did we violate your conscience when you decided yourself to wear the mask?” I’m having a difficult time answering that. I do have a conscience to not wear a mask in worship for various reasons 1) I don’t want to participate in the deceit of COVID hysteria nor propagate the idea that masks work to the extend that it does 2) I believe a mask requirement is a legalistic requirement for the ekklesia and 3) I believe that worship/fellowship is hindered by wearing one. When I wore one, however, I chose to do so with other principles at play: 1) submission/obedience to the leaders 2) not causing a ruckus in worship and 3) not wanting to leave the church for this reason. I do not know whether I myself was sinning against God from June to July but I do believe that there was a binding of conscience as they disregarded how I felt about the wearing of masks. Can you help address and categorize my decision to submit to them? Was it a sinful compromise?

John

John, I can’t say. It might have been a sinful compromise, certainly, but that doesn’t change your concern. When people bind consciences, the consciences sometimes actually get bound.

An Idea

Hi—I really enjoy your “Ask Doug” vids. Since you mentioned Gary North’s 75 Questions book, I thought it be a good idea for someone like Canon Press to do a reprint. This book has been out of print since 2000 (last printing was 1996) and you can no longer find it anywhere—blessings

Bob

Bob, thanks.

Covenant Children

Could the promise “to you and to your children” really be to covenant children when Peter didn’t even know that the men he was speaking to were believers yet?

Jonty

Jonty, he was speaking in Jerusalem in the course of one of Judaism’s high festivals. So the assumption was that he was bringing the promise over from the Old Testament, to the people of God.

Should the Supper Be Gloomy?

I attend a faithful and solid PCA church down here in East Texas, one that has contemplated leaving the denomination should the GA flake completely on upcoming issues. We have serious men in our session and diaconate, and not a few who are readers of many things originating from Canon Press. (Our pastor plugged “Reforming Marriage” last Sunday.) Overall, I am grateful and blessed by our church, with one exception. Our weekly Lord’s Supper is a 180° inversion of the glorious exhortations you present on Mablog. Whereas I am encouraged, uplifted, and edified by weekly reads of your blog on Mondays, the presentation down here on Sundays is more aptly described as dour, depressing, and rote.

With little variation, this is the template:

“This is the table of the Lord; it’s not the table of this church, so if you are a visitor in good standing with a Bible-believing church, meaning [insert long-winded definition here], then you are welcome. But there is a warning for all of us. You are not to partake if you are unrepentant [insert even longer, delineated definition with caveats and exclusions like a page from a legal document here], then you should let the elements pass, repent, and come back next week.”

Sadly, this non-exhortation is growing longer over time, and with it the weight of gloom. I pray it’s not just me doing a lot of internal griping. We have come a long ways over the past decade, when the Lord’s Supper was only weekly and filled with grape juice and Saltines.

So . . .I am hopeful that we will continue to grow in grace. Is there something I can or should say to our elders that would inject a little joy into the feast. It might have been Christ’s “last supper,” but it shouldn’t weekly feel like it’s MY last supper. I would love to discover that your weekly exhortations have been compiled into a 260-page book (that’s 52 x 5) and could be utilized in other churches like a Lord’s Supper devotional for pastors trying to work out how to rejoice in our salvation

Malachi

Malachi, thanks. Not sure if you were asking tongue in cheek, but as it happens . . . here

More Grove City Backstory

FYI: In March, Jon Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, wrote an article showing Grove City’s board chair, Edward D. Breen, has advocated for diversity, equity and inclusion as CEO of the chemicals company DuPont. “(I)s the Edward Breen who led the Grove City College Board’s condemnation of critical race theory the same guy working for racial justice at DuPont?” Fea asks. Another board member, David Forney, is pastor of a Charlottesville church and has offered a list of racial justice resources to his congregation on the church website, including TED Talks by Bryan Stevenson and the books “How To Be an Antiracist” and “Between the World and Me,” both of which the report characterized as promoting “pop-CRT.”

Melody

Melody, thanks for the info.

Depression Question

One of the letters to the editor asked if depression is a sin, and you had a good answer—but it’s also always worth reminding people that the vicious cycle of depression is one of focusing inward on why one is depressed, which is depressing to do. So beyond just trusting Christ over current circumstances, it is important to find a way to lift one’s eyes off oneself.

Ian

Ian, thanks.

I am dismayed by how deep, wide, and smelly the whole slavery issue is in Ontario public education. My eldest daughters were educated in public schools (they now homeschool). All of my 19 grandkids are homeschooled.

When my eldest daughters speak of the history they learned, all they were TAUGHT about US history was slavery. Since my wife and I were born in the US, so we knew better. But here, the US is the place where slavery reigned, not where it was eradicated.

A fellow pastor here was surprised to learn the segregation, Jim Crowe, the KKK, and other nasties were all Democrat operations. He was sure it was the Republicans. I can tell by the looks I get that most don’t believe me on this; even more so when I tell them that the Democrat party is still racist and anti-Semitic.

But in spite of your efforts and others, the story line is that ya’ll are racist down there, and we’re so much better here. So I get lumped in with the best of you.

Thank you for Black and Tan, and for your work. You have enough listeners here that the Gospel Coalition Canada is worried about your influence.

In the Lamb,

Scott

Scott, thanks for paying attention, and for not getting spooked by lies.

More Credo Paedo

I’ve appreciated your ministry and partially because of it, I am dangerously close to moving from credobaptist to paedobaptist. At least I’ll still be baptist. One text in particular is a problem that I can’t seem to get past and haven’t heard paedobaptists address. The text is Philippians 3:3 where Paul tells us who the circumcised people of God are, and all elements he enumerates are byproducts of the new birth. Could you please explain to me how you understand this text specifically related to children being part of the New Covenant community?

Jon

Jon, thanks. Yes, the meaning of water baptism is all about the new birth. But so was the meaning of circumcision. If God wanted the time lines tidy, then why infant circumcision?

Classical Curriculum

Classical Christian Education: what paradigm should be used to determine which non-Christian texts to be taught in a K-12 school? I’m aware of the concept of “plundering the Egyptians,” but are there places that aren’t worth searching for treasure due to the quagmire one must go through to find them? What about texts with graphic violence, sexuality, or language? I’m personally not a fan of canceling books, but how has the CCE tradition handled this historically?

Joel

Joel, I would refer you to the introductory material that we published in the front of the Omnibus textbooks. The short answer is that we must be careful, first, not to corrupt the children, and second, to teach the kids how to interact faithfully with the best that paganism has to offer. It should be a long course in apologetics.

Men and Women Making Room

He needs to make room for the way women are, and stop doing certain things.” That being said, is there a difference between “[making] rooming for the way women are” and a woman being the way she is and as a result she ends up sabotaging the relationship, whether ill-intended or not? I believe you said something analogous some time ago in commenting on the weaker brother . . .

IOW, when Peter instructs husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way, that doesn’t imply that because wives are the weaker vessel that she gets a pass on all the basic character and personality traits that the Bible speaks to, does it? Anger, gossiping, slander, forgiveness, love, etc . . . there is in fact a Biblical standard for each of these, and that standard is not adjusted for the wife being the weaker vessel, is it?

More practically, how does a husband deal with such issues that his weaker vessel might have as a result of “the way women are”, without violating Peter’s other commands to not treat wives harshly, especially when a loving concern for one’s wife in those areas is often automatically received as “harsh” no matter what the true motivations of the husband?

Guymon

Guymon, no. Meeting in the middle must not mean that the woman and her whims must be catered to, and certainly does not mean that sin is okay, provided the wife is doing it. I don’t believe that Peter was referring to moral weakness there.

Medicine and Stuff

I have been tracking you and your crew of men and women for some months now and have found all of it to be incredibly enlightening and affirming. Your challenging stances and rigid Biblical foundations for each of your posts and sermons make their practical advice hard to turn away from. In short, I praise God you are doing your work along with your wife, daughters, and associate pastors as vessels of righteousness. You in Moscow have been nothing short of an asset both to me and my church, this is because I rarely spend time not relating something I just heard on Cannon Press or Blog and Mablog to my friends and elders.

Now that the gushing is out of the way I would like to ask my question as it concerns medical procedures and medicine. I have heard some things regarded as modern-day witchcraft and sorcery. While some people posit more sweeping damnation across the medical field in terms of even hospital care and baby delivery, others say that pharmacology and opioid use represent a new wave of arcanum that we in the Church have not been wise to in some time, allowing the forces from on high to slip things past our gaze in the name of easier lives and deadened emotions which threaten our daily stability. And because many do not want to be tossed about like waves in the ocean, they resort instead to antidepressants and therapy, well-motivated or otherwise. All these thoughts pose an incredibly complex network of questions and I cannot seem to find a practical scriptural application that would provide me with an answer.

If there is something you can do to shed light on that area I and some of my brothers would be greatly appreciative.

Best,

Alex

Alex, I certainly believe that secular medical establishment is drifting toward paganism, and in some places, galloping toward it. In some respects, I think that conventional medicine is like the medieval church before the Reformation, and alternative medicine is like the anabaptist separatists.

Household Membership

I see that kids are members at Christ Church by household. Does this change when they become “adults” or married? If you have written about this of membership in general as it pertains to children elsewhere please direct me, thank you!

Ace

Ace, we did that for a while, but found that it was pastorally unworkable. We vote by household, not by individual membership, but each baptized individual who comes into membership does so as an individual, including the littles. If we have an unbaptized child in a Baptist household, he would be considered a member of a member household, and his dad would represent him obliquely in an elder election. But he would not be subject to formal church discipline if he grew up and walked away from the faith, the way a baptized child would be.

A Real Dilemma

My husband and I have been discussing the moral and theological implications of embryo adoption, which before recently, we had not heard much about. After trying to find and read arguments from many sides, we have not been able to come across a Reformed evangelical perspective on the matter. Liberal/Evangellyfish views? Plenty. Catholic views? Yes. And certainly the arguments we have found in those camps have been thought provoking.

For instance, many Catholic theologians will say that women who adopt frozen embryos into their womb are, in a sense, being unfaithful or unchaste toward their husbands because they are becoming pregnant through technological means rather than through marital intercourse as God designed. My husband and I were thinking that this argument would apply in the case of using separate donated eggs and/or donated sperm to try to create a viable embryo, but perhaps would not apply to the scenario at hand where frozen embryos (which are already living humans, biblically) are being adopted into a family.

A second argument to the negative is that embryo adoption in some ways, indirectly supports the continuation of IVF, and also often utilizes the same facilities and medical providers that IVF procedures do. Does this outweigh the positives of saving the lives of many frozen embryos which would otherwise be used for stem cell research, frozen indefinitely, or simply thawed and left to die?

An example of an argument with a positive view toward embryo adoption would be that it, like traditional adoption, is a picture of our adoption into God’s family. It involves extending hospitality to a child, not only by bringing them into one’s covenant family, but also by giving an already conceived child hospitality in one’s womb.

Are there any other points of moral ambiguity that you believe need to be considered in the case of embryo adoption? Do you think it is biblically acceptable for Christians to adopt frozen embryos?

Thank you in advance for your time and wisdom.

In Christ,

Rachel

Rachel, those are ambiguous areas that I would think worth considering. The only other thing I would add is that we don’t know the long term effects of our messing around like this. We are, I suspect, in way over our heads.

You’re Welcome

I think thank you us in order. Just read the article ” Minneapolis Burning “. Proceeding by reading additional recommended writings. Not sure I understand the technicalities . The Minneapolis article was a beacon of light.

Florence

Florence, thanks very much.

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