Blogroll Category: People I don't know
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On Ascension Sunday, we mark the departure of the Lord Jesus into Heaven, where He was received in great glory, and where He was crowned with universal dominion. This is our celebration of His coronation proper. But there were a series of glorifications prior to this, each one building on the last—at each stage of the gospel. And so the Ascension, rightly understood, is the crown of the gospel.The Text:
“I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed” (Dan. 7:13–14).Summary of the Text:
The one place in the Old Testament where Son of Man was plainly a Messianic title was here in this place. Elsewhere it was commonly used to identify a human prophet, like Ezekiel for example. Here the one like the Son of Man is a figure of infinite dignity, and He is granted an everlasting kingdom.
When we read the phrase coming on the clouds, we think of the Second Coming, as though it were speaking of Jesus coming to earth. But the phrase refers to the Ascension—it speaks of Jesus coming into Heaven, coming into His crown. “Came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days . . .” The passage tells us where He comes. He comes into the throne room of Heaven, and there He is given universal dominion.
And this is the reality that Jesus self-consciously refers to when He was on trial before the Sanhedrin. Within a few months, He would be standing before the Ancient of Days, with everlasting honors bestowed on Him, but right then He was standing before the petit principalities, who were filled with malice and poured out every form of dishonor they could think of. And when the high priest asked Him if He was the Christ, the Son of Blessed, Jesus said, “I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven” (Mark 14:62).
And notice their reaction to this:
“Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death” (Mark 14:63–64).
For Jesus to say that He would be seated on the right hand of power, and that He would come to that right hand of power on the clouds of Heaven, was reckoned by them as blasphemy, and was worthy—or so they thought—of death.Glory Stages:
What Jesus received at the Ascension is what we normally think of when we think of a coronation. It was glorious beyond anything any of us could imagine, but what we can imagine was a minuscule amount of the same kind of glory. But we arrived there in stages, and the earliest form of Christ’s glorification represented a different kind of glory.
Think of these elements of the gospel. Christ was crucified. He was buried. He was raised from the dead. He ascended into Heaven. Let us meditate on the gospel progress of those four words—crucified, buried, raised, and ascended.Building to the Ultimate Crescendo:
Crucified—we begin with the glory of His humiliation. “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matt. 27:29). The Bible teaches that the cross was a moment of glory (John 12:27-28). The purest man who ever lived laid down His life for millions of the grimiest. Not only so, but God calls it a glory that He did so.
Buried—the Lord Jesus was glorified in His burial through the love of His forgiven followers. “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her” (Matt. 26:12–13). So the preliminary ointment of burial is part of this stupendous story, not to mention what Nicodemus did after the fact (John 19:39). So another glory, another part of the wonder of this story is the fact that God gathers up the tears of the truly repentant (Luke 7:38), and stores them in His treasury (Ps. 56:8). This is yet another glory. But the tears that adorn His burial are only possible because of His burial.
Raised—why did the Lord Jesus tell the demons, and also tell His followers, not to proclaim His identity? I believe it was because He was jealous to have the first great proclamation be made by His Father. “And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). We are starting to approach the threshold of unspeakable joy, and full of glory (1 Pet. 1:8). The disciples staggered in their joy (Luke 24:41). They were as those who dreamed (Ps. 126:1-2).
Ascended—in the Ascension, the matter is settled. But telling the gospel story faithfully prevents us from trying to circumvent God’s pattern. Apart from the cross, no sinner should ever be trusted with a crown. Our tendency is to go straight to the triumph, by-passing the difficulties. But the Lord established a better pattern for us than this.
“And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth” (Phil. 2:8–10).
As parents, teachers, elders, pastors, and as those in authority, we tend to fall into one of two errors as we seek to guide those who have been placed under our authority. One error is to be far too easily pleased. The other is to become impossible to please. For the former, not only is the glass always half full, but it is reckoned to be completely full because it is half full. For the latter, the glass is always considered to be completely empty because it is always half empty. Both of these approaches are destructive forms of leadership.
And apart from the work of the Spirit in our lives, we tend to fall into one of these two errors. But the work of grace sees what needs to be done, and also sees, in wisdom, what has been done. And the attitude that accompanies this wisdom is that of being extraordinarily easy to please, and extraordinarily difficult to satisfy. This is how our Father God is with us, and this is how we should be with one another. We don’t want to be easy to please and easy to satisfy. Neither do we want to be impossible to please and impossible to satisfy. The former type of parent produces well-boiled noodles. The latter gives us neurotic dry twigs, ready to snap.
To you as a congregation, how does this apply? God is extremely pleased with you, and with how far you have come. Is He satisfied? Not even close. We are still on pilgrimage, and are not yet conformed to the image of Christ.
As we approach this Table, we have to be careful. One the one hand, we are encouraged to come gladly, putting away all false scruples and morbid introspection. On the other hand, we know that coming to this Table is inconsistent with stark and unrepented sin.
How can we teach against one error without encouraging the other? If we charge you all to beware of approaching this Table with defiled hands, will not the sensitive among us shrink back when they ought not? And if we encourage you to come as you are, will not unrepentant people, filled with resentments, or those who are tyrants in their homes, or those who are secretly indulging their lusts, be emboldened to come?
What are we to do? We are charged to insist that you come. The sensitive must come; they may not refrain from coming. And when they come, God strengthens them. He builds them up. He receives them, and fills their hearts with gladness, as when grain and new wine abound.
But what of the hypocrite? Do we not have a responsibility to keep him away from the Table? When the hypocrisy is open and defiant, the answer to this is yes. That is what church discipline is for, that is the meaning of excommunication. But when the hypocrisy is hidden, there is great sin in approaching the Table, and, in a certain sense, it is a sin we encourage.
Come, we say, to the Lord who sees all. Come, to the Lord who weighs hearts. Come, to the Lord who inspects grimy hands. Come, to the Table of spotless righteousness. When we come in faith, the Lord deals with our sins and sinfulness. When we come in unbelief, the Lord deals with our unbelief, either by bringing us to repentance, or by hastening the day when we come to the precipice of judgment.
And again, you tender of heart, the Lord gives you the strength to hear such warnings rightly.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.
The author really is to be commended for making the attempt. The topic of “swearing,” really is a complex one, and while he did well in taking the question down to the level of intent, about the only intent he attacked — for all forms of bad language — was the intent to be demeaning or condescending. But there were some good observations here and there.
So the eyes of the nation gave Montana congressional elections their fifteen minutes of fame yesterday. The Democrats have been yearning for a “”sea change win” in the various special elections held to fill vacancies created by Trump appointments, and once again came up short. That is one thing. The other is that in the hours before the election, there was a physical altercation of some sort between the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, and a reporter for the Guardian, Ben Jacobs.
Not so surprisingly, I have a few things to say about all this.
First, I know Greg Gianforte, and he is a conscientious, generous, well-spoken Christian gentlemen. He will serve Montana well as a representative in Congress. Knowing him, I knew that if an apology was warranted, it would be forthcoming, and if he did not believe it was warranted, an explanation would be forthcoming. As it happened, he offered the apology here.
Secondly, one news report tried to claim that there was a contradiction between the campaign’s initial blaming of the reporter for his aggressiveness and Gianforte’s apology, but of course there is no contradiction. It is certainly possible honestly to apologize for a poor response to someone else’s bad behavior.
In the third place, observers should also understand that this campaign was already into the ninth inning of a game of Dirty Ball. Late last week, a project with People for the American Way ran this hit piece on Gianforte, referencing yours truly in the first paragraph. Perhaps some of you did not now that “the American way” was quite that sleazy. White nationalists in the first sentence, and then me in the second, building to quite a a crescendo. And then, they added breathlessly, Gianforte supports a return to Latin instruction in elementary schools.
Fourth, the article that followed was bad enough as a representation of my views, but as a representation of Gianforte’s record, it was a hatchet job using the blunt side of the hatchet. I know Greg from a shared stint on the board for the Association of Classical Christian Schools, an association with hundreds of schools in it. So he is somehow expected to answer for out-of-context quotes taken from someone he sees once a year at a national board meeting? And unlike the modern college campus, remember, conservative educators are not given to ideological purges.
Fifth, I believe that Gianforte was right to apologize, but the denizens of the Washington media bubble need to understand that in certain parts of the country punching a reporter and refusing to apologize would actually be the big vote-getter. I am not urging anything here, just noticing.
Nothing said here should be taken as cheer-leading for the deterioration of civility in our society generally. This is the case whether it is conservative > liberal or black > white or fascists > made up fascists. The restraints we have put in place over the centuries are not a decorative fence—they are a levee holding back a swollen river. Now in my view you have to be willfully blind not to see that this degradation of civility is being driven largely by the collectivist Left, not to mention that such corruption is largely rationalized and defended there. Now I believe that conservatives ought to do everything in their power to preserve the bonds of civility—and for the most part, I think conservatives have done a decent job of this. Expecting Gianforte to apologize as needed is part of that expectation. But it has to be noted, and marked, and noted again, that when the Left finally succeeds in blowing up the levee, they are going to miss it a lot more than others will. They should have done more measuring, and more thinking through who lives in the flood plain.
In the sixth place, it is all very well for me to say that I was “taken out of context.” Lots of people say that, including people who were not taken out of context. So for those just joining the party, and who know nothing more about my views on the South than what they read in attack pieces sponsored by People for the Sleazy Way, here are several places you may go for further edification. If you follow this link, and read the materials under #2 and #3, your concerns should be put to rest. In that section, there is also a link to purchase my book on the subject, a book entitled Black & Tan.
And last, Greg Gianforte will be another vote in Congress for a whole series of crucial votes, coming up soon. In my view, the most important of them all is the tax reform proposal, the looming tax cuts. All the ginned up hooey inside the Beltway (investigations, scandals, pretend corruption, real corruption, and whatnot) are attempts by the deep state to distract us from the fact that they have been standing on America’s oxygen hose for years now. They want to keep their cash flow coming, and they don’t want your money back in your pocket, doing things that you want it to do.
There are other issues that are more important morally (e.g. defunding the ghouls at Planned Parenthood). But the tax cuts must come first. And why? As Napoleon put it once, an army marches on its stomach.
What is the most important thing for Congress to do?, and what is the most important thing for Congress to do next? are two different questions. Tax cuts now. Get between the hogs and the bucket.
George Kelling's and James Q. Wilson's famous and influential
article raises a question more relevant today than when the article appeared in the
in 1982: What is policing for? Law enforcement, or community order? The two aren't the same.
Chris Cillizza suggests at CNN that The Simpsons can explain method behind Trump's scandal du jour madness:
To John Ruskin's eye, the economists of his time (John Stuart Mill, e.g.) had a reductive understanding of human nature. According to the economists, “The social affections . . . are accidental and disturbing elements in human nature; but avarice and the desire for progress are constant elements. Let us eliminate the inconstants, and, considering the human being merely as a covetous machine, examine by what laws of labour, purchase, and sale, the greatest accumulative result in wealth is attainable. Those laws once determined, it will be for each individual afterwards to introduce as much of the disturbing affectionate element as he chooses, and to determine for himself the result on the new conditions supposed” (quoted in Bruni and Zamagni, Civil Economy , 44).
The industrious John Paul Heil has produced another book, this on the Gospel of Matthew . The subtitle captures his approach: “Worship in the Kingdom of Heaven.” Heil points out that the book begins with the announcement of God's presence in Jesus, who is “God With Us,” and with the worship of the magi. It ends with the disciples worshiping Jesus before being commissioned to invite others to join their worship.
In a 1981 article on “The Chronicler's Solomon” in the Westminster Theological Journal (43:2), Ray Dillard lays out the following chiastic structure for the reign of Solomon (pp. 299-300):
In their classic 1982 article on “broken windows” policing , George Kelling and James Q. Wilson note that while many communities can self-police to some degree, actual uniformed police are essential:
Joseph Poon devotes a monograph , based on his PhD thesis, to identifying the land and sea beasts in Revelation 13. Poon makes creative use of the tripartite structures identified by Georges Dumezil to explain how the dragon, the sea beast, and the land beast form a triad.
Reflecting on President Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia, Ted Galen Carpenter (co-author of Perilous Partners ) notes that “the Saudi regime abets extremism in multiple ways. Riyadh has funded schools (madrassa) in various Muslim countries for decades to promote the Wahhabi religious cult that has intimate ties with the royal family. Wahhabi clerics indoctrinate youth in a most virulent anti-Western perspective.”
In one of the many obituaries for Peter Augustine Lawler, Yuval Levin reviews Lawler's case for “postmodern conservatism.”
Putting a Little Americana into the Open Road
Always an enjoyable set of pics . . .
They Forgot Plaidimer Putin
What Would We Ever Do Without Peer Review?
Another episode in the chronicles of Higher Ed Hooey . . .End Abortion Now
Raymond Barfield's Wager is a lovely meditation on beauty, suffering, and the variety of philosophical “styles.” Everyone, not only philosophers, has a “philosophical style”: “Constructing a life is a philosophical act. Philosophical acts that are shaped by a life, and that shape a life, constitute philosophical style . . . . Philosophical style is not primarily about the sentences we create to state ideas, though the way we tell others about our experience is certainly part of it. Philosophical style is fundamentally about the way we live in the world through our bodies, our reason, our imagination, and our virtue. It is about what we love and how we are loved” (x).
Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended into heaven to take His place at the right hand of the Father (Acts 1:3). The New Testament regularly cites Psalm 110 as a prophecy of this event.
In his Ascension Theology , Douglas Farrow insists that, if the ascension is bodily, and if Jesus ascends with all His creaturehood intact, then the ascension must be to a place : “It in the resurrection Jesus is already transfigured and transformed . . . in the ascension he is also translated or relocated. That is, he is taken up and placed by God he properly belongs, just as God once took Adam and put him in Eden.”
Dear Mr. President,
I should begin by acknowledging that I was not among those who supported your campaign for the Republican nomination, and that I did not vote for you in the general election. This was centrally because—speaking frankly—I did not trust your professed conversion to the pro-life cause. At the same time, I need to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by your appointments and behavior in this regard thus far, and have been greatly encouraged.
In line with this, I am writing to propose something that would be an even greater encouragement to people in my position, and which is well within your capacity to do. It is far more like an executive order than it is like getting a fiscally-sane budget through Congress, and so I wanted to write you this open letter, and suggest the proposal to you.
The proposal is this: that you award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, and the man who courageously exposed the trafficking in human parts that has been conducted by Planned Parenthood.
Here are some of the reasons why I believe this should be done:
First, this is the kind of action for a political leader that the Scriptures specifically commend. Two passages make this plain. Speaking of political rulers, the apostle Paul says, “Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval” (Rom. 13:3, ESV). The apostle Peter is explicit about the same thing. “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” (1 Pet. 2:13–14, ESV). An essential part of your task, assigned to you by God Himself, is to praise those who do good. You are summoned by God to honor honorable citizens, and to praise them for their honorable work. This long-overdue exposure of Planned Parenthood certainly fits within this category.
Second, this is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. This is something you control directly. It is not something that requires the permission of Congress or federal judges. This is something you can simply do. Whether or not you do it is entirely up to you. In political terms, it is low-cost and brings a high-return.
Third, taking an action like this will help restore gravitas to the award. We live in a time when there is an ever-growing impulse to give awards like this to celebrities and pop culture icons. Giving the award to a serious investigative journalist, who risked a great deal in order to expose one of the most vile practices ever tolerated among us, will go a long way to keeping the award a serious and culturally significant one.
Fourth, because the pro-life constituency is active and large, it has been easy for politicians to treat us as a voting block to be manipulated (and taken for granted), and this means that many politicians (when it comes to life issues) have tended to over-promise and under-deliver. But thus far, on life issues, you have done the opposite—you have under-promised and over-delivered. Since Roe, we have had pro-life presidents, and we have been grateful for what they have been able to do. But you have already been willing to surpass them in certain ways—having the vice-president address the annual pro-life march for life, for one example. Giving Daleiden this award would be another example of the same kind of thing.
And fifth, since the Roe decision, hundreds of thousands of Americans have consistently protested and have given themselves to cultural activism of the best sort. We have done this over the course of a full generation and more, and today our movement is more robust than ever. Our goal remains to abolish human abortion, and we are encouraged in our work. Roe was a constitutional travesty, and in the minds of many legal scholars, it really is truly vulnerable. It is susceptible to reversal. At the same time, these pro-life Americans who have so faithfully kept the pressure on are in need of encouragement. You are in a position to encourage them greatly. Awarding the Medal of Freedom to David Daleiden would do certainly do it.
I thank you for considering this proposal, and ask you to be assured of our continued prayers (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Cordially in Christ,
At a recent Theopolis intensive course on political economy, James Jordan argued that only a theological treatment of value can account for the double-sidedness of the concept. On the one hand, certain goods have cross-cultural, trans-historical value; gold and silver have remarkable staying power as money or back-up for other forms of money. On the other hand, some goods have value only in very specific cultural circumstances; a lock of John Lennon's hair is valuable in places where John Lennon is a demi-god, while John the Baptist's foreskin would be considered a precious commodity in a different age and culture.