Blogroll Category: People I don't know
I read blogs, as well as write one. The 'blogroll' on this site reproduces some posts from some of the people I enjoy reading. There are currently 92 posts from the category 'People I don't know.'
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“I am not advocating simple causation and simple-minded causation for that matter, as though I was trying to put the eight ball into the corner pocket. But cultural influences include the general faith of the people, and the fact remains that during their centuries, Protestants built a world-class civilization, too significant to be patronized” (Papa Don’t Pope, pp. 167-168).
Before the #GraceAgenda2019 main conference kicks off, C.R. Wiley will be speaking at @NewSaintAndrews' Disputatio. His talk is titled, 'Make Men Pious Again: Aeneas, Abram, and Manly Piety.' https://t.co/T4eEbRSxcM | #KeepYourKids pic.twitter.com/EHF9Ds2Ylu— Christ Church (@Christ_Kirk) March 4, 2019 I’ll Be in Canada
How we understand the Kingdom of God will influence where we shop, whether and how we vote, how we educate our children, and much more. Join us for an evening with Rev @douglaswils: https://t.co/rTVmSDGmx3— Joe Boot (@DrJoeBoot) March 20, 2019 For Further Consideration
In my post yesterday, Heads I Win Tails You Lose, I discussed the Dems’ proposal that we lower the voting age to 16… For further consideration of that proposal, I give you exhibit A as to why this is a bad idea.
Nancy Pelosi: “we need to lower the voting age to 16”
16 year olds: pic.twitter.com/ShtbJJ7gy9
My hope is that this program serves as one half of a conversation. The other half is you.Posted by Eric Johnson KOMO on Saturday, March 16, 2019 Jonathan Edwards and Slavery
When we are in the process of exchanging God’s standard for a human standard, we are always necessarily in the process of exchanging God’s salvation for a human attempt at salvation, which is like exchanging a good parachute for six bricks in a briefcase. https://t.co/weMtHfaiBk— Toby Sumpter (@TJSumpter) March 20, 2019 I’m Still Plodcasting March 20, 2019
“The communion of saints means that the body of Christ is a glorious and unified mystery. It means I am one with all the saints in heaven, just as I am one with all the saints alive today in China. But if I were crossing a street, saw a truck with no brakes hurtling toward me, and cried out, ‘Wang Tu, pray for me!’ my problem is simple to identify. I am assuming that the doctrine of the communion of saints gives Wang Tu greater hearing abilities than he in fact has. So the problem is not heavenly saints praying. The problem lies, not in the praying there, but in the prayer requests here” (Papa Don’t Pope, pp. 145-146).
As a bemused public watches the clown car revue that is the developing race for the Democratic nomination for president, a few constitutional oddities have attracted our notice. It is bad when the wheels are coming off of the clown cars. To change the metaphor, as the paddle of our 24/7 news cycle stirs that witch’s brew cauldron of a presidential contest, more than a few newt eyes and lizard claws have floated to the surface. This makes dispassionate political analysis a challenge, and I think more of you should be expressing your gratitude for those of us attempting it. It is a lonely job, doing this.
Constitutional barriers, put in place to guard us all against whatever faction is being evil right now, are simply seen by progressives as barriers to them winning. And because winning is the only thing they are interested in, they are more than willing to tear down any barrier that gets in the way of that winning.
But Chesterton—good old Chesterton—taught us that no one should ever be allowed to tear down any fence unless they could explain why it had been erected in the first place. And this is why Democratic presidential candidates should be asked three questions about some of the outlandish proposals that are surfacing.
What are the arguments against packing the Supreme Court? What are the arguments against doing an end run around the Electoral College? And what are the arguments against allowing sixteen-year-olds the vote? When you can tell us why these fences were placed where they are, then perhaps you might have an intelligent argument for removing them. Until then, we should just treat these proposals, and any others like them, as the naked power grabs that they are.So Keep Your Eye on the Ball
The real problem with all these “process reforms” that the Democrats are pushing right now is that if they don’t get the results they want from those reforms, they will immediately run around to the other side and start pushing in the other direction.
The left is feeling put upon because things are not going their way, and so they want to change the rules. And they will keep pressing to change the rules until things start going their way.
So the Democratic candidates are fanning out across the land, spewing unconstitutional and bad juju nonsense as they go. They want to raise the number of Supreme Court justices to fifteen. They want a number of states (whose electoral heft adds up to 270 votes) to make a compact with one another that would give all their delegates to the winner of the national popular vote. And they also want to turn to that vast reservoir of civic wisdom, our sixteen-year-olds, and have them help us save our democracy.Packing the Court
Franklin Delano tried this one back in the thirties, and there was an outcry about it then, and FDR dropped the idea like it was a hot rock. For my money, it is still a rock, and it is still hot.
But for progressives, the fact that Donald J. Trump has placed two justices on the Supreme Court, and might place two more before his first term is up, is what they consider intolerable. That might mean that the Court starts slapping their ideas down.
Naturally the solution they have offered us, in the interests of fair play and all, is to jack up the number of justices that are on the court. And that means that their next president will get to nominate a boatload of Mensheviks, after which they will cry out for bipartisan support for the nominees.
What Trump ought to do (say I, drawing my black cape over my face) is say something like, “you know, I don’t usually like Democratic ideas, but this one is a beauty. Let’s make the Supreme Court great again. I am going to have our people in the House and the Senate get to work on legislation right now. Let’s raise the number of seats on the Supreme Court to fifteen. I may have to expand my list of potential nominees a bit, but I will be sure to run them all by Robert Jeffress first . . .”
The howls from the left would echo off the moon.
This is because they don’t want fifteen qualified jurists on the Supreme Court as a practical matter, helping to handle the load of all the cases and everything. No. They want to pack the court full of their reliables because they—and mark this carefully—are insistent on having their way.
And anything in their way—courts, elections, constitutions, mature voters—needs to go.Disenfranchising Fly-over Country
A compact between high-population blue states to have all their electoral votes go to the winner of the national popular vote is nothing less than a conspiracy to overthrow the constitutional order of the United States. I trust that the courts would treat it that way, but whether or not they do, everybody who owns a gun should.
In order to abolish the Electoral College, the Constitution would have to be amended, and they know that this will never happen. What they are proposing in this interstate compact is way to circumvent the Constitution, and to do so by means of an open conspiracy. It is an awful idea that would completely alter and ruin our political process.
But also remember the caution I mentioned above. If this plan were instituted, and it somehow didn’t work (meaning that the progressive candidate for president still wound up losing), they would want to change everything yet again.
A great deal of hay is made out of the fact that Hillary won the popular vote and that Trump did not. But she won the popular vote because of her margin of victory in California alone. In other words, taking 49 out of 50 states, Trump won the popular vote. Do you think the rest of the country wants to cede this kind of power to California?
In addition, when presidents are elected by means of the Electoral College, this is the result of a system and a process which both they and their rivals entered into freely. They strategized and campaigned in terms of the rules. And the way our constitutional republic was set up, the national popular vote was (and is) an utter irrelevance. What the Democrats are proposing now is something akin to taking away Tom Brady’s Super Bowl ring because another quarterback in the NFL had more passing yards in the course of the season. The problem with this approach is that Super Bowl rings are not handed out on the basis of total passing yards. That’s not how the game is set up.
The graphic I have displayed with this post is a red/blue breakdown of the last election, precinct by precinct. What the Democrats are proposing is to shift to a system where all the candidates need to do is spend all of their money and all of their time campaigning in the blue areas. I cannot imagine a better scenario for instigating a civil war.The Kids Are All Right
But being all right doesn’t mean you get to vote. The Democrats want the teens voting because they want fresh meat. This is also why they want open borders. They are open to anyone and anything that might increase their political clout. They believe that the young will be reliably in their corner when it comes to the polls, and so they are all for it. If they somehow got some intel that informed them about a radical conservative movement that was sweeping the nation’s young people, they would all immediately start stroking their chins and wondering aloud if perhaps sixteen is a tad early.
When the Constitution was amended to allow eighteen-year-olds the right to vote, those in favor of expanding the franchise at that time had a much stronger argument than what we are dealing with now. It went this way. If you can be drafted to go fight in a war in Southeast Asia when you are eighteen, then perhaps you should be allowed to vote for those people who are making decisions about all those wars in Southeast Asia. Okay. Makes sense to me.
But now the argument has to do with the need to find more voters who are ambulatory, and who are smart enough to work machines like what you find at the polls, but who are not informed enough to know yet that socialism is poverty on stilts. Socialism is a wasting disease, and nobody in the government school system, another wasting disease, is teaching the kids that.Conclusion
And so, my friends, as these proposals make plain, and as any related proposals make plain, we are no longer living in a time of normal politics. The United States has left normal politics behind, and is now in an era of regime politics. This helpful distinction was recently noted by someone writing in Imprimis, and if we ask if the distinction applies to us today, the answer would have to run along the lines of boy, howdy.
In a time of normal politics, there is a general consensus throughout the country, and elections are held in order to determine whether we should go northwest or north by northwest. In a time of regime politics, elections are held in order to determine whether to go west or east. And because the stakes are so momentous, not only are elections part of that decision-making process, but so also everything else is enlisted into the decision-making process. If you want to call a nationwide sumo-wrestling contest a decision-making process.
And what this is means is that even though I believe that these proposals will all fail, the mere fact that they were not immediately hooted off the stage, the fact that “the base” of one of our two major political parties is demanding this kind of nonsense, and the fact that their candidates are catering to that demand, means that we are in for nine miles of bad road.
“It would not rock my Protestant world at all if I died and went to heaven, only to discover that at some point in my worldly sojourn, Mary had stumbled across some aspect of my story and prayed for me. ‘Oh, my. Look at that poor sap there.’ But for me to ask her to this assumes that she has a relationship to the world, and to everyone in it, including me, that Scripture does not give me any basis for believing” (Papa Don’t Pope, p. 145).
Greetings in the name of Christ. I have benefitted from your writing over the years and I agree with you on many of even the most controversial topics you cover. Yet your terribly poor judgment in using that filthy word, and your recalcitrance in now refusing humbly to repent, calls into question whether I am wise to trust you as I have. You kid yourself—and demonstrate the very arrogance of which you are (often unjustly) accused—by likening yourself to the prophets. Your appeal to them actually exposes the wrongness of your word choice; there are light years between “whoring” or “spreading your legs” and c***. (The title of today’s post notwithstanding, even the MPAA would take my side on that last assertion.) Ravi Zacharias once preached a beautiful sermon in which he posited that “there is never a reason to be unkind.” Harsh, yes. Impolite, probably. Even violence has it proper place. But as I enter my fifth decade of walking with Christ, I have not yet found Ravi’s maxim ever to be untrue. As a brother in Christ and co-laborer with you, I would encourage and admonish you: There is never a reason to be filthy in your speech. And when you have been, the proper response is not to falsely equate filth with poignancy. Rather, it is to apologize to God and to every reader who had no reason to expect—and no need to read—a vile word when a merely harsh one would have made the point just fine. Grace and peace,
BruceReaders respond . . .
Bruce, thanks for taking the time to take me to task, and thank you for the grace evident in your words. If I might push back slightly on one of your key claims, I do agree it would be arrogance to claim that I am in any way Ezekiel’s peer. But I don’t think it is arrogance to claim him as my superior, and to seek to imitate him in comparable circumstances. I also note that you picked the milder of my two references to Ezekiel. Remember that the prophet slammed those Israelites who lusted after Assyrian warriors, who were hung like donkeys, and who ejaculated like horses. Given the overall teaching of Scripture, there is no call to be talking that way all the time. But neither is there a basis for an absolute ban.
On “On the Nature of Prophetic Language” When I read your take on the Bolz-Weber controversy, I found myself having to read, reread, and look up (as I often do with your writing) that particular word you used to find out if it had some sort of Victorian context of which I was previously unaware. As you can imagine, all I found was how you intended the word to be used. Being as I am a long time reader, I was not so quick to punch my ticket on the outrage express, as I’m certain was the case for many of my contemporaries because there is always context and this post did a great job highlighting that. It is all too easy to express outrage over word choice than it is to understand why such words were used, and in our 140-character culture, nuance isn’t something with which people are all too familiar. I appreciated these words, not only because they helped to illustrate what is off about American Christendom, which tends the flowers while the forest is on fire. I’m sure the people of Israel thought the thrust of Phinehas’s zeal was a bit too, shall we say, pointed.
Jared, thank you for thinking it through with me.
Thank you so much for your blog entry, “That Lutheran Jezebel Lady.” It was truly a gift. Now, whenever my father-in-law tries to use something you said in an argument, or forwards one of your articles to his family, I’ll be able to respond by reminding him that you’re the guy who calls women cunts (“no they called themselves that,” I imagine you protesting idiotically), and that you think his daughter, my wife, by leaving the church as you conceive it, is asking to be raped. I doubt it will change his mind, but it will shut him up, or at least distract him. Thank you for this.
Jason, you might well succeed in distracting him, because it appears that you are pretty good at it. No, I didn’t call women that. And I don’t believe that women are asking to be raped by leaving the church “as I conceive it.” If your father-in-law sends any of my future posts to you, I would ask you to read them more carefully than you did these.ShepCon
Question about “On Getting Your Sushi at the Flying J.” Pastor Wilson, Thank you so much for addressing the Shepherds Conference in this blog. I heard you discuss it first on Cross Politic, and having heard your arguments there, I was better able to understand your writing on the blog. Perhaps it’s because I’m not as well read as you are, but I often have difficulty understanding the points you make on your blog. I usually agree with what I can understand, and I can recognize that you are being witty and profound, but the punch line often sails right over my head. What did you mean by this quote (while you were discussing inerrancy): “The liberal can say, ‘Paul taught wives to submit to their husbands, ho ho ho.’ The evangelical has to think to himself, ‘A servant leader has a supple spine, which God gave him so he can find out what mama wants, and pretend he thought of it himself.’? As a Christian wife who believes in the inerrancy of Scripture and who strives to obey the Lord and submit to her husband, I’d love for you to explain what you are actually recommending to men here. And how does this point about submission tie to the ideas about inerrancy and how Paul teaches about slavery in Scripture? Thank you for your help in clarifying these ideas!
Rachel, thank you for the question, and sorry for being confusing. So imagine a liberal who doesn’t want to submit to the Bible’s teaching on marriage, and an evangelical who doesn’t want to submit to it. The liberal can refuse to submit, but doesn’t have to distort the meaning of the text in order to do so. He just rejects the text. The evangelical can’t simply reject the text (because he is an inerrantist in his head, although not in his heart). That means he has to pretend that the Bible is actually teaching what he is doing. The way this ties in with slavery is that any evangelical who openly affirms what the Bible teaches about slavery will find himself (because by definition he has to agree with it) in a world of trouble. So it is that many evangelicals refuse even to touch what the Scriptures teach on that subject.Atheism and Rights
While I agree with much of what you say, I’m finding the argument that rights don’t exist apart from God less and less persuasive the more I think it through. It’s not that atheism provides any real path to rights; it’s that I’m not sure God does either. The right to life? God can strike me dead on a whim if he chooses. Liberty? Only if you define it as liberty to do what God wants you to do; I seem to recall the Soviets had a similar definition. The pursuit of happiness? Where in the Bible do you find that one even hinted at? God is not a democratically elected leader who answers to his constituents; he’s an absolute monarch who gives and takes away at will, and the rights he grants are only as secure as his continued willingness to grant them. So maybe the reality is that the idea that we have rights is an illusion no matter what one’s world view may be. If I’ve overlooked something, I’m happy to be set right.
Mike, we don’t walk into the throne room of God demanding our rights. But the reason we have rights down here, over against other men, is because God gave them to us. God-given rights are a legacy from God, a shield He gave us to protect us from our fellow creatures. Thus I have a right to life with reference to all other men. But the Lord could take my life (without murdering me) because He is the one who gives life in the first place.Revoice
Regarding Dr Dalbey’s “Response to Revoice,” yes, where the indignation is directed is notable, but I found this particular carefully worded sentence significant: “We do not agree with all of the views that were shared or taught at the Revoice conference.” This seems to imply more agreement than disagreement with those views, does it not?
Jon, or at the very least it indicated some areas of agreement and some of disagreement. It would have been enlightening to find out what those agreements and disagreements actually are.What Goeth on with the KJV, He Wots Not
Thank you for maintaining a firm stand on the truth for the kingdom of God. You have been a source of wisdom, encouragement, motivation, and laughter to me for several years. In that time, I have had a nagging question which I would like to ask you. Why do you almost always use the King James Version? I’ve seen you use others in a pinch, so you don’t seem to believe in “King James Only.” And though I love its literary magnificence, I think using it today for primary Bible reading is less than beneficial for most because its language is so outdated as to be confusing at times and misleading at other times. I say this not to be critical but to point out why I have been a bit confused by your use of it and confident that you have a good reason. Thank you for entertaining this question out of the peanut gallery, and thank you for everything you do!
Jessica, yes, you are right that I am not an advocate of the King James only school of thought. And there are times when I believe the KJV is opaque, and that is when I quote other versions, for the sake of clarity. But for most of the time I have three basic reasons for preferring the King James. First, it is in the public domain, and is not the copyrighted property of a contemporary business concern. Second, I believe that the manuscript tradition that underlies the KJV is more accurate than what underlies most modern translations. And third, the translation philosophy of formal equivalence (a high concern for strict accuracy) is more to my liking. As a postscript, I would echo what you mentioned, the literary magnificence. I believe that anyone with a serious desire to be a writer should be steeped in the cadences of the King James.Sanity and Insurrection
There have been other Christian Manifestos, but this is the one that is needed today. Wow, people, send this to your friends. My one question, however, is in response to a question that you pose regarding education. “What on earth is it going to take to get us out of there?” Part of that question might be $. How can we provide for working class Christian families to afford to get there kids out and how can we provide appropriate and living wages for those doing the work of Christian education?
DC, you are right that this is a real problem. My suggested solution would be for churches to start writing support in their budgets for working class families that are dedicated to a Christian education, as well as support for Christian schools themselves.Embryonic Cells
Since many people have been writing you about the aborted fetal cells and vaccines, it seems appropriate to send out my current conundrum. I work in a research lab, and without going into details, one of the things we do is produce a certain proteins from mammalian cell lines. These proteins have been and are being used to help design vaccines and diagnostics for major disease burdens worldwide. Up until recently, the cells we had used to produce these proteins were derived from monkeys or from Chinese hamster ovary cells (feel free to look that one up). However, a decision was recently made to transfer a substantial amount of our work to these cells called HEK-293 cells (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HEK_293_cells). What I didn’t realize for a while was that the HEK stands for Human Embryonic Kidney cells. Apparently these cells were originally obtained from an aborted child from the Netherlands in 1973. My initial reaction to learning this was shock and horror. I’ve been able for the most part to avoid any direct work with these cells, but as the lab continues to expand the use of these cells its becoming increasingly difficult to avoid working with them or with the proteins that they produce. And so I suppose my question is how should I think about this? For some reason, the fact that these cells have been substantially genetically edited and are nearly 45 years removed from the murder of the human they originally belonged to makes it seem more gray. For instance, I don’t think it would feel quite so horrific if the cells were derived from a murder victim from 200 years ago (if that were possible), but it would feel unconscionable if they were produced from an abortion 45 days ago. Is my thinking defective here? Am I guilty of some sort of logical fallacy? Anyway, obviously my situation is narrow, but the concerns about the use of aborted fetal cell lines is apparently more lively than I realized (according to the letters, at least). Thanks for your ministry and the help you provide for many of us to think through these things clear-headedly.
Matt, the first thing I would do is make sure you have all the facts straight. Make sure that the cells you are being asked to work with really are in direct lineal descent from the murdered child. And if that is the case, then I would encourage you to start praying about finding another job. But if you find out that your industry is simply complicit in this kind of thing, as most modern corporations are, I don’t believe in contagion by association. Suppose the human cells were being worked on by the same company, but by a different department. I don’t think that would require quitting.
As far as the time question is concerned, I think the issue is operation within the same culture, such that our behavior now will either encourage or discourage certain behaviors in others. If a man digs up a man who has been dead three weeks, he is a grave digger. If he has been dead for three thousand years, he is an archeologist. But the former is all happening within the same society, culture, and economy—which is where most of the disrespect arises.Strong Gospel
Greetings sir, I’m writing to address a fundamental incoherence in “That Lutheran Jezebel Lady.” After addressing the tone-deafness on display amongst evangelical observers (and well done there), you pointed out a real problem, which is that the law is regularly proclaimed to our young people with great force, while the gospel is not. You offered your own personal testimony that this was your experience as well, in your youth. And then you completely dropped your watermelon, asserting that this deficiency in the preaching somehow resides in the hearers. Huh? As a smart guy once said somewhere—how shall they hear without a preacher? And this would have been just as strong a point in your post, and more salutary: The problem is that we have preached the Law extensively, and barely preached the gospel at all. Boltz-Weber wants to solve the problem by not preaching the law at all, and the White Horse girls want to preach the law badly. And the real solution is to preach the law clearly, and thunder the gospel.
Tim, yes and amen to thundering the gospel. But when the gospel comes to me it comes as undeserved grace. I don’t get to demand it. And if I die without having heard it, I die in my own sins. As Paul Butterfield’s Blues Band put it, “ain’t no one to blame but myself.” But I am not to blame for not having heard the gospel. I have the blame for my own sin, for which the gospel is the only solution.Selling the Parts
Regarding the selling of dead babies in the last paragraph of your “On Getting Your Sushi at the Flying J” post. I have been very curious as to where I can find credible sources that either suggest and or prove these allegations. I believe it to be true but the only place I have found such records is at Infowars, lol. Don’t get me wrong—Bill Hicks has a lot of good things to say, particularly about abortion and the Democrats. Unfortunately nobody believes me when I talk about these things and then cite Alex as my source. If what Alex is saying is true then it certainly makes sense that Democrats are running towards infanticide because live babies are worth up significantly more than dead babies. Thoughts?
Thomas, the best way is to search for the videos released a couple years ago through David Daleiden’s sting operation through the Center for Medical Progress. They make it very clear.The Distinction of Office
Distinguishing between the person and the office is so helpful! As you said, one feels the difference intuitively but it’s not as easy to articulate it the way you have done. It’s a bit different but I can see how a parent could apply this sort of principle to their relationship with a child who has sinned. Forgiveness—true forgiveness does not necessarily mean that all the consequences for the sin automatically fall away.
Anton, yes. This principle applies in any number of areas.
Concerning the Post: Adultery and Forgiveness Pastor Wilson, If a man commits adultery and then repents, his wife is required to forgive him. However, she may decide that she cannot allow him back into the “office” of husband. This make sense to me, but I also wanted to ask: Is it also the case that if the wife divorces the adulterous man, he is never allowed to again be in the office of husband of any woman? That is, if he walks in purity and faithfulness year after year as a single man, does his past adultery still bar him from ever marrying again and being in the office of husband over a different woman (just as an elder may never be allowed to be an elder again due to adultery)? Related to this, do you know any resources that might give principles to help a pastor/counselor in training deal with all the practical questions related to this sort of situation? Many questions come to mind: How do conjugal rights work with couple during the months while they’re still married but the wife is deciding about the divorce? What principles might guide the parents in relating to the children in this situation? etc. I know that these will largely be case-specific but any helpful resources would be appreciated. I’ve really appreciated these letter scenarios. Thanks
Neil, the possible answers can spread out as far as the hypothetical scenarios do, but here is my best estimate. Because we are addressing areas that Scripture does not teach on directly, I don’t want to thunder dogmas here. But what I am about to say makes sense to me. An adulterous husband who is divorced continues to have obligations to his ex-wife that she does not have to him. She does not need to want to reconcile, while he does need to want to reconcile. I believe that he should stay single, walking in repentance, so long as there is any biblical or reasonable possibility of reconciliation with his ex-wife. But if, for example, she remarries, then I believe he is free to remarry—because reconciliation is now out of the question. But I don’t believe that the guilty party should be the one to put it out of the question. I don’t believe that a couple should be having sexual relations if their commitment status is in limbo.
Regarding the Adultery and Forgiveness article, you make the point that the wife’s divorce of her husband is essentially a decision to remove him from office: “. . . he has violated the trust of his office as husband, and you are, in effect, the trustee who must make the decision on whether he needs to be removed from that office.” Later, you say to Sally, “When it comes to the adultery proper, you are the wronged spouse, and you are the one who has grounds for divorce. John does not have grounds for divorce.” If the roles were reversed, would John be doing the same thing in divorcing Sally as wife as she would be doing by divorcing John as husband? Would John also be removing the wife from an “office”? If so, what office does the wife hold? If not, what would John be doing if he were justified in divorcing Sally and subsequently did so? Many thanks,
BLT, yes, both are doing an analogous thing in removing someone from the respective offices of husband and wife. But Sally removing John is more delicate because she is removing someone from a superior office. But if John removes Sally from the office of wife, the same basic principles that I was arguing for still apply. He may forgive as a person, but not want her to hold that office anymore.
Don’t you think you are conflating roles in your argumentation? Specifically, an elected position (eldership) with an ontological change that becomes a reality (at marriage)? Also, can you imagine if Jesus forgave us in the way you are describing (forgiving our transgression, yet casting us away from his presence)? I don’t think you can since it doesn’t even make any sense, and if so then what kind of forgiveness are you trying to promote here?
Nick, two things. First, the idea of marriage as entailing a metaphysical or ontological change is actually more like a Roman doctrine of marriage, and not a Reformed view. The Reformed hold to marriage as defined by covenant—and covenants can be broken. And when you compare my illustration to how Jesus forgives, I think you are missing a key element. For finite creatures, removal from certain offices is tantamount to removal from that person’s presence, as with a husband and a wife. But it is never that way with the Lord. If we are forgiven personally by Him, then we are necessarily in His presence. So to drive my point home, suppose we have a pastor, called and chosen for that office by God, and this pastor disgraces his office through a moral failure. He is removed from the office (to which God called him), and he is removed from that office in the will of God. At the same time, he can be forgiven by God and enjoy true fellowship with God.Friends with Bad Guys
Sir, a question in general about the appropriateness and boundaries of showing “friendliness” to pagans who are “apostles of the world.” I share your concerns with showing any kind of “shared concerns” with the likes of Bolz-Weber, as you observed in the recent article. I’ve also recently been going through your older writings, and noticed a similar concern you addressed about N. T. Wright engaging in “rational discourse” with proponents of homosexuality. About which I also agree. At the same time, there must be some nuance here, as I also have no issue with you having the “respectful debates” you had with Christopher Hitchens. And he was certainly an apostle or the world if ever there was one, and his positions were certainly as dangerous in their way as those of Bolz-Weber. I imagine it is one thing to treat the person with respect, while being clear you think their position is right from the pit of hell, as opposed to “engaging” in a manner that would suggest that their position itself deserves respect. Or perhaps there is some benefit of engagement if the purpose is to “answer a fool according to his folly,” but in a manner that ensures you don’t “become like him yourself”? I’m guessing you’d have no issue sharing the stage with Bolz-Weber for a debate, but I suspect that would look very different than the way N. T. Wright would share the stage with her? I would certainly appreciate your thoughts on the distinction. Respectfully,
Daniel, I think you appear to have figured out the distinctions yourself. When dealing with a rank unbeliever, it is certainly lawful to be friends with pagans, as Paul was friends with the pagan rulers in Ephesus (Acts 19:31). But it might not be smart. You must always keep in mind the fact that the current of the river must of necessity run one direction or the other. Either you are effectively evangelizing them, or they are effectively “evangelizing” you. If you can’t prevent the latter from happening, then you need to stay away.
“When I ask my friend Bob to pray for me because I have an appointment with the surgeon tomorrow, I do not have to assume any superhuman powers on the part of Bob in order to make the request of him. I know he heard me, because he was right there, and he heard the prayer request on exactly the same principles in play when he heard me ask him to pass the mashed potatoes. But when one person is caught in a storm at sea and cries out to Mary, and another at the same moment is struggling with his personal finances in Australia, and asks Mary to pray for him, this cannot be done without assuming that Mary has all the functional attributes of Deity” (Papa Don’t Pope, p. 144).
The post The Problem Is What You Assume, Not So Much What You Say appeared first on Blog & Mablog.
I much prefer doing what I do over against reflecting on what I did in the public eye afterward. Why talk about what you did when you have the opportunity to just do it another time? I mean, daylight is burning. But we were not put into this world for pleasure alone, and from time to time it is necessary to look at the game film.
And so I would like to help out any of my friends out there who were pressed by others to give an account of my language in this post from a couple weeks ago.Background Assumptions
I would insist from the outset that it is essential for Christian leaders to not have a racist bone in their vertebrae, and notice how I quietly inserted the assumption that Christian leaders must in fact be vertebrates. But it is equally essential for Christian leaders to absolutely not care whether or not they are accused of racism. I will say this again. They must absolutely not care.
In the same way, Christian leaders must hold womanhood in high honor. They must see women as the image and glory of man, the glory of the image of God in man. They must not have women on an artificial pedestal, but when it comes to the pedestal that God has assigned to them, they must not grudge the highest honors that might be bestowed. And at the same time, Christian leaders must absolutely not care whether or not they are accused of misogynistic sexism. Again, they must absolutely not care.
And not only must they not care, they must be willing to act, write, and speak as though they don’t care.
What will such sanctified apathy achieve? I will mention two things. First, it removes the possibility of you getting yourself manipulated by the schoolmarms of the left, who have their lexicon of offenses and grievances always at the ready, so that they can always write you a ticket for your latest transgression.
It also protects you from the tender ministrations of the evangelical sob sisters, who want you to apologize to the unbelievers for whatever it was you wrote, as well as to apologize for breathing, like they do. They believe that they understand, fully and completely, what it is about evangelicals that puts unbelievers off, and they insist that it is the fact that we believe stuff. They want a lot less of thus saith the Lord and a lot more of it seems to us that. What they are missing is the fact that the unbelieving world is drowning in a vast ocean of it seems to us that, and they need to be offered a place to stand.The Bible is a Hard R
Now the Scriptures come to us in our befogged state, and these Scriptures give us a sure and shocking Word. Many evangelicals from the older school of thought agree with the fact that the Word is a sure Word, but they are not so sure about the shocking part.
And it is quite true that in our ordinary conversation with one another, no lewd thing should be mentioned among us (Eph. 5:3), we shouldn’t delve into what the disobedient do in secret (Eph. 5:12), and crass talk should not be a feature of our conversation (Eph. 5:4). This is wholesome, true, and right.
But when this pattern of godly manners becomes a tradition among believers, over time it turns into sanctimony. And one of the things that sanctimony does is that it disarms the prophetic voice—or rather, it tries to disarm the prophetic voice.
Carnal unbelievers want the freedom to do obscene things. Not only so, but they want the freedom to exult in their obscenities. On top of that, they insist on typecasting any possible opposition to their vile behavior as coming from the Miss Grundys of this world. That way they can crawl down into the lowest of places, and still look down on everybody else in their conceited and swollen pride. This is because they are “in the know.” They are “experienced.” They are not Miss Grundy.
And to this transparent ploy, the prophet Ezekiel reaches into his armory, and brings out the battle axe of godly and crude expressions of truth. And as he does so, he is exercising his prophetic office.
““You built yourself a high place at the top of every street, and made your beauty abominable; and you spread your legs to every passer-by to multiply your harlotry” (Eze. 16:25, NASB).
And yet we, the sanctimonious, think that this is a bit much for a Bible verse, and so we tidy it up in translations (e.g. “offering yourself” [ESV], “offered yourself” [NJKV]). Not nearly so blunt.
And some of Ezekiel’s language is so potent that there is not much a translation can do to tone it down.
“Yet she increased her whoring, remembering the days of her youth, when she played the whore in the land of Egypt and lusted after her lovers there, whose members were like those of donkeys, and whose issue was like that of horses. Thus you longed for the lewdness of your youth, when the Egyptians handled your bosom and pressed your young breasts”” (Ezekiel 23:19–21, ESV).
Certain aspects of the prophetic office have ceased. This means that no preacher can stand up and claim to know the future (apart from what is already contained in Scripture), and he does not have the authority to write new Scripture. He is not to be a source of new revelation. Those functions of the prophetic office have been completed because the Scriptures are completed. But there are other aspects of the prophetic office—e.g. the denunciation of the sins of the people in the language of Scripture—which have not ceased, and which preachers must continue.
But some have assumed that this tradition of the jeremiad has departed, along with revelatory predictions about the future, because of the timidity of modern preachers. There is no shortage of sin to denounce, and yet the only sin that the Christian church is willing to denounce is the sin of denouncing any of it.
So if someone comes along and lays any kind of axe at the root of any kind of tree, it makes everybody nervous. We are content to live in a society where millions of babies are slaughtered, where the pieces are sold off, where their tax money goes to support the people doing this, where drag queens are in charge of story time at the local library, where certified pediatricians advocate the treating of gender dysphoria in young teen girls by means of double mastectomies, where sodomite unions are blessed by the magistrate as marriages, and where puberty blockers are prescribed by a predatory medical profession. The church at large treats strident opposition to this as a troubling of Israel, and if anybody uses Old Testament language in opposing it, then that really is beyond the pale.
But this is only the case if we have drifted away from Scripture as the storehouse of all true ministry.To Review:
What does shocking language do? One of the things it accomplishes is that it wakes people up. It brings them to their senses. It smells like burnt marshwiggle.
When an uninitiated person—say a child, or a new Christian—watches some new outrage unfold, they are actually watching two things. First, they watch the outrage itself. Look at that, their thinking goes. The second thing they do is watch for the reaction. Yes, the outrage was technically an outrage—on paper it was quite, um, improper. But does anybody act as though it was a big deal? One of the central things that makes climate change alarmism so darn funny is how often the activists fly to international conferences on the topic in their private jets. None of the people telling us it is a crisis are acting as though it is a crisis.
You can deny the truth of what you say by means of what you do. And it is possible to do this when what you say is false (climate change) or if it is true (same sex mirage is rebellion against the image of God in man). You can affirm something, whether false or true, and then deny whatever you just said by how you act.
So, returning to the top, a Lutheran she-pastor unit, the same one shilling ethically sourced porn, rounded up a bunch of purity rings, melted them down, and fashioned a gynecological bowling trophy thing, and presented it to Gloria Steinem, before a cheering throng. And then the White Horse Inn published a think-piece—of the kind that thought-leaders who are actually thought-followers produce—that took the occasion to “share concerns” about purity ring culture.
The rebuke needs to be commensurate with the iniquity, and the iniquity here was an enormity. When Moses came down off the mountain, if he had merely said tsk at the Golden Calf, then the children of Israel would have been within their rights to assume that he didn’t care all that much.
And so what I did in that piece is translate their behavior into language which would reveal what it was that they were actually maintaining. This is not me calling names. This is not what I am maintaining. This is me seeing the name of the road that they have chosen, and reading the name of that road aloud.
So am I saying that I do this kind of thing as part of a prophetic ministry? Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.God Put Eyes in Your Head
Christians have somehow gotten the idea that when other people are sinning all around us, we are somehow not complicit if we just “watch.” If we register a little bookmark in our brain that says “I differ with that,” then it is all good, right? Differing puts us on the right side of the line, right? And differing in a polite and winsome way is mandatory, right?
No. We are to be zealous for the righteousness of God, which is not the same thing as being fastidious about our own historic scruples—especially when those scruples are being followed and imposed for the sake of our timidity. God did not give us a spirit of timidity (2 Tim. 1:7).
“And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy. Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel” (Numbers 25:10–13).
God put eyes in your head. Do you see what is happening? Then act as though you see what is happening.
I am currently on the road, and speaking for the Illinois Family Institute. The notes for my talk are below.Introduction:
In one of those famous Orwell quotes that Orwell apparently didn’t say, the sentiment is noble anyhow: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Not only so, but in my lexical research forays on this subject, not only did I discover that Orwell didn’t say it, but also that a lot of leftists apparently like to quote him saying it anyhow. This kind of figures, even though—if the truth were their hinder parts—they wouldn’t be able to find it, not even if they were allowed to use both hands.
I grant that they know a bit more about universal deceit, and in fact are quite proficient when it comes to that particular subject, but we shall just have to leave it there.
Regardless, the Orwell observation is true, whoever came up with it. But when it comes to the simple idea of “telling the truth,” I have to tell you that our culture passed that exit some time ago. We don’t just need to recover the practice of telling the truth, we need to recover a universe in which telling the truth is an actual possibility. We no longer inhabit a world in which lies occur (which has always been the case). We now inhabit an imaginary world constructed entirely out of lies, and all the frayed endings of our carnal bundle are starting to snap.
And this is why we are going to win, incidentally, even though currently we appear to be losing badly. In the long run, the visiting speaker said encouragingly, stupidity never works.When You are Being Outsmarted . . .
Now here’s the thing. What about the meantime? When you are playing against a Grand Chess Master, and you are at a learning level that has barely figured out the knight moves in an L-shape, a number of strange and novel sensations are going to be happening to you. And as they happen to you, one of the things that will be invisible to you is how they were actually happening to you three moves before that, with every piece visible on the board, and with you unable to see the connection between what he just did, and then what happened just three moves after that. This is because before he was thinking mate, he was thinking something like mate in three.
So what I would like to do is provide you with a handful of theological or intellectual “life hacks,” such that when you get these down you will be able to see what is going on around you. You will consequently see that the insanity of our times actually has a certain perverse logic to it. The news will start to make sense to you, and your family will start to worry about you.
When you start to see, you will become a threat, which is the meaning behind my cryptic title “Sanity as Insurrection.” If I might modify Orwell’s observation somewhat . . . In a world gone mad, deliberate and premeditated sanity is a challenge to the powers that be. They will certainly take it as such. They will take it as a direct challenge, and they will most certainly come after you. That is perhaps why more people don’t do this incidentally. They know how to fight dirty. They lie, and they maim, and they bite.
One of the things we must learn how to do is this. He who would be thought sane should learn how to ask sane questions. As we debate with our fellow citizens, we must insist on the fact of the debate, and we must do it by means of sane questions. We must insist that both sides define their terms, that both sides outline their proposals, and that both sides answer all the questions.
But the left does not want to win the debate. The left wants to avoid the debate, or side step the debate, or shut down the debate, or outlaw the debate.
But persevere. When it comes to our political life together, the two great questions of philosophy can be found on playgrounds everywhere. They are why? And who says? Insert those questions into everything.So Broaden Things a Bit
These seven concepts I am going to walk through with you are concepts that will (quite obviously) have areas of overlap. They are not sealed off from one another in watertight compartments. Nevertheless they are distinct enough for me to mention each separately, and you should be able to learn how to handle them separately. I want to mention each of them here at the top, and then briefly work through them with illustrations, word pictures, metaphors, the works. Here they are, and in no particular order:
- Endowed by their Creator;
- The Creator/creature divide;
- The correspondence view of truth;
- Inescapable concepts;
- Culture is upstream from politics, and religion is upstream from culture;
- Education is inescapably religious;
- There is no virtue or vice in a transitive verb.
We do not want to take the name of the Lord our God in vain, the way some blasphemer might do. But neither do we want to invoke His name when not seriously thinking about Him, as when insurance companies call tornados an “act of God.” What do I mean?
We like to speak of our God-given rights, and the phrase rolls off the tongue. But take God away, take away an actual Creator, and watch what happens. In a materialistic cosmos, with all of us being the end product of time and chance acting on matter, the concept of human rights becomes a manifest absurdity.
But the removal of God from the system has been done gradually, in order to not spook the prisoners. We started with God-given rights. They first took God away, and left the supposedly “self-evident” rights. Several decades later, they put scare quotes around that word “rights.” Slowly, and entirely predictably, our rights from God have been turned into privileges from the government. And what the government bestows, the government can at some point decide to not bestow. The state giveth, the state taketh away, and blessed be the name of the state.
If there is no God over the state, outside the realm of the state, out of the complete reach of the state, then the state is god. Secularism appeared to work (for a time) in a society that still had large amounts of Christian moral capital. It worked for the same reason that the prodigal son was able to buy drinks for his friends for the first few weeks.
When that moral capital is gone, as it is gone from us now, the idea of a secularism that respects human rights, or even understands them, is an almost complete absurdity. So that phrase from the Declaration, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, is not a quaint way of saying that the Founders hoped that we might have a nice day. A right understanding of this issue is absolutely essential to human liberty, and a right understanding of it is rare. You should see where this goes.
Stephen Hawking once put it memorably: “The human race is just a chemical scum on a moderate size planet.” Now let me ask you—and you don’t have to be a deep thinker to give an intelligent answer—do you think that a sentiment like that might have any political ramifications? Yes, it does, and you see them all around you.The Creator/Creature Divide:
This leads to the next point, which is that the living God, the Creator is not contained “within the system.” God is transcendent, and His attributes are not subject to amendments or alterations. He is utterly out of our reach. We cannot hold a referendum that might “fix” Him. As a great black preacher once put it memorably, “Your arms are too short to box with God.”
There is an infinite divide between the Creator, and the realm of His creation. The implications of this are plain. It means that the standards of morality, including every form of political morality, are not grounded on anything down here. They are grounded in the immutable character of the transcendent God. Righteousness is not on the ballot, but is rather woven into the very fabric of creation.
This is the difference between—as one theologian puts it—oneism and twoism. Oneism holds that there is only one fabric of reality, and as emergent evolution governs what happens in this great ocean of stuff floating around, anything can turn into anything else. Give it enough time, shoot enough hormones in, and call it good. Call it whatever you want to.
But with twoism, in the beginning there was God. And God said, “Let there be not God. And there was not God, and behold, it was very good.”
Now what this means is that the not God part of reality is contingent, and its nature is utterly dependent upon the will of the God who made it. The thing that exasperates the ardent secularist is that all the permanent things are not up for discussion. God created nature the way He did, and He did so in a way that ensures that nature, and the things within nature, have a fixed nature. It does not matter how you identify yourself.
The will that determined that you would be born a boy, or a girl, is the will of the infinite personal God, and He willed this particular sex for this particular child before all worlds. Nothing whatever can be done that this undo this. In our rebellion, and that too within His will, we can deface what He has done. But we cannot erase it.The Correspondence View of Truth
Because God is Truth itself, and because God is immutable, this means that we must hold to what philosophers call the correspondence view of truth. When I say the word lectern, there is a correspondence between that word and the actual lectern out here in the world. So when I say the lectern is made of wood, this is a truth claim that can be investigated, and we can put a T or an F next to it. As a declarative sentence, as a proposition, it must either be true or false.
And if I might run ahead for a moment, whether it is true or false has absolutely nothing to do with anyone’s feelings.
This correspondence view is in contrast to the coherence view of truth, which holds that a true story merely has to be internally consistent. Provided you can, with a straight face, say something like “that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it,” we have to give you a pass. And we will give you a hard pass if you get offended that anyone has the temerity to question your story.
Now if some of you are wondering why the fine folks at the Illinois Family Institute signed you up for a philosophy lecture when you thought you were going to a get a fire eater from Idaho, let me make it relevant to you this way. This is exactly what you are up against whenever you object to letting Bruno shower in the junior high girls’ locker room. You think that there must be a correspondence between what he actually is and what he says he is. He maintains that he is whatever he says. That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. So whenever you hear anybody say something like, “Well, that’s true for you, but not for me,” you know you are in the middle of this particular confusion.
Because God created the world, because God created the world as distinct from Himself, and because He created it in a way consistent with His own nature and character, thereby requiring the correspondence concept of truth, this means that the world runs in particular and predictable patterns. And this is related to the next point.Inescapable Concepts
Frame it this way: not whether, but which. Let me take one example of this from many. I repeat, there are many examples. Here is just one.
Say we are advocating for the rights of the unborn, and someone says to us that we “are just trying to impose our morality on everybody else.” Your response to this should not be to deny it. Of course you are, just as they are. It is not whether, but which. It is not whether we impose morality, but rather which morality we impose, and why.
Shall we impose the morality of Scripture and natural law on the doctor and on the mother, or shall the doctor and the mother impose their secular and relativistic morality on the baby? Regardless of what happens, at the end of the day, someone’s morality is going to be imposed on someone. This is inescapable. Apologizing for the mere fact of it is like apologizing for gravity.
Of course we are trying to have our laws be imposed morality. The only alternative is imposed immorality because all laws are an imposed something. Law by definition is an imposition. What are we to impose? At the end of the day, the choice is therefore between imposed sanity and, what we are seeing now, which is imposed insanity.
And if someone demands to know why I believe we as a society are obligated to honor this standard, I will say something like “because God set the top of Mount Sinai on fire, and then told Moses to tell the people that they weren’t allowed to murder people.” How’s that for a reason? You might not like it, but I would suggest that Jehovah speaking from a mountain on fire beats five Ivy League eggheads on the Supreme Court.
I was once debating the head of the American Humanist Association, and he said that we couldn’t give credence to the Old Testament like that because it also prohibited the eating of shellfish. I granted the point, and said that it was true that God’s people had at one time been enjoined from eating shellfish but that he, my distinguished opponent, believed that all of us used to be shellfish.
And I would suggest that his paradigm does more damage to his moral authority than my paradigm does to mine.Religion > Culture > Politics
The late Andrew Breitbart once said that culture is upstream from politics. He said this to help explain why conservatives can have so many people on the ground, and still be outmaneuvered.
How is it that, wherever you go in the country, CNN is playing on all the televisions in all of the airports?
Conservatives must learn how to assume the center. But before they can do that, they must find out where the center actually is.
Culture drives politics, but we have to go further upstream than that. Faith shapes culture, and culture shapes politics. Because we have allowed faith to be formally disengaged from all culture-shaping activity, relegating it to what you might privately believe about the afterlife—believing what you do behind your eyeballs and between your ears—this has not left a vacuum there. No, it has opened the way for an alien and humanistic faith to occupy that space.
Thus it is that we have humanistic religion > humanistic culture > humanistic politics. That is why we are here.
Allow me to jump back to a previous category, that of the inescapable concept. If I say that the God in the Pledge of Allegiance, and that the God on our money, is the God of Abraham—as I do—someone is going to say that I am advocating a theocracy. They will say that with more than a little bit of anger. And I will reply not whether, but which. It is not whether you will have a theocracy, but rather which kind of a theocracy you will have. This is the only real question—who’s Theo?
The God of Abraham created the heavens and the earth. He is love itself, and He neither slumbers nor sleeps. His righteousness is from everlasting to everlasting. The jitney god that we are currently worshiping—demos—is erratic, selfish, and filled to the top with antidepressants.
Politics will be driven by culture, and culture will necessarily be shaped by our cultus, our worship. I submit that we must stop worshiping man, and return to the worship of God.The Education Trap
For the next point, I need first to distinguish a conservatism of conviction from a conservatism of inertia. There is a conservative impulse, for example, in the fact that blacks are overwhelmingly reluctant to leave the Democratic Party, despite being betrayed again and again. It is the conservative impulse to stay put. It is the conservative impulse to bet on the devil you know, over against the devil you don’t know.
But let’s not talk about blacks and the Democratic Party. Let us speak instead of conservatives and the government school system. What on earth is it going to take to get us out of there? Mandatory Che Guevara tattoos for all the third graders?
If all of life is inescapably religious, and education is preparation for life, then this means that the government school system is an established religion. Christian parents who have their kids in the government schools should come to the realization that our country is occupied with two kinds of people—our secularist overlords above, and their Christian breeders down below.No Virtue or Vice in a Transitive Verb
I have said on multiple occasions that all our culture war battles are actually battles over control of the dictionary. We have now gotten to the point, as Jonah Goldberg has observed, where violence is considered to be free speech, and free speech is considered to be violence. If I might expand this thought slightly, these principles also extend into the grammatical realm. Words can be used to frame arguments, assuming what we have already touched on about how God made the world (and governs it in truth), but words can also be used as though they were Rorschach blots, used simply elicit emotional responses. For example, how does the word hate make you feel?
But in order to frame an argument, we have to pay attention to the direct objects. There is no virtue or vice to be found in a transitive verb. How many times have you been told by some enlightened bumper that “hate is not a family value”? This illustrates my point nicely. Of course it is. Hatred of any number of things is a family value. I hate spousal abuse, I hate sex trafficking, I hate marital infidelity, I hate child porn, and I hate anything else that tears apart genuine domestic happiness. Don’t you?
Because of course, as Scripture teaches us: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate” (Proverbs 8:13, NKJV).
Note that. If someone fears the Lord, it means that they hate evil, and that they hate the perverse mouth. Now what is the lot of someone today who hates the perverse mouth—the torrent of vituperative nonsense that pours forth from this generation’s mechanisms of communication?
If someone says I love fillintheblank, we do not yet know if he is a virtuous man. I love what? The devil? Treachery? Bloodlust? If someone says I hate fillintheblank, we do not yet know if he is a vicious man. We need the direct object. And the objects of our hatred need to be the direct objects assigned to that role in the grammar of God.A Return to Sanity
Our God is the living God. Jesus told us that He is the resurrection and the life. We are promised that out of us will flow rivers of living water. This water is the life of the world because this water is Christ Himself.
This living water is flowing out into a world of death, into a culture of death. And this is the particular form that our insanity takes. If you reject the way of wisdom, what happens? In the eighth chapter of Proverbs, Wisdom herself says that “But he who sins against me wrongs his own soul; All those who hate me love death”” (Proverbs 8:36, NKJV). All who hate wisdom love death. There is no other alternative. And when you come to the living God through His living Christ, the alternative runs the other way as well. All who are privileged to hate death—through the cross of Jesus Christ—are ushered into a love of wisdom.
And this is how we are to recover our sanity. We do what King Nebuchadnezzar did, and we acknowledge the God of heaven. This is what true sanity is—acknowledging that God rules in the heavens, and He does as He pleases.
“And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me” (Daniel 4:34–36, NKJV).
And so there it is. We acknowledge the God of Heaven, through His Son, our Lord Jesus. Our sanity will return to us, and battle will be joined.
“The fact that humans can have it all worked out in their abstract theology (latria, hyperdulia, and dulia) such that they can admit to being an iconodule, but not an idolater, makes me hop in place in my impatient Protestant way. Imagine a wife catching her husband kissing the chambermaid. ‘Ah, my dear,’ he says. ‘I was meaning to talk to you about this. This is not what it appears. This is a species of what I have learned to call lesser-kissing. It doesn’t mean the same thing to me as when I am kissing you—kissing you, my love, my dear, my only sweet, is what I call special-kissing.’ ‘It may not mean the same thing to you,’ she says, jealous and angry as she should be. ‘But it means the same thing to me.’ And so she throws an expensive vase at his head, demonstrating an unwillingness to master some of the finer points of his theology” (Papa Don’t Pope, p. 137).
But please make a point of noticing where the indignation is aimed.Scholarly Journals are a Joke Really Worthwhile . . .
This article by Steven Wedgeworth is platinum grade.Roads, Of Course
Two this time, and more here.Her Majesty? So Brave
Beautiful: Watch This Woman Use A Raw Steak To Bang Out The Word ‘Equality’ In Morse Code On The Hood Of Her Car pic.twitter.com/wjLVFfiW8h— ClickHole (@ClickHole) March 8, 2019
“The Bible teaches that I am as a Christian to submit myself to spiritual authorities other than the Bible. These authorities would include my parents (who taught me to love God before I could read), my church (which taught me, for example, to memorize Scripture), and Bauer’s Lexicon (which teaches me that eulogeo means to bless). But none of these genuine authorities in my life are ultimate or infallible, which is fine, because authority is not an all or nothing proposition. However, without the touchstone of an ultimate and infallible authority located at the top of the hierarchy, all lesser authorities will wither and die” (Papa Don’t Pope, p. 137).
So last week there was a stir over the Q&A at the Shepherds Conference, where Phil Johnson asked Mark Dever, Lig Duncan, and Al Mohler why they hadn’t signed the Social Justice statement. By the time I got around to watching it, it was not there to watch anymore—it had been pulled from public view for copyright reasons. Fortunately, I know some people, and was able to look at a copy that somebody had thoughtfully cached.
First, on the back and forth, some of the initial criticisms I had heard didn’t seem to me to be warranted at all. I didn’t think Phil Johnson did a poor job presenting the questions—I thought he did very well in a difficult situation. And I didn’t think Al Mohler misbehaved or flipped out. I thought his replies were gentlemanly and cogent, although it was apparent that he had, as our Victorian ancestors would have said, taken umbrage.
So if I might, I would like to assemble my own collage response. I would like to give my condensed summary and take on why these three gentlemen did not sign the Social Justice statement. This is my understanding, my takeaway, which I would then like to interact with—laboring to avoid polemical combat with a straw man. So here goes.
In the woke universe, a number of intersectional issues have been woven tightly together, and are presented to us by the world as woven together. The men on that panel were absolutely united in their take on some of these issues, in a conservative and good way, most notably on abortion and the LGBTQ+ business. There was no disagreement there. But on at least several of the woke issues—most significantly race and #MeToo—the three men believe that the historical record shows that the church has failed significantly in the past.
Their desire is therefore to separate all these issues from one another, treating them as distinct entities, in order to prevent evangelical young people from glibly assuming that if theological conservatives were wrong on this one, they must be wrong on that one too, or worse, wrong on them all. Theological conservatives used to prohibit black couples from staying in their motels, just as theological conservatives today want to prohibit gay couples from doing the very same thing. So, according to their lights, they are trying to fight of the logic of “from Seneca Falls, to Selma, to Stonewall.”
In other words, they don’t see themselves as capitulating to the general agenda. They see themselves as granting a legitimate point, but only want to do so if that point is carved out and separated from the larger intersectional project. Thus they believe themselves to be in a better strategic position than those conservatives who are resisting the intersectional tsunami across the board, which the Social Justice statement did.
Now I have no trouble taking their word for it as regards their intentions. I believe that they are sincerely convinced that this is what they are doing. I believe them to be fine conservative men. But I also believe that history has shown us more than one instance of fine conservative men getting themselves out-maneuvered. A hero of the First World War, who spent a lot of time muttering never again while helping to build the Maginot Line, remains a hero. But heroes can be misguided, and can pour a lot of concrete in the wrong places.
Let’s take four issues together. There are more than this, obviously, but we can illustrate the point with four. Our culture has settled on a general “received wisdom” on LGBTQ+ issues, on sexual harassment issues, on racial issues, and on abortion issues. Because of our high rebellion against Jehovah, I would submit that our “received wisdom” on all four of these issues is little more than a befogged cloud of folly. It is not the case that we have clarity on two of them, and are mysteriously blind with regard to the other two.
As a people, our generation is blind on all four of them—and the whole thing is not mysterious at all. We here in secular America are not to be trusted when it comes to any of these issues. We are fools and blind, thinking that we can reject a transcendental ground for moral judgments, and still keep our moral judgments.
If you assume that “we” now have a shared “clarity” when it comes to race, you will not be successful in your attempts to separate that issue from the other issues in the intersectional agenda. If we assume that “we” now have “clarity” when it comes to accusations of sexual impropriety, you will not be successful as you attempt to keep that issue distinct from the others. This is because the only way to have clarity on any issue is by grounding it exegetically. Exegetical clarity is the only way to keep issues clear, and unless you keep issues clear, you cannot keep them distinct. This is why you have to be able to say things like, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts . . .”
We think we have clarity on sexual harassment because we are “against it.” We think we have clarity on racism because we “disapprove of” racism. It should be so easy.
The #MeToo movement can only function as a movement if we throw out the biblical foundations for due process, the rules of evidence, and the presumption of innocence. The Lord of hosts does not permit you to label yourself as a “survivor,” and show up at a seminary president’s office with a list of demands. We do not know how to reject the demands of social justice because we have not grasped the demands of simple biblical justice. I have written plenty on that elsewhere.
And there will be absolutely no biblical redress for the very real offenses of slavery time, and for the grievous offenses of the Jim Crow era, which I have also written plenty about elsewhere, unless and until evangelical expositors are permitted to note that the New Testament contains far more teaching on master/slave relations than it does on husband/wife relations, and most of what it teaches is blithely ignored by just about everybody. The New Testament teaching on master/slave relations is especially ignored by inerrantists.
“Let as many slaves as are under the yoke consider their own masters worthy of all honor, in order that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have Christian masters, let them not despise them because they are brothers, but rather serve them all the more because those who benefit are believers, and beloved. Teach and exhort these things” (1 Tim. 6:1–2, my own adjusted version).
Inerrancy was mentioned as an important doctrine in that panel discussion, but inerrancy is absolutely useless unless we are prepared to live and die by the results of our exegesis. And it is frequently the case that liberals are more to be trusted with representing what the Bible actually says than evangelicals are. This is because evangelicals have an a priori obligation to live by and defend the results of their exegesis. The liberal can say, “Paul taught wives to submit to their husbands, ho ho ho.” The evangelical has to think to himself, “A servant leader has a supple spine, which God gave him so he can find out what mama wants, and pretend he thought of it himself.”
Please note that to say that the woke among us are wrong on race and wrong on sexual abuse is not to say that there is no such thing as racial sin biblically defined, or sexual cruelty, biblically defined. There most certainly is, but the actual sins involved are a world away from the pretended or made-up sins.
The bottom line is that we live in a corrupt generation. We are muddled about everything. We preen and posture in our pretended moral goodness, as we seek to save future generations from the fluctuations of the weather, for pity’s sake, while at the same time refusing to save them from the abortionist’s forceps. We slaughter black babies and sell the pieces off, and lionize politicians who arrange for federal subsidies for those who are selling the babies. We sit quietly as those orchestrating this ongoing slaughter continue to lecture us about the failings of our white ancestors two hundred years ago.
Our collective moral compass is flat busted. Getting any kind of moral direction from our lost and wayward generation is like getting your sushi from the truck stops along Interstate 90. And I am not prepared to make an exception for the mahi mahi.
Thanks for this, Pastor Wilson. My wife is dealing with this same dilemma, though with a worse offense than simple adultery. I’m very blessed that she’s even considering retaining me in my “office” as husband. What she’s wrestling with, and has found few resources to help with, is this: What standards should she use to make that decision? Some are obvious, like contrition, godly repentance, and reasonable assurance the sin won’t be repeated, but those are only entering arguments. She knows that she doesn’t have to keep me, but she wants to, but conversely can’t imagine living in a marriage with this much hurt. Again, thank you for laying out this situation. I’m hoping there will be follow-on letters.
R, prayers for your wife, and prayers for you.
Lots of good in here for sure, but one thing I didn’t expect. Many see Christ’s word on divorce in Matthew as license to divorce upon adultery. I don’t buy that interpretation, considering everything else, but many do, so fine. But remarriage? Especially laid out as part of the deal the wronged woman is considering? Seems crass, at the very least. “Or you can see what’s behind for number two!” Plus there’s St. Mark’s take. How do you square it, Pastor? “Biblically speaking, you have grounds for divorce, which means that you can obtain a divorce, and at some future date, you would be free to marry someone else. A biblical church would not discipline you for either action, either the divorce or the remarriage.” Mark 10:11-12: “And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. ?
Joey, Mark 10 is actually one of the passages I would lean on to build my case. We get the exception clause from Matthew (except for sexual uncleanness), which helps govern the first part of this passage. Since the second part, applying to the wife, is in parallel with the first part, I take the exception clause as applying here also. In other words, just as a man cannot divorce his wife for no good reason, so also a wife cannot divorce her husband on a whim. There must be cause.
Thank you for this. Is this applicable across the board relationally? For example, would you also give such counsel for those who have been significantly wronged by a parent (i.e. abuse, abandonment, negligence, etc.)? Forgiveness extended toward the person, but removal from the office of parent?
Chase, yes, I would. I would not allow for that for snowflake reasons, but yes, I would apply the principle. And I have seen that principle applied well—not out of malice and bitterness, and not for petty reasons either.
I hope it goes without saying that I greatly appreciate your ministry, but I find this position on divorce and remarriage to not only be wrong, but dangerous. To argue that a spouse can still divorce even after genuine and verifiable repentance reduces marriage to something far below the biblical scale. You actually try to make your case by comparing marriage to an employment relationship, church leadership and political office. None of those relationships are equivalent to biblical marriage. To reduce the marriage covenant to merely filling an office is wrong. Marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church, not a yarn shop employee. Sheesh. Moses authorized divorce to accommodate hardness of heart, not some Talmudic legal dance to give sinners excuse to destroy a lifelong covenant. True forgiveness will inevitably lead to true reconciliation, else our forgiveness in Christ would be insufficient. I simply cannot disagree with you more.
BJ, thanks for sticking with me despite such disagreements! But here is the situation. Once we say that true forgiveness erases the past in this regard, we run smack into the Lord’s teaching on 70 times 7. How many adulteries? As a pastor, I have seen genuine repentance after repeated falls, and genuine repentance in between repeated falls. If you insist that the wife (or husband) must accept that, and the sinner back into office, you have demoted her far below a yarn shop owner.So. My Use of the C-Word
I was going to ask you to think about whether your word choice in the article, “That Lutheran Jezebel Lady,” was a wise one. I was in the middle of writing out an introductory disclaimer, in which I was assuring you that I understood the point, and that as it stands, your word choice made the point clearly enough. All that is required is an understanding of the context and some simple reading comprehension. Well . . . wouldn’t you know it, I went and disclaimered myself into not writing that letter. The point I was trying to make was that the use of that word may erect a barrier for some who would be otherwise inclined to at least hear you out. But as I thought through the wording of, and reasoning behind, my fevered and sincere disclaiming, I began to understand exactly why you wrote what you did. Nadia Bolz-Weber’s ham-fisted stab at clever subversiveness is the kind of idiocy that can only be born of white-hot hatred of one’s creator. It is a great, self-descriptive snapshot of our nation’s peak Romans 1 rebellion. Nadia Bolz-Weber IS what a reprobate mind looks like. As such it is the tepid response of the WHI authors which is truly obscene. You were, in essence, saying, “Okay ladies, you wanna be reduced to being identified with your genitals? I bet if I use language that reduces you to being identified with your genitals, you’re gonna get mad.” You were answering a fool according to her folly in the Proverbs 26:5 sense. The WHI article was doing so in the Proverbs 26:4 sense. The use of such raw language does make me uncomfortable. But I cannot find, “Thou shalt not make Andrew uncomfortable,” anywhere in divine writ. Maybe it’s in The Message somewhere. I don’t know. Anyway I am now writing to tell you that I get it. The raw language was used to make a point. As I racked my brain for how I would make exactly the same point with “nice” words, I came up with exactly nothing. Bupkis. I just hope you realize that the feminists aren’t going to like you anymore.
Andrew, thanks for thinking it through. And you got it exactly.
RE: That Lutheran Jezebel Lady—Hundreds of gallons of coffee, tea, and other beverages were just explosively spat onto computer screens, keyboards, and smartphones as unsuspecting readers of this post, leisurely sipping their libation, came to the sentence which begins: “They are shamelessly declaring . . .” Mercy-sakes-alive, Doug. I love ya, man, but sometimes being one of your followers is like going to a Tombstone AZ saloon with Johnny Ringo. I’m happy to ride in your gang and rob all the banks of godless post-modern culture, but sometimes your taste for verbal blood seems like it might get your co-belligerents into more trouble than they’d prefer. I’m grappling with what to make of your use of that less-than-clinical gynecological term. Perhaps a bit too much. Also, I might add that it is somewhat ambiguous as to whether you’re using that term to describe Bolz-Weber/Steinem or DeLong/Ventura. My level of outrage (which is tentatively negligible) hinges on that clarification. Nevertheless, I hope you signed the back of your driver’s license and elected to be an organ donor. God forbid something happen to you, but if it did, perhaps doctors could find a way to transplant your vertebrae into the frail backbones of as many American pastors as possible. Hope this makes the Tuesday mailbag. See you next Tuesday. In Christ,
Joe, my point was that in effect Steinem and Bolz-Weber had successfully reduced themselves to something that has a name, and that they wouldn’t like the name. I was not thinking of the WHI authors at all.Other Parts of the Same Post
I love, love, love it when you write these little analogous satirical bits, where a consistent application is required for the humor to really rise to the top. Just excellent. When I read stuff like your “Golden Calf festival” or “Baal-Peor incident,” I break the 10th commandment for a nanosecond, only to remember that I can kick it on guitar, I can’t have it all, and practice make competent. I used to listen to their podcast on occasion, but “TWHI” has been abysmal for quite a while now. Now, we desperately need two easily-accessed phrases for description’s sake: One: for those internet combatants who come out swinging like Marciano, only to feign personal injury when countered, and Two: for those who marshal their troops expertly in order to engage no enemy at all (as the authors of this article did). “Passive/aggressive” doesn’t work for #1, and a mere “straw-man” doesn’t quite capture the essence of #2. I’ll wait . . . Blessings
Tim, thanks. And please remember, your guitar has helped me out on more than one occasion.
Great post. I and a few friends on Twitter refer to NBW et al. as “Impuritans.” Seems to capture their trajectory well.
Chestertonian Phinehas, with a strong undertone of C.S. Michelin star worthy. Thank you. “The attempt [to marry heaven and hell] is based on the belief that reality never presents us with an absolutely unavoidable either-or; that, granted skill and patience and (above all) time enough, some way of embracing both alternatives can always be found; that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain.” From the preface of The Great Divorce
Danielle, thanks. And thanks also for the pertinent quote.
Thank you! Thank you so much for being a straight-shooter. I have been going out of my mind on this one, including being dumbfounded by the article being lauded to the skies in Christianity Today by Tish Warren Harrison (which sounds very much in the same vein as this White Horse Inn piece you cite). I could say that common sense is dead, but it is one thing for it to be killed by a reality-defiant, God-loathing society, but a whole other thing for the church at large to be advancing its mortification. I myself grew up in very conservative Christian circles but never was subjected to any sort of “purity culture,” but was taught self-respect and grace-empowered chastity. However, to tackle the superficiality and triteness of certain church fads, that can be heavy on law and light on grace (like purity culture), by “sharing concerns” with the likes of Bloz-Weber is like “sharing concerns” with Karl Marx over “church consumerism.” You do no service to the family of God (or simple rationality for that matter) by embracing the perversion of the enemy in service of your “concerns.” I am astounded and continue to be astounded by the thoughtless and ambiguous analysis of Christian writers who seem to have abandoned logic and principle together, but then are lauded as innovative and intelligent cultural commentators. Madness. Madness cloaked in obfuscation. As CS Lewis writes, “the most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones that are being argued, but the ones that are assumed.” I’m afraid we have now reached the point where our most basic assumptions are the most dangerous because they are not debated. And as you point out, an assumption that a Jezebel is not acting antithetical to the law of God is a very seductive assumption. Crikey indeed.
Kristen, thank you for seeing so clearly.
Lutheran Jezebel: I stopped listening to, and supporting The White Horse Inn years ago. Michael Horton and his crew have been dipping deeper and deeper into the leftist trough.
Mark, yes. It turns out that convoluted theological reasoning is no protection against Robert Conquest’s second law of politics: “Any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left-wing.”
Thank you for not buying into the premise that Bolz-Weber is a pastor. WHI was quick to call her such, and I don’t believe we should ever give her that title.
Timothy, exactly so.
Hilarious and laser-focused as usual. Only publish this if you think it contributes something meaningful. Like you, (I think), I wouldn’t use the occasion of a Lutheran “pastor” offering up a golden vagina shrine to Gloria Steinem as the best time to critique purity culture. (I actually wonder if the vagina shrine was actually “pure” purity ring gold, or if they had to compromise by melting down peace symbols, pentagrams, and mood rings.) But . . . perhaps on another occasion, without the Steinem baggage, I’m guessing that some of your audience may have wrestled with Gothard style legalisms on the purity front—a struggle that highlights an interesting challenge in teaching teenagers: how to distinguish between the damage of sexual sin and the beauty of a “man with a maid.” When we scold a glutton for his behavior, we don’t curse the bread, but for, some at least, purity standards blemished both the sin and the bliss at the same time. That was never the intent, of course, but that’s the way some describe their experience. You may have addressed this elsewhere in your canon, and I missed it.
James, thank you. And yes, Christians who are legalistic about sex have caused no small difficulties, particularly for young people growing up in such a climate. I just don’t want to hear about it from the orgy organizers.Contrasting Views on Vaccines
Regarding Vaccines: Here is a link to a chart of vaccines made from the aborted fetal cell lines vs those made from other sources: https://cogforlife.org/wp-content/uploads/vaccineListOrigFormat.pdf The biggest problems are the MMR and MMR-V shots which are made by Merck, mandatory in public schools and many universities, and are only available as produced from the aborted fetal cell lines. Here is an organization trying to educate folks about the dangers of aborted fetal cell line products: http://soundchoice.org/aborted-fetal-products/ My son had a severe reaction to the MMR-V shot. He experienced a low grade fever, abdominal pain (around the area of the abdominal lymph nodes), and extreme fatigue that began about 7 days after the shot and lasted for 5-6 weeks. He basically laid around, didn’t talk and was in pain the whole period. We had him tested for everything under the sun and none of the tests (ultrasounds, Krohn’s,, etc.) came back positive. When we tried to report this as a reaction to the shot, we were told that it could not have been caused by the shot. I wonder how much “data” is discarded in this way, thus reinforcing the “studies” that tell us the shots are safe.
Ginny, thank you.
The concern many Christians have over how certain vaccines were developed using fetal tissue is genuine, and we should not repeat those mistakes. That said, the vaccines that were developed using fetal tissue (MMR, chickenpox, and Hep A primarily) were developed in the 1960’s, and the modern production of these vaccines does not use fetal tissue and has not for decades; in addition, no FDA-approved vaccines contain fetal tissue. I mostly see this concern raised by people who do not want to vaccinate at all. The history of these few vaccines gives them an excuse to throw out all vaccines, regardless of origin, which is disingenuous. This is behavior and thinking I do not think we should encourage.
Re: Vaccines and aborted fetal cells. It is not accurate to say that vaccines use aborted fetal cells as an ingredient. Cell lines WI-38 and MRC-5 were developed using fetal tissue from babies that were aborted in the 1960’s. These cell lines are used as growth mediums to grow viruses for use in producing vaccines for Hepatitis A, Rubella, Chicken pox, and shingles (among others). In particular, the idea of refusing to vaccinate against Rubella because of this is hard to reconcile with being pro-life. The Catholic church has done a lot of homework for us on this issue. Links here and here.
Adam, thanks for the links.Headship Question
The passage you quote in the blog post titled “Which Is Why We Are Here on the Bottom” sounds an awful lot like Natural/Seminal Headship. I assume from other blog posts of yours (although I cannot produce a specific quote) that you also hold to the Federal Headship of Adam. Would you agree that both views of Adam’s headship (and the resulting imputation of guilt from his sin) are correct and we need not choose between the two when attempting to explain/defend Original Sin? Thanks,
Steve, yes, I hold to both federal and natural headship—which helps explain why Jesus was entirely sinless.Social Justice Blood
After hearing the sermon on Colossians 3, I was listening to the Westminster Confession of Funk on the Fight, Laugh, Feast Network. The podcast I was listening to from 2/27 is titled Thwarting the Blood Avenger. I was struck with how much the social justice language actually sounds like vengeance. The description of the constant cycle of blood vengeance in the ancient world and how impossible it was to find an end to it and how Christ swallowed it up in His victory on the cross reminded me of your sermon. It made me think that what is currently desired is not racial reconciliation but vengeance because there seems to be no end and no way to satisfy it. It has brought me much grief to think that the victory of Christ is being thrown away by many in the church.
Anna, yes. All these things tie together. Our stark choice is the blood of Christ, which puts an end to the bloodletting, or the blood of man, which of necessity perpetuates it.
[The grace of justification] “is moral liberty—the opposite of antinomian licentiousness and the opposite of legalistic wowserism. It is a blast of mountain air after two hours in the sauna” (Papa Don’t Pope, pp. 133).
Dear John and Sally,
I wanted to follow up our session together with a few reminders and some further exhortation. Everything I am going to say revolves around the meaning of forgiveness—what it means and what it does not. We covered much of this in person, but this will (I hope) serve as a helpful reminder. These are truths that all of us need to hear more than once. Our minds and hearts rarely wrap around them the first time.
You are dealing with the fallout, the aftermath, of John’s adultery two years ago. It was a short affair, John was the one who broke it off, and John is the one who busted himself, confessing the whole thing—first to you, Sally, and then to your elders. But the betrayal of trust was profound, the confession only came six months ago, you are both wondering if your marriage can be saved, and with both of you laying odds against it.
The difficulty is not the other woman—she is out of the picture, and you know that. You both know that sexual infidelity in the present is not what you are dealing with. The difficulty is how to navigate your present relationship in light of the past betrayal. Sally, if you forgive John for this, what does that mean? What does that mean on a practical level? What does it entail, and what does it not entail?
Sally, as things stand, you don’t have any doubt that John’s repentance is sincere— you know for a fact that it is. And you also know that for Christians, the extension of forgiveness, when others who have wronged you seek it from you, is mandatory. So you are baffled at the contradictory feelings that explode within you whenever you consider the prospect of forgiving him and taking him back. You know you must forgive him, but something about the whole setup doesn’t seem quite right to you.
Now this is the key to understanding where this confusion comes from. We touched on this in our conversation, but I want to take time here to develop it further. You have to learn to distinguish John’s sin against a person and John’s violation of an office.
You are involved in both situations, but your roles are different. In the first instance, you are the person sinned against and because he has sought your forgiveness, the Lord requires you to extend it (Luke 17:3-4). In the latter instance, he has violated the trust of his office as husband, and you are, in effect, the trustee who must make the decision on whether he needs to be removed from that office.
The thing you must keep clear in your mind is the distinction between those actions—forgiveness of the personal affront is mandatory, while keeping him in office is not mandatory. That is entirely optional, and the right decision would be driven by any number of factors. I always want to work toward the restoration of the marriage, whenever it is biblically possible, but that is not an across-the-board necessity. I have seen situations where forgiveness was mandatory, but where divorce was also mandatory.
Confusion sets in when a wife in your position assumes that because personal forgiveness is mandatory she must automatically take him back, and that seems . . . well, reckless. It also creates a set-up where the church, in pursuit of that forgiveness, can seem like it is ganging up on an already wronged wife, making her go through yet another awful experience.
But distinguishing these two aspects of such a situation is not that hard. Let me take an example from your little yarn shop. Suppose you caught one of your girls skimming money from the till, and you quite naturally fired her. Suppose further that she came back to you later in tears, sought your forgiveness, and gave you a check for the entire amount she stole over a number of months. Should you forgive her? Well, of course. Now does that forgiveness require you to give her back her job? Of course not. Those are two separate questions. It is possible that at some point you might give her the job back, but refusal to do so is not the same thing as not forgiving her.
Of course you forgive her. She repented, made restitution, and you forgave her completely. She goes to your church, and you have no trouble coming to the Lord’s Table together with her. You wish her well. You have no malice in your heart toward her, and no vengeful thoughts. You are able to do this because you have a clear distinction in your mind between your personal relationship to her, and your official relationship to her. She offended you as a person, friend to friend, but she put it right, and you forgave her. She also violated her trust as an employee, employee to employer, and you have the right and the responsibility to make a separate decision about that.
You have another illustration of this same principle with regard to John. When John confessed his adultery to the elders, one of the things he did in that letter was submit his resignation from the church’s deacon board. The elders can forgive him (as they have) without reinstating him to the diaconate. They suspended him from the Lord’s Table for that time, but when they restored him to the Table that was a restoration of fellowship, not a restoration to office.
When King David confessed his sin of adultery and murder to God in Psalm 51, we see the same thing going on there. He was seeking mercy in both areas. First, he wanted God to deal with the mere fact of his sin. “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Ps. 51:9). But there is another petition in that psalm, asking for something else. “Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11). David is not here praying that he not lose his personal salvation. Rather, he knows that just as King Saul had sinned against his office, and that Jehovah had removed His Spirit from him (enabling Saul to rule), so also David had sinned against that same office just as grievously. He is praying that God in His mercy would not allow his dynasty to collapse in a heap—which would have been just.
The same thing is seen in the restoration of Peter to the apostleship. When Peter denied the Lord, this was a personal act that had personal ramifications. But it was also dereliction of his apostolic duty, and when Jesus forgives Peter, He also restores him to his office. The repeated charge that He gave to Peter—“feed my lambs” and “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17)—was a restoration to the office of apostolic shepherd. Peter didn’t deserve it, and he knew that he did not. Jesus could have forgiven him personally but not restore him to office. In the event, that is not what happened—but we should still be able to discern both things going on.
So then, forgiving someone an offense and entrusting someone with a responsibility (one where they have already failed) are two very different things. And this is why your decision—already a difficult one—has been rendered impossible through getting muddled up with another, separate issue.
And so here is the difficult issue, without the confusion. You are in a similar position to where you were when John first asked you to marry him. At that moment, he was not your head, and it was your decision that would result in him becoming your head. In this situation, he has been your head, but has forfeited that position through his infidelity. Because of your position as his wife, you are the one who must decide whether or not to divorce him. If you divorce him, that ends the official relationship. Biblically speaking, you have grounds for divorce, which means that you can obtain a divorce, and at some future date, you would be free to marry someone else. A biblical church would not discipline you for either action, either the divorce or the remarriage.
But what would a biblical church encourage you to do? Not require, but encourage? As I mentioned earlier, I always seek to bring about a complete reconciliation (of personal relationship and office) whenever it is biblically possible to do. And in your situation, I believe that it is. I believe that it is possible to do. I do not say that it is easy to do.
If you do not divorce him, you are deciding to accept him back into his former role. Coming back into a restored relationship, he would be responsible before God to function as the spiritual head in your home, and you would need to have a reasonable basis for thinking that this was possible. A reconciliation involves much more than your willingness to still have him around.
So there are two possible barriers to this. One would be his awareness that he does not deserve to hold that position, and consequently there would be a temptation for him to be too sheepish ever to attempt it. He comes back, but is even less of a spiritual leader in the home than he was before.
The second possible barrier could be your resistance to it. Sometimes wronged wives “take their husband back” simply as a way of maintaining continued access to him so that they can “make him pay.” If he learns to wash you with the water of the word, you can’t be thinking to yourself anything like, “Right. Why don’t you quote some more Bible verses at me, Mr. Adultery?” If he is received back, it must not be to a permanent place in the doghouse.
One last bit of advice. This is a complicated and high-stakes decision that you need to make, but it cannot be an open-ended decision. You can’t reconcile, after a fashion, and then haul out the adultery issue ten years from now to justify a divorce. But neither should you make such a complicated decision in the space of a few days or weeks. Your church has a good counseling ministry, and I would encourage you to give yourselves a couple of months to make this decision. I would do it at the conclusion of some intensive marriage counseling—but in that counseling, both of you should make a commitment to put everything out on the table. You should both commit in principle to a willingness to stay together if you can see your way clear to a godly way of doing it.
As you do this, remember that the guilt of the adultery is John’s and John’s alone. But the lousy marriage that existed before the adultery was a joint project. The set-up for a possible calamity like this was a group effort. Getting into the poor dynamics between the two of you should not be taken by you as an attempt on the part of the counselor to somehow blame you for his adultery. When it comes to the adultery proper, you are the wronged spouse, and you are the one who has grounds for divorce. John does not have grounds for divorce.
So in situations like this, if you decide to pursue counseling, you need to remember that betrayed wives will usually have two impulses that need to be resisted. First, they blame themselves excessively, and secondly, to the extent there was something they were doing wrong, they tend to find fault with their own behavior in the wrong areas. They assume too much of the responsibility, and what responsibility they assume is misplaced.
For the first, nothing justifies adultery, and that should be the end of it. Secondly, Sally, to the extent that you had anything to do with setting your husband up, it was almost certainly not because you were “not sexy enough” or you “needed to lose ten pounds,” and more to do with not respecting him enough. Ask the counselor to help you unpack all of that. And John, if you did feel disrespected in your marriage, the last thing you are going to want to do is talk about something like that now—because the adultery makes it seem manifest to you that you deserved all the disrespect you got, and more. But if you are committed to work on your marriage, you have to be honest about everything that was going on. To both of you, it is possible to say hard things constructively if you do it in all humility.
Men who are not respected are as vulnerable as women who are not loved. And I have seen plenty of cases of unloved wives falling into adultery—and we have to make the necessary distinctions there as well. Nothing justifies such adultery, but was there anything going there that helps to account for the adultery?
There are many other things to say, naturally, but I will leave it there. I would recommend that you agree on a short time frame (like a couple of months) within which you will reach a final decision on whether you will stay together. You will spend those months pursuing intensive counseling, counseling that is biblically based. And remember, during the course of that counseling, that you have an ongoing responsibility to love each other in how you speak. Speak what is necessary, say only what is true, and say it kindly.
Cordially in Christ,
After someone has called upon the Lord, and has been baptized, he blinks and looks around, and one of the things he sees is all the same people. He is forgiven, which is exhilarating, and he is in fellowship with God, which is a novelty to him, but when he goes back to work the following Monday, he runs into all the same people. What are we supposed to do now? We have to make particular decisions, and while we are different, a lot of the world around us is still the same.The Text:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven” (Col. 3:18–4:1).Summary of the Text:
So remember that the entire congregation has been exhorted to put sins to death, whether sins of the flesh or sins of the mouth. All of the congregation has been urged to take off the old man, and to put on their Jesus coat. And so when the apostle comes to particular social relations, he is assuming that everyone he is talking to is behaving as a Christian already. This means a godly Christian man can now do what Paul tells husbands to do, the same with wives, and so on. Without true piety toward God, nothing else in the world is going to work along biblical lines.
Wives are told to be submissive to their husbands, which is proper in the Lord (v. 18). In the original Greek, the word for submit means submit. Husbands are told to love their wives, and not to be bitter or resentful against them (v. 19). Children (meaning dependent children) are to be obedient to their parents in everything, which pleases the Lord (v. 20). Grown children are to honor their parents financially (Mark 7) while dependent children honor their parents through obedience. But all honor. Fathers are told not to be provocative (v. 21), and Paul warns against discouraging the kids. Slaves are commanded to do the same thing as the children are, obeying their masters in the fear of God (v. 22). Whatever task you are given, act as though the Lord Himself gave it to you, and do it heartily (v. 23). You can do this because you know that the Lord is your actual master, and His rewards will be a just inheritance (v. 24). But if a slave misbehaves in some way, then he will have to suffer the consequences (v. 25). And men in the congregation who happened to own slaves are commanded to remember that they too are under authority, they also have a master (4:1), and they are told to render to their slaves what is “just and equal.”Let Onesimus Help Us Out:
We sometimes rush to a modern application, saying that the master is equivalent to the shift manager at Arby’s, and in doing this we overlook the profound depth of the principles that Paul is inculcating here. It applies to your jobs in the modern context, but we want to get the original context down solid.
It is quite striking that slave owners are told here to render equity to their slaves, and Paul does not appear to intend immediate manumission by this. But liberty is very much in view, as we will see—even though it is the long view (1 Cor. 7:21). But what Paul is doing is liberating slaves by means of the logic of the gospel, and not by means of fiery revolution. This is the yeast of Christian liberty working through the loaf of pagan slavery.
Remember that Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon were all written at the same time, and were delivered by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21; Col. 4:7) and Onesimus (Col. 4:9). Onesimus also (presumably) delivered the letter of Philemon to his own master Philemon, which means that Philemon lived in the area of Colossae, and was part of that church. The general instructions to all were particularly applicable to him, as well as the particular exhortations found in Philemon.
So remember that Paul has just finished saying that in Christ there is neither slave nor free (Col. 3:11). Here he tells the masters, Philemon included, to treat his slaves with justice and equity (Col. 4:1). At the end of this letter Paul commends Onesimus as a “faithful and beloved brother” (Col. 4:9), and he does the same thing to Philemon in that letter, urging Philemon to receive him as more than a slave, but also as a beloved brother (Phil. 9). He as much as asks for the freedom of Onesimus (Phil 13), but makes a point of saying that it really is up to Philemon. In addition, if Onesimus pilfered anything, Paul said he would pay it back. To bring it down to the short form, love can dissolve the chains of slavery. Envy, malice and hatred can only replace one set of chains with another.Christ and Hierarchical Relationships:
In the first chapter of Colossians, we learned that Christ has been given the place of all preeminence. Recall that there are three governments among men, all of them supported and sustained by the reality of self-government. They are civil government, the Ministry of Justice, the family government, the Ministry of Health, Education and Welfare, and church government, the Ministry of Word and Sacrament. The enthronement of Christ over all principalities and powers is transformative, and necessarily means a qualitative change in all three of these governments. For example, when Christ takes precedence over Caesar, Caesar isn’t really Caesar anymore.
So in the same way, the coming of Christ also transformed the role of the paterfamilias, the head of the Roman household, into that of a Christian husband. This did not eliminate the lines of authority, but it certainly altered how that authority was exercised.
Remember that everyone was to put on the Jesus coat. This meant that you would see Christ in your parents, in your husband, in your wife, in your children, in your slaves, and in your master. And the slaves are explicitly told to consider their work as being done for the Lord (3:24). The principle can and must be extended. It must be extended into every relationship. Whatever you are asked to do, remember that it was Christ who asked it of you. And when you render good service to Him, He will not receive it churlishly.
When it comes to our current debates over authority within the family, we have different names for our positions. There is egalitarianism, there is soft complementarianism, there is hard complementarianism, there is soft patriarchy, and hard patriarchy, and with some areas of overlap. Not surprisingly, in a world full of sin, each of these terms is objectionable.
Just remember this. Husbands, you are the head of your wife, the way Jesus is the head of the church. But you cannot expect anybody to want to remember this if you are forgetting it yourself by refusing to wear your Jesus coat. You cannot reject Jesus as the new man you are refusing to put on, while demanding that everyone else treat you as though you actually had that coat on. That is self-defeating. But at the end of the process, remember that the biblical position is sacrificial patriarchy. The husband has true authority. He is truly a head. And like the head of Christ, he accepts the crown of thorns. What does it mean to be a Christian husband? It means that you die first.
So in the meantime, do not put on your devil coat, demand that everyone the family kiss the buttons on it, insisting all the while that they call that your Jesus coat.The Font of All True Authority:
The world really is hierarchical, but the world is also busted. This means that men want to maintain their positions of authority through a straight right-handed authority. And it also bears mentioning that women in rebellion do the same thing—they want to run the show through a straight right-handed power. Carnal authority always wants its own way.
“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:42–43, ESV).
This is not servant leadership. It is like Christ—which makes it servant lordship.
[Concerning Phil. 3:9] “Let us get one thing clear at the outset—if Paul is to be justified by righteousness, whose will it be? For starters, Paul says not mine. ” (Papa Don’t Pope, pp. 133).