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 116 posts from the category 'People I don't know.'
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“What I plead for is, that in all your desire to create good sermons you should think no sermon good that does not do its work.”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 95
“If someone is so dependent on coffee that they can’t be a Christian in the morning until they have had some, then there is a problem”
Devoured by Grace, p. 41
“There is nothing worse for a preacher than to come to think that, he must preach down to people; that they cannot take the very best he has to give. He grows to despise his own sermons, and the people quickly learn to sympathize with their minister”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 94
“I am a slave to Christ, which means I can’t do certain things. One of the things I am prohibited from doing is using my liberty as a device for enslaving myself. These are liberty chains—you may not use your liberty (which is real) as a cover for tying yourself up in bondage again”
Devoured by Cannabis, p. 41
One time a Massachusetts Yankee, a gifted musician, decided to move to southern Alabama for a teaching position. He decided that he wanted to live a ways outside the big city where his university was, and because he was a faithful Christian, he soon found himself attending a small country church there. He enjoyed the preaching very much, and the people were wonderful to him, but the music was a grief to his soul.
The third Sunday there, a miracle happened. The current choir director, whose aptitude was somewhat limited, announced that he had taken a job out of the area and was going to be leaving within just a few months. And then, to compound the miracle, the pastor approached the Yankee almost immediately and asked him if he would consider taking over the position of choir director. He said, naturally enough, trying to conceal his excitement, that he would be happy to consider it, and so the following Sunday afternoon, he arranged to come and sit in the back of the church to hear the choir working through their paces.
Halfway through that practice, it became increasingly difficult to hear the choir because of an approaching thunder storm—the kind that Alabama knows how to conjure up from time to time. And then, when the thunder storm was directly over the church—which had a metal roof—the sky suddenly cut loose with a fierce cascading volley of hail, the famous kind that weather casters like to talk about, the kind that are the size of golf balls.
At this the startled Yankee jumped up out of his seat, completely frightened, and exclaimed in a loud voice, “That sounds like hail.”
The outgoing choir director turned around in exasperation. “Oh, c’mon. They’re not that bad.”An Ordinary Open Road. Still Nice.
“A sermon exists in and for its purpose. That purpose is the persuading and moving of men’s souls . . . It is always aimed at men”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 92
“What is the meaning of liberty? In order to make any progress at all when it comes to understanding the use of marijuana, we have to know what freedom is. We also have to discuss it, and work through it carefully, with very sober minds. That means we should debate the question of pot without having smoked any”
Devoured by Cannabis, pp. 39-40
The other night I went and looked up some video footage of the massive demonstrations that are currently happening in Europe, against the introduction of vaccine passports—the protests I watched were happening in London, Paris, and Athens, but there were plenty of others. And the fact that events of this magnitude are happening all over, and yet may as well not be happening as far as our news media are concerned, tells you pretty much everything you need to know about our current situation. We are being led by the nose, all the time. We are being lied to, all the time.I don’t know why all those people back there don’t just come through the gate. They have their passports . . .
I mean, think about it. When I say lied to “all the time,” I mean incessantly, constantly, endlessly, perpetually—like your neighbor’s dog, barking away at midnight the way it does.
I want you to imagine something with me. Let’s do a little thought experiment, you and I. Suppose the CDC had some research scientist in a back room somewhere, and he was a “think-outside-the-vax” kind of guy. We don’t know how he got hired, but somehow he did, and he was back there in the back room, just a-researchin’. After exhaustive study, sleepless nights, and endless experiments, he discovered that COVID could be effectively treated by putting Mentholatum on your upper lip for seven successive nights running. It was astoundingly effective, immediately available, readily affordable, and our long national nightmare was over. He ran down the hallways there at the CDC, yelling that it was over! over! over!
No, actually. It would be more like his long nightmare was just starting. He is about to have a huge non grata dropped on his persona. Does anybody seriously think that the people managing this pandemic would let it end like that? Please note. I am not saying that Mentholatum heals COVID. I am saying that if it did, the chances of you ever finding out about it would be very low.
And that is because all of this is about control. This is not about disease control, but rather about people control. And anything that disrupts or retards those efforts of theirs at their people control is more or less fine with me.
This is because our diseased establishment resembles nothing so much as a sickly yellow custard that is a little green around the edges. It is time to clean out the fridge. Since it is becoming apparent that our ruling elites are neither one, not knowing how to rule, and not being at all elite, it is time for us to acknowledge the obvious, fill up the streets, and just say no.The Timing of Pushback
My father-in-law was an Air Force officer in Germany when the Berlin Wall was first starting to go up. The bad guys would build a bit, and wait to see what happened. Nothing happened, so a little more went up. My father-in-law’s take on the situation then was that we could have saved ourselves a whole lot of grief if we had just sent bulldozers in at the very first sign of a wall. But if you wait until after the wall is built, with concertina wire all along the top, and all their guards posted, then there is no way to send the bulldozers in without starting a war.
I have commented on this principle before. The second crime scene is worse than the first crime scene. So as soon as you encounter a scene, make a scene.
How much more should this be the case when you see people all over the world making a scene. As the saying goes, ”If not us, who? And if not now, when?” If the Aussies are starting to kick, it must be pretty bad.And I Didn’t Even Know That Absurdity Had a Pinnacle
And yet, here we all are, rocking back and forth on the top of it. Because of an irrational panic, how many millions of healthy people were sentenced to house arrest for a year? What did “fifteen days to flatten the curve” turn into? It morphed into “until the vaccine,” and then when the vaccines arrived, and a bunch of people got the vaccine, it turned into “you’re going to have to mask up again this fall” even if you have had the vaccine. I tell you what. Why don’t you get all the vaccines, and then double mask, and go down into your basement. Just to be sure.
Anecdotal stories of healthy people dying from the vaccine are in wide (underground) circulation, and the point here is not that we should believe anecdotal stories about vaccines in a population of hundreds of millions. But the issue is not my trust in anecdotal stories. It is not that I believe them. It is that I don’t believe the official narrative, not at all, not even a little bit. How many times should they get to lie and still maintain credibility. I am not sure because the car I am in passed that point a couple of days ago.
And while we are here, where did the flu go? Why isn’t the flu around any more? Is it like professional wrestling, where one virus has to go out of the ring if the other virus comes in? Are those the rules now? Maybe so, because the public health establishment is currently as realistic as professional wrestling is. Or maybe it is because the testing we have been using cannot distinguish the two, and so all the flu cases have been promoted up to COVID. I wonder if somebody should look into that.
So, confronted with an establishment that wants to triple down on all this stuff, what should the Christian response be? They are calling for more lockdowns, more masking, required vaccinations, vaccine passports, and all the rest of it. They will various verbal tricks in order to spook the populace—which is showing signs of becoming surly—into conformity again.
They will appeal to this thing called “a spike,” which might work on people who don’t know enough to ask to see the whole graph. They will appeal to this thing called “the Delta variant,” which will also have a 99% survival rate among those who catch it. Among those who don’t catch it, the survival rate is a little bit better than that. My prediction is that we will know that they are desperate to be believed when they finally come out with the Sasquatch variant.The Nature of Religious Exemption
There are a number of Christians out there who know they don’t like what is going on, and who know that they don’t want to take the vaccine, and yet who have not worked through the arguments yet. They know they would need to work through them if called upon by their employer, or county health official, or one of Biden’s door-to-door men, to give an account for their refusal to get the vaccine.
There is a strong case to be made by those Christians who want to make an appeal for a religious exemption. Now having a strong argument is not the same thing as having an argument that can get through to a bureaucrat, but at least this is a place to begin. The thing that will get through to a bureaucrat is a sufficient number of people making this kind of argument.
Suppose the president, or whoever it is behind him these days, issued an executive order mandating that we all wear blue ball caps every Tuesday. There is a valid and quite strong religious objection to such a decree, and it runs like this. “I am not your slave.”
We have to recognize the difference between people who have been slaves for generations, and who are on the brink of being liberated, like the Israelites in Egypt, and a people who have been free for generations, and who are on the brink of being enslaved, like Americans in 2021. The strategies employed by these two different kinds of people are going to be different, of necessity, and the first thing to do is not to confound the two scenarios.
And so we resist, as we ought to resist, and we claim the liberties that pertain to us as free men. In Christ, we are free men. And as we make this claim, One of the things we have to come to grips with is the fact that Caesar is not in charge of what constitutes a valid religious exemption. Jesus is Lord, not Caesar, and this means that Caesar does not get to determine what Christ has decided to give to us. If Caesar wants to be blessed, he should recognize it, but he is not the source of it. I should say that again. Caesar is not the source of our liberties, Christ is.
But our secular Caesar wants to set up the terms and conditions under which he will magnanimously grant you that exemption. And what they will probably want from you is a certain measure of irrationality—something like “I belong to a sect that has every strict laws against wearing the color blue under any conditions.”
If your sect had a rule against wearing blue ball caps on Tuesday, this would be too focused and specific. It would look like you were trying to evade something. Hmmm?
No. They will say that in order for it to be a true religious scruple, it has to be arbitrary and make no sense, and all your fellow Presbyterians (or whatever) have to share your scruples about the same thing, and in the very same way. If you have an intelligent religious conviction that says that people who are not slaves should not be ordered around like they were slaves, they will say something like “Ha, ha, DENIED!” You have no inherent problem with wearing blue, or blue ball caps, or blue ball caps on Tuesday, but when the president picks up his pen and orders you to do something he has no authority to order, then you should invite everyone to watch you—in accordance with the laws of your religion—walk all the way through Tuesday without a blue ball cap anywhere in sight.
But they will say it is not a true religious conviction unless it operates like an irrational taboo, or like some religious phobia. If it comes to them that way, they can afford to be magnanimous (sometimes), pat on you the head, and send you on your merry little exempted way. Thus the Amish don’t get drafted, the JWs don’t get blood transfusions, and so on. But they don’t know what to do with a comprehensive faith—like the Christian faith—that shapes and molds slaves into free men.
Here is another story from Cold War Berlin. In the late forties, the Soviets cut off supply lines to West Berlin, in an effort to force the Allies to stop using the Deutsche Mark there. We responded by airlifting supplies into the city, a relief effort which continued for about fifteen months. That whole episode was a real embarrassment to the Soviets, and they eventually lifted their blockade. But one of the things they tried to do during the showdown was to define a corridor in which all the planes had to remain while flying to and from Berlin. The American response was to put our pilots under strict orders—they were to fly anywhere but that corridor.
One of the things I would encourage Christians to do, whenever possible, is to fly outside the corridor.
They want to be in charge of every detail of human existence. They have a lust for control and power. They are totalitarians in spirit, and the fact that they want it to be a Brave New World totalitarianism, and not a 1984 totalitarianism, shouldn’t change anything as far as we are concerned. It is going to wind up as an amalgam of Brave New World and 1984 anyhow.
And so they will want you to come to them, hat in hand, and to ask for an exemption because you belong to a bizarre sect that is running its own little clown show—telling its members to touch not, taste not, handle not. They will not know what to do with a faith that teaches its adherents not to cede authority to their clown show. That is a sane religious conviction, and we commend it to them.
All for now. More on how Christians can resist in weeks to come.
The post A Sickly Yellow Custard That is a Little Green Around the Edges appeared first on Blog & Mablog.
“Ordinarily, reading sermons is like listening to an echo. The words there, but the personal intonation is gone out of them and there is an unreality about it all . . . In general it is true that the sermon which is good to preach is poor to read and the sermon which is good to read is poor to preach.”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 91
“One wine might be selected because it would go well with the beef, and another chosen because it complemented the pasta. Marijuana goes with (recalling Cheech and Chong) Oreos and mustard”
Devoured by Cannabis, p 31
Given that we’re “Budgeting for Stupidity” and taking as tacit reality that incompetence likely outweighs malevolence—at least in the manifested reality of bureaucracy, though not in the human heart—as we’ve seen carried out by ten thousands of HR department heads and federal agencies over the last year with mask mandates and crashing the economy around the ears of the remaining 99.9% humanity that didn’t die of COVID . . . what is a wise and prudent approach towards the vaccine, at least if it becomes mandatory to engage in society in any semblance of normalcy? This is coming from a perspective that thinks Jonas Salk and Edward Jenner did remarkable work and likely were God’s instruments in saving untold millions of lives, but also that recognizes that while many of the lower echelon cronies of government agencies are merely nodding their heads to the beat of the drum of the those higher up the ladder, those very ones at the top of the ladder may indeed be of the ‘malevolent’ category, differentiated from their ‘stupid’ constituents who sit inferior to their position on the totem pole, and might actually have the end goal of totalitarian compliance in mind. That is to say, overall I believe vaccines to be a blessing in the “taking dominion over creation mandate” sense, but am skeptical of overreaching tyrannical authorities who use Goebbels-style propaganda to make the unvaccinated the enemies of the State, or at least the new regime. Thus, is not getting the vaccine an appropriate hill to die on? Should it be considered something like a relatively benign (though not completely) social security number that one can mostly overlook in order to be able to largely participate in and simultaneously speak prophetically to culture while possessing it or should it be viewed as a gateway malignancy into participation in the new globalist regime, and the slope only gets slippery from here? Asking with sincere, humble honesty.
Seth, thanks. I am a fan of genuine vaccines, provided they are not derived unethically (e.g. fetal tissue). But this one is different—the way it was rushed through, the way it operates differently from other vaccines, the way they lie about the threat it is supposed to be addressing, and the way they are wanting to enforce compliance with a club. In my view, this is not about COVID, but rather about control. This is not about public health, but rather about outrageous overreach by dictatorial government officials. The appropriate response is what we are seeing in the protests across Europe—or rather, would be seeing if we were not being constantly lied to.This is not how we did this when I was a kid.
In an effort to cordon the “stupid” or malevolent from power do you think a civil government use the hiring standard the apostle Paul proffers in 1 Timothy 3? i.e. for someone to exercise governmental power they must qualify under said standard? Further, is not the apostle Paul setting the standard for who qualifies for the exercise of power in 1 Timothy 3? If not, then why not.
Ty, I believe that the standards for church officers should be used by us as we consider political leaders, but not straight across (e.g. apt to teach). They are different governments, after all. But I do believe that the character issues reflect a good standard.
Budgeting for Stupidity
First, hey now, what do you have against redheads? Are you calling redheads stupid? Do you really believe redheads are to be confronted? You almost sound like a Black Hebrew Israelite? LOL! Just kidding.
In all seriousness, I agree that we have to be able to account for the stupid people because yes there’s probably a bigger number of them than there are malevolent people and intelligent people. However, in your example of stupid health professionals, yes, there were stupid health officials, but the problem with the COVID tyranny were the malevolent people behind them manipulating the stupid. The problem with the COVID tyranny wasn’t the stupid health experts, it was the malevolent Faucis and Bill Gates’ and the WHOs and the Chinas and the World Economic Forums.
I would argue that the real, demonic war being waged is behind the malevolent people, not the stupid people. The stupid people are the patsies. The stupid people are the people easily manipulated by the malevolent. The spiritual warfare is where the real malice resides, not where the stupidity resides, because malice is the sin, as defined in the Bible, against God. Last I checked being stupid, as you’ve defined it in this blog, wasn’t necessarily a sin against God. If I’m wrong on that last point, feel free to correct me, with Scripture, showing me where stupidity is a sin.
Trey, I do agree that the malevolent are using the stupid ones. As far as being stupid goes, to the extent that it maps onto the biblical category of folly, as a great deal of it does, I do believe that it is sinful.Vasectomies?
Is it lawful to limit our family at four children thru a vasectomy?
I am a young man with a godly beautiful wife, two boys, and one on the way. We hope to have a fourth as well. We’ve been married 4 years and I have a state government job making ~$33k. We love our children dearly and strive to raise them to honor Christ.
If it is lawful thanks, I feel better. If not, what are the implications for those who do? (I know several by-all-fruit-appearances godly men who made this decision after having a few children themselves).
We are strongly considering a vasectomy as an exercise in wisdom, and do recognize it as a modern luxury of choice. Though Scripture says children are a gift, my wife (and her mental health) is a jewel of great worth as well. I feel this decision can be made with honest intentions before God, but I also recognize that feelings are fumes, and not the jet fuel of truth our lives should run on.
We will continue to pray over this, but I value your opinion as someone who speaks truth bluntly with love. I do feel this issue is under-addressed in the Church and appreciate any wisdom you can offer.
Jon, I try to avoid calling anything unlawful if Scripture does not address it, and Scripture does not address birth control directly. But it does talk about children, and the blessing of children, a lot, and so if you are thinking about a fifth child as a “mental health” issue, I would encourage you to go very slowly and examine your foundational assumptions—and where you might have gotten. That said, here is something I wrote a while ago on the general topic.Blockchain Magic?
This is in reference to the video below:
I agree with everything you said except for one part and that’s your conception of what blockchain can and can’t do. This happens to be an area where I’m an expert and I can tell you for certain that blockchain doesn’t magically add decentralization to data, which is what I think your conception of blockchain is.
Here’s an article I wrote a few years ago that has over 500k views that may give you a bit more insight:
I’ve also written several books about Bitcoin including one from a Christian perspective:
Anyway, I love your courage and stances the past year in regards to both the authoritarianism of the COVID19 policies and the cultural commentary on the BLM movement. I hope my small bit of insight may be of use to you.
Jimmy, thanks. The comment you are responding to is just after the six minute mark, where I refer to the “implications of blockchain.” I do apologize for the ambiguous phrasing. I was talking about the implications of blockchain, not applications of blockchain. I read your article, which I appreciated, and I agree with the thrust of it. But I don’t believe that decentralization is the fruit of blockchain. Rather, I believe that blockchain is a fruit of decentralization—among numerous other things that are in the process of getting away from the authorities. I may be reasoning a bit differently than Gilder does, but I am in sympathy with him. “Even though bitcoin may not, after all, represent the potential for a new gold standard, its underlying technology will unbundle the roles of money. This can finally clarify and enable the necessary distinction between the medium of exchange and the measuring stick. Disaggregated will be all the GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft conglomerates)—the clouds of concentrated computing and commerce.” I might want to say the “logic of the technology . . .” instead of “the technology . . .” but I do believe that a large decentralization is afoot.Effeminacy in Men
Regarding past articles on effeminacy in men:
Doug, I remember you writing a letter to a young man struggling with homosexual tendencies. You asked him to take stock of which stereotypes applied to him in particular, and suggested learning to throw a baseball. I’ve been friends with a few guys who have this struggle and I want to share a general epiphany that applies to all men who struggle with effeminacy, which can really help if it is just recognized.
The epiphany came from a book on animation, the animator realized that a man was gay, 50 feet away out of his peripheral vision. How did he know? The walk. Check out this link for very detailed specifics on biological walk differences. The application here is to exhort those who struggle to “walk like a man.” He may need to actually learn to swing his shoulders and start taking wider steps to be masculine.
In conclusion, there are other stereotypes that I would now exhort my younger self to recognize and call out in those friends. Here is an politically incorrect list of things men shouldn’t let other men do:
1) Talk on the phone like a girl. Men get information. Girls get emotional connection.
2) Talk like a girl. Lower your voice and stop lisping
3) Walk like a girl. Everyone sees it, but few can actually put their finger on why
4) Watch Downton Abby.
5) Go to Princeton Seminary
Joel, thanks.Navigating Credo Paedo Cooperation
My wife and I are members of a credobaptist church. We have become convinced of infant baptism in recent years and have young children who we would like to get baptized, but it is not a good move to leave our church. The elders are open to us following our conviction and getting them baptized (but not by them), but would still require a credobaptism if our children were ever to become members of the church when older. They would accept this credobaptism even if our children believed their infant baptism was the legitimate one, and were only participating in this second ‘baptism’ for the sake of the elders & to allow church membership.
Is submitting to such ‘rebaptism’ a sin? Would it be best to just forego any infant baptisms now, so that when our children in God’s grace profess faith they can have a credobaptism where both sides agree it is a legitimate one?
Your thoughts on the best course appreciated,
Henry, part of that depends on how early the elders would accept a profession of faith. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t submit to a baptism that I believed was unnecessary. I would ask rather whether your children could be de facto members of the church, if not de jure.Red Pill Questions
From your very interesting post “Beware of Peru Rising”:
“If my suspicions are correct, it is also why, in just a few years, we are going to be working at advancing the kingdom in an angry red pill world.”
I had a very clear conviction of idolatry while reading this line . . . and I had to ask myself the uncomfortable question—why would I want Douglas Wilson’s suspicion to be prophetically true? Why would I want an angry red-pilled world? Why?
Can such a thing be anymore more spiritually healthy than wanting a woke angry world?
Pray for me.
Roger, I don’t want an angry red pill world, but I would prefer it to a woke angry world. I think that stance can be taken without idolatry. But it is also possible that there is idolatry involved if I am just putting a Jesus shine on red pill talking points.
Maybe I missed it but have you described this “red pill” response elsewhere? (I’m familiar with the metaphor, just not your application in this context)
BJ, no, I don’t believe I have described it in depth. I have made the point in various places, such as here. What I basically mean is a hard ball reaction on the part of cultural and traditional conservatives, in which they do a number of things that Christians cannot approve of, but nevertheless which benefit us.
‘Beware of Peru Rising’ was an excellent, excellent essay. One very small caveat: I don’t think advancing the gospel in an angry red pill world, should we be so fortunate to receive such a blessing, will be so bad as you imagine. Too much of ‘the red pill’ is just seeing that, on pretty much any question where there’s some specially modern wisdom, the modern authorities are either stupid or subversive, and the ancients and medievals—usually just meaning ‘what you’d get from a plain reading of the Bible’—were right. At least on Gab, the sort of people who throw around jeers like ‘christcuck’ certainly don’t appear to be winning, and routinely get told (correctly) they’re doing and thinking exactly what their woke globalist overlords want them to. The big issue is going to be that a lot of the angry red-pilled believe (as I do) that Tim Keller, Russell Moore, David French, Matthew Hall, Al Mohler, and most everyone else whose names would be mentioned in the same breath, really were the saboteurs on the left (heh) all along, who should’ve been given flying lessons right off the ramparts decades ago; and believe (as I do not . . . yet . . .) that anyone still counting them as the nice guys on the right is flagging himself as one of them.
Big losers in Angry Redpill World: Big Eva, Israel-can-do-no-wrong dispensationalists, big Reformed denominations (the PCA especially), Presbyterians in general, megachurches, papists in general, nice guys, churches that are very proud of their huge ESL outreach programs. Neutral: mainline denominations, which I expect will hang around longer than anyone expects, weekend entertainment for blue-checkmarks who want to feel ‘spiritual’ on occasion without a hangover the next morning. Big winners: small, insular denominations; Tridentine Mass Catholics; house churches; anyone who figures out how to remind the disaffected of Hebrews 10:25, anyone selling reprints of Dabney or Thornwell.
I don’t see Angry Redpill World coming—or if it does, it’ll be inside the camps the commies stuff us all into, and gulags are angry and redpilled by definition. But if it does come, it’ll be—if it isn’t strangled first by respectables—a Great Awakening our dying West doesn’t deserve.
Buford, thanks. Many of your points have merit!Education Stuff
I just read the Case for Classical Christian Education. Thank you, it was very eye-opening and edifying. I live in Australia, I teach at a Christian school, and have 3 children enrolled there, but like pretty much all Christian schools here, it doesn’t live up to its mission, not even close. In Australia, Christian school are generously funded by the government provided they teach the state or national curriculum which is needless to say, not a Christian curriculum. Christians schools add a more or less superficial religious overlay to the curriculum and label it ‘Christ-centered’ learning, the vast majority of these schools enroll non-Christian kids from non-Christian homes. I teach Visual Art and Design and am a reformed Bible believer, which means I generally feel like an outsider most of the time. When I learned about Classical Christian Schools earlier this year I was both elated and exasperated because there are no CCE schools in Australia except for a 11 student strong CCE homeschool group on the other side of the country and a school proposed for 2023, also in another state, that proposes to integrate the state curriculum with CCE, somehow. My next move, is for me and my wife, is to home-school our 3 school-aged children with Logos Press coursework until something Classical becomes viable. Your thoughts would be appreciated.
Shaun, my only thought is “God bless you and keep you.” But don’t despise the day of small beginnings.Thanks for the Recommendation
I recently watched the 1970 movie Cromwell. I was curious as to your thoughts about it. I picked up several good lines relevant to our times such as “We need men who fear God but not the enemy” and “Put your trust in God and keep your powder dry.“ Thanks for all the wonderful work you do at this blog. I have been greatly blessed by your Biblical voice addressing our culture.
Aaron, I can’t say anything, not having seen it. But thanks for the recommendation.Here’s An Idea
I would be most interested in Rev. Wilson doing a substantive critique of the recent ad interim committee report on human sexuality submitted to this years PCA GA.
Brian, thanks for the idea. Let’s see what happens.Some Recent Press
I admire the work of the saints in Idaho. I just came across this very positive, albeit slightly skewed, description in The Critic, a magazine based in the UK and not Christian as far as I know. That article is a year old, but a recent article was very disturbing about how Christian beliefs are considered increasingly criminal in the UK and other European nations despite legal protections for free speech.
Although the US is deeply flawed, I remain hopeful that the Lord will open the eyes of Christian governors to grow a pair (or borrow some) and “just say no” to federal overreach. Modern era governors caved on the TSA, Roe v Wade, Obergefell, and numerous other SC decisions. However, the Fugitive Slave Act and the Dred Scott decision finally got ante bellum governors and others riled up, so not impossible for something in our time.
As you cruise down the open road in your relatively new truck, do you spot anything on the horizon that would increase gubernatorial testosterone levels high enough to incite a legal riot?
PS Titania McGrath/Andrew Doyle is a regular columnist for The Critic. I wish Christians had more satirists of that caliber. The Babylon Bee is excellent, but it would be great to see worthy satirists at CT, TGC, and other serious-acting publications. It is July, but maybe there’s a chance of snow.
John, as I look around, I see reasons for despair everywhere. Also, signs of hope. At the time, I did respond to Crawford Gribben’s article here.Postmill Questions
I’m a recent convert to Postmillennialism and can see quite clearly in Scripture the idea that Christ’s Kingdom is a slowly progressing and ever expanding agency in the world until Christ returns at the end of history. I know that 1 Corinthians 15:21-28 is clear on that. This, I take it, means that Postmils do not hold to an imminent return of Christ. I am struggling with one passage. 1 John 2:28 and 1 John 3:2-3. These passages seem to speak of His return as something they’re expecting, utilizing the “We” and the fact that this event is something that would breed confidence in the first century believers. I took this, at first, to meaning His coming in judgement in Jerusalem. But 1 John 3:2-3 seems to show that there’s a transformative aspect to this “coming” and “appearing,” aka, “we will be like Him, for we will see Him as He is.” That seems to indicate the second coming at the end of history, and it seems to indicate the first century believers should be expecting it in their time. Can you assist me with understanding these texts?
Corey, thanks. I agree that the appearing in 1 John 3:2-3 is transformative, and I take it as referring to the Final Coming of the Lord—which makes the earlier reference in 2:28 likely about the same thing. But there is no explicit time stamp in those passages, like soon or at hand. The most you have is an implied possible immanent coming, which I think is spiritually healthy for all of us. While I don’t think that the Lord’s return is immanent, living in the light of His appearing is still a good thing to cultivate. After all, our deaths really are immanent, and we will be with the Lord then.
The only issue I take with you, Pastor Wilson, is your belief that the church will usher in the Kingdom (your postmillenial eschatology). Now, granted, this eschatology really helps to ward off anxiety and trust the Lord. However, your encouragement for us to “assume the middle” sounds a lot like critical theory. Yep. It sounds a lot like critical race theory in which everyone is categorized as oppressed or the oppressor. Not everything boils down to those in power and those without power. That’s what you’re saying basically; that there were times in history when the church had more power and now we don’t have as much power anymore. But you are sure our time in power is right around the corner. Right? Please clarify.
Rachel, it is not the two categories of oppressor/oppressed, but rather the two categories of believing/unbelieving. Sometimes the believers are harried, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they are compromised, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes these two alternative map onto each other, and sometimes they do not. This in turn is a function of how they are responding to the covenant promises—in faith, or not.Masculinity and EO
From The Masculinest: Rod Dreher wrote about former pickup artist Roosh Valizadeh’s conversion to Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
Thought it interesting the comment about it being “active” and not just “sitting passively in the pew processing theological arguments in your head.” How do we as reformed believers also communicate the “activeness” of faith from our perspective? Why is Orthodoxy so attractive to men? I think it’s because it is masculine without being macho. What does it mean to say it is “masculine”? This is not easy for me to understand; I feel it more than I understand it. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that somehow, Orthodox liturgy and spirituality is emotionally powerful without being sentimental. It also has a lot to do with the fact that it challenges men to do something — to wage war on their own sinfulness, to make sacrifices, including physical sacrifices (during the fasts), to die to themselves and live in Christ. Orthodox spirituality requires you to use your body in worship and discipleship—not only in the candles, the icons, the incense, the prostrations, and so forth, but also in fasting during Lent and other fasting seasons. Put another way, Orthodox spirituality is not about sitting passively in the pew processing theological arguments in your head, and/or arranging your emotions in a certain way. Yes, theology is very important, and engaging the heart is even more important in Orthodoxy than engaging the head. But there’s something about Orthodoxy that integrates those two and transcends them. I am not smart enough to explain how that works, but I know from sixteen years of experience that it does work.
BJ, I do agree that Reformed worship should engage the whole man, which is something we have labored to do. But we need to engage the body the way God says to do it—otherwise we will go off the rails. On the question of effeminacy in the Western church (Roman and Protestant both), I was persuaded by Leon Podles’ argument, found here. Pair that with Ann Douglas’s great book, The Feminization of American Culture, and you will be hot on the trail.A Very Practical Question
I have been a long-time listener of your sermons and reading your blog, as well as reading several of your books, so I have a high level of confidence in your biblical wisdom . . .
How’s that for a build up? I just started going to a new church with my wife, and my daughter and her family started going there too, with my four grandchildren. We were notified right away that there is a convicted child molester that is a member of the church, and the Pastor beliefs him to be regenerate. We love the church, but this is a huge sticking point, I can’t trust this member at all, we are all constantly on edge around him at church functions. I have attached the church policy regarding sex offenders (see page 8). I feel like we should all look for another church, but what do you think of the policy? Would you do something different at your church?
I appreciate any insight you could offer, I know you are very busy, even if you could send me a copy of your church’s policy for comparison?
Henry, as there wasn’t an attachment, I can’t comment. But in brief, our policy is that the brunt of any extra measures should be taken by the offender, and not by others. In our case, a convicted sex offender can be welcome at church, but he must be accompanied by a trained chaperone.Back to the Jews
When I saw your video title “Antisemitism as a False Flag Operation”, I thought, “Yes!” But when I watched the video, it was not what I expected. FWIW, I love Jews and pray for God to save them, even as Jesus and Paul prayed. And I think Romans 11 teaches a future mass conversion of Jews worldwide.
However, my love for them does not conflict with exposing their sins and crimes.
Regarding A.S., what do you think of this admission by a former Israeli Minister of Education?
Also, type the word “Jewish” in the search box then click:
If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
Greg, the problem is not with recognizing crimes when they have occurred. I am more than willing to do that. The problem is not with acknowledging that Israel has done some bad stuff. I am willing to do that also. Facts are facts. But to point to a particular crime, and then to blame it on “the Jews” is a standard that none of can afford to adopt. The Supreme Court of our nation is responsible for the dismemberment of tens of millions of unborn children. I blame “the whites” for this.
Aha. Were “Antisemitism as a False Flag Operation” and “Beware of Peru Rising!” meant to be read together? In other words, was your choice to use the language you did in the former an attempt to find out who the sentries on the right are when making a point they would otherwise nod eagerly in agreement with?
Aaron, that might have been a good strategy to adopt if I had been bright enough.What Deeds?
I was wondering if you had any thoughts or historical reference for what the “deeds of the Nicolaitans” would have been. I have always felt that the revealing of their deeds would be a relevant wake up call for the current generation. I have looked and asked around for leads for several years as it comes up but have yet to find anything. Since you are my favorite smart fella I thought I would ask.
Revelation 2:6 (NKJV): But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Matt, this is not something that can be proven, but I think that it is likely, given the other errors that were being advanced in the seven churches, that the Nicolaitans were urging something like what “that woman Jezebel” was teaching, or those who held the “doctrine of Balaam.” In other words, I think it was a blessing that was being placed on sexual immorality. If that is the case, you are correct about it being a wake-up call for us. We have our own Nicolaitans.Digital Evidence
You’ve brought up the topic of digital evidence before and since you spoke about it again in Plodcast #200, I thought I’d try to help shed some light. I’ve been a cybersecurity engineer for nine years. While I don’t do much with digital forensics on a day-to-day basis, I have had some in-depth training in it. Please take all of the following as appropriate information for a general audience. There can be exceptions to what I’m about to say so if there’s any forensics experts out there, be kind.
Law enforcement should treat any sort of device containing digital evidence like they would finding a weapon at the scene of a crime. Once acquired, there needs to be a clear chain of custody with that evidence. Any sort of tampering with digital evidence would be treated the same as any other evidence with the appropriate penalties, etc.
So let’s say that a computer hard drive has been seized and needs to be examined. A digital forensics examiner will first make a copy of the hard drive and then make a copy of the copy. He will do his forensics work on the copy of the copy to ensure that the original gets left alone as much as possible. If something happens to his copy of the copy, he can just make a new copy out of the first copy.
To ensure that he is examining an exact copy of the original, he will take a hash of all three of them and compare their output to see if they’re exactly the same. A hash is a mathematical algorithm that chews through the data and spits out a unique string of numbers (0-9) and letters (A-F). For example, here is a hash of the word ‘plodcast’:
If you change even one letter (or jot or tittle) on the hard drive and perform the same hashing algorithm on it again, you are guaranteed to get a completely different output. If the hash of your copy doesn’t match, it means you got a bad copy or your copy has been altered in some way. Here is a hash of the word ‘podcast’. Notice how it is completely different from the above hash.
What if someone plants evidence on a hard drive? Everything that is done on a computer is logged and tracked in multiple ways and locations. Every login of a user, plugged in USB drive, and copied files are logged and timestamped. The files themselves carry metadata that shows when they were created, modified, or accessed (right-click on any file in Windows 10 and select ‘Properties’ and you can see an example of these dates). Files that have been copied onto a hard drive should stick out like sore thumbs to a trained digital forensics expert. The files themselves don’t tell you who did it, but put together multiple pieces of hard drive evidence and you can put together a story that shows what account was logged in at the time, whether or not that account was logged in locally or over the network, online activity when that account was logged on, folders and applications that were accessed, inserted USBs, new files that were created, and when the account logged off.
But the above can only show you what activities were happening within the computer. It cannot tell you who was at the keyboard. There will need to be external evidence showing that a suspect was actually there typing away.
While the evidence on a hard drive will be there, there are items and processes that require some trust. Did the official gathering the evidence tamper with it? Is the forensics examiner in on the scheme? Did the forensics examiner miss anything? Can the software the forensics examiner is using be trusted to give accurate results? Is the forensics examiner biased in any way or is he reporting only the evidence he sees? I believe that your typical prosecution and defense attorneys will have/hire their own digital forensics experts on the stand to make their respective cases. After that it is up to the jury to consider all the evidence.
With so many avenues to go hunting for digital evidence, your average criminal will not have the ability to completely cover his tracks. Even deleted information can be recovered most of the time. This is not to say that well-funded attackers from nation states (including the US) cannot completely erase their tracks. After all, necessity is the mother of invention. However, as the estimated dwell time before an attacker gets detected in company is 95 days, they don’t need to be too worried about their digital tracks just yet. But that’s a different topic altogether.
Ultimately, your typical digital evidence that shows up in court can be shown to be trustworthy. However, other digital evidence that we know exists *cough* Hillary’sEmailServer *cough* will likely never see the light of day.
James, thank you. I don’t dispute that processes could ensure that digital evidence is not tinkered with. But there is always the human element, and as we saw with Hillary’s server, or Hunter’s laptop, or chain of custody ballots in Georgia, or intelligence agencies spying on Trump, the fact that you have processes does not mean that they are followed, or that violations are punished appropriately.Transition in Minneapolis
Pastor Doug, that article on Julie Roys, which is the leftist and ‘progressive’ version of Pulpit & Pen made worse, reads like you are the primary target or reason for why Bethlehem is going through what they’re going through. That the Elders somehow in your mold of sorts. Basically, it seems like it is designed to try to manipulate people in general, but also specifically Bethlehem Elders, to reject everything they claim you are for and those things and institutions that you are associated with. This is “we still got to get this Wilson guy cancelled”.
Trey, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that is the point. But it certainly could be one of them
I think one question that is on the minds of many people is, “What can I do?” And with that question comes a certain frustration with the fact that most of us are simply just going to have to go along for the ride. I know I have struggled to both frame that question and deal with the accompanying frustration.
But that doesn’t mean we are totally impotent. In fact, when you write that we should “Assume the center,” I think that there are many “little” things that one can do that will contribute towards that, even in small ways, leaving it all to God to bless as He wills.
Here’s one: I just recently updated my resume with a “personal statement” at the end that reads as follows:
“As a committed Christian, and especially because of my military service in defense of my country, I am very thankful for the blessings God has bestowed upon my nation and the freedoms we enjoy. Foremost among these is the right to free speech, articulated in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. Therefore, it is my personal conviction that I will not support or partake in any endeavor which infringes on free speech. This includes, but is not limited to, non-disclosure agreements, being told what I can and cannot say, being told with whom I can and cannot speak, “personal pronoun” requirements and other so-called “Diversity and Inclusion” guidance, prohibitions or actions against “misinformation”, or any other company policy or culture that prohibits, stifles, or discourages free speech. As a professional who has a distinguished record of excellence in both work and character, you will just have to trust that I will maintain the highest standards of professionalism, performance, and personality. If you find these convictions to be at odds with your company, then I respectfully decline to commit myself to your organization.”
I think this is one way we can assume the center and take a stand, by refusing to work for employers who are going down the path of today’s zeitgeist. I realize that this would most likely severely limit the pool of potential employers and that not everyone is the position to do so, but I offer this as a hopefully helpful suggestion for some.
Guymon, very good. And check out Red Balloon.Walter Kirn
I recently purchased the Canon App and watched the episode of Man Rampant with Walter Kirn. As I said in a tweet I sent to Mr. Kirn, “It resonated with me on a level I am struggling to comprehend. It was the kind of thing that, afterward, one cannot bear to hear any sound for a while. Twitter is too limited to express it fully.” I am sure you have had such experiences a time or two in your life.
I was particularly struck by the insights he had in response to your question about how he goes about being observant, as a writer must, and his comment, I think near the same context, that many people are afraid to acknowledge what they know because the truth hurts too much. I took it as a clarion call to begin trying to really observe and think about the world around me. What I really heard him saying was something like, “Get to a place where you can actually see what is happening around you, as opposed to what everybody thinks is happening, and then be ruthlessly honest with yourself about what you see”. I was burdened, in a good way, by the thought that I have heretofore not been as observant and unflinchingly honest with myself as I ought to have been, or, worse, as I think I have been.
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed that episode or how much I probably needed to hear those things said in just the way they were. Mr. Kirn, provided I am not under the spell of some momentary fancy, may have just changed my life for the better. My only regret is that I will never again get to watch that conversation for the first time. I will be watching/listening to it a couple more times because there is just no way to absorb all of something like that in one take. Thank you for having him on and for being an interviewer who does not step on the answers to the questions he asks. Mr. Kirn is absolutely fascinating.
This is getting long already, but I had another thought about his observation that outsiders can see more clearly what is actually going on. My favorite author is Flannery O’Connor. I have never been to the South, but at this point in time, much of what is called Evangelicalism is just as “Christ haunted” as she once observed the South to be. So her piercing insights into such a phenomenon, although in a different context, are quite striking. It occurred to me that the reason she was able to see the Protestant South for what it was, was owing to her being a Roman Catholic in the Protestant South. She was an outsider to the world in which she lived and about which she wrote. All of that to say that she is evidence that Walter Kirn is onto something. Time to get outside and start watching.
P.S. Have you ever thought about getting, or tried to get, an opportunity to have a discussion like that with Jordan Peterson? I suspect that would be a terribly interesting conversation as well.
Andrew, thank you. And I would love to interview Peterson. In God’s good time perhaps . . .A Question I Have Not Fielded Before
I am deeply indebted to your ministry and especially that of your wife and daughters. Thank you all for your tireless service.
My question is not related to a post that I’m aware of. I’m a homeschool mom and my kids have been learning about Joan of Arc. If you have the time, can you give me some guidance in thinking biblically about her as concerns Deut. 22:5?
Thank you. May God continue to bless you.
Amy, just two things. First, I do think any warrior queen business is a violation of Deut. 22:5. And the second is that history is funny, and God often draws straight with crooked lines.Assuming the Center
It seems that there is intended to be a connection between the current plethora of available information and the sovereignty of God. If there is a connection, I missed it. Or maybe one was not intended. Put another way, it seems we are being encouraged to have hope that the current controllers of information will very soon no longer be able to do so due to the plethora of information. But I am not sure that this necessarily follows based on the sovereignty of God. God may decide to continue to allow the evil authorities to continue to prevail in spite of the flood of data. Not sure how Doug can be so sure that an abundance of information leads necessarily to the loss of control of information by the traditional controllers of it.
Peter, I think it is how this kind of story goes. It is a sorcerer’s apprentice kind of thing. When the water coming out of the hose was a trickle, they could hold the hose fine, and we let them. Now that information is coming at us from every direction, it is very difficult for us to pretend that it is all coming out of the hose. And all of this is under the sovereignty of God
“Never allow yourself to feel equal to your work”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 88
“If the use of wine was sinful and problematic , then it would have been really problematic for Jesus to have made 160 gallons of it”
Devoured by Cannabis, p. 26
As it is quite obvious to the intelligent observer that our ruling elites are busily engaged in wrecking the country, the theories about why this is the case break into two schools of thought. The first is that the bad guys are evil geniuses, and that they are doing all of this on purpose out of malice, envy, and guile, like so many Bond villains. The second is that they are stupid, and they really believe their own platitudes. They think they are helping sweetness and light along when they are, in fact, not helping. They are ushering in a glorious new commie world, like Venezuela or a seedier part of downtown Detroit.
Before getting on to today’s discussion of these matters, I would like to propose a third option. This is a big country, and we can see that an awful lot of people are engaged in wrecking it, and so why not both? Why can’t we have evil geniuses and stupid people both?
Today, however, we are going to focus on the problems caused by stupidity. But I have included this qualification up front in order to acknowledge to you, the reading public, that there is some intelligent malevolence involved in all of this, and I will even grant that some of these bad guys are Jews. This last item is included simply in order to keep the volume of my correspondence at manageable levels.
With all of this said, we really need to start budgeting for stupidity.Sages Over the Ages
I draw your attention to the Twain meme, which states the thing nicely. Then there is the definition of idiot offered to us by Ambrose Bierce.
“Idiot, n. A member of a large and powerful tribe whose influence in human affairs has always been dominant and controlling. The Idiot’s activity is not confined to any special field of thought or action, but ‘pervades and regulates the whole.’ He has the last word in everything; his decision is unappealable. He sets the fashions and opinion of taste, dictates the limitations of speech and circumscribes conduct with a dead-line.”
Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
Many years ago I read a book by William Simon, who had been Reagan’s Secretary of the Treasury. The book was called something like A Time for Truth, which it apparently wasn’t, but in that book Simon speculated on why conspiracy thinking was so prevalent on the Right. He concluded that it was because conservatives had a tendency to attribute intelligence to their adversaries, and because it was obvious how destructive all their ideas were, the motive force consequently had to be malice.
But Simon wanted us to know that he had been involved in discussion and debate at the highest echelons of our government, and that he was prepared to testify that if some of these johnnies at the top had brains made out of gunpowder, they still wouldn’t be able to blow off their hat. Not that he put it that way of course.
And of course there is Hanlon’s Razor: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”This Is Sober Anthropology, Not Name-Calling
Now of course budgeting for stupidity does not mean reducing all doctrinal disagreements or policy differences to the level of third graders hurling taunts at each other, saying, “No, you’re the stupid.” To behave that way is not budgeting for stupidity, but rather exhibiting the kind of stupidity that must be budgeted for by someone else.
We also need to avoid the insider-knowledge conceit that is eager to talk about all the stupid people “out there,” thereby automatically exempting oneself from that category. That kind of conceit is, well, stupid, and others will have to budget for that as well.
All this is to say that the recognition of pervasive stupidity in the world contains a real insight, and of course stupid people will abuse it, just like they do everything else. Not only will they abuse it, the will do so by pretending to understand it. But the fact that they will do this does not invalidate the reality. Why should stupid people understand pervasive stupidity when they don’t understand everything else?Time for a Book Plug
So this brings us to a crucial book recommendation. I refer you to an insightful little book by Carlo Cipolla that you will initially be tempted to write off as just a satire, as Nicolas Taleb notes in the foreword. But as you make your way through this slim volume, you will realize that it contains a great deal of sober analysis. It just might actually might help you as you try to navigate your way through the minefields of prevailing imbecility at that Dilbert office of yours. And incidentally, the fact that Scott Adams’ humor works is a testament to the validity of Cipolla’s thesis.
Cipolla’s book, The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity, outlines the basic challenge we must learn all to confront. This is a book that deserves to take its place alongside other great tongue-in-cheek works of astounding insight, by which I mean books like Parkinson’s Law or The Peter Principle.
For example, his first law states that there are always more stupid people involved than you might expect. Words to live by, right there. It is an encouragement to caution.
But the two things I found most helpful were his second law, and also his definition of stupidity, which happens to constitute his third law.
The second law was that the ratio of stupid people in any cohort is unrelated any other characteristics of that cohort. In other words, you are going to find roughly the same percentage of stupid people (which will be a larger number than you expected, see the first law) among Nobel laureates as you would among ditch diggers. Tall, short, black, white, male, female, the percentage of stupid people in any given cohort will be roughly the same, and will be be surprisingly high. Since this law applies to Mensa chapters or members of Phi Beta Kappa as well as to the local Rotary, it should become clear that we are talking about something that IQ tests don’t catch, and that graduation requirements don’t screen out. We are talking about something a bit closer to the biblical concept of folly, which is a moral condition.
So what is this stupidity? It is to act in a harmful way, and in such a way as that the person acting is not benefited by the action himself, and is possibly even harmed himself. Here is how Cipolla put it in his third law:
“A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.”
Carlo Cipolla, The Basic Laws of Human StupidityIs There No Defense Against This?
Well, sure, there is a defense, but it is not a utopian defense. In other words, the goal should not be the eradication of stupidity, which is not possible, but rather the shrewd (and courageous) containment of it.
In his analysis of the human condition, Cipolla breaks us down into four categories. There are the stupid people, causing harm without rhyme or reason. You cannot anticipate and guard against their plan because there is no plan. Then there are the malevolent people, who do damage, but who benefit themselves by doing it. Cipolla calls them bandits. We don’t appreciate them, but at least we understand them. He stole your wallet because there was something of value for him in it. Then there are, obviously, the intelligent people. They are the ones who benefit themselves through benefiting others.
The fourth category is made up of helpless people. These are the people who get consistently ripped off by the bandits, and who are regularly beset by the stupid people.
When a society is on a destructive downward path, it is because they are governed by some kind of informal coalition of the bandits, the stupid, and the helpless (as enablers). When this scenario is in motion, the intelligent see what is going on, but the only recourse they have is that of taking measures to protect themselves, and to provide for their own. They of course are not allowed anywhere near the societal helm.
When a society is blessed, it is not because the stupid have been exiled, but rather because they have been cordoned off. They have been outmaneuvered. They are not in a position to make authoritative decisions. Stupid health officials would not be allowed, for one example, to wreck the nation’s economy by telling the whole country to stay inside for a year in order to avoid an illness with a 99% survival rate, and that is if you catch it. To repurpose an illustration from the great Puritan John Flavel, that is like sinking the ship to save it from pirates—pirates who are in a different ocean.
Stupid classroom teachers would not be allowed to prohibit white children from raising their hands in class, as a means of fixing some of the damage done by slavery two centuries ago. Stupid surgeons would not be allowed to turn a man into a eunuch and call the results a woman. Stupid advocates for the disabled would not have been allowed to move our word options from blind to disabled, and from disabled to differently abled. And so it is that we have now gotten to the absurd (and very stupid) point where blindness is being treated as a social construct. I could go on. In fact, I could go on for quite some time. You know its true.Now I Know That I Rubbed Some Fur the Wrong Way
And yet, I know that using this word stupid has not gone down well with some of you. Cipolla’s thesis is that we are always going to get a certain number of stupid people (a number larger than expected) in the same way we get a certain number of redheads. It is going to happen, in other words. Nothing whatever can be done about the mere fact of it.
What can be done is our preparedness for it, and our willingness to confront it. What can be done is to have healthy institutions that have firewalls that will protect us from the inevitable onslaught of stupid. We can’t outlaw fires, but we can outlaw the stupid practice of outlawing firewalls. Cipolla was Italian, and so it is high time for some pseudo-Italian American slang. So I ask you. Capisce?
What can happen is that intelligent people can prevent the helpless people from allowing their sentimentalism to become our central governing principle. And the doctrine underlying that sentimentalism of the helpless is egalitarianism. Cipolla’s thesis is that all men are not equal. Some are stupid. This offends our baseline egalitarianism, which wants to say that any child can become anything he wants to be, just so long as he “digs down deep.” You want to be president? Done. You want to turn into a girl? Done. You want to be a great poet, a rival to Milton and Dante? Done.
In a non-egalitarian era, certain people would be given a shovel, and taught how to clean out the stable. In our era, we still have the same kind of people, doing the same kind of thing, like sweeping out a warehouse, but at the same time we have also filled their heads with vain dreams of someday writing screenplays for blockbuster movies. They still occupy the lowest rungs in our society, but in a feeble attempt at compensation, we have slathered them with lies.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.”
Romans 12:3 (KJV)
In our diseased era, we have flipped this. We want every man to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. And this demented compromise includes the church. The heresy of egalitarianism has made deep inroads into the church, which is why we are struggling with all the things we are struggling with now. Having granted the major and minor premises, we don’t know what to do with the valid demands that actually do follow, and which are standing on our front porch banging on our front door—women preaching, homos teaching, and random others over-reaching.
I hasten to add—because some people are stupid—that Cipolla’s denial that all men are equal is not saying that they are not to be treated with equity before the law, or that all of them are to be allowed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In terms of their rights, all men are created equal. All men have the right to keep and bear arms, for example, but this does not mean that no man is a better shot than the others.
Egalitarianism (and the crackling envy driving it) is a flattering and impotent savior. It whispers lies to you. It always says something like, “You deserve far better,” when, if the truth were told, all of us deserve a whole lot worse than what we are getting. We love to whine about how something in life is “not fair,” but if life were fair, we’d all be in Hell.Just Gospel, No Varnish
In order to get the gospel straight, we have to understand the law. The good news of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the jubilant message of our release from the condemnation of the law. But the law I am referring to is the law that was inscribed on the stone tablets by the Spirit of God (Matt. 12:28), by the finger of God (Ex. 31:18; Luke 14:20 ). I am referring to the law that actually condemns us as sinners before a holy law. I am talking about the law that reflects the character, nature, and attributes of our thrice-holy God.
I am not referring to the ramshackle jitney laws that demented people with a lust for power have cooked up. As Roger Scruton observed, our intellectuals were not attracted to Marxism because of the compelling truth that it outlined, but rather our intellectuals were attracted to Marxism because of the power that intellectuals like themselves would have under such a system. What we are dealing with is a raw and swollen case of libido dominandi, a lust for power. The licenses they grant and the laws they decree are simply the bit and bridle that they want you to put on, and they are standing off to the side, booted, spurred, and ready to ride.
But Jesus did not die to free you from your sins against the intersectional matrix. He did not die so that you could confess the vestiges of white supremacy that are lurking in your teenager’s algebra text. He did not die so that you could become the kind of husband that becomes your wife’s very best girl friend lover, and all without technically turning her into a lesbian.
Sin is not sin against the dictates of secular man. Sin is against God. He, and only He, can define sin. Fornication. Adultery. Illicit remarriage. Abortion. Sodomy. Cross-dressing. Murder. Theft. Envy. Malice. Boasting. Disobedience to parents. Disobedience to husbands. Idolatry. Greed. Lying. Covetousness. Sabbath-breaking. Bearing God’s name in vain.
Christ died on the cross, was buried, and rose again. He ascended to the right hand of the Father, and this gospel message was not so that we might bring this message to those who have sinned against the tenets of secularism. If you apply this glorious message to the guilt that someone feels for their white privilege, for example, what you get is some kind of doctrinal monstrosity—which is exactly what we have gotten.
Envy identifies the grace and kindness of God to certain individuals (privilege!) as a problem that must be fixed, and when evangelical preachers take up their complaint and try to apply to gospel to this imaginary problem, they are trying to fix the grace of God with the grace of God, and it is no wonder everybody is so confused.
Christ died to save from our sin, as defined in the Bible, and not from our ideas of what sins might be. The sins that are identified as sins by the authority of man are sins that are excoriated from our humanistic version of a Disneyland Mt. Sinai, made entirely out of Styrofoam.
And all these made-up sins are the chains they have forged for your enslavement. So the only way you will be able to avoid what is coming—which looks to be really pretty ugly—is to flee to Christ for refuge now. Receive His forgiveness for real sin now.
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
2 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)
One of the names for this meal is the Eucharist. That name comes from the Greek verb for giving thanks—eucharisto.
Now of course, the center of our thanksgiving should be directed toward God for His indescribable gift—the death and resurrection of His Son for our salvation. But this is the kind of thanksgiving which, if it is genuine, overflows into everything else. If we are truly grateful for our salvation in Christ, then we will naturally overflow with thanks for all God’s gifts to us.
The kindergarten of thanksgiving has to do with the material blessings we enjoy. We are grateful for our food, for health, for shelter, for medical care. These are good things, and we recognize that we need them in our requests, and we show our gratitude when we say grace over our meals.
Progressing through the curriculum of gratitude, we then need to learn how to thank God for the people in our lives—because we are tempted to take them for granted, taking them as fixtures. Thank your mom for all the work she does. Thank your father. After a lesson at school, thank you teacher. Out loud, thank your teacher. Thank the deacons who put this service together, and do it often. Thank the preacher for the message. Do it often enough that it gets woven into our culture. We want our culture to be characterized by gratitude.
The graduate school of gratitude is learning to thank God for our afflictions. This is where the priceless lessons are. “It is good for me that I have been afflicted; That I might learn thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:71).
And this brings us full circle. It was the affliction that Christ endured on our behalf that makes it possible for us to love our Father, and to love one another.
So come, and welcome, to Jesus Christ.
Our attitude toward the future reveals, as few others things do, our actual doctrine of God, our actual theology. It is perilously easy to have our catechism truths down pat, there on the paper, but then to have the slightest threat or disturbance or turmoil or ominous cloud unsettle everything for us. We can’t sleep, it wrecks our appetite, and so our worries creep into all our conversations. This is a sin, and we must learn how to mortify it.The Text
“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).Summary of the Text
This passage from Luke is unique to Luke, but it comes in the middle of some very familiar teaching. Immediately before this, we have a reprise of the Lord’s teaching from the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). Consider the ravens. God feeds them. Consider the lilies. God clothes them. So don’t worry about what you are going to eat and drink and wear. And right before that we find the parable of the rich man who thought he had it all under control (Luke 12:15-21). The warning is for those who are not rich toward God. A man’s life does not consist of the abundance of the things he owns (Luke 12:15). Do not be of a doubtful mind (v. 29). The nations pursue all that stuff, and the Father knows what you need (v. 30). Seek first the kingdom, and God will take care of you (v. 31).
Then the Lord says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (v. 32). This is our text.
Then right after this verse, He tells us to save up by giving away (v. 33). The best way to hold on to the things of earth is with an open palm. Put your treasure where you want your heart to be (v. 34).Two Kinds of Worry
One kind of worry has to do with your personal fortunes. The world is perceived to be operating normally out there, generating its normal ratios of winners and losers. Your worry has to do with whether you are going to wind up as one of the losers. This is the kind of thing the Lord was addressing directly when He told us not to worry about what we were going to eat, or drink, or wear. These are personal concerns. Someone else has enough to eat, but what if I go hungry? What if I go bankrupt? The good thing about this is that at least it is obvious that your concern is about yourself. When you are worried in this way, you have multiple Bible verses bouncing off your forehead.
But the other kind of worry disguises itself as “an interest in politics,” or “awareness of geopolitical affairs.” You see a bunch of people out there who appear to have lost their minds, bent on burning down the country, and a bunch of other people who appear to have lost their spines, who are bent on not interfering with them as they do it.
So I want to treat this second kind of worry—the kind that follows the news avidly, and is worried about the political and cultural future. But the base coat of sanctification paint for dealing with this kind of worry has to be dealing with the first kind of worry correctly—whether it is worry about cancer, or slippery roads, or financial ruin, or how the kids are doing.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”
Philippians 4:6 (NKJV)
“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”
1 Peter 5:7 (KJB)The Little Flock and Things to Come
The Lord is aware of how imposing the church looks to the outside world, which is to say, not very. He calls us His “little flock.” But what is He going to do for this little flock? He is going to give the kingdom to us, and He is going to do this because it is His good pleasure.
“Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom. 8:37–39 (KJV)
“Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.”
1 Cor. 3:21–23 (KJV)
This is what it looks like as He gives us the kingdom.
There are two things to consider in all of this. The first is the protection that God promises His people. We have nothing to worry about from external threats because we are more than conquerors. Nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. One of the emphases here is the fact that we are protected against all those things that might come after us in order to separate us from the love of God in Christ. We are protected in the event of an unsuccessful attack, whether from death, or life, or celestial powers, or anything else going on around us, or anything in the future. In fact, the end result of us being able to fight off all these is that we conquer. We are more than conquerors.
But it is not enough that the world is not going to be able to own us. Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth. Fear not, little flock, and remember what the Father’s good pleasure is. Not only will the world not be able to own us, it will actually be a turnabout case. We own the world. All things are yours, whether the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come.
Yes, secular man wants to gather everything up in his arms and claim all of it. Yes, their hostility toward the church needs very little prompting to be fully manifested. But when they attack the heavens, the only thing they will succeed in doing is dragging deep heaven down upon their heads.
“Behold, he travaileth with iniquity, and hath conceived mischief, And brought forth falsehood. He made a pit, and digged it, and is fallen into the ditch which he made.”
Psalm 7:14–15 (KJV)
They want immortality through science, but what they are going to get is the Christian faith everywhere. They want the singularity, but what they are going to get is Jesus Christ. They want to be lords of the earth, but what they are going to get is a praising of the Lord from the rising of the sun to the going down of the sun.
And why? Because Christ was crucified. And why? Because He was also buried. And why? Because He rose from the dead. And why? Because He is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and is busily engaged in giving us the kingdom.
[Concerning Ps. 104:14-15] “And lest anyone’s heart leap for joy because it mentions herbs ‘for the service of man,’ it is talking about your salad, and not about your stash.”
Devoured by Cannabis, p. 25