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As we come now to the last chapter of Micah, we are in the judgment section of the last cycle. As before, the judgment that is going to fall on Israel and Judah both was going to be a fearsome one. This passage is found in the first seven verses of the seventh chapter.The Text
“Woe is me! for I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: There is no cluster to eat: My soul desired the firstripe fruit. The good man is perished out of the earth: And there is none upright among men: They all lie in wait for blood; They hunt every man his brother with a net. That they may do evil with both hands earnestly, the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward; And the great man, he uttereth his mischievous desire: So they wrap it up. The best of them is as a brier: The most upright is sharper than a thorn hedge: The day of thy watchmen and thy visitation cometh; Now shall be their perplexity. Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide: Keep the doors of thy mouth from her that lieth in thy bosom. For the son dishonoureth the father, the daughter riseth up against her mother, the daughter in law against her mother in law; A man’s enemies are the men of his own house. Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: My God will hear me” (Micah 7:1–7).Summary of the Text
The devastation will be complete. The land will look like it has been completely harvested, but there will be nothing to show for it in the barns (v. 1). There is no food in the fields, and there is no food in the storehouses. There are no good men left in the land, and those remaining alive seek to trap others with their nets (v. 2), in order that they might shed their blood. These scoundrels pursue evil with both hands (v. 3). The prince and the great men come to the judges with their desires, and all the corrupt judges have to say is how much? The best of these miscreants are like a hedge full of thorns (v. 4), a thicket of brambles, but their day of perplexity is about to fall down upon their heads. Do not trust in your friends, or even in the wife who lies in bed with you (v. 5) because the days are so treacherous. As Harry Truman once put it, if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. A man’s adversaries are the members of his own household (v. 6). Trust no one. Things are really dark and hopeless, and this is why the prophet says that he will wait upon the Lord (v. 7). Salvation is from the Lord, and only from there.Open Cruelty
When sinful men first begin to drift away from the ways of the Lord, they claim to be able to fulfill, better than the Lord can, what believers truly value. In other words, their initial claim is that the Deuteronomic blessings that God promises are actually promises that our imaginary sky-friend will not be able to perform, while their enlightened way of approaching government will be able to fulfill them. Do you want peace, love and understanding? Then away with your reliance on ancient texts! Do you want a society governed by mutual respect? Then it needs to be a neutral society, they earnestly argue, with a secular public square.
But as time passes, it turns out that the peace, love and understanding were actually the values of a “white supremacist” culture. The cruelty that was implicit in the abortion clinics all along comes out in order to parade in the open. Hostility to others who differ becomes a feature, not a bug. The only thing that is necessary for sinful men to come to boast in their cruelty is the clear opportunity to do so. When they get their rebellion green-lighted, they pursue their wickedness with both hands.
They will at first mock you for thinking that peace and love can only come from Jesus Christ. They can generate the milk of human kindness just as well as Christian faith can, or so they say. But then, after what seemed like a very short time, they start mocking you for valuing peace and love at all. Cruelty becomes their badge of vaunted pride.Corrupted Courts
Truth and justice are objective realities, and they can only be objective realities if there is a transcendent God over all of us. The moment you allowed justice to be a relativized value, settled by human voices down here below, that very moment was the time when you put justice up for sale.
And as Micah points out, the only ones who can afford the prices that relativistic judges charge will be the princes and great men. The lowly cannot get justice because they have been priced out of the market. If you want the common man to be represented in the courts, the great need is not public defenders, but rather judges who cannot be bought.
But if you live in a time where this corruption of courts is the case—and you do—do not despair. The day of their perplexity is approaching. It is about to come crashing down on their heads because the ultimate court, the court of Heaven, cannot be corrupted. And God issues decisions from behind His bench.No Help in Family
We are Christians, not sentimentalists. There is no innate power in human relationships. If we are out of kilter with our Maker, then we are also out of kilter with every aspect of His world. Jesus taught that His coming was intended to recalibrate everything. This is why we are summoned to love Him more than we love father or mother. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26). And worldlings, for their part, return the favor. “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law” (Luke 12:53).
The only way to love your family properly is by loving them less than you love Jesus Christ. Your relationship to Almighty God, whether submissive or rebellious, is going to be the key to all other relationships.Wait on the Lord
The prophets end with hope, anticipating the hope of the next section of Micah. God does not abandon His people, but He does leave them in hard situations longer than they really wanted to be in them. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Afterward, it yields the peaceful fruit of an upright life (Heb. 12:11).
But the only way to look forward to that time of harvest is through looking toward the Lord of the harvest, who is the Lord Jesus. We can look forward to the great reckoning, to the time of harvest if we have obeyed the earlier exhortation (Heb. 11: 2). We are look toward Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. That is the only way to wait on the Lord.
“Every week you place all your ambitions on His altar and watch them ascend to Heaven in a column of smoke. When you get to your office Monday morning, they will be there on your desk, cleansed and waiting for you.”
Ploductivity, p. 78
God “knows when we come to church and do not confess our sins honestly at the beginning of the service. He knows when we move through the rest of the service pretending that we didn’t track in what He knows we tracked in.”
Let the Stones Cry Out, p. 93
“What is in the sermon must be in the preacher first.”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 167
“God created us for glory, and there is no way for us to find a switch that will turn that off. We are inveterate glory seekers, and the thing that distinguishes a good man from a bad man is what he finds glorious—not whether he finds something glorious.”
Ploductivity, p. 76
“Glory is not something that fossilizes. When the Spirit departs, the glory departs, and the church building becomes Ichabod Memorial . . . Let us never exchange the glory of God for a fog of nuance.”
Let the Stones Cry Out, pp. 91-92
I have apparently said something outrageous again, and it has been brought to my attention (again). The adversaries that God has been pleased to assign to my case have made a scary looking meme that gives you a snippet of what I said, along with a picture of me falling asleep.
Reading comprehension is not valued the way it used to be, and so I am periodically asked to do this kind of clean up. I am prepared to do this today because—and only because—we are over a week away from November 2021.
Here is my full paragraph:
So in this system all is not permitted. Christianity is not permitted. Christ is not permitted. Christians are not permitted. To be an orthodox and believing Christian is to be guilty of violating the only real taboo they have. So I would want to encourage you in this. Go right ahead. Be ultimately transgressive. Subvert the dominant paradigm. Challenge the status quo. Believe in Jesus. Find a cute girl and marry her. Have babies. If you are prepared to really get out there, have white babies. Take them all to church. Go ahead. Chicks dig bad boys.Me, being bad
So. Still with me? This is not an example of me saying that having white babies is somehow superior to anything or anyone. It is rather an example of me saying that having white babies (in this toxic and idiotic climate of ours) is edgy. This was made plain by the punch line, which was “chicks dig bad boys.”
For the hostiles who comb my blog for outrages, a punch line is a device that is used by people who have not yet abandoned humor for the sake of the Great Awokening, and it is used to signal an attempt to make what used to be called “a funny.”
So my follow up here is to explain a joke to the humorless, so wish me luck. The point was not to urge white folks to have lotsa babies so as to out breed all those “lesser tribes” out there. The point was that, if you are white, white babies will be what you get, and if you go ahead and have them without any apology then this is an indication that you are happily rejecting CRT (Commies Rejecting Truth). And good for you.
All my kids were white, and all my grand kids are white, and—being a bad boy—I don’t feel even a little bit guilty about it. Some people think I should feel guilty, but I have rejected their counsels. I have rejected their counsels because we live in a time when the people in charge of controversies have all lost their minds.
Further bulletins as events warrant.
Once there was an unfortunate young man who was being flown in a private plane somewhere, and it was a small little plane. He and the pilot were the only two on board. They were flying over a desolate wilderness area, and suddenly the pilot had a massive heart attack and died.
The young man had absolutely no idea of how to fly a plane, and it was a wilderness area with no place to land it anyhow. His mind racing frantically, he realized that a plane like this had to have a stash of parachutes somewhere. He rummaged around, and sure enough, he found them. He double checked, making sure it was a parachute, strapped it on, and jumped out of the plane. He had made sure to locate the rip cord before doing so, and so he counted to three like he had heard you were supposed to do, and pulled it.
His already bad day got worse when the chute failed to open. He yanked on it again, and still nothing. A third time. Nothing.
At this moment, he started to pray. And just seconds after he prayed, he noticed, far below him, a human figure ascending toward him. An angel, he thought. Or some kind of answer!
As the figure got close, he eagerly started yelling. “Do you know anything about parachutes?”
“No!” the figure answered. “Do you know anything about Coleman Stoves?”One of the All Time Greats More or Less Closing Remarks
“Remembering the finitude of your labors will keep you humble. Recognizing that your labors have a place in God’s cosmic intentions for the universe will keep you from thinking that your tiny labors are stupid labors. They are nothing of the kind.”
Ploductivity, p. 74
“The privilege we have in this world is to yearn for the next.”
Let the Stones Cry Out, p. 89
I begin with the foundational axiom that Christ rose from the dead, and that He was who He claimed to be. Everything else follows.
Christ is therefore Lord. He, the incarnate one, was sent into the world by the Father for us men and for our salvation. He was born of a woman, born under law, lived a perfect and sinless life, thus qualifying Him to be our sacrificial and pascal lamb. He suffered on the cross, as was appointed for Him, He was buried in a stone tomb, and three days later, in accordance with the prophetic and ancient Scriptures, He came back from the dead.
Because He came back from the dead in this world, the clear implication is that He owns this same world. He has purchased it, with His own blood, and He does not intend to leave any nation on the counter. His purpose is to take all of them home. We Americans are included in this.
That is the message. That is the good news. That is the inexorable truth.That Word Antichrist
Although the death and resurrection of Christ threw down the principalities and powers, and the forces of Satan were of necessity in full retreat, they still tried to resist. They opposed this divine rescue of mankind by means of the only weapon they had remaining, which was the power of cunning and twisted forms of lying. Certain gnostic spirits fanned out across the Roman Empire trying to claim that God had not in fact done this, and that Jesus Christ was not in fact God incarnate. They had lost the war, badly, and so the only thing they had left was to claim that they had not done so.
“For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”
2 John 7 (KJV)
That Greek prefix anti- is interesting. Of course it means against, but it also carries the meaning of instead of. For example, when John is talking about Christ and the Old Testament law, in a phrase usually translated grace upon grace (John 1:16), the word there is anti. Moses was grace, and Christ is more grace (John 1:17), grace instead of grace.
The ancient antichrists denied that God had become incarnate in Jesus Christ. The modern antichrists deny that there is a God who could become incarnate. What they do not want is God in our midst. God has not become incarnate, or God could not become incarnate, or there is no God who could ever become incarnate. For them to grant that God is in our midst is the same thing as granting that their greatest rival is in our midst. They do not want to admit it, and so they don’t.
So whether we are talking about the ancient antichrists or the virulent modern ones, I think we should allow ourselves to feel the force of both meanings of anti. These people are not just against Christ in the sense that they do not want to follow Him. They are His rivals. They want to replace Him. They want to occupy that place, that coveted throne. They are against-Christs, certainly, but they are also instead-of-Christs also.
And whenever conceit gets inflated with this much spiritual helium, it can form quite a large balloon.
“I will now disprove the existence of all gods. If there were gods, how could I bear not to be a god? Consequently, there are no gods.”
We see here a high mixture of irrationality and hubris and conceit and also, in what mattered to Nietzsche the most, the will to power. We also see a total lack of awareness when it came to the compensatory nature of his mustache.
So if there is no God above us, then what we have down here is a scramble for that job opening. A vacuum is created (in their minds and aching souls), and those with a bad case of the libido dominandi jitters begin to make their preparations to ascend the sides of the north. But after a very short time, they discover that they are not actually ascending the mountains of self-deification at all, but are somehow lost in the canyons of madness. And night is coming on.
So the one thing they most want, they cannot have. It is far out of their reach, above the highest heaven. Christ is enthroned at the right hand of the Father, and no one can touch Him. There are no antichrists there. There are only pretenders down here.
They cannot reach Him. They cannot even pretend to have reached Him. What remains is to bluster and bombasticate down here.De Sade and Nietzsche
Speaking of pretenders down here . . .
The Marquis de Sade (from whom we get the word sadism) made a serious attempt at living as though there were no God. It was not just a matter of doing whatever he felt like doing, there was a perverse imperative contained within it. It was necessary to attain to pure evil. Murder was permitted, and not only permitted, but necessary. Rape was permitted, and not only permitted but necessary.
This kind of thing, of course, ran him into trouble with the neighbors, and so the marquis spent a good bit of time behind bars. In his system, the one thing that was not permitted was Christianity. And this is where the inconsistent rivalry comes in. A genuinely pure relativism would say absolutely nothing matters. There is no God, and therefore it should not matter at all whether you devote your life to preaching peace and love among the Mennonites or devote it to pimping sex tourism in Bangkok.
If everything is meaningless, then the rejection of Christianity is also meaningless, and so you should quit doing that. But they can’t quit doing that because they are God-haters, not God-take-it-or-leave-it-ers. The atheism is a facade—they are anti-theists, not atheists. They do not want there to have been no God. They want no God now because they successfully killed and replaced Him. They want to play Zeus to Cronos.
But if all is permitted, including rape and murder, then why can we not throw the marquis into the Bastille? Why not extreme Pharisaism? Why couldn’t we put a shock collar on the philosophical marquis and give him a nice little buzz whenever his deportment was even the slightest bit out of keeping with the strictures of the Sermon on the Mount? Just enough pain, you know, to keep him bright-eyed and interested in life. Inconsistent, you say? Ah, but all is permitted, you should recall, including inconsistency. Inconsistency would be a form of consistency, and perhaps this might help us to understand the clown world that appears to be center stage for the present.
The kind of atheism that is current among our modern academics is nothing but housebroken Nietzscheanism, to use one writer’s description of it. These people are a joke. They want to move beyond good and evil in the classroom, and they also want to crack down hard on the fraternity boys for hosting a wet t-shirt contest. “They were all just deliberately insulting the dignity of women . . .” But for Nietzsche, women were just playthings for the warrior caste, or for the football players, whatever, and so everybody should just deal with it. However, in defense of the housebroken types, Nietzsche himself was also housebroken, and could never achieve the consistent state of courageous rebellion that he so lusted after. But Nietzsche knew how to write vivid prose, and they don’t, so there’s that.
So in this system all is not permitted. Christianity is not permitted. Christ is not permitted. Christians are not permitted. To be an orthodox and believing Christian is to be guilty of violating the only real taboo they have. So I would want to encourage you in this. Go right ahead. Be ultimately transgressive. Subvert the dominant paradigm. Challenge the status quo. Believe in Jesus. Find a cute girl and marry her. Have babies. If you are prepared to really get out there, have white babies. Take them all to church. Go ahead. Chicks dig bad boys.
Find a cute girl and marry her. Have babies. If you are prepared to really get out there, have white babies.The Double Standard Is the Point
When Christians complain about the double standard that is applied to us, this is evidence that we are still actually believing the earlier lies of the secularists. They promised neutrality, and they aren’t delivering neutrality. This is not really a double cross, because neutrality is not a possibility. If someone promised that he would deliver you ten pounds of round squares (for $10), and then failed to do so, this would not be a double cross. You, however, would still be a chump for believing that he was going to.
So the secular pretense is now over, the mask has come off, and we should also quit kidding ourselves. Quit waiting for the round squares, and write off the $10. Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve. And a wise man’s heart goes to the right, while a fool’s heart to the left.
It is either Christ or the gods of chaos. Since we are baptized Christians, we should know what to do when presented with a choice like that. Christ is Lord, and this is not limited to some cozy spiritual realm behind your eyes and between your ears. Christ is Lord of the United States, the Lord of Idaho, and the Lord of Latah County. Christ is Lord, and we must confess Him as Lord.
And by Lord, I do not mean the Lord of some invisible spiritual realm. I mean the Lord of lords, and King of kings, and Emperor of emperors. I mean that He is the desire of nations now, prior to the general resurrection. This will not be brought about through a referendum, or a general election. Jesus is not running for president, and we are not His campaign staff. Rather, He has already been crowned, and He already holds the scepter, and we are the heralds sent out into the hinterlands to tell the people that their capital city has fallen, and that the new king has been crowned. We are two thousand years into His reign, and of the increase in His government there will be no end.
That is the message, and it is a good one. It is full of grace and truth.Law and Liberty
But there will be those who look at that picture of the two flags up above, and they will be overtaken by a convulsive shudder, one starting at the ankles and working its way up. They will think that I am advocating that our liberty-loving nation experience some kind of a hostile takeover by an evangelical Taliban. They think I want us to be ruled by a panel of Reformed weird beards. They think that religious liberty was somehow bequeathed to us by the high-minded secularists of yore, and now come these fighting fundamentalists, threatening to come in and take it all away.
What actually happened was that our liberties were bequeathed to us by practitioners of a robust Christian faith, which had permeated our culture, but which gradually compromised with secularism, such that our culture then became self-consciously secular. And as soon as that happened, our liberties started disappearing. In some places, they disappeared faster than in other places, but enough about Australia. If you believe that what is happening in Australia isn’t their desired outcome for every place, as soon as practically possible, then you don’t understand a single thing that has happened in the last two years. And the only thing that will stop that from happening is stiff resistance. And that is only going to happen if the people understand.
Christian liberty understands that law and liberty come as a unit. You cannot find liberty in a state of anarchy, and you cannot find liberty in a totalitarian state. You cannot find law in a state of anarchy, and you cannot find the rule of law in a totalitarian state. But when law and liberty are conjoined, which only Christ can do, the result is a prosperous, happy, and free people. This can only happen when the people are self-governed, and because self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, that can only happen when the bedrock is free grace, sovereign grace. Political liberty is therefore grounded on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Prosperous societies function with form and freedom together, law and liberty together. This is because law does restrict freedom, but in a Christian society, it restricts the freedom of every unit of that society, starting with the government. Do you want to live in liberty? Then you need a worldview that will tie up the government. The citizens can afford to have some liberty restricted by law (not by arbitrary fiat) because the great dragon was also restricted. But in our day, the dragon has gotten loose, and is devouring Australia. And yes, you are quite possibly next, right after Canada.
What do you think the Bill of Rights was? Every last item in the Bill of Rights restricted the liberty of the government. Congress shall make no law . . .So the Future is Christian
But don’t despair. The future really is Christian, and that means that the future is one of genuine liberty—every man under his own fig tree.
This is a lesson that Christians will eventually learn. It may take a while, but we will learn it. Trying to get us there might be more than a little bit like trying to teach systematic theology to the dufflepuds, and there will be moments of exasperation. But we will get there.
Christ suffered on the cross in order to draw all the nations of men to Himself, and we are in the middle of that process. He rose from the dead that the world must be justified, and we are in the middle of that process also. Christ died and rose, and actually, terms and conditions do not apply.
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“God designs the huge projects and He assigns all the bit parts to all the little people. He says to Smith that he is to stand in this particular spot, and when the whistle blows, he is to pull that lever. Why? Smith wonders. Just pull the lever, God replies” (Ploductivity, p. 72).
“This kind of thing can even reach pathological levels, where we take pride in how much more humbly we yearn for the transcendent than they do. Pride is an insidious sin, and it is capable of working with any materials.”
Let the Stones Cry Out, p. 87
“The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.”
Jesus got called a drunkard and a glutton, and you only got called ” idiosyncratic”. (?)
C’mon man! Get to work!
Look, Jason, I have a limited budget . . .Pineapple on Pizza?
The headless chickens of Christianity have, at least for as long as I’ve been alive, shared the same glaring weakness, that blinks and flashes when struck like the end boss of a video game. They are completely and totally incapable of conceptualizing a world in which there is no comfortable and “reasonable” answer to the problem in front of them. You can, and in your case I’m sure do, watch this in real time with homosexuality. “God wouldn’t put people in the world who naturally want to do something wrong. That would be so unfair! So it must not be wrong!” He is not a tame lion. My favorite book in fiction is The Silver Chair, and a great deal of that love boils down to a single line. When confronted with a crazed man in a chair threatening to kill them, he utters the name of Aslan and they realize that they have been instructed to set him free. But what if he kills us? He might, but that doesn’t free us from the responsibility of following the signs.
If you presuppose that all of God’s instructions will be comfortable, then you are already incapable of following them. Galli and Dreher may not have completely lost the thread yet, but a sin left without repentance only grows, until eventually you’re David French, having denied the truth being given a lie that he accepts.
I know I sound dramatic, but its very frustrating that “leaders” have missed the plot by so far. The premise of being a Christian by definition includes that at any given time, most people on the earth want to destroy you. You are a reminder of the thing that they are trying to pretend doesn’t exist. Every day, every, single, day, they are working to if not crush you outright, to erase any trace of your effect on the world. Believing this intellectually is simple. Acting like it is very hard, as who wants to live their daily life like they’re in (spiritual) warfare? But we won’t have a ghost of a chance in any war, spiritual, cultural, or otherwise, if the Church decides not to fight it because that sounds like it might be hard.
I suppose these letters are usually supposed to have a question aren’t they . . . Doug, does pineapple go on pizza?
Justin, I will say this much. Pineapple on pizza is either a courageous application of a Kuyperian insistence that all things be brought under the Lordship of Christ, or it is a sign of the desperate times in which we live.A Cry for Help
I am Isaac. I am a broken man. I need your help. I struggle with anger every day and I am not entirely sure why. I yell at my family at small things. My wife and I have a very rocky relationship. I know my anger is the problem but I honestly don’t know where to start or what to do. God bless.
Isaac, there is hope for you. You need pastoral guidance, help, and accountability, and it needs to be a church that is suffused with the grace of the gospel. If you have that kind of church, go to the pastor, lay out your sin, and ask the elders to ride your case—in a way that is suffused with grace. If you don’t have a church like that, then find one that is located in a place where you can provide, and move there.Two Voices That Chide
My name is Amy . . . mom of seven children ages 18-2, all of whom I have homeschooled since birth. We became Reformed in 2002 and attended a PCA church for nearly 15 years. I am a treacherous daily sinner in thought, word and deed. God has put on my heart to write to you from this posture, not as someone better or more holy than you. I am no “she-ologian” so I will not be addressing the finer points of which you seem to find sport in arguing.
Since you are a professing believer in Jesus Christ, I am simply asking you to publicly repent. I pray the Holy Spirit will use His very Word of Truth to convict you of your sin and need for repentance.
Isaiah 3:11 Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, For the reward of his hands shall be given him.
Isaiah 5:8 Woe to those who join house to house; They add field to field, Till there is no placeWhere they may dwell alone in the midst of the land!
Isaiah 5:11 Woe to those who rise early in the morning, That they may follow intoxicating drink; Who continue until night, till wine inflames them!
Isaiah 5:18-19 Woe to those who draw iniquity with cords of vanity, And sin as if with a cart rope; That say, “Let Him make speed and hasten His work, That we may see it; And let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come, That we may know it.”
Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!
Isaiah 5:22 Woe to men mighty at drinking wine, Woe to men valiant for mixing intoxicating drink,
Isaiah 5:23 Who justify the wicked for a bribe, And take away justice from the righteous man!
Isaiah 29:15 Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the LORD, And their works are in the dark; They say, “Who sees us?” and, “Who knows us?”
Jeremiah 23:1 “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” says the LORD.
Micah 2:1-2 Woe to those who devise iniquity, And work out evil on their beds! At morning light they practice it, Because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and take them by violence, Also houses, and seize them. So they oppress a man and his house, A man and his inheritance.
Luke 10:13 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.”
Doug, the LORD knows every wicked thought in your mind. The LORD knows every sinful word born in your heart and spoken with your lips. The LORD knows every evil deed you have done and are doing both behind closed doors and in the public arena. You are a public figure and you need to thoroughly repent of your wickedness both to Him as well as publicly through your various public outlets.
May the LORD give you thorough repentance and have mercy on your soul,
Amy, if your heart really is as treacherous as you claim, then why on earth would you think you were fit to write a letter like this? Because the Lord laid it on your (treacherous) heart?
—men should not sleep with unstable women . . .
—victim advocate biting your ear…
We know you’re against empathy, which is obviously not like Jesus at all, who empathized with sinners and came to Earth to save them. This is why you refer to ANYone (male or female) pointing out brash talk or unfeeling comments as a “sob sister”.
I would like to point out that Jesus would never call anyone a “sob sister.” You know, he did his fair share of weeping in the throes of empathy himself. Maybe they should be retitled by you as “godly sisters.” This was actually very telling in how a person might expect to be treated when confronting you with a problem that is hurting them.
You would like to make a provocative statement that men should not sleep with unstable women? Also, telling is you point out these unstable human beings as women . . . I would think women shouldn’t sleep with unstable men either, and obviously no one but their own husbands, but that little flip wasn’t in your head, I don’t think. Truly, from the heart, the mouth speaks. Women are unstable. I mean, before you try to defend yourself by saying you were only addressing one side of the coin, did the other side of the coin enter your head at all when writing?
As someone who knows your direction, content, and was a CREC member myself I can accurately say this is how you think of women in general—more unstable, weak, and easily deceived than men. Even more manipulative! Cuz, Eve. Lord, have mercy. This is why women who report abuse are not readily received or believed by you or CREC leadership.
Women are taught this about themselves from twisted Scripture and it creates self-doubt and learned helplessness in them. Sounds godly, huh? Accordingly, when they learn to depend on you or their husbands for everything, they are then declared to be walking in “godly femininity” and receive applause for it, as it were.
Then you have these sad women who can’t understand why they are so sinful to be unhappy walking out in godly femininity . . . Maybe they need to go to their husbands in their weakness and have them talk to them one more time about this being the right thing . . . After all, their husbands’ opinion is the end-all in CREC families.
Also, there’s your own daughter, Rachel, who says submission being hard is a sign you’re doing it right because obedience isn’t supposed to be easy.
Does this sound sour? Like abuse is rampant in a place like this? Like a female victim may not get the support she needs when she needs it?
Also, sexual abuse is no big surprise to me in the CREC—even though it is so small. I’ve heard tons of disgusting stories. When you denominationally think the woman is made for the MAN, to support HIS life, to be a sexual vessel for HIM, this is what you’re gonna see: narcissistic abuse. Vile, sick, disgusting abuse of God’s daughters.
Nobody should be sexually abused in the church and then on top of it be unsupported in it. These were sheep in your pasture that were abused and sometimes left the True Shepherd of their souls because their representation of him in you was abusive, Doug.
You, in my opinion, are not equipped to identify abusers and their victims. Or minister to them, either.
Next , victim advocate biting your ear . . . You speak of victim advocacy as a bad thing. Like a victim advocate was an annoying and abusive person. This is, BTW, how you treated the author of the VICE article. Your passive aggressive comments didn’t escape me. You attempted to demerit her work AND person because you didn’t like what she reported.
Should a Christian behave this way to anyone? Let alone another member of the household of God? Sarah, to my knowledge, is a professing Christian.
You’re character is very evident to me. You are unwilling to see sin in yourself. And, attack all of those who would ask you to confront it. You want what you want and you think it’s going well.
Well, it’s not. Obviously. Women and children are being abused. Do you call them sob sisters? Unstable women? Abuse advocates biting your ear?
A million people aren’t calling foul for no reason at all. Women aren’t safe with you. Nor are men, really. You push women down and hype-up men to do the same. And, I think, most everyone there is wondering why it really isn’t working in their soul. Better ramp it up a few more notches . . . And, that’s where you find the CREC now.
Godly men don’t lord it over anyone, let alone enjoy it, or build brands based off of it.
And, BTW, ain’t no one going to carry on the future of evangelicalism but Jesus Christ. So, don’t worry about that!
Please, Doug, spend some quiet time with the Lord and consider. Not your own considerations. Let the Holy Spirit speak.
I’m praying that. You’ve caused a lot of hurt and you have a responsibility to make it right. Amen.
Hi, Cassie. I am publishing this letter because it provides fine examples of how the doctrine of so-called empathy inverts things. I say that some women are unstable, and so you then turn that into a claim that I say that women generally are unstable. You are not interested in finding out the truth of any given situation, but rather want to be on the “right” side of that dispute, and the “right” side is dictated by our victim culture industry. And yes, I know there are real victims out there—because I have helped a lot of them. But these real victims are characterized by the victim culture industry not wanting to have anything to do with them, because they don’t fit the narrative. And, by the way, when you selected my daughter Rachel as an example of the downtrodden women of the CREC, you could scarcely have done anything funnier.
Thanks for all you do it is not often you find somebody who stands up for what they believe without compromising. Keep up the good work
Henry, thanks very much.Word Choice?
I am wrong often and badly, so I will not presume to say that I think you meant “boojums” rather than “hoojums.” I will instead ask what you meant by hoojums in this context?
Bernard, no, I meant hoojums, which is a word I made just for that sentence. And if called upon to define it, as I guess I have been, I would say that hoojums would be hooey in its doctrinal and codified form.Reading Oneself
I noticed in your reading list that you read and re-read books that you’ve written. I feel myself inclined to read what I’ve written but always assumed it was pride and a “how many people liked that” curiosity. Is it merely to remind yourself of what you once knew? Is there something more?
Raeley, thanks, and reasonable question. There are a handful of reasons I reread my own stuff, and keeping track of what I have said and where is one of them. But the main reason is that I have a tag on this blog called Chrestomathy, and I post quotations from my books under that tag. As I go along, I dump those quotations in a master file that will perhaps one day be a book.RC and EO?
“A joyful heart doeth good like a medicine.” So thank you for that. But please help me to understand. I grew up in an Evangelical Baptist Church in the ’50’s and ’60’s. At no time whatsoever would anyone have mistaken a Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox church as being ‘Evangelical’. What changed?
Melody, that impression arose, I think, because Galli was a lifelong evangelical who has since become a Roman Catholic.The Best Option
I’m wondering how you would advise someone in a church that is in stage 1 of the disease, but it is the best option they have for a gospel-believing, Bible teaching church. Especially, how you would advise wives and mothers in this situation.
I would love to ask Mrs Wilson but I am not sure how to reach her. I am wanting to be faithful and courageous, but I’m not exactly sure what that would look like day to day.
Sandy, I would stay with the best option as long as it is the best option. But I would encourage you all to raise faithful questions as problems become visible, and not wait until they become egregious.Women Preaching
This is one of those questions where growing up in the church I think I should be able to draw the line with a definition and I cannot. Women are not to be pastors, women are not to preach, women are not to have authority over men. I’m okay with that. But what does it mean to preach? What’s the difference between preaching and lecturing? Am I in danger of preaching when writing out how the Bible has applied to specific moments in my life and post it on the internet? Is it deciphering the text publicly that women are not to do? Or is it all about the audience, the day, the location, the intention? Thank you for being willing to tackle all sorts of questions and for working to apply Christ to all of life. Being able to fill my mind with culturally relevant applied theology and the like has given new life to my homemaking because there’s now plenty of real meat for my brain to munch on while doing menial tasks.
R, in the church, I believe the biblical prohibition applies to both preaching and teaching. But if a woman is speaking to women at a conference, and the sound guy in the back learns something, that is not a problem at all. Women are not to teach or have authority over men, and a good part of this has to do with what the intended audience is. My wife and daughters write for women, but if a husband picks up one of their books and learns something from it, that doesn’t give me the fantods because he was not part of the intended audience. He was just being a good husband and checking on what his wife was learning.Music and Stuff
I am encouraged by the work your church has done in promoting quality hymnody and psalm singings. My church embraces the tradition of worshiping a cappella, but it feels more like routine, and less like a critical piece of our liturgy (to me at least).
It seems like youth involvement in music is declining year over year, at least in my area, so fewer people are interested in or able to sing in parts. I believe a good amount of this declining interest is that we have taken our a cappella tradition for granted for too long, and we have not communicated the importance of corporate worship or Paul’s encouragement in Col. 3:16. I also feel like some of this lack of interest is simply that people don’t know what they are missing. As others have said, “the heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”
My question is what role the church should play in improving the musical literacy of the congregation, especially the youth. Should they mainly learn by doing, i.e. sitting next to Mom and Dad and learning to sing the hymns and parts by rote, or is formal musical training preferable? Do those lessons come from the family (via piano, guitar, voice lessons), school, or from the church directly? I was encouraged by your “Singing in Parts” article from 2011—I am in full agreement that it improves our worship, testifies of our unity and harmony within the body, and sounds really good. How can we keep what we have and make it better in the future?
Tim, I believe that the church should have a role in teaching young people musical literacy. Christ Church sponsored a singing school for kids for a number of years, which has since been picked up by the NSA conservatory, with the church contributing the requisite funds to it. We are helping to ensure that all our kids are equipped to worship God in this way.Two Contrasting Voices on Maricopa
Vanilla Maricopa Pudding on a Bed of Cole Slaw”
I want to comment on why I, personally, am not “gobsmacked that the whole country isn’t gobsmacked.” It primarily has to do with the fact that the overwhelming majority of our citizens have very little understanding of how elections works. I started working in elections a year ago (not in AZ). As such, I am able to see the vast disparity between what I know now and what I knew before, as well as the vast disparity between what I know now and what most Americans know.
In light of the widespread ignorance about how elections work, people on both the left and the right and everywhere in between are highly vulnerable to misinformation. You yourself demonstrate this in your article when you say that the Cyber Ninjas audit report included a claim that the election should not have been certified. Their audit report made no such claim, and such a claim would not have been in their purview anyway. The claim came from a fake report that was put into cyber circulation by Stop the Steal, disinformation artists; it was discredited by Doug Logan, and Joe Oltmann ultimately fessed up to being the one who created it.
This is the climate we find ourselves in, where seemingly no one is prepared to be persuaded by any amount of data, where even very intelligent people have trouble discerning actual data from fake data, and where even in cases where data is plainly available, very few people know what to make of it.
So when the Maricopa Board of Election Supervisors say that election data is archived after each election, what basis does anyone have for evaluating the plausibility of such a statement? What does seem clear to me is that election officials in Maricopa have dragged their feet through this whole process, but as someone who works in election now, an attempt to cover up election-swinging levels of fraud does not seem like the most obvious reason for their frustration.
I work in a state that went decidedly to Trump. I can assure you that my bosses would be equally irked if we had to go through the process AZ has been going through, even though there is 0 chance of outcome-altering fraud being uncovered.
On top of all of this, the Stop the Steal folks, all the way up to Trump himself, have taken the strategy of piling up claim on top of claim, seemingly without discriminating between more plausible claims and less plausible ones. It’s a gish gallop, with a bunch of straight up falsehoods thrown in for good measure. The likes of Mike Lindell, Lin Wood, and Sydney Powell have made it into a game of Whac-A-Mole. If it’s not the machines, it’s the paper ballots. Paper ballots are full-proof, unless they’re sent through the mail, then they’re bad. If it’s not the paper ballots, it’s the machines. Okay, so it was cyber hacking? When did the vote flips happen? During voting? During tabulation? During transmission? The strategy seems to be to just flood us with every conceivable claim, then hope at least one of them turns out to be correct.
You are putting a lot of stake into statistical anomalies. How is anyone supposed to be alarmed by statistical anomalies when every other indicator in our political environment of the last 6 years seems to scream “anomaly”? Is there anything that’s happened in the past 6 years that hasn’t been anomalous? Would it not have been more surprising if this election was entirely predictable?
In conclusion, we are not gobsmacked because we have all (on the left and the right) collectively engineered our epistemic systems to be ungobsmackable.
Ken, you are right that the anomalies weigh heavily with me. I would refer you to that Chronicles article I mentioned. And as far as bureaucrats being exasperated by such an audit, I am not concerned. They are paid a salary, and this should be part of their work—visibly protecting election integrity, instead of behaving in the way they did.
Contrary to popular opinion (and opinion is what it is), the Maricopa County forensic audit did not show that “Biden would have won.” It showed that the number of invalid ballots in a single county is many times the margin of victory for the entire state, and furthermore, that tens of thousands more ballots in the county have a suspicious cloud around them with no way to really disentangle which are valid or not. A state MUST be able to say with certainty who won, not make guesses. People really need to dig in to the report for themselves:
The media focused on the fact that in the categories of issues where the auditors could identify the actual ballots impacted and who they belonged to, Trump only picked up about a tenth of what he would have needed to change the results. But go look for yourself at section 5.7.11, which is buried deep in the report, so as to conveniently be overlooked. Although it uses “N/A” for the number of ballots impacted and “informational” for the severity in their summary, this category represents approximately 60k ballots of people who walked in on voting day and filled out a provisional ballot even though they already had an early mail-in ballot sent to their address per their request. Think about it—that number is 6 times the margin of victory in the state and it is a giant black hole.
No, the audit didn’t show that Biden won. It showed that they need to re-do their election.
JPH, thanks.The Flood
I am indebted to you for your content, I love what you do and your classic wit and stance, how to react to the fools who yell and scream at you and your constant defense of the Scriptures..
I am a Calvinist Christian for the past 14 years and really try to study and understand the Bible, there have been a great many battles in my mind over things.
I know this is not your particular area, but I would love it if you could make a short video talking about creation and the flood . . . does the Bible show (in Hebrew) that the flood had to be the whole earth?
I believe it does, but I struggle to defend it against my studied nephew and geology . . . I don’t believe God could lie, and that his ‘two books’ as people call it, nature and Scripture, and that some people twist what believers said in the past that these can’t be against each other… where Nature supersedes Scripture . . .
This seems silly. Scripture is the revealed word of God a special revelation, God cannot lie, thus Scripture must come first and we must interpret what we find in nature through the lens of Scripture..
I would love to hear your thoughts on creation, death before the fall and the flood and the biblical defense thereof if you could find the time. Thank you again so much for your ministry, God bless and I hope you continue to thrive.
Thank you for standing on Gen 6 with the angels coming down to marry the daughters of men, it seems to me that is what Scripture is saying, and people’s attempt to say that is the righteous sons of Seth marrying the daughter of Cain makes little sense, how does human + human = giants? Seems to me that they bring forth after their kind, human + human will always equal human babies..
Loved your comments on that video
David, thanks. That is a good suggestion, and I haven’t really done much writing on the Flood. I have filed that away.Vaccine Issues Won’t Go Away
I’m a federal employee preparing my documents for a religious exemption to the vaccine and I am seeking accommodation. The question on the form I have to fill out asks, “describe the religious principles that guide your objection to immunization.” My reasoning for this question acknowledges the Lordship of Christ (Matthew 28:18) and freedom of conscience (Romans 14:22).
Unfortunately, explicit in the document is the acceptance of regular testing and mask-wearing. I intend to object to those as well on religious grounds. The accommodation I’m seeking is continuing to work from home, as I’ve done for the past 18 months, so regular testing is completely unnecessary (and fortunately, I won’t be required to wear a mask inside my own home . . . cue eye roll . . .). The testing regimen essentially amounts to a pagan cleanliness ritual, so I would use Acts 10:15 as a basis.
That seems right to me, and I don’t think I’m being unreasonable if my request for accommodation is granted—which would be weird if it weren’t since my entire team has been teleworking since the beginning of this nonsense. However, after reading today’s column, Public Health and the Libertarian Lure, I certainly don’t want to lean too heavily into libertarianism but rather submit to authority when appropriate. Do you think this is a reasonable, scripturally-based objection?
Thanks in advance if you have a chance to answer this.
Ryan, it is absolutely a reasonable objection. And the libertarian thing is largely a question of motive. A liberty-loving conservative and a libertarian both working for the same company could easily file the same request for exemption.
My company announced that in several weeks I have to provide my “vaccination status” (which I’m sure will be a disappointment to them). They claim it is “in anticipation” of forthcoming OSHA requirements. They say more is coming on “next steps” once they’ve successfully bullied everyone into forfeiting their HIPAA protected medical info. I work fully remotely, no travel requirements. My inclination is to lawyer up and not comply, but at the same time job mobility may take some time, and we have two young children. Compliance now seems like a big welcome sign for more compliance later. Your thoughts on how to respond as a Christian, short of the dreaded “I am not allowed to provide legal advice” et al?
Dear Deplorable Me—can I call you Deplorable?—my advice would be to fight if you are in a position to fight. And it sounds like you are.A Desolate Widow
The email you published from the 70 year old widow “SW” last week broke my heart as it did yours. My only addition to your answer would be a call/question as to if there is not a Christian family out there willing to “take her in” as family? Ideally, this would be from within her own church . . .
I know that if I lived in the same town as SW, I would be willing to sacrifice much (financially, etc) in order to “adopt” her as a grandmother. It reminds me of the passages in the Gospels where family member will be divided against family member, etc . . . and one’s enemy will be in one’s home. HOWEVER, God has provided so that our brothers and sisters in Christ can become true family, closer than “real” brothers/sisters, sons/daughters.
As I am a missionary, I seriously doubt SW lives in my city. But I’d throw out this challenge to anyone out there to reach out to SW (if she is willing) and take her in and honor her as a Christian widow. I keep imagining if my own Grandmother (now with Jesus) was in a similar situation, oh, what I wouldn’t do for her (or WISH someone would do)! Yet are we not even more closely related IN Christ?!
May God comfort SW and provide for all her needs.
Eugene, yes, that seems to me to be the ideal solution. But it seems to me that it would have to come from within her church family. I don’t see how we could tackle this kind of thing from a distance.Burkean Conservative?
Any book recommendations or other suggestions on where to begin with getting acquainted with and then digging deeper into Burkean conservatism?
Todd, I would start with Russell Kirk’s book, The Conservative Mind.OT in the NT
Can you recommend a study guide for when you get to the point of studying the NT in the context of the OT and how the NT shows (or expands upon) the lessons and prophesies of the OT?
Steve, for in depth study, check out G.K. Beale’s work on the subject—New Testament Use of the Old Testament. In addition, Logos Bible Software has a tool that enables you to study and compare.Mark of the Beast
Last week in your letters to the editor, you answered a question that asked if the mandate hysteria was the mark of the beast. You replied that the beast was Nero, and that other Neros have acted in similar ways to the original. My question is, if all options have been exhausted, should we as believers consent to showing proof of vaccine status (real or otherwise)?
As a pastor, I am going to hold the line as much as possible, but if the only way to get on an airplane to share the Gospel around the world is through vaccine card, I would be willing to show the card or qr code (whether the jab is real or not, well, I know a guy as well). I would also show it to go to the local store to buy provisions for the family. Obviously, what I won’t do is preach from the communist-approved version of the Bible, kiss the image of lord Fauci or President Brandon in the produce aisle, and I will not be checking your card as a precondition to entering the church. However, what do we do when all other options are exhausted?
Matt, given how things are unfolding, I don’t really think that we can avoid a showdown. All the things involved with local compliance, or fake IDs, are just the precursor to that showdown.Did Paul Write Hebrews?
I’ve heard you mention on a couple occasions that you believe Paul to be the author of Hebrews. What convinced you of this? Any books you recommend on the subject?
Nathan, John Owen argues for Pauline authorship in his (7 vol.) commentary on Hebrews. And I have a section on that in my commentary on it, Christ and His Rivals.Old Credenda?
How do I get access to old Credenda articles? I see that Credenda.org no longer exists. I’m looking the article where you describe a typical Sabbath day and make the case that regardless of how one understands the 4th commandment, why wouldn’t you want to live this way?
Pierre, we are working on a way to get old articles onto the Canon app. In the meantime, if you could figure out which issue it was, Canon has back issues in hard copy.References?
I’m new to your ministry, learned about you through your book, Rules For Reformers, and have enjoyed your blog.
For brevity’s sake, I can say I’ve known Christ for most of my life, but in hindsight, have realized my walk with Him has been at a distance that has reduced in degrees over the years.
A major difficulty of late is in finding a church home where I might find mentors and opportunities to serve. The few attempts I’ve made have been disappointing due to current woke politics hijacking the message, whereas before, the greatest difficulty was finding a church with a bigger food pantry and clothing drive than their cappuccino bar and social center.
Do you suggest a resource or network of engaged churches? Best regards and God Bless.
James, not knowing where you live, the best I can do is this—the CREC web site.Women in the Armed Forces
I am a Platoon Leader in the Oklahoma Army National Guard. I currently lead an infantry platoon and soon will be leading a mortar platoon. I completely agree with the article mentioned above, and have determined that the moment I find I will be in leadership over women in a combat role is the moment I must leave the Guard.
Does it follow that women cannot be in non-combat roles in the military? Meaning a quartermaster, cook, medic, etc. I mean any role where their primary function is not to fire a weapon, but they still wear the uniform of a Soldier.
Tomas, I believe that the law expressly forbids women from serving in combat roles, and I believe that wisdom dictates that they not be in roles that are right next door to that. I don’t believe they should be part of combat units. But there should be no problem with women serving as (say) nurses in a military hospital.Thanks from Some Adventists
Bless you and your family, Pastor Wilson. We are Seventh-Day Adventists who read your blog and the articles that Canon Press send to us by email weekly. Your writings in the “Like a Tabloid Tarantula” uplift Jesus Christ and are the most beautiful call to repentance for the Christian pastors who have compromised with the world that we have ever read. Praise God! Jesus told us that we would be persecuted for His Name and not be surprised. The last week you have gone through clearly shows you are doing God’s work. God bless you and all your family
Catheryn, many thanks, and God bless.Prerequisites
How can I answer an atheist who insists that I prove to him the existence of Satan? Unfortunately my answer was: I have no obligation to prove anything to you. I guess that was inappropriate, but I had no better answer.
God bless You.
Carlos, some subjects require prerequisite knowledge. I would tell your friend “sure,” but I have to start with God and Christ first. This is because the devil does not have autonomous existence.Joyful Noise
You say that certain musical instruments and genres are more suited to corporate worship than others, and on an intuitive level, I’m inclined to agree. However, what are we to make of trumpets, loud clashing symbols, dancing and harps in Psalm 150? (I’m told that harps in those days were similar to banjos).
P, yes, but I think that clashing symbols and loud horns should be included. We will defer out discussion of dancing to a more suitable time.
“Truth and timeliness together make the full preacher . . . First, seek always truth first and timeliness second, never timeliness first and truth second.”
Phillips Brooks, The Joy of Preaching, p. 161
“In the cosmic scheme of things, the work that is assigned to us, and which God has given us to do, is tiny. The work that we will do by the grace of God, and to which God will respond with ‘well done, good and faithful servant,’ will be work that is teeny tiny. Finitude is one of our glories. God will not say well done to any human whose work is the size of three galaxies. He will say well done to pipsqueaks with a couple of fists full of nanoworks . . . A short space of time looking through a telescope should convince you that we actually live in Whoville.”
Ploductivity, pp. 71-72
“Those who look to the means alone, stopping there, are superstitious and blind. They think Jesus is the bread and wine. They think salvation is the sinner’s prayer. They think God dwells in houses made with human hands.”
Let the Stones Cry Out, p. 83
As most of you well know, I do want to do whatever I can to encourage resistance to this overweening tyranny we all find ourselves dealing with. You know what the last year and a half has been like. I am referring to what it feels like when purblind bureaucrats soak about seventeen mattresses in hubris, incompetence, and contempt, and then throw them on top of you.
Just wait until they start in on climate change. Just wait until they start flexing on all the things, giving as their reasons the same kind of lame gestures that have worked on the general population and a compliant media thus far. When secular governments, filled with totalitarian lust, declare yet another “emergency,” in that climate change has made the Omicron Variant even WORSE, because three people in East Asia now have the sniffles, at what point do you believe that your Christian leaders have a responsibility before God to say, “No, enough of that”?
So when the Southwest pilots refused to fly, I was standing on a chair and waving my hat. When Texas and Florida and Idaho outlawed vaccine passports, I consider myself a fortunate son of one of those fine states. When numerous men in our special operations forces refused to take the vaccine, I considered that a fulfillment of their vow to defend the Constitution from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Good job, everybody.In case you haven’t been scolded enough yet.
This mandatory vaccine business is the camel’s nose under the edge of the tent, and yet there are a host of Christian leaders who have not yet realized that the nose looks very different from the rest of the camel. They cannot be prevailed upon to see that to accommodate these imposed and nonsensical requirements is paving the way for the imposition of monstrous requirements later on. There are no brakes on this thing.However, Comma
But with all that said, it is important not to import any false principles into our resistance because those false principles can always come back to bite us later. Martin Luther once compared humanity to a drunk who falls off one side of his donkey, and so the next time he falls off the other side in order to compensate and keep things even. I say this because I am concerned about the introduction of a libertarian principle into the resistance. I don’t mind a libertarian spirit, mind you, which we could use more of, but in fact one of the central problems with the basic libertarian principles is that they cannot sustain a healthy libertarian spirit.
This is a concern because the only true and effective resistance to the grasping attempts of our jitney overlords is going to come from the molecular bonds found in multiple loyalties, and cannot arise from atomistic individualism. It is also a concern because ultimately libertarian individualism will be ineffective against the demands of the collective. The demands of the swollen state must be answered by interlocking and rightly proportioned societies. We need principled Christian resistance, and we need it in the worst way. But principled Christian resistance will have to be based on Burkean localism, and not based on a libertarian individualism.
If we lose the sharp distinction between a Christian love of liberty and an antinomian license to rebel against all authority, we have lost something precious. Christians love liberty under law, form and freedom together. Liberty-loving Christians love authority. They hate the abuse of authority, not because they are clutching to their own imperious willfulness, but because they love true authority.The Warrenton Declaration
Now I detected something of this libertarian principle operating in the Warrenton Declaration. Let me say at the outset that I really liked the Warrenton Declaration over all, and wished I could have signed it, as a number of my friends did. But the reason I couldn’t has to do with the issue I want to chase around for a little bit here.
WE DENY that the leprosy-related passages in Leviticus 13 & 14 can be construed to teach the general principle that civil government has unqualified and legitimate jurisdiction over managing “public health.”Warrenton Declaration, XVII
Now I quite agree that Leviticus 13 and 14 do not give civil government unqualified jurisdiction over anything, because no human government can be given unqualified authority in any realm. This is fallen world, and so there must always be checks and balances. But I do want to argue that these chapters (and other related passages) do give the civil magistrate legitimate authority and jurisdiction in matters of public health and safety.
And so this means that the egregious behavior of our public health martinets, governmental bullies, media liars, and corporate honchos over the last year and a half has all been a swollen and monstrous abuse of a legitimate governmental function, and not the invention of a new despotism out of whole cloth.
I want to set out the argument for this because I believe that our only long term hope in resisting the encroachments of Leviathan will lie with Burke’s “little platoons.” I want Calvin’s lesser magistrates. I want Kuyperian sphere resistance, and not disconnected atomistic individuals trying to fight The Man.
So then, to the arguments.Ceremonial Health Benefits?
Circumcision was a sacrament of the old covenant. It was a physical sign and seal, given as a spiritual legacy to Abraham and his seed. The circumcision of the flesh was meant to be paired with heart circumcision, which was heart regeneration (Dt. 10 ; Jer. 4:4; Rom. 2:28-29). Moreover, it signifies the coming of the new covenant sacrament of baptism, which carried the same sacramental meaning, that of true regeneration (Col. 2:11). Circumcision was therefore given to the people of God as a spiritual token, with spiritual meaning. It was not given to them as a public health measure.
This can be cheerfully granted, and should be, but it does not follow from this that there were no health benefits. A generation or so ago, researchers noticed an almost complete absence of cervical cancer in Jewish women, which was traced to the circumcision of Jewish men. In addition, the eighth day obviously has figurative and symbolic significance throughout the Scriptures, and this is no doubt related to the requirement that Jewish boys be circumcised on the eighth day. Again, cheerfully granted.
But because we worship and serve a God of infinite wisdom, who is therefore capable of doing more than one thing at a time, it is also worth noting that the assignment of the eighth day by God was particularly fortuitous. Vitamin K is an important element in blood clotting, and it does not begin to get to normal levels in an infant until the fifth to seventh day after birth. That would make the eighth day an optimum time to circumcise a boy. In addition, another element in blood clotting, prothrombin, is only at about thirty percent of normal on third day after birth, but on the eighth day shoots past the normal level to about 110%. Now keeping the baby from bleeding was not part of the signification of circumcision. The Bible doesn’t teach that anywhere.
But can God do more than one thing at a time?
Now that the spiritual significance of circumcision has been swallowed up by baptism, is it a sin to have your babies circumcised? Well, it would be if you were doing it as part of your pursuit of justification. That would be to fall from grace (Gal. 5:3-4). But is it out of line for Gentile Christian parents to have their boys circumcised because they think it is a good idea with practical health benefits? Not at all. Knock yourself out.
Quick side note: I am illustrating a general principle here, and will not be answering any letters tomorrow from anti-circumcision activists. I don’t have time, and life is too short.
The point is that something can be indisputably part of the ceremonial law and yet have health benefits.The Promise and the Means
God gave the people of Israel a striking promise when it came to their observance of His laws for them.
“And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.”
Ex. 15:26; cf. Dt. 7:15 (KJV)
Now I believe that the cosmos does not run on impersonal natural laws, but is rather personally governed by a personal God. Notice the phrase above, “I will put . . .” But the question here is whether the personal God intervened directly and immediately to keep the Israelites from coming down with the common maladies of the other nations (i.e. through miracles), or whether obedience to His laws had anything to do with it—in that the giver of these laws knew about germs, even though the observers of these laws didn’t know about germs.
Here is a thought experiment for you. Suppose you had a very primitive society, living under conditions similar to what the Israelites had prior to Moses. Let us say that they had the same problems with diseases as everyone else would have in those conditions. Now suppose that you are given the authority to come in and impose all the external aspects of the Mosaic law. We wouldn’t ever do this, of course, but because we are keeping our thought experiment pure, we are doing this simply at the external level. We are not Moses establishing a worshiping community, a peculiar people set apart to Jehovah, but rather we are simply invaders and conquerors from the land of Thought Experiment, imposing a new set of apparently arbitrary taboos.
So the latrines are now outside the camp. People with running sores have to avoid contact with other people. If you touch a dead body you have to stay away from others. It is a tropical climate, and they can’t eat pork any more. They are not allowed to put road kill in the stew. Everybody in the camp is required to wash with soap and running water at stated intervals. Now would all this have any impact on the general health of that society? To ask the question is to answer it.
And it has nothing to do with whether the Mosaic law was ceremonial or not. Of course it was ceremonial. But can God do more than one thing at a time?Some Specific Interaction
So with all that said, let me interact with a few specific things stated in the Warrenton Declaration.
WE AFFIRM that these leprosy passages are related not to the spread of biological contagion, but of ceremonial uncleanliness as is evidenced by numerous factors: First, even the man covered head-to-toe in white leprosy was declared “clean” (Lev. 13:12-13) and was permitted in the camp. Second, the stated reason for the general expulsion of lepers is the same reason given for the expulsion of those who touched a dead body or had a bodily discharge; not biological contagion, but ceremonial uncleanliness which “defiled the camp” before the Lord (Num. 5:1-4) . Third, nowhere in Scripture is leprosy described as being biologically contagious. This “leprosy” also afflicted houses (Lev. 14:34) and garments (Lev. 13:47). “Leprosy” was not the same as modern day “Hansen’s disease”. Fourth, in order to prevent belongings in a “leprous” house from being declared “unclean” by the Priest, the owner was permitted to empty the house of his possessions before the Priest arrived for inspection (Lev. 14:33-36). Preventing biological contagion through sanitization (burning) of objects was not in view here. The ceremonial practices associated with the now defunct Levitical Priesthood have been made obsolete by Christ’s greater Priesthood (Heb. 7:12), and cannot be credibly invoked as providing civil government with jurisdiction over “public health.”Warrenton Declaration, XVIII
I will address these points in order.
First, the person who was covered head-to-foot in white leprosy really was allowed back into the camp. But I don’t think this really establishes anything. We are all agreed that this leprosy was not our modern day Hansen’s disease. We don’t know what disease it was. I would simply surmise that it was a disease that, once it had reached that finalized stage, was no longer contagious. We all are aware of this with other sicknesses. You are contagious for different periods of time, depending on what bug it is. Right?
Second, the stated reasons for the Mosaic restrictions were ceremonial and liturgical, and the defilement of the camp that resulted was a ceremonial defilement. This is exactly true, but it also has nothing to do with it. The reasons given for requirement of burying your own feces outside the camp were also ceremonial (Dt. 23:13-14). There was an assigned latrine outside the camp also (Dt. 23:12), again for ceremonial reasons, which was to keep the camp holy. But who does not know and understand that medieval cities without an effective waste disposal system—afflicted as they were with rampant problems like diphtheria, tuberculosis, leprosy, typhus, Black Death, smallpox, salmonella and so on—could have been greatly helped with a Mosaic approach to waste management, not to mention a little Mosaic soap and water.
I have mention soap and water a couple of times, so I should at least touch on that. The New Testament tells us that the ashes of a heifer cleansed the Israelites so that they were outwardly clean (Heb. 9:13). This is a reference to the sacrifice mentioned in Numbers 19. The heifer had been sacrificed and was burned along with wood. Thus the two principal ingredients of soap were present, those being wood ash and animal fat. A man who was ceremonially clean had to transport the remains of the sacrifice to a designated place outside the camp, and he was made unclean by doing this. But the place where he took the remains was a place of cleansing where there was running water. And the Israelites would then go there to prepare themselves in a ceremonial cleansing that was a preparation for worship. Jehovah did not tell them that they were killing germs, but He did require them to kill germs in order to appear before Him. There are health benefits to this.
It is therefore lawful for us to kill germs.
Third, it is correct to say that the Bible never says that these practices were aimed at problems that were biologically contagious. But why does it have to? We know that a number of the things that were prohibited were biologically hazardous—running sores, human feces, animal carcasses, and so on. Can a modern society establish standards for such things, without any ceremonial basis, solely for the public good? And can they do this without tyranny? Sure.
Can they also, if they are snakes, use this kind of thing as an excuse for their tyrannies? Also sure. That’s where we are now, which is why I want to cheer on the general thrust of the Warrenton Declaration.
Fourth, it is absolutely correct to say that Christ’s greater priesthood has supplanted all the ceremonial aspects of the law. But again, if Gentile parents decide (say) to circumcise their newborn son in order to decrease the risk of cervical cancer in their future daughter-in-law, the fact that Christ set aside the sacramental significance of circumcision is nothing to the point.Kings and Public Health
There is another aspect to all of this. Recall that I said earlier that the cosmos is personally governed, overseen and ruled by a personal Creator God.
Now a plague is a social and corporate event. It is the kind of thing that involves everybody, and this includes the king. For example, there was that time when David was foolish enough to number the people, and for his punishment God used the prophet Gad to give David three choices. He could endure 7 years of famine, he could flee before his enemies for 3 months, or he could opt for 3 days of pestilence (2 Sam. 24:13). David chose the pestilence, and in the course of those 3 days 70,000 people died. The plague about came because of the sin of the king, and the pestilence was stopped because of the intercession of the king (2 Sam. 24:25).
Rampant disease was also promised as the result of the people going after false gods as a people, as a nation (Dt. 28:14). This was a corporate sin, and the chastisement was a corporate chastisement. I grant that when such judgments were being levied by God, they could not be fixed through county health officials simply cordoning off pest houses. But neither could they be fixed through responsible libertarians taking responsibility for their own personal hygiene. The problem was political idolatry, and required a political solution, by which I mean repentance.
“The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it. The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.”
Deuteronomy 28:21–22 (KJV)
This is a place where I think I would agree with the drafters of the Warrenton Declaration. One of the gods we have gone lusting after is the god of Science, and I may have my stories confused, but Science once took the form of a swan and raped Leda, who then gave birth to the CDC. So medical science (as it is now conducted) is a big part of our problem, and I do not want my arguments above to be taken as an endorsement of any of their current fever dreams—like boys becoming girls, or abortion doctors selling baby parts, or genetic engineering that is yearning to create the kind of Übermensch that will then chase all the lab coats down the hall. None of that stuff. I am keeping things basic—like my appreciation of the germ theory of disease, vaccines rightly developed and used, and a willingness to remember Koch’s postulates.
But if we continue to worship our idols . . .
“The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods, and with the scab, and with the itch, whereof thou canst not be healed.”
Deuteronomy 28:27 (KJV)One Last Thing
I have trespassed on your patience long enough. I just want to repeat a couple of things that I stated earlier. I want to do this because they bear repeating (Phil. 3:1).
The first is that (apart from this section) the Warrenton Declaration was superb. And I know and understand that there were folks who signed it who do not have any sympathy with the libertarian assumption that I saw there. But that assumption, for Christian libertarians, is that if the Mosaic code does not explicitly provide warrant for civil magistrates taking any responsibility for public health, then it is appropriate for them to default to post-social-contract individualism in their assumptions. And I think this is extremely hazardous for us in the long run.
Which leads to the second point. I am a Burkean conservative. The oppressive statism that is suffocating us is a social construct of man’s crooked devising. It must be answered with an interlocking network of social constructs of God’s devising. We must have the little platoons—families, churches, denominations, county commissioners, colleges, and so on. We must have social resistance.No Artificial Tweeteners
Okay, so I do tweet things from time to time. And over time, they accumulated, so when they got to the depth where I thought I should shovel the sidewalk, it also occurred to me that if they were all put into a book, it might make a book. And if it were refrigerated, to stay with the metaphor, it wouldn’t melt.$1.00 Shop now