Personal and Accountable

"At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore" (Ps. 16: 11) The Basket Case Chronicles #195 “And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me” (1 Cor. 16:3–4). In the previous verses, Paul had instructed the saints in Corinth to take up their collection Sunday by Sunday so that there would not have to be a last minute push. Their giving was to be part of their worship on the Lord’s Day, and their giving was not to be motivated by the duress of deadlines. Christian generosity is steady and deliberate, not momentary or panicked. When we come to his instruction here, we notice some additional principles. Paul writes ahead to have them take up their collections. He then tells them that when he arrives, they will appoint delegates to accompany their gift. The collection was for the saints in Jerusalem, and delegates from Corinth were going to … [Read more...]

That Decoupaged Chapter

How's this for an argument?

One of Saul Alinsky's rules was that the activist should always make his adversary live by his own purported rules. In the case of what Christians are currently up against, one of the secularist rules is their so-called commitment to free speech. They are quite pleased with themselves about that commitment, and preen themselves in the mirror. But at the same time, their inner tyrant wants to control public discourse in such a way as to quit losing all those debates. Thus they have devised an interesting workaround. They still defend free speech, ardently and sincerely, but free speech is now defined as that which contributes to the public good, makes them feel better down to their toes, and releases multi-colored butterflies into the public square. When I was dealing with a crowd of hostiles a couple years ago at Bloomington, one of their chants was "We believe in free speech! But this is hate speech!" In other words, in order to feel good about shouting a speaker down, they had … [Read more...]

Swamp Whackadoo

No substitute for an actual library.

In the post-Obergefell era, there are two basic areas of scriptural understanding where evangelicals really need to get up to speed. I will only mention them here, and briefly outline the problem, but hopefully more development can follow in the weeks to come. As we go along, I also hope to be recommending books here and there. Getting up to speed requires a theological and intellectual armory, I mean library, and that means books. The first problem is a cause of a paralyzing tension in the evangelical reaction to homosexuals gaining certain political -- so-called civil -- rights. On the one hand, they know homosexuality to be a sin, because of their Bible reading, and therefore they have a negative reaction to it. But on the other hand, because of their deep theological commitment to autonomous individualism, and all related cooties, they don't know what to do with an argument that says "we should outlaw discrimination against gays." That strikes them as prima facie reasonable, … [Read more...]

A Flaying Hatred

"In the midst of all this clamor for fine writing and florid style, the preacher should be a resolute man, and dare to be a plain writer . . . This determination will affect his whole sermonizing . . . It will appear in the composition and manner, in a stripping, flaying hatred of circumlocutions, and of all unnecessary ornament. The preacher whose head is right, and whose conscience is right, will soon come to possess a love for this plainness. He will not be able to read authors who do not understand themselves. He will be impatient with a public speaker who does not distinctly know what he is saying" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, pp. 68-69). … [Read more...]

Up to Our Knees

Black Abortion

In my recent reply to Matthew Vines, one of my responses that got kind of a reaction in a number of places was my answer to his sixteenth question. 16. Do you think supporting same-sex marriage is a more serious problem than supporting slavery? Yes, far more serious. This was taken by some as a weird defense of slavery as a positive good, like food, air or sunshine. Some who take me that way are just confused, while others are malevolent. Those who are confused deserve an answer while those who are malevolent need to have their mouths stopped. Fortunately, both goals can be achieved at just one go, and so let me unpack my answer to that question a bit further. 1. We know that sodomy is worse than slavery by how God responds to it. In the book of Jude, we are told how the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the surrounding cities, gave themselves over to the celebration of fornication and "going after strange flesh." In doing this, they were imitating the angels who abandoned … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Micah

Introduction: Micah was a younger contemporary to the prophet Isaiah, and ministered across the reigns of Jotham (c. 740 B.C.) and Hezekiah of Judah (who died 687 B.C.). Other contemporaries would be Amos and Hosea, which accounts for similar themes—they were all confronting the same kinds of cultural problems. The two great ones were idolatry and social injustice. The name Micah is a shortened form of a name that means “who is like YHWH?” The Text: “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; And what doth the Lord require of thee, But to do justly, and to love mercy, And to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). Summary of the Text: In our text, we find a succinct treatment of what true religion looks like. Is God impressed with high pomp or pretentious sacrifices? What could I give that would earn God’s favor? The answer is nothing, nothing whatever, which men of understanding have always understood since the world began. If salvation is not all of grace, then there is no … [Read more...]

Hot Food or Cold

A popular salvation text is Rev. 3:20. “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” But this is not the door of an unconverted man, deciding whether to ask Jesus in. This is, in the first instance, the door of the church at Laodicea, and then by extension, any church that has people who have drifted into a lukewarm approach to Jesus. It is not the door of a man’s heart; it is a church door. If we respond to His call, to His voice, we are responding to the one who is the Amen, the faithful Witness, and we do so in a way that strengthens and establishes us. If we do this, we are opening the door of the church. We are inviting Jesus to come in and do what? We are ushering Him in so that He will sit down, it says, and sup with that man, and that man will sup with him. We see here an exquisite balance of the individual and corporate. The faithful believer is not the one who opens … [Read more...]


Archimedes famously once said “Give me a place to stand and with a lever I will move the whole world.” If the devil were to go in for such practical mechanics, where would he stand, what lever would he use, if he wanted to move a Christian? We are talking what it means to not pay close attention to what we have learned, and what it therefore means to moved slowly away from Christ. With many believers today that place to stand is the world and its ways, and the lever is the bar of coolshaming. The world offers us sweets, sure enough—the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes—but it also establishes and maintains a value system. That value system is called the pride of life. “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:15–16). This is the … [Read more...]

Time for a Little Q & A

So in response to Kevin DeYoung's very pertinent questions to rainbow-affirming Christians, Matthew Vines has responded with 40 questions of his own, these directed at Christians who are, as he puts it, "non-affirming." Being as I am found in that latter category, let me have a shot at it. What I want to do is either answer Matthew's questions, or explain why I will not take the bait of answering a particular question. Put another way, I will answer the questions, but not the loaded questions. 1. Do you accept that sexual orientation is not a choice? First, I do not believe there is one answer that fits for everyone living a homosexual lifestyle. For some it is very much a choice, while for others the inclinations that lead to same sex attraction run very close to the bone. I do not believe there is one Platonic form of "homosexuality." Having said this, I would then point out that sin is defined by Scripture, and not by our guesswork on the strength of our abilities in … [Read more...]

An Obergefail Word Salad

I'd rather not, thanks.

Having read the majority opinion for the Supreme's Obergefail decision, I am now in a position to describe what Justice Kennedy's dog gets for breakfast. In that opinion, he did try to be nice to those who differ, but being nice and being coherent are not the same thing. He tried to head off the pc-martinets by saying that "the First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection." Very nice, very thoughtful. And then this, one week later -- the Kleins of Oregon (who had politely declined to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian phantasmagorithon) had their fine of 135K finalized by an administrative judge. Moreover, Brad Avakian, this Oregon Labor Kommissar who finalized the fine, also ordered the Kleins to "cease and desist" from talking about it. Pay the money, and put on this gag. I have been somewhat heartened by the blowback the Supreme Court decision has been getting from Christians. It is true that we do have to figure out how to … [Read more...]

Simply Plain

"The preacher should toil after this property of style, as he would toil after virtue itself. He should constantly strive, first of all, to exhibit his thoughts plainly. Whether he shall add force to plainness, and beauty to force, are matters to be considered afterwards. Let him in the first place begin at the beginning, and do the first thing" (Shedd, Homiletics and Pastoral Theology, p. 67). … [Read more...]