“Grace is not something we do. Grace is not something we can control. Grace is not something we can manage. And this means that we in the Church, particularly in the sola gratia wing of the Reformed church, need to recognize that curators of grace are frequently the most dangerous enemies of grace. Grace is God’s declared intention for the whole world, whether we like it or not” (God Rest Ye Merry, pp. 35-36).
If you sow the wind, sometimes you reap the whirlwind. Apartheid, a system of injustice established by Reformed Christians, was the wind. A significant part of the whirlwind is that we are beyond the ability even to identify that the whirlwind is upon us.
Although Mandela was a thug and a bad man, he was plainly a shrewd thug. Upon his election to the presidency, he did not go the route of Mugabe to the north and become a permanent fixture. And after he assumed power, his willingness to fore-go immediate and global retaliation on the white population (on the scale that could have happened) was a small mercy. He opted for a slow motion destruction of the country instead.
But my point this morning is a bit different. I want to point out — because it always needs pointing out — that progressives are profoundly racist. They insist on treating the political history of South Africa in terms of skin pigmentation, white and black, instead of looking at the basis of the true divisions — two white tribes, and three major black ones. Whether we are talking about the English or Dutch, Zulu or Xhosa, for the liberal, what color you are trumps everything.
I am on the hunt for themes that don’t mess up your comments through nigh impossible paragraph breaks. Many of you are already irritated enough when you first start to comment, and the fact that the old theme turns your lucid prose into a slab of granite irritates you further. I will probably go back to the old theme in a little bit, but in the meantime, could you test the comments box for me? Donkeyshins, as we say in Germany.
N.B. Thanks everybody. Back to the old way, but we are closing in on it.
“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #137
“Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (1 Cor. 11: 27-29).
Before discussing the theology of the sin committed here, we need to first identify what sin it is. The sin is found and named at the end of v. 29—it is the sin of “not discerning the Lord’s body.” The first and fundamental error is that of looking for the Lord’s body in the bread and in the cup, instead of in the place where we truly neglect the Lord’s body, which is up and down the pew we are sitting in. In the previous chapter, we are told that the cup and the bread are a koinonia, a partaking, a fellowship in the blood and body of Christ (1 Cor. 10:16). In the next verse, we are told that we, being many, are one bread and one body, and we are that because of our mutual partaking (1 Cor. 10:17).
“A sentimental Christmas is a Christmas without conflict . . . a moralistic Christmas is a Christmas without sin . . . a spiritualistic Christmas is a Christmas without matter” (God Rest Ye Merry, pp. 32-33).
As Flannery O’Connor put it, “The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.” But a falsehood, as Chesterton notes, is engineered precisely so that the listeners would in fact be able to stomach it. Stomachability is a design feature when it comes to a lie. Who would invent lies that nobody is going to want to believe?
But the truth simply is what it is.
This is why truth tellers are always troublemakers. And this is also why the postmodern heart loves the coherence view of truth, and detests the correspondence view of truth. The coherence view includes all those things that might be pleasant to digest, and the correspondence view encompasses the rest of the world, which is not really all that edible. It is measured by criteria other than how it might make us feel half an hour after dinner.
This is why, incidentally, C.S. Lewis is beloved by conservative American evangelicals even though he wasn’t one. He hated subjectivism, and saw that subjectivism was the portal through which every foul error makes its way into the lives of believers. It is the same portal, come to think of it, from which Rob Bell made his escape. The world is simply there, and we are the ones who must conform to it, and not the other way around.
I don’t have much to say about the ruckus these last few weeks concerning the allegation of plagiarism by Mark Driscoll, an allegation that was made by Janet Mefferd, and then subsequently withdrawn by her. Not having much to say, I intend therefore to not say it. Initially I thought to say nothing whatever, but now I should actually say I do have something to offer about the ruckus, but not about the situation that caused the ruckus. I don’t know enough yet to say anything much about that.
Update: more on the whole deal can be found here.
1. I will say at the outset that I consider Mark Driscoll a friend, and I also have friends across the way from him who take a pretty dim view of all things Driscoll. Nothing I say here is intended to alter any of that, or adjust the general lay of the land. This has nothing to do with “tribes” or “sides,” so make sure you read clean through this entire post before drawing any conclusions about what you think I might be saying. My only relation to “sides” in this is that I have friends on both sides, and I intend to keep it that way. These are mostly observations that this situation made me think of — they are not necessarily allegations about the situation, although I will obviously be saying some things connected to it.
While I have friends in both directions, these thoughts are my own. I am not acting as anyone’s proxy, and I am not leaking inside information I got from anybody.
2. A point has been made that we have a culture that is dependent on evangelical celebrities, and that these shining figures at the top of our hierarchy need accountability. And so they do, but only because absolutely everybody up and down the entire hierarchy needs accountability. We are all sinners, and we all need it. Nobody should be above correction — but this must include those who deliver correction. And in my (quite extensive) experience with this kind of thing, those who make allegations usually operate with significantly more freedom than is enjoyed by evangelical “celebrities.” Prominent figures in the religious world are regularly toppled, usually due to their own sin and folly, but not always, and they are hardly permanent fixtures in our heavenly firmament. False accusers, on the other hand, are very rarely toppled. I think they all must have tenure, kind of like the English Department. So my first point is that everyone must be accountable for their words and actions — leaders and followers, rich and poor, celebrities and peons, high and low. Everybody.
3. From the foregoing, it might seem that I am leaning against what Carl Trueman wrote about all this, both at Reformation 21 and First Things. But I appreciated much of what he had to say. There was a lot of wisdom there, and I appreciated him saying it. So this point should be considered as a supplement to all that, and not an attempted counter to it.
Before discussing what Joseph knew, we should perhaps begin by considering what we know about Joseph. Despite the fact that we tend to assume we know very little, we may be surprised to discover how much in fact we do know. This is even more surprising when we consider that in the entire scriptural narrative, Joseph never says a word.
“And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ” (Matt. 1:16).
Summary of the Text:
Matthew gives us an account of the genealogy of Joseph, descended from David, meaning that Christ’s covenantal lineage was Davidic, as well as His physical lineage (through Mary) being also, as is likely, Davidic. The fact that genealogies are given the place they have in Scripture should indicate to us that they are important, and not given to us so that we might have occasion to roll our eyes at all the begats.
What We Know:
We know that Joseph’s father was a man named Jacob (Matt. 1:16). We know that Joseph was of the royal Davidic line (Matt. 1:6). Luke makes a point of telling us this (Luke 1:27), just as the angel had called Joseph a son of the house of David. We know that Joseph was a good man, both righteous and merciful (Matt. 1:19). We know that he was a prophet—an angel appeared to him in a dream and gave him a word from God (Matt. 1:20). We know that Joseph was an obedient man—when he woke from sleep, he did just what the angel had commanded him in that dream (Matt. 1:24). When the Lord’s life was in danger, God entrusted the protection of the Messiah to Joseph, sending an angelic warning in a second dream (Matt. 2:13). God led that family through the head of the family. After Herod died, God gave Joseph a third dream (Matt. 2:19). We know that the legal and covenantal lineage of Jesus was reckoned through Joseph, because that is how Jesus came to be born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4), and the prophet had insisted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).