“Salvation first, then the theology of it. Joy at the foundation, and then the building. Jesus first, then the discussions” (Against the Church, p. 34).
“‘The purpose of preaching,’ wrote Halford Luccock, ‘is not to make people see reasons, but visions’” (Wiersbe, Preaching and Teaching With Imagination, p. 25)
“Like sap in the plant or blood in the body, the vital current of thought must flow through the whole discourse, giving it animation, flexibility, strength” (Broadus, Preparation and Delivery, p. 275).
I first subscribed to National Review when I was in high school, which would be somewhere northwards of 42 years ago. I have been a faithful subscriber since that time, and — disagreements and all — it remains my favorite magainze. They are still genuinely conservative, although it should be said at the outset that they are not conserving quite as much as they used to.
Rand Paul, the senator from Kentucky, is a skosh more libertarian than I would like, but I like what he has been doing very much. About time somebody did, and all that. There are places where the libertarian streak will lead you astray (e.g. marriage), but there are other places where it supplies a much needed corrective to our putative lords and masters (e.g. metadata).
In their latest issue, in an unsigned editorial, NR took Rand Paul to task for his recent lawsuit claiming that the NSA’s collection of metadata was a violation of the Fourth Amendment. At the recent CPAC convention, Rand Paul said that what you do on your cell phone is “none of their damn business,” which was red meat for the assembled conservatives. But NR dismissed this line as showboating, a “publicity stunt” — frivolous and unnecessary.
Their argument was that the Fourth Amendment protects four categories of intimate personal property — “one’s person, home, papers, and effects.” The metadata has to be considered the property of the service providers, and not part of the citizen’s personal effects. Ergo, showboating.
As the Church worships God, from Lord’s Day to Lord’s Day, we are making an authoritative proclamation. We are telling a dead world to wake up.
“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Eph. 5:14, ESV).
Of course, when the Church is full of corpses, we have a hard time getting everybody on the bus to go out to the world’s graveyard in order to make that declaration. The people are reluctant to go, if reluctant is the word I want.
The doctrine of regeneration is therefore less a matter of orthodoxy than it is a doctrine of life. And the doctrine of life is less important than life itself, while both are crucial. So the fact of regeneration is not a matter of orthodoxy, but rather a question of authority and power.
My posts on funding Christian education have drawn more attention than I was anticipating. Next week I want to write in greater depth about teacher salaries, but wanted to make just a few quick comments here.
First, it should be taken as a given that a Christian school should remember that it was the Lord who taught that a laborer is worthy of his hire. Underpaying people on purpose is not an exercise in discipleship. The goal of every school board should be to pay their teachers a respectable and generous wage for their services.
Second, it should be obvious that because a school is the kind of service industry it is, the greatest costs associated with the school will be payroll. How much you pay the teachers, and the way you pay them, will have a direct impact on your funding model — which, as I mentioned earlier, is usually either tuition/donation and full tuition. Raising the price of tuition, depending on where you live and how many people live in that area with you, will either lower demand or change the nature of the demand.
I recently came to the conclusion that it was time to set down in one place my reasons for approaching Genesis the way I do. I have noticed that the topic has become a matter of increased debate in classical Christian circles — and because schools cannot honestly stay out of it — it matters a great deal what we teach and why. So here are seven theses on the age of the earth.
1. First, the age of the earth, considered in isolation, is neither here nor there. The issue is always what God said, and not how old something is. If the earth is six thousand years old now, it will eventually be one hundred thousand years old at some point, about ninety-four thousand years from now. Will theologians at that time still be required to hold to a “young earth” view? So the issue is not age, or day, or young, or old, but rather the substance of what God actually said. Whatever He actually revealed should be what we use as the foundation for all our subsequent thought. After we have our foundation, we may incorporate truth from other sources — natural revelation included — but we must take care that we never privilege what we think we know over what God actually told us.
2. Therefore, the debate — which is most necessary — should be conducted primarily between Christians who accept the Scriptures as the absolute Word of God, perfect and infallible in all that they affirm. This is because debate is pointless between parties who are appealing to different authorities. The fact that the debate is now being conducted with many of the participants openly saying that the Bible “has mistakes in it” tells us why we are not really getting anywhere.
3. Once we have limited the participants in this way, we have simplified things considerably. Everyone in the debate would be willing to affirm a flannel graph version of the Flood, giraffe and all, if that is what the Bible taught, and everyone in the debate would be willing to affirm a planet creaky with age, if that is what the Bible taught.
That said, the prima facie evidence for the traditional view of Genesis is very strong (historical Adam, continuous genealogies, etc.). Alternative approaches to the text, such as the framework hypothesis or the gap theory, seem like special pleading in order to make room to shoehorn in a cosmology from elsewhere. We should always smell a rat whenever someone notices an anomaly in the text (e.g. the different creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis) and someone else is immediately at your elbow with millions of years he wants to pour in.
I am not saying this because I am automatically categorizing any views contrary to my own as special pleading. One alternative view, grounded responsibly in the text, views the days in Genesis as days of revelation, which Adam was recording as God was teaching him how to write. But even this view would simply require someone to stop affirming “six-day creation,” and is not at all inconsistent with “young-earth creation.” So the prima facie evidence for the traditional view is strong enough for me to consider that the burden of proof lies with those who would question it.
“When we want the children ‘tracking’ as we commune, we are wanting them to participate in the joy — the way my one-year-old granddaughter claps after everybody sings ‘Happy Birthday’ to one of the cousins. What we want is ‘Yay, here we are with Jesus again!’ not an infant’s contemplations of Turretin’s rejection of consubstantiation on the one hand, and the folly of the Socinians on the other” (Against the Church, p. 32).