False Reproach As Glory

Peter tells us that we are happy when we are reproached for the name and sake of Jesus Christ. He tells us that we should not be astonished when we are confronted with attacks, persecutions, and slanders. But more than this, Peter states, in line with what the Scriptures tell us elsewhere, that it is an honor to be dishonored, a grace to be disgraced.

Why? Peter tells us that we should be happy when this happens because the spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. To be slandered is a peculiar glory of the Christian; it is a new covenant Shekinah. Reproach is a glory.

The early Christians were reproached as cannibals. They were attacked for their purported incest, for their atheism because they did not worship idols, for their hatred of all mankind. They were accused of being guilty of first-century “hate crimes,” which are not a new concept. And yet, these Christians overcame the pagan Roman world, in part because the slanders were so obviously false. The truth about the saints was obvious to all who considered the facts beyond a mere glance. “Behold, how they love one another!” was the observation that settled the question.

And let it be so with us. Love one another. Give to one another. Pray for one another. Feed one another. Help one another. Let your light so shine before men that all reproaches recede back into the darkness. The apostle Peter also says that we should live in such a way that those who reproach us will be ashamed in the day of visitation. What is that lifestyle? Love, joy, and peace as your lives continue to intertwine.

The Source of the Problem

“Islam does not countenance accepting part of the Koran and disdaining the rest. Islamic authorities insist that all of the Koran is God’s word settled in heaven from eternity past — abrogations, hell-threats and war verses included. Thus the Koran itself is a de fact crowbar radical Muslims can use to leverage modernate Muslims away from moderation toward radicalism. That is why the non-Muslim world — in its own defense — absolutely must take on the task of rebutting the Koran. It has always merited rebuttal” (Richardson, Secrets of the Koran, p. 93).

Reformational Rap

“The Psalms, which Luther loved so much as peerles barometers of the human heart, leapt out of his translations in sparkling, associative, direct, venacular language, as urgent in their rhythms as rap, his reverent irreverence rediscovering them as the wild poetry and lyrical yearning which they are” (Matheson, The Imaginative World of the Reformation, pp. 122-123).

Not Silly Or Shallow

“As art is tied to reality in this way, there is a place to speak about truth in art. Does it do justice to what it represents? Does it do this in a positive way? Does it show the depth and complexity of what it is talking about? Art may be simple; it must be clear; but it should never be silly or shallow ” (H.R. Rookmaaker, Art Needs No Justification, p. 42).

The Folly of Preaching

“The foolishness of preaching saved those who believed, and the preaching of the gospel continues to manifest itself as the power of God after conversion. But to those who perish, preaching is always held in contempt; it is foolishness. Those who believe the Scriptures should not be astounded that preaching today is held in such contempt by the modern Church. Our churches are filled with just this sort of unbelief. People today, we are told, will not sit still for preaching. And this is why we have to have drama, video, smoke, mirrors, laster displays, action!” (Mother Kirk, p. 69).

Like A Feather Boa

A shrewd observer of my exchanges with Dr. Clark contacted me privately and made a point that I think is well worth repeating here.

I would urge anyone who needs the refresher to read through our respective posts, along with the comments. You can look through the Auburn Avenue Stuff on this blog for the last week, and look at Dr. Clark’s blog for the last week. Prior to our exchanges, one of the things that Dr. Clark was very adamant about was just how clear the issues were. The Federal Vision is plainly heretical, this was obviously headed to Rome, and so on.

When Dr. Clark agreed to our indirect debate, one of the things it did was put two representatives of these positions side by side, talking about the same issues. And all of a sudden the only thing that was clear was that the Federal Vision is not clearly heresy. This point does not depend on the FV being right. Let’s suppose for the sake of this illustration that FV is just one more mainstream Reformed mistake, like amillennialism — erroneous, but no way heretical.

Dr. Clark was maintaining that FV is slam-dunk heretical. Our reply was that if this is the case, a debate should make the clear even clearer. But we just had our debate, after a fashion, and in the aftermath of this debate everybody could plainly see that I hold to a Westminsterian soteriology, and that I wear the traditional Reformed ordo around my neck like it was a feather boa. Where did all the plain heresy go?

Further, by the end of the exchanges some of Dr. Clark’s supporters were calling on me to lighten up. To which I reply, please remember that every word I have written in this controversy has been on defense. We are responding to charges, we are not making them. We are defending our callings and vocations in ministry; we are not trying to challenge the ministry of our fellow ministers in the Reformed faith. This is the season when another slate of books attacking us have been, are being, or will be released. I was asked to remember that Dr. Clark has a doctorate from Oxford. Given his credentials, which I do respect, it seems to me that one of the things that Dr. Clark should know how to do is represent his opponents in a polemical exchange accurately and clearly. Read through our exchanges again. Has Dr. Clark represented my views fairly?

The exchange has made certain things very clear. But they were not the things that Dr. Clark maintained beforehand as plain and clear.

Some Trust in Missiles, Some in Fleets

Minister: Lift up your hearts!

Congregation: We lift them up to the Lord!

 

In times of trouble,

     May God listen to you!

     May the name of Jacob’s God defend you.

 

May He send out help from His sanctuary,

     And strengthen you from Zion’s hill.

 

May He remember your offerings;

     May He accept your ascension gifts.

     Consider His faithfulness.

 

May He grant just what you asked from the heart;

     And fulfill all Your counsel to Him.

 

In that day, we will rejoice,

     In that day, we will rejoice in your salvation,

     In that day we will set up banners,

     Marking each petition granted.

 

Now I know God saves His anointed;

     He hears him from His holy place,

     With saving strength in His right hand.

 

Some trust in missiles, and some in fleets,

     But we remember the Lord our God.

 

They have fallen, but we have not.

     We are risen, and stand upright.

Save us, God,

     My Your king hear us when we call.

Psalm 20

And so, gracious Father, we worship You now through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end, amen.

If You Can”t Take It With You, Then Send It On Ahead

Once there was a young man who was not very wise with his money. He actually had some because of his paper route, but he consistently squandered it, and was usually bone dry for some days before his next payday.

His mother noticed this almost right away, but let it run for a few months. She then talked to her husband about it—she thought it was a bad sign and her husband agreed. Uncorrected, too much month at the end of the money would be a pattern for him for a long time to come.

The boy’s parents began praying about it, and within a few days, the boy’s mother found herself in a conversation with him about it—and he was the one who brought it up.

“Mom,” he said, “last year I didn’t have a paper route, I am working a lot harder than before, I get paid every two weeks, and so I ought to have piles of money. But I don’t.”

She nodded sympathetically. “We had that problem too,” she said. “When you and your sister were little.”

“What did you do about it?”

“Before I tell you, let me warn you about something. You know how Jesus often says things upside down? The first last, the greatest least, and that kind of thing?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Well, He talks that way about money too. And Jesus talks a lot about money.”

“All right. I’m ready. I think.”

“You don’t have enough money because you have too much. And if you gave away money, you would have more than enough.”

“You mean tithing . . .”

“It begins with tithing. Tithing is God’s training wheels for us, to teach us how the world works. Money is seed, and seed always belongs in the ground.”

“I don’t get it.”

“Think of it this way. All the money you keep or spend here should be listed as your temporary assets. Money you give makes up your permanent assets.

“You mean that I can’t take it with me?”

“No, almost the opposite of that. You can’t take it with you, that part is true. But Jesus teaches that you can send it on ahead of you. And you do that by disciplined giving.”