The Town Drunk on a Park Bench

Marco Rubio

Last night I watched Marco Rubio announce his candidacy for the presidency, and as far as such speeches go, I thought he did a very good job. I also observed that those who want him to go far thought he did a better job than he actually did, but still, I thought it was a credit-worthy launch. I am sure that I will have more to say about Rubio as the campaign unfolds, but for the present I just want to take his marked emphasis on the American dream to make a few observations of my own. We are well beyond the ability of course corrections to help us. What is needed is a volte-face, and such an abrupt turnaround is not really a political technique. It will be very much like the town drunk at the tent meeting revival, and not very much like a refined woman deciding not to have cheesecake for dessert at the upscale bistro. When America repents we will see several different kinds of repentance. I've written about the first many times before. Repentance means a change of mind before God, and that means simple abandonment of certain practices that God finds to be detestable. “And they shall come thither, and they shall take away all the detestable things thereof and all the … [Read more...]

Doing the Sensitivity Sham

An extended discussion broke out in the comments of my "deny Him seventy times seven post," and it had to do with whether or not my way of expressing myself leaves someone who struggles with same sex attraction feeling quite "safe" around people like me. One of the themes of my writing is that of trying to get Christians to see how worldview assumptions are embedded in all language, like currants in the bread pudding. Everyone is standing somewhere, and everyone is trying to get us to go somewhere. Before we do so, may we be permitted to ask a few questions? I write something about the current homo-jihad -- because every obvious thing needs a noun -- and someone else inquires as to whether my use of such a phrase might be off-putting to a hypothetical visitor to my church, if such a visitor were struggling with same-sex issues. How will you reach him if he is offended by such language and disappears, never to be heard from again? … [Read more...]

Who’s on First?

Buckley

Good. Fun read. I read it first in 1982. Read it again in 2015, but I didn't think I was reading it again. I had actually forgotten I had read it the first time. It is that kind of read. Of course it is hard to fault Buckley for this. Most potboilers don't stay with you for 33 years. … [Read more...]

With Stirrups Raised to Molech

Theology That Bites Back

The modern world has seen many revolutions, from the French revolution to the Russian, but the bloodiest of all of them has been the sexual revolution. And that provides the backdrop to our current uproar over the definition of marriage. We are now much occupied with the issues swirling around same sex mirage, but we need to take great care not to get distracted. Why have the homosexual activists gone all in on this issue? Why is their prosecutorial zeal so adamant? We went, in just a matter of months, from "let's let individual states" decide on this, to federal judges striking down state statutes, followed up hard by official harassment of florists, bakers, and photographers. Why the anger, and why the savage over-reach? And do they really think we wouldn't remember all the things they were assuring us of this time last year? I was talking last night with my daughter Rachel, and she mentioned something that she had observed, and which I believe is very much on point. The battle over same sex mirage is not just a distraction, but is intended to be a distraction. We do have to deal with these challenges to marriage, but without forgetting what they might be trying to drag us … [Read more...]

Surveying the Text/Revelation

Introduction: The book of Revelation is written in a genre that we in the modern world no longer use, and consequently it can be a very difficult book for us to understand. G.K. Chesterton said that John the apostle saw many strange monsters in his vision, but none so strange as any one of his commentators. And Ambrose Bierce said that it was a book in which St. John concealed all that he knew. The revealing, he said, is done by the commentators, who know nothing. So as we attempt to survey this book in one message, the goal will be to tread lightly, but with some hope of edification. The Text: “I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” (Revelation 22:16–17). Defining Our Terms: The images from Revelation are quite familiar. But the language of those images is not, and one of factors in the difficulty is found in how the entire book is set. There are four basic options. The first is the … [Read more...]

On Christian Disobedience #1

Introduction: The state is the great idol of modernity, and so of course Christians have to think through what things are lawful to render to Caesar and what things are not. This week we will consider the nature of our problem—the corruption of the system and the corruptions of those who oppose it. The next installment will address civil resistance in the Bible (Ehud, Gideon, Paul, Peter, David, el al.). But we must also remember civil submission in the Bible, and so passages like Romans 13 will be considered after that. Next, we will review an aspect of this subject infrequently considered, which is the nature of “established authorities” and the meaning of common law. The week after we will address common problems of conscience among Christians—Social Security taxes, registering for the draft, building inspectors, EPA regulations, licenses, and so forth. And last, we will look at the only possible solution to our civil woes, which is the genuine reformation of the Church. Any call for societal transformation must begin in the household of God. The Text: “O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs—O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; … [Read more...]

Ground, Instrument, Means

The central point of the Lord’s Supper is union with Christ. If we want to be nourished in our understanding of this, and indeed in our experience of it, we have to distinguish between the instrument for receiving this grace, and the means of receiving it. The ground of your justification is the work of Christ on the cross, culminating in His resurrection and ascension. That is the ultimate foundation. The instrument of your justification is your faith, but which is only yours because it was granted to you as a gift by the Spirit of God. God gave you a new heart, a heart that was capable of believing Him. In fact, the new heart that He gives is incapable of not believing Him. And last, and most varied, there are various means of God’s grace to us. These are presented to us, in line with God’s Word, and if we have true, evangelical faith, we use such means to strengthen and nourish us in our union with Christ. Such means of grace would be worship, listening to sermons, improving your baptism by faith, singing and praying, and coming to the Lord’s Table. So Christ is objectively offered here, but the only way to receive Him is through the subjective experience of trusting … [Read more...]

Balanced Worship

A dedicated space for worship has a shaping and disciplinary effect. When we meet in an informal setting, as we have been doing for years, we have had to make a point of selecting music that helps us swim upstream. Because the informal surroundings make it easier for the worship to become breezy and casual, we have deliberately leaned against that. This is because the Bible tells us bluntly that our worship should be offered up with reverence and godly fear (Heb. 12:28). God is a consuming fire. But when we have a sanctuary, and find ourselves meeting in a space bounded by classic church architecture, we are going to have to make a different set of adjustments. Hopefully, there will be no adjustments in our theology of worship, music, and liturgy, but we will notice—if we are paying the right kind of attention—that the natural pressures will at that time be coming from another direction. The outside Christian culture, and our rented space, push us toward greater informality. But Christian worship ought to be familial and reverent, which is quite a different thing than the very common “come as you are” approach, the come to church in your jammies approach. We were taught to … [Read more...]