Counterfactuals, Convulsion, and Conquest

A friend asks how the “mere Christendom” I envision would handle off-budget (i.e. private) gay “marriages.” Would they be illegal?

A related issue, given that this mere Christendom is a ways off, has to do with what we should be looking for in the mean time. Evangelical Christians in North America do not have their act together enough to ask for, still less to receive, any approximation of mere Christendom. There is a lot of evangelism to do yet. But that’s not the worst of it. We do have our act together enough to ask for, and receive, something. So in the interim, what should that something be? We would obviously ask for something better than what we have now, but the temptation would be to be misled by that interim arrangement. Makeshifts have morphed into something permanent more than once.

The short answer to the first question is that homosexual marriage would be a nullity, no more legal or illegal than circular triangles would be. I do not support the concept of same sex mirage. Acts of sodomy would of course be illegal, and what some people might privately call “marriage” would simply be their rationalization for committing those acts. Such labeling would not legitimize the acts. As far as other aspects of marriage go — shared property, ICU visitation, end of life decisions — I have no objection to those sorts of issues being addressed by means of contracts between any competent parties — as long as there are no marital connotations or approximations at all. No civil unions, in other words. The name of such agreements should be named things like “shared property agreement,” “power of attorney,” etc.

This obviously relates to the question about the interim — if illegal, what would the enforcement be like? An acceptable interim arrangement for me would be the way it was in the first two years of Eisenhower’s administration — hardly a human rights hellhole. But this is not really achievable as a practical matter, for the following reason.

Trajectories are always key, which means that we must always be wary of hypotheticals that run contrary to the way the world actually is. What would you say about a nation of industrious and highly productive lotus-eaters? Well, nothing, because it isn’t going to happen. I would say the same thing about a nation that allowed for homosexual marriage, but which also protected, in a robust fashion, the right of the Church to be the Church, and the right of individual believers to live according to their conscience. I would say nothing about it, one way or another, because it is not going to happen. If a gay activist (trying to be genuine libertarian) disputes this and says to me that gays should be allowed to marry, and Christian bakers should be allowed to refuse to bake the cake for them, I will simply observe mildly that the momentum is currently yours — show me how tolerant you are, and then we will talk about it. The early returns do not appear to be making your point.

In a similar way, a civilization with a robust faith in Jesus can drift downward into that interim of the Eisenhower years, but the cities of the plain would never have drifted upward into it. So the arrival of mere Christendom will therefore be convulsive — but it won’t be a legal revolution. It will be a great reformation and revival — it will happen the same way the early Christians conquered Rome. Their program of conquest consisted largely of two elements — gospel preaching and being eaten by lions — a strategy that has not yet captured the imagination of the the contemporary church.

So we should set a limit to our counterfactuals. If Hell were located on the beach, with palm trees and a pleasant breeze, and no fire, I suppose it could be okay . . .

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60 comments on “Counterfactuals, Convulsion, and Conquest

  1. Well, if this doesn’t set certain quarters to loudly shrieking, then I guess I don’t understand how the Internet works.

  2. When we arrive at this Christendom, and if the rare act of Sodomy does occur, would the death sentence be appropriate? In others words, will Christendom usher in a more strick punishment for sins/crimes?

  3. This is at least the second, perhaps the third or fourth time I’ve seen you (Pastor WIlson) express your desire to eventually have sodomy made illegal by the State.

    Perhaps I’ve missed it, but would it be possible for you to detail a list of other sexual and relationship practices (premarital sex, adultery, underage sex, homosexual kissing, extramarital kissing, pornography, images designed for lust, lust itself, divorce, remarriage after divorce, marriage of relatives, sex during a woman’s menstration, nonconsensual marital sex, masturbation, polygamy, etc.) that would also be illegal in your Christendom?

    I would like to see this, and maybe see you talk about it more, because you seem to be bringing up homosexuality over and over again on a blog that I would hazard to guess is not read by very many people who practice it. I would be more interested to know how you would treat the sexual sins actually practiced by members of your own churches.

  4. I second Jonathan’s request. Since all sexual sin falls under the same immorality umbrella, why the constant hammering of one particular sin that presumably is the most foreign to your readership?

  5. Maybe I’m dense, but the point about trajectories isn’t obvious to me. Are you saying that the question of gay marriage would never arise in a “mere christendom” setting, so there is no point to formulating a hypothetical response?

  6. Jonathan, all laws are enforced morality.

  7. (1) From a Christian perspective, sexual immorality (adultery, fornication, sodomy, …) isn’t “just” about sacramental purity – the claim is that such things are actively destructive to both persons and society. (Don’t get me started on administrations that want to legislate on basic foodstuffs but leave drugs and sexual license (and abortion!) to personal judgement.)

    (2) Historical privilege for marriage contracts centres around their role in raising the next generation and ensuring longevity of civilisation. A “marriage” that isn’t in some sense “about children” has no particular social value over and above any other sort of contract or friendship.

    Tangent: it’s also worth noting how the concept of “inheritance” changes when one moves away from the idea of “family business”. In the modern world, the economic relationship between parent and child typically ends once the child fully leaves home. Contrast this with past ages where parent and children would often be contributing to the same economic pool from the child’s majority until the parent died or became infirm. In such a world, your inheritance isn’t getting what your parents have worked for – it’s getting a share of what *you* have worked for in their name.

  8. No, Robert, all laws are not enforced morality. The law against running red lights is entirely utilitarian; it’s more efficient for traffic to flow smoothly than it would be to have it tied up in knots so that nobody can get from one end of town to another. And please note that people traveling across town for what you would consider immoral purposes benefit just as much as those traveling for what you would consider moral purposes.

  9. “The law against running red lights is entirely utilitarian; it’s more efficient for traffic to flow smoothly than it would be to have it tied up in knots so that nobody can get from one end of town to another. ”

    “Efficiency is a good” is a kind of morality.

  10. Eric the Red light is still speaking from his naturalistic and utilitarian worldview presupposition. However, in the world he actually lives in, Eric is incorrect. The decision to employ stop lights, or stop signs, or directional lanes, is largely utilitarian, but establishing rules around those devices, and the principle of the law against running the red light, is moral. If this law were simply about utilitarian efficiency of traffic flow (as Eric suggests) then why can’t drivers run red lights in low traffic? Wouldn’t that be more efficient than sitting to wait for a stop light to cycle around?

    Clearly it’s not just about maximizing traffic flow. There are actual lives at issue, which have value (another concept lacking foundation in Eric’s worldview). So the law against running a stop light has to do with the moral concern of loving others, and doing toward others as you would have done to you. It is about compassion for the life and limb of your neighbor, should they be injured because you ran the light.

    In Eric’s naturalistic mindset, traffic flow is just a mechanical system, as are the drivers behind the wheels. Matter in motion. For him, morality really does have nothing to do with it.

  11. Jonathan wrote:
    “you seem to be bringing up homosexuality over and over again on a blog that I would hazard to guess is not read by very many people who practice it. I would be more interested to know how you would treat the sexual sins actually practiced by members of your own churches.”

    Doug has probably given attention to the homosexuality issue because it is currently an area where legal and financial privileges are being lobbied for (and won), and where Christians are being asked to surrender their moral convictions to accommodate the homosexual’s practices. This isn’t the case yet with fornicators and pedophiles.

    I imagine Doug would want to see sexual sins addressed immediately, for innocents in danger, and patiently for the rest, with plenty of space for repentance. Cultures have a lot of inertia that has to be turned, and the idea is to start where you are. The idea is not to line up as many as you can against the wall, or trap as many as you can by passing a new law. A lot of folks are encouraged and emboldened in their sexual sins by the attitudes of the culture around them, and as those attitudes change toward submission to God, you can begin to get ahead of the sexual problems with stiffer penalties and deterrents.

    Still, the law does not change the heart, it reveals sin. Only God can write His law on our heart. When God’s law is written on the hearts of the people of a culture, then it will come out in the civic laws of that culture. That kind of law maximizes freedom.

  12. Katecho, if traffic laws were about “lives at issue”, then it would be legal to run red lights if you’re on your way to do something life-affirming, but illegal to run red lights if you’re on your way to commit a murder. But this is not the case. It is illegal to run red lights regardless of where you are going and what you plan to do when you get there. And it’s for the very same reason that the law doesn’t say that you can run red lights in low traffic areas either: Pure, utilitarian efficiency. The law simply doesn’t have the resources to police things like whether the purpose of your trip is “moral” or “immoral”, nor does it want traffic court to be bogged with with red light runners claiming it was safe for them to do so and asking judges to decide whether they were right. It’s much easier to make traffic laws ethics-neutral and deal with other issues in other ways.

    Jane, efficiency is a good is a type of morality only if you define morality so broadly that it includes everything, in which case it is no longer a meaningful term. Morality can only be defined if you have non-morality to compare it to. (Note: I did not say compare it to immorality; I said to compare it to non-morality, in which morality is totally absent.) Since non-morality isn’t possible within your paradigm, your use of the term morality has no meaning within mine.

  13. By the way, here’s a question for katecho, Jane, or anyone else who wants to run with it:

    As katecho and Jane are defining morality, animals act in ways that are clearly moral. Animals sacrifice themselves for the good of their social unit and to protect their young. They do things that are efficient, which in turn benefits their social unit. So, if we are using katecho’s and Jane’s approach to morality, doesn’t their conduct put them in the category of moral agents, meaning maybe humans aren’t so special? (And, since I assume katecho and Jane are Calvinists, they can’t even claim a distinction between free will and instinct, since under a Calvinist worldview humans lack free will.)

  14. Homosexual sex has been legal for a long time just about everywhere, was effectively legal long before that, and is not part of any serious legal debate right now. And no one is trying to get any special rights to practice homosexual sex. (sorry, but marriage and sex are not synonymous) So no, I don’t by the argument that banning sodomy is anything special right now.

    Nor do I buy the argument that it makes sense for a pastor to devote his time to speaking about something just because there’s some distant relationship between that and something else the government happens to be doing. Especially not when the alternative is a whole list of things that his own readers are doing all the time.

    And yes, all laws are pseudo-moral in some way. That still leaves a huge difference between laws that are intended to protect a victim, laws that are intended to improve society, and laws that simply cast a judgment on the immorality of the perpetrator. I could go on a long time about this, but it is so far removed from my actual question that I’ll stop there.

    Pastor Wilson, do you have any desire to address my actual question?

  15. (Sorry if that came off a little strong at the end there. I meant just to redirect the focus to the question I asked and Trent seconded. I didn’t mean to imply that you were avoiding the question – you haven’t had much time to respond yet.)

  16. Eric the Red,

    First, nice to see you :)

    Second, you asked, “So, if we are using katecho’s and Jane’s approach to morality, doesn’t their conduct put them in the category of moral agents, meaning maybe humans aren’t so special?”

    Not if their “approach to morality” is one drawn from the Bible. Which at this point, Eric, should be quite plain to you. It’s been stated quite explicitly, to you, multiple times.

  17. Eric the Red,

    Even a “malum prohibitum” implies “malum,” taken simpliciter. It may only be evil because it is forbidden, but the force of law is based on the idea that it can be punished because actually an evil of some type, therefore there is morality encoded in even so apparently innocuous of a law.

    Cordially,
    Iohannes

  18. Jonathan,

    Out of sheer curiosity, what is your alignment/religion/non-religion? (Christian, non-Christian, atheist, agnostic, etc)

  19. Eric,

    But it IS legal for some to run red lights when taking care of some life-affirming issue. This happens all the time with ambulances, firefighters, police, etc. And of course, in simpler times, there are stories of police escorts through traffic when there is a woman in urgent labor.

  20. ” (And, since I assume katecho and Jane are Calvinists, they can’t even claim a distinction between free will and instinct, since under a Calvinist worldview humans lack free will.)”

    Calvinism holds that humans lack free will, in the sense that we lack a will that is free. It does not hold that we lack any sort of deliberative will whatsoever, as distinct from instinct.

    As for the rest, others have made any point that I might have.

  21. ” That still leaves a huge difference between laws that are intended to protect a victim, laws that are intended to improve society, and laws that simply cast a judgment on the immorality of the perpetrator. ”

    I’d be interested in an example of the last that is not actually also an example of one or both of the other categories.

  22. Jonathan,

    I’ll let Rev. Wilson answer for himself as he cares to, but here’s my $0.02 on your original question, which Trent seconded. I’ve been reading Wilson for some years now off and on. I’ve listened to maybe 150 of his sermons over the past 5 years, along with a variety of conferences, lectures, and debates. Wilson has made a point of speaking sharply against all forms of sexual sin, and he has done so repeatedly — and he’s done it here on the blog, too. The pastoral job you’re concerned about is getting done, never fear.

    But pastors live in a society as well as in a church. In the church it is our calling to speak to the church’s favorite sins. In the public square, it is our job to speak to the society’s favorite sins. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, and as a long-term (albeit distant) observe of Wilson’s ministry, I can assure you that both are being done.

  23. Tim – I think that premarital sex, extramarital sex, divorce, lust, etc. (masturbation?) are far more society’s “favorite sins” than homosexual sex, considering that a far higher proportion of all of society (not just Christians or even Reformed Christians) celebrates, practices, allows, or even tolerates them. And I’m also guessing that you could track the blog back in time and find 3 posts attacking anyone who practices homosexual sex for every post attacking any specific sin practiced by those practicing heterosexual sex. Even though the latter is probably occurring five times more often than the former in our nation, and maybe fifty times more often among this blog’s readers.

    Of course, whether or not Doug fulfills my request about the heterosexual sin policies of his future Christiandom will make a point in itself. Either he’s already done it in detail, and all the answers can be clearly referenced already, or he’ll do it now. But if he’s never done it, and won’t do it, even though I’ve now seen him point out specifically that homosexual sex would be banned at least twice and I think more than that…I do believe that is indicative of something.

    Matthias – I have seen more than one person going by “Jonathan” in the comments to this blog, so maybe you haven’t noticed how often it was me particularly posting. But I think I’ve made clear several times before that I am a deeply committed Christian who devotes his life to Christian ministry.

  24. Jonathan,

    I hadn’t noticed before. My apologies. Thanks for answering my question.

  25. The list of things that Jonathan doesn’t want Doug talking about continues to swell. Economics, science, evolution, homosexuality, etc, etc, etc. I’m beginning to detect a theme.

    Perhaps it would be easier for Jonathan to provide a list of the things that Doug is allowed to talk about?

    Doug proclaims the gospel which is public and reaches into everything — the Christ who is public Lord and public King. Such truths are highly offensive to many, including many Christians, who prefer relativistic and subjective and private religion. The public gospel is the kind that makes a certain type of person want to silence the messenger. Where Paul preached, they broke out in riots or in revival. It wasn’t because Paul was just trying to yank everyone’s chain. Paul was simply proclaiming the public implications of Christ being ascended to His throne.

    Should Jonathan be concerned that his posts on the various topics have caused some guests to be sincerely uncertain which worldview he is coming from?

  26. Eric the Red wrote:
    “As katecho and Jane are defining morality, animals act in ways that are clearly moral. Animals sacrifice themselves for the good of their social unit and to protect their young.”

    Firstly, I’m not aware of anything in Scripture that requires us to view all animals as amoral. That seems like an Eric the Red Herring. The uniqueness of mankind is in our being created to grow from glory to glory to be image bearers of God. That is, to mature to act like God would act in the world. This looks like dominion, and judging/discerning good and evil, and creation/creativity, and glorification of God. No matter what individual characteristics of God the various members of the animal world reflect (and they do reflect them to some degree), it was only mankind that was created with the explicit role as God’s image bearer.

    However, it’s strangely twisted that Eric the Red thinks it is so obvious that animals are acting morally (that they “sacrifice” themselves for their young, etc.), yet Eric can’t see any morality in a law against running a red light. Perhaps Eric needs to report for deprogramming by reading the amoral evolutionary accounts of animal behavior toward their offspring. He can start with The Selfish Gene, by Dawkins. It’s not about abstractions like morality, but about raw mechanical instinct and DNA. DNA is like the virus that blindly propagates itself, and the mother zebra dying prior to its young is just a high order illusion that something was consciously deliberated.

    Eric wants to ascribe such a noble and poetic notion as “sacrifice” to what his own naturalistic dogma asserts is but a mere act of genetic propagation and pre-programmed survival instinct. How ironic.

  27. Matthias, yes, I understand that the Bible declares humans to be different, but that is simply an appeal to authority. When, as here, the Bible proclaims something that is so completely at variance with the observable way the world actually operates, you have to do better than simply say, “It’s in the Bible.” If there were a verse in the Bible that says that 2+2=6, would you simply declare all mathematicians to be wrong, or would you at least try to come up with some plausible explanation for the apparent discrepancy?

    Iohannes, there are utilitarian reasons for forbidding some acts that are not necessarily moral issues. For example, it’s not immoral in and of itself to mail explosives, but I can think of a great many utilitarian reasons why the Postal Service may not wish to handle them, and may make a rule about it. (Not sure without looking it up if there’s actually a federal statute against mailing explosives; my suspicion without looking it up is that there is.) And the fact that someone here may be able to make a strained argument that it’s about loving your neighbor doesn’t change the fact that that rule is primarily utilitarian.

    Jane, I don’t believe in free will, and my non-theistic determinism is basically Calvinism for atheists, just as Calvinism is basically determinism for theists. You believe God makes your major life decisions; I believe you major life decisions are largely controlled by your biochemistry. If I offer my cat a choice between tuna and broccoli, she’s always going to choose the tuna, but it’s her feline nature making the choice. So, that being the case, I’m not sure there’s much of a qualitative difference between a mother cat defending her kittens from a predator, or a mother human defending her baby from a predator. In both cases, the amoral thing to do would be for the mother to save her own skin by abandoning her babies, but that’s not what either of them will do. So, it seems to me that by whatever yardstick you call humans moral agents, it probably applies to animals too.

  28. Katecho, the thing in Scripture that precludes animals from having a moral nature is that (1) they aren’t image bearers and (2) that was what made them suitable for use as sin offerings in the Old Testament. If animals were moral agents, then the lamb on the altar would be dying for its own sins, and not for the sins of the human on whose behalf it was slain. But since a lamb hasn’t got a moral nature, it is sinless, and therefore an appropriate sacrifice.

  29. “Eric wants to ascribe such a noble and poetic notion as “sacrifice” to what his own naturalistic dogma asserts is but a mere act of genetic propagation and pre-programmed survival instinct. How ironic.”

    Since Katecho posted that without having the benefit of my 2:22 p.m. comment and I assume my comments there clear up the confusion in his (her?) mind that I ascribe moral agency to animals.

  30. Eric the Red wrote:
    “Katecho, the thing in Scripture that precludes animals from having a moral nature is that (1) they aren’t image bearers and (2) that was what made them suitable for use as sin offerings in the Old Testament. If animals were moral agents, then the lamb on the altar would be dying for its own sins, and not for the sins of the human on whose behalf it was slain. But since a lamb hasn’t got a moral nature, it is sinless, and therefore an appropriate sacrifice.”

    I guess Eric is an authority on Scripture now, but I’m curious why not being the image bearer of God precludes animals from having at least moral instincts? If we, as explicit image bearers of God, have emotions, does that mean that animals can’t have emotions? What if we have two eyes? Can they not have two eyes? I don’t follow Eric’s reasoning at all, and somehow he neglected to give a verse reference for this preclusion theory. He just asserted it. Can angels have moral awareness if they do not have the role of image bearer? Eric seems too eager to tell us what can and can’t be, in order to assume that we have a problem.

    Eric also neglected to give any Scriptural reference for the second half of his theory, but it is just as full of beans and leaps of logic. What laws has God applied to animals to render them in sin? If there are no (or few) prohibitions binding on animals, why couldn’t an animal be morally aware AND sinless? Christ was morally aware and was sinless. The two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive. So how is Eric justified in leaping to his conclusion?

    Notice that I need not make any argument that animals actually are morally aware. I think that debate is still a complete red herring on Eric’s part. If animals do have a kind of moral awareness, it would seem to be at the level of instinct. I simply wanted to call out how Eric anthropomorphizes animals to the extent of ascribing the full blown concept of “sacrifice” to their actions — as if an animal knew what atonement or substitutionary self-sacrifice meant. Eric is able to “see” moral awareness in them far above the level of instinct, yet he can’t recognize anything of due moral consideration within the law against running red lights. It’s quite ironic.

  31. Eric the Red wrote:
    “Since Katecho posted that without having the benefit of my 2:22 p.m. comment and I assume my comments there clear up the confusion in his (her?) mind that I ascribe moral agency to animals.”

    I am not confused THAT Eric ascribes moral agency to animals. I’m just observing the irony of it, given his naturalism and his stated commitment to materialistic determinism:

    “I believe you major life decisions are largely controlled by your biochemistry.”

    I’m curious which of Eric’s decisions AREN’T controlled by his biochemistry? How is Eric able to suspend the biochemistry of even one of his neurons in order to free it up to make even a minor life decision?

    I suspect the reason that Eric can see only deterministic utilitarian function in the rise of traffic laws is because of his atheistic worldview. As an unfortunate consequence, he really hasn’t got a choice. At least not a rational one that is consistent with his determinism. Perhaps he thinks that animals are laying down their lives for each other in acts of atoning love because his biochemistry makes him?

    It’s time to repent of atheism and be free.

  32. Eric the Red wrote:
    “For example, it’s not immoral in and of itself to mail explosives, but I can think of a great many utilitarian reasons why the Postal Service may not wish to handle them, and may make a rule about it. (Not sure without looking it up if there’s actually a federal statute against mailing explosives; my suspicion without looking it up is that there is.) And the fact that someone here may be able to make a strained argument that it’s about loving your neighbor doesn’t change the fact that that rule is primarily utilitarian.”

    Where does Eric get his case examples? Perhaps the best reason Eric could have given for not mailing explosives is so that he might not have shot his own argument in the foot.

    Eric is right that there is no absolute moral evil in mailing explosives, but moral considerations call for skilled handling, as opposed to standard handling by the postal service.

    If a package is sealed, the postal service experiences no utilitarian distinction between one package and another. It’s all boxes to them. They go by weight and dimensions. What’s inside makes no utilitarian difference to them. So why would they care to restrict explosives? Not because of the utility of handling the box, as Eric asserts, but because explosives are often unstable and have the potential to come out of their box with force and without warning. Concern for life, limb and property are the primary basis for their general restriction against handling explosives, and this is a fundamentally moral consideration.

    As Doug has observed many times, the question is not whether the civic law will be moral, but which morality will be its foundation. May God help the generation that gets materialistic determinists and utilitarians in Congress.

  33. Eric the Red,

    Your assumption is that morality only deals with “malum in se,” things evil in and of themselves, whereas the category of “malum prohibitum,” or things that are evil because they are forbidden, falls under something called utilitarianism and not morality. The assumption can be quite easily undermined by this question: do we have an obligation not to do things that are only malum prohibitum, not malum in se? If so, we are still dealing with the inescapable morality of law, whether the justifications for those laws are deontological or utilitarian in nature.

    Cordially,
    Iohannes

  34. Eric the Red If there were a verse in the Bible that says that 2+2=6, would you simply declare all mathematicians to be wrong, or would you at least try to come up with some plausible explanation for the apparent discrepancy?

    There are many verses in the Bible like this—deductive mathematical and logical problems.

    God gave us the ability to reason and know the difference between that which is necessarily true and that which is claimed or observed to be true. Plausible explanations are the rule of the day; though this is usually after establishing exactly what is said which is not infrequently different from what is assumed to be said.

  35. Katecho says: “The list of things that Jonathan doesn’t want Doug talking about continues to swell. Economics, science, evolution, homosexuality, etc, etc, etc. I’m beginning to detect a theme.

    Perhaps it would be easier for Jonathan to provide a list of the things that Doug is allowed to talk about?”

    Katecho, I will ask you kindly to please address comments to me, instead of the audience. It would help me feel better and would not take anything away from you.

    Your declaration that I do not want Doug talking about those things is completely false. I said that philosophers and theologians should certainly talk about evolution and science, for there is certainly a philosophical/theological side to that, and it is one that certain prominent atheistic evolutionists have gotten wrong. Ironically, one of the reasons they’ve gotten it wrong is because some scientists who are ignorant of theology have made ridiculous theological claims, believing that being experts in one field qualified them to know a great deal about the other. Regarding Pastor Wilson, I simply said that he should leave the scientific claims of veracity to those who understand them. Augustine said the exact same thing to Christians who were not trained in the sciences 1700 years ago, and the increasing complexity of the knowledge we have today makes that all the more true.

    I certainly do believe that it is Doug’s right to talk about homosexuality. I asked why he speaks on it so much more than he speaks about specific heterosexual sins, and describes judgement regarding it in greater detail.

    I’m not sure what you’re referring to regarding economics. In fact, in one sense I wish he would speak about it more right now, since the main statement that I’ve made several times regarding his assertions on economics has still gone unaddressed.

  36. Jonathan,

    I think we may operating with two different definitions of “society’s favorite sins.” Your angle speaks to which sins are being committed most, and of course you’re completely right — in terms of sheer volume, fornication, adultery, pornography and lust have definitely cornered the market. Homosexuality doesn’t even come close. As I said, I believe Wilson is addressing all these things, and doing it pretty well. His critique of those sins runs from his fiction (Evangellyfish) through his preaching and conference speaking, and right on into his nonfiction writing, where whole books have been devoted to being faithful to one’s spouse (Fidelity comes to mind).

    But I think there’s another angle on “society’s favorite sins” that’s also worth exploring; sheer volume is not the only meaningful measure. Some sins and some sinners, while perhaps rarer than the common sort, are nonetheless accorded special favor and public recognition, and when this happens, it must be recognized and addressed. In the present public square, homosexuality is the darling of sexual sins; that’s where the discussion is. Christians certainly ought to join the discussion, which Wilson is doing — and if they don’t want us to talk about it so much, then they oughtn’t to celebrate it so much.

    Now it’s certainly possible to get out of whack pastorally, and end up with a ministry focused on “bravely” condemning the sins of those not present while failing to speak to the sins right in front of your nose. But it’s also possible to get out of whack pastorally by speaking to the sins inside the four walls of the church building, where rebuking sin is part of the accepted mode of discourse, and failing to step up to the microphone in the public square, where they have a tendency to riot and throw things when you rebuke their sin. Either error can be myopia at best, or cowardice at worst. The goal, as always in following Jesus, is to find the narrow road between the ditches on either side.

    Speaking as a pastor myself, I also want to add that not every minister is called to the same balance of in-house and public-square pastoral ministry. As I grow older and more experienced, I also find that I’m more reluctant to feel assured that I know what that balance should be in someone else’s ministry.

  37. Would a Christian future need more civil laws? The bible seems to say the opposite.

    “But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”" (Jeremiah 31:33-34)

    Would not a Christian future have less civil laws based on this passage? Isn’t the problem with libertarianism that it is premature (not that it is Pollyanna)?

    It seems to me that even today most vices are not committed based on their legality but based on the heart condition of the actor. Adultery, drug use, and gambling have various levels of legality in various locations throughout the nation and the world and yet the participation in these things seems to be restricted among the devout – independent of civil laws.

  38. Katecho, for the third time now, I don’t ascribe moral agency to animals, and if your reading comprehension skills are so bad that you’re still claiming I do, then we have little to talk about. I think they act on the basis of their deterministic instincts, and the only major difference between a cat defending her kittens and a human mother defending her young is that the human has a bigger brain and therefore a better grasp of why she’d doing what she’s doing.

    Iohannes, if you’re defining “obligation” as I think you are, then you have no obligation to do anything and it’s simply a matter of accepting that there are practical consequences to whatever you do or don’t do. Society, however, has the right to acknowledge that your acts have consequences beyond you, and to tell you that if you engage in some act that is malum prohibidum, it will impose consequences on you. See, i.e., traffic laws.

    And that is our central point of disagreement: I will admit that by the definitions and premises you have adopted, your conclusions follow. But those definitions and premises are result-oriented, just like Islam defining “peace ” as “lack of opposition to Islam.” But the rest of the world is under no obligation to accept your result-oriented definitions.

  39. Tim Nichols – which is the greater sin, to have sex with another man, or to openly deny Christ and refuse to follow him?

    I have never expected society at large to follow my Christ-given morality. Heck, I expect society to protect other people’s rights to worship Krishna, to follow Mohammed, to pledge allegiance to Jehovah yet rebuke and deny Christ, and to claim that Christ came to America and to write another holy book about it. I expect people throughout the society to lie in certain ways, to hate in other ways, to lust after whoever they are sexually attracted to, and to have sex outside the bounds of marriage, even with others of the same sex. And I’m not going to believe that any of those things will stop happening in hearts that haven’t even made the basic step of committing to Christ. I especially don’t believe that Christ’s moral law can be enforced by a civic law in lieu of a heart change.

    I will fight for every effort in society to protect the weak. I believe that one of our calls as followers of God is to ensure that widows, orphans, strangers, children, the sick, the elderly, and the poor are all taken care of in some manner, and I believe that the strand running through all of that is the clear stance Christ made to stand on the side of the vulnerable. But I believe in those things because I love the victims, not because I believe that force can change the hearts of the perpetrators. I don’t believe we can use the power of civic law to punish those who don’t hold our own moral views. Hearts are not changed by civic law. I don’t mind passing laws against rape and murder to protect the victims of rape and murder. But I’m not going to pass laws banning someone from being a Buddhist or demanding allegiance to Christ. Worship doesn’t work that way. In fact, in states where certain forms of worship have been mandated, the effect has only been to dilute true worship of God, which is conducted out of response to the Holy Spirit, not out of response to the magistrate. That was one of the founding principles of this country, and one reason why worship of God has thrived here while it stagnated in the presence of so many State Churches.

    That exposes the Big Lie of this anti-homosexual campaign. This whole effort isn’t being made for the benefit of homosexual persons at all. Anti-sodomy laws didn’t make those who desired to practice homosexuality holy any more than Church rule of government gave the typical citizen a relationship with God. When Pastor Wilson laments the end of anti-sodomy codes, he is not doing anything that is going to reduce homosexual lust in a single person. It’s a pep talk to the heterosexual faithful, a dividing line to distinguish “us” from “them”, a way to focus on the sins of “this corrupt society” rather than the sins happening among our own.

  40. Jonathan wrote:
    “I especially don’t believe that Christ’s moral law can be enforced by a civic law in lieu of a heart change.”

    Wilson has consistently expressed a bottom up Gospel approach to legal reform for years. Yet somehow Jonathan still wants to paint Wilson’s recent blog posts as some sort of top-down anti-homosexual campaign. That’s rich. I would have expected that distortion tactic from the unbelievers though, not from Jonathan. Jonathan seems to have completely lost touch with what Wilson has been saying.

    Doug wrote:
    “So the arrival of mere Christendom will therefore be convulsive — but it won’t be a legal revolution. It will be a great reformation and revival — it will happen the same way the early Christians conquered Rome. Their program of conquest consisted largely of two elements — gospel preaching and being eaten by lions”

    The problem is that Jonathan seems to be opposed to Christendom in any form.

    Jonathan wrote:
    “That exposes the Big Lie of this anti-homosexual campaign. This whole effort isn’t being made for the benefit of homosexual persons at all. Anti-sodomy laws didn’t make those who desired to practice homosexuality holy any more than Church rule of government gave the typical citizen a relationship with God. When Pastor Wilson laments the end of anti-sodomy codes, he is not doing anything that is going to reduce homosexual lust in a single person.”

    Talk about a desperate need for some “critical distance”.

    Does Jonathan also think that those who speak in defense of the unborn are just part of an anti-abortionist campaign? Does Jonathan think that, even in a Christian culture, we should never employ civic laws to defend the unborn from those who don’t hold our moral views?

    What we want is to see the culture changed from the bottom all the way up, through the Gospel, and then for the civic laws to reflect that reality by honoring God and getting ahead of the abortionist and homosexual agenda. This is not because we hate, but because we have compassion for those who are involved in such self-destructive behavior, and for the culture as a whole. In other words, abortion and homosexual acts are not victimless, as Jonathan seems to be supposing.

    Jonathan portrays the Christian faith as a tribal affair, with no authority in the public square. Jesus is King of us, but not King of kings, apparently. This is the typical modern two kingdom view that has gotten the Church where it is today. Jonathan has prepared his Christian ghetto and yet wants to chastise anyone who dares wander out in public to speak truth and repentance to the nations, to see the nations discipled to Christ.

    Jonathan needs a refresher from Psalm 2. There are indeed expectations upon the rebellious kings of the earth. They are expected to bow and acknowledge Christ as their King, or perish in the way. We are not the enforcers of this mandate, but we are messengers of it. All of Jonathan’s chastisements notwithstanding.

  41. Eric the Red wrote:
    “Katecho, for the third time now, I don’t ascribe moral agency to animals, and if your reading comprehension skills are so bad that you’re still claiming I do, then we have little to talk about.”

    I’ll accept some of the blame, but I’m afraid I’m going to have to assign the bulk of the failure to communicate to Eric this time.

    Eric wrote:
    “Animals sacrifice themselves for the good of their social unit and to protect their young.”

    This was Eric’s original claim, not mine. Ascribing moral awareness of the abstract concept of sacrifice to an animal is Eric’s anthropomorphism, not anyone else’s. If he didn’t mean to own it, he should have said so. If Eric meant to suggest “you think that animals sacrifice themselves”, then he should have made his attempt to put words in my mouth more clear.

    Later, Eric reasons:
    “So, that being the case, I’m not sure there’s much of a qualitative difference between a mother cat defending her kittens from a predator, or a mother human defending her baby from a predator. In both cases, the amoral thing to do would be for the mother to save her own skin by abandoning her babies, but that’s not what either of them will do.”
    [emphasis mine]

    Eric is describing his own thought processes above, but was apparently intending to project it onto me the whole time. He says that he’s “not sure” there is any difference between human and animal mothers. That’s his core presupposition, and whatever conclusions he draws from that presupposition are his, not mine. He then declares that neither mother will do “the amoral thing”, logically implying that both will do the moral thing (thus making them both moral agents). This is his reasoning process, supplied by him, not by me. But apparently Eric intended this to have been read as if it was katecho’s thought process rather than his own. Eric should consider not using the first person tense as the backdrop when trying to put words in other peoples’ mouth.

    Eric concludes:
    “So, it seems to me that by whatever yardstick you call humans moral agents, it probably applies to animals too.”

    Notice the phrase “seems to me”, and the phrase “whatever yardstick”. Since Eric says “whatever yardstick”, then it doesn’t matter what yardstick of moral agency Jane or I used, it would still “seem to Eric” that it probably applies to animals too. That’s how English works. Apparently Eric is just not very good at projecting when he means to ascribe his arguments to other people. In retrospect, Eric seems to have intended to write something about someone else, such as:

    “It seems to you that by your specific moral yardstick for moral agency, it would apply to animals too”.

    But instead it came out as:

    “It seems to me that regardless of whatever yardstick you use to call humans moral agents, it applies to animals too.”

    The sad part is that, given Eric’s presupposition that mankind is not distinct from an animal, it really doesn’t matter what yardstick you or I use for morality or amorality, Eric must force both animals and man into the same definitions. As he has said, his philosophy doesn’t provide him a basis for choice in the matter. Are animals amoral? Then so is man. Is man moral, by “whatever yardstick”? Then so are animals. And round and round we go. Words quickly become useless. Nihilism comes knocking.

  42. Eric the Red,

    So, I don’t have any obligation to obey a malum prohibitum, but society can still impose its morality on me? Sounds pretty fascist, dude.

    Cordially,
    Iohannes

  43. “Yet somehow Jonathan still wants to paint Wilson’s recent blog posts as some sort of top-down anti-homosexual campaign. That’s rich. I would have expected that distortion tactic from the unbelievers though, not from Jonathan.”

    Since that’s the third time you’ve made that exact statement about me in a blog comment, and since you have compared me to an unbeliever in several other ways on this blog, it would seem that you actually do expect that from me.

    It also is a little silly to say, since, as many other great Christians have testified, being a believer doesn’t actually prove that you’ve dropped any particular negative character trait. Even outright lies can come out of a believer’s mouth.

    So drop the silly rhetoric. I’m not an unbeliever, and it doesn’t help anyone to keep comparing me to one. Instead of being talking about, I’d prefer to have a conversation with you. Speak back to me. All the stuff you say for the audience isn’t getting us anywhere.

  44. Katecho says; “Does Jonathan also think that those who speak in defense of the unborn are just part of an anti-abortionist campaign? Does Jonathan think that, even in a Christian culture, we should never employ civic laws to defend the unborn from those who don’t hold our moral views?”

    You notice how you just said, “In defense of the unborn”?

    Now try to complete the sentence, “Those who speak in defense of the ______ are just part of an anti-homosexual campaign.”

    The problem is, they are rarely speaking “in defense” of anyone.

    That’s the critical distinction here. There are anti-abortion campaigns that are focused on the defense of the unborn. I fully support those. I believe that the act of abortion is a moral wrong by the perpetrator as well, but it is the love for the victim who has no say that gives is a different kind of status.

    “In other words, abortion and homosexual acts are not victimless, as Jonathan seems to be supposing.”

    I have never, in any way whatsoever, implied that abortion was victimless. You are making that up.

    I also don’t believe that homosexual acts are victimless. However, the victims are willing participants in the acts. That gives it quite a different status in my eyes than abortion.

    Also, in abortions, the baby dies. I hope you realize why that should result in a categorically different legal status than the far more subtle harm caused by voluntary sexual acts.

    “Jonathan portrays the Christian faith as a tribal affair, with no authority in the public square. Jesus is King of us, but not King of kings, apparently. This is the typical modern two kingdom view that has gotten the Church where it is today. Jonathan has prepared his Christian ghetto and yet wants to chastise anyone who dares wander out in public to speak truth and repentance to the nations, to see the nations discipled to Christ.

    Jonathan needs a refresher from Psalm 2. There are indeed expectations upon the rebellious kings of the earth. They are expected to bow and acknowledge Christ as their King, or perish in the way. We are not the enforcers of this mandate, but we are messengers of it. All of Jonathan’s chastisements notwithstanding.”

    Again, that’s all completely made up. I am an enormous advocate of speaking Christ’s truth into the public square.

    “Jonathan has prepared his Christian ghetto and yet wants to chastise anyone who dares wander out in public to speak truth and repentance to the nations, to see the nations discipled to Christ.”

    That is a ridiculous lie. Katecho, did you just forget what I do for a living, or are you only trying to speak to the people who don’t know?

    “We are not the enforcers of this mandate, but we are messengers of it.”

    Yes, messengers, not enforcers. God has made it clear that He is in charge of all the enforcing of obedience. Hasn’t that been my whole point?

  45. Katecho, you continue to frequently claim I say things that I have never said. I’ve already had to ask you several times to only makes claims about me that you can quote. In fact, I made that request, not for the first time, quite recently.

    I’m going to ask you again. Don’t say things like “Jonathan has prepared” or “Jonathan portrays” or “Jonathan seems to be supposing” unless you have actual quotes that match the claims you are making about me. I ask this because you have made false claims about me over and over and over again. I don’t know if it is bad memory or bad logical progression that is at fault, but both would be stymied if you simply limited yourself to making accusations that can be directly supported by quotes.

    And, just to make it even easier, please address me directly. If you start saying things to me, it might make it easier to keep the comments within the realm of things that actually have something to do with me.

    Besides, most of the people who read these blog comments are fairly smart, right? So if you really believe that the logical leaps you make about me are true, can you trust them to make those same leaps on their own?

  46. ” Anti-sodomy laws didn’t make those who desired to practice homosexuality holy”

    And…
    - Anti-abortion laws didn’t make those who desired to practice abortion holy
    - Anti-theft laws didn’t make those who desired to practice theft holy
    - Anti-murder laws didn’t make those who desired to murder holy

    So where do you stand on the law in general and where should it be applied? I dont think you will find anyone here who believes that the law will bring anyone to Christ, yet you are OK misrepresenting them and falsely accusing them of such things.

    “I also don’t believe that homosexual acts are victimless. However, the victims are willing participants in the acts. That gives it quite a different status in my eyes than abortion.”

    You seem to draw the line at consent, so as long as all the participants consent to the activity it should be immune to the enforcement of law. Experience says otherwise. Look at the vast amounts of damage done to society when the laws governing infidelity, adultery, and promiscuousness have been been replaced with the law of consent. The harm done to women, children, and families has been incalculable. Even the idea of shaming such activities has been made taboo to the point that not only should we not shame the adulterous or promiscuous, but that we should approve of such activity. The moment anyone tries to point out the obvious they are accused of having an agenda or trying to divide people and being a bigot.

    You are right that passing laws will not advance the Gospel or bring people to Christ, but the law does serve a purpose. Romans 2:20 – “… through the law comes knowledge of sin.” This is exactly what we are seeing with this current debate on gay-marriage. Not only are we told that gay-marriage is a right but that homosexuality itself is not sinful. The latter brought about the former. Once society does not view homosexuality as sinful, but as normal, then gay-marriage is the logical next step and inevitable. What is worse is those who profess to believe in Christ have bought this lie.

    So the law shows us what is just and good, and our inability to keep the law shows us our need for a Savior.

  47. Jonathan,

    I repeat, speaking to the sins of the society, and speaking of them as sins, is part of the central calling of the gospel ministry. Ask Amos (of “cows of Bahshan” fame).

    Refusal to do this is one of the besetting sins of our own kind. Granting that Wilson has pitched his voice so that it can be heard in the CBA exhibitor’s hall as well as at the local Pride parade, what’s your point? This is just a matter of leading by example.

  48. David R has very nicely captured the point I was attempting to make. Also, Doug has consistently stated that he isn’t trying to lead with a bunch of new laws, but that in Christendom (as God’s will is progressively being done on earth as in heaven), the civic law will look like it is being redeemed also, and that means homosexual acts and abortion, etc, would not be permitted.

    Jonathan has falsely accused Wilson of hatred, and of being involved in the “Big Lie” of an anti-homosexual campaign. When Wilson says that homosexuality would be illegal, Jonathan apparently assumes the worst of Doug and envisions the death penalty and firing squads at the first offense. But I don’t recall Wilson describing what the maximum penalty might be, or how many offenses it might take to get there. Jonathan seems to have gotten increasingly shrill anyway, and it says more about Jonathan than about Wilson. Jonathan’s “anti-homosexual campaign” rhetoric against Wilson is precisely the same as the “anti-abortion campaign” rhetoric that unbelievers use, and makes the same error.

    Jonathan wrote:
    “I don’t believe we can use the power of civic law to punish those who don’t hold our own moral views.”

    Jonathan’s view of civic law seems to coincide with that of Secular Humanism, such that the principles of God’s laws are seen as invalid in the civic realm. Jonathan browbeats Wilson for speaking publicly on an issue that Jonathan apparently sees as routine and expected behavior for unbelievers. However, just like the secularist, Jonathan assumes that there is some neutral morality that should apply regardless of worldview, such as defending the weak. He doesn’t clarify why that notion should be obligatory on anyone, particularly those who come from a Darwinian surivival-of-the-fittest mentality.

  49. Jonathan wrote:
    “Katecho, I will ask you kindly to please address comments to me, instead of the audience. It would help me feel better and would not take anything away from you.”

    Jonathan sets himself up as Doug’s opponent at every turn and tries to paint Wilson with as foul a brush as he can, yet it is still about Jonathan’s feelings?

    It would make me feel better if Jonathan would stick to the content of the issues instead of the form. So should I start behaving like a wounded puppy now? It’s juvenile.

    Use of third person is common in such settings in order to keep “critical distance”. It is not a sign of disrespect to anyone, and I don’t reserve it for Jonathan. Jonathan is a champion of the rights of the offended of every camp, including his own personal camp, but Christian charity does not require us to submit to manipulation by a string of arbitrary offenses. My conscience is not distressed about it.

  50. “” Anti-sodomy laws didn’t make those who desired to practice homosexuality holy”

    And…
    - Anti-abortion laws didn’t make those who desired to practice abortion holy
    - Anti-theft laws didn’t make those who desired to practice theft holy
    - Anti-murder laws didn’t make those who desired to murder holy”

    David, don’t you see the point there?

    Anti-abortion laws would be made to protect the babies, the victims of abortion.
    Anti-theft laws would be made to protect the targets, the victims of theft.
    Anti-murder laws would be made to protect the potential dead, the victims of murder.

    Anti-homosexuality laws are made to protect…?

    As far as what you have that follows after that, I think you have a quite different reading of history than me. You seem to state that you know that there was a removal of certain laws that then actually caused a change in society (as opposed to simply being correlated with it), and that the new state is worse than the previous one. I don’t think either of those assumptions is valid.

    “You are right that passing laws will not advance the Gospel or bring people to Christ, but the law does serve a purpose. Romans 2:20 – “… through the law comes knowledge of sin.” ”

    Please, tell me you realize that you are conflating two different types of “law” that do not mean the same thing at all.

  51. Katecho, nothing that you have ever written has made me worry in the least that your conscious was being distressed.

    I’d prefer that any comments you meant towards me were addressed towards me. Since I don’t see how the “critical distance” you speak of here has helped you, nor do I see anyone else following in your example, I won’t do it myself. And I won’t continue dialog with you as long as you do, because there is no “dialog” there.

    I’ll simply note that you yet again misrepresent me several more times. At this point, though, I think anyone else reading these threads (especially the other one covering the same topics) can see through your misrepresentation, and so I’ll leave it here.

  52. “Anti-homosexuality laws are made to protect…?”

    Anti-incest laws are made to protect…?
    Anti-polygamy are made to protect…?

  53. Anti-anything laws are made to … inform, mainly. Whatsoever things that are healthy and holy.
    Break good laws and you become broken and less good.

  54. I can’t get myself all hopped up and motivated to work for a temporary mere Christendom that will hold court sometime down the line for a while for a few folks come sometime, even if they be my own great-great-great-great-great grand kin.

    I want a mere Christendom that worked for Eve, Abel, Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Hezekiah, Lazarus, Augustine. And that still works just fine for Wilson, Eric and our grandchillens.

    I don’t think righteous Abel was looking to a future temporary time of relatively less pervasive sin.

  55. I believe that anti-incest laws are mainly written to protect child victims of incest (including ones who are technically over the age of consent but are in a position of weakness due to the abuse being done by a parent). In that sense they’re similar to laws against teachers having sex with students, even those over the age of consent.

    But I believe that anti-incest laws are also supposed to have a secondary effect of protecting children who may be born with serious birth defects and suffering in the case of an incestuous pregnancy. I believe that the fear of hideous birth defects is at least one strong motivator behind the laws.

    As far as anti-polygamy laws, those are meant to protect women. Again, whether you want to dispute whether this is true in practice or not, the societal impression is that polygamous communities oppress women and severely reduce their ability to consent to marriage.

  56. Jonathan, thanks for the response.

    Anti-incest laws go back a long time, well before anyone knew about genetics or DNA, so fear of hideous birth defects and the like were not the impetus for these laws. Birth defects, in fact, are a red herring in this argument, since things such as alcohol consumption and genetic inheritance have a much greater impact on birth defects and no one is considering denying couples with down’s syndrome, ALS, or any other inheritable condition from marrying or conceiving.

    You mentioned parent-child relationships, which does have positional issues like you stated, but what about brother and sister, where no such power struggle exists?

    One of the main reasons incest laws exists is to protect the family and society at large. No one wants the family to become a den of lust that is acceptable or approved of. If now a brother can lust after his sister, or a mother for her son, then family cohesion, trust, and unity go right out the door, and society goes right with it, since the family is the bed rock of any society.

    So the harmed entity isn’t any single individual, although it could be, but a collection of individuals. Now your qualifications for when a law should be enacted is if it is used to protect a third-party from harm (please correct if I am wrong). So what if my definition of harm is different from yours or what if I say harm is being done where you see none, like in the case of homosexuality or gay-marriage. Why does your definition of harm trump mine? So it’s not a matter of whether harm or morality is used in the creation of laws, but whose definition is used.

  57. David, you’re mostly making a fairly good point.

    Knowledge of incest potentially leading to birth defects does go back much further than you think. People knew how to do selective breeding thousands of years before they knew anything about genetics, and people realized that brother-sister pairings produced more than the usual birth defects long before they knew why.

    That being said, the reasoning for a law 100s of years ago doesn’t mean the same reasoning would be used today. There are many societies which have had anti-homosexual, or anti-black, or anti-women laws for all sorts of different reasons, for example. The fact that there was one reasoning for anti-incest laws in the past does not mean that that’s the modern support for keeping the law.

    All that being said, let’s get back to homosexuality. As you say, it could be shown that homosexual sex DOES harm society, and that there SHOULD be laws against it, if that harm to society outweighs whatever harm the law would cause to individuals. I have no qualms with that, I just don’t see that argument well-made. In fact, here it is virtually never made, even though homosexuality is talked about more often than the Sermon on the Mount.

  58. […] Doug Wilson once quipped that “a great reformation and revival . . . will happen the same way the early Christians […]

  59. […] “a great reformation and revival . . . will happen the same way the early Christians conquered Rome. Their program of conquest consisted largely of two elements—gospel preaching and being eaten by lions—a strategy that has not yet captured the imagination of the contemporary church.” Doug Wilson […]

  60. […] Doug Wilson once quipped that “a great reformation and revival . . . will happen the same way the early Christians […]

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