The Scars on Your Forearms

I have heard that this post was quoted this morning by @EWErikson on the Rush Limbaugh show, so I bumped it to the top so visitors could find the whole thing more easily. Welcome, all.

I once heard a story told of Ravi Zacharias, where he was being driven around a campus where he was to speak, and in the course of the tour they went by the art museum. This museum was designed as an attempt to match the same kind of nihilism that they would hang on the walls inside — doors that didn’t open, staircases that didn’t reach the top, columns that didn’t go all the way — I don’t know the particulars, but that kind of dada stuff. Zacharias made a comment that went right to the heart of matter when he said, “I’ll bet they didn’t do the foundation like that.”

Van Til once observed that unbelieving thought has to oscillate between rationalism and irrationalism, and the inconsistency that Zacharias pointed to is an example of that. In the political realm, they usually manage the oscillation frequency by being irrational when it comes to the demands of their own lusts (personal choice must rule), and rational when they demand that Christians play by “the rules” (we must live in community). In short, we are called upon to “rationally” support their forays into insanity. We believers earn the capital of cultural rationality, which they get to spend on their various benders.

Because we are all busy trying to live quiet and peaceable lives, as the apostle instructed us, this can go on for a while before everybody wakes up and says what the heck. When this happens, it is generally true that rank and file Christians catch sight of the cockeyed nature of things sooner. This is because our leadership generally went off and got educated (which is not necessarily bad), but many of them caught a bad case of the respectability cooties, and have trouble seeing that the lunatics have taken over the asylum. That is a hard thing to see when it is covered over with multiple layers of textured nuance, the kind of nuance you can learn in grad school.

The need of the hour is Christian leadership that is willing to show some intelligent fight. As Chocolate Knox put it in a recent tweet, “Homo’s know what Christians believe there’s no secret, yet they get surprised every time they hear us say it. Time to lean in.”

Time to lean in. This is why I want to come back to the third point I made about this imbroglio yesterday. This whole thing makes me think it is some kind of reprise of the Chick Fil A uproar. Somebody strayed from the Appointed Way, the homolobby flexed in order to shut up a critic, middle America responded by buying so many metric tons of chicken sandwiches, and then sophisticated Christians sneered at this inadequate and “entirely predictable” and “red statey” response. The same thing has happened in the aftermath of Robertson’s comments. He said what he did, A&E suspended him for it, and more than a million regular folks have signed on to a “Stand With Phil” website. And, here comes the point of this post, Christian sophisticates are critical of . . . you guessed it! But this reminds me of something that D.L. Moody once said — “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

The contrast must not be between how unsophisticated Christians fight and how sophisticated Christians . . . what do they do? At most, they demur, with a throat-clearing caveat or two. Theologians and ecclesiastical eggheads can make merry over this kind of pop culture melee if they like. The material is there — “look at those rubes, standing against the principalities and powers with their duck calls, zz top beards, and chicken sammich haute cuisine, hold the mayo.”

But the lack of self-awareness in this criticism is staggering. These are shepherds who feed only themselves (Ezek. 34:2). When shepherds have neglected the flock for so long, and the wolves are ravaging them, and the sheep come up with some kind of strategy to defend themselves, and the shepherds sit up on the ridge, laughing at the tactical inadequacy of what the sheep are attempting, what shall we call that?

So what do we need? We don’t need generals. We have that. We need generals who fight. We don’t need leadership councils. We have those. We need national leaders who fight. We don’t need pretty boy preachers. We have those. We need preachers who fight. We don’t need evangelical regiments of pajamaboys. We have that. We need fight, and we need to fight with everything we have — heart, strength, and brains. All in.

Show me your forearms. Unless there are scars all over them, then I honestly don’t want to hear your views of the inadequacy of these cultural clashes (Gal. 6:17). When the barbarians are throwing their scaling ladders against the city walls, if the only defenders at the top of those walls are Chick Fil A employees in paper hats and hot grease from the deep fryer, and rednecks with their beards and shotguns, and nobody at all there from Red Brick Memorial Reformed, Rev. Forsythe P. Snodgrass, D.Min, minister, then let us be frank. We shouldn’t blame the folks who are there.

“His watchmen are blind: they are all ignorant, they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber” (Is. 56:10).

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56 comments on “The Scars on Your Forearms

  1. I love you brother, hoorah.

  2. Zacharias is a great apologist and writer.  I really enjoy him.  I remember him telling that story about the architecture.  Great line: would they build the foundation like that?  I think not.  Yes, Van Tillian presuppositional apologetics really brings out the fact that the universe is, at bottom, something of a rational affair. 
    He’s a brilliant man with a philosophical mind.  And he speaks passionately.  I wish he would write a book specifically examining each of the major Eastern belief systems with a view to apologetics.  Perhaps he has.  I’ll have to look into that. 

  3. Correction: 1.5 million. And there’s one with 1.4 million as well. Give it a few more hours and it should top 2 million :) 

  4. Doug, you’re so right and it’s so hard.

  5. Thank you for some added conviction. I read this post after having read chapters twenty-eight and twenty-nine in Lilith. May God bless you,brother. 
    -”I did not know they were cowards!”                                                                                      -”What difference does that make? The man who grounds his action on another’s cowardice, is essentially a coward himself. –I fear worse will come of it!”

  6. This was a much needed post. I hope it gets around.

  7. Doug ‘Commander’
    Awesome post

  8. Amen

  9. Excellent word, Pastor Wilson! Very strengthening. 

  10. Thank you for this strong, prophetic blog post. It is much needed in our time and I pray many pastors, like myself, will hear this call to action and respond accordingly- with heart, strength, and brains. 

  11. Standing ovation!!!

  12. Oof!—but yes!

  13. Thanks Doug! Right on the money!!

  14. Amen.  I saw a theology professor post a piece on First Things pointing out the shortcomings of Phil’s discussion of the topic.  Well, assuming there were theological shortcomings, why don’t you, theology professor, give the correct understanding from Scripture as to the issue Phil addressed rather than just telling us Phil lacks a Th.D.  St. Peter was a mere fisherman and boy did he have serious failings, but Christ chose him, not Caiaphas, to lead the early Church.

  15. Amen pastor and thank you.

  16. Ravi has told another one along the sames lines, but aimed at the way eastern religions tend to deny antithesis.  He asked his eastern friend, “When you cross the street, do you look both ways?”  “Yes,” the man replied. “You do this,” said Ravi, “because in spite of what you say with your mouth, deep down you know that it’s either the bus or you — it cannot be both.”

    Great post, Doug.

  17. AAAAAAY-MEN!!!

  18. Re Ravi, he was dining with a Hindu who was blasting either-or logic.  Ravi:  You mean we can use  Either  the either-or logic  Or  something else?   The Hindu put down his silverware and said,  Mmmmm, the antithesis does reassert itself.   So the antithesis between Godliness and fornication has reasserted itself, and the fornication culture and the fornication establishment puts her foot down, and the large moral minority doesn’t like it.  /   /   /   /   /   /   /   But note:  if the Church were showing how to do it, God wouldn’t have raised up Westboro to show us how not to do it, would He?   And if the Church weren’t full of heterosexual fornicators and divorces, would He have dusted the sulfur off of Sodom?

  19. Amen

  20. What concerns me is how frequently, and how successfully, the enemy applies the “Divide and Conquer” strategy. It would not take more than a scratch of the head to answer Paul’s question “is Christ divided?” Any old controversy will do. Any old theological dogma will do. Any old national abomination will do. Jesus says it best in Matthew 12:25b: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” Perhaps we need to go back to school and study God’s math, as taught in Leviticus 26:8, and how to use it, as taught in Joshua 23:10.

  21. The above story is laced with hate, and attempts to divide different Christian approaches. Christians claim to want a large, inclusive tent, yet often paint themselves into an unattainable corner with “my way or the highway” dogma. Much in Christian teaching  is left to interpretation, as God gave us free will to find the Truth. I don’t like this anger, this labeling of “Homo’s” and “Red-States” and such. As for the museum and foundation analogy, numerous philosophers wiser than we are have stated that we need to keep our two feet on the ground and aim our heads high into the sky, which contradicts the foundation analogy. In other words, believe, imagine, and create, but don’t forget your zip code while doing so. As a learned sesquipedalian, the author of the above article should, and probably does, know better.

  22. Nothing annoys me more than someone coming up with some kind of technicality in order to divide morally sane people on what is a rather obvious issue. “Oh, no, they go to Church of Christ, and they have some weird beliefs” and “Oh, no, he used body part language that makes me feel queezy” and “But he didn’t technically have his ‘rights’ violated” are all distractions from the real issue. 

  23. Amen!!! It pained me to read comments on FB walls of our leaders critisisms of “how Phil did it all wrong.” While they sit behind a computer scene and study their books like monks of old, never standing up for a righteous cause, instead counting the cost of a stand or acting as if it is all beneath them .    

  24. Conflicted on this. While criticism certainly accomplishes nothing, I’m not sure our victory over the principalities and powers is won by razor-sharp argumentation. We ought to speak the truth, for sure. But when the backlash comes, our true victory may be in patiently bearing all of the hatred and scorn, rather than in intellectually slaughtering our empty-headed neighbors. 

  25. Um…so let me get this straight: a blogger, circuit conference speaker, and a pastor that’s supported full time in a made-up institutional system of church welfare for an elite priesthood decides to rant on Christian sophisticates. OK…
    But I’ll put that irony aside and simply ask: What in the world are you really saying by saying we need pastors who will fight? I mean are you saying  “unleash the crusaders!” or “unleash the priesthood of bloggers and conference circuit sheep!” What do you mean by scars? And can you explain how it is that Jesus “fought?” I mean this is nice rhetoric and all but what are you really saying people should do?

  26. Nailed it! Thank you!

  27. Amen!  Doug, this post sounds a bit like the old evangelicals.  Phil just “went and said it.”  He preached the law (homosexuality is condemned) and the gospel (there is grace for all sinners), and that is what brought this firestorm.  Phil isn’t cultured, classically educated, rhetorically winsome, trying to take over all the social institutions, or externally powerful.  He’s simply committed to the Word of Christ.  May we follow his example.  The gospel is the power of God to salvation.

  28. So who defines what the “scars” look like? Are those who don’t sign the Facebook petition any less “in the fight” than those who do? Have you ever walked with another Christian brother for years who is struggling with same-sex attraction, to see him finally set free? That’s a fight too. One can get scars from being in the fight, but one can also get them from doing stupid and foolish things.

  29. You are just a bigot preacher that preaches a doctrine of hatred and division.
    There is nothing Christian about what you preach… I feel pity for all these lost souls that actually are so mentally lazy to create their own believes and end up pending from the lips of somebody like you…

  30. I think the godless need to be very careful at this stage.  They don’t want to tip their hand so that things appear to be headed for a global cultural showdown.  If that happens they might awaken a long-lost Christian prayer — a coming Kingdom prayer — a prayer for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Such a militant prayer, militant worship, and militant gospel is the last weapon that the godless should want to remind Christians that we possess.  A sword in the hand is no match for a sword in the mouth.

  31. “Let’s roll.” – Todd Beamer

  32. Hey Robert, what an interesting way to approach the topic: “You are just a bigot preacher that preaches a doctrine of hatred and division. There is nothing Christian about what you preach.”  That’s nice.  Please kindly inform the rest of us how what you said is not hateful and divisive?

  33. Thanks again for a great reminder of truth. But just so you know, I work at Chick-fil-A, and we don’t wear paper hats.

  34. Hey Doug, sheep are dumb.  “Not doing it” is just not an option.  But “doing it” dumb should not be an option either.  The world is watching how Christian’s respond to these situations.  The last thing that we want or need is to be portrayed as self-righteous, finger pointers who have gotten their quota of good works in for the year in by joining the “I support Phil Robertson” bandwagon. It’s fairly easy to join a Facebook page and “like” something – far more difficult and sacrificial to share your time with someone who is very different than you. I would love to see those people becoming friends with homosexuals, sharing their lives with them, walking through life with them, consistently pointing them to the truth.  That would be a true “fight.”  This is a war, not a battle.  We must be in this for the long haul. 

  35. Jennie, good comment; but the reality is that Christians will always be portrayed by the Left (and most of Hollywood and the media) as self-righteous finger pointers, so we can’t really be concerned about that; it is what it is.  And that’s not even the worst of it, since we are often portrayed as bigots, racists, hating the poor, hating women, antiquated, ignorant, etc.  And while I completely agree with you that Christians need to be open to having relationships with homosexuals, Doug’s point is that at least some people are willing to stand up for what they believe in the public arena.   Many are not, and would rather just criticize those who “are” trying to stand up.   But standing up is all about courage, which is a trait that not everyone has.  And I think Doug is trying to spur some people to action.  It should go without saying that Christians need to engage in the public arena with respect, and try to focus only on the truth and the argument at hand.  If we engage in demonizing, we not only lose credibility, but we harm the cause of the Gospel. 

  36. Steve – Hey, there’s a cockroach!

    Amazing how the words hate and anger so often are used to spin people so they miss the actual point.  Though maybe not so effectively in these parts as some.  Why not respond to what was actually said?  And why the reference to a view held by gnostic philosophers?  We look to the giver of wisdom, who identified His Son as the cornerstone upon which His own body, the Church, is built.  Not to the blind who hate God and boast of their own foolishness.

    Look!  There’s another one!

  37. I think the building referenced in the beginning of the post was Ohio state University’s wexner center for the arts.

  38. Just an FYI, Robert the Ranter is not the Robert that usually posts here

  39. Thanks for the wisdom. Great insight.

  40. Dang, this is good.

  41. Anti-gay ecumenism.

  42. I don’t know what “leaning in” or “fighting” looks like at this point for someone that’s not a blogger, or a pastor or an Opinion Leader.  Right now, my contribution to the war effort is  raising my kids, worshiping  and learning.  I think I need to think in Ephesians  6:12 terms.
    Also –

  43. When we forget about what GOD tells us in HIS WORD and decide to go along wit the world,  to be accept by man we have blown it. We must stand with HIM if we expect HIM to support us. We cannot serve two masters, in general there are two choices, the world and JESUS CHRIST.
    He does not expect perfection, he expects dedication and faith. That means we will stand with HIM and with other dedicated Christians, even if it means the world will turn against us because of our decision, even through persecution. We must remember “the world” cannot save us or give us eternal life.
    Merry CHRIST-mas to all and a happy  new year with HIM

  44. Anyone have a link to where this post was mentioned on the Rush Limbaugh show? 

  45. I still don’t want to Stand with Phil as such. It just doesn’t seem to be my part of the battle. I did buy from Chick-fil-a that week and since, but with this, I ask myself how I can point to the gospel instead of standing for free speech. 

  46. I do. Go Phil! Just like God to give us a swamp-man to shame us into obedience.

  47. Yes, many philosophical systems can be struck down right away based upon the fact that they do not hold up to common sense.  When closely examined, in fact, much of this thought is pure nonsense.

  48. Here is a leader who fights!

  49. I’ve seen pietists with scars on their forearms. Those happen due to applying  lotion with untrimmed fingernails.

  50. Post a comment

  51. The most divide and conquer tactic is with immigration

  52. I have mentioned this before. I live in a small county in Idaho. I archived the divorce records from 1919 until 1946.In the twenties, there were around 32 applications for divorce per year. The numbers started to climb in 1933. By 1941, there were more than 100 applications per year.

  53. It’s important to remember that Chickens and Ducks aren’t Doves. It’s not that fighting for God’s standard in marriage is the wrong fight, but it’s often fought wrongly. Arguments in this way rarely if ever bring people closer to Jesus. Jesus was a friend of sinners (which wasn’t a compliment at the time) and people who were nothing like Jesus seemed to really like him. I think we should probably follow suit. Doug has often said that it’s more important to win the person than the argument.

  54. While I agree with the general principles of this post and would endorse them in many situations, am I the only one who thinks Duck Dynasty (the television show itself) is a huge waste of time? Like, why not rather facilitate some Christian togetherness or something? What biblical edification does this show ever actually have?

  55. Doug,
    When you post a picture of your scars I’ll be tempted to think more of your post than a man who enjoys fighting Christians, and uses the cover of fighting the immoral world to do it.
    Until then, live quiet.

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