A Year of Fresh Outrage

Tomorrow a new year of fresh outrage begins, and so I want to take a few moments to encourage those Christian preachers, writers, thinkers, and bloggers who are, out of biblical principle, sailing contrary to all the prevailing winds. It is harder to sail this way, but when you are done, more that is worthwhile is actually done -- as in, you have actually gotten closer to where you wanted to be. "Thought is not, like physical strength, dependent upon the number of its agents; nor can authors be counted like the troops that compose an army. On the contrary, the authority of a principle is often increased by the small number of men by whom it is expressed" (Democracy in America, De Tocoueville, p. 182). There are two approaches to leadership and cultural influence. Neither is necessarily sinful or automatically virtuous, and both require wisdom to know what is called for at what time. One is the consensus building approach. At its best, it searches out those who were already in biblical agreement, networks with them, and builds strength in faithful numbers. At its worst, because it has a finger in the wind constantly, it is unable to distinguish faithful numbers from unfaithful … [Read more...]

As We Populists Like to Say

Over the last few weeks, a couple of epic comment threads have broken out here, and they have been revolving around the proposed view that I don't know what I am talking about. In these cases it had to do with my idea that entropy and evolution are inconsistent, and also my lack of suitable respect for the whole climate change fiasco. The charge has been made that I am not appropriately respectful of the world's experts. The charge has a certain weight, and so let this be my answer, let this be my apology -- a cri de coeur, as we populists like to say. Let me treat these in ascending order of importance. First, look at the shape the world is in, and consider the fact that is run by experts. That should rattle us all right off. One wag has noted that an ex is a has been, and a spurt is a drip under pressure, and so there's that. An expert consultant is someone from fifty miles away who brings a briefcase. Experts can always be hired to testify in court cases, for either side. There should be some leeway for the dubious. But this does not mean that I am dismissive of genuine expertise. There is such a thing as genuine expertise, and it is held by a distinct subset of those … [Read more...]

Empty Pulpits or Full Churches?

I would like to draw your attention to Brad Littlejohn's rejoinder to my post here. That rejoinder is down in the comments. This was my post on how an Obama vote disqualifies a man from ministry. Thanks to Brad for the comments, and for the opportunity for me to follow up on my initial post. First, I happily grant that being a practitioner of abortion and presiding over a nation in which it is legal to be such a practitioner are two very different things. But while they are very different, depending on the stance and outlook of the president, the morality of the two positions can overlap completely. There is a distinction between the man who does mischief himself (Ps. 10:7) and the man who frames mischief with a law (Ps. 94:20), but not a moral distinction. The Hindu practice of suttee and the laws that allowed it to continue were very different, but equally wicked. When the British governor Lord Bentinck suppressed the practice of suttee (burning a widow on the pyre of her deceased husband) he was doing a good and necessary thing. Had he decided not to suppress the practice, this would not make him personally guilty of practicing suttee himself. But it would have made him … [Read more...]

Seven Effective Strategies for Dealing With Lust

This post was originally published April 15, 2011. 1. Run away. Paul tells Timothy to "flee youthful lusts" (2 Tim. 2:22). Joseph employed this admirable technique when dealing with Potiphar's wife (Gen. 39:12), and he did not know that in running from her arms, he was actually running toward a throne. This was not made immediately obvious to him, but it was a key element in that story. Would you excel in your work? Would you stand before kings? Would you be entrusted with great things? Then run away from every breach of sexual trust. You are running toward a high calling. 2. Don't run away. There is a kind of fastidious "denial" of lust that just pours gasoline on the fire (Rom. 7:7). Putting a pressure cooker lid on and cinching it down tight -- while keeping the heat on -- is a good way to get beans on the ceiling. See my post Dealing With Nuisance Lust, which you can check out here. 3. Don't get everything backwards. Remember that there will be a natural tendency to apply #1 when you should apply #2, and #2 when you should apply #1. Study your lusts. Undertake this study with the full knowledge that your lusts are liars, and so is the devil. Look at your lusts instead … [Read more...]

Nothing But Cyacowardice

I believe that it is in Screwtape that Lewis says something like the modern man has been conditioned to have a dozen incompatible ideas dancing around in his head. And Lewis himself was not this way, as his friend Owen Barfield testified, when he said that what Lewis thought about everything was contained in what he said about anything. I don't pretend to be anywhere near where Lewis was, but I can openly avow that this is what I aspire to. But I have noticed in my zealous pursuit of this particular desideratum -- or is it universal desiderata? -- that our modern fragmented world has ways of pushing back. Some of this is just in the nature of the case, and some of it is malevolent. This is what I am referring to. Because it is not possible to say everything every time you speak or write, that which you would desire to be implicitly connected can easily be denied, misrepresented, or slanderously inverted by your foes (and misguided friends). Multiple flanks are always exposed. You can be associated with people you do not want to be associated with. You can be charged with holding things you do not hold. You can upbraided for your unconscionable sin of omission, in that you … [Read more...]

Ground Level Tactics of Christian Resistance

As we continue to think about the things that must be done in the pursuit of cultural reformation, we must make yet another distinction between strategic level thinking, and tactical thinking. There will be times when the strategic application and the tactical application line up perfectly — as when, during an assault by the entire army, one platoon is also participating in the assault. The whole army is attacking, and so part of it also is. But there are also instances when the larger strategy requires one thing, and on a tactical level, the opposite is required. Take for example one principle of war, what we have called taking the offensive. When the Israelite army attacked the city of Ai the second time, the larger strategic plan was an offensive attack. But a smaller part of this was the tactical retreat on the part of the forces that had come up to the front of the city. They feigned a retreat so that the soldiers of Ai would think they were doing the same thing they had done the first time, which was to run away. They were the retreating bait so that the offensive trap could be sprung. So sometimes tactical applications are exactly the same as the larger strategic … [Read more...]

The Fourth of July: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Genuine patriotism is not surprised or derailed by flaws, sins or wickedness in the object of our love. Sentimental patriotism, by contrast, treats love of country the same way a maudlin Hallmark card writer would treat, after three beers, love of mother. Mothers Day becomes a high, holy, and sacred thing -- a sanctifying thing, rather than what it is, something needing to be sanctified, like everything else we do. So real love understands grace, and the need for it. Real love understands gratitude, and the need for it. The need for grace does not eradicate the need for gratitude. The need for gratitude does not mean that grace has become unnecessary and superfluous. Leftists sneer at the need for gratitude, and the sentimental right sneers at the need for grace, revealing both sides to be idolatrous. And so this brings us to the 4th of July, 2013 -- the good, the bad, and the ugly. But lest we become hardened in cynicism, we will return to the top again. We will focus on the good, the bad, the ugly, and the good again. Freedom to worship God. A long, legal tradition of liberty. Staggering affluence. Abundant food. Protection from the elements. Technology. Amazing cars and … [Read more...]

Ares, Aphrodite, and Hermes

A friend asked about a biblical worldview perspective on civil unions for homosexuals, and so here goes. 1. When involved in discussions about things like this, it is crucial that we think three chess moves ahead. Does anybody seriously think that adopting civil union legislation would make the pressure for homosexual marriage decrease? If we accept the legitimacy of civil unions, have we granted any premises that would make it impossible to deny a pending conclusion that we would otherwise want to deny? To ask the question is to answer it. 2. If limited like marriage (say, to a maximum of two people), then civil unions are a mockery of marriage, not marriage itself. In that case, why would any recipient of that status be satisfied with it? Homosexuality runs on envy, and you don't make envy disappear by creating a second class shanty right next door to the nice house. And if civil unions are made utterly unlike marriage, so as to include up to six other people, say, then what would prevent heterosexual "polygamous" civil unions from springing up overnight? 3. I'll tell you what would prevent it -- the cost of the benefits packages to employers, that's what. Health … [Read more...]

On Refusing to Live in Pinkletown

A little while ago, a few weeks back, we had a discussion here in this space about my insistence on using um, flamboyant and non-PC language when discussing the homosex phenom. We had a good time in that discussion, but we weren't done yet. Let me appear to change the subject for a minute. In The Art of War, Sun Tzu says something profound, something that very few conservative culture warriors, God bless them all, get. He argues that the wise general first attacks the enemy's plans, then secondly, his alliances, and then third, his army or his forces. Get that? You don't attack the enemy in the first instance; you attack what he is doing. You attack his plans first. The push for homosexual marriage is very recent, and it is still ongoing. That particular battle is still in process, and no, we haven't actually lost it yet. But we did lose some earlier battles, which is why the challenges are so great now. Conservatives tend to think that "the plan" is to corrupt our laws as a way of corrupting our youth, and so on. But that is a later phase of the strategy. The plan, as Orwell could have told us, was to corrupt the language first. The goal was to do this by establishing … [Read more...]

No MSNBC Slow Jam

This set of observations was offered by David Gushee, an ethicist of some note with Mercer University. Not only are the homosexual activists declaring a premature victory in the sexual culture wars, but they have also begun discussions on how much damage we Christians did in the course of the fighting, and have begun to muse about what reparations we must owe. But as far as paying reparations is concerned, and I speak here in what is almost certainly a metaphor, they can take my gun after I am dead and see what they can get for it on eBay. Gushee laments all the damage we did by remaining faithful to a moral tradition grounded in nature, in the revealed will of God, and extending over thousands of years. And he says this because we hurt the feelings of people he confusedly identifies as the protagonists of the story. Look at the points he makes about the damage we did. Stare at those points if need be. The first three consist of some variation of "Christians have become identified with." I see. By whom? Right. The entire writing staff for Tokyo Rose think that we somehow crossed the line. The next three broadcasts are really going to be something. Prepare to be zinged! Then his … [Read more...]

A Little Black Twisty Thing

As Christians continue to process the ramifications of the Supreme Court's supreme arrogance on the same sex mirage issue, one of the things we must continue to remember to do is review the basics. This of course will include constantly reviewing what the Scriptures explicitly teach on the matter of same sex sexual activity, but it is also important for us to go a layer beneath all that. We also need to keep reviewing what the Bible teaches about the nature of man's nature, and the nature of man's choices. A hidden driver in a lot of what is going on around us is something that doesn't appear to have anything to do with human sexuality. But it really does. The roofline is cockeyed because of blunders in the foundation work. We have to identify, and reject, two false doctrines concerning man -- one oddly mixes genetic destiny with Pelagianism, while the other oddly mixes heroic choices with absurdity -- a form of existentialism. One says that homosexuality is baked into the genes, nothing can be done about it, and hence no one is to be blamed for it. Blaming a homosexual for expressing his sexuality this way would be like blaming someone for having red hair. The other … [Read more...]

Just Like Tomorrow Morning Is

With the Supreme Court doing its part today to advance the homosexual agenda, while trying not to provoke a major backlash, as happened with Roe v. Wade, I thought a little encouragement for the saints might be in order. All this reminds us again that there is no political solution to what ails us. We are a nation with the staggers, and our prophets and judges all have paper bags over their heads. There is such a thing as political and legislative faithfulness, but there is no such thing as political and legislative salvation. God brings us to the end of our puny little abilities so that we may trust, not in ourselves, but in Him, the God who raises the dead. So we remind one another -- as we ought to -- that there is no political solution. There will be political consequences when the solution arrives, but there is no political solution. This is true as far as it goes, but there might be an assumption buried in there that is not so true. As the old joke has it: "Well, I guess we have to pray about it." "Oh, has it come to that?" Realizing that there is no political solution, and that only Jesus can save us from this, is quite true . . . but might be just a couple steps … [Read more...]

The Dawn of a New Day

This is just a brief note about the Supreme's latest on the same sex mirage issue. I don't want to say very much before all the legal ramifications are clear (they appear to be mixed), but at the very least, the force of Scalia's dissent should indicate that we are still in the hand basket, we continue to bounce along merrily, and that eerie glow on the horizon grows ever brighter. Must be the dawn of a new day. … [Read more...]

Jabba the Hutt With a Thyroid Condition

Chesterton observed -- and why wouldn't he? -- that we drastically misunderstand the nature of our sin and rebellion. We like to flatter ourselves in our discontent, saying that the spirit of rebellion rises up within us because of all the things that are wrong. But the reality is the other way -- things go wrong because rebellion has risen up within us. Satan did not revolt against God because of the grim conditions of Hell. Hell is the result of him revolting against the delightful conditions of Heaven. Adam did not rebel against God because he was tired of living in a slum. No, his children live in slums because he grew tired of living in Paradise. Thus far Chesterton. Now that history is mixed -- good and evil mingled together -- we have multiple opportunities to make our confusion on this point more plausible. There are evils present, and so we may readily point at them, but our revolt is actually against the good things that are present. That's our story, and we continue on our way, sinners in search of plausible deniability. This is the fundamental difference between radicals and reformers. Both recognize that good and evil exist, but the radical wants to blame the … [Read more...]

To a Chair in the Basement

Allow me first to draw your attention to this fine post, with which I largely agree. But then, if I may, I would like to ladle some generous helpings of my own brown gravy complications over top the roast beef of our agreement. So to speak. This is another way of saying that I agree, as far as it goes. But in real life tangles, it often goes much farther than all that. Let me keep Snowden out of this so that we can just address the ethics of whistleblowing, and not have to deal with the hot politics of this particular situation. Let us assume a Christian with a top security clearance comes to you, his pastor, for some counsel. He wants to know what the right course of action is, and his interest is genuine. Let us also assume that the malfeasance he is concerned about is real and massive, and that it involves all his known superiors. This means that his only choice is to decide between whistleblowing and not whistleblowing. He either has to say nothing, or say something outside the usual channels. There are at least three sets of complicating factors. The first is that when the structure of governmental operations is as swollen and complicated and bureaucratic and … [Read more...]