I just read “On Keeping Your Marriage From Becoming Troubled” (thank you) and I have a question. What happens if the bump is a significant kind of disobedience that doesn’t get resolved with the first conversation? If the wife is in error, the husband can correct her. But for a very long time I have wrestled with a situation where there is something that is not happening in our family that should be (according to the Bible) and is having big repercussions which make life quite challenging. My husband is a believer, but I haven’t been able to get around 1 Peter 3:1-2 and don’t feel at liberty to point it out repeatedly. I have brought it up in the past, but it didn’t go anywhere. We went to Christian marriage counselling about this (ostensibly to deal with the repercussions, but I always have had the sense that those were just the symptoms, not the root difficulty) but I always felt genuinely constrained by 1 Peter 3:1-2 and so did not feel I should be all that forthcoming out of respect for my husband. I have prayed and fasted and it is a very painful thing, but I have reached the point where I think it is not my place to say anything more, but should wait on God (and attend to my own spirit in order that I am fulfilling the vs. 2 part). The problem is that there is a persistent dislocation of our fellowship and I am unable to figure out how to live like that. My choice seems to be: for the good of our marriage, put on my game face and do my genuine best to preserve our external fellowship as much as I can (while feeling inside very much like I am putting on an act and not in true fellowship) or not put on my game face, be honest about my feelings, and bring on an unpleasant air of desolation in our marriage (and by extension our family atmosphere). We have had a few meetings with the pastor over the past year or so about the repercussions, and I brought up the root in a very tentative way, again not wanting to overstep things according to 1 Peter 3 (I assumed that if I should talk more explicitly the Holy Spirit would steer the conversation in that direction while I waited on Him). The problem doesn’t involve abuse or illegality or anything like that, but (in my opinion) contributes to not addressing serious spiritual problems (e.g. malakoi in a son) which I am desperate to see resolved before it gets worse, and, as mentioned, makes it very hard to relate to my husband in a genuine/honest way. I have received counsel from an older woman friend who is very committed to 1 Peter 3:1-2 and even she has suggested I talk about this issue more with my husband, but I am reluctant to because of that feeling of constraint (which I have assumed is from the Holy Spirit) and because I don’t really think it will make a difference. My purpose in emailing is to ask if there might be anything I am missing. For the record, I have spent a very long time on my knees asking the Holy Spirit to show me anything in the way of my own sin which might be getting in the way (which He has done), and now honestly believe I am being transparent before the Lord about my own spiritual life. Do you have any advice? Thank you.
Beth, it is difficult to say from the details you have shared, but either he is being irresponsible or you are being hyper-scrupulous. You say that it is a sin of omission, and that you have been in counseling over the repercussions (i.e. your son?). The one thing I would encourage you to do is to take full advantage of the next session of counseling you get. Nothing is more crippling for a counselor than to have key elements of the case withheld from him. The next time you are with the pastor, let it all hang out. Do it respectfully, and do it with a demeanor that invites correction if it becomes apparent that you are the problem. Do not rely on hints or suggestions. In a counseling situation, you can say hard things without violating 1 Peter 3. Neither your husband nor the counselor are mind readers. Say, “I want to be genuinely open to correction, but this is how I see it.” And just say it.
Bro. Doug, your letter to Garrett with a failing marriage left me clearing my throat and raising my hand to add an important point. Male headship in a home is definitely the biblical way, amen and amen. But a man can’t establish that if his wife is jaw-jutted stubbornly against it. The Bible therefore teaches women to submit to their husbands, but it doesn’t say for husbands to force it if she’s unwilling. Probably because husbands can’t. The feminist teaching that women should be “fierce” has had a barbaric effect on many Christian women, converting them into the permanently bitter/outraged/angry/ungrateful/indignant/offended/resentful termagants that feminists invariably are. And have you ever known a raised-fist feminist that wasn’t like this? Now light the fuse and stick that in a home. Family life becomes a wild bull ride with a God-fearing husband just trying to hang on for another eight seconds to keep from getting legally raped in divorce court. And in my particular state, moving out for a cooling off period could get a guy accused of desertion, giving her a pretext for a “for-cause” divorce, which invites the feminist judge in family court to convert the husband into a penniless skeleton who pretty much never sees his children again. If Garrett is just living to survive one more day, and one more day, that may be the only practical card he has left to play while he pleads with God for a miracle. A similar observation can be made about children honoring their parents, especially kids who are grown and moved out. It’s voluntary, or it won’t happen. If the kids just absolutely will not (and in my pastoral ministry, I’ve seen some seriously repugnant cases of this), then thankless children forfeit God’s promise, but the parents can’t drag honor out of them, and I would need to see chapter and verse where they’re commanded to. Kind regards,
Steve, you are correct. Women need to submit themselves to their husbands in obedience to what God requires. You are also correct that if a wife simply refuses to do so, her husband has precious few options. And to anticipate additional comments, I also know of plenty of situations where the wife is the one who is trapped.
Dear Garrett, While Pastor Wilson may be quite correct in all that he has said to you in his “trapped husband” letter, I have and still am living through, and in, a similar situation, so I thought I would add my voice of experience to this discussion. Let’s start by noting a common “Christian” saying which is: “two things that you can’t do by yourself are A. Be a Christian, and B. Be married.” While Wilson is quite correct that we husbands are “responsible” for our wives and families, we are not at “fault” for their personal choices to sin, but those choices do happen on our “watch” so to speak. However, our “watch” is not the only watch that sin happens under. It sounds to me like your church has elected to disobey the Word in a number of areas, and the weak teaching and practice of your church is quite likely a significant cause and contributor to your families current problems, when your church should have been a community of support. My church for instance has female “elders,” and somehow the church thinks that is “word grounded.” A church that has female elders has elected to disobey Titus 1:6, expect such a church to be faithless in other areas. If your church has significant “blind guide” issues, and you may have spoken God’s Word to correct them, you may be in your current situation because: Luke 6:2, 22 “Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man!” While Wilson is suggesting that you consider temporary separation from you wife, and as a result, from your children, I did not do that in my situation. My thought was, “if my wife is so bad at the moment, why would I leave my poor kids to have to deal with her by themselves?” Do consider that Jesus came to earth as a baby, and stuck with earth, until the people killed Him because they could not stand His righteousness. You and I will never be as righteous as Jesus, but we will suffer in some of the ways He did, for any righteousness that we have been granted. My thought is that if spiritual warfare has gone so far as to come into your own house, home, family and marriage, and it appears that it has, it is probably a good idea to stay in your house, home, family and marriage and fight it, with God’s help. That is the situation I have been through and am still in. God was faithful though, while our church remains part of the problem, our family was blessed in that our typically silent special needs child (autism) spoke to my wife in the prophetic voice: “Trust in the Lord! Trust in the Lord! Trust in the Lord! Trust in the Lord!” at a very appropriate time. Shortly after that Prophetic Word from our son, my wife stopped being so awful, and following that, she stopped going to a local church “abuse” group that is deceived by an “abuse” charlatan by the name of Lundy Bancroft. Bancroft is a fake “expert” on “abuse,” who’s trick is to make the definition of “abuse” so broad that common verbal disagreements are then elevated to “abuse” or domestic “violence.” This thinking has the result that your wife can be “supported” by her church and social media groups who all share the common deception spread by this Bancroft guy. However, it is looking more and more like Bancroft is the same type of deceiver as “Kieth Raniere” a charlatan who is currently on Federal trial (DOJ Eastern New York) for sexually abusing his female “followers.” Hopefully Bancroft will be facing a similar indictment soon. To close Garret, while your suffering is not what anyone would want, or would expect, continue to be as godly as you can be, and consider that with God’s help, the darkness that is attacking you, your wife and your family can be beaten and overcome, to God’s glory. That’s how it worked out for Jesus anyway! 1 Peter 4: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” John 16: 33 “I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
Adad, thanks. I agree with you about not deserting little ones. In the scenario with Garrett I described, the children were older and had become antagonists as well.
“Letting her read books that are crammed with lies is not loving her.” While I agree, your response to your critics on this is going to be popcorn-worthy big time.
James, yes, but first the critics have to erupt over that, and I think they may have given up on me.
Can you explain what these lies he is telling, look like? I have a sense of what you mean, but being more explicit would be helpful.
Jane, what I was intending was this. A man who subsidizes irrational behaviors on the part of his wife is telling her in effect that her behavior is not irrational. He is providing her with lying feedback. And I have seen situations where a large amount of crazy can be thought of as normal, and this was the result of the husband not drawing a hard line earlier.
Everybody’s a Critic
Might want to drop the link to Google Plus at the same time. Google shut it down a month or more ago.
Steve, okay. Be like that.
Your iPhone app, at last access recently, still has the problem of scrolling through tens of posts without regard to my input!! Is a bug-fix imminent? Or is the bug immanent? Warm regards.
Robert, yes, that app is a real trouble, and we are contemplating pulling the plug on it.
Will the Logos summer training be available as a live stream? I understand if live-stream students cannot receive credit, just want some training as a new homeschool parent. My wife and I started home-schooling this year after sending my two oldest to our church’s school for three years and I’m a marine now cop and she’s a high school grad that’s been a stay at home mom since 19 (we are both 36).. so we feel inadequate when it comes to educating but feel prepared by God’s word . . . we would love any extra help. Our plan is classical conversations until our 5 kids are old enough for Logos online and we do not want them ill-prepared for Logos. Sorry for the long email. May our Lord bless you, keep you, and His face shine upon you.
Jordan, blessings on your work. It is a good one, and God will bless it. I am sorry that the Logos summer training is not going to be live streamed.
I had a question from Mere Fundamentalism. If we assert that spirit is non-physical, and demons are incapable of creation, how do we come to the idea that demons and humans conjugated to produce half-breed Nephilim in an attempt to breed immortals? Nowhere else in Scripture do we ever see a demon take on a physical aspect of their own, only possession. I’ve always had a hard time with that idea; hoping you can shed some light.
(Not the usual) Trey
Trey, throughout Scripture, angels consistently take the form of men, and are frequently thought to be men until the event proves otherwise (“angels unawares”). I believe that angels are spiritual beings that have the capacity to assume a corporeal body, and that demons are fallen angels, and have retained that capacity.
This post takes that 95 mph pitch and returns it for a home run. I asked you a couple years ago when we were going to see the collection of “Exhortations” in book form. Would love to see that at the top of your project pile.
DC, thank you. Part of my daily routine includes culling old writings from my archives and putting them in appropriate containers for future publications. I have made really good progress on a book of Exhortations.
More on Slavery
In a somewhat similar vein, hearkening to arguments you have made in various places, comes this desperately needed bit of context regarding the “Founding Sin”—slavery. The gist: NO one in the era of the Founding questioned slavery, yet the question is an integral element of the Founding debates, enshrined in the Founding documents. Why?
Jim, thank you.
Crowd Source the Question?
First, let me say that, as a young minister (in Brazil), your ministry has been a blessing for me and my church. May God keep blessing your efforts. Second, I once found a document, a kind of a form for presenting a complaint/accusation, if I’m not mistaken, in the CREC site. I can’t find it no longer. Would you be able to point me to a link or file of it? In Christ,
Thiago, sorry. I am unacquainted with what you are referring to. Maybe one of our readers can help?
Infant Baptism Once More
According to “God of Hearth and Home”: Family Idolatry = “where the father administers the sacraments to his family” Not Family Idolatry (two paragraphs later) = “get married, have babies, and baptize them” Hmm . . .
Steve, nice try! But in the second instance the babies are baptized in the church.
Greetings! Could you recommend a short and readable book on the origins of Baptist doctrine? How did they come to believe what they believe? Does one of your books address this? Thanks for considering!
Grace, I don’t know of a good history of Baptist doctrine. Almost all that I have picked up about the history of it has been through reading polemic defenses of both credo and paedo baptism. The best I can do off the top of my head is refer you to John Gill, if you want to read it from an early Baptist theologian.
1984 and the Resurrection
Commenting on your post about God of Hearth and Home, your point about in the resurrection a man will not be walking along whistling to himself, come across his wife, and say, “Oh hi, it’s you.” That made me think of the end of Orwell’s 1984, where Winston and Julia meet after Big Brother has sent them through Room 101. Sadly our Evangelical and Reformed leaders today are depicting the eschaton, and thus our current trajectory, as one more in line with Big Brother than Scripture.
Thomas, yes. Our hopes with regard to Heaven can be pretty anemic.
I’m reading through the Bible (why start at New Year’s?), and I’m wondering about your interpretation of Genesis 9:3-4. This covenant concerns moral commands to gentile nations, which is why it is echoed after the Jerusalem Council in Acts. I have been informed (by reliable sources, mind you) that you, as I am, are fond of a nice steak. My mother was French, so my taste in steaks has been to order it just on the other side of mooing. Does this passage require us to abstain from eating blood in the meat, just as 9:6 requires us to abstain from shedding the blood of our fellow man? Or am I missing something that one of those high-falutin’ Ancient Near Eastern Scholars could set me straight on? Thank you.
Robert, my understanding of this prohibition is that it refers to the meat from animals where the blood was not drained. When an animal is slaughtered and drained, there will of course be residual blood, visible in a rare steak. I believe that the ancient prohibition referred to the meat of strangled animals.
Thank you so much for your ministry and writing. It’s been a blessing to the people I minister to, my wife, my kids, and my brothers and their families. I’m an elder in my church and also a campus minister, and I was talking with my pastor about how we (fail to) deal with criticism. I mentioned your phrase “sanctified apathy” and we both agreed that you seemed to have, by the grace of God, honed that lesser-known fruit of the Spirit well. Our question is: How do you grow in that? I am always worried that I’ll be too prideful to receive the possible kernel of truth in the criticism I am receiving about our church, the college ministry I lead, or myself. When does one exercise sanctified apathy that allows you to completely disregard unjust criticism, and when does one humbly receive the criticism?
Nick, one should always humbly listen to the criticism without defensiveness, and promise to treat it with the seriousness it deserves. This would vary depending on whether the criticism is coming from your best friend, or from an Internet troll. But the main thing is to not try to deal with this simply by growing a thicker skin (although that sometimes helps). The main thing is to learn to read the story. What is the narrative arc here? I really need to write more about this, but you are not trying to ascertain the heart motives of the bishop, or the knight, or the rook, but rather the significance of their placement on the board. What play is being run?
Beautifully stated. I once restored a 1963 Ford Falcon. It had a rag top. Gorgeous. I was never, however, tempted to worship it, or to ascribe to it supernatural powers, so in a way this “idolatry of heart” is more difficult to identify and conquer because most of us have a hard time imagining attaching any worship ritual to the corner office promotion at work, or our wives. In practice, though, internal idolatry is difficult to measure, since we’re commanded by God to attend to our wives and our jobs and we might not be aware when the duties, themselves, are creeping into idol status. I think a few more words from you on how we know when we’re replacing God with the things in our lives that are bound to seem, on the surface at least, more tangible than our relationship to God. I can well imagine looking more forward to dinner with my wife in a nice restaurant over, say, repeating a prayer that has come to sound boring to me, and probably to God. Is that idolatry, or the difficulty of putting Him first? I’d very much like to hear more from you on this.
James, thanks. Good suggestion.
A Question about Divorce
Hello, sir. I am a Brazilian pastor and I have been reading your books and following your blog for a few years now, since I was a missionary in Thailand. I thank God for leading me to know your work because it has helped me in many, many situations. I got a question which is not really about the situation in your article. But it touches some points that you made. Your books really helped me in my ministry as a local pastor in counseling couples. Well, I am evangelizing a couple, now for maybe 2 or 3 months. I met them for the first time in a visit to the hospital and after that we went to see them when he got better and I started to go there and teach them the catechism and sometimes they come to church. He’s got a permanent sickness in his liver and cannot come very often. Anyways, they started to believe the gospel, and he wants to be baptized. After teaching them the Bible a bit, I told them to start reading it for themselves, which they gladly did. They started reading the NT as I instructed them to. And when his wife read Matthew 19 she started to feel bad and came to talk to me because she is not sure their situation is right before God. I asked her to tell me the story, and here it is. They are both in their second marriage. His first wife committed adultery about two decades ago. So he divorced her and was without a wife for many years until he met her about five years ago and they first went to live together and later got married. Her story is a bit different. Her husband was not very nice, but she never really saw him committing adultery. Many people told her so, and his behavior was likely to commit the sin. He would never be at home, always in the bar, always with friends, etc.—but their divorce wasn’t really because of that, which fact (adultery) was never proved. As she told me her divorce was like this: they would fight very often. In these arguments he would Always tell her to go back to her father because he wanted the divorce, and she would give in to him and nothing would happen. But one day the same pattern happened again, and when he said he wanted the divorce, she said ok, if that is what you want, that is what you are going to have. After a while he wanted to come back but she didn’t want anymore. She was divorced for a few years until she met her current husband. Well, she feels like he was ok to marry again, for his former wife committed adultery, but she was not ok to marry again for she didn’t divorce for that reason. So she was feeling that maybe she should break up with her current husband in case it is adultery. When they first talked to me about this situation, he had already talked to her that if it be confirmed her interpretation that he felt that if the right thing to do was for them to divorce, then that is what they should do. I was glad that they were open to do whatever the word of God tells them to, but I didn’t really have the answer. I am not sure her case could be the same that Paul describes in I Corinthians 7. I read the Bible with them. And I told her I still cannot really say it. It seems to me a complicated situation. My colleagues here in Brazil also don’t seem confident to answer this question. Besides, what about his baptism? He is not baptized yet. Should I baptize him? I feel that if they are not in a rightful marriage I should not baptize him until they fix their situation. But I am not sure if he is in the right or not. Well sir, I know it is my problem and my responsibility, I am not trying to escape that by asking your advice on this. But if you can help with any light on the Scriptures application for this case, I thank you very much. God bless
Luccas, yes, you should baptize him, and they should remain married to each other. Remember that God takes us from where we are, not from where we should have been. This is a situation where you cannot really unscramble the egg. He had grounds for his previous divorce, and she might have had grounds for hers. But even if she did not have grounds (let’s assume that she did not), the thing to do would be to repent of the divorce, and the remarriage, but repenting of a marriage is not the same thing as repenting of stealing something, say, where you can take it back. In this case, if they were to divorce for the sake of “putting things right,” they would actually be committing the same sin again.
Help for the Maladroit?
Not a response to any particular post, but I’m curious if you have any advice for men, who, for whatever reason, never really developed good social skills. It seems that for most people, interacting with others is about as easy and natural as breathing. But for a minority of people (mostly male, in my observation), everything from casual small talk to a long-term relationship is a struggle. I’m not sure what the root of the problem is, but some guys just have a really hard time “fitting in” at church, work, dating, etc. A google search on this subject will bring up a nearly unlimited supply of articles. But most of them are not especially helpful, as most are not written from a biblical perspective. Some tend to assume that anyone with less than optimal people skills has some “disorder” that must be treated with expensive drugs. Others claim that simply interacting with people more often will help, but this overlooks the possibility that practicing the wrong things will just ingrain bad habits. I know you’re an advocate of men being willing to lead and take on responsibility. Perhaps you could help more men do that by writing a series of articles called “Letters to an Awkward Dorky Guy” or something to that effect. I enjoy your blog. God bless, and keep up the good work.
Johnny, thanks. Writing a series of letters like that would be quite a challenge. I will think about it. In the meantime, I would suggest two things. The first is for guys in that situation to come to a realization that they are in that situation. With the socially maladroit, lack of self-awareness often seems to be a big player. This would perhaps come if they promised to respond non-defensively, and then ask friends and family for their blunt assessment. The next would be to simply accept that assessment. The third step would be to begin a regimen of learning customs, manners, etiquette, social graces. Knowing the drill is not the same thing as having the soft skills to navigate the drill, but it is a start.
Why is there not an option to fully bow out? Neither Heaven or Hell, just non-existence?
S, ultimately I would say that the answer is because God did not determine to do it that way. And a close reading of Romans 9 indicates the reason for that is because in a world without Hell, one of God’s attributes—His holy justice—would go unmanifested and unglorified. Which would obviously be intolerable.
The question is broken. “Why no non-existence?” assumes a human-centric view of creation, which is obviously not God’s view. We are here for him, not vice versa. We will glorify him one way or the other, like it or not.
I’ve always understood the eternality of damnation to be linked to us being breathed upon by God at creation. Our souls are eternal because they originated from the eternal one. The glory for God stems from that.
Related to BJ’s observation is the notion that God has invested our agency with eternal consequence. Some may be tempted to think that nothing ever done in this life is of any lasting import. In the naturalistic view, we are just momentary bugs for a cosmic windshield. Completely forgettable. But in God’s design, even the rejection by (and punishment of) the ungodly is filled with eternal, accountable meaning and significance. In a sense, even those who reject the Gospel are afforded a certain kind of dignity, and not merely flushed down a memory hole. To seek the option to simply… Read more »
Thank you for this. I have had so many conversations with folks who hear a teaching on reformed theology and being to see life as this impersonal train barreling toward whatever it will.
The fact of the matter is that God has made us in such a way as to make our decisions consequential, and everlastingly so.
Do you oppose the soul sleep / mortalist approach of Luther (and many others)? Obviously this denies the eternality of the soul but it doesn’t (necessarily) support annihilationism; though annihilationism is fairly well attested to in the tradition.
Very much so, yes. It is a complicated conversation about what Luther believed and why. There is an argument that his view changed over time from soul sleep to doubts about it, and that before death he was open to the immortality of the soul. But this case is connected to his motivation (and William Tyndale’s, as well, for the record) for opposing the immortality of the soul. Luther argued against the immortality of the soul as a case against purgatory. As he became more well established, the argument goes, he no longer felt the need to assert this doctrine… Read more »
Thanks for the response, BJ. Mortalism is/was used as a polemic against the intercession of the saints as well. But it wasn’t something that Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther, etc. just made up it was long a minority view (though declared heretical by the church).
You are correct. It is worth knowing that soul sleep did not originate as a position as a polemic against Catholic doctrines, but it was very much used for that purpose. I think it originates from the language the Bible uses of people “going to sleep” as a euphemism for death. I am not sure I would label it heresy, but it does hang around enough heresy to make me very nervous.
BJ, I think there is more support for mortalism than just a misunderstood euphemism. In the OT the doctrine of the afterlife is underdeveloped and at times the grave or sheol sounds like obliteration, or a period of waiting. There isn’t a strong sense of punishment or paradise. Then in the NT most discussion of eternal life is explicitly embodied. Even Lazarus and Dives seems to indicate something embodied. Rev 20 shows the dead being raised for judgment, any sort of futurist or material reading of this section is difficult to square with immediate judgement. I agree that it shouldn’t… Read more »
I didn’t mean to suggest that the euphemism was the entirety of the argument. I meant to say that among Christians, the language of sleep is the starting point.
More generally, does it bother you when a position that has some semblance of biblical support is also held by large numbers of people with heretical views? It does me. I don’t mean to suggest that the position is false by guilty association, but it does make me hesitate. Does it you?
It is a piece of empirical evidence that is worthy of consideration. If people with one questionable belief tend to believe many false and harmful things I will certainly consider that while weighing the evidence but it isn’t given too much weight.
demosthenes1d wrote: I think there is more support for mortalism than just a misunderstood euphemism. In the OT the doctrine of the afterlife is underdeveloped and at times the grave or sheol sounds like obliteration, or a period of waiting. There isn’t a strong sense of punishment or paradise. As for punishment and reward, there is Daniel 12:2: And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt. That’s pretty strong, and direct. There’s also Job 19:25-27: For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He… Read more »
Katecho, Thank you for the references. I didn’t mean to imply that there is no doctrine of punishment and reward in the Hebrew Scriptures, just that it is underdeveloped and underemphasized compared with the NT. I do think the OT teaches the resurrection of the dead for judgement. Note that the two passages you quote – if read in a straightforward manner – support mortalism. I was thinking of verses like Ecc 9:10 and Ps 6:5 which paint the grave as being a place of unconsciousness. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is… Read more »
Thiago, while I don’t recall seeing a form, you can find procedures in the CREC Governing Documents: https://www.crechurches.org/documents/governance/CREC_Governance_Comprehensive_2017R.pdf
Dear Garret and Adad, We were in a church that continually turned a blind eye to gross sin. Cotton Candy gospel was preached, meanwhile, families were falling apart, children were rebelling and leaving the church. It was scary. While reading Jeremiah I came to chapter 3. In verse 14, God says, “Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion. 15 “‘And I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge… Read more »
Robert, it may also comfort you to know that the liquid found in meat that has been properly butchered is not blood, but myoglobin – it is pink/red when the meat is raw and turns clear as it is heated above rare.
Too right. “Every time you call meat juices blood, a bell rings and a teenager becomes a vegan.”
It only takes a moment’s reflection to see how this is intuitively the case.
If it were blood, why would cooking it make not “not bloody anymore?” If it were well done steak, you’d still be eating a steak with well done blood — if in fact, the substance were blood.
Though most of what you see isn’t blood, there is certainly still blood in meat. It’s impossible to drain every bit of blood from every capillary.
On Baptist history: https://archive.org/details/cu31924029245128
Did anyone else read Jim’s article on slavery? https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2019/05/americans_are_in_desperate_need_of_a_lesson_on_the_history_of_slavery.html
I enjoyed it, but the author claims that the Constitution ended the slave trade in 1808, while linking to another source claiming otherwise. Odd.
Yeah, that’s a good reminder to be cautious. When I read the article, the 1808 deadline for slave trade sounded familiar, so I gave it a pass, but the deadline really did work the other way, and once I read the other article I remembered that.
Very good catch. Sadly, the slave trade from Africa, though illegal, in fact continued all the way up until the Civil War. I was shocked to hear that there were survivors of the Atlantic slave trade in America up through the 1930s. The author’s claims that slavery was not controversial anywhere in the world until the 18th century are disputable. In fact Christian leaders like St Patrick and Gregory of Nyssa had spoken against it 1500 years earlier, several popes had banned the owning of Christian slaves, and leaders across the globe had banned debt slavery, the slave trade, slavery… Read more »
Jonathan, I skimmed that article and I was appalled by the Sowell quote. I looked for the source to see if it had more context or nuance – and it didn’t. The idea that “slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century” is either propaganda or ignorance. There are ample resources on the history of slavery in Christendom if anyone is interested. But suffice it to say all sorts of slavery were “controversial” and the enslavement of Christians, with the exception of penal enslavement, wad… Read more »
I’ve found a reasonably consistent rubric that can be applied to Sowell’s work.
Does it concern economics? Likely to be well-informed and insightful.
Does it concern anything else? Not so much then.
It’s a phenomenon common enough among intellectuals it should have a name. Does it already? If not, I propose “Stephen Hawking Syndrome”.
The production version of Gell-Mann Amnesia?
I like Stephen Hawking syndrome. We expect someone who is brilliant in one domain to be brilliant in all domains, but it usually doesn’t work that way. Indeed, or the extreme cases the very attributes that make you brilliant in your field can lead you astray. See Nobel Disease.
Like Kary Mullis who is into horoscopes and AIDS denialism.
I like Mullis’s section here: https://slatestarcodex.com/2016/04/28/why-were-early-psychedelicists-so-weird/
Interesting for a SlateStarCodex link to come up in this context. I was thinking of him already though not in quite the same way. Once someone described his writing as (I’m paraphrasing) “Someone who knows somewhat more on a topic than his readers speaking with the confidence of an expert.” I don’t know how broadly its true as I don’t read him often and often on subjects I know little about, but there have been 2-3 incidents where I’ve seen him produce thousands of words on a subject I knew quite a bit about and found him miss the point… Read more »
I am a big SSC/SA fan, and I find him more epistemically honest and humber than almost any other prominent blogger. He is certainly often wrong but, as you say, he is opining on a huge number of topics. He has also developed a community of very smart people in a mostly cordial commentariat which is the best I have found anywhere on the internet.
What pieces did you particularly find fault with?
I honestly can’t remember – it’s been a while. I’m guessing it most likely either dealt with racial issues or history.
“The fatal misstep of intellectuals is assuming that superior ability within a particular realm can be generalized to superior wisdom or morality overall.
Chess grandmasters, musical prodigies, and others who are as remarkable within their respected specialties as intellectuals within theirs, seldom make that mistake.”
I wonder if that makes him particularly unaware or self-aware? Even that very book is on a subject that as far as I know he has no training or particular development in. Do you know if he lumps himself in with intellectuals in the book, and if so how he justifies his wide-ranging forays into many subjects far outside his own expertise? I haven’t read the book, but another quote from it that I’d already seen before is “Intellectuals are people whose end products are intangible ideas, and they are usually judged by whether those ideas sound good to other… Read more »
I agree that Sowell’s argument isn’t very satisfying in that article, and he is not offering the point that I’m about to make, but we must consider a key biblical distinction. There is still a sense in which I could agree with the statement that, “slavery was a worldwide institution for thousands of years, nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century”, provided we make a critical biblical qualification. Scripture condemns kidnapping, or man stealing as a capital offense, and Scripture condemns racial malice against any who share the image of God, but at… Read more »
If you read the link I already gave above, you would see that debt slavery had in fact been banned in several times and places long before 1700. (at least that is the assertion – I have not independently researched the specific citations in depth). I agree there is a large distinction between debt slavery and Southern chattel slavery, one of several reasons that I think it ridiculous that anyone could suggest Southern Slavery to be Binically justified on any level. However, I have also read much of debt slavery in our own time and even met and cared for… Read more »
Jonathan wrote: I agree there is a large distinction between debt slavery and Southern chattel slavery, one of several reasons that I think it ridiculous that anyone could suggest Southern Slavery to be Binically justified on any level. I certainly have no reason to justify Southern Slavery, or any kidnap-based, race-based slavery. I just want to point out that many people overreact to kidnap- or race-based slavery and conclude that all forms of forced labor must be inherently wicked. That is simply not the case. There must be careful restrictions and requirements around any use of force by one man… Read more »
Katecho, Penal bondage and debt bondage should be separated as the tradition behind the two practices are very different. They were considered seperately because, though they have overlapping features, they have distinct features as well. Debt bondage as a punishment for non-payment was almost universally considered illicit for Christians. There are a few reasons for this: *Jews were barred from holding Christian slaves – as Jews did most of the lending any debt bond slaves would be held by Jews. *It is possible to default on a debt without moral culpability, through circumstances beyond the borrowers control. *Lending in general… Read more »
demosthenes1d wrote: Penal bondage and debt bondage should be separated as the tradition behind the two practices are very different. … Debt bondage as a punishment for non-payment was almost universally considered illicit for Christians. Let’s be careful not to confuse concepts that need to be kept very distinct in this discussion. I did not use the term “bondage” because that can imply mere captivity, imprisonment, or confinement, without any structure to actually labor toward restitution. I already made reference to the injustice of debtor’s prisons on that basis, so I don’t think anyone here is debating that concept. Instead… Read more »
I find it curious that so many comments could be made about Sowell’s statements without acknowledgement of the fundamentally ambiguous and subjective nature it presents. ” nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century” What precisely determines what constitutes a “controversial” issue in a historical context? Were Sowell here and capable of defending himself, he could simply point out that clearly it was not nearly as controversial before as it was during and after that period. Depending on what level of divisiveness you use as your standard for “controversial”, your reading of the accuracy… Read more »
Very well said. Much more “appalling” things have gotten a free pass here.
In context it’s not so ambiguous. Sowell also says: “Slavery was just not an issue, not even among intellectuals, much less among political leaders, until the 18th century — and only then in Western civilization.” That’s just mind-blowing wrong. Great theologians had decried it, entire nations had banned it, popes had demanded it end. Again, look at the references above. The entire gist of Sowell’s essay is that the founding fathers were the first to realise slavery was wrong, agreed on that unambiguously, and only struggled with how best to do right by their slaves. That’s a storybook picture of… Read more »
“I’m not an advocate for getting rid of Jefferson statues or anything. I expect all our leaders to be faulty, and they can still be praised for great deeds despite their sinfulness” I commend you for that outlook. I’m frankly a little surprised it is yours, no offense intended. Few people with whom I interact in person would disagree, but I have to wonder, does it conflict with the attitude of any of your friends or other associates? p.s. – All beside the point above – I credit Jefferson for the Louisiana Purchase, otherwise I’m not especially a great admirer.… Read more »
Have you read “Lies My Teacher Told Me?” It’s a fascinating examination of why U.S. History teachers get so much of history so wrong, and one of the primary principles is because they don’t trust students to deal with nuance so they have to create cardboard hero cutouts rather than full people. An examination of his personal letters shows that Abraham Lincoln both held racial bias and was deeply principled in his early and honest opposition to slavery. Can a “the North is the best!” student recognize Lincoln’s racism, or his shady deal-making in getting the 13th Amendment passed? Can… Read more »
… or pastor. *cough*
Nonsense. Jonathan is uncharitably imputing evil motives, and refusing his own advice to consider “the full body and character” of the old South, let alone those today who see much good to be redeemed from that time and place.
Katecho, this is a good example of where you see critique in all-or-nothing terms, so that when someone says someone is wrong on any particular issue you read it as a judgment of the full body of their character and discernment, and rush to defense accordingly. You typically refuse to accept the merits of any particular critique of a particular stance because you’re afraid that by giving ground, you’ll indict the entire character. It’s pretty much a perfect example of the cardboard cutout issue I was talking about. And this isn’t the place to litigate every Conservative momument, but this… Read more »
Now that was worth the length :-)
Second to the last paragraph is a particularly good point – one that some people don’t seem to get. Or else for their own purposes they don’t want other people to get it.
Those are kind words JohnM. Thank you.
“That’s just mind-blowing wrong. Great theologians had decried it, entire nations had banned it, popes had demanded it end. Again, look at the references above.” Again, you’re ignoring the same point of ambiguity, that being what Sowell considers to be “an issue”. Obviously he’s not saying that nobody in the history of the world criticized slavery before America did. In order to show that he’s incorrect, you first have to know what his standard of measurement is. Otherwise, you’re only bickering about nomenclature. “The entire gist of Sowell’s essay is that the founding fathers were the first to realise slavery… Read more »
Your argument here is silly. Controversial has a meaning, even if there is some subjectivity involved. It is possible to parse Sowell’s statement, we don”t need to be post-moderns here.
Sowell wrote “nowhere in the world was slavery a controversial issue prior to the 18th century.” This is flatly wrong.
For comparison, if I wrote “nowhere in the world was abortion a controversial issue prior to the 21st century” I would be just flatly wrong, and I would be displaying ignorance of the topic at hand.
Katecho, I was simply providing some historical background. This has been well litigated within the tradition and we know we should understand why a fence is where it is before tearing it down. You misunderstood my comment on the Jews. The first type of slavery categorically banned in Christendom was Christians bonded to Jews. Further Christians could not lend to other Christians at interest (the church has been very weary of this across time, once again we should account for this fence before revving up the bulldozer). Therefore, any slavery as a result of an unpaid debt would have been… Read more »
None of my argument depends on a defense of lending at interest. However, a lot more mischief is done by attempting to build fences where Scripture does not build them. It’s unfortunate that demosthenes1d brushes away passages that clearly presuppose a category of licit master-slave relationship. My citations are not an attempt to prooftext, but to demonstrate a widespread reliance on a legitimate master-slave relationship undergirding major passages in the New Testament. However, regarding Luke 6:35, note its proximity to the much abused vs 37. Christ is not absolutizing mercy, or poverty, or getting hit on the cheek, or getting… Read more »
Katecho, I know there are counter arguments, but the church certainly believed that banning lending at interest was following the scriptural blueprint: Ez 18:13 Ex 22:24 Dt 23:18 Ps 15:5 Lk 6:35 Etc. Your broader qualms about building fences which are not explicitly scriptural would need a lot of commentary. To take a completely mundane example are you opposed to all roadway regulations? Stopping at stop signs, obeying speed limits, driving on right hand side, etc.? I would like to see a exegetical case for these sorts of laws that wouldn’t also cover about any law that is deemed prudent… Read more »
Perhaps demosthenes1d should have limited himself to a critique of lending at interest, rather than of lending and forced restitution in general. Note that none of my arguments either offer, or depend on, a defense of lending at interest. I stated this plainly in the very first sentence of the comment that he is responding to now. If demosthenes1d is retreating to a critique of lending at interest then I suppose my points about the general legitimacy of lending, and forced restitution to repay such debts, have been conceded.
Katecho, I have never made an argument against lending, or even lending at interest. I certainly find lending licit, and lending at interest I am on the fence about. I use a credit card every day, so I certainly haven’t defected from the system. The only lending that I took a clear position against was indentured servanthood. I was simply providing historical background that you decided to argue against. The fence that has been removed is clearly, in context, the fence forbidding lending at interest. If lending at interest (or for profit, as in Ez) is proscribed then this all… Read more »
“I certainly haven’t defected from the system.” As someone whose self-control was less than sanctified as a youngster, I found that defecting from this system paid huge dividends in the form actually having money. I am certainly not saying you are in sin, and I suspect you rarely if ever pay interest. But, I would love to see Christians en masse simply stop borrowing money in toto. The effects of a hundred million people boycotting credit cards and car payments and mortgages and student loans would be well worth the price of admission. Congress may even take notice! Hey, one… Read more »
Amen. Amen. Amen.
And I always like to separate “best practice” from simply “avoiding sin.” We don’t have to say that it is sinful to lend at interest or borrow at interest, just that we believe it is best practice to avoid both.
Personally, I do believe that it approaches sinfulness when one wishes to profit off of the difficult financial state of the borrower (payloan loans and others like them are the most obvious example, church fathers like Basil would denounce any such persons in the most strong terms), or when one borrows without any intention of paying back.
demosthenes1d wrote: I have never made an argument against lending, or even lending at interest. Demosthenes1d may not wish to personally own the historical arguments that he presented, but he was the one presenting them. If he doesn’t want to defend them beyond providing a history lesson, that’s fair. I’m content to address those arguments on their own merits and move on. demosthenes1d wrote: All of that said – I don’t have any problem with banning debt slavery as has been frequently done throughout the history of Christendom. I think this is a prudent regulation to protect the poor from… Read more »
If I could banish one hermeneutic from all Biblical study it would be this one. Parables are not meant to be read in such a manner.
Luke 16 as you note is a great example for why it just doesn’t work, Luke 18 as well.
demosthenes1d wrote: *It is possible to default on a debt without moral culpability, through circumstances beyond the borrowers control. True. Breaking a payment commitment does not always entail moral culpability, but the financial culpability remains. The notion of a consequence-free default is part of the moral failure of our current entitlement culture. demosthenes1d wrote: *Lending in general was looked down upon, and giving incentive to lenders to make loans that would be difficult or impossible to repay was considered an evil. Lending was looked down on by whom? Predatory lending is one thing, but lending in general is by no… Read more »
Lending at interest was looked down upon for most of Christian history. I can give copious references. The early fathers were much stronger on this note then “our current culture”. Jesus of course found lending to be positive – in the case where you gave freely, not expecting anything in return. However, just as the Israelis were barred from profiting off of the poverty of others and from making money from interest off of their fellow Israelites, we are barred from using such financial advantages to profit ourselves at another’s expense. When we give to one who has less than… Read more »
Jonathan wrote: Lending at interest was looked down upon for most of Christian history. I can give copious references. Jonathan should note that none of my arguments offered, or depended on, a defense of lending at interest. That’s a separate topic for discussion. Demosthenes1d was attempting a critique of lending in general, apparently as a means to then critique the legitimacy of master-slave relationship and forced restitution (slavery). In other words, demosthenes1d could not critique forced restitution by refuting lending at interest, alone. His approach depends on delegitimizing the civil enforcement of lending and debt repayment, in general. Jonathan wrote:… Read more »
While I am glad that we have found a point of agreement, I’m not sure who the “saver in the middle” is who you think is getting screwed. There are astonishingly few people in our society who do not either borrow or lend at interest, and I’d say that most of them hold a fairly enviable position. The vast majority of money that the wealthy make by lending is made at the expense of the borrower. And both the borrower who pays back all his interest and the borrow who only pays back some and then defaults are screwed by… Read more »
Or this on American abolition in particular.
Regarding “Infant Baptism Once More”:
So idolatry never happens in church?
I believe you’re missing the point a bit. An unordained father serving the sacraments to his family is necessarily sinning in a particular way, and that particular sin is not present if a properly ordained elder in the church is in charge of the sacraments. That’s not to say that nobody can sin in any way at all if the sacraments are administered properly. Obviously people can still be harboring grudges, or getting distracted by lust, or despising the bread and wine, or feeling contempt for someone else’s clothes or parenting, and so on and so forth. And it’s no… Read more »
Thanks for the reply, nathantuggy. My comment was in regard to the original comment Doug was responding to above, which I also had written. I am pointing out an error in paedosacramental logic. I was suggesting there is inconsistency in the language of “father’s, don’t administer sacraments to your kids” followed by “fathers, baptize your babies.” Do you see how, at least on face value, that is quite inconsistent? Doug’s reply was that it’s not inconsistent because one is done in church. My response was attempting to imply, “if it’s idolatry outside of church, why isn’t it idolatry in church?”… Read more »
There’s no inconsistency, not even on the face of it. Wilson’s original comment about idolatry seen in a father administering the sacraments was as follows: The indicator would be practical—where the father administers the sacraments to his family, where he is the chief priest, principal theologian, pope and poobah in his family, where the teaching ministry of the Church is dismissed with a wave of the hand. Thus, in the original context, the objection is clearly to the father usurping the role of the church. The objection is not to the children receiving the sacraments. Your point about paedobaptism is… Read more »
Mike M. wrote:
… and, don’t forget, “tribal”.
Mike, I don’t have a problem with children receiving the eucharist, so far as they are believers who recognize they are doing it under the church’s authority, not their parents’. They are partaking of Christ’s body and blood, not the Johnson family dinner; the parents need not have anything to do with it. But for some reason when it comes to those who accept child “baptism”, the parents do need to have something to do with it. If it’s not family bath time, why are Mom and Dad there? I think they are there because there is an unholy mixture… Read more »
Steven Opp wrote:
This argument doesn’t follow. When Mom and Dad showed up to their infant’s circumcision, did that somehow make it merely family foreskin cutting time? The sacraments mean what they mean because of what God says, whether or not the parents are present at the ritual.
Steven Opp wrote: Therefore, according to paedobaptists, the family is necessary for baptizing a child. How is this not sacralizing the family? How is this not a child (supposedly) entering the covenant in Christ’s blood based on his own blood (family)? How is this not tribal? How is this not fertility cult-ish? Sacralizing the family? Fertility cultish? What nonsense is this? How does Steven Opp explain the infants baptized into Moses when the people of Israel crossed the sea to escape the Egyptian army (1 Cor 10:1-4)? Were the infants of Israel abandoned on the Egyptian shore? Were they baptized… Read more »
Katecho, 1 Cor. 10 is one of the most cherry-picked passages for defending paedosacraments, along with any other Bible passage where there is a child or infant in sight. This one is a little more understandable since it actually uses the word baptism. But being baptized into Moses and being baptized into Christ are very different things, as different as Moses and Christ (funny that). And what was the major difference between Moses and Christ? Law on stone vs. law on heart. Or to put another way, letter of law vs. spirit of law. Or to put it another way,… Read more »
Steven Opp wrote: Or to put another way, letter of law vs. spirit of law. Unfortunately, Steven Opp is trying to import a letter/spirit (external/internal) contrast into the passage where Paul is expressly calling out the spiritual unity of the Old and New Covenant sacraments. They ate “the same spiritual” food. They drank from “the same spiritual” Rock. Paul says it was Christ. Moses is a type of Christ. Note that all of the sacraments are external, in both Old and New Covenants. So that is not a point of contrast. All of the sacraments are spiritual, in both Old… Read more »
Katecho, please explain what you see the difference is between circumcision and baptism in the Old Covenant. How is circumcision different from being baptized into Moses? What is the difference in what they mean? Is baptism the means by entering the Mosaic covenant? If so, why was it only one generation? Was the Jordan crossing a baptism into Joshua? If so, again, why only one generation? Also, how do you determine which aspects of these wilderness wandering sacraments to carry into the new. Obviously we can’t cross the Red Sea to be baptized. And we can’t baptize everybody at once.… Read more »
The questions in the first paragraph are honest questions (not piling them up to make a rhetorical point) and if you can work through them one by one that would be helpful in me understanding your position.
Correction: not SIMPLY piling them up to make a rhetorical point. I was attempting to make the rhetorical point that I don’t think anyone quite understands what Paul means by “baptized into Moses” which is why I become suspicious when paedos use that verse. That is why it gives the appearance of cherry picking a verse to support a doctrine.
“Letters to an Awkward Dorky Guy”
One title………so many autobiographies! ; – )
A little further on the question of nephilim. Someone pointed out once that we only ever see faithful angels manifested in a body of their own in scripture. They postulated that God himself simply created bodies as needed, but fallen angels would be pretty unlikely to have that boon granted. Hence possession. That doesn’t really leave a tidy answer to what nephilim really are. May just simply be one of those questions we can ask when we get there.
You probably know this, but there are many who disagree that the “Sons of God” are angelic/demonic beings at all – rather, that they are the Sethites, the Godly lineage. This is a long standing position going back before (and through) Augustine. Doug’s position on this is a minority among reformed theologians, and, for what little it’s worth, I think he is wrong.
Here is Jim Jordan discussing his understanding of the Nephilim: