Intransigence is Such a Great Word
Regarding your well detailed essay on godly intransigence I have experienced significant whiplash on this matter. Back in 2004 I had moved to my new home in an area populated with Democrats. Since this was a presidential election year I knew the overall sentiment was for John Kerry based on the signs populating the yards—signs for Kerry and those deriding President Bush. As a dutiful Republican I went to the local Republican office and picked up my Bush sign. Here’s the issue: I had a neighbor a few houses down who had signs expressing his displeasure with the President, and those in particular disturbed me. I stood facing his yard and with less-than-godly intransigence I jammed the sign into the ground and I’m sure muttered a few ungodly words. Now remember, I had just moved to the area and no one really knew me. Well they did now, at least they thought they did, because I was a Republican—or worse a Bush supporter. After several days I started to think about what I had done. I became convicted that my sign-jamming was less than pleasing to God. Not because it was wrong to show my support, but it was not the right manner of intransigence. I realized it was out of order. I declared my support of the President to my neighbors before they had a chance to know me. I had made my Christian faith secondary. Before one word was uttered from my mouth I was branded by my neighbors as one of “those guys.” I realize it’s not wrong to be one of “those guys,” but I regretted that I didn’t get to know my neighbors first before declaring political support without providing context. That’s why I appreciate your statement: “Intransigence is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to life, as a handful of hard cases seem to believe.” That is the essence. Sometimes godly intransigence may be a firm resolute statement confronting wrong or evil thinking, sometimes it’s more nuanced. My lesson has been godly intransigence requires humble prayer and an awareness that were it not for God’s grace, I would be on the receiving end of correction for my ungodly ways.
Ron, thank you. Good distinction.
I have been reading for some time and count myself among the young men seeking to chart a faithful course in these choppy seas who find your writing a very helpful guide. Indeed, I find myself forming certain thoughts as I continually try to assess our culture from a biblical social imaginary only to find you saying it as well and better. Sort of like thinking God’s thoughts after Him and after you, in the proper order and in the humility of our human limitations. Finding some alignment in that sense helps me to think that perhaps I am not insane after all. This intransigence piece is a prime example. Having attended one of Andy Stanley’s churches in my early adult life and with many friends and family still there, I cannot understand how a move toward complete reliance on the trustworthiness of Christ could feel like a retreat to the citadel and not a charge into the whole Earth of which He is Lord and Master. So it is that your writing unabashedly for the reformation of our society explicitly on the basis of Christian faith is equally inspiring and heartening. My sense is that others like myself find a growing itch to fight—and your insights help us to know when, where and how, recognizing that much of the battle remains within. Thank you for leading the charge.
Re: Intransigence as the Key to Reform Amen. We’re testing an intransigence club here in Godly Southern California. It turns out even lefty jurists don’t like government entities withholding business from even casual vendors on the basis of their political opinions. The penalties are substantial and they can be used to put fear in those who face off against Christian intransigence. Link.
James, thanks for the link.
Put your church and denomination on notice that: You aren’t going anywhere. And you aren’t going to change. Is this as opposed to the practice of the orthodox over the last two or three generations, which has been “You aren’t going to change. I’m going away somewhere?” Wonder if it would work in reverse. For example, what if the orthodox showed up in numbers in, say the PCUSA, and announced “We’re baaaack! And we haven’t changed!?” Wonder what would happen then?
John, exactly. We have been taking our ball and going home for a long time now. Maybe we should try something else.
A Vaccine Question
I am so appreciative of all the wise counsel your family provides in the way of books, articles, and speaking engagements. Thank you! I hear what you are saying in your “brief word on vaccines,” and I respect where you are coming from. Can you provide your thoughts on aborted fetal cells being used as vaccine ingredients, and the morality of participating in the end product? According to the CDC website, there are a decent handful of vaccines using specifically WI-38 and MRC-5 (aborted infants according to the CDC). The only life-honoring choice that I plainly see is to refuse these particular vaccines on account of the morality of the issue. I welcome your thoughts.
Kasey, thanks for the question. In my mind, the use of the remains of aborted children at the headwaters of some vaccines is the one (very) strong anti-vaccine argument. And I am pretty sure I wrote an article on it somewhere here at Mablog, and the only problem is that I can’t find it. So, with your permission, can I crowd source this one? Does anybody remember if I wrote on this and, if so, where it might be?
Saw the following and had to send it: link : There is a 3D printed vegan “steak” out there. The reaction of the diner is exactly everything you opined in Food Catholic. Smug to infinity! There’s so much to grin about here that I wanted to thank you again for Food Catholic, my wife and I are enjoying every scrumptious page.
Ron, thanks. Glad you are enjoying the book.
On Keeping Your Kids
Sanctification and the Bell Curve/Keep Your Kids: How do you distinguish between promises and principles? For instance I have heard parents cling to Proverbs 22:6 as a promise when their little Bobby is off at college living like a heathen. I have been taught that this verse is a principle (as well as most of the Proverbs) to live by, but not a promise. Do you agree and how do you go about deciphering which it is? Thank you!
Chadd, yes. I believe it is a proverb, which means it is not in the same category as “all triangles have three sides.” But proverbs are generally true, which is not the same thing as meaningless. Hard work leads to wealth, laziness to poverty. There are exceptions, but we are supposed to use proverbs in order to teach in a way that affects behavior. And Proverbs teaches us that when children live disgracefully, and parents are ashamed, this is an appropriate response. And besides, parents who cling hard to Prov. 22:6 ought to lean in the direction of the conditional. Did they bring him up in the way he should go?
Was Adam Chinese?
Correction. Adam and Eve couldn’t have been Chinese, because if they were, the Fall would not have happened . . . they would have eaten the snake.
Steve, my hypothetical did not consider that angle.
I read somewhere years ago that there was archaeological (human remains) evidence of a Caucasian presence in now-China before the evolution/arrival of Asiatics in the territory? Info was stated or implied to be suppressed or minimized, like alleged evidence about early “white” presence in the Americas. haven’t read anything about Chinese being in Cleveland around Adam/Eve time—maybe they were (!), but have to ask: were the Asiatic races separated out from other races at time of biblical first couple (whenever that time was)?
Malcolm, here is the short answer. I believe that the different ethnic groupings that we have today are all downstream from the Tower of Babel, and are the result of genetic traits being reinforced by intermarriages within cultural and linguistic communities. That said, the antediluvians would have looked more like one of our current races that the others, and the point of my joke is that we should not consider that antediluvian type to have been Caucasian.
On Learning From Women
Thanks for the recommend! This seems like a fitting place to ask a question that I’ve been meaning to run by you for some time. I know there is a difference between women preaching from the pulpit, and reading female authors. And in the black and white cases (such as pulpits and books) it remains fairly clear. How would you articulate the boundaries in terms of something like a college campus ministry? There is actual preaching (as in when I speak), but then we also have invited some of the older ladies from our congregation to give their testimony to the mixed group. I feel fairly comfortable with that, since they are simply telling what God has done in their lives, and as such is profitable for all of us. But would there be a place for Mrs. Dillehay to come and give a talk on envy in that setting? Would CRF ask her to come give that talk to a mixed group? If so, how would articulate the difference between that kind of theological instruction and the pulpit? If not, how would you articulate the difference between men reading the book, and men listening to her give a talk on the topic? Thanks!
Joe, I distinguish between women teaching men and men learning from women. The former is prohibited, and the latter is inescapable. So I would boil it down to intention and presentation. If Nancy is speaking to a women’s group at a church somewhere, and their sound guy up in the booth learns something, that is no problem. That is not how Nancy was setting herself up. So panel discussions are fine, testimonies are fine, even if men learn something. But an approach that opens the Word with authority, if a woman is doing it, and if men are present, and if she is addressing them in that way—not fine.
Love and Respect
As a cardiac surgeon in today’s work environment, I have many female colleagues, both as fellow surgeons and as support staff (PA’s, nurses, etc.). Is it appropriate to use the understanding of the love/respect dynamic in work relationships? Obviously there are barriers and lines not to cross, and there is the inherently backward cultural phenomenon of mom leaving the home for 80-100hrs/week to do her cardiac career . . . but with those qualifications, should I “be a companion” when my female colleagues have a hard time in a case or lose a patient?
Nathan, I would use the love/respect dynamic at work only in the broadest possible contexts (e.g. groups). In any other way, you are playing with a lit stick of dynamite.
Regarding “Loving Her, Respecting Him,” I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it better said than this. My husband chortled heavily, and I’m quite sure “you’re messing with my nail” might become a byword and a proverb in our home. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/5O11_Ma20Rk
Monique, yes. That clip is a good example why the Internet can be such a blessing.
How Jesus Picked Fights
I recently watched your YouTube video of how Jesus picked fights. So, I began to read the gospel of Matthew through the lens that you set forth in your video. I discovered that Jesus was a hard nose on many occasions especially when interacting with people who were in positions of influence and he ripped on his disciples pretty often and at one point declared that he was getting tired of a group seeking for signs as foundations for their faith. And Paul was no slacker either. He is was a master at sanctified sarcasm. Thanks for the new perspective on Jesus. I think it makes me love him more. He’s the big brother that makes the bullies back down.
Tony, exactly. It is amazing how many people read the gospels and come away with the idea that Jesus was a buttercup.
Our Interaction Continues
With no desire to continue the dispute—as I also understand and believe to be your desire—in light of your latest letters column, I simply wanted to make sure that you had seen my public reply in the comments thread of my last article, replying to your “A Gent Named Hohn Cho” piece, which I will re-paste below for convenience:
“I will simply say in response, hopefully for the benefit of clarity rather than being trivially quarrelsome: 1) No offense was taken by me at all for Wilson’s use of “gent,” I quoted it with bemusement, and at the end of that paragraph I reiterated that I really do consider myself someone of no real account. With that said, I greatly appreciate his clarification, and he has my earnest thanks for it. 2) To be clear, I’ve never called CREC a “toy denomination” and certainly didn’t intend to imply that. I would never feel comfortable doing so, based on the little I know about them. My only point in raising the issue of (again, potential) bias is because that is an inherent danger in ALL in-house investigations . . . not that they’re inherently invalid, but that the pressure to soft-pedal is real. Whether and to what extent that happened in the CREC Report, I couldn’t and wouldn’t say, because that is precisely the type of irresponsible charge without evidence that I deplore. 3) I agree on the importance of impartiality and share Wilson’s (and God’s) hatred of double-standards. Here’s an article where I wrote about precisely that, and I’ve referred to the concept in several other articles. And based on what I’ve seen so far, I do think an independent investigation of issues in the SBC could be appropriate as well. With that said, I know that they’re also in the midst of their own investigation from the 2018 annual meeting, and so with the same caution about in-house investigations that I raised above, I think it’s also appropriate to see how that turns out in a couple of months. As for when and how one calls for investigations, I agree with Phil’s point from his last article: “My position is and always has been that serious charges of spiritual or sexual abuse should never be automatically rebuffed by the elders of a church. All such accusations do need to be investigated thoroughly and without partiality.” And I think one could extend that to any crime or serious wrong, such as a morally disqualifying charge. I think the rub lies in what would constitute a “serious charge” and perhaps that’s a good topic for a future article. In any event, as with all matters of wisdom, there is danger in straying too far to the right or left, on one side you have the danger of sweeping things under the rug and allowing real problems and even crimes to persist, on the other side you have the danger of investigation-palooza distracting you from anything productive . . . or even sucking you into the “wokehole” Wilson has warned about. Regardless, sincere thanks to Wilson for his final reply.”
. . . and some private comments.
Hohn, no, I had not seen your comments, and so thanks for posting them here. And thanks for tying this off with some gracious words. Let me do my part by agreeing with you that the pressure to cover for old friends can be a very real one. Good old boy networks do exist, and we have proverbs about sweeping things under the carpet for a reason. But we also have words like scapegoat for a reason, and the pressures to throw somebody out of your club when they become a PR liability is also a very real pressure. So for the sake of consistency, I am glad that you are open to the SBC calling for an investigation, but until they figure out how to do so in a way that honors biblical principle and their established polity, they really must lay off of CJ and the Sovereign Grace Churches. It is a really bad look to be distancing yourself from someone because he is not doing what you are simultaneously not doing, and with more manifold reasons for needing to do it. Equal weights and measures. If you think the SBC should consider an investigation, then your opinion should be that Sovereign Grace should consider one.
In my view, what has happened up to this point is just not right, simply not equitable. My fear is that it is ecclesiastical politics, and not biblical justice.
Hohn, thanks again for posting here.