Electronically Dispatched Missives

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NQN

Last day of NQN coincides with last day to hunt with a rifle where I live.

Coincidence?!

Jordan

Jordan, total coincidence, or at least as much of one as a Calvinist can allow.

Dear Pastor Wilson,

Thank you for all the free books you gave me this November.

Pastor Ryan

Ryan, you are most welcome.

Another home run for NQNov!

As a US person who now lives in Canada, would like to propose their/our Thanksgiving traditions for our/their Thanksgiving:

Call it a “day of thanks,” keep all the food traditions, Macy’s parade (and perhaps the Madison Square Garden dog show), and drop the “woke”.

Susan

Susan, you are on the right track.

Assorted Questions

One of the things I’ve been most helped by is your cheerfulness and joviality as you address any and all things. I thank God for that in you. So it wasn’t surprising to me that you exhorted your congregation to give thanks “in” and “for” all things. It’s a good word to be reminded that we can always make a bad situation worse if we add misery and bitterness to it.

How would you say Christian lament fits into this? The book of Lamentations and many of the Psalms are not simply saints giving thanks for difficult circumstances. My wife and I have observed that many believers experiencing loss and trial, in the name of trying to please the Lord, seem to adopt a sort of “God is good” mentality, but in such a way that they won’t even acknowledge that death is an enemy, that Jesus wept when Lazarus died, and that we are told to weep with those weep. In an attempt to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” they are more in a place of trying to hide bitter sorrow, and rejoicing in a way that’s more akin to a smile when the dentist pulls your lips apart than the joy of the Spirit.

Nick

Nick, you are exactly right — it is not simply happy, happy, joy, joy. If you don’t weep with those who weep, you aren’t really paying attention. Christian stamina in joy is not stoicism.

I’m attempting to write a defense for paedobaptism, and in my section regarding the objectivity of the covenant I’m confused as to how to determine when one is within the covenant or without it. Your book “Reformed is Not Enough” doesn’t cover Christians who convert to Mormonism or Islam, while having been baptized in the true Church under the true God. Are they still considered Christians and “false” brothers? Are they divorced at that point if they change gods? Thanks for your help and ministry.

Ali

Ali, those who go after another god are apostates, and thus reveal that they never had an ultimate connection to Christ. They were part of the visible church, from which they have fallen away.

In one of your many blog posts concerning Federal Vision, you referenced a book that you read in your early days that traced some of the different views of the covenant in Reformed theology over history. The reason you cited this book was to show that some of the views designated “Federal Vision” have a long history in the Reformed tradition. I can’t for the life of me find that blog post back, and I can’t remember the author or title . . . but would love to read it.

If you’re able to recall what it is I’m referring to, it would be much appreciated.

Thanks.

Jon

Jon, I pretty sure that would have been an essay on the church by John Murray. I think it is in Vol. 4 of his Collected Works.

So since you favor a ban on gay marriage, do you also favor a ban on divorce except for adultery and desertion? Would you change the law so that those are the only two reasons to permit divorce?

Mike

Mike, great question. And the answer is no because Jesus expressly tells us that Moses allowed for ungodly divorce in the civil realm because of “hardness of heart.” Such people ought to be excommunicated from faithful churches if they obtain an ungodly divorce, but Scripture teaches that marriages contracted after such a divorce are true marriages (unlike same sex mirage), and are to be treated as such.

I’m a father of 4 struggling to discern how many kids God wants me to have. Would you be willing to write a public letter counseling fathers with the same concern and/or provide a book review of A Christian Case Against Contraception by Bryan Hodge?

Thanks!

John

John, thanks for the suggestion. In the meantime, here is something I have written in the general area. Link here.

I am in my mid-twenties with a wife, a toddler, and a child on the way. We live very frugally (not austerely), which is just grand, because my current salary is low and I’m the only person in the house drawing one (my wife stays at home). We are not in debt (apart from our mortgage, which is reasonable), nor do we suffer any serious privation regarding food or vehicles or medical care, and we have ample savings, but money is occasionally tight (I say this not to complain of course; this is a fairly common issue among young people starting families). My wife has discovered that we may be eligible for food stamps worth about $100 a month when our next child gets here. My question is, is it licit to receive this benefit, given that we qualify? I have reservations about hand-outs, but I do work full-time, and a little extra money for food a month would lower our expenses and that would help. Am I gaming the system, or stealing from the taxpayer?

I apologize if you have answered this question in the past.

Thanks,

Will

Will, thanks for the question. I am hesitant to declare something like that a “sin,” but I do want to use whatever influence I have to encourage Christians to avoid such things whenever possible. The state really is oppressive, with both benefits and requirements. We ought not to kick at the requirements unless we have learned how to refuse the benefits first. So if you can make it without, I would urge you to do so.

Madness of Crowds

Book of the Month/December 2019 – I am definitely going to read this one. The interviews he’s done are fascinating as well, and very good promos for the book. One wonders if the our so-called guardians of the faith will have the sense to be ashamed at the superior quality of his reasoning vis a vis theirs but I would expect they won’t even notice. Maybe their salaries depend on them not noticing.

Roger

Roger, yes, maybe so.

When the Man Comes Around

Re: When the Man Comes Around. I have two or three questions. I’ll ask one today. Up until early in Rev. 20, the farthest we get in history is A.D. 70. Then partway through chapter 20, we are transported to the end of history. But with chapters 21 and 22, we are brought back to circa A.D. 70 to watch the church descend into history and given a picture of the church in history (and I assume in its fullness). It all seems a bit herky jerky. Any thoughts about the back and forth rather than showing us all of history first then the end?

Bill

Bill, I don’t take the last chapters of Revelation in a futurist way, but rather in a historicist way. In other words, it is preterist through most of the book, and then the descent of the New Jerusalem is what is taking place down throughout the rest of church history, culminating in its complete presence here.

I am in the middle of “When the Man Comes Around,” your excellent new commentary on Revelation, and I wondered if you could comment on something related to the location of Armageddon. From your book:

“The word Armageddon means Mountain of Meggido, and the location referred to is probably Mount Carmel, where Elijah defeated the priests of Baal. This is the nearest mountain to the plain of Meggido. That battlefield was used more than once . . . And so the grim reality represented by this convulsive battle is most likely to be understood as the demolition of Jerusalem.” (pg. 191)

Here’s what I was wondering: You commended your readers to Heiser’s “The Unseen Realm” awhile back and I did in fact read it. One of the interesting sections in there (sorry I don’t have the book anymore or the location of this reference) made an interesting case that what we have translated Meggido in the relevant passages may in fact be best translated something like “The Mountain of the LORD” (sorry, I don’t remember the actual translation), which he in turn made a case for meaning the Temple Mount in Jerusalem itself. The argument seemed reasonable, but I am no scholar, but it really struck me when I was reading your book that the idea of Armageddon being Jerusalem fits very well indeed into your reading of Revelation, so I was just curious if you had reviewed his argument regarding the translation of Meggido from that book and what your thoughts were.

Joseph

Joseph, I read his book, and enjoyed it very much (except for the lame and unnecessary section on Calvinism). But I did not dig deep with regard to that point.

Marriage and Divorce

I appreciate your Exceptions and Loopholes article. Regarding this part: “First, they noted that when it came to how people want to get out of unhappy marriages, they are apt to “study arguments.” ” You see this all over the American conservative evangelical churches (and I assume non-American). Whether its those “women preachers” or those revoicers or many others . . . we look for ways to submit to the letter of the law while hating the spirit of God’s word. It seems like it always comes down to the question of do we want to submit to God or not? Is the Law of the Lord really good? A man after God’s heart – David – loves God’s law. I think we should too. Also, I wanted to thank you for differentiating between divorce and separation. Helpful. Thank you.

Nathan

Nathan, thanks.

In “Exceptions and Loopholes,” you write, “A wife who is abused by her husband should obviously be protected by her church.” In the case of actual abuse, how does a church maintain a distinction from the civil magistrate (WCF 30.1)? Should elders put up the wife and children in one of their homes?

Alternatively, what if a civil court has declared there to be no abuse, but a local session believes that abuse has occurred?

Jeremy

Jeremy, yes, putting her up, or helping her afford a safe place to be. And if the civil magistrate doesn’t prosecute the husband for abuse, and the elders believe that the wife remains in danger, they should help her stay out of range. At the same time, they need to distinguish separation and divorce, and be working for the husband’s repentance.

One verse which you implied but which I did not see quoted was the verse in Matthew in which the Lord Jesus teaches that anyone who divorces his wife for any reason save adultery is essentially guilty of that sin, and that anyone who married an unbiblically divorced woman whose husband was still alive was also an adulterer. There seem to be few people who will take applications from this, I have very rarely heard anyone’s salvation questioned because of remarrying while an unbiblically divorced spouse was still alive, though I have heard salvation questioned on account of cohabitation, theft, covetousness, and even a despairing attitude (this is not to say that true Christians never divorce unbiblically). If unjustified divorce, and remarriage after an unbiblical divorce, were preached as being a form of adultery, a thing a Christian should not do, many marriages that end in divorce would have be saved. Another thing of note is that, although divorce in the case of adultery is more or less permissible, it is never encouraged in any passage I am aware of, and the book of Hosea seems to suggest that it is not usually the best thing to do, as Hosea was told to reconcile with his wife who had been involved in prostitution and had likely given birth to two children out of wedlock

James

James, all of which is to say that divorce and remarriage ought to be a much bigger deal to us in the church than it currently is.

SBC and the Old #9

In your excellent commentary on the recent Southern Baptist resolutions (in Rez Zoh Looo Tion #9), I was dumbstruck upon reading an even more egregious resolution, that while outside the scope of your article, is even worse than the one under consideration. To wit:

“we do not deny that ethnic, gender, and cultural distinctions exist and are a gift from God”

As anyone who has paid attention to the homosexual agenda over the last 30 years or so, the word “gender” has replaced the word “sex” when referring to whether someone is a man or a woman. Gender being an arbitrary cultural/linguistic distinction whereas sex is something immutable, thus setting the stage for the acceptance of the current trans-mania.

The inclusion of this arbitrary gender preference in the quoted resolution as being a gift from God, is an abomination of the highest order. Of course, the author may have possibly used the wrong word by mistake, when he actually meant to use the word sex, but then why is it sandwiched in between such relative terms as ethnic and cultural? And if he did mean the two sexes as a gift from God, seeing how no one could possibly think of denying such a gift, why is it included in the list? Methinks the resolution’s author is more “woke” than is first evident.

While “wokeness” and anti-whiteness is a terrible thing and is setting the stage for genocide, the subtle trans agenda is destructive to the entire human race. It is absolutely Satanic and has been creeping up on us for decades with the misuse of the word “gender.” I welcome your comments on the trans-agenda and the inclusion of “trans” acceptance in this resolution. If you could even devote an entire article to it, I will look earnestly for it.

Scott

Scott, good catch.

Climate Questions

Thanks for the list of questions you raise about Global warming which I think you’ve mentioned a couple of times now (they were, forgive the paraphrasing: 1. Is it happening? 2. Is it bad? 3. Is it caused by humans? 4. Can humans stop it? 5. What role do governments have/do they have the God given authority to do what they want to do?).

I think there’s one more question that needs to be added to make a complete list, namely: Supposing humans are able to stop global warming, are the costs of doing that action less than the costs associated with global warming taking place? Together, these six questions seem to provide an excellent tool to start discussing global warming with and if anyone answers any one of them negatively then they can happily claim the title of being a ‘Climate denier’.

Josh

Josh, that’s a good addition to the questions.

Tying in with ‘Idiocracy’:

Not sure if you’re a regular reader/listener of Mark Steyn, but he just released video of a recent panel discussion he hosted on climate change. One of the scientists on the panel described the atmosphere (moving on . . .) inside the climate science community. It seems some secularists also suffer from good old-fashioned cowardice as well. Here’s the link (good for a long drive or workout):

Bryce

Bryce, thanks for the link.

Thanks, and Thanks Back

I am, after seeing your recommendation to another poster regarding typology , reading the book “Christ and His Rivals.” My thoughts might be premature, but at this juncture (and after reading many of your works) I consider this one of your very best. It is an excellent review of and for the primacy of Jesus Christ, and for the principle of submitting one’s understanding of Scripture by submission to God explaining Himself.

It is quite bewildering to see the turn that the modern evangelical church has made away from the understanding of (capital K) King and Lord and towards compartmentalization. I am writing this today (Thanksgiving Day) after reading something that President Washington (from his proclamation) obviously knew, that many church official and “thought leaders” no longer know: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor. . .”

Duty? All nations??? I can hear young Greta chastising him right now: How dare he!!!

We are thankful, and thank you for a good book.

Gray

Gray, thanks.

Accreditation Blues

In a 2014 post called “Their Temples of Reason,” regarding some controversies over your brother Gordon teaching a microbiology course at U of I, the issue of accreditation came up. I was wondering what your thoughts were on unaccredited seminaries. I am not talking about training centers like Greyfriar’s Hall; I am specifically talking about institutions like Whitefield Theological Seminary in Florida or Birmingham Theological Seminary in Alabama—because they are cheap, and I wouldn’t have to move my family. Truly, I was just wanting to know if you think that they would be worth it from the ministerial-preparation aspect. My church would obviously have the primary hand in my pastoral shaping (and they do), but would either of those institutions provide me with a good foundation on the theological levels. Thanks!

Desiring to build and fight with you,

Gage

Gage, the main thing you would have to consider in situations like that is what would be accepted and received in the areas where it is likely you would be ministering. In other words, there is the training itself (which could be good), and there is the reputation (which could vary). So my unsatisfactory answer is . . . it depends.

Jim Jordan on Deuteronomy

Re: this week’s letters, you can find Jordan’s Deuteronomy outline here, beginning on p. 57 and with the ten commandments structure beginning on p. 59:

He cites Kaiser for some history of the idea, but has amendments to Kaiser’s own outline.

Scott

Scott, thanks for the link.

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Armin
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Armin

Will, I don’t know if you’ll see this, but just in case: You don’t need to feel bad about using food stamps. Any reasonable person would support a social safety that helps out a situation like yours (a family with multiple children with a breadwinner father and stay-at-home mother). Obviously, the social safety net in our country isn’t typically used for that, but as long as you’re using it for the kind of legitimate purpose it would have in a sane society, it’s valid. Maybe another way to look at it: If you knew someone in a situation similar to… Read more »

-BJ-
Guest
-BJ-

I will second Armin in this. I personally lived in Section 8 housing for several months right after I was married until I found satisfactory work (in between working onesie twosie construction jobs here and there), and I also took a student loan forgiveness for around $7000 after working as an English teacher in the inner city for 5+ years.

I don’t like the welfare system we have that traps people into dependence on the government, but I am far less libertarian than Doug, and a society that provides a modest social safety net is not wrong.

JP Stewart
Member

BJ and Will are textbook cases of the welfare state “working.” Unfortunately, its proponents will point to rare examples like yours instead of tens of thousands living off the dole for multiple generations.

I don’t have a problem with rare/limited uses like you’re talking about…since you’re working while receiving “benefits” and will probably repay the system many times over later in life. But it in no way justifies the current system which (in some cases) allows people to live a near middle-class lifestyle for “free” if you really know how to game it..

Katecho
Member

-BJ- wrote: … a society that provides a modest social safety net is not wrong. Agreed that the problem isn’t with a social safety net, but the question is which institution has God given for the purpose of social safety and benevolence? The swordbearing institution has usurped the compassion role that God clearly gave to the Church, with devastating consequences for society. The Church’s abdication of benevolence has also contributed to its own lack of social relevance today. Male and female roles are increasingly confused and backward in relation to the institution of marriage, and a similar perversion and backwardness… Read more »

Anne
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Anne

Re Nick’s letter about believers experiencing loss and trial and adopting a God is good mentality: I believe the greatest danger in trials is falling into a complainy-pants mentality where you kick against it, covertly think that God was unjust to allow it, and hold a grudge against God for taking away blessings. The fact that bad things are bad is self evident, and weeping about it is normal initially, but one cannot live in a state of endless sorrow without becoming twisted into bitterness. One cannot learn the lesson from the rod without getting your eyes off the sorrow… Read more »

Jeff Singletary
Guest

The laments have taken on new meaning for me. My wife was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at 55. She’s now 61. It is a disease of unending grief and loss.

Brooks and the other Puritans have written helpfully on suffering. It is one thing to have read their writings and pondered the Scriptures. I’ve found it quite another to navigate this path. It is not as if I was blindsided. The difficulty of it all is overwhelming many days.

JohnM
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JohnM

My late mother spent her last few years enduring – there’s no choice in it – the downward spiral of Alzheimer’s, and the family endured with her. She was not diagnosed at nearly as early an age as your wife. I wish ever so much I could do more than express compassion for you; I do that for what it is worth. I believe you on the overwhelming part, and I would not offer platitudes. I trust there are people in your life who offer more immediate and practical compassion?

Jeff Singletary
Guest

Yes. It has amazing to see the providential hand of God at work. People have popped back into our lives with whom we’d not had contact for years.; good and faithful brothers and sisters. They’ve wanted to help and we’ve let them. That’s a hard part.

-BJ-
Guest
-BJ-

John, Thanks for your question. I am in the same boat. Number 4 is six months old. I just turned 39 and my wife is 37. We are both physically able to have more children, and we are in a good enough place financially to have more children. Our biggest concern is her health. The last pregnancy was hard, but not so troublesome that the docs are saying not to get pregnant. I am generally opposed to birth control for selfish reasons, but we are in a real gray area. Just not sure. Doug’s article wasn’t really helpful in that… Read more »

Rob
Guest
Rob

BJ, The birth of our 4th child was also very difficult for my wife, and left me in a place where, like you, it seemed dangerous enough to have any more that we took all the precautions we deemed prudent to avoid her getting pregnant again. Despite our best efforts, 4 years later God gave us another one, and though I was extremely nervous about how it would go, the birth of that child took place without incident or undue difficulty. We now have 8, including one with Down Syndrome, and I can’t imagine a life without every one of… Read more »

-BJ-
Guest
-BJ-

Thank you for your story, Rob.

Blessings to you and your family.