Everybody’s a Critic
” I do not know what possessed him to strangle the SCOTUS nomination of Merrick Garland in the cradle . . .” Under the circumstances, where are the metaphor police, when you really need them?
A Dad, it’s an expression. From the olden days.
Your description of your hesitancy in voting for Trump mirrors my own, and I beg you to not be too hard on yourself (or me) for misreading the signs. The signs were, even in retrospect, that Trump was not to be trusted, and in many important ways, I still believe that is worth mulling, should he gear up for a 2024 run. The only conclusion I can draw regarding Trump’s role in the abolition of Roe is that, like in the fight between David and Goliath, God always wins His battles in the end. It was not Trump, and it was not the Trump supporters, who won last week.
But the lesson is worth noting, and I hope we learn the right one. I hope we do not start looking for other Trumps in the future. His character flaws are still many, and the evidence clearly shows that he is no Constitutional scholar.
No, Trump is a pragmatist. And he made a bargain with Conservatives who were themselves unwilling from a position of authority to take on the left and the media (but I repeat myself) on judges. Unlike the “reputable Republicans” we’ve become accustomed to (and angry at) over the years, Trump’s pragmatism demanded that he keep his word on judges. And he did. By God’s grace, he did.
We don’t need to chase after another Trump, whose signals are difficult to read and whose actions are difficult to predict because of his greatly publicized flaws. We just need someone who will do what he says he’s going to do, who **also** says he will do the right thing. Self-government is meaningless if the people cannot predict—at least in broad strokes—how someone will govern in office.
For decades we have voted for “reputable” people who we thought would do what they said they would, but didn’t. They voted for a promise that turned out to be false, and therefore could not say that they were governing themselves. And many people didn’t trust Trump because his character indicated he wouldn’t do what he said he would do. To reasonable people, he was unpredictable. That isn’t any more “self-government” than flipping a coin or rolling dice. Our lesson ought not be that we should roll the dice.
So let us be both grateful and humble. God wins his battles in the end. He is gracious. But we must walk faithfully whatever path that is before us, not try to “game the system” for our own glory.
Cam, thanks for the feedback. I do believe that I had grounds for my doubts back then. I wasn’t hallucinating. All my reasons still make sense to me—so I haven’t apologized for my 2016. But I am acknowledging the swing and a miss of my 2016 vote. And I can’t get away from the irony of the fact that the pragmatist Trump was far more principled than the principled ones, who are far more pragmatic, as they see it, than he was.
On Roe Reversal Rainbow Month: I’m a pretty staunch Federalist/Libertarian, and this goes along with my engineering degree—it’s not only important that the right thing be done, but at least as important that it gets done correctly. So for me seeing Roe tossed out is almost as much a victory for fixing our system’s mechanics as it is for saving lives. Which leads me to my next point: I think the way to fight for life at the Federal level would NOT be to enact legislation to regulate abortions, but to try and settle the definition in our legal system of when personhood begins—and let all that entails shake itself out afterwards. Thoughts?
Ian, I do agree that the battle should be over personhood, which means we will have to debate why there is such a thing as personhood at all. Which takes us straight back to Darwin.
Enjoying praise and worship on the day Roe died, I ran across this piece, and thought of you.
Do any of your books or blog posts address the question of honoring parents? I’ve had conversations recently with people who tend to see it as very malleable—as strict or permissive as one wants it to be. They might give lip service to the concept but in reality dismiss any opportunity to obey or show deference to their parents’ opinions or input, saying that that commandment does not mean they had to do what their parents asked in that situation. Obviously, I don’t think the commandments requires us to obey all requests from our parents (speaking as an adult), so I was hoping for some insight into the topic! Thanks!
Noel, I would start here.
A Different Sort of Question
First off I’d like to say that you and your work have been a huge blessing for me, so thank you for everything you’ve written and for being the stalwart Puritan Cavalier that you are. I recently became aware of the Tripartite/Bipartite debate within Christianity, and I was wondering where you land on the issue and if you had any resources on the matter that you would recommend reading.
Luke, thanks for the kind words. I haven’t fully landed. I lean toward the triparite position (that we are made up of body, soul, and spirit), but I read something fairly recently in Berkof that brought me back a couple of ticks (toward the position that we are body and soul). Currently I would just say that if the tripartite position is true, Hebrews says that we are in no position to describe it in any detail (Heb. 4:12)
Laws of Attraction
In regards to your post, Laws of Attraction, I’d like some advice for my current situation. As I measure myself to what a man must (labeled the “need to have”) be prior to a relationship, I find myself disheartened by the absence of those qualities in myself. My question would just be, where do I go from here? What do I do? Need guidance.
Josh, two things. First, factor in your personality when it comes to how you would assess yourself. Are you an introspective type, in other words? But if your negative assessment is more objective than that, then find the strongest church you know of, join it, and throw yourself into the pursuit of God.
I dated and intimately involved with a man in my church (sexually and emotionally) and was led to believe we were on our way to the altar. He had a mysterious change of heart and I’ve been confused, angry and ashamed of myself for the sexual sin and for not guarding my heart. Problem now is that I have a nearly unbearable amount of stress seeing this man at church. Someone outside of my church suggested I start attending a new church but I can’t bear the thought of losing my beloved church community (where both family and the majority of my friends attend) in addition to the loss of the relationship. Do I stay or do I go and if I do stay, any advice for how to overcome the stress/pain I still feel knowing he’s going to be there? For the most part I’m okay and staying busy/happy but then when Sunday rolls around I get dizzy from the stress and my stomach is in knots. It definitely feels like a divorce, and sometimes a death. Your content in the Dawson/Darla letters resonates deeply. Curious how you’d counsel people in the same church community dealing with a broken relationship where sinful intimacy was involved.
Darla’s sister, there are two things going on here. One is the hurt from the broken relationship (and perhaps your hopes that it will all still work out somehow), but the other thing is the unresolved issue of sin. Has he sought your forgiveness for his behavior, and have you sought his? If not, then I would seek pastoral help in getting through that. This should not be an attempt to get back together, but rather an attempt to clear up things in your heart that are hindering your ability to worship. But I wouldn’t change churches over something like this.
The Art of Attraction
Just a couple thoughts that occurred to me as I read. One is that nowadays plenty of women who focus on career and marry later seem to do quite well at attracting the kind of men that are attractive to women, and at making babies with them too. It seems to be a matter of proximity and association. Like marries like. Well educated men marry well educated women. Less educated women end up with less educated men who are of relatively lower socio-economic status; men who don’t top the male attractiveness chart. It seems to me the kind of man you would commend as attractive to a woman is the kind of man more likely to have gone to college and to have the focus and discipline to be well launched into a career himself. A very young, less educated, woman is less likely to be in association with such men or even what they are really looking for. What you say about the consequences of a woman postponing marriage and focusing on career sounds intuitively correct to me too, but my intuition is contradicted by my observation, if I’m honest. I think our intuition may be a little dated and perhaps 40 really is the new 30, etc.
Your advice to Darla has it that she is a Rachel. What if she is a Leah? What can we say to those women? What advice do you give women, or men for that matter, who are not major league material?
John, while I know there are exceptions, I believe we have a much larger contingent of older unmarrieds than did previous generations. As for your last question, this comes down to us rejecting the flattery of our entertainment standards. A lot of men, and a lot of women too, do not understand what league they are in. Put bluntly, there are plenty of men who are not major league material either. Part of our problem is that people hold out for something that is not going to happen.
A Reasonable Question
Why are you not posting on Gab anymore?
Daisy, it is simply a question of hours in the day. I am not posting nearly as much on the other platforms either, and it is because I am swamped. Time is being taken up with all the Canon+ stuff.
Church Discipline; Questions
Can you explain a little more about putting someone who has confessed and repented of sin under church discipline as a “cautionary measure”? I thought church discipline stops when confession and repentance happens because “if he listens to you, you have won your brother.” Does church discipline as a cautionary measure fall under the “how to tell if repentance is genuine” category?
GRH, it depends on how you are understanding “cautionary measure.” Sins are like grapes, they come in bunches. Let’s say a situation blows up, and that a professing Christian is caught molesting a child. He confesses that sin (the one he was caught in), and so he would not be suspended from the Supper for failing to confess that particular sin, because he has confessed it. But in the immediate aftermath of this coming out, he could be suspended from the Supper as a means of uncovering the other instances of the same sin, which are very likely there. But as soon as the elders are satisfied that they know the whole story, and he has repented for all of it, then the suspension is lifted.
I listened to your sermon on church discipline and I wanted to learn more about excommunication because of how you defined it. I was kicked out of my former church (really I left and they excommunicated me after). I always understood excommunication as that you no longer communicate with the person and that you shunned them from Christian fellowship but are nice to them and ask them to repent. In my former church I am shunned because of the COVID shenaniganary. If someone in my former church does see me they encourage me to repent and that’s about it. When you said excommunication is more in line with keeping someone from communion that blew me away and made me rethink everything especially that they aren’t kicked out and are just barred from the Supper. I know the importance of the Lord’s Supper and would feel broken from being told I’m unable to take it but this lead me to two questions about church discipline that I would love to hear from you about. Are there circumstances in church discipline cases that it would be appropriate to say to a person it is best for you to no longer attend this local church until you repent? Is there a stronger response towards those who are told to no longer take the Lord’s Supper to go forward with stronger forms of discipline?
Shawn, as a formal matter, there is nothing stronger than being excommunicated. But if someone was excommunicated for heresy, say, (e.g. denying the Deity of Christ), and if they continued to attend, and continued to be disruptive, they could also be told to move along. But if they were willing to peaceably hear the Word, and not be disruptive, they would be welcome to attend.
Just a quick recommendation for your ‘Ask Doug’ series on youtube. It would be great to see you respond to some of AOC’s (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez) stuff she puts out on her Instagram. Here is a video she made about the Roe V Wade Supreme court decision and abortion in general. She has a massive following online with 8.5 million followers on Instagram alone, so a lot of people are seeing these videos she puts out. Why not throw some wisdom at these videos and maybe hit a few of her followers in the head?
Tony, thanks for the idea.
Femininity Is . . .
I’m writing to you in regards to the common catch cry heard throughout your videos, podcasts and blogs: “Masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility”. However most of the time I hear that I don’t hear (or perhaps it’s not sunk in to my thick skull) what the complimentary catch cry might be for femininity?
If I were to say complete this sentence: Masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility and femininity is the_______. What would the result be?
Yours in Christ,
Daniel, thanks. Great question. We really need to hammer something out. My rough cut response would be “femininity is a glad responsiveness to masculine initiative, filling, helping, completing, and glorifying it.”
O Good Grief
The Doctrinal Watchdog channel responded to your Doug Reacts video “Are Christians Evil?”, and claimed that you contradict what the Gospels and Revelation say about the existence of a “fire and brimstone” picture of hell, and that this is the inevitable result of reading the Bible “allegorically.”
Some of the Scripture he uses to refute you includes Mark 9:43-44: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched—where “Their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.'”
Do you have other resources where you explain your view of hell? And what do you mean in your video by “serious theologies”? I look forward to your response.
Chris, I hope to write something more detailed on damnation at some point, but there is a section in Mere Fundamentalism on it. And here is a blog post. The short form is that damnation is real, and that if the lake of fire in Revelation is literal, it is a horrific reality. My position is that if the lake of fire is symbolic (because symbols are always less than the reality), then the fact of damnation is worse than a literal fire.
How would you classify homosexual “love”? I’m not talking about the obvious burning lust that certainly is rampant, the kind that God gave us over to when we exchanged the truth of God for a lie, but the kind that two “married” men may say they have for each other. Is it lust disguised? Is it genuine storge love? Or a confused phileo? Is it the right kind of love placed on the wrong object? Not sure how to respond to these statements that “love is love” and all that. And while I’m on the topic, any good books on the subject of homosexuality that have been helpful to you?
Tim, check out Greg Bahnsen’s book entitled Homosexuality. As for how to categorize the non-erotic elements of love between homosexuals, I would say it is a confused jumble of the things you mention. But even though it is the non-erotic aspect, at least as far as an explicit eroticism goes, such loves can still be disordered through effeminacy.
Is it fair to say that Wilkins and Leithart, with their views on baptism and liturgy, are soft Anglicans with Presbyterian church government?
Jonty, no, not exactly. They are Presbyterian/Reformed regarding church government, but for the rest I would say it is more of an amalgam—Lutheran, Anglican, Reformed, etc.
Question: In your book “When the Man Comes Around”, on page 4 it says “ The things he saw are described as things that must shortly come to pass (taxos—speedily, quickly, swiftly). I can not find the Greek word “Taxos” anywhere. Just confirming, is taxos a Greek word?
Also, in all your conversations with Christopher Hitchens, did you get any indication that he may have received Christ? Reason for this question: My Grandpa was a proclaimed Atheist, and when he found out that I became a Born Again Christian, he said, “I thought you were smarter than that!” Well, he died at 98 yrs old, and at his Funeral an unknown woman showed up and told our Family that my Grandpa received Christ with her! She was the bus driver who drove my Grandpa to free Senior lunches at her Church in his neighborhood. Always hoping, and with God, all things . . .
Linda, I can say that before he died, I wrote to Christopher and laid out the gospel for him. And I believe there are clear indications (as Larry Taunton showed in his book on Hitchens) that Christopher was clearly thinking about it.
As for taxos, it is found (for example) in Rev. 1:1. Things that shortly must come to pass.
Singleness as Affliction
This letter is concerning your post Singleness as Affliction, posted 25th November, 2020.
I understand that this is concerning an older post, but I am quite late to your material. I have only been a Christian for a relatively short time, but have come to your sermons and content through Peter Hitchens. I am currently 30 years old. I decided open my heart to Christ seriously only when I was 27.
I have been with my girlfriend for almost six years. I proposed to her more than three years ago. She is almost ten years older.
I have prayed often about what I should do, but I seem to be compelled in both directions on what action to take. For a week, I will be taken by an unstoppable conviction that I must bring this to an end as I am only creating misery for us both (The sticking point is having children, which I very much want, but which she cannot bring herself to want at this time). I am hit with a sense that I am in denial and I should sacrifice the relationship and my current contentedness is the result of cowardice. Then, the next week, I am taken by an equally immovable conviction that I would be committing a great sin if I were to do this. A betrayal of loyalty, patience, longsuffering, the abandoning of a divine gift whose like I will never receive again. The prioritising of my own selfish will of becoming a parent (which I may not be qualified for in any case) over caring protection, fidelity and loyalty to my ‘potential’ spouse. In addition, if I were to end it here, and seek someone else, would this not mean that I and they would be guilty of adultery once I actually get married to a Christian woman who wants the same as I do?
Now, one of these convictions could be a response to my prayers. But not both. One is hopefully God’s will, and the other must be my sinful desire. But I cannot for the life of me distinguish between the two, because both have cycle continually over these long periods of time. In other situations, I have been able to see his will clearly, but in this, I am completely at sea.
To reference your post, I can safely say that I am not gifted with celibacy now, and never have been in the past, so that can be ruled out.
You can also see that I am not a knowledgeable Christian, yet, though I follow the Book of Common Prayer for my cycle of four daily lessons with Morning and Evening Prayer.
Would you have any advice to give on this problem?
Tim, take all the obvious qualifications into account first. I am a long way away, and all that. But your desire for children is not “selfish.” Can two walk together unless they are agreed?
For the past 2 years in June my urban church leadership has taken time from pulpit to extol virtues of Juneteenth holiday and encourage laity to participate in local public celebrations. I spoke to them about wisdom of endorsing this holiday as I see it akin to endorsing participation in public Labor day (oddly day when no one works) celebrations. I see ‘mischief’ in origin and nature of both holidays and am suspicious. Do you think I’m being a curmudgeon or a male resident of Issachar or something else?
Carl, the origins of Juneteenth (in Texas, I believe) were not at all suspect, and if release from slavery is not a cause for celebration, then nothing is. But its introduction into the national scene during these woke times is beyond suspect. Blecch.
In your last batch of letters, someone wrote in about female deacons. One other note that might be helpful (and might we return?). Deaconesses were needed because in Jewish society, married men didn’t touch other women. It was improper. So who was going to baptize the women converts? The deaconesses. Who was going to go to the homes and help with more private matters? The deaconesses.
Oh that a return of deaconesses meant a reinstatement of such etiquette in society. One can hope.
Tyler, one can hope. But one should hope without holding one’s breath.
What do I do when my wife deliberately says no and does the opposite? I take responsibility for failures leading to this situation, but don’t know what to do when this happens, which is very infrequent. My tendency is to think “your wife just took control of the house, get it back by any means.” For instance if she said “no” and left with the car, my mind says “its not in her name, call the police,” or “call the pastor and get him to call her and say go home right now” or “see if you can see her iPhone gps and find her.”
I’ve been told recently the better approach is allow the sin to occur temporarily. I can’t control the situation. Her sin is before God. Don’t do anything but pray and address the situation later when heads are cooler. For some reason my perception of losing control of the house in that moment seems to be a much larger sin than when I sin against her by being harsh, or by being blatantly selfish and saying “no” when she asks me to help with the dishes. I don’t think my mindset is correct. While understanding that there are many faults leading to this point and that we have done a lot of counseling and our marriage is greatly improved, are you able to address what to do in this specific instance? If you do so on your blog or YouTube channel, feel free to edit for length. Just looking for wisdom.
Grant, what I would encourage you to do, given what you say here, is to remain in counseling. You really should be working on your marriage generally, and it is good that things are “greatly improved.” So when there is a specific incident, do not escalate it. But agree together with your wife (when things are calm) that you want to walk through that specific incident together with her, the next time you have a counseling appointment.
First thanks for your labors for the kingdom of God in our time. I observe from afar in Pennsylvania and have appreciated many of your thoughts.
I have a question about the biblical principles and attendant wisdom in structuring an estate plan to dispense with our personal property at times appointed for us by the Lord.
As much as it pains me to say it, my wife and I are facing a situation where some of our children appear to lack the requisite wisdom and discipline to deal with large sums of money and property; another has apparently fallen away, denying the resurrection of the Lord Jesus and taken up with a like-minded person. On one hand, it doesn’t seem wise to “punish” our children by denying them our earthly possessions. At the same time, we have other children who have clearly honored us, are following the Lord, and who appear to have reasonable wisdom for their ages.
We recognize all that we have are the Lord’s gifts to us (the entirety of it), and we have a real burden to do with it as He would want us to do. I’m well aware that Christ died for us while we were still His enemies, and a part of me hopes (perhaps unrealistically) that giving them something they know they don’t deserve may be part of what convinces them of God’s grace. At other times, it seems like a complete waste to give them a share when they have dishonored us, the Lord, and themselves.
What to do?
Ralph, I don’t know your kids, or the extent of the rebellion and/or lack of wisdom. But here is the principle. Each government that God has established has an ultimate sanction. The civil government has execution, the church has excommunication, and the family has disinheritance. You need to make the decision concerning how egregious the situation is with each of your children. To make up an extreme example, I believe that wealthy Christian parents should not bestow a lot of money on a son, for example, who founded Atheists Are Us. But children who are not wise are in a different category—perhaps leave them something in a trust that they will receive when they are ten years wiser than they are now. And the kids who are walking with God get their inheritance immediately.