Letters That Shed Light, for Which We Are Grateful

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What Baptism Does

Okay, you said baptism doesn’t work ex opere operato, is this consistent with Romans 6 and the instrumental language regarding water baptism? “By baptism”? Is this where you differ with Peter Leithart?

Jonty

Jonty, not exactly. I believe that water baptism does something ex opere operato, but what it doesn’t do is regenerate. The instrument that makes the baptism efficacious is evangelical faith. Water baptism is what seals us as members of the visible church.

Ride, Sally Calls the Shot

More evidence of Ride Sally Ride being true today

Cole

Cole, thanks for the melancholy kudos.

Masking Resource

Greetings. I’ve been putting together a modest little resource on masking and mask mandates which is meant to help believers think through the issue biblically. If you think this is worthy, feel free to post this letter. Website here.

P.S. You definitely have some influence and quotes on there.

JPH

JPH, thanks very much.

A Good Resurrection Question

During our family devotions this morning, I was reading aloud from Acts 26, where Paul says that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead . . . and my son piped up and said, “What about Lazarus?”.

Though my son didn’t also mention the widow of Nain’s son, it was an interesting observation and I didn’t really have an answer for him. So I figured I would ask you: why did Paul say that Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, when it seems that others rose from the dead before Jesus?

Ben

Ben, these others were examples of resuscitation. Lazarus had to die again. When Jesus rose, it was the first fruits of the final resurrection, which meant that He rose in the power of an indestructible life.

Women Punished for Abortion?

What is your response to Aaron Renn’s Newsletter #60: The Pro-Life Movement’s Moral Doublespeak. Aaron is making incisive and needed observations, however, the federal vision of the household you’ve promulgated also has the ring of truth. How do you see these two things fitting together? Do you recant any of your previous remarks about women’s culpability in the sin of abortion in light of Aaron’s critique?

Samuel

Samuel, no, I don’t recant anything, but I think the topic is worth pursuing in detail, and I am glad that Aaron raised it. He makes the valid point that too many evangelicals have gone along with the lie that women are automatically victims also when it comes to abortion. As I argued in the piece he cites, I think that when abortion is rightly categorized as murder, we then need to treat it like all our other murder trials. And so the culpability of the mothers involved will vary widely. But I hope to write on this more soon.

Our Exceptions to Westminster

Bad Ideas and Balrogs ~

“Because we here at Christ Church subscribe to the original Westminster, we take an exception at this point.”

Can you point us to each part of the Westminster Standards that Christ Church Moscow takes exceptions to?

Likewise, are there similar files for each of the elders?

Chris

Chris, our exceptions are listed below. If an individual elder needed to take an additional exception, that would be noted in the minutes, or someplace like this. Here you go:

“We therefore approve the Westminster Confession and Shorter Catechism for use in doctrinal accountability for officers of the church. To preserve clear accountability for our officers, our confessions should be construed to harmonize wherever possible, but in areas where they cannot be harmonized we defer to language of the Westminster Confession of Faith. For this reason, we declare our exceptions to that confession only. We reject any approach to Westminster that degrades into litigiousness, fractiousness, sectarianism, or gnat-strangling.”

“1. Chapter 7: Of God’s Covenant with Man— Para . 2: (cf. Chp. 19, para. 1, 6). We would clarify that the “covenant of works” was not meritorious and we deny that any covenant can be kept without faith. Good works, even in this covenant were a result of faith, as illustrated by the Sabbath rest which was Adam’s first full day in the presence of God.

2. Chapter 21: Of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day— Para . 8: We believe that along with works of piety, necessity, and mercy, the command also calls us to rest our bodies on the Sabbath (Gen. 2:2-3; Ex. 16:30 ; 31:15-17). We do not believe the intention of Scripture was to exclude recreation, especially in the context of the fellowship of God’s people.

3. Chapter 23: Of the Civil Magistrate–– Para. 3: “[The Civil Magistrate] has power to call synods, to be present at them and to provide that whatsoever is transacted in them be according to the mind of God.” The final phrase gives the Civil Magistrate authority over spiritual matters, which in essence is a form of Erastianism.

4. Chapter 24: Of Marriage— Para. 4: Delete the last sentence, which reads, “The man may not marry any of his wife’s kindred, nearer in blood than he may of his own: nor the woman of her husband’s kindred, nearer in blood than of her own.”

5. Chapter 25: Of the Church— Para. 6: Though we believe the Pope of Rome to be anti-Christian, we do not believe him necessarily to be the Anti-Christ, Man of Lawlessness, or Beast of Revelation, etc.

6. Chapter 27: Of the Sacraments— Para. 4: Ministers of the Word should ordinarily lead in the administration of the Sacraments, yet we believe that it is permissible for the sacraments to be administered with the oversight of any elder, lawfully ordained.

6. Chapter 28: Of Baptism— Para. 3: We believe that the proper modes of baptism include sprinkling, pouring, and immersion. Para. 4: Being a church composed of both paedobaptists and those holding to believer’s baptism, we expressly allow men otherwise qualified to serve as elders, but who hold to believer’s baptism, to make an exception to WCF XXVIII. 4, which states, “Not only those that do actually profess faith in and obedience unto Christ, but also the infants of one, or both, believing parents, are to be baptized.”

8. Chapter 29: Of The Lord’s Supper— Para. 7: We would clarify that “worthy receivers” of the Lord’s Supper should include all baptized covenant members who are able to physically eat and drink the elements, including very young children being raised in the discipline and admonition of the Lord (provided that they are not under discipline). We deny that an artificial standard of age or mental capacity is consistent with the Biblical basis for partaking of the Supper. We defer to the heads of households in discerning the capacity of their young children to partake in the Supper.”

More Eschatology

From a postmil perspective how do you interpret 2 Peter 3:10-13? I was discussing this passage with a family member who has a very dispensationalist premil viewpoint recently. He was using it to kind of say that when he is discouraged about the current state of the world he tells himself it doesn’t really matter anyway because everything’s going to burn. Curious your thoughts! Thank you and God bless!

Joel

Joel, I do not take the “elements” here the way moderns would take them—as elements on the periodic table. The word is stoichea, and I believe it refers to the old order that was vanishing away with the arrival of the Christian aeon. Paul says this:

Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements [stoichea] of the world.” (Galatians 4:3, NKJV).

May I ask a fairly simple question, but one I am wrestling. I am coming out of a strong Dispensational pretrib world view. I am making a second reading through your commentary on Revelation while marking up my Reformed study Bible with tons of notes. I, however, have a small bug that refuses to die within my mind—what do I make of Israel returning to the land and the great victory of the Six Day War? Current events with Russia and the Middle East have me scratching my head. I know you are fighting a great battle with our culture and world. I greatly appreciate your fight and how it has brought me a renewed, refreshed view of the world as being conquered as we await the triumphant entrance.

Shawn

Shawn, the first theologian in relatively modern times to predict a return of Israel to the land was a man named Jonathan Edwards (not the famous one), and he was postmill. He did that in the seventeenth century. I don’t believe that a return to the land was prophetically necessary, but I believe it is consistent with what is prophetically necessary, which is the regrafting of Israel back into the olive tree.

Lots of Volume

As I search for the written version of a video that I had to re-listen to 3 times for my easily distracted mind to finally absorb, I am in awe at the sheer volume of your pontificating be it by writing or video. The tiny iceberg tip that I have sampled has consistently been thought-provoking and inspiring. Hat tip to you and thank you for that.

Matt

Matt, thanks, Pontificating by the metric ton is what I do best.

Preparting to Preach

What are your steps for sermon prep?

Josh

Josh, it varies a little bit, but in the main it works this way. Wednesday is my usual sermon prep day, and the steps are 1. selecting the passage, 2. reading, 3. summarizing the passage, 4. finishing the outline I give to the office staff, 5. go over the outline on Thursday with our Greyfriars students, and take additional notes, 6. expand the outline early Saturday morning, and post it here on Mablog, and 7. preach from the outline. You will notice that there are seven steps, like the branches of the Menorah.

Davidic Parenting Skills

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions, Doug. I’m grateful for your willingness to engage. My question is about King David. The Bible seems to hint as to why his sons turned out the way they did (he was a pacifist in regards to discipline), but I’m a bit befuddled why he is described as “a man after God’s own heart” but had such dismal results with his kids. It seems to support the whole, “hey, I’m sooo on fire for God, most of my kids are godless and worldly, but, hey, I did my best. Aren’t all kids just a big fat question mark anyway?” perspective. I know you don’t agree with that, and I’m with you, but this David thing confuses me (J.C. Ryle, also, and those sorts of scenarios). Do you have thoughts?

Thank you and many blessings!

Mallory

Mallory, I think the chink in David’s parental armor here was polygamy. A man with multiple wives can easily be the father of far more kids than he can be a father to. This doesn’t answer your question, but I think it does situate your question. I believe the phrase “man after God’s own heart” referred to the fact that he ruled Israel in accordance with the law of God, the matter of Bathsheba excepted.

Lewis and Renn

Do you see any comparison between the ‘three pilots’ of evangelicalism (mentioned in your ‘Aaron Renn and the Negative World’ article) and the three types of political Christian that C S Lewis describes in his short essay ‘Meditation on the Third Commandment’? (I believe it is published in ‘God in the Dock’…)

Richard

Richard, I think there is some significant overlap, but it doesn’t map exactly. But that essay is certainly worth looking at again with our controversies in mind.

Finnish Crackers

Regarding your recent episode ”Rhett & Link on Racism and the Church” on ”Doug Responds,” when Rhett accused the Church of racism by pointing out that ”Sunday morning remains the most (racially) segregated time of the entire week in America,” you agreed, adding, ”And also, especially in Northern Finland . . . very segregated up there!”

As the pastor of a Reformed Baptist church in Northern Finland (indeed, the northernmost reformed church in the country), a small congregation composed as a matter of fact of about 14 people including Nigerians, Brazilians, Singaporeans, Canadians, Germans, Mexicans, Finns, Italians, Tanzanians and Indians, I have in fact imposed on them for years a harsh regime of strict racial segregation on Sundays. My question is, how did you know?

Gianni

Gianni, I felt it in my bones.

An Established Church?

Re: Bad ideas and balrogs . Pastor you stated that the establishment of an official state church wouldn’t be unconstitutional . . . but wouldn’t it firstly be unbiblical? A union or marriage between the body of Christ and humanist state? Fusing the body of Christ with a corpse . . . Bad idea writ large!

Ted

Ted, I agree that it would be a bad idea, but I don’t think it would sacrilegious union you suppose. We could only get away with something like that if the state was no longer humanist. I would be opposed on historical, prudential grounds.

Late Entry on the Rotify Post

I know this letter is out of date for the typical weekly turnaround, but I was out of state. Apologies.

Pastor Wilson, I agree with you across the board on the *principle* of this article, but I have concerns with the application. Some time ago, you put out a similar piece on Horror movies and it had a similar failing. I wrote to you at the time probing precisely how it is you define “horror” as a genre, because depending on the criteria you could be addressing either a much wider array of movies than you meant, or a much narrower. As I recall (and I haven’t dug any of this up, this is pure recollection), you bowed out of defining it with specificity admitting to not being particularly qualified to do so.

Here, you use whether or not a song is labeled as “explicit” as a sort of short hand for corrupting songs but . . . that’s clearly very inadequate. Most explicit songs have radio edited versions which are precisely as corrupt as the originals, simply with euphemisms in place of the offending words. Then, reams and reams of popular songs contain no profanity at all, yet push inherently corrupt attitudes and worldviews. Meanwhile, the people currently dominating control of the dictionary are also the people in dominating control of the music industry. How long before your own sermons are considered “explicit”? The verses you reference, while obviously being correct, they are after all Scripture, do not provide clear cut indicators of what qualifies. Instructing parents to have their kids listen to music that promotes “virtue” is only helpful insofar as those parents’ already had accurate concepts of virtuous art. If they already had accurate concepts of virtuous art, they probably don’t need you to give them a standard by which to govern their children’s music.

Its an issue I care about a great deal as, as a Christian who’s been waist deep in culture wars since before being old enough to tie my shoes, wildly embarrassingly ridiculous standards for judging entertainment are both the mainstay of Evangelicals, as well as the bullet we’ve put in our own feet directly before doing battle. If you’re a young adult Christian trying to convince anyone of not just the correctness of Christian ethical standards in entertainment, but even just their viability as a coherent idea, you are immediately going to be beaten over the head repeatedly with famous examples of terrible “Christian” arguments against benign media. I remember in my Christian elementary school having the whole student body brought together for a special assembly to talk about the immoral and corrupt horrors of Pokemon. You see, the argument went, “In Pokemon, sinful words are used on a regular basis such as: Poison, Attack, Capture, Battle…. (etc.)”

My father told me a story once, he was putting together a Christian coffee house in Seattle in the 70’s. He had connected with a local church to check the place out, still under remodel, to see if they were interested in being involved. They interviewed for a short while before the church representatives said they had to go. That it was clear something evil and dark was happening there and they wanted no part of it. Completed bewildered, it wasn’t until a few days later it occurred to him. See, they all had long hair. They did things like, wear jeans jackets. Worse, the building still under remodel at present had the walls painted black. BLACK! Can you believe it? Clearly the Christian coffee house was a clever rouse for satanic activity.

I could go on with examples, but I don’t think its necessary. The point is, I don’t think there’s any lack of Christians out there trying to impose moral standards on cultural behavior. The problem is we are, on average, really rotten at it. On the one hand, you have woke “churches” that actively promote the worst western culture has to offer. On the other, you have people who remain deliberately ignorant on the things they judge, and when questioned about those judgements . . . are actually prideful in their ignorance. They think themselves quite excellent people for having no idea what they’re talking about. After all, in order to have an idea of what you’re talking about, you’d have to listen to that song, and listening to the song is bad right? And you know its bad without listening to it by following arbitrary markers. What could go wrong?

Anywho, as I said, agree 100% in principle. Hope Stickergate has been going well. er . . . well as well as it could go anyway.

Justin

Justin, I think we actually agree on this. I don’t think Spotify’s rating system should be used by parents as an automatic basis for condemnation. I said that it was something that parents could use to check, but that the label as such wouldn’t do the work for them. And the response I have gotten from parents who followed up on what I wrote was of the omigosh category. “We had no idea our kids were listening to f-bomb laden songs.” And I would be willing to bet ten dollars that if a 15-year-old boy had an active playlist with 100 songs on it, with 60 of them labeled explicit, then he is not walking with the Lord.

R2K

I recently watched a brief video from Canon where you addressed 2 Kingdom theology. I appreciate the clarity that you bring to this issue. You mentioned that Christ Church would not have someone who held to 2K theology be a keynote speaker at your conferences, but doesn’t Voddie Baucham teach two kingdoms?

I just finished his book Family Shepherds and there is a chapter on two kingdom theology in it. The book says some very good things, however, that was one of the weaker portions. Since he has been a speaker at Grace Agenda, I was wondering if he has moved on that position? If he has not, can we expect more 2K theologians at the annual conference? Just kidding with that second question.

Joshua

Joshua, historic two-kingdom theology came out of the Reformation, and we have no trouble with that. The problem we have is with Escondido’s version of it, commonly called R2K. And if Voddie is that, then he is very bad at it.

A Pledge to Stay Open

Back in August you posted an article titled “The Changing of the Guard”. In it you said that “we should ask for all pastors to affirm that under no future circumstance will they cancel in-person worship services”. That made quite an impact on me. I asked my pastor if he would affirm that very thing and was disappointed to hear that he would not make such a commitment. This past Sunday, our pastor cancelled our Sunday worship service. There was a chance of snow accumulation, so on Saturday night he made the decision to cancel. I woke up at 5:00am on Sunday morning to find that the snow had missed us. I drove out to the church to confirm that all was clear and sent him a message to let him know that our parking lot and all the roads were indeed clear. He replied “sorry, just trying my best, maybe next time”. This was five hours before our scheduled service. Two hours later, he sent out another apology to the leaders of the church (of which I am one). Still having three hours to go before service, I replied that “it’s not too late, I can still be there”, but his mind was made up and no amount of clear roads and willing help would change his mind. I am in crisis because it was in this church that I felt the first touch of God. I was saved here, and baptized here. It hurts me to think that I might need to leave and find a different church that believes that God deserves to be worshiped on Sunday, in-person, no matter what. If he’s willing to shut down our church for the day over this bit of nothing, what’s to happen when things get truly tough? I’m at a loss, and in a great amount of emotional pain over this and could truly use some guidance. Thanks in advance.

Richard

Richard, there is one thing to do before you make a decision to leave. If you are part of the leadership, then I would bring up the issue of not canceling in-person worship to the elders as a whole. What is their commitment? And I assume you recognize that there is nothing wrong with canceling worship if the blizzard had hit you dead on.

Where On the East Coast?

At the end of “Why Children Matter” in the Q&A part, question 27 you made an interesting comment, you said, speaking as your younger self, “Let’s get our kids through high school, and then we’ll move to the East Coast and do something there.” And you observed, “I wanted to make a dent.”

Obviously the Lord had other plans for you but where were you thinking? I would love to think about an alternate universe where the Wilson tribe ended up settling in NYC with the same ethos (Boniface option mindset, optimistic eschatology, Westminster general equity theonomist, etc,) and see what the Lord would do . . .

Thinking about your Rules for Reformers, what would you do the same and what would you do different if you found yourself in an urban setting like NYC?

May the Lord bless you and keep you and may the fruit that is bearing in Moscow increase and spread by the grace of the Spirit and for the glory of Christ.

Ace

Ace, I grew up in Annapolis, and we were thinking of that area. Your question about the local “decisive points” remains, however. And as providence would have it, we never got far enough to analyze what we would focus on in particular.

The Knowledge Problem

My name is Gregory McKenzie. Thank you for your time and for the extraordinary effort you put into your content.

Your recent post about the “Negative world” mentioned FA Hayek’s “knowledge problem.” While I certainly believe that the central planners and techno-totalitarians of today suffer from the knowledge problem, that being human fallibility and lack of omniscience, etc.

I was wondering how you would address the more recent attempts at overcoming Hayek’s knowledge gap. Most notably, persistent surveillance, AI, and other techniques, of which the totalitarians of our age have largely privatized (i.e. Big Tech). Which of course means, that they (Big Tech) do it better than the government, at least in theory, following Hayek’s model.

It seems the goal of the central planners (and the leaders of the Big Tech companies) is the same, that being totalitarianism. But, it seems that the techniques have become much more insidious and market based and indeed very profitable with more and more people willingly and with out end accept the privatized surveillance of their every move. Thus, at least overcoming a major portion of the Hayekian knowledge gap.

Did the Capitalists sell the rope by which they are hanged?

In the Matchless Name of Christ,

Greg

Greg, well, we know that the capitalists would be willing to sell that rope. But I think the knowledge problem still remains. Scooping up enormous amounts of data into your servers does not mean that this data is in the brains of the decision-makers. And as for the developers of the algorithms that sort through those mountains of data, they are written by coders with very limited knowledge indeed. We are just ignorant faster now, that’s all.

Intellectual Property

My question is a little bit random but it has been on my mind lately. What, if any, would you say are the Biblical laws on intellectual theft? It seems to me that the current rules in the United State (something entering the public domain 70 years after the author’s or creator’s death for example) are fairly arbitrary, and I was wondering if their are any concrete examples from the Bible which we could point to to clarify this issue. Are patents Biblical? Is there a certain amount of years before something is public domain? Is this not addressed in the Bible?

BK

BK, one of my back burner projects is a book on intellectual property. I still have a good bit of work to do. My quick take is that American patent law was more biblical at the founding, but has grown diseased and absurd.

Many Thanks

Hi again, Doug. I have a bit of encouragement for you… I’ve just become aware of your thoughts on “mere Christendom” from the recent “Bad Ideas and Balrogs” post. I looked up other posts on the subject because I wanted to better grasp your gist (I hope it didn’t hurt when I did).

My thinking hasn’t been honed this much since the time my previous denomination’s officials required me to explain why I couldn’t embrace the words “and premillennial” in its doctrinal statement, then refused to ordain me, BUT still allowed me to Pastor one of its congregations. That anecdote comes to you from the, “You can’t make this stuff up,” category.

Thank you for commenting on culture and the Christian’s role in it. We MUST think through what it PRACTICALLY MEANS for Christ-followers to make disciples of all nations AND teach them to obey what Jesus has commanded. The church of yesteryear has produced a passel of people who love Jesus deeply but haven’t been taught how to think about these things scripturally. I’m one of them. But that is changing thanks to Jesus’ work through you.

You are right, in our day “somebody unlocked all the cages in the monkey house and told all the monkeys to go conduct their poo fights in the public square.” It’s obvious that the poo-flinging isn’t going to end well, so disciples like me NEED the clarification and admonishment the Lord is using you to provide. Keep at it, my brother.

Carey

Carey, thank you. And pray for me.

Good Question

Question but not a “ deal breaker.” Given the responsibilities of children to care for their elderly widowed parent in the Jewish culture of Jesus s day, why if in fact those mentioned as Christ’s siblings in Scripture, would Christ from the agony of the Cross assign responsibility to John? My thoughts are “ although Scripture doesn’t say so, if Joseph was a widower with adult children who weren’t Mary’s flesh and blood, and Jesus was the only pregnancy she had (quite possibly remaining a Virgin since of all the women ever born she was chosen to house the Divine/ Human in her womb) then the distant blood relationship with young John would make sense. Christ in His Omniscience would know that James and Jude would become believers so the suggestion that it was because his family were unbelievers simply makes no sense.

Colleen

Colleen, thanks. I think this is a good question, but I think the answer is too far-fetched. Matthew’s account says that Joseph did not know Mary sexually until after (Matt. 1:25, heos) she had borne Jesus. So your question is good, but I think we have to look elsewhere, and we don’t have a lot of information. What was the financial position of the Lord’s siblings? Did they have room? Was there a strain on the relationship because of their unbelief? Etc.

Exasperated and Exasperating

I have two small children (4 and 1) and I find myself struggling up and down with exasperating my son (4). (For some reason, its so much easier to be patient with my little daughter.) I apologize to my son and my wife, and anyone else that was around to see it happen. Your writing and ministry have been shaping our household for the better. Porn has been ousted. My wife has been learning the joys of homemaking and motherhood. Thank you so very much. But I can’t seem to keep the right perspective about my energetic little guy. On top of my daily portion of Scripture, do you have a recommendation of a portion of Scripture I should study to help? Could you recommend a book too?

Thank you,

Thomas

Thomas, I would recommend the book of Proverbs. And I would recommend Jeremiah Burrough’s book, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.

How do we discern whether we are exasperating our child or whether the child needs discipline for being lazy and grumbly? Example: Is it exasperating a child to require him to wear a tie each day to school or is he at fault for desiring the life of ease? Perhaps it is possible for both to be true, what then? How does a parent determine where to set the standard, especially in areas that aren’t spelled out in Scripture (Jesus didn’t wear a tie)? Thank you and God bless,

Sarah

Sarah, that would depend on whether the school is requiring the tie or you are. If the school is, then he should wear it. If he is the only kid there in a tie because he has parents who are wound tight, then I would lighten up while making him learn the lesson. Wear the tie once a week cheerfully. If he grumbles at that, this means he needs practice wearing the tie cheerfully, so it goes to two days a week. And so on. If he wants to know why he can’t go back to once a week, tell him he can. The key is cheerfulness.

Australia and More

I just have three quick things to share, not addressed to any specific post.

1. For anyone interested in the sad state of Australia and Melbourne in particular—this documentary below has just dropped and may be interesting to you and your readers-

2. I am reading Vaclav Havel’s ‘Power of the Powerless’ at the moment and underlining every other paragraph. I was wondering if you have ever read it. It is missing a spiritual understanding, and I keep thinking that I wish I had a Doug Wilson commentary to go along with it.

3. I read ‘Ride, Sally, Ride’ this past week and I am fascinated. I haven’t read any of your fiction before (but have been blessed by other writings) and I took a really long time to settle into your style. Like sitting on a chair at a train station rather than a cosy nook. Imagine my surprise when I found myself weeping over the beautiful reconciliation scene toward the end. (I am not a cry-er).

Then the book just camped out in the back of my head. You wrote such beautiful illustrations of God’s graceful dealings with messy humans, and articulated deep and interesting truths to chew over. I will definitely pick it up again. Well done.

From a sister-in-Christ in Australia.

Lauren

Lauren, thank you very much. Stay strong.

Sorry, No Idea

Redeeming Love—thoughts? Read it? Seen it? I heard it’s real good a few years ago. Now it’s a movie and people are losing their minds over how wicked it is.

Nathan

Nathan, sorry. I really do have no idea.

Correlation?

Do you think there is a correlation between Evangelicals rejecting the objectivity of the Covenant (ex. viewing Christians and the “true” church as only the unknown, intangible community of the elect) and Evangelicals going soft on sexuality (ex. refuting transgenderism by only appealing to the genetic distinction between male and female)?

Eric

Eric, yes. A lot of evangelicals have drifted into a form of gnosticism, and that kind of thing is always susceptible to a pitch that says “the externals don’t matter.” But the external is where we were baptized.

Thanks From Afar

Hello Pastor Douglas, best regards. I am Joaquín, from Argentina, where I live with my wife, Lady, and our son, Valentín. Tomorrow he celebrates his first year, and some time ago I read Future Men and learn with my wife those truths that we had never read in Spanish. unfortunately it is a neglected topic, being a man is almost taboo. thanks for his work, thanks for being so practical, applicable and illustrative.

We would like a few words of encouragement from you for our work as fathers of this future man. tomorrow 22-1-22 he turns one year old.

Greetings from Buenos Aires, Argentina!

PS: sorry if it is not well written, I had to use Google translate.

Dante

Dante, you are most welcome, and thank you for writing. Tell your son happy birthday, and tousle his head from me.

The Bloody Twentieth

Do you have any book recommendations for reading the history of the 1st and 2nd world wars?

Jonty

Jonty, I would start with Paul Johnson’s Modern Times.

The Boniface Option

I’ve been a recipient of your ministry for over a decade. I have been enjoying the ministries that have come out of Moscow for the same time. I think I have a good idea of what is happening there, and what you all have been attempting to do. Now, I recently read Dreher’s The Benedict Option. I didn’t see a vast difference between what he was advocating for and what is going on in Moscow. That is not to say that I see zero differences. How would you explain the difference between his Bededict Option, and what has been termed the Boniface option? I’m asking this because I didn’t pick up on a major difference between the two. Are the approaches vastly different? If so, how? If not, why are they seeming to be pitted against one another?

Jon

Jon, I don’t see them as pitted against each other. Dreher is good at cultural diagnosis, but does not have an eschatology of victory. So the Benedict option is, in my view, a good opportunity to fall back and regroup. I have no problem with that, so far as it goes. But having regrouped, we at some point need to counterattack, and that is the Boniface option. And that is not going to happen without an ebullient eschatology.

Where to Go?

Pastor Doug, I have been following your blogs and watching your sermons for a couple of years now. My wife and I are currently working our way through “Reforming Marriage.” Our daughter is now attending Logos school. So we respect your opinion. I need some help. We have attended a church for a couple of years and this church closed when all the COVID mess started. This really hindered us, but we continued to attend when they opened back up. Then a couple of months ago our pastor thanked God for the vaccines during a prayer which hindered us even more because we have strong feelings against the vaccines for a number of reasons. I know I’m responsible for having our family in church but I’m having trouble getting us back to attending regularly. My wife has been so affected that she doesn’t want to go. What counsel would you give me? Thanks in advance

Denver

Denver, if attending this church has become problematic, then I would begin searching for another church home. But you need to make a point of worshiping together with God’s people. I don’t see a great difference between abandoning worship because of a virus, and abandoning worship because somebody else was too scared of a virus.

A Tough One

In response to your video on “Nice guys and jerks” I would like some counseling. (I’ve already asked two pastors, but let me ask a multitude of counselors).

You mention cases where the woman wrestles for power and the man says “No.” Okay, I get that lesson.

What can a man do when he leads, but his wife is brazenly unsubmissive and uncooperative? He can’t twist her arm, shout, use force . . . etc.

My approach has been to sit quietly and wait for God to act (Ps. 37)

My wife is . . . extremely difficult . . . angry all the time, never happy. Unable to handle life’s problems. I am pouring maximum effort to be sweet and patient and loving, but see no fruits. She lacks natural affection. I walk on eggshells. She never ever says: sorry, I forgive you, or I love you.

She says if I even dare to go to counseling she will never set foot in church again, for fear of being exposed.

Let me give you several examples:

Example 1: let’s leave the children at my parents house so we can go on a date.

Response: no, i don’t trust your parents.

Example 2: let’s visit the Jones family for dinner.

Response: with a fussy baby? No way.

Example 3: hire a babysitter for a few hours so we can go on a date.

Response: I’m too poor to afford a babysitter (she’s not)

Example 4: let’s pray together

Response: I’m too upset with you to pray together

On and on . . .

I am an utter wreck today because she says she never loved me. When I took our child out in laughably cold weather she threatened me with divorce. I can get into more details but let’s leave it at this . . . what can I do? I studied Ephesians 5 with copious stacks of paper behind me Doug, I’m just not seeing the results I thought I would.

Your ministry is appreciated.

Joseph

Joseph, very sorry for your trouble. Let me begin with a qualifier, one that rhymes with Prov. 18:17. I haven’t heard your wife’s side of it, and so this answer is proceeding on the assumption that the situation is basically what you have said. That said, your situation is untenable, and can’t go on. That means that you must make it even more untenable. You must start to live in a such a way that your wife either repents or leaves. In your daily prayers, confess the state of your household to God, and ask Him to intervene, using you. Look for an opportunity to do something in just one area that your wife does not approve of, and do it anyway. Stop being a supplicant. And it seems to me that the best option, from what you have described, is to invite her to come to counseling. If she refuses, you go anyway. Why? Because you need it. If she follows through on her threat to abandon church, let her. In short, don’t help her paper over the condition of your marriage.

Aaron Renn

Wow, I feel like I just read an excellent term paper by Aaron Renn. What it has to do with the saving of precious souls is difficult to discern, but it is interesting. I found a couple of statements puzzling however. 1. “Those with a fundamentalist sensibility survived with their faith and ­churches intact when the mainline Protestant denominations adopted liberal theologies. But this would mean a return to a geographically and demographically limited backwoods Christianity, devoid of public or cultural influence.” One simply must wonder how Peter and the other apostles, primarily a bunch of uneducated fishermen, a tax collector and a backwoods carpenter, could have managed to get their message out with no organized marketing strategies at all. Actually, they did have one—”And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them.” (Luke 9:5) What were they thinking???

Also, “Some people are deconstructing their faith and leaving evangelicalism, or even Christianity, behind.” My observation is that this occurs when an ‘Evangelical’ is engaged in sexual sin (maybe some other?) and is unrepentant, rather than any true social concerns they may express. I’ve seen it way too many times . . . The great ‘sifting’ has begun in earnest.

Melody

Melody, yes, I agree. The “great sifting” is a good way to describe it.

Many Thanks

Hope this message finds you well.

As a native Pocatellan now outside NYC (with my husband and four young kids), it brings me no end of joy to learn more and more of the wonderful work you do in Moscow (as well as farther and further afield). Very glad to be able to turn to your work as we make forays into classical Christian education around here.

Many thanks for your many hours in laying the ground for others.

Kindest regards,

Kristie

Kristie, many thanks. And whatever happens, keep going straight.

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Jsm
Jsm
8 months ago

To Shawn about Israel and the 6 day war, you should check out the 6 part Martyr Made podcast on the history of Zionism. Darryl Cooper has read scores of books on the subject and has done extensive research of primary sources. He does his best to not take sides and give you the perspectives of all involved. I have found so many people read a single book on a particular subject and think they are experts. Darryl Cooper said he thought he was an expert when he read 6 books on the subject when he started the podcast. By… Read more »

Adad
Adad
8 months ago

“Pontificating by the metric ton is what I do best.” DW
Well, I guess everyone will have to pull their skirts away from the metric system now!

Nice job! 👍😉

Zeph .
Zeph .
8 months ago

On Dawson analogy of women writers, you comment about romance novelists. That is the extreme. A more interesting analysis would be women mystery writers versus male mystery writers.

Last edited 8 months ago by Zeph .
Kristina Zubic
Kristina Zubic
8 months ago
Reply to  Zeph .

I love mysteries so I feel myself qualified enough to answer you, sir. :) Although there are women who write “hard-boiled” detective stories, the majority are of the Agatha Christie type in that character, setting and mood are important.

Jane
Jane
8 months ago
Reply to  Kristina Zubic

I just finished PD James “Talking About Detective Fiction” the other day. This book gives a good feel for it. James, being a feminist, doesn’t seem to find it interesting to directly address the contrast between male and female detective writers in this way, but if you read the book while keeping the question in mind the contrast becomes quite clear. It does diminish as you move forward in time to women writers whose feminist perspective motivates them to create medium-boiled, not terribly likable or plausible, women protagonists. However, even DL Sayers, who wrote a very masculine protagonist, puts relationship… Read more »

Zeph .
Zeph .
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane

What interests me is how men and women present relationships differently when you have the Mission: solving the murder or saving the city.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane

I often find PD James rather puzzling. She was politically and culturally conservative, deploring much she saw about the modern world. She was theologically High Anglican and deeply religious. Yet the tone of her novels is undeniably feminist and she clearly didn’t believe in traditional gender roles–at least not for the intelligent and ambitious young women in her novels. In spite of that, no one reading her novels would think she takes a sympathetic view towards women. Cordelia is lovable and Kate Mirkin grows on the reader over time, but the majority of her female characters are people I would… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Jill Smith
Jane
Jane
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

I have heard that she departed from her faith at some point, but it was just something someone once told me without any references or details. Given the tenor of her writing over time, though it wouldn’t surprise me. Do you know if that could be the case?

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane

If she had, I think it’s likely she would have written about it in Time to Be in Earnest where she discusses her faith quite a bit. I Googled it and came up dry–except for a comment quoted in an article in Christian Century. “… I’ve never left the church and would not wish to do so, …” I can’t tell you the rest of the sentence or the context because it’s behind a pay wall. Perhaps the person who told you that was confusing her with her detective. Both Sayers and James were very religious women who created sympathetic agnostics as their detectives. Come… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Jill Smith
Jane
Jane
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

She certainly is the queen of unlikable characters. There’s having a low view of the human character, which meshes with depravity, but there’s also a failure to see grace at work anywhere, which I think she can be guilty of as well.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane

Definitely in some of the novels. I think that Kate Miskin’s coming to terms with her childhood and learning that she was loved is an accession of grace. But that passage was panned by critics as unconvincing and sentimental. Sometimes the thoughts and dialogue of her characters gives me a kind of flash of recognition. “The world is a beautiful and terrible place. Deeds of horror are committed every minute and in the end those we love die. If the screams of all earth’s living creatures were one scream of pain, surely it would shake the stars. But we have… Read more »

Jane
Jane
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Flashes here and there, yes, but sometimes the depictions of entire communities of people, almost none of whom have even mixed motives that tip somewhat toward the genuine, can wear a bit. Even the people seemingly trying their best tend to have a really sordid underbelly that calls their sincerity into question. While I know that dark thoughts lurk in the best of us, none of my real life experiences comport with every single person being that deeply compromised.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane

And I don’t think most of us live in a world where most people are actively unpleasant and talk to one another in an endless series of cynical observations and mordant quips. The most jaded people I know still take time off to go into ecstasies over the jacaranda trees when they cover the city with purple rain every May. The most literate people I know don’t talk exclusively in sentences that begin with a dependent clause. James spent her career working in offices where she interacted with presumably average people and she had a lot of friends with whom… Read more »

Jane
Jane
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Exactly. I didn’t mean James actually viewed people that way, but that her writing does. And I think there’s something unwholesome about writing that way, perhaps the more so if you aren’t actually that cynical yourself. But I still count myself a fan because she does it with such style.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Kristina Zubic

I think that some of the rules laid down for early writers of detective fiction made the results less interesting to many female readers. The abandonment of those rules over the decades probably accounts for the fact that women today are the primary consumers of the genre. One of SS Van Dyne’s twenty rules for detective fiction writers back in the day was: “A detective novel should contain no long descriptive passages, no literary dallying with side-issues, no subtly worked-out character analyses, no “atmospheric” preoccupations. such matters have no vital place in a record of crime and deduction. They hold… Read more »

Zeph .
Zeph .
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Sales tend to speak louder than artificial standards like that. I am thinking in particular of Erle Stanley Gardiner and Earl Derr Beggars, both very successful early murder mystery writers, with quite a bit of character motivation. Gardiner wrote the original Perry Mason novels in the 30s and 40s. Beggars wrote the six Charlie Chan novels in the twenties. Beggars was so popular that he is one of the very first authors to live and see several of his books turned into movies. Gardiner really was a murder trial lawyer.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Zeph .

The original “rules” derived from the preferences of those who didn’t want their plot lines cluttered up with love interests and descriptions included for the purpose of establishing mood. They were as arbitrary and restrictive as Aristotle’s three rules for drama. I think that American writers never felt as bound by them. Thank goodness Raymond Chandler had no use for them: “A long time ago when I was writing for the pulps I put into a story a line like “He got out of the car and walked across the sun-drenched sidewalk until the shadow of the awning over the… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Jill Smith
Jane
Jane
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

You didn’t mention it above, but either you’ve read “Talking About Detective Fiction” yourself, or you’re very well read on the history of detective fiction! A lot of what you’ve cited is in there.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Jane

I haven’t read it but I keep meaning to. I listened to a lecture series once and it’s the kind of thing I seem to remember even though I can’t tell you what I had for dinner last night!

Kristina Zubic
Kristina Zubic
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Then they weren’t to be novels at all, at least not novels as we understand them?

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Kristina Zubic

Literary critics at the time refused to consider them novels. They claimed to be appalled when they learned that detective fiction was the favorite recreational reading of Oxford and Cambridge dons!

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
8 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Interesting… I have never heard of Van Dyne’s 20 rules (or Van Dyne!), but I ran across Father Knox’s ten rules a couple of weeks ago and they appear to be from the same year. Knox is a little more playful (no Chinamen!) where Dyne takes himself seriously. It seems like there was plenty if relationship building/sequel tension etc. in sort of fantastical mystery novels by people like Sax Romer and Bram Stoker. Maybe there was a clear wall between that sort of fiction and detection fiction in the late Victorian-edwardian Era that broke down giving more scope? Some of… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

It’s generally considered that the first detective fiction short story written in English is Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841, while the first detective novel is Collins’ The Moonstone in 1860. There were a lot of mysteries involving murder before then and many were indeed fantastical and often too murky for my taste. But their focus wasn’t on a detective using clues to solve the crime.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
7 months ago
Reply to  demosthenes1d

It’s generally considered that the first detective fiction short story written in English is Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue in 1841, while the first detective novel is Collins’ The Moonstone in 1860. There were a lot of mysteries involving murder before then and many were indeed fantastical and often too murky for my taste. But their focus wasn’t on a detective using clues to solve the crime. I think a lot of things came together in Britain during the second half of the nineteenth century to bring about the rise of detective fiction. They were a people obsessed… Read more »

Anonny
Anonny
8 months ago

To Richard, the timing sounds like it lines up with a snowstorm a couple weeks ago here in the south (if it’s not the same I stand corrected). But, if so, and you are in the south and referring to that storm, I would suggest extending patience in this instance (if this is the only cancellation you’ve had). Here, we don’t get snow and ice but maybe once a year, we arent skilled at driving in it, and we dont have the salt trucks and snow plows the north has. So, if there’s a call for snow, which usually freezes… Read more »