“This is no longer November, but I believe he was wishing that the spirit of November might still be lingering a bit. Maybe it is, just a bit. Still there, but wafting away. Perhaps it has not yet entirely dissipated.”
Maybe November will continue until we flatten the curve.
Patrick, or perhaps it will come and go, intermittently.
The Beowulf Project
Thank you for all you do.
I recently listened to your rendering of Beowulf on the Canon App. It was my first reading of Beowulf and I really enjoyed it. How long did it take you? Seems like a really big undertaking.
Mallory, thanks. Yes, it was a big project, and took a number of years. But realize that it was done by means of plodding—a line or two a day, when I got to it. And then, when I was in the backstretch, Canon Press had a need for it in their curriculum, and so I moved it to the front burner.
Concerning the Mandatorians
Here is a Bible text that they could incorporate into a “love plea'”:
John 15:13—”Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”—So get the shot!
On second thought, the Mandatorians may see through that one.
Ron, thanks. I think they might.
“As with everything on the Internet, you shouldn’t always believe what you read.” – (Emily Brown, author, “Why Christians Won’t Get Vaccinated” – Relevant Magazine) Thank you Emily. I don’t believe everything I read on the internet—including you. Your statement cuts both ways.
Melody, yes. Everybody on the Internet wants to be not like everybody else on the Internet. Perhaps we need additional criteria.
A More General Problem
I couldn’t finish this last post. Because you are thriving as the rock star to our current Christian culture when your “fans” (the common plebeian Christians) aren’t thriving in of themselves at all. As you wail on your guitar we are tapping our feet along but that’s all. We are Christian to be sure but we hardly know each other and “groupie” and fervent believer, neither fits. We all long to be rock stars I think, in our own right, but as your “flock” we are just timid and bored and complacent lambs.. disengaged as the proximity between us and the cross ensures it’s wary distance. Your inspirational words have exasperated me in my heeding them—isolated lamb that we sheep are, in the cheering section.
Helen, don’t grow weary. I honestly think that things are going to get plenty exciting enough for everybody soon enough. And when that time comes, the time of preparation will be seen as having been valuable indeed.
An Old Chuckle
I was perusing old articles on Mablog, as I am wont to do, and I came across this belly laugh inducing gem:
“I am confessedly a Protestant yahoo, and to such an extent that I am even willing to be on the same side of an issue as Scott Clark—strange bedfellows, surely, and I won’t even complain about how Scott always wants to hog the confessional covers.”
You are a funny, funny man, man.
Chortling in Wisconsin
P.S. I hope, that if it ever does come to this, to end up in the same re-education camp as you. I’m sure an occasional chuckle would do me some good.
Andrew, let’s be sure to request the same cattle car.
A List of Novels?
Hello! I’m looking for some novel suggestions, both for myself and gift ideas. Do you have a recommended list of worthwhile novels? I had thought there was a book list somewhere on the blog, but I can’t find one now.
Noel, the book list is in the menu bar above—Books/Reading Log. But for your reading pleasure, I can list three novels that I think are really good: That Hideous Strength by Lewis, Peace Like a River by Enger, and Code of the Woosters by Wodehouse.
I’m not writing with any specific thought in mind, only to encourage. I’d just like to share that Doug’s preaching, podcasts, public forums, debates, and more provide me with encouragement to be bold in sharing my beliefs with others. I appreciate Doug’s regular diplomacy even when faced with rude opposition. My wife and I find ourselves returning to Doug’s work as supplemental study in our free time. Thanks for modeling Christ for us.
Ryan, thanks very much.
I was talking with my wife about the way COVID has unfolded over the last two in years and the wide and varying responses to it within the church. One thing we remarked over was how in everything you’ve said or written you never rely on one or two verses to the point of misappropriating them. I’m thinking particularly of the greatest commandment and Romans 13. As a laymen, it was unfamiliar territory to see these passages used like a hammer and then having to discern whether they applied in the way those using them thought they did. I think there is a place for these two passages in this whole mess but not when they are used in the service of secular ends or to silence discussion. What we’ve been thankful for in your work is that you look at the whole scope of what Scripture is saying and try your best to distill what is a faithful application of it.
I suppose good theology has always done that. Thanks Doug.
Jordan, thanks for paying that kind of attention.
I just wanted to drop a quick note to tell you I am thankful God has led me to listening to and reading your spiritual insights and instruction. Hebrews 3:13 somewhat explains how I feel about your ministry as well as other Reformed men of the faith that I enjoy reading and listening to. I pray that more 1 Timothy 3 men come behind you.
Grace and Peace from Alabama, Roll Tide Roll
Ralph, thank you. But I have to confess that this is the first time I have had to figure out how to respond to “grace and peace, roll tide.”
It wouldn’t surprise me if you have shared your thoughts on this already, so pardon me if I’m asking about old news. I’d like to know what you think about bi-vocational pastors—you know, the kind of preachers who have a job outside of the pulpit.
It always made sense to me that pastors should make their living from their ministry work. But in the Reformed camp there’s much talk about breaking down the sacred and secular divide. I’m not against this. However, this quest to put all of Christ back into all of life has been used as a defense for pastors working outside of the church, and I’m not sure that’s what the sentiment means.
The Word says that those who preach the gospel are to make their living from the gospel. Shepherding a flock is a full-time job in itself. I’ve been a firsthand witness to churches that suffer because the pastor is not wholly focused on his role as a minister. But does that mean it’s always wrong for a preacher to work an outside job?
My current pastor is bi-vocational himself, and until today, my husband, who desires to go into ministry, has had no issues with this. But the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith has something different to say and reading through it has caused us to rethink our original stance. We’ve heard our pastor’s arguments. Now I’d like to know what you think. You obviously do a lot of work, but from what I can see, I don’t think that it’s unhitched from your work as a pastor.
Megan, thanks. I have not written on this in any detail, but here are my thoughts in a nutshell. Tent making is lawful, in that the apostle Paul modeled it for us, and gave us the term. But I think that as a general rule, a church should want a gifted man to be full time with them, and labor to make it a reality. A called man should be willing to be a tent maker to help get a ministry off the ground. Another variable is one that my friend Chris Wiley recommends, and with which I agree, which is to have some outside income as a way of preventing manipulative ecclesiastical politics. That, and the contact with real world problems first hand that it provides.
Book of the Month?
Glad to see you link to Berenson’s Pandemia. Maybe make it the book of the month?
Kevin, perhaps. Quite possible. I haven’t finished it yet.
In Plodcast #206: Vaccine Passports and the Ethics of War, Doug makes a parallel between lying and killing in wartime—specifically that lying in peacetime is to deception in state of war what murder in peacetime is to killing in war. I am interested in reading more deeply about this topic—ethics of deception in state of war—from a Christian perspective. What books or resources would you recommend as starting points for this study?
J, there is no one book that I know of. I gleaned a good bit of it from things mentioned in passing here and there by the Reconstructionists. I think your best bet would be to look in the menu bar above, under About/Blog Post Scripture Index, and then look up any passages that deal with Rahab or the Hebrew midwives.
On Our Standard of Living
On the “Hard Question” from the Letters Post on November 30, 2021
Dear Pastor Wilson,
One of the things that stuck out to me about this “Hard Question” was that this is simply a return to the mean. Most human beings throughout most of human history have been utterly unable to earn enough wages from their personal labor to afford any kind of real property. That is why the words for “Noble” and “Landowner” are almost interchangeable in so many languages. It was only as the economic implications of Protestantism started to take hold that such things began to change (i.e. the “gentle” classes of Britain).
Another thing that stuck out to me was to me, the (unusual for this blog) lack of biblical references in the responses to the young man both in your response and in the comments. Everyone seems to be focused on practicality of moving to a better area or accepting life in a California “project” neighborhood.
But since I know from history that this was basically a universal problem prior to the Protestant Reformation, and it was such a universal problem that there was no way to just “move to Idaho” to escape it, the Bible MUST have some way of addressing this. I hear young men ask these kinds of questions all the time, and I implore you to give them more of a framework for understanding how this piece of life is to be done.
I’m a big believer that if following the instructions of God in one area breaks your life in another area, God is giving you an opportunity to apply MORE of His law to said broken area. I can’t quote you on that exactly, but I didn’t believe it before I started reading your blog, (along with Gary North, DeMar, Apologia, etc). Not that moving to Idaho isn’t good advice, it is, but please sir, what does the Bible say, not about persecution, but about land, economics, and labor. There has to be more, doesn’t there?
Gregory, you are exactly right. Scriptures does address this, and fully. And I have written a lot about it on the blog here, but the posts are all over tarnation. Look under the tags the “Good of Affluence,” “Money, Love, Desire,” and “Wealth and the Christian.” I am wanting to assemble them into a book some time soon.
Hypergamy and Snobbery
Life in Girl World. What is the difference between hypergamy and snobbery?
Snob: a person with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who seeks to associate with social superiors and dislikes people or activities regarded as lower-class. A person who believes that their tastes in a particular area are superior to those of other people.
C.S. Lewis in his book, The Four Loves, refers to a … “social or snobbish pride: A delight in knowing, and being known to know, distinguished people.” The snob wishes to attach themselves to something that is already considered an elite.
Justin, the difference would have to lie in the intent or motive. This is because Scripture requires wives to look up to and respect their husbands, and if a man is living in such a way as to make this easy for her to do, then that obedience would be hypergamy. So in affairs of the heart, all snobbery would be hypergamic, but not all hypergamy is snobbery.
God Rest Ye Merry
This isn’t actually a comment or reaction to any of your content. I honestly just have a question and figured I’d try this route for getting a response. Can you help me understand advent? I’m struggling to find resources that aren’t sparkly, fluffy, babyish, or a combination of all of that. I really want to understand the history of it. Why we celebrate it. Why the four weeks. Why the three purple candles and one pink one. It seems more of just a tradition (some may say ritual) of man than a prescribed celebration. So I’m trying to discern if I’m just being grumbly toward something I don’t understand, or if this is possibly another thing that the church likes to hold onto as a necessity, whereas it is actually a man-made construct. Don’t get me wrong, I want to rightly celebrate Christ with joy, but I don’t love doing things because we always do them. So that’s why I want to understand it better so that I can teach our kids why and how to celebrate, rather than just reading frilly books because we always have.
Do you have any thoughts or recommended resources? Everything I could find on a quick google search directed me to Wikipedia, CNN, Catholic sites, and other very obscure pages or pages I would not consider as authorities on the topic.
Evan, yes, you are right. There is a welter of confusing (and frequently contradictory) views on the subject. And the best I can do is refer you to my book on the subject.
Your book “God Rest Ye Merry” is really making my Advent. Thanks for that.
God bless your ministry.
Thanks for Noticing It
I pray you don’t take this as nit-picking or mean spirited, I just have genuine curiosity. I enjoyed the video of your church singing “All Hail the Power.” We sing this song in our church as well so I enjoy hearing others singing it. But I was surprised to see a man in your church wearing a hat while singing in this video. I know I take a more literal reading of I Cor 10 (long hair and physical covering required for women in cooperate worship) that it seems you do. But I would have thought that your church would at minimum teach that men have their heads uncovered at all times during worship.
Roger, yes, we do teach that. That incident must have slipped through unnoticed. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.
Another Writing Project?
In Chapter 7 [of Rules for Reformers], you cite 7 generally accepted, secular memes the responses to which you assert could benefit from book-length treatments. You, however, failed to volunteer yourself. Please accept your own challenge and write these 7 books. We desperately need a more comprehensive, consistent Christian understanding of the story we’re in and the history of our people. I would love to get my head straight and gain a Christian perspective about the objects in the rearview mirror. I didn’t know they were distorted until I read the fine print.
Todd, thanks for the nudge. Or the kick in the ankle. Whatever it was.
What Was Gandalf?
Given that Israel’s civil code prescribed death for witches, would it be just for Gandalf to be put to death if the men in LOTR became theonomists?
Tyler, I’d like to see us try it!
Actually, Gandalf was no more a witch than Moses was when he parted the Red Sea with his staff—appearances to the contrary. Tolkien goes out of his way to distinguish the hard magical arts of someone like Saruman, say, and someone for whom it was more natural and organic. Gandalf was among the lesser Valar, and was more like an angel than anything else.
If Roe . . .
If Roe does get overturned and abortion gets tossed back to the states do you have thoughts on leaving states that allow abortions for states which don’t (think Illinois vs Indiana)? It seems to me that God’s judgment would be on states which allowed abortions still and it would be wise to take your family and leave. Is this something Christians should be preparing to do? I don’t want to be stuck in Sodom.
Erik, if Roe is overturned, I believe that we should immediately consolidate our position in those states that outlaw abortion. And then after that, we should begin the process of bringing pressure to bear on those states that still allow it. That pressure could include productive Christians leaving. The chances are good, however, that there will be a complex set of reasons for leaving, and not just one.
Sure, Why Not?
Would you be willing to comment on this clip of Todd Friel discussing a sermon excerpt from Voddie Baucham concerning Romans 13? Is it really just looking for an excuse to be rebellious to say that the constitution is our governing authority in the U.S.? I have never really thought through this stuff until the last couple years. I suspect that for many of us believers, the inclination to resist the government is far more coming from our sense of freedom and rebellion rather than careful consideration of Romans 13 and what the governing authority actually is, so I’m sure there’s so real validity to the rebuke here. But it felt a little like a straw man was being attacked, as I’m not aware of anyone who demands unquestioned and unqualified submission from his wife and children. But nevertheless, the video got me thinking.
Nick, sure. There is a principle in there that I do agree with, as the first couple of points I make should make clear. But I believe the problem is far more complicated than Wretched is making out.
What to Burn, What to Burn?
Looking Forward to Next Year | Maybe you can set an old barn on fire next year? Maybe have you (Doug) set it on fire while inside the barn, but while walking out of the barn?
Trey, thanks. And thanks to all who made other suggestions. We do need to think this through.
Networking in Africa?
This is not a response to any article of yours, I just have a question to ask. But first, thank you for your bold faithfulness to God’s word. I don’t always see as you do, but I’ve learned so much from you.
I’d like to know the history of egalitarianism in the church, when and where it started. I live in Kumasi, Ghana, West Africa and I can’t find a biblical church. They’re all egalitarian and most are also prosperity Gospelers. I go to a methodist church that hasn’t bothered with church discipline in years, is only about the money and ordains women pastors. In fact the pastor they just brought (they reshuffle every year or so) is a woman. I want a clear outline of when it became acceptable in church for women to preach and even though I’ve searched online, I can’t find any history on it.
I’d read any books you suggest, I just want to know whether my suspicion that it started with feminism is true or not. Also, if you happen to know someone who knows of a biblical church in Kumasi – Ghana, West Africa, I’d love to know where it is.
Thank you for your time and God bless you.
Afia, I don’t know, but this is a question we can perhaps we can crowd source. Does anyone know of good contacts for our friend in Ghana?
A Long and Winding Road
Thank you for word-smithing in such rare form and for using the word wordsmith. I miss that descriptor. I survived the gauntlet of journalism school (in Canada, of all places) 35 years ago and have pondered with horror in recent days the fact that my peers from those years are senior media handlers today. With regard to the significance of history they were, and I understate, as dumb as bricks. In other areas of critical thought they were merely uninterested.
Lamentable career paths and the cohorts they imply are not why I am writing you.
I am writing to express my appreciation for your historical, doctrinal, theological, ontological and epistemological fluency and balance. I will prevail on you and tell you why.
My childhood reference for Christian doctrine was informed by Hal Lindsey and Jimmy Swaggart and slightly later Kenneth Copeland. Yes, that I made it to adulthood with only a self-afflictive delinquency is remarkable and I regularly thank the Lord for it. At crucial moments God supplied triage and provision of superlative potency. One in a million chance: I met a girl. I married her. We have (fully grown) babies.
For decades the pursuit of Christian as an actual, substantial, rigorous experience of being has occupied every moment of my time not absorbed by the imperatives of family, work, and engagement with church and community. Regrettable and misdirected explorations, as well as deeply blessed ones, are too many to recount but they have led me here, to Blog & Mablog and the entirely unexpected “poetry” of language and thought to which your writing seems to appeal. I have enjoyed your reflections on the role and character of poetry in Christian being.
I do mean something quite specific, and not hyperbolic, by this. Twenty-odd years ago I was introduced to the world of Eastern Orthodoxy and more importantly the writings of the ante-Nicene fathers. The foreignness of their expression did not obscure their obvious fierceness and clear expression and reiteration of Apostolic witness. Since that introduction I have loved and returned to their writings over and over. Only their own words describe why I find them indispensable. From Ignatius:
“My love has been crucified, and there is no fire in me that loves anything; but there is living water springing up in me which says to me inwardly, Come to the Father. I have no delight in corruptible food, nor in the pleasures of this life….
…I desire the drink, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.”
No need for banal comment from me on that.
Again compressing years into seconds, I arrived at a certain point (without the advantage of a classical education) trying to close the gap between ante-Nicene poetry and the disorienting world of western Protestantism that waited for me every time I went to church. Though I have been guilty of egregious criticism over the loss of church leadership, I have repented of that and realize, at least, that I am as culpable as anyone else for the decline of spiritual fatherhood.
Again, my problem: How to bring the vigour and truth of the ante-Nicenes into a lived 21st Century following of Christ. Short answer, the Puritans.
About a year ago my wife gave me an audio-book subscription and, for reasons I cannot recall, I chose to make Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress my first listen. I hadn’t read it in its full version for 40 years and it had been 20 since I read an abbreviated and beautifully illustrated version to my kids. Hearing it as a man in his mid-fifties was apocalyptic.
The revelations produced a chain reaction that continues to tour me through Baxter, Sibbes, Owen and others. In them, as in the quote from Thomas Brooks below, I found the ante-Nicene spirit with surprising applicability and fit for a fellow such as me.
“Such as diligently search the Scripture shall find that true blessedness, happiness, and salvation is attributed to several signs: sometimes to the fear of God, sometimes to faith, sometimes to repentance, sometimes to love, sometimes to meekness, sometimes to humility, sometimes to patience, sometimes to poverty of spirit, sometimes to holy mourning, sometimes to hungering and thirsting after righteousness; so that if a godly man can find any one of those in himself, he may safely and groundedly conclude of his salvation and justification, though he cannot see all those signs in him.”
As I absorbed more and more of these writers I came to see something that was almost completely absent from my religious tutelage but so vital to what is truly Christian: a constant disposition of repentance.
And by some algorithmic fiat (more rightly, the provisions of grace), I watched you drive a burning truck and speak an essay.
If I may be so bold, and here I am open to correction, your work seems to be something of a nexus for the things I’ve been striving to draw together. I reckon you bring together the early church, the Puritans, and a vigorous contemporary Christian presence in the world quite beautifully. You have gone far along the road before me and I am grateful to you for it.
Lionel, you are very kind. And I thank you for recognizing what we are at least trying to do. Pray for us.