Better Letters Than Fetters

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Free Speechery

How is Twitter, Facebook, and so on private companies if they are publicly traded? Would love some insight on this . . .

Cortney

Cortney, I believe that would be a function of who owns controlling interest in what is publicly traded.

Re: free speech post: “This is one of the great legacy items of Christendom. Why should we surrender it?” I suspect many onlookers (Christian and not) might be genuinely confused: “Is that not what American Christians DO? Their rapidity and abjectness of surrender once provoked the French to sue for copyright infringement, and subsequently lose when the defendant entered a guilty plea.”

History (Christian or French) is not widely known, you see.

Blessings,

Keith

Keith, history is full of surprises. What we need is for Christians to get back to the level of valor the French had prior to the First World War.

Biblical Law as the Foundation of Free Speech | Overall. Great post. I only have hearty amens, and then some more. But I do have a question. Where you said, “With the pervasive influence of the gospel in society, freedom will collapse into form only . . . “, did you mean to say “WithOUT the pervasive . . . “

Trey

Trey, yes I did mean to say without. Now that it is fixed, nothing remains but for me to bring my gray hairs down to the grave in sorrow.

Re “Biblical Law as the Foundation of Free Speech.” I was excited about the topic of this article, because for some time I have been wishing I had better mastery of the argument that “religious liberty/freedom of speech is a Christian value, not a secular one.” When I have made this statement recently, I have had the nagging feeling I was making an assertion that, if pressed, I could not defend.

Sadly, that feeling will continue to nag for the present. That’s to say, I don’t believe your article delivered the goods. If there are more goods in storage, I anxiously hope they’ll be put on display. I track your argument 100% that religious liberty/freedom of speech is not and cannot be derived from secularism. Absolutely, borrowed capital, all that.

But I don’t see in the article a satisfying argument that the capital was borrowed from Scripture or specifically Christian reasoning, as opposed to being borrowed from Enlightenment ideals that may have very good pragmatic and wise reasons behind them (e.g., I want free speech for thee because I also want it for me), but are not specifically Christian.

The article ends with a few verses about Paul “reasoning” with folks, our weapons not being carnal, etc. But it seems to me it’s overloading those verses to make them carry the weight of, e.g., “free exercise of religion should be guaranteed for Mormons (or what have you).” The context cannot be ignored, which (in the case of the Acts verses) was not Paul expounding on how a just society ought to be properly constituted, but was him simply dealing with the situation in which he found himself, namely, one where he had the opportunity to attempt to persuade his interlocutor.

Again, I can think of 5 reasons the kind of freedom that guarantees free exercise for all, within particular limits, is a smart idea and desirable (not least because it protects Christians), and even how it’s consistent with Christian theology, but I don’t see how a specifically Christian theology gives rise to or compels the ideals of free speech and religious liberty.

I write this not as an antagonist, but as someone who desperately hopes you will convince me. I would really like to be able to tell my conversation partners, “you say you like free speech but reject Christ, but what you don’t realize is that Christianity provides the only consistent basis for free speech” without that nagging feeling that I can’t defend this if pressed . . .

Adam

Adam, thanks for the feedback. I clearly need to develop this whole thing more, which I hope to do. But for the moment, realize that the me/thee could be cast as a “pragmatic” argument, but it is also a very nice application of the Golden Rule. On the Enlightenment ideals issue, get a copy of Glenn Sunshine’s new book Slaying Leviathan. What Enlightenment thinkers did was secularize principles that had been developed by the Christians just prior to them.

Following a brilliant essay on the Ethics of Migrating to Gab, I would have expected a link at the bottom, alongside Facebook, Twitter, and Evernote, that allowed us to post this to Gab. Just a thought . . . :)

Malachi

Malachi, you are exactly right. Give us a minute.

Why do you continue to use platforms that hate Christians and support everything anathema to our worldview? Please take a stand and stop.

John

John, I touched on this in yesterday’s post, and in that section there is a link to another blog post of mine on boycotts. The short answer is that there is no complicity in doing business with pagans, and so it has nothing to do with not “taking a stand.” But at the same time, it is crucial for us to be doing everything in our power to be ready when they drop their hammer.

I’m writing to ask if there is any other place to purchase your books? I will not support or purchase anything off of Amazon. If you could please make your books Available elsewhere I’d greatly appreciate it.. Thank you

Ray

Ray, you can get just about all of my books from Canon Press directly, and you can get e-books from my shop here at Mablog.

From a Brother in the Military

I’m writing to ask simply if you have any advice or wisdom regarding the situation I’m in. Given the current state of the union, I believe it is only a matter of time before our new administration makes good on their promises. We have seen a ramping up of the progressive agenda over this last year despite a supposedly conservative administration. Now that leftists are in a position to continue moving the ball with seal of government authority and approval, I don’t believe they will slow down. It is likely that before the year is out, we will see any number of policies and laws change that are in direct opposition to the Constitution and Biblical morality. Some of those could include but are by no means limited to: packing the Supreme court, eliminating the filibuster, codifying abortion into law, removing the Hyde amendment, continued degradation of first amendment rights, attrition of second amendment rights, etc. From where I’m standing, I want to be able to decide which is a bridge too far and when I need to resign my commission. I believe that without deciding objectively now, it will become more difficult in the moment.

The analogy I’ve been using to ask those around me this question is this: if you were a pilot in the Luftwaffe and could go back to say 1935, do you wish you would have done something different? At what point between finishing pilot training and bombing downtown London should you have quit?

There are two common objections, the first being the salt and light argument. To which I ask, how much salt and light are you providing while standing on the guard tower at Auschwitz?

The other one is the Roman Centurion from Luke 7. Jesus didn’t tell him to quit his day job and isn’t Rome so much more evil than America? But this is an argument from silence (as is the counter). We don’t know whether the Centurion began to study the law and decided that his occupation was incompatible with the Christian faith.

My oath is to support and defend the constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. Regardless of if we got here legally or illegally, or even if the new laws and amendments are changed legally or not, there are bridges that are too far. I believe that this year, there will be a bridge too far for me. I will not be willing to kill for or train others to kill for such an evil government that has abandoned its’ own governing documents, let alone the Biblical principles that served as the source. If my thinking is wrong on this, please challenge it. Other thoughts that I’ve had on this issue include people like Daniel or Joseph but I think that being a civil leader in an evil administration is different that waging war on behalf on the administration.

Ethan

Ethan, the advice I have for men in your situation is this. Wake up every day fully prepared to wreck your career for the sake of biblical principle. In just war theory there are two categories: jus ad bellum (the criteria that must be met in order to decide to go to war) and jus in bello (the criteria that govern the actual fighting). The former is not your concern because it applies to those making the decision to go to war or not. The latter applies to the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who are engaged in the fighting. Know what a war crime is, and know what a war crime ought to be, and stay well clear of both.

Thanks again for your insight on current affairs. My question is not related to any of your posts, which is why I’m asking it:

Could you give me your take on the Calvary Chapel movement as a whole and then how you would steer a family living in a town where the Calvary Chapel is the most faithful Bride?

Thanks so much for your time.

Joe

Joe, if that is your most faithful option in your town, I would certainly utilize it. I am grateful to Calvary Chapel for their Word-centeredness, and for the work they have done in the gospel. You might encounter some problems down the road because I know they have conducted purges of Calvinists in the past. That is one of the hazards of being Word-centered—some of your people start becoming Calvinists, and then you have to deal with it.

Success and Failure

Your piece on success and failure was magisterial in its simplicity— thank you. I am now feeling suitably uncomfortable, and wondering is there any possibility that if I repent I will not have to give an account of every idle word that I’ve ever spoken? God Bless

Brendan

Brendan, thanks. I believe that real repentance means the “giving account” happens early, happens in this life.

A Little Help for Our Friends

My name is Nigel Butler. I am a Christian filmmaker and recently made a clean, family sitcom about a small Christian Church titled, “Problems Higher Up” that is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. I would appreciate any support and a mention of the show, if you think that would be appropriate for this blog. I truly believe that in this day and age, most of the media is not appropriate for the whole family, however, this show was made with a Christian family audience in mind.

Thanks,

Nigel

Nigel, here you go, and blessings on it.

Peacemaking Question

I’ve often appreciated your scorn-proof approach to politics and ability to take a punch without becoming vengeful. However, as I’ve been following you over the last year or so, I have not heard you address the topic of being a peacemaker and how that fits into your overall theology of culture wars. I’m wondering what you think that looks like in today’s political and cultural climate.

Much appreciation from Greenville, SC.

James

James, I believe that we need to be in hot pursuit of peace within our own communities, laboring to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This ensures that our combativeness out in the world is not simply a character defect in us. “I need to fight somebody, and the enemies of God will do.” Then when the Lord determines to make even our enemies to be at peace with us, they know who to talk to.

Pesky Pronouns

You give winsome & cogent defenses against unbiblical ideologies so I thought this might be something you could address. I was curious if you’d blog on how the average Christian tells or defends why he won’t/can’t use preferred pronouns. While HRs don’t yet have the backing of law, how do I present that it is a matter of religious freedom to not say the “emperor is wearing clothes” so to speak. I’ve decided, before the issue has arrived that this is my line on the ground that I won’t move on and am willing to be fired over. But HR will waffle a bit on religious vs. identity issues, out of fear of lawsuits, until the law gives them a way out, so there is a time frame where I will still be able to keep my job by being able to give my religious objection . . . hopefully. But I am not familiar enough with the biblical theology of sexuality or experienced enough with rhetoric to give a case. If you could help I’d appreciate it.

Edward

Edward, it would be good if I wrote something on this, but here is the short form now. If a co-worker changes his legal name from Henry to Heather, I can call him Heather because that actually is his name. But I can’t say that is her name because now I am participating in the lie. So the religious objection is that it is against our faith to propagate falsehood.

Trump Still

As you provide analysis on recent political events, a topic that you may want to consider discussing again is the topic of character and personal integrity. I was a reluctant Trump voter (which you may or may not agree with), but I have, to the best of my recollection, always believed that character matters in politics. Which is why the Never Trump movement’s critique of evangelicals who make a studied dismissal of the importance of character resonates with me. What I find, though, and what I tonight had even more evidence of in interacting with people on Twitter, is that even professing Christians’ definitions of character differs. For instance, I believe Trump has bad character, though I reluctantly voted for him as what I thought was the best viable presidential option in the 2020 elections. Maybe I was right or maybe I was wrong, but I came to that conclusion because I believe that Biden’s promotion of baby-killing or of biblically problematic sexualities is also evidence of bad character. But tonight, I find that some apparent Never Trumpers seem to have different views. To them, practiced sexuality—biblical or unbiblical—is no evidence of character one way or the other, even if it is contrary to God’s Word. I do not know if this link will work, but if it does, you may find that Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile has also publicly endorsed this view: Read the thread up and down if the link works, note who liked key posts, and please pardon my snarkiness, which was excessive. The subject is both disheartening and confusing to me. I know that common grace speaks to varying forms of integrity in Christians and non-Christians alike, but I am doubtful the needle is being threaded correctly here. Regardless of what one thinks of Trump, who is peripheral to the underlying theological questions, I am hesitant at views that decry conservative evangelicals for supposedly abandoning character considerations but praise those on the left for supposedly displaying competence and integrity whatever their personal lives may look like. It feels like a double-standard, and that double-standard is sowing bad seeds in evangelical churches. If you have any thoughts you could share via your blog or with me personally, I would be grateful. I do not agree with all of your viewpoints, but fresh perspectives for our nation’s current state could be helpful. Thanks!

Daniel

Daniel, I can respect those who voted for some third party Galahad because of their views on character being important to them. But those who refused to vote for Trump because of personal character issues, and who then voted for Biden, are revealing where the real problem with character is. They are guilty of a high hypocrisy.

Romans 13 Again

I attend a reformed church and am meeting with my pastor and elder next week, at their request, to discuss civil disobedience and my interpretation of Romans 13. They have asked me twice to consider meeting virtually as a small group (of which I am the leader) because our health department/governor’s decree is that no more than two families may gather in a household. Their interpretation is to obey, as long as corporate worship is not restricted (we are in a state that allows churches to meet, for now). They are not making us wear masks and the church is not woke.

My group is unanimous in continuing to meet in person despite the recent edicts. My interpretation of Romans 13 is that any worship (corporate/family/group, etc.) is good, commanded by God’s Word and therefore should not be dictated by any magistrate. I also believe it is a prescriptive passage, not descriptive, and we are not called upon to obey civil authorities in all things. Render to God what is God’s. I don’t believe I will fall under church discipline (at least I hope not), but I want to be gracious in my conversations as these are respected brothers in Christ.

Thank you for your diligent work and for the Canon app (new subscriber),

Ben

Ben, it sounds to me like your elders are men you can work with, so I would certainly try to. Perhaps a compromise you could suggest is to make your small group (for the time being) independent, and that your group would “rejoin” the church when the crazy is over.

The Fear of the Lord

Re: Plodcast 177 If the the passage in Psalm 19 “The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever,” refers to the scriptures, does it then follow in Proverbs 1 that the scriptures are the beginning of knowledge?

Eric

Eric, no, I don’t think so because that meaning for fear in that passage is determined by its use in context. In other passages, you don’t have that same semantic environment.

Basic Discipleship

I work at a Christian college as a custodian. In getting to know many of the young men who live in those dorms, I was given an opportunity to be a part of a discipleship program for students run by staff and am going through Ploductivity with a freshman guy. It’s been a great primer for understanding Godly ambition, legacy building, and dominion taking as a young man (in fact for both of us, being that I’m in my late twenties, married, and in seminary). So, as a supplement to Scripture reading, are there any other books you might recommend for a young man like the one I’m mentoring which might be beneficial for me to go through with him?

Thank you for your volume of work and faithfulness in preaching.

B

B, I have another book out called Basic Christian Living, a workbook that is an introduction to such issues.

Collective Conscience?

I have one question and would love to hear your thoughts about it.

Recently, I heard in a church there is a mention of “collective conscience” and “community conscience,” like the local church has a group conscience. All the verses about conscience in the Bible are personal and not one of them is used in the context of the group of people. So, is the term “community conscience” biblical? Thank you!

Aleksandar

Aleksandar, I think that there is such a thing, but we don’t use the word conscience to describe it. A corporate form of conscience would be part of a community’s worldview, and would shape their customs. But I agree with you that the word conscience should be reserved for the individual, which is how Scripture uses it.

Child Communion

I was recently listening through “Standing on the Promises” (I think) while at work. I believe you mentioned something along the lines of the dangers of being too doubtful of the validity of our young children’s faith in the church.

The members of my local church seem to be very cautious about allowing their children to participate in the Lord’s table. Although my children are only 1, 3&4 years of age and have not participated yet, I want to be an encouragement to their faith as they grow. What are your thoughts on young children participating in the Lord’s table?

Pardon my ignorance, I’m sure you’ve addressed this often.

Chris

Chris, yes. If your children are baptized, I think they should be brought to the Table as a means of bringing them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We are all one loaf, Paul says, and those who are bread should get bread.

A Tithing Question

In reference to your post The Sabbath Mind and the Tithe, does giving to a health sharing organization such as Samaritan ministries ‘count’ as tithing? We are a bit strapped for cash and giving 10% of our family’s income to our local church in addition to the about 20% we are paying into Samaritan has been beyond us for several years. We want to do the right thing but are not sure how. Thanks!

Elizabeth

Elizabeth, I am very sorry but I don’t think that qualifies for a proper use of the tithe. In effect, you are “purchasing” the equivalent of insurance.

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J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
1 year ago

Pastor Wilson, thanks for your reply to Joe regarding Calvary Chapels. I attend Lighthouse Church in Twin Falls which is historically associated (I don’t know all the details). I’d say the teaching purposely avoids drawing dark lines between Calvinism and Arminianism – but I hear monergism and the authority of God’s word preached weekly.

Curiously, we’ve just begun a study in Revelation…I’ve got Heaven Misplaced as a key reference. Thank you for all your writings…Go Under the Mercy!

Joe – let me know if you want any of my perspective. Happy to correspond.

Zeph
Zeph
1 year ago

Mr. Butler, I checked out your show on Amazon. I really wanted to like it, but the sound quality is very amateurish as is the video production. You need to get a film editor and a good sound man. You need to be able to switch between close ups and group shots. Cinematography matters.

We Be Libtards
We Be Libtards
1 year ago
Reply to  Zeph

My advice is to save yourself the agony. The sound quality and video production are the least of their problems. Thankfully, Amazon has recently added the option to hide a film/series from appearing in your listings, a welcome act of mercy.

Ree
Ree
1 year ago

Here in Santa Clara County in the San Francisco South Bay Area, the Calvary Chapel San Jose pastors have been the most courageous and faithful around. They’re racking up fines which at last report were up to 1.2 million dollars, and the pastors are possibly facing jail time as well. (They don’t seem to have elders at Calvary Chapel.) The County is demanding that they follow the rules which consist of meeting outside with masks and limits on the number of people, etc. With all the other local churches giving in to the county dictates, unsurprisingly Calvary Chapel has grown… Read more »

PB
PB
1 year ago

Ethan, I would suggest finding a National Guard unit if you wish to maintain ties to the military. Things are changing fast but it will likely buy you more time and it also provides the opportunity for more personal relationships with the leadership.

Adam, very well said and those were my very thoughts upon finishing the post.

Andrew Lohr
1 year ago

Adam–re Christianity as the basis of freedom, check out God’s advice to the Israelite constitutional convention about criteria for choosing a form of government, I Samuel 8; God’s short lists of jobs for governments to do in Romans 13 and I Timothy 2 (basically, terrorize evildoers ‘to secure the rights’ of those who do good); and consider Jesus living as free man in a not very free world, voluntarily giving his life, and rising from the dead thus reversing, without violence, the judicial verdict of the only superpower du jour. Look around the world–Christendom (Christian influence) is freer (and richer)… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
1 year ago

Adam, I don’t know enough to comment on scripture and I haven’t read the book Doug mentions, but I do know a bit about the connection between Christian thought and Enlightenment views on free speech. There were two influences: one Catholic and one Protestant. Many scholars believe that the theory of natural rights grew out of the teaching of Thomas Aquinas about natural law–principles we can grasp through reason alone without divine revelation. If natural law tells us not to do to another what would be hateful to ourselves, that tells us we should let our neighbor speak as freely… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

I’m not sure about that. Are we talking about the current ACLU?
https://www.dailysignal.com/2020/05/19/the-aclu-loses-its-way/

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

The ACLU are no longer free speech absolutists. In fact, although they don’t agree about which speech should be protected, the ACLU and the Catholic church take much the same position these days. The sensibilities of marginalized or oppressed groups are prioritized over free speech. You might remember the uproar when Pope Francis said that, with reference to Muslims attacking Charlie Hebdo, respect for the faith of others is more important than freedom of speech. Francis said, “You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit.”… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
1 year ago

Ethan, I’m wondering about how well your Luftwaffe pilot analogy really fits. If we’re only considering the issue of what the Luftwaffe did to London I think a similar question could have been asked of RAF or USAAF pilots: At what point between pilot training and incinerating Dresden, or A-bombing Hiroshima, should you have quit? If there is a difference it is not in the military action undertaken, or what the war led one to do, the difference is in the cause, and the regime served. Were Wehrmacht soldiers fighting the Red Army advance doing good or doing bad? Were… Read more »

We Be Libtards
We Be Libtards
1 year ago

I noticed there were no letters about The P is Silent post of Thursday, Jan 21. That post raised the temperature in the room, with a good deal of the ansgst directed toward the good reverend. Seems someone would have sent a letter…

Adad
Adad
1 year ago
Reply to  We Be Libtards

Wow WBL, the P might be silent, but you were not.
Did you even notice your own multiple comments in the 140+ comments of that open comment Jan. 21 post?

Or do you have an evil twin? 😉

We Be Libtards
We Be Libtards
1 year ago
Reply to  Adad

Hi Zero.

Hey, is now a good time for you to instruct us on the perils of nursing a fragile ego?

Oh, I do hope I didn’t offend you.

Adad
Adad
1 year ago
Reply to  We Be Libtards

Nope WBL, once again, your comments demonstrate to heaven and earth all that need be known about fragile egos.

You also demonstrate an inability to stay on your own topic. 👍

Once again, nice job! 😏

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
1 year ago
Reply to  Adad

Just a note adad: my intel says Clay Crouch, in a massive virtue signaling effort, donned 26 masks at the same time and achieved immortality. He glided through the cosmological horizon straight into a parallel (but much more woke) universe. Anyone using that name should be treated as an imposter…and an inferior!

Adad
Adad
1 year ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

👍😏
Still, as Providence would have it:
“Without trolls, Troll Tuesday it’s self would be impossible.”

Plus, Crouch potato and associated npc’s are kind of cute when they get mad. 😏

carandc
carandc
1 year ago

Edward, You asked about how the average Christian explains why he won’t use preferred pronouns and I figured I’d throw in my two cents in case you find it helpful. As a public school teacher (who, God willing, is in my final months before jumping to the world of private Christian education) in a deeply left-leaning area/district, I had my first “girl-who-wants-to-be-a-boy” in 2017 and had to confront this new world much sooner than I would have liked. My state’s unelected, governor-appointed human rights commission wrote new state law in late December 2016 (I think) while no one was looking… Read more »

Gray
Gray
1 year ago
Reply to  carandc

“I would recommend knowing your state and county/city law and your company policy like the back of your hand.”

That made me reminisce and smile. Every sentient man who has ever served in the military knows that the easiest way to bring the organization to a grinding halt is by simply doing things “by the book”. Every jot and tittle, line by line, verse by verse.

ashv
ashv
1 year ago

The idea of stockholders as “owners” of a publicly traded company rather than merely sharing in its profits and losses only arose in the 20th century and doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny. In reality, corporations are an extension of the government — insofar as they grant special privileges of limited liability for the purpose of serving the needs of society. The distinction between “public” and “private” isn’t fundamental or as important as it’s made out to be.

Clay Crouch
Clay Crouch
1 year ago
Reply to  ashv

Using your logic, all churches receiving tax exemptions are an extension of the government.

I ran across this photo and it made me think of you. Except this guy at least, sick as they are, had the courage of his convictions.

comment image

Ree
Ree
1 year ago

An update to the Calvary Chapel San Jose situation. I learned from an email that this is what’s happening in court this afternoon. “The county is looking to sanction the church more than $80,000, which will be added to the outstanding fines exceeding $1,500,000. The county is also looking to personally sanction both Pastor Mike McClure and Carson Atherley more than $25,000 and hold them in contempt of court.” And I also read today on a local social media site that Calvary Chapel’s mortgage lender has cancelled their mortgage and they have a couple of weeks to find a new… Read more »