Playing a Doctor
This article is a brilliant, luminous gem. Thanks to Rev. Dr. Joe Boot, Steve Deace, and the Crosspolitic guys’ truthful reporting last year, I became a rube at the end of March 2020. The last section of your article is particularly poignant because there are many of us who are dealing with the fallout at our churches. Have you or will you be writing a pastoral piece for those of us trying to sort out the aftermath? I know people who have left churches and others like myself who, while they have forgiven their leaders, are struggling to trust them not to reopen the sheep pen upon hearing “public health emergency” to allow the statist wolves free access to our flocks. We sheepdogs barked and were ignored without apology. Not all of us have a institution like Christ Church to be members of and have little opportunity to be an agent of reformation to attain such a caliber. Thank you.
Brent, thanks much. I am sure there will be more to say on all of this as we continue to clean up the debris.
“I want the law to be explicitly Christian and Bible-based…” I am astounded that so many professing Christians have such a big problem with this idea.
Guymon, I know. Baffles me also.
I really appreciate your blog and have grown to dearly appreciate your wisdom and guidance when it comes to how the church should relate to government. You’ve been tremendously helpful and for that I thank you. Is there a way to list all of the posts you’ve made that touch on this topic specifically? Are there a few other resources you’d recommend for elders of a church to work through in order to have a healthy view of how to interact with government?
Jory, thanks. For the posts over the last year or so, the best thing to do would be to search for the tag “coronavirus,” then click on that tag, and all the posts would come up. Or you could go to the top menu bar, find the Scripture Index, and pick a likely passage (e.g. Rom. 13), and go there. And it is possible we might see our way to assembling such relevant posts into a book—after we figure out how to fit in an extra three hours a day.
Playing Doctor Is Better Than Playing Preaching | This is one of those blogs where Pastor Doug deftly and satirically lands every single one of his theological punches to the gut of those who a supremely guilty of the sin he is addressing. And those punches are in rapid fire succession. And some of those being thwacked will also be the ones who will arrogantly keep getting up to continue fighting for their apostasy, even though they know they’ve already lost and been exposed.
Trey, I am glad you think some of the punches landed.
Classical Christian Ed Question
Regarding Classical Christian Education . . .
My wife and I have been greatly blessed by your “Why Children Matter” series. Several families at our church (in Southern CA) are involved with the Classical Conversations education program. My children are too young now, but we are considering it. Is it comparable to your CCE program? Are there any deficiencies you’re aware of or warnings we should take?
Thank you in advance for any counsel you might have to give.
Joe, I like what Classical Conversations is doing.
I read Age of Entitlement by Christopher Caldwell on your recent recommendation. Wow, what a book! I was trying to drink from a firehose. I am putting it away and will pull it out again to reread for a few weeks. I am writing in regard to certain aspects of his evaluation of domestic policy of the ’70s and ’80s which conflicts with conservative received wisdom I was taught. (I was born in 1984.) I was startled to see Reagan portrayed as an unintentionally irresponsible neocon libertarian who destroyed the stability of the unionized ’70s in the interests of a nebulous concept of “Business,” which took off enriching itself at the expense of America’s culture. He also startled me in suggesting that some of the economic regulations, which I had held as anathema, were worth it: unions’ benefits and job protections offering stability and family wage; banking regs kept lending local and personal. Stability and locality are desirable social and individual goods; I’ve never seen this particular way of arguing for them. I am feeling quite at sea!
If I recall correctly, you have described yourself as a Christian Libertarian. Could you comment on this aspect of Caldwell’s argument?
Kayliee, yes. This is the challenge for those sketching their political utopias. It is the question of getting from here to there, and we must never forget the law of unintended consequences. So I am a theocratic libertarian when it comes to my ideal republic, but would a hundred years of civil war be worth three years of what I have in mind. Another way of putting it is that civil order is a lot more fragile than most people think, and political theorists should always keep that in mind.
I’m working my way through your books and just finished Father Hunger. The book was great, but what I can’t get over is that is was endorsed by Eric Mason! Is there a story behind that? Maybe he didn’t know your works well enough at the time? I couldn’t believe that a man who never wastes an opportunity to publicly slander you, would write such a strong endorsement.
Dan, yes, I know. It was a different era back then. And it wasn’t that long ago.
Thanks from Illinois
My friends here in Southern Illinois, while members of various Baptist type denoms including some Reformed, are being challenged and fed by many aspects of your ministry. We share the blogs and ploddings and Femina. We are very familiar with church history and realize it is all of grace that we are being blessed, for our edification for work to come. Keeping you all in prayer. Many thanks, Doug.
Brenda, you’re welcome, and thank you for writing.
“Now in the world of contemporary politics, there is plenty of energy, desperately looking for a place to stand, but absolutely everything is slippery. In the world of the church, we have plenty of dry places to stand, but very few willing to stand there. The world of conservative politics has plenty of people willing to fight, but with no weapons. Simple detestation of woke socialism is insufficient. Meanwhile, the Christian world is a vast armory, and a huge ammunition depot, well-stocked, but no soldiers, and no ethos of fighting.
The need of the hour is for someone to identify a rallying point, where Christians are standing—as Christians—like a stone wall.”
Pastor Wilson, you do realize that for a growing number of people today’s Stonewall is you and the rallying point is Moscow, ID. When the world has gone dark, the bright beacon of light draws people who still have eyes to see. I know you know this: the emigration from all parts of the world to Moscow is something of a phenomenon. I truly do pray, fervently, that you, your family, Christ Church, and the whole Christian community building up as a willing and capable army will continue to stand faithful and true.
I am honored to be a part of it, even if from afar. I will throw all my energy into this service, using my talents to the equipping of young men and women for this stalwart stand.
It was a blessing to share Sabbath meal with you and your family last week. Your grandkids are a delight, mighty arrows in your descendant quivers. You father, too, is blessed to see such fruit.
Malachi, thank you. We certainly want to be at least one of the places in the line.
Re: A Stonewall Moment…
I’ve long held dear the sentiments of this blog post. A very long time. To the great ridicule of my “friends..” And to the despair of my wife, upon whom the ridicule rubs off, unfortunately.
But you put it so much better than I ever did or could. Thanks for a superb summary of where we are and what ought to be done. Perhaps, more than ought to be done . . . but rather our only remaining hope.
Rob, thanks. And regards to your wife.
I just wanted to ask if the Bible, particularly talking about the New Testament, supports the idea of a Christian nation or/and state?
MPS, the NT does not support the idea of a singled out Christian nation, the way Israel was a chosen nation in the OT. There is no favored nation that way. But the New Testament does far more than support the idea of a Christian nation. In the Great Commission, it command that we disciple all the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything Jesus said. So the NT requires a Christian Thailand, Brazil. Canada, Mexico, UK, Germany, China, and down through all the rest.
If you could list them . . . what are the three most PERTINENT issues for Idahoans to consider in the 2022 midterms?
Mr. Tumnus, good to meet you finally. I will give you two. Idahoans need to strip the governor of his unilateral power to declare an emergency, and to keep us in it without the legislature. The people of Idaho need to replace all the senators who resisted this reform in this last session. And third, the people of Idaho need to despose Gov. Little without replacing him with someone worse. This last one could be a trick.
Fear of God, Fear of Death
This isn’t pertaining to any recent blogs, but perhaps the recent eulogy will do. Do you have recommended resources on fear of death for Christians? Of course the Bible tells us we aren’t supposed to fear it, and we have eternal life to look forward to, but surely there are others who still struggle with the sudden terror of remembering that one day our hearts will stop and there’s nothing we can do to escape it. The fear of the unknown, what it feels like, how it’ll happen, separation from loved ones, and of course standing before the Lord to give an account is frightening, even with faith. I haven’t found any solid reformed resources on working through this issue as a Christian. Any suggestions?
AA, the best I can do is recommend a recent book by Michael Reeves, called Rejoice & Tremble. It is not specifically on fear of death, although that would be included, but it would be an outstanding help for you.
Ah, Let’s Talk About Baptism
Regarding your video interview, “What Changed Your Mind on Baptism?” the question which was raised in my mind was, “If baptism has no saving merit by itself, then what real benefit does it afford the infant sprinkled with water?” As a baptist, and as one who was baptized by immersion as an 18-year-old (a first-generation Christian), my baptism benefits me spiritually because I remember it clearly as a distinct milestone in my life. By my baptism, I was assured, as the Heidelberg Catechism states, that I was “as certainly washed by His blood and Spirit from all the pollution of my soul, that is, from all my sins, as I am washed externally with water, by which the filthiness of the body is commonly washed away” (HC, Question 69). Yet I don’t see how an infant would be conscious of this benefit at the time of his baptism, nor would he remember the experience when he is older. Also, I don’t get the impression from the WCF that Presbyterians believe that baptism guarantees regeneration (WCF 28.5). So what benefit does it really afford an infant? As a relatively new parent of infants, I fully understand the ardent desire to see them saved. I would gladly give up my own salvation if it guaranteed theirs. Thus, as a Christian parent, I will make every effort to evangelize, disciple, and catechize my kids from their earliest days. Yet if sprinkling them with water before the church against their own will doesn’t guarantee their salvation, then why do it at all? Wouldn’t baptism be more beneficial to them if I waited until they were old enough to make their own decision (I pray, from a regenerated heart) to repent of their sins and confess Christ as Lord? Thanks, brother.
Josh, there are many possible avenues for a response here, but I will limit myself to one. While you are waiting for them to make their own decision, do you teach them to pray? Confess sin? Sing psalms and hymns? But why? They are not Christians and you are just instilling hypocrisy. Or do you encourage them to hang back because they are probably not regenerate yet? But then, what does that twelve years (say) teach them regarding their foundational relationship to God? And to answer your question directly, Christian baptism does not good at all if the recipient is not looking back on it with faith, but remembering it as a distinct event in your life is no barrier to such faith.
Recently, my wife and I have started drinking the paedobaptist Kool-Aid, and as it turns out, it is quite good and biblical. The issue, however, is that I am a Baptist pastor. I love my church and am very blessed in my ministry here. How does a pastor navigate these treacherous waters? I want to honor my church and not cause scandal or schism, but I also want to be faithful to what Scripture teaches. How do I approach these things? Do I tell the leadership and ask for them to study these things with me? Do I tell the church and throw myself upon their mercy? Obviously, I know that you cannot advise in the specifics, but I would appreciate any principles that you could share. Thanks!
T, if it is just a matter of your theology, and not a practical question (e.g. your wife is pregnant), then I would wait until your theology has solidified on the question. I would then tell your elders where you are on the question, and that you are willing to not teach on the subject, and willing to not baptize any children, unless and until the whole session studies the issue and comes to that conviction as well. But if they decide not to study it, that’s fine too.
As confessional Lutherans, my husband and I are interested in hearing how you have come to the understanding you have about the sacraments. We are delighted by your open honesty on the transitions from Calvinist doctrines. In particular we liked how you pointed out the lack of examples in the NT of one stand or the other- baptism of infants or the waiting on a confession of faith from a young ‘un. We would like to point out that we Lutherans have always held that the conversion and baptism of the household of the jailer (he and all his household- family and servants with their families Acts 16) would have included young children. Also Cornelius and all his is another example.
Another point to make regarding infant baptism—the absence of a specific example in the NT is not an argument against it, just as there is no specific example of a woman receiving the bread and wine of the Lord’s supper and we don’t exclude them. I recently watched the YouTube video of the round table discussion in eschatology. Very good to hear the discussion of the various viewpoints! One comment I would make is that Jesus repeatedly told His disciples (sometimes in extreme exasperation) MY KINGDOM IS NOT OF THIS WORLD.
Pamela, thanks. I don’t know that the household of the jailer and that of Cornelius contained any infants. I am willing to say that if they had contained them, it wouldn’t have slowed the apostles down any.
So, you helped me come to the understanding of baptizing babies. I, in turn, helped another pastor friend come to the same understanding, and he is now influencing his other co-elders at the church plant he is at. We also both love theonomy, postmillennialism, and affectionately call you “Uncle Dougy.” What have you done?
James, I like that. You call me Uncle Dougy, and then ask what have I done?
Sir, let me start off by saying that I admire how you know and revere the Bible, and how your mind works whereby you diligently seek to apply the Bible to the world, both specifically and in principle wherever applicable, etc. and more, that preeminent in and permeating your thinking seems to be Jesus Christ and the Gospel and the glory of God.
So, please accept this question in good humor and overlook my “cheekiness”, whereby to position my question most clearly, I tried to use a sort of disrespectful and/or discourteous “literary devise”
Question please: Exactly which specific logical fallacy(s) is it when one takes the earnest, humble prayers of a godly, committed, mature Christian, in faith, laying hold of his God to do for him what God had promised in His word (i.e. your father).. and to /infer/deduce/equate that to the “official” wholesale sanctioning of the same promises to anyone who joins a church and nods their heads to some propositions (i.e. infant baptism churches (extreme exaggeration but the essence remains))?
I am very interested in your answer both to the specific logical fallacy question (if you would take my question in theoretically/in principle)… But also and even more (and although you raise some interesting points in the video) to the overtly implied spirit of the question itself, because it does seem a big leap biblically from one to the other.
Robert, thanks for the cheeky question. The logical fallacy (informal, not formal) would be one that accompanies rendering general by induction. When you reason from particulars to the general, you want to make sure your sample size and/or characteristics line up with the general. But in what I was doing I don’t believe that error is being committed, because I believe and teach that the only way the baptism of infants is going to do any spiritual good is if the people involved in it are exercising a true evangelical faith. Faith is the only catalyst.
I’ve been reading your blog for a while now. I don’t always agree with you, but your opinions do make me think more deeply about the Christian life and my own walk with the Lord. That’s why I like your website.
This letter is about your recent article “Disorderly Wives.” I am a wife and mother and also teach science and music at an ACCS-member school. So, I do a lot of different things. I do, however, tend to flounder when I don’t have enough to do; for me, busy (or full–however you want to view it) is better.
In your article, it sounds like you’re saying that a woman’s primary place is in the home, folding laundry, doing dishes, making meals, etc. and then perhaps a secondary place would be some of the roles of the women in your family that you mention at the end, such as missionary work, writing, and teaching. Am I reading your article correctly? If so, I’m wondering if a woman could reach a point where she needed to cease doing her secondary role in order to give all of her attention to her primary role. In your opinion, what would that look like? Under what circumstances would that occur?
I’m also curious if you have any advice for wives who have disorderly husbands, and what a disordered husband would look like.
Hannah, last question first. Yes, there are plenty of disorderly husbands—men who can’t keep a job, or men who waste household money on their own vain pursuits, etc.
On your first question, I don’t say that a woman’s place is in the home, but that her primary responsibility is the home, and her domestic duties there. But if a woman has three kids, and they are all in a faithful Christian school, and she is industrious and competent, she might be done with her home responsibilities by 10:30 am. Now what? It is a matter of foundational priorities.
When Extended Family is Difficult
Thank you for all you do! What counsel would you give to adult children (with their own little ones) of a parent who, while a professing Christian, acts divisively, manipulatively, has outbursts of anger, undermines dad’s (her son’s) authority in his home and feels entitled to have some authority over her grandchildren, and would in many ways be in the biblical category of a fool. Let’s say this parent/grandparent accepts no responsibility for this and concedes nothing when confronted and is unrepentant. Let’s also say that the issue for the adult children (child and child-in-law) is not an issue of resentment, punishment, or anger toward this person, but not wanting this behavior in their home and around their children. This parent/grandparent lives in a different state than the adult children and is not likely under any meaningful or involved pastoral authority. How do the adult children handle competing duties to honor parents yet obey Ephesians 6:4 (biggest concern), obey the command to warn a divisive person once then after that have nothing to do with him, to not keep company with fools? Most of the commentary out there that I’ve read deals with the heart and attitude of the adult child (you should desire to honor your parents even if they aren’t acting honorably), versus how to think through situations where legitimate boundaries are needed that don’t feel very honoring to put in place (such as, you cannot behave this way in our home), and how to show honor in these situations. I see very extreme cases discussed, like sexual abuse, but not things on par with the above-listed issues. Any thoughts would be appreciated!
MC, taking the case just as you have described it, my answer would be that you should keep your visits short and very limited, and that you don’t let grandma take the kids for a few days, etc. In other words, if the folly is significant, routinely expressed and kind of out there, then you need to keep your kids out of range until they are mature enough to navigate the situation themselves.
But I would also want to add that this should not be done unless you gone to Christian friends who know you well, and ask them if they think of you as persnickety in your habits. Are grandma’s sins the kind of thing that more charitable Christians would cover a multitude of?
Courtship, Fidelity and Marriage
In your book Fidelity you write that a man who struggles with sexual sin, such as porn use, should marry at the first available opportunity. That’s me. However, my Christian mother recently told me I should not get married unless I am in love with the woman. But there is a woman I am certainly interested in, and who I think would be good for me, and I for her, but I am not “in love.” Should I pursue her for a romantic relationship?
Please help me out with understanding how to proceed or how to back off.
Thank you kindly,
Jacob, the issue is not whether you are “in love” with her, but whether you are willing to love her. As an old Puritan once put it, choose your love, and then love your choice. Falling in love is certainly fun, and take it if you get it. But it is not to be the foundation of anything.
In a recent Letters to the Editor segment (Courtship Question, 06/01/21) you mentioned that a young man should get to know a young woman in group settings, and “As soon as you get to the point where you are singling her out . . . you should have communicated with her father.”
How (if at all) does this change when the “getting to know each other” occurs long distance?
I’ve been to several CREC singles retreats in the past year and a half. These are typically 3-4 day events and are excellent forums for meeting other young Christian men and women. However, any communication outside of these retreats is long distance and likely one-on-one. In my opinion, 3-4 days of getting to know a woman in-person and in a group setting is not enough to be able to pursue a courtship/dating relationship. I believe friendship is a foundation for a more serious relationship, and I am not comfortable jumping into courting/dating without being friends for some period of time first. But due to the distance, this “being friends” comes in the form of messaging or phone conversations.
Would you give any leeway for a month or so of one-on-one conversation without stated intentions of marriage or without speaking to the woman’s father? Or, should I be willing to “stick my neck out” and court/date a young woman after only knowing her for 3-4 days?
Caleb, what I would suggest is something like this. If a young lady has caught your eye, and you want to follow up, ask her dad if you can “get to know her better.” You are not courting in the sense of actively trying to win her affections, and you can have your “month or so” in a way that has some accountability.
Chesterton for the Win
Thank you for continuing to cash this out and compile your thoughts on a Mere Christendom approach to theonomy in your recent blog posts.
If you haven’t already done so, you might include Chesterton’s whit on the topic as you prepare your manuscript.
“We have laws against blasphemy—that is, against a kind of coarse and offensive speaking in which nobody but a rough and obscure man would be likely to indulge. But we have no laws against heresy—that is, against the intellectual poisoning of the whole people, in which only a prosperous and prominent man would be likely to be successful. The evil of aristocracy is not that it necessarily leads to the infliction of bad things or the suffering of sad ones; the evil of aristocracy is that it places everything in the hands of a class of people who can always inflict what they can never suffer. Whether what they inflict is, in their intention, good or bad, they become equally frivolous. The case against the governing class of modern England is not in the least that it is selfish; if you like, you may call the English oligarchs too fantastically unselfish. The case against them simply is that when they legislate for all men, they always omit themselves.” – GKC, Heretics
THVV, thanks much. I will try to remember that.
I’ve enjoyed the careful and thoughtful way you have been sorting out the questions surrounding blasphemy and government. Something that keeps coming to my mind is that there seem to be similarities between treason and blasphemy. One thought is that many people already have a tolerance for capital punishment if someone commits treason. William Bruce Mumford simply removed a union flag from a public building in 1862 and was convicted of treason and executed.
In a Christian theocracy, it seems like blasphemy and treason might have more of an overlap. I can imagine scenarios where blasphemy would be a calculated effort to destabilize a formally acknowledged theocratic Christian nation. The loony guy on the street yelling blasphemies seems to require a different response than someone conspiring to place the abomination of desolation at the capitol for national worship. Are there situations like this that you think could justify capital punishment for blasphemy?
Josh, I think you are making reasonable distinctions.
Year in Review
“Our Year in Review”. My reading is that Mablog is throwing a lot of complaint into the air, and while you are distracted, he is trying to leave his weeks of apologia for Trump behind. In my opinion, he aided and abetted very likely the most corrupt leader this country has had. Having not voted for Trump in 2016, Mablog had 4 years to take the measure of the man and still did not get the grift. Trump will continue his big lie, and as with all liars look for his fabrications to grow.
Fred, may we measure your detestation of liars by your response to the Fauci email revelations?