Fourth of July Issues
An Apologetic for the Fourth of July Thank you for the brief history lesson. Knowing that the it was illegal for Parliament to levy a tax in the colonies, what then is the biblical support for an actual revolution?
Thank you so much.
Chadd, the war was defensive, not offensive. That means that the justification for fighting was the same as when you fight an intruder in your home.
Re: The Rope and the Needle This is an interesting reflection. I wonder if it could have been a (humorous?) play on words by Jesus.
Josh, perhaps—which would make it an untranslatable play on words. But the problem of the canonical text still remains.
I became aware of this translation through researching some of the claims made by the Hebraic Roots Movement also called messianic Judaism. Some from this group claimed this translation issue proved the New Testament was originally written in Aramaic. This gives them the possibility of doubting any doctrinal teaching from historic Christianity because we are using a Greek translation of the original Aramaic NT. No doubt, Jesus originally said it in Aramaic and the gospels were originally written in Greek. Obviously the metaphor makes more sense in Aramaic. And if the gospels had originally been written in Aramaic, many sermons today could have avoided erroneously claiming there was a gate called the eye of the needle. However the Greek translation of Jesus’s original message doesn’t undue the actual point Jesus was making. This should be a cautionary experience for pastors today to be more critical of explanations they use while preaching.
John, correct. The point Christ was making was that imagining a rich guy going to Heaven presents us with a ludicrous spectacle. And fortunately, for us Americans, richer than just about anybody Jesus ever talked to, what is impossible with men is possible with God.
The Rope and The Needle
“—unless of course Jesus originally meant camel, in which case I withdraw my evaluation and retire quietly to the back row of the disciples.” I love this!!!! God bless you, Pastor Wilson. You are such a blessing to me, God has used you to bring much peace and contentment into my life as well as lots of laughter and much contemplation. . . . This last sentence just blessed my socks off . . . wish I could move to Idaho….
Laurel, thanks. And sorry about not being able to right size your emoticons.
I’d love to see you review Robin DiAngelo’s book, “White Fragility.”
The Church is blessed to have you as am I personally. And I’d be glad to assist in above said review.
May Christ strengthen His People to be courageous by striking directly at the heart of the evils we face at this particular moment in History.
When we start getting flak, we’ll know we’re over the target. Conversely, if we try to tiptoe around real power so as not to arouse the likes of the ADL, we exude fear.
Oh, and by the way, Voddie Bauchum isn’t going to take a stand to protect us non-Poc believers. Tokenism and virtue signaling have no place in Christ’s Church.
Shane, I would be willing to review the book, but that would require me to read it, so that’s one problem. I agree with you on tokenism and virtue signaling, but I should also say that of late I have been seeing worrisome signs of actual anti-Semitism on the right, which is not to be confused having differences with the ADL. And I don’t understand your reference to Voddie—he has been a great friend of the ministry here.
A Reading List?
Good day to you, sir, and may our Lord continue to bless you and your family. I am new to your writing and teaching/preaching. Having only a high-school level formal education (one administered by Big Brother, at that…I’m 46 by the way) I do scramble a bit to keep up! (Insert the sound of Scooby-Doo running) But, I’m learning a lot . . . and for that, I thank you… Please don’t ever dumb down your messages or their delivery.
To my question: you mentioned several books in your article titled As Though the Gospel Had Cooties. Do you have a comprehensive recommended/required reading list on your website or in the Canon Press app? Thank you for your time and your service to The Kingdom of Christ
Paul, no, we don’t have a comprehensive reading list. But that idea is on the table. I have been mulling it over
Completely out-of-the-blue question that you are free to ignore: do you have any opinions on Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand? The philosophy I know came to an unfortunate conclusion, but I thought the writing and plot themselves were far from awful.
Also, if you haven’t already, you should check out Michael Knowles’ new book Speechless. It’s quite good.
Anonymous, no, I have never read Rand, even though I am sure I ought to have. And thanks for the book recommendation. I have added it to my library.
Since Barnes & Noble doesn’t carry a lot of Canon Press material, sometimes I buy your books and smuggle them into B&N and leave them in the Christian section . . . not sure what would happen if someone tried to buy a copy but just trying to make the world a better and more interesting place.
JM, I suppose you haven’t gotten to the point where you leave a stack of them on the front table?
De Young’s Taxonomy
This is written in response to your analysis of the DeYoung article. You wrote: “I would not call for the excommunication of the 1s, but rather for their removal from leadership . . . and so on” My question is this: Would you be comfortable with a 1, 2 or 3 teaching at your grandchildren’s classical Christian school? If your answer is maybe, please elaborate. What would your caution be for a classical Christian school that is filled with several 3’s, has about 30% 1’s and 2’s and a smattering of befuddled 4’s?
Laura, I would be willing for 3’s to teach, but no 1’s or 2’s. And I wouldn’t have a caution for a school like what you describe—they are in deadly peril. So it would be more like an admonition and warning.
On De young’s Taxonomy: Contrite, Compassionate, Careful, Courageous It seems to me that the four cardinal virtues are behind any sensible taxonomy: courage, moderation, justice, wisdom. It also seems to me that four mindsets are behind it all: fearful-imperative, glad-subjunctive, mad-optative, and sad-indicative.
With this backdrop in place, I suppose that De Young has misidentified categories somewhat in favour of the “ones”.
The fours, representing the indicative mindset of received truth and facts stated, engage culture within the ethos of wisdom: point and counterpoint held in paradoxical tension.
With the ones, upsetting the applecart is the point. Actually, they suppose that moral high ground so high as to be to be forceful and imperative. They are the ones who, even if on a questionably self-righteous basis, assert an ethos of courage as rage against the machine. Oddly, contrition is usually associated more with sorrow, than rage/courage.
De Young’s careful threes are seeking a moderate, that is, calculated response that would maintain a positive ethos of gladness. For happiness is associated with the moderate response of negotiated compromise in the midst of a subjunctively oriented worldview.
De Young’s compassionate twos may take the last space available: the optative ethos of just anger at evil that turns to ameliorative action. To be compassionate is to act justly and benevolently for the benefit of the poor, weak, outcast. Righteous Anger is quite the empowering frame of mind to take the controlled action justice requires. It may be, however, that De Young’s two are merely sentimentalists, not bold enough to act in the optative mood of the prophets.
Andrew, you may be right. But that treats it more as a body life question (with different gifts and emphases seeing different things) than as a strategic question. Who is right in their evaluation of the situation, and who should we ask to be our general?
When the Stoned Starts
I am in the middle of reading “Devoured by Cannabis” and agree with all I’ve read so far except that I’m having a hard time accepting that smoking a little as relaxation after work is a SIN because I don’t feel that you have adequately supported the claim on page 13 that “two hits from a joint, and the process of intoxication has begun.” Could you offer some reliable studies to support that? (P.S. I do not, nor will, imbibe.)
Kim, sorry. I was treating that as common knowledge.
We have been meaning to write to you for awhile. We want to thank you for your courage and leadership throughout the last 16 months. We live in Canada, in the Niagara Region and have been tracking with you since the beginning of the “pandemic”. Your sermons, podcasts and social media posts have served to help us immensely as we were part of a church that was putting public health mandates above the authority of Scripture. (We have since found a community of believers in Welland who have kept their church doors open and we have been so blessed to have in-person fellowship weekly). You have helped us to articulate our thoughts, feelings and convictions when we couldn’t find the words. Thank you for your biblically faithful wisdom and guidance. May our God continue to strengthen and uphold you with His righteous right hand. Many blessings from our home to yours,
Dave & Chandra
Dave and Chandra, thank you, and blessings on your continued pursuit of the fellowship of the saints.
Could you engage with the text and cited references of item XVIII of the Warrenton Declaration? The 4 points seem to make sense. I’m interested in your rationale for disagreement. Thanks.
Dustin, while the Levitical laws were obviously ceremonial, I don’t believe that the purpose of the law was limited to just that. The author behind the human authors knew about germs because He had created them. God promised the Israelites that if they followed His laws, He would visit upon them “none of these diseases” (Ex. 15:26; Dt. 7: 15). I believe that God uses means, and one of those means was the cleanliness required by His law—e.g. defecation outside the camp. And the ashes of a heifer were used by the Israelites outside the camp in the waters of cleansing, but the men who carried those ashes outside the camp were made unclean by it (Num. 19). The two main ingredients there are wood ash and animal fat—which is what you need to make soap.
I noticed in a recent response that you mentioned you used to be E-Free back in the day, and now clearly you are CREC. I was wondering your thoughts on the E-Free church and the compatibility with Reformed thinking. Thanks.
Gabe, my experience with the EFree denomination was pretty limited, so take this with a grain of salt. I would think there is room for soteriological Calvinists there, but not for Geneva Grade 100 Proof stuff.
I’ve really enjoyed both Wordsmithy and Ploductivity—a great pair! In Wordsmithy, you mention having a commonplace book to keep notable phrases that occur to you or that you come across. I believe a similar recommendation was written in The Rhetoric Companion, if my memory is correct. My question is simple: Do you still have a commonplace book these days? Is it a physical book? Do you keep your notes on a word document, or is there an app on a device you keep your notes in?
Thank you for taking the time to read this.
Ruben, yes, I still have my commonplace books. They are physical Moleskins, but my use of them is limited. They are filled (over 90%) with gaudy phrases I find in Wodehouse.
Practical Baptism Question
To start, I want to say thank you for all of your work in ministry. Both you and your church have blessed me and my family greatly through your faithfulness. Now, onto the meat of my letter.
My wife and I are (joyfully) expecting our first child later this year. Over the course of the last six months or so our views of baptism have changed from a “believer’s baptism” position to a pedobaptist position. Of course, this means that we eagerly desire to have our little one baptized after they get here. But here’s the rub: we are part of a church plant (one-year in the making) with a group of dear brothers and sisters who do not hold to the pedobaptist view. At present, my wife and I are the only members of the church who differ on the doctrine of baptism (and consequently the covenants, the place of children in worship and so on). The dilemma we are facing is that these brothers and sisters are very dear to us. We love them deeply and the Lord has knit our community together in a palpable and special way. So, we want to stay with them if at all possible; yet we also wish to remain true to our newly founded convictions on baptism and raising our child as a full covenant member. We and the pastor have talked about trying to implement a “duel-baptism practice agreement.” He is more than willing, but it doesn’t currently seem possible to do consistently. What would you say?
Michael, I would urge you to work something like that out, if at all possible. And I can tell your pastor that it is possible—we have functioned that way at Christ Church for 25 years or so.
First, My wife and I would like to thank you for a wonderful vacation to Idaho, or rather being the seed of the idea. We have been reading and listening to your site for 2 years now (the other 2 we regularly do as well are Dr. Mohler’s “The Scaring” and Rod DoomsDreher, we couldn’t improve on your naming), and it put Idaho on our radar for visiting, both for vacation and for reconnaissance. We went to McCall, spent a week in the Sawtooths, hiking up to lakes, and spent the day with a fellow Christian we met at Redfish Lake. We finished up in Boise (which we learned to pronounce with “ssss” rather than “zzzz”), and had a grand time, and also discovered what we already knew by evidence of the street lined flags “celebrating”, it’s everywhere, even Idaho.
Question: We are reformed Baptists, and we are very fed and happy, serving and being served in our Church for 10+ years. Our children are 8 and 4. An issue looming is our policy on baptism. we are at the far end of the spectrum, that is, baptisms take place when a child makes an independent profession of faith, far end of the spectrum meaning when they profess apart from their household’s direct influence, meaning mostly 18+. (There have been a few exceptions, but even then 16 or so). We are increasingly uncomfortable with this extreme guard against false professions (the justification) and agree with your sentiment in your “Permit the children”. We believe it’s the job of the elders to examine, even when it’s challenging. It’s very doubtful this will change, and we don’t want to spread dissension by seeing how many think likewise. Should we leave our church over this issue when the time comes, which we would be very sorry to do?
Preston and Gabriela
Preston and Gabriela, glad you enjoyed Idaho, and yes, the Californication of Boise is proceeding apace. As far as your church home goes, I would do everything you can to stay in fellowship with your people. At the same time, I would closely monitor your kids, and how they are thriving spiritually. You have a duty to your church family and also to your regular family, but more of a responsibility to the latter.
A Question Out of the Left Field Bleachers
This is something of an out of left field, nothing to do with any current issue/controversy as such, question. Are you a traducian or a creationist? Why?
I ask only out of curiosity. Until fairly recently I didn’t even know this was something people had ever argued about. I am writing a paper (almost done) on the subject and have found myself persuaded to the traducian position. Anyway, for whatever reason I found myself curious as to what the bad man from Moscow thinks about this.
In any case, whether you answer this or not, I appreciate your work very much. You have really helped me and my family think through the comprehensive worldview issues that lay underneath all of the things we are confronted with at this point in time. Thanks very much for everything. Keep it up and don’t let ’em get ya down.
Andrew, thanks for the question. I have not done a comprehensive study of the subject, but I do lean heavily in the traducian direction. The central reason has to do with this. If God creates each new human soul at conception, as opposed to the traducian view that the soul is inherited, then that would seem to entail God in the creation of a fallen creature as a fallen creature.
Irenic, That’s Me
I’ve seen a number of letters come in praising you for your rather unusual approach of irenic flair, and some detractors (remember seeing one from Pastor Hohn Cho at GCC Sun Valley like this) about your sharp or acid pen. Then there is your own blog logo, “theology that bites back.” I don’t really feel like any of those quite capture the spirit of of your writing ministry, and I want to give you my take on it to see if I can get some insight about where you got it from and how you cultivated it. The best wording I could come up with is you tend to take a gentlemanly and rather carefully worded approach that has the net effect of causing maximum harm to your opponent’s position by forcing their brain cells to rub together despite those cells’ keen efforts to avoid doing so. There’s a stark contrast in someone who really has quite a bit of acid in their pen—Christopher Hitchens, for example—versus your replies, which manage to be annoyingly winsome and annoyingly pesky because you often score earth shattering points against their paradigms in laughter and joviality. The times you do employ sharp language, it seems like they arrive few and far between and only you can’t find a big enough bullet to ballast through the other side with the whole winsome accidental brain cell thing. (And I digress, but I suspect your firearm collection consists of whatever shoots the biggest bullets). There are so many examples I could cite, but a few of my recent favorites are hilarious phrases like, “a woman who refuses the indignity of taking her husband’s last name is forced to endure the insult of keeping her father’s last name”, or “a man is superior to his wife in terms of creation order, in the same way that his back yard is superior to him.” These clever gotcha moments that catch the other side’s pants down, all while having a good laugh and keeping up a friendly spirit, seem to be the bread you save your butter for. It’s like every time you pull up your keyboard, you mentally call out to your challenger, “Hey you know what would be a blast? Crushing your worldview today. Loads of fun, come along!”
I get that you have some big inspirations writing-wise that taught you “how” to pull it off, H.L. Mencken and others, but what I don’t understand is why you arrived there as a Christian man. I think your whole “a man should be a velvet brick” concept is an apt phrase for your attack vector—if you’re comfortable with saying that you, the brick, gets thrown at people, all while remaining very velvety. I know you guys like to joke about “oh when you don’t like what we say, just remember—we’re holding back”. That’s cute, but I’ve yet to be disappointed in the courage and willingness to absolutely obliterate ungodly arguments—as they so desperately call for in their perniciousness. So I’m not sure what on earth you could be holding back in there. I mean gee wiz, everyone duck for cover if you guys ever go full tilt.
As a Christian first, and an Irish guy second (my dad is full Irish), I feel convictions both to be a gentle and lowly shepherd, and to wake up every day to beat the pulp out of demonic influences and the lures of the wicked. These both feel like do-or-die callings to me, but I don’t see that mix in a lot of men. The whole, “this is gonna hurt, but I’ll be all smiles and fun while I give it to you” shtick. I really appreciate this approach—you could call it a ministry distinctive, but I feel it’s deeper than that. It’s getting in touch with a sort of gentle/scary panache that I’m convinced men ought to emulate, maybe it is even an attribute of God. Nate tries to capture the same spirit in Ashtown I think with the whole boxing monkey patch as a symbol for what kind of Batman he’s trying to be (and that allusion will make sense if you ever watch Batman Begins, but you do not watch movies, so file this under me needing to read more Oscar Wilde so I can communicate with the Lifetime Bookclub Member people). Whatever it is, I feel in my bones I should aim for it to. But many men don’t see it that way.
So my question is, where did you find the conviction to be a velvet-brick-rampant that crashes into people, doesn’t apologize for the damage done, but manages not to unintentionally cut? Not the how but the why—are there any Christian heroes historic or present who lead you to see the oughtness for it? Some of the Puritans maybe? Or this was sort of straight from the source of the Lord Jesus? Wherever it was cultivated, it now ranks up there in my to do list alongside “learn how to hold still during incoming hail of bullets like Stonewall Jackson,” and I’d love to delve into whatever flame lit that candle for you.
Patrick, thanks for the observations. I think you are describing something of what we want to be like. The closest Christian model for what we are doing would be Chesterton, but even that isn’t exactly it—but close. Think of Chesterton as the bed of rice, Mencken as the curry sauce, Lewis as the chicken, and Wodehouse for the raisins.
Class Action Lawsuits
What’s your thoughts on class action lawsuits. Several big tech companies have been found to have scanned images of our faces for biometric information. This is against state law where I live, and several class action suits are being awarded. We then get emails saying that we are plaintiffs in said lawsuits and are entitled to small settlements. Is it wrong to sign up for payment? In my mind, if the company was knowingly found to have violated my rights in a court of law, then it is morally permissible to accept my portion of the fine. But in some ways, it feels almost like a government handout. Money given even though I haven’t done anything. What think ye?
Roger, I would want to evaluate each one on a case by case basis. Sometimes class action suits are just attorneys chasing corporations that have money. I don’t think Christians should have anything to do with ambulance chasing. But in the situation you describe, I wouldn’t have any problem participating in something like that. Big Data needs more of us punching back.
Electoral Funny Business
I’ve read your blog for years and have listened to the Plodcast from the beginning. I too saw what looked like unusual funny business (at least in one video of people boarding up windows behind which people were supposedly counting ballots) during the last presidential election and suspected that the results may have been a lie. Now that many months have gone by and the courts have all ruled that there was not enough fraud to overturn the election and things have moved on it seems with no more contesting of the election, are you still standing behind your assertion that you think Trump should have won fair and square even though no one has been able to produce any proof of cheating and foul play that has held up in court and overturned the election by this point or would you admit (and maybe you already have and I missed it) that you were wrong and Biden is actually the lawful President? I’m just curious where you stand on that issue as of now. Thanks,
Marshall, no, I still think the election was beyond sketchy.
The Anti-Semite Mistake
Any thoughts on Kevin McDonald / Andrew Joyce’s analyses of Herbert Marcuse, Theodore Adorno and the Frankfurt School here? It’s tough to dispute their perspective on Christianity, given its relation to culture with a predominance of Zionist Pre-Millennial thinking in many American Churches. Should Reformed leaders thus turn up the heat on so-called “Christian” Zionists? John Hagee, perhaps? Would you agree that American Evangelical Christianity as such is actively contributing to societal decay by failing to speak truth to the real centers of power such as media, government, academia, etc, which is clearly in the hands of Jewish elites (think Kushner, Cohen, Blinken, Garland, Katzenburg, Zucker, and on and on). Should Churches refrain from naming names of corrupt leaders because they happen to be Jewish, and disproportionately so? Thus could Zionism / Israel / Organized Jewish power be the raging issue of our age that we’re failing to address? Did Paul dodge the issue? How about Jesus? Did The Lord go easy on them because of some past holocaust?
Kevin, to address your question first, no, I don’t think we should lay off apostles of the culture of death simply because they are Jewish. But there is an important qualification to make here, and I hope to be writing more on this because I see it becoming increasingly necessary. Jews are a high performance people. When they go bad, they go really bad, and they naturally rise to leadership positions among the evil doers. When they don’t go bad, they are represented disproportionately among world class musicians, inventors, chess masters, Nobel Prize winners, and so on. Ironically, in the anti-Semitism that I see gathering steam on the right, I can detect the tell-tale crackle of leftist envy.
Swing and a Miss
I would be curious to hear your thoughts on this video from Michael Horton featured on TGC.
Nathan, he says a number of very true things, but the overall result is a highly confusing muddle. First, the question of whether America is a Christian nation is quite distinct from whether or not it ought to be. Second, there is a stark difference between being the Christian nation, like Israel in the OT, and a Christian nation among scores of others which are also Christian. Third, he even quoted the Great Commission which says to disciple the nations. Whatever that means, that is what we ought to want to do. Fourth, why does he privilege certain forms of this Christian error over others (e.g. the concerns of the black church)? But last, and this is the big one, if we have no obligation to conform our political behavior and standards to the standards of Scripture, on what basis does he fault the January 6 unruliness?
Another Book Recommendation
Hi Doc Wilson—quick book plug, should you need to add to the list. I just finished “Revolt of the Public” by former CIA analyst Martin Gurri, and I have to say: I think it’s one of the most important books of our age. Strongly, strongly recommended. And of course, if you read it—then I’d be highly interested to see your feedback.
Austin, thanks. Ordered it.
This is a fascinating article (in an excellent Catholic theological journal).
Thought you might enjoy it – if the weather’s not to hot!
Brendan (of Ireland)
Brendan, thanks. I put it in my line up.
More on Theistic Evolution
Regarding Novare Cul de Sac:
A thousand thanks for this post. Something I’ve pondered, that maybe you can answer is, catechisms tend to blow over the literal six day creation with a mention. I am assuming that this is because most were written prior to Darwin? Do you think a new catechism should be written or an old one amended to add a separate Q/A for literal six days? Of course, the problem remains that it doesn’t matter if no one uses it, and I guess that if folks in the churches were using them, they probably wouldn’t need an amendment . . . sigh.
All that to say, I’ve been waiting for this post after last year’s on Novare. I am dismayed at the press of theistic evolution into the evangelical church. It kind of colors everything else in the Word with a nasty shade of unbelief.
Anyway, thanks for bringing it back into chromatic reality. Well done.
Alison, thank you.
Re: The Novare Cul de Sac
An argument I’ve received from some theistic evolutionists is that the effects of the Fall of Adam applied retroactively in a similar way that the atonement of Christ applied retroactively to OT saints. Could this be a possible solution or does it contradict Scripture like Romans 5?
Paul, the problem with that is that the OT saints needed to look forward in faith to appropriate those benefits. All the pain and suffering prior to Adam wasn’t being appropriated by unbelief, was it? If not, then the comparison doesn’t apply. If so, then the Fall didn’t happen when Scripture says it did.
Some thoughts on this.
What if the effects of the curse “ran backwards” in time? What if at the moment when Adam fell, the effects were felt in all of creation, past, present, and future? So whatever glorious process it was the God used to bring about his creation, Adam’s sin marred the entire thing. And so now, the only thing we can see is evolutionary pain and suffering, no matter how far back we look? Our sin has broken all of it, and only Christ has the power to heal what has been permanently marred?
Would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Thanks for everything you and your ministry is doing! I have been tremendously blessed through it.
Joshua, see above.
I disagree with two points you make in “The Novare Cul de Sac.” The first is that “One of the first things we should note is that the statement “scientific theories do not make truth claims” is itself a truth claim. Because we are finite creatures, all reasoning whatever must begin with dogma. It may be unacknowledged dogma, but it is never absent dogma.”
The science classes I took all acknowledged working from basic premises (dogma): That observation is possible, that explanations for observed phenomena are “natural,” that the physics of the universe remains the same, that the proper field of scientific inquiry concerns observation and explanation within what we believe to be the parameters of physical laws. They believe they’ve done quite well with these premises.
Second, I have limited knowledge, but I really cannot conceive of life without non-human death. Plants die. Bacteria die. Cells die. If this didn’t happen, we wouldn’t live. It’s not enough to make T-rex a vegetarian to state that NO death occurred before the Fall. Humans are special creatures, being made in the image of God, and so I don’t have any problem with non-human death occurring before the Fall and God declaring it good.
Heidi, I agree that they have done well with those premises. They have done a remarkable amount with them. But one thing they have not done is give an account of why we should hold those premises. And when they point out that they have worked quite “well,” they have not given an account of what well means. Given the kind of universe they are presupposing, why should any of this “work”? In other words, what is the foundation for this dogma?
To your second point, I agree with you on “death” before the Fall, at least regarding bacteria. And the fruit that Adam and Eve were allowed to eat was fruit that was destined to “die.” The problem is not death of bacteria, which is good and healthy, but rather agonistic death—pain and suffering, in other words.
The Biblical “orthodoxy” and knowledge of scripture and logic and truth, etc., not to mention articulateness you manifest in this article are why I keep coming back and reading you. Thanks for this article.
Robert, thank you.