Why Would You Want to Miss These Letters? C’mon.

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Assuming the Center

I think I have read about “assuming the center” in your writings, but I forgot what you mean by it.

From your final statement, I assume you mean living like we believe that Jesus is Lord now. Right?

But, what do you mean by “the center”? Christ reigning at the right hand of the Father? And what is assuming?

Trey

Trey, I mean living as though Jesus is Lord, and that we His people have been appointed to rule with Him as kings and priests. The center would be the existing power structures, and anything else that sets itself up against the knowledge of God. We enter into those societies as though we have the authority to tell them that they must submit to the authority of Christ.

Took a Risk With the Elvis Thing

You lost me making fun of Elvis Costello. But up until then you seemed to be making good sense so maybe I’m the problem.

Frank

Frank, perhaps we can agree that this was what the apostle had in mind in his discussion of adiaphora.

Theonomy and Resistance

I’m having some difficulty thinking through how Theonomy and, specifically, a Christian theory of resistance can and have been applied at various stages in history. I whole-heartedly believe the statement by John Knox that “resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.” I think I can easily back this statement from Scripture. I can see how this idea was promoted during the War for American Independence and, to a lesser extent, the War of Northern Aggression; I cannot, however, see this apply during the early church (circa A.D. 100- 500). I do not see any Christians taking up arms against Nero, Diocletian, or any of the other pagan tyrants. Instead, I see them doing what appears to be the exact opposite of my godly colonial forefathers: they go to the lions with a godly smile on their face without taking up swords to fight against the injustice done by these tyrants who are openly violating God’s Law. What am I missing here? Are modern theories of Christian resistance at odds with the early church?

James

James, there is no difference in the theology of the thing. The difference had to do with the facts on the ground. When the Reformers were in the same position as the fathers of the early church, they behaved the same way. Tyndale went to a martyr’s death just like Polycarp did. But when Huguenot nobles were converted, one of the things they had at their disposal was . . . armies. What does a threatened Christian leader do with his army? So the Reformers developed a three-stage policy of resistance to tyrannical persecution. First, you preach against the oppression, you testify. Second, you flee, as Jesus instructed us to do. And third, when the first two have proven ineffectual or impossible, and you are in a position to do so, you take up defensive arms. If you are not in a position to take up defensive arms, then you follow in the footsteps of Polycarp and Tyndale.

A Willingness to Slaughter Babies Should Tell Us Something

Your point about rural/urban, red/blue etc and the current judgement we are experiencing is telling. Up here in Canada, we have jailed pastors (because they are committed to shepherding their people). At the same time we have those same pastors being denounced by “evangelicals” who insist upon “loving their neighbors” by keeping churches closed. At the same time we have “evangelicals” warning that in the coming federal election, we must vote conservative —because we can’t afford to lose our rights under the liberals.What I believe is that as a Christian community we must vote in a way that demonstrates repentance for the way the church has been mostly silent—in particular with regards to abortion and sexual perversion. If we simply vote for the conservative party (which has determined to maintain both atrocities) then how is the church not implicated? Our choice is either, withhold our vote and let the conservative party be informed why, or vote for a party which makes the abolishing of abortion primary (if such a party exists). Here, in Canada, the federal conservative party (under the leadership of a professing Christian) voted against opening up the abortion debate. We have no laws on the books regarding abortion—it is a free for all, and richly deserves God’s judgement. I have hope for America, you will not let abortion continue without, at least, being discussed /debated and challenged.

Blair

Blair, yes. Things look pretty grim.

Bodily Discipline

Could you please give me some brief counsel? I recently read some of Elisabeth Elliot’s “Discipline,” particularly the chapter regarding the discipline of the body. I realized how much I have let myself go, so to say. There are more than a few cobwebs in the Temple.

Do you have any pointers on how to gain mastery over my body, as Elliot quotes from Paul? I feel soft and unmanly because of this, and I fear I’ve been constantly dishonoring the Lord in this way by letting His temple go to neglect.

In brief, is God honored by me trying to stay physically fit? Not necessarily “sculpted,” but I’m not interested in being built like a bag of milk anymore either. Could you please kindly help me discern.

Thank you very much,

Jake

Jake, sure. The trick is to honor your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit without falling for what the world is saying about it, which is the line making the body a private temple to Self. And part of that means sticking close to the text. Paul says that all other sins are outside the body, but fornication sins against the body, which is the temple where the Spirit dwells (1 Cor. 6:18-19). That said, wanting to stay fit and healthy is a matter of good stewardship, and is a good idea.

The World Wars

Thank you for all the work you do. I had a question about resources. Can you recommend a solid, fair, accurate book(s) that recounts the history of WWI and WWII? I am having trouble navigating all of the resources that are already out there and would appreciate a recommendation.

Thanks again

Eric

Eric, I am sorry I don’t have one resource that is a go-to. I have pieced together my views on those wars from things I have read from all over. But I do think a good starting point would be Paul Johnson’s Modern Times.

Cussin’ in the Covenant

I respect both you and Denny Burk. When someone I respect has a bone to pick with someone else I respect, I watch carefully to see how they interact with each other, and I am challenged to determine my own response to the offensive “bone.” Given that Denny’s article here is directly addressing (and linking to) some of your own words, I am wondering if you think his article is worthy of a response, or if your response would only be rehashing the comments you have already made (which Denny has obviously read, but found them unconvincing). Is there more you would have Denny consider? Does anything Denny said cause you to rethink previous comments? I’m not looking to start a back-and-forth argument between you and Denny on this issue, but if you think it’s worthy of further constructive discussion, I’d very much be interested in how you would find common ground and how you would defend/delineate the points of disagreement on this issue.

Thanks,

Steve

Steve, thank you for the question. I respect Denny Burk also, and I thought that his post was a thoughtful interaction with what I have argued for, and which I have on occasion practiced. I was particularly grateful for how he linked to my article on “bad words,” letting me speak for myself on it. He is obviously a fair-minded interlocutor. But just as he found my arguments unpersuasive, so also I found his. Three quick comments:

First, I don’t really see the ethical difference between low register phrases and low register words, especially when they provoke the same reaction from people, and for all the same reasons. There is just no getting around the fact that Ezekiel shocked the Israelites by telling them that they were under judgment because they had lusted after Assyrian warriors who ejaculated like horses (Eze. 23:20). And it doesn’t much matter how you phrase that, although our various translators valiantly try.

I do sympathize with Denny’s desire for purity of speech. Not only do I sympathize with it, I agree with much of what he said. But there can be a dark side to it. I grew up in an evangelical world where over time our standards of speech morphed into a fastidious refusal to recognize what the Bible was even saying. In other words, we set aside the Word of God for the sake of our traditions. Noah Webster once produced a Bible that had been edited so as to make it suitable for family reading.

The second has to do with the words that have both a positive and negative usage. Denny pointed out (and I agree) that some of the things Paul prohibits are just plain old sins, and you can’t find a good version of them anywhere. There is no good kind of impurity, greed or idolatry. Amen. But what about anger? “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph. 4:31). But just a few verses earlier (v. 26), he says to be angry and sin not. It is in the imperative—be angry, and do it without sinning. The word is the verb form of the same word from v. 31. So some of the prohibitions are absolute, and some are not, and it part of the same section of Ephesians that we are discussing.

This is not saying that there are contradictions in Scripture. I am arguing that the contradictions are in us. If Paul tells the Galatians that he wishes the Judaizers would over-achieve and cut the whole thing off (Gal. 5:12), and then in the next breath tells the Galatians to love one another (Gal. 5:13-14), and goes on to add that they are not to bite and devour one another (Gal. 5:15), we go astray if we say Paul was contradicting himself. But he most certainly is contradicting us. Paul was either contradicting himself, or—and this is the right answer—love is very different from what our traditions make it out to be.

And third, it is true that the people at Nazareth were amazed at the gracious words that came from Jesus’ lips (Luke 4:22). But it is at least worth noting that by the time Jesus was done with that particular sermon, the congregation was so angry they attempted to murder Him.

You lost me at ‘shitstorm’ No, no . . . you didn’t really lose me because I am an avid consumer of Canon Press material and particularly this blog, and a little cussing cannot scare me away or even cause me to place any abrupt judgments upon you. I admire your wit and wisdom greatly. However, I do not understand the use of foul language in really any circumstance, which would seem to be a willingness to lose credibility with a number of readers. It would seem to potentially spur a suspicion that perhaps there is hidden sin lurking within a pastor who has, presumably, no conviction of publishing foul language. I don’t mean to be a pearl-clutcher and would offer to you that if that is your counter argument (it may not be) that it is disregarding the conviction that passages like Psalm 1 or Ephesians 3:4 place on your brothers and sisters in Christ. My primary concern is that unlike myself, others who may not be as familiar with your ministry, will not return to hear your often profound words because they have deemed you as not credible or lacking discernment. Regardless of your take on this, I am grateful for your ministry and for your boldness to proclaim truth. Just sharing a genuine concern in love. Soli Deo Gloria!

Heather

Heather, thank you for a kind and thoughtful letter, like Steve’s above. I really do appreciate it.

For the response, there are two considerations. First, is it biblical? And second, even if biblically lawful, is it rhetorically ineffective or counterproductive? This latter concern is what I take to be yours, along with a side concern about whether this indicates any leakage from my inner antinomian—the tell being a kind of green fluid on the garage floor that looks like antifreeze.

For the biblical concerns, I would refer everyone to the same article that Denny Burk kindly linked to.

So is it counter-productive? I am sure that in some instances, it is. But in my experience, a pastoral willingness to call a spade a spade has been greatly encouraging to many saints who have been greatly discouraged by their captains teaching them that we are to go into battle armed with the verbal equivalent of feather dusters.

One last thing, and I hope it is an encouragement on the personal side. I am not a cussing pastor, I don’t speak like that in my day-to-day life, and the occasions when I have “offended” in print might possibly tally up to a baker’s dozen—and I am in my late sixties. I believe a little bit goes a long way.

On Getting Thoughts Out

Analog Versus Digital Writing . . .

I’m curious to know what your thoughts are on the digital age, and whether you believe there is a need for writers to divide their time between writing, via the pen, and typing (if we were to narrow the categories down).

I imagine you have already intuited my intent here—but I’ll say it anyway. How do you personally balance the benefits (and potentially some principled necessity) of writing physically, and typing out your writing for all the benefits of spell check, time efficiency, etc.?

Thank you,

Beau

Beau, thanks. I think there is a good answer to your question, but I am afraid I would not be a good example of it. I have been a keyboard guy since the early eighties. Almost all of what I have written for publication has been through typing. That said, I think an argument for writing longhand for a certain amount of content could be made this way—we want the Word of Christ to dwell in us richly, and writing by hand (most likely) uses a different part of the brain. It like listening to books and reading them—I do both, and thank God for both. But listening to Scripture drives the Word into me by driving down different streets. You get to know the town better that way. Sometimes it is good to drive routes that are off the arterial. That is probably a weird answer.

Tinkering With Nature

I enjoyed your recent Plodcast Tinkering With Nature.

Do you think it’s a good summary to say that the correct use of medical technology is to restore the natural function of something that was broken in this fallen world, but goes outside its boundaries when used to create, erase, or change something in a way that goes against nature, as designed by God?

As a related topic, I’m curious what your thoughts are on IVF. My current opinion is the following:

I think a lot of fertility treatments are in “correct use” category—using medicine or surgery to try and restore the natural function of a damaged reproductive system, whereas IVF crosses a line that God has drawn, trying to create life outside of marital act, in a lab, oftentimes killing many brand-new babies in the act and freezing other fetuses indefinitely. It seems so weird to me that many Christians think of this as just another option in their search for fertility treatments. Just because scientific technology has reached a point where we can do this, doesn’t mean we should.

I have been greatly blessed by your interest in such a variety of topics, and the way you think about them through a Christian, Gospel worldview. Thank you for taking the time to write and share with so many people!

Teresa

Teresa, yes, I think your summary is a good one. And I agree entirely. Medical technology will either submit to God and His Word, or it will wind up trying to play God.

More on the Nephilim

If your reading of Gen 6 is correct, why does God punish humanity for what was essentially an angelic sin?

The way I see it is that that the “sons of God” taking “daughters of man” has been a problem plaguing the covenant community from the very start. This problem appears again and again all throughout Scriptures and in the same format—covenant man taking wives from a non-covenant pool.

This problem began early on in OT Scriptures. This exact same problem ends OT Scriptures (Neh. 13:25)

The text links appearance of Nephilim and act of integration spatially—these 2 observations happened at the same time.

Does the text necessarily demand that this “link” be a gynecological one?

Thank God for your ministry. Stay strong.

Yevgeniy

Yevgeniy, I do agree that marrying unbelievers is a problem, and the Scriptures prohibit it. But if the DNA of the Nephilim were preserved on the ark (through Ham’s wife), that could account for Noah’s curse being placed on Canaan. All the giants in the land of Canaan were descended from that line, and they were giants.

CRT in the Pulpit

My wife and I recently moved back to our home state of Texas and are currently looking for a reformed Presbyterian church to attend, but it seems as though every church we visit has espoused CRT. My question is this, if CRT messages are not regularly preached from the pulpit, if at all, but CRT is espoused by one or more of the elders in the church, is this a reason to disqualify this church in our search for a new home?

Thank you.

Dylan

Dylan, if CRT is tolerated in the leadership anywhere, and there is no controversy over it, then I would stay far away. If there is controversy over it, then that is a sign of health. But you could only stay if the good guys won.

About the Heavens

I am not writing regarding a specific post topic; rather, I have a question which stems from various statements you have made in reference to ‘the heavens’. I am curious to know if you have ever considered the possibility that God took Abram outside to ‘count the stars’ in Genesis 15 during the daytime, and therefore Abram only saw the sun? I know popular thought pictures Abram looking at innumerable stars at night, but multiple times in the text (i.e. vs. 12 and 17) it refers to the sun setting subsequent to Abram being taken outside. Please forgive me and disregard if you have already addressed this—it is one of those things in Scripture that once you have seen it you can’t unsee it, and I would be most appreciative of your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Your ministry is a sincere blessing to me and has had a profound impact on my spiritual development.

Blessings,

Elizabeth

Elizabeth, my take would be that God showed Abraham the stars in the course of a vision (Gen. 15:1), and what he saw was a multitude of stars.

When to Bring Up . . .

Dear Uncle Doug,

Since they’re “coming for my children, to convert them bit by bit” . . . At what age should we start talking to our kids specifically about LGBTQ issues?

Crystal

Crystal, I would do this “as you rise up, as you walk along the road.” When they are old enough to read bumper stickers and ask about them, I would answer them, straight up. I would adjust the level of detail in your answer according to age, but I would start interacting with them on the subject when the world starts interacting with them on the subject.

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Jeffro
Jeffro
4 months ago

Well, it’s all how you use those dead baby carcasses. Here in the US, us Christians are against just murdering babies for murdering babies sake. That’s bloodlust. We seem to be at least apathetic about murdering babies for the greater good, though. You know, using those murdered baby stem cells to develop vaccines for a bad flu. Yeah, we’re against it if you throw it in our faces, but we’re mostly concerned with body autonomy and government overreach. That seems to be the take from Moscow anyway(here and FLF network). We can debate body autonomy and forced vaccines and that’s… Read more »

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 months ago

With regards to cussing/using foul or shocking language question I think the issue is the attempt to be transgressive. For instance, in the documentary Collision, which was a procured portion of Doug’s extended debate with Christopher Hitchens, Doug said that Hitch’s worldview amounted to “shit happens,” which is not a particularly offensive or shocking phrase. But the filmmaker played it up with a dramatic pause and video effect, clearly signaling it as something to be paid attention to. That bad boy in Idaho is doing it again. Other examples likewise appear to be attempts at garnering attention rather than effective… Read more »

Nathan James
Nathan James
4 months ago

I recall the shitstorm comment very well and I will say it was tremendously encouraging. If you mince words and dance around the subject too much it makes one wonder if you really know what’s going on. Things are pretty dadgum bad out here.

Or maybe I’m just crazy and murder, genital mutilation, ubiquitous financial fraud, parents hating children, rampant drug use, the total normalization of corruption, is fine and we should go along to get along, just like Jesus.

Cherrera
Cherrera
4 months ago

Not to change the topic, but debating the propriety of an occasional 4-letter word is kind of like popping a small pimple when you have cancer like Docent in the church.
Docent and the Leftist Evangelical Swamp – YouTube

Docent for Dummies: A Briefer View of Our Lengthier Expose’ on Docent Group – Protestia

Robert
4 months ago

Eric, Here are a few world war books that you might find interesting. At least, I did. In the website link is an educational site with some first hand documentation worth reading.
WW1.
Black Tom: Terror on the Hudson by Ron Semple.
Anything on Spanish Influenza.
WW2
Double Agent by Peter Duffy
Searching For Subversives by Mary Chopas
A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell ( Pacific Theater)
Against All Enemies by Stephen Fox (I have spoken to some of the people profiled in this book.) Most of this is not well known.

Last edited 4 months ago by Robert
Elliot
Elliot
4 months ago

On WWI, I would recommend Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August. On WWII, Rick Atkinson’s Liberation Trilogy: An Army at Dawn, The Day of Battle and The Guns at Last Light.

Ken
Ken
4 months ago
Reply to  Elliot

And Winston Churchill on both wars.

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 months ago
Reply to  Elliot

If you like listening then Dan Carlin has some really great WWI and WWII content. I think his WWI series is his best yet, it is called Blueprint for Armageddon. It focuses on the pure war/battle fighting aspect, but gets into the broader political/cultural situation as well. On WWII there is Ghosts of the Ostfront, about the biggest theater of the war, between Germany and the Soviets, and Supernova in the East, about the pacific theater. All excellent. Al highly recommended. https://www.dancarlin.com/hardcore-history-series/ By the way, don’t let rhe bizarre art scare you off. Carlin does his best to avoid being… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by demosthenes1d
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

The statements of the early Church Fathers contradict the claim that their pacifism was due to “circumstances on the ground.” They refused to take up arms out of obedience to Jesus. To suggest they only acted nonviolently out of strategic considerations ignores their expressed faith. They often focus on the following five texts, though of course they also drew on much larger New Covenant themes including love of neighbor, turn the other cheek, the focus on mercy, choosing into service rather than power, and the prohibition on judgment “When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked,… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Jonathan
JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan,
In the interest of fairness, balance, and accuracy, mightn’t you have included some of those different views held by the early church fathers?

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Jonathan is unable to consider other view points as being worthy of discussion. For example, last week he couldn’t answer points about state sponsored racism in the US. BLM is a racist organization with US backing. Antifa is a racist organization with US backing. Affirmative Action is a racist US national program. All of the above violate scripture. Those three activities are state sponsored racism right here in the Good ‘Ol US of A. Why don’t you condemn them? For years, Johnathan showed he can’t discuss subjects in a reasonable manner. However, that being said, I still hope that his… Read more »

Cherrera
Cherrera
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

This will be my only comment as Proverbs tell us there are times to answer (and NOT answer) fools according to their folly.  Suffice it to say, a bunch of quotes with zero context from church fathers doesn’t an argument make.  http://churchinhistory.org/pages/misc/ch-war-pac.htm In addition, true pacifism assumes a near perfectibility of man. It’s the same huge error of the modern woke movement (and its Social Gospel predecessor), Marxism and many other terrible ideals. Push them far enough, and they have to throw out clear Biblical teaching on sin and a host of other things. That said, I disagree with the… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Cherrera

Jonathan: “It took me over 10 years to come to a position of universal nonviolence…” Definition of universal: Including or covering all or a whole collectively or distributively without limit or exception. Also Jonathan: “A baseball bat would be a good idea only in the most extreme, last-option circumstances, and probably even in that case aimed at the weapon rather than the head. I, personally, have never had to use an implement in such a circumstance, though I have worked out scenarios in my mind where it would be necessary.” Yet another entry in the “It’s OK When Jonathan Does… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

Where in that answer did you get the idea that I thought that justified for myself but not for others? Knocking a weapon out of someone’s hand to me describes a use of force rather than a use of violence. In fact, you are using force to prevent violence. If you disagree with that definition that’s fine – I’m not wedded to the definitions of English words, I’m wedded to obedience to Jesus Christ and his Word. What the words of Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church teach me is that followers of Christ are not meant to wield… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Violence IS use of force. Ergo, in the baseball bat scenario, you’re using violence to stop violence.

I love how words mean things to you. Until they don’t.

But go ahead and scream “You’re lying!” again. Try to shout me down.

After all, it’s the loving thing to do.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

Violence and use of force are clearly different. If I pull back my daughter to get her out of the path of a speeding car, I’m using force. I’m not being violent to my daughter. But in terms of knocking a weapon out of someone’s hand, it doesn’t matter to me whether you yourself wish to call it “force” or “violence”, because the definition of those two english words had no bearing on the relevant passages and themes of scripture that we’re talking about. You’re just engaging in deflection tactics. As I already pointed out to you, what the words… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Jonathan
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The words of Jesus, the apostles, and the early Church teach me that Christians are allowed to use lethal force if the situation calls for it.

This is where you scream for evidence. Then, when you’re given it, you will dismiss it, because Jonathan.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

I gave an argument in detail for my position. I don’t see one from you, but that’s probably more of a service to the gospel that you not even try, so I’m glad for it.

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

It always comes to this: When you’re out of ideas, you feebly try to rewrite a written exchange.

Pacifism: The theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her own pantyhose, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

FP, do you follow Jesus with your life or not? It’s vitally important because if you’re not then I’ll already know ahead of time that you’re not going to understand my answer. I’ve asked you repeatedly why you almost never argue from Scripture and whether you follow Christ, and you seem to avoid answering.

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Typical Jonathan: When your back’s against the wall, change the subject.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

I’m not changing the subject. First off, I made my argument from Scripture and church history and asked you to do the same, you changed the subject in the first place by refusing to do so and making an argument from “imaginary hypothetical situation” instead. Second, as I pointed out already, the strength of my argument depends on whether you believe in and trust the God of Jesus Christ or not. Do you?

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Cherrera

Actually, pacifism assumes the great fallibility of man alongside the great sovereignty of God. We reject violence because we believe the right to judge, the right to revenge, the right to violence is God’s alone to wield, and we maintain confidence despite giving up this right because we trust in God when He says that His ways for us are better than the ways of the world.

And to be clear, I did indeed condemn all violence in protests including that by anyone claiming “BLM”, and also have said that I think Antifa are misguided idiots.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

I actually did already answer those questions in the other thread and am uncertain why you brought them here and falsely claimed that I hadn’t answered them.

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan and gentle readers, in fact, Jonathan did reply on last week’s Letters, three days ago. I checked on Monday night and did not see his post. My apologies. As a note, it helps to carry over thoughts instead of posting them when the thread is a dying ember. However, Jonathan did not answer the questions clearly. Jonathan only condemns BLM’s violence, but not their foundation which is clearly against Christianity. He does not condemn an organization actively working against Christians in America. He does not condemn the support of BLM rioters who burned black businesses, looted business all over… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

I have no clue what “well-oiled Antifa organization” you are referring to nor aware of these goals you claim they have nor aware of how you think they’re going to attain those goals considering they seem to be pathetic nobodies who accomplish nothing. My impression is that they aren’t an organization at all. Can you point me to their leaders, meetings, organizational structure, etc? To be clear, I am certainly against anyone who wishes to overturn the government in order to replace it with communism and stamp out Christianity. But it’s far more likely that you’re finally gonna find that… Read more »

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan, BLM is an organization that desires to destroy Christianity. It is in their roots. It doesn’t matter if they are peaceful protestors, they are against the one true living God. They are against Christianity in America. You can ascertain that by reading the basics of BLM on their home page or on other web sites BLM sponsors. Jonathan, did you watch the destruction of police cars last year? Did you watch the shooting in New Mexico? Police cars were targeted for burning. Antifa members with modified skateboards would break out the rear window. (For the casual reader, the modification… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

The question was in regards to why the pacifists believed and acted as they did, not why the pro-war Christians believed and acted as they did.

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

The question was: “Are modern theories of Christian resistance at odds with the early church?” Actually, that question, has to do not so much with war in general as with Christians resisting civil authority. If you believe contemporary “facts on the ground” do not change the meaning of Romans 13 for us, I agree with you. However, that does not make me a pacifist, and not being a pacifist does not make me pro-war. You were honest enough to acknowledge that the early church fathers were not universally and consistently pacifists, and I commend that. However, since that is the… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Yes, I agree that the obey/disobey rulers debate often gets wrapped up in difficult ways with the violence/nonviolence debate. I also agree with you that the “facts on the ground” do not change the meaning of Romans 12:9-13:10 nor do they change any of the passages on violence that I was leaning into. And I think that you would agree with me that the three-stage resistance cited by Wilson, “First stage preach, second stage flee, third stage take up arms…” lacks scriptural basis. Lots of points of agreement! I read James’s question as whether particular violent theories of resistance used… Read more »

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan, I’m not well versed in the subject…but as I referenced war/defense/protection in the Bible – these few verses caught my attention: Luke 14:31-32; Hebrews 11:32-34; Revelation 12:7 and Revelation 19:11. I take them as New Testament writings that at least acknowledge war is sometimes necessary, especially against evil. Now just like the justification of any sin for selfish purposes, I’m sure that Christians have justified war/violence for sinful reasons. But I’m curious if “strength in numbers” is not partly behind a move away from pacifism. Just conjecture, but let’s say a church body follows James’ admonition and creates… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  J.F. Martin

Thank you J.F. Martin, I enjoy a discussion of the texts! I think when we’re attempting to discern how we should act as followers of Jesus Christ, it’s important to focus on the following sources: Commands that Jesus (and by proxy his apostles) give to all followers of God Commands that Jesus and his apostles give in specific situations. These need to be understood in context carefully to understand how much they apply to the broader Body, to discern whether the message is posed as a broader lesson to all or just specific to recipient. General principles of a Godly… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  J.F. Martin

But I’m curious if “strength in numbers” is not partly behind a move away from pacifism. Just conjecture, but let’s say… I think your conjecture is likely accurate. Violence and power go hand in hand. When two violent groups clash the outcome is generally measured by power, and thus it makes sense that a body of people who had gained greater power would feel inclined to ignore other means to resolve problems and instead default to violence. We all are well aware that power is a great temptation for many vices, which I believe is partly why the Devil tempts… Read more »

J.F. Martin
J.F. Martin
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Hi Jonathan, thanks for your replies! I admit my early walk was peppered with “In His Steps” and WWJD thought processes…this discussion is reminding me of that because I’m certain in prayer and application, I often find myself making ‘suggestions’ to God when I should be trusting Him and His Providence. You gave a solid reply for Revelation 12:11, but I actually listed 19:11. Specifically that “in righteousness (Jesus) judges and makes war.” I’m certain the early church, and martyrs throughout the ages have “loved not their lives, even unto death…”, yet I sadly think they were subject to martyrdom… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  J.F. Martin

Sorry about my verse misreading. I think Revelations 19:11 is much like 12:7 – it is God who does the fighting, not us. It’s very important that it says he “judges and wages war”, but remember Jesus told us humans that we are not to judge, for judgment belongs to God. The same is true for war. The “rider on the horse” in 19:11 carries out his actions in Revelations 19:19-21. Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured,… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  J.F. Martin

Thank you again J.F. Martin for your kind responses. I don’t think you can really claim they had no other option. Various Jews fought back against the Romans over and over again, not just the large-scale uprisings of the 60s and the 130s but much smaller rebel movements, raiding patriot gangs, and would-be messiahs on dozens of occasions. In our own era and nation I think of Waco, Ruby Ridge, the Bundys, the SLA, the Black Liberation Army and various other pro-violence Black Nationalist groups, Posse Comitatus and various other pro-violence anti-government White Supremacist groups, the Three Percenters and various… Read more »

Bobby
Bobby
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

You are casting pearls before swine. They don’t appear to be interested in either Jesus’ words or his actions. I’ve noticed that Wilson and his most strident followers seldom quote Jesus. I wonder why.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bobby
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Bobby

I have many disagreements with Pastor Wilson, but I still believe that he wishes to follow the Bible. So do many of his readers. Thus I can have faith that quoting from and expositing the Bible may bear some fruit.

Bobby
Bobby
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

If past results are any indication, you have little chance of success. Wilson belongs in a Sinclair Lewis novel.

John Brigham
John Brigham
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan,
Pacifism makes its error when it downplays the understanding of hierarchy (in nature and church). Instead, each believer is directly joined to Jesus, alone.
God created a very complex world, and the fall made it more so. Hierarchy is a God-made solution to both.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  John Brigham

I think this is an honest difference of opinion and I understand your viewpoint even if I disagree with it. I am comfortable with hierarchy but believe the same obedience is required for Christians at all levels of it.

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago

“The difference had to do with the facts on the ground”, particularly when Theonomists apply that to texts like Romans 13, sounds to me like the way Progressives treat inconvenient passages in scripture.

Never mind any policy developed by the reformers, unless it has scriptural support.

Cherrera
Cherrera
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Most modern interpretations of Rom. 13 are really bad–and ignore what the rest of Scripture says.
Sunday School: Romans 13, The Role of Civil Government, and Obedience – YouTube

Also, I notice many who say we should obey the government unquestionably when it comes to things like COVID restrictions are fine with the civil disobedience in the 1960s civil rights movement and even BLM breaking the law in some cases.

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  Cherrera

I’m not sure what you consider modern, but for a commentary from an earlier era than ours, here is Matthew Henry: “We are here taught how to conduct ourselves towards magistrates, and those that are in authority over us, called here the higher powers, intimating their authority (they are powers), and their dignity (they are higher powers), including not only the king as supreme, but all inferior magistrates under him: and yet it is expressed, not by the persons that are in that power, but the place of power itself, in which they are. However the persons themselves may be wicked, and… Read more »

Cherrera
Cherrera
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

First, we have to understand Rom. 13 under the system we’re under, very different than Henry’s. The founding fathers in the U.S. specifically didn’t want kings or “higher powers.” Those in D.C. and state capitols are supposed to be our servants, not the other way around–the current crop of would-be dictators in the White House notwithstanding.

If you want a shorter overview of Rom. 13, here’s one
Romans 13 – an interpretation you haven’t heard before – YouTube

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  Cherrera

That’s better. Now, that said, the teacher in that lesson does post a straw man. Romans 13 does not imply “unlimited” government authority or that the orders of government authorities are *never* under any circumstance to be disobeyed – but then neither does any Christian pastor or teacher I know of claim Romans 13 does such a thing. The lesson also does exactly what it accuses (who exactly?) of doing – it reads into the text by claiming a “limitation clause” that Paul does not include there. So, I’m afraid does “First, we have to understand Rom. 13 under the system… Read more »

demosthenes1d
demosthenes1d
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

JohnM,

Thanks for taking the time to communicate clearly in this thread. I think you have expounded the traditional (and scriptural) view very clearly. It is a hard teaching for us (or at least for me) because we want sovereignty.

Gray
Gray
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

JohnM, I do not think that Pastor Wilson, or “Theonomists” object to submitting to “just power”, and I also think that very issue has been extensively elaborated upon. Just power, “whether it be to kings…or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good” hinges upon more than just the bestowed title. When anyone in delegated authority (which is the type of authority possessed by all humans) departs from their ordained duties they lose their imprimatur. Only the King of kings is plenipotent. All others are bound by the constraints… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  Gray

No human power is ever absolute, however according to Paul, just power hinges on the ordinance of God. Nero, or anyone else, loses his imprimatur when God says so, in the meantime we are to be subject to the authorities ordained. Be happy that power in our time and place is relatively diffused, and may that be as long as I live, but the truth is, it doesn’t have to be so to be legitimate, whatever I may prefer.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Gray

I have a hard time believing that any human ruler has ever failed to “depart from their ordained duties”, and I certainly doubt that the Roman emperors in power when Paul was writing that were as self-limiting as you suggest they would need to be for Paul’s words to be meaningful.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Romans 13 is one of the clearest examples of the confusion that the misapplication of chapter numbers created in the text.

Romans 12 and Romans 13 were not meant to be read apart. The particular sub-point Paul is making begins on Romans 12:9 and continues through Romans 13:10, of which Romans 13:1-7 is merely an aside which sadly has gained far more prominence than the point itself. Every time Romans 13:1-7 is quoted without using Romans 12:9-21 and Romans 13:8-10 to elucidate it, an angel loses its wings.

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan, Romans is not to be read without the rest of the Bible — Old and New Testaments. “And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight.” Hebrews 11:32-34 Gideon used violence to destroy the Asherah poles. Samson used violence. The other judges used violence… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

That phrase from Hebrews was already dealt with yesterday. Samson’s faith is indeed to be praised, and his faith is what is used as a model for the Christian, not his actions. You can read the entire story of Samson in the old testament and struggle to come up with a single specific action that should stand for a model for our own behavior, so claiming “Christians must go to war because Samson killed people” appears to me to be cherry-picking and trying to use circumstantial evidence to guide our behavior rather than the actual commands and actions of Jesus… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Jonathan
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

I love it. Jonathan complains about cherry-picking, all while cherry-picking the example of Samson out of the hall of faith heroes in Hebrews.

Yet another entry for the “It’s OK When Jonathan Does It” file.

Last edited 4 months ago by The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

It’s not “cherry-picking” to use a concrete example in order to demonstrate that the logic of a claim doesn’t hold. We follow the commands given to Christians, the principles laid out for Christians, and the example set by Jesus and the Christians who followed him. We can’t cherry-pick circumstantial events outside of the Christian experience and claim they’re sanctioned for Christians just because Old Testament heroes did them. It is made clear that we can praise Old Testament heroes for much of what they did in faith while still understanding that the obedience we are called to is different and… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Jonathan
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan: “You can read the entire story of Samson in the old testament and struggle to come up with a single specific action that should stand for a model for our own behavior…”

So then, the author of Hebrews, writing under the inspiration of God, made a mistake by including Samson by name in his “Be like these people!” list.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

That’s obviously not what I said at all and everyone can read that. “Samson’s faith is indeed to be praised, and his faith is what is used as a model for the Christian“. That is exactly what I said and describes exactly what Hebrews says.

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

As a matter of fact, it is what you said. And everyone can read it.

The author of Hebrews lists a whole bunch of actions that these heroes did by faith. You can’t separate the two. Yet, out of all those the author named, you chose to pick on Samson — and only Samson — to refute a “claim” that exists only in your head.

No one thinks Christians must go to war because Samson killed people. That’s your dementia talking.

It always amuses me when you’re done in by your own hubris.

Last edited 4 months ago by The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

Yes, the writer lists actions the heroes did by faith. But for the fifth time, I’ll point out to you again that Christians are not told to emulate those actions. They are only told to emulate the faith. And pointing out that there is not a single action in Samson’s life that can be emulated by a Christian is strong additional evidence (for those who can’t read the plain words) that we’re are not being told to emulate the actions of Samson’s life, but rather the faith that drove him. Going back to the beginning of the argument, I pointed… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan: “You have no Biblical or logical justification for claiming, ‘I as a Christian can kill others because Samson did, even though I know I can’t actually do any of the things that Samson did.'”

Well then, it’s a good thing I didn’t claim it.

Now, why don’t you deal with a claim that I actually did make? You know, change things up?

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

“Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.” Judges 16:30 Samson killed more than 3,000 Philistine rulers and in doing so killed more than while living and working as a judge. His action and his death gave Israel years of peaceful rule as a God fearing nation instead of being subjected to those who hated the one true God. In today’s America, that is not to be… Read more »

Bobby
Bobby
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Mad Jesus directed his anger for the Calvinist Doug Wilson’s of the world for misrepresenting the nature of God.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

So would the proper emulation of Samson’s position be if Dave committed a suicide attack that killed 3,000 BLM and antifa activists? Would you do it if the opportunity presented itself? If not, why not, since you are claiming that is the action of Samson’s that we are to emulate? If you have a more exact emulation of that action that you would like to describe, please do. In terms of the early Church fathers, I already pointed out that “Some died as martyrs because other means of resistance were not available” is a despicable distortion of their position that… Read more »

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan, you handle discussions with wooden hands and a wooden heart.

You avoided answering the true thrust of my post concerning the range of protest from nonviolent to armed conflict.

Did your church disobey the rulers and hold in person services throughout 2020, singing, praising God, and shaking hands with your Christian brothers and sisters?

Or

Did you fold up like a cheap suit and hold internet services because that’s what the rulers told you to do?

What say you, Jonathan?

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Dave, you forgot his wooden head.

Anyone with half a brain can see that Samson laid down his life for his people so they could be free, as countless men throughout the ages have done.

Jesus, who laid down His own life, says this is the greatest expression of love (John 15:13). Jonathan says this isn’t worthy of emulation.

Hmmmm… Jesus, or Jonathan?

Last edited 4 months ago by The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

Jesus laying down his life is the action we are MOST clearly called to emulate. The full passage where we are told to emulate him is incredibly powerful and speaks well to this debate. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

No, we are not given the general command to lay down our swords. Nowhere does the Bible say that Christians can’t serve in the military, law enforcement, or in government. Nowhere does the Bible say that the Christian cannot serve in war. Nowhere does the Bible say that Christians must not, under any circumstance, use deadly force in self-defense or the defense of others. You want to believe in pacifism? Fine, you’re entitled to your belief. What you’re not entitled to say is “Thus saith the Lord” when the Lord hasn’t thus said. You don’t get to abuse God’s authority… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago

Yes, we are given the general command. Jesus said ALL who live by the sword will die by the sword, not just Peter. We are ALL commanded to love our enemies, all commanded to turn the other cheek, all commanded never to repay evil with evil, all commanded to leave revenge to God, all commanded to choose mercy over judgment. And again, I am not alone in that interpretation, but much of the early Church argued it wholeheartedly and lived it by example. “When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, ‘Lord, should we strike with… Read more »

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

You’re deflecting from the question Dave.

Dave
Dave
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan, from your answer, it appears that you folded like a cheap suit. During 2020 if you had gone to church and worshiped together with brothers and sisters in Christ, you would have said so. Your silence is deafening. “not abandoning our own meeting together, as is the habit of some people, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Hebrews 10:25 Jonathan, Christians had a choice last year. Give in to ungodly commands by those in power, or go forth as scripture demands and disobey those commands against scripture. At the risk… Read more »

Bobby
Bobby
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

Curious. Did you get a vaccine for Covid?

As for your assertion that we must attend an organized church service to please God, “for where there are two or three gathered together—to My Name, there am I in the midst of them.” A husband and wife qualify.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bobby
Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  Dave

No, you’re deflecting. In this thread and others you have repeatedly gone back on that question rather than addressing the one at hand. And to answer the question just to get it out of the way, for the first half of the pandemic (until the end of summer) I was serving in a partially-closed country and thus attending church service was not possible. At that point we returned to care for a family member who was suffering from stage 4 cancer and immunodepressed due to chemotherapy, we avoided in-person church services and other similar situations our of an abundance of… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Yes, it is always good to remember Paul was writing a letter not a book, and he is not the one who inserted chapters and verses. Paul begins at Romans 12:1 urging us to present our bodies as living sacrifices, then begins to explain what that entails. He starts with what it means to our attitude and actions particularly toward The Church, the body of Christ. Then, in 12:14 he begins to address how Christians are relate to everyone, including non-Christians. In Romans 13 teaches us our right attitude and actions toward the government, and teaches us why. Romans 13… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Upon further reflection – Perhaps I should say Romans 12:1 begins the point, and Romans 13:1-7 begins sub-point with a link tracing back to 12:18, and 13:8-10 another sub-point flowing from the previous.

Jonathan
Jonathan
4 months ago
Reply to  JohnM

Agreed.

Jimmy
Jimmy
4 months ago

I once heard that the stars Abraham saw were angels/gods/council of the Most High, and the promise that his descendants would be “as them” refered to their holiness/obedience/power/glory, not their number.