Question on Commentaries
First of all, thank you for all you do. You have been a great encouragement to me over the last couple of years. I would like to know what commentaries you find helpful in understanding the text of scripture. Is there a particular author or series you find beneficial?
Todd, it depends on the circumstances. But taking an average, I have used Calvin’s commentaries, New International Commentary on the OT/NT, Tyndale commentaries, and IVP’s Ancient Christian Commentaries. For the psalms, I love Spurgeon’s Treasury of David.
The Coming Storm
Sir, when you wrote “There is no way to make this next point without being accused of agitating for it, or desiring it in some way, or laboring to bring it about. But the point must be made regardless of how it is represented. I am not talking about what I want, but rather describing the terrain that I believe the left is driving us to . . .,” it reminded me of Lewis’s quite prescient sentiment . . .
“For those who suffer are chiefly the provident, the resolute, the men who want to work, who have built up, in the face of implacable discouragement, some sort of life worth preserving and wish to preserve it . . . There is a point at which their patience will snap . . . [some] would say I was ‘threatening’ . . . If by a threat you mean (but then you don’t know much English) the conjectural prediction of a highly undesirable event, then I threaten. But if by the word threat you imply that I wish for such a result or would willingly contribute to it, then you are wrong.”
Daniel, thanks. Great quote.
Not knowing what spirit we might be of is a potent portent of what really can happen once the ball is opened. Assuming the flat of the sword can easily go the way of many of those things (assumptions). Depending upon the shove that sets the dominoes in motion, it could be a varied palette of responses. It can run the gamut from a vigorous spanking, a Bronx Tale “now youse can’t leave” lesson, or it could even extend to Augusto Pinochet helicopter tours.
Gray, thanks. When the dam breaks, the time for managing things is over.
I’m guessing you’ve preached on Romans 13 somewhere that’s accessible online or otherwise spoken (and had recorded) or written in at least a little depth about what you mean with this Romans 13 aphorism. Would you be able to direct me to that? Thank you!
Eric, here you go. And if you look at the top menu bar, under About, there is a Blog Post Scripture Index where you can find all the posts that have anything to do with Romans 13.
The Looming Election
I was recently visiting with a politician who informed me that in the upcoming election, Biden’s voters appear far more likely to vote by mail-in-ballot. He continued to explain that based on historical ballot count data, ballots will take anywhere from 6-32 days to be fully counted, during which time Trump will be “president” and after which — if one goes purely by the hypothetical scenario painted by ballot data — he will not.
So I’m curious what you envision the latter part of 2020 is going to be like based on this potential messy scenario, and if you have any advice for us in terms of how we can take action to ensure a more “clean” election scenario?
Ben, I think that the election needs to won “outside the margin of fraud.” If it is a squeaker, then we are in for some exciting times.
Thank you so much for your ongoing work. We appreciate the clarity and encouragement you bring, especially in a time like this. I was just forwarded this video and thought you also might be interested. I found it so revealing that I didn’t want to presume you had already been notified of it.
Cops and Such
In regards to the cops at the flash psalm singing at city hall: I think it’s proper to critique the law *makers* for unjust (or just stupid) laws, but I’m wary of condemning the cops who are responsible for enforcing those laws.
Police officers do not have the benefit of years of law school and constitutional philosophy. Even attorneys that have that background do not always agree.
If cops were told to commit a clear moral evil (such as shooting innocent civilians), of course, they should either refuse or resign.
But to expect them to serve as the arbiters of what is and what is not constitutional is, in my humble opinion, unrealistic. It puts them in the untenable position of enforcing only those laws they agree with. This won’t work. Besides, since the entire mainstream media has already declared cops to be the enemy of all that is good and woke, do they need more of that from our side?
Peaceful resistance can mean refusing to obey unjust laws, but it also means accepting the civil punishment that results in doing so, at least until the law is corrected.
James, I take your point. At the same time, I would at least like our cops to have a basic grasp of what is and what is not constitutional. They should know at least as much as the average citizen should know. But to reinforce your point, we don’t know what kind of conversations are being had within the department. Obadiah was a courtier to the wicked king Ahab, and used his position to save the lives of many prophets. We should be reluctant to rush to judgment, in other words. We should be slow to judge the servant of another.
How do I reconcile John 18:36 and Hebrews 11:13 with Matthew 28:18-19 when it comes to confronting lawlessness from public officials? To give some background to my query, someone in my congregation shared the Crosspolitic episode covering Gabe Rench’s arrest with my pastor. My pastor called Gabe’s behavior with the cops unchristian because he provoked the officers by drawing close to the individual who was not his relative after the officers approached him. My pastor’s view on culture engagement, especially all things due to COVID, can be summed up by the following quote that I shared with you a few weeks back.
“The New Testament nowhere suggests that the church of Christ will ever achieve earthly power and dominion such as that of Old Testament Israel. Instead, like its Master, the pilgrim church can expect a cross of persecution and suffering. The New Testament does not recommend virtues that lead believers to conquer the world but rather patiently to endure its enmity. John’s Apocalypse assures the suffering church of all times that it shares the certainty of Christ’s victory even in the face of terrible anti-Christian apostasy, lawlessness, and persecution. Revelation 20, when compared with the rest of Scripture, confirms this conclusion rather than lending support to chiliast dreams of world rule”
The church’s role is to endure the world’s enmity and not oppose tyranny. He uses John 18:36 and Hebrews 11:13 to support his view. I find his dualist and pietistic approach problematic with Matthew 28:18-19, Psalm 2, and Isaiah 1 to name a few. In his sermon today, he emphasized that we were to follow Christ’s example of suffering without resistance. There is truth to his statement, but I disagree that a doormat is the metaphor for Christians. When I look at Scripture, the faithful, including our Lord, suffered for righteousness when they confronted the wicked on all societal levels with God’s word.
I applaud your singing protests. Also thank you for your current sermon series.
Brent, I agree with you that there is some truth in what he says. But notice that while he commends the “suffering church,” he is doing so safely at home, and he is being critical of Christians who are getting arrested.
I’ve been thinking about the “Young, Restless, and Reformed” movement a bit lately, trying to understand why so much of what used to be that has gone into woke churchism, or even into more straightforward apostasy. I
I think it’s due to the tendency toward unhealthy introspection (constantly playing the am I really saved game with one’s self) and what I call “back door attractionalism”, the desire to appeal to culture, but also the desire to appear to not care about appealing to the culture. I think that combination is largely responsible for the death of that movement, the seeds of said demise having been present in the starting principles.
What is your take? What is Dr. Doug’s autopsy report on the YRR movement?
Andrew, I think your observations are good. In addition, when someone wants to be “too cool to care,” that shows that they are actually caring. And on top of everything else, I don’t think the theological depth was deep enough. That topsoil washed down the river.
Blessings this wont be a long letter, only recently found out that Amazon UK has made the man rampant series unavailable, Is that something that can be changed? Kind regards,
Jesper, we are having trouble with the censors at Amazon stateside also. But rest assured, we are working on a solution. It should be available soon.
Church and Masks
I am writing to get your thoughts on what wisdom you might be able to give me about a email I got from one of my pastors it was a reply to a email, I sent to all four of my pastors. I have found it so awesome that I can send them articles on things I have found encouraging and that I would think would be encouraging to them as well. The recent emails I have sent were articles you have wrote about John MacArthur and his court proceedings with the state, and your what happened with Gabe and your two blogs you wrote about it. I have been sooo encouraged by both these men who are standing up in courage. And because I was so encouraged I felt this would really encourage them as well. We may not be under the same strict mandates as Idaho and California right now but who knows what the future holds for us in Colorado.
The church that I have been a active member in, is currently able to meet not exceeding 150 but with social distancing and masks. I attended under these mandates, up until a few weeks ago, when I felt I could no longer attend with a mask. And kindly and respectfully asked my pastors, if I had the freedom to attend without a mask. Their response was, that they wouldn’t turn anyone away, but would appreciate it if everyone that attends practice these mandates.
So I respectfully, wrote the pastors a email and explained that I have decided it would be better for me to not continue to attend in person, until I had the freedom to not wear a mask. And the reason being, is I want to honor and respect the pastors’ decisions and don’t want to cause any division in the body, with my strong feelings of defiance over being forced. I explained I would continue to attend the weekly life group meetings and would watch Sunday gatherings online until I had that freedom.
The intentions of sending them these emails were not to condemn them, but only to encourage them, to see what other pastors and churches are facing and their bravery in standing up.
Getting this email was shocking and hit me hard and am struggling now with my continuing to be as a member with this church.
This is the email:
I appreciate your desire to keep us informed with what you’re reading. However, when you continue to fill our inboxes with unimportant information, it is unhelpful and not edifying. I say this is unimportant because it does not directly effect our church nor our local community in Northern Colorado.
My request is that you would stop sending these unnecessary emails. If you would like to have a conversation about these things, we would actually enjoy that and encourage you to contact us individually, but your approach here is confusing as it is unhelpful.
After reading this email it shook me to the core and after be in shock and crying I don’t think I can continue being a member of this church How they can see what is happening with MacArthur and Gabe being unimportant is staggering!!
I value any input or advice you may have to guide me in what decision I should make.
Shelli, if they are still willing to talk with you, and they are not turning anybody away, then I would encourage you to try to work with them. And if they don’t appreciate the updates, then I would honor that request. But I would talk with them directly, as long as you can.
A Blast from the Past
Thank you so much for the effort, creativity, humor, and commitment to the truth you have in your sermons and blog. I have been greatly influenced by your work and I am very grateful. I wanted to bring something up, that you most likely have noticed, but maybe you haven’t mentioned it because you don’t want to brag.
Back in 2018, you wrote a post called, “Platt, Trump, Falwell and Maybe Some Others”. The post was all about how Falwell criticized David Platt for praying for the President. Falwell tweeted “Sorry to be crude but pastors like [David Platt] need to grow a pair. Just saying.”.
You have said many a times that leaders these days are not able to stand up for the truth because they haven’t dealt with sin in their own life. The only spiritual leaders with backbones are the ones that have confessed their sin, repented, and acknowledged the grace of God through Christ!
This concept has been in my head recently, seeing all kinds of spiritual leaders fold like lawn chairs to the wiles of the wokesters. And as soon as the headline about Falwell Jr. stepping down from his position came out, I immediately thought of this post. Falwell seems to have had some pretty dark secrets, so it makes complete sense that he would not be able to stand up for the truth. I just wanted to take some time to acknowledge the great wisdom that the Lord has given you, in that you indirectly knew that Falwell must have had some sin not being dealt with. Thank you again for all your hard work.
Seth, thanks for the reminder. I had actually forgotten about that.
More on Ride, Sally
I read the book before reviewing it! I enjoyed the book. It is the kind of book you’d read when you really should be doing other things, so for a few hours, I read it.
I was taken aback a little on a couple of things but then thought better of it. First off, Ace seems completely unreal for a young man of his age. This, until I realised that maybe he was modelled on a typical Logos high school student or New St. Andrews student. Then it all made sense.
I do wonder how typical Ace is in American/Canadian Christianity. I’m not optimistic about that.
I also wondered at all the intrigue—assassination attempts and such. Was that over the top? Not really given the backstory and the reality of living in Ontario. Then it all made sense.
What I really appreciate is that it wasn’t a “Presbyterians save the day” story, but Pentecostals and Anabaptists were included in the plan and shown in a positive light.
It was a fun read and pushes the modern spirit to the absurd places we are headed.
Thanks for making it an ebook, since shipping costs more than the book itself.
In the Lamb,
Scott, thanks much. Young men like Ace certainly are rare — but I have met some.
Half way through reading “Ride Sally Ride” . . . can’t put it down. Many moments of reflection coupled with laughter. I happily ” accept” the fifty demerits and am glad you made them public knowledge .
Jess, thanks very much.
To begin with, let me say I have no problem with breaking a law as a way to protest what you believe is an unjust law. I have done so myself, in order to challenge that law in court.
What I do have an issue with is your characterization of the actions as not breaking the law. This is, to put it plainly, a lie. You know full well that the law exists and what it says. Simply because you don’t like it does not make the law unconstitutional and thus invalid. Why you ask? Simply because you lack the authority to make that determination in a manner binding upon society. The only institution that has the authority to make that determination is the courts. That is the way our constitutional system is built. You then compound your mistake by encouraging the church members to lie about whether they broke the law by pleading not guilty when they know full well they are guilty. Pleading not guilty to challenge the validity of the law is far different then pleading not guilty to just consume time and resources. The first is a correct path, the second just makes liars and thieves out of good people acting on your urging and for which you bear responsibility before God as their pastor.
The first course of action is one of the lawful, constitutional ways to change the law ( not the only one), the second is simply anarchy. I am a member of the CRCA church in Colville and believe your approach, as I understand it to be, is not only unconstitutional but unbiblical as well and a stain on the body of Christ.
My phone number is 509-690-0055 if you wish to discuss it further or if you prefer, I could make arrangements to come visit and discuss it over coffee or a good bottle of wine.
Scott, I am afraid you are not up to speed on the details of the law. We were operating within specified exemptions. And second, even if a lower law is clear, and we decide to disobey it because we believe it to be unconstitutional, pleading “not guilty” is not a lie. It is how you put the ball in play in an attempt to get a higher court to look at it. If you plead guilty, there is no appeal.
Singing in the Presence of the Man
Thank you for the very thoughtful, respectful and Biblical stand you have taken in these crazy Constitutional denying COVID times. Maybe i took a nap and missed something, but apparently its OK to riot and burn down a town (all while not socially distancing and non masked), but a criminal occasion arises when a Christians sing in the public square. Keep up the good work and you are an encouragement from afar.
As I’ve written before, I don’t agree with several of your positions. But with this singing protest, I am with you. Of all you have written (much of which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed), the most poignant is this: “In addition, singing hymns to God is a clear testimony and recognition of what we need to recover if our nation is to recover. We have forgotten God. There is no way out unless we remember God. And we cannot remember God apart from the gospel of a crucified and risen Lord. And when we come back to Him through that gospel, we sing.” I so wish I could join you for this event, but living in SC prohibits that. Please keep singing. If life takes me anywhere near Moscow, I will come sing with you.
Dan, thank you, and God bless.
Re: Going 50 in a 55
I have been impressed with the courage of brothers and sisters in the US in taking a stand for Christian worship (particularly in Moscow and Los Angeles), and I have appreciated your insight into these matters.
Here in the UK we are much weaker constitutionally, and so whilst going mask free in an Idaho church is certainly not disobedience, it seems to me that the same in England would be actively disobeying the law.
Now I am quite happy to remonstrate that our government ministers are transgressing the limits of their divine telos (i.e. peace, justice and liberty) by imposing restrictions that do the opposite. But is this kind of Parliamentary over-reach on its own enough to justify disregard for its laws, or ought we to only consider disobedience when it is necessitated by obedience to Christ? And if the latter, do you have any insight as to where that line in the sand might be found?
Warmly in Christ,
Mikey, I don’t know your circumstances on the ground over there, so I will just give a general principle. Drawing a line earlier is always easier and more appropriate than drawing a line later, supposedly “when it is now clear.” We tend to think that when the outrageous becomes visibly outrageous, then everyone will rise up with us. But the authorities (usually) reserve the outrageous stuff until everybody has been conditioned to accept it. And that is why being unwieldy earlier is to be preferred.
The Efficacy of Masks
This was my abandoned response to ‘it’s a cloth mask, not an affront to your liberty’:
Carl Heneghan, MD of the Center for Evidence Based Medicine has recently written this review regarding the epidemiological studies on masks for the purpose of reducing respiratory infections. Per his review, the epidemiological/infection control evidence is dubious in favor of masks. There certainly is no evidence of the necessity of masks outside.
Respectfully, I disagree with your statement about liberty in that we do not have any body of evidence demonstrating the safety of long term mask wearing of the general public. Russell Blaylock, MD (retired neurosurgeon) however has reviewed the physiological evidence for considerable concern for humans under different conditions in his article here. If the State cannot demonstrate overwhelmingly evidence that masks protect others in the setting of a very small, easily transmitted virus, (smaller than the pores of standard masks and cloth masks) and we have evidence that cloth masks can cause the transmission of infection and unmeasured harms–this is definitely an issue of human liberty. One billion of the 25 billion dollar COVID dollars appropriated by Congress has been dedicated to the development of innovative testing mechanisms with the stated goal of testing 6 millions Americans per day.:
Tromberg, BJ, et. al. (September, 2020) Rapid Scaling Up of Covid-19 Diagnostic Testing in the United States — The NIH RADx Initiative NEJM 2020: 383:1071-1077. Doi: 10.1056/NEJMsr2022263 And yet the CDC publication guidance for physicians states clearly that the PCR testing is approved for emergency use only for patients who are symptomatic. Then, we should ask: why are we testing the general populace (i.e. college students?) Why are we then ramping up to test millions/day? Michael Yeadon has written an excellent piece explaining the impact of large scale testing in the setting of low prevalence of a disease within a population here: As a retired chief scientist from Pfizer, he explains that with these conditions, the number of false positives are as high as 90+ percent. I mention all of this about testing, because the issue of mask mandates rests on the presumption that ‘cases’ are rising within regions or states, thereby necessitating masks. However, the entire ‘certainty of evidence’ of the PRC test has been labelled as “VERY LOW” by the Infection Disease Society. It is this website that the CDC directs public health professionals analyzing surveillance data to. The PCR test was given emergency authorization by the FDA and given it’s ‘very low’ certainty of evidence , probability of high false positive rates and intended use for persons who are symptomatic per CDC definition–it seems almost unbelievable that multiple states and millions of peoples’ freedoms have been disrupted based upon the results of this testing mechanism.
Carol, thanks very much.
Good Old Michigan
Michigan, for some odd reason, has two Emergency Management laws. The 1976 law requires the gov to get re-authorization from the legislature after 28 days. The 1945 law does not. So our governess switched to the 1945 law after 28 days, and has stayed there.
A Michigan group “Unlock Michigan” just announced it has collected 500,000+ signatures in less than 80 days to repeal the 1945 law. We need about 340,000 valid signatures of registered voters. I’m told this is a record number in record time.
The Michigan process states that once the number is validated by the (Dem) Secretary of State, the legislature can vote to approve it without the Governess’ approval, or place it on the Nov 2021 ballot. The (GOP) Legislature is eager to vote on it. [Look for a fight about meeting the 60-day statutory deadline.]
I thought I would share this, since it does not seem to warrant news coverage outside of the state.
Craig, thank you.
Cults n’ Stuff
I’m being told you’re a false prophet leading a cult! All these years reading your blog and I had no idea! I have an article in my head about the cultification of orthodox Christianity that I really need to write.
Praying for you and your church.
When the Law is the Problem
Your last sentence caught me, “But they still need to review this question for themselves — how bad do the orders have to get before you do your duty by refusing to enforce them?” I’ve realized in this year of life that, with regard to people in position of power, what is lawful is not always right, and what is right is not always lawful. I’m obviously just late to the party. It’s a question that brings up our conscience. Do you see this as a question the police that killed Breonna Taylor should ask as well? Like part of the problem of them not committing a crime is, depending on your view, the law was the problem. It sounds like you are saying the same thing with the cops who issued citations to your people.
Andy, yes. When misguided laws are passed, they are imposed on the people. But they are also imposed on the cops who have to enforce them. In the Taylor case, it was a mixed bag, complicated by a number of factors.