Forgive my presumption and/or “cheekiness”, but in your “Normal and Jesus” book snippet (“Light from Behind the Sun”) on January 11, the last sentence says:
“Virtually every outrageous thing we read about today is being served up to us from the microbes.”
Sir, did you mean to say “macrobes”—as in “That Hideous Strength”?
But if not, will you please explain that line?
Robert, you are correct. It should have been macrobes. Now fixed, and I think it is possible to blame auto-correct. But it was also quite possibly my own darn fault.
Men and Women and Rank
I am greatly enriched by your ministry. Thank you for being a straight shooter when it comes to addressing the roles and power struggles between husbands and wives. Some questions about the subject matter, “Recognizing that God ultimately held Adam responsible for the Fall, what was God’s specific expectation of Adam related to the initial sin? It is recognized it was his expectation that Adam not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It is also recognized that it was not God’s will for Adam to abdicate to Eve’s leadership. Assuming Eve understood the command and assuming Adam was in Eve’s presence at the moment of temptation, but let’s say the scenario went differently, and not only did Adam not take and eat the fruit, but he pondered how to persuade/prevent Eve from taking and eating the fruit. To what extent, if any, would God want Adam to persuade/prevent Eve from taking and eating the fruit? To say something like, “honey, you know we are not supposed to take and eat the fruit from that tree. Or, one step further, for Adam to grab Eve’s arm/hand and pull it away from the fruit of the tree? Did God expect Adam to violate Eve’s free agency as a way of preventing the initial sin if it would have worked out in a different way? The same would go for the opposite scenario. Suppose Eve did not take of the fruit but Adam was being tempted. To what extent, if any, would God expect Eve to persuade/prevent Adam from reaching for the fruit? Another speculative question has to do with rank when considering the situation with Barak and Deborah in Judges 4. As you know, a common interpretation of this situation was that Barak was cowardly which was reflected in his abdication to Deborah. God used Deborah as a concession. Have you ever wondered if there was another male in the Israeli army who would have been willing to lead the army into battle against Sisera? If there were a possibility there was another male who was willing to lead the fight he would have stood down, otherwise he would have broke rank with Barak? I wonder if this principle may be at work today in our society? Men with higher rank are cowardly and abdicating to women but there are men lower in the totem pole who do nothing because of breaking rank? Similar to this idea, I was once in a small group setting in which the wife of the small group leader started to lead for a brief moment and I objected. The leader (the husband of the wife) supported her leadership. In a round about way, he attempted to compel me under her leadership. I’m no longer part of that small group.
Doug, the answer to your questions is, of course, “we don’t know.” But I think they are helpful questions to meditate on nonetheless. I believe that if Adam had the will to obey, he had the wherewithal to stop her. If she maneuvered past him somehow, Adam’s responsibility would have been to turn to God and plead with Him to let the penalty fall on Adam. If Adam sinned, I think Eve would not have been in a position to prevent him, but I think she would have been in a position to refuse to follow him in the sin. I also think these principles apply in other situations, although I actually believe that Barak was a great man of faith, as Hebrews tells us. So it is applicable elsewhere, but not there.
Brilliant, Where we’re you 35 years ago? The idea of Eve assuming a role not hers is analogous with the fellow who stuck out his hand to steady the Ark of Covenant when it seemed ready to tumble.
Twd, exactly so.
A matter of rank. I have read this blog long enough to know you also deal with the instructions to husbands. However, it seems to me there is an over-emphasis on wives submitting to husbands, as though this is the root of all marital problems.
A former pastor of mine used to get quite shirty with the younger men when they were very concerned with wifely submission and failed to notice how much more and in more detail what husbands are expected to do is laid out. Almost as though you could take Eph 5 v 25 onwards as a given. V. 22 ought not to be a single man’s favourite verse!
He used to say ‘you deal with what God wants you to do, and let him via the older ladies in the church deal with what he expects a wife to do. That’s not your concern’. Similarly for the girls.
I have no desire at all to take the scissors to the submission verses, but over the years I have grown in my appreciation that the apostles, understanding human nature, are very careful not to give men a sense of entitlement. I have read enough complementarian literature to see that Eph 5 can be altered in effect to read ‘husbands exercise authority over your wives, as Christ exercises authority over the church’.
I might of course only be anticipating the next installment!
Ken, you are quite right when it comes to writing a systematic treatise about marriage generally. God tells the men what to do, and God tells the women what to do, and we can all affirm that in the abstract. But when dealing with a overbearing and angry husband, I try to address his problem, and I don’t worry about trying to “balance” my admonition—because he will seize on my balance as a tool for continuing his sin. The same goes for unsubmissive women. They will seize on any expression of scriptural balance as an excuse to continue in their sin. But you are right that there have been many times when I have let the entitled men have it.
Thank you for these letters to Dawson, Pastor Wilson. They’ve been helpful and encouraging and applicable to me, as I suspect to most guys. I’d like to request a topic for a blog post. Much has been said about a wife’s biblical submission to her husband, but would you be willing to write on why that’s not automatically a better deal for the husband than for the wife? In other words, if a feminist was to read Eph. 5:22-23 and think, “Well, the guys got off easy”, how would you respond?
Josiah, good suggestion. In brief, my response would be “the husband is the head, where the crown of thorns goes.” Real masculinity is sacrificial, in other words.
The analogy of pulling rank is apt—a good commander will make sure to understand and if possible address the concerns of those who report to him, and will also as much as possible align the motivations and concerns of those who report to him to the mission at hand, and not just leave things as “because I say so”.
Ian, exactly so.
I make a habit of looking for brave men. Never know when you will need a pal in a fight, you know.
With your letters to your nephew, especially the Jan 12th one, you clearly are displaying great courage to so publicly declare such truth. I am not so brave because I am pondering how to forward the link to my dearest : -).
B, thanks. I will grant that I can sound brave. But we are not in it yet.
Will you please give some relationship advice to women in circumstances such as mine who are having a very hard time finding a husband? Now in my thirties, I am fed up and broken-hearted once again after a man said he wanted to marry me, suddenly had a change of heart and then strung me along while he was trying to make up his mind. I couldn’t take the frustration anymore and was quickly losing respect for this man. Not to mention, I’ve experienced somewhat similar situations twice before and I’m struggling to understand why this is happening with these supposedly “outstanding Christian men,” who at one point were “so in love” with me only to drop me so quickly. Why do they always say “I don’t know why my feelings changed because you’re everything I’ve been looking for”? The repeated blows by my brothers in Christ are leaving me more hopeless and discouraged after each heartbreak. Why does God still refuse to give me the desires of my heart after I’ve been praying for this for so long? How do I trust a man again one day when says he wants to marry me? How do I ensure the best possible outcome for my future?
Ruthie, I am very sorry for your plight, and you are not alone. Many women are trapped in your situation, and I wish I had a “ready-made” answer. Unfortunately, I think the problem is much larger than individual guys flaking. I think there is something wrong with the whole system—and I am trying to get at some of that in my letters to Dawson.
A Basic Narnian Point
I bought “What I learned in Narnia” as a gift for a friend and could not help cracking it open before I passed it along. Before I knew it, I was half-way through the book and I ran across a Lewis quote from The Last Battle, “. . . I found out that we must wait upon a monkey, and when it began to be said that Tash and Aslan are one . . .” This reminded me of ongoing (friendly) arguments I have with a Roman Catholic coworker over the Second Vatican Council (among many other things), which gives us such delightful doozies as:
Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium 16, November 21, 1964
“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind’s judge on the last day.”
John Paul II, address to the Catholic community of Ankara, Turkey, November 29, 1979
“. . . I wonder if it is not urgent, precisely today when Christians and Muslims have entered a new period of history, to recognize and develop the spiritual bonds that unite us, in order to preserve and promote together for the benefit of all men, ‘peace, liberty, social justice and moral values’ as the Council calls upon us to do (Nostra Aetate 3).”
Both of these are taken from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops website, along with many more like them. At first I though Lewis was writing in response to these declarations (“together with us they adore the one, merciful God”), but upon looking it up, the RCC was declaring these things in the 1960’s while Lewis wrote these prescient words in the 1950’s.
I find it quite remarkable that the RCC’s put themselves in the place of a Chimp wearing priestly robes declaring the unity of Tash and Aslan, but Lewis’ prophetic writing (along with the dear gents at the Babylon Bee) have me questioning my cessationist position.
Since I feel I must ask a question of you instead of just inviting you to join in my laughter at a chimp in papal robes, what is your position on the gifts of the Spirit and their presence or absence in our time?
As a second question, I know that Papa Don’t Pope, but what can we do for friends who are willfully engaged in papal sophistry?
James, the Thankful Recipient Of A Classical Education Who Thinks He Is All Grown Up
James, as to your question, I am a cessationist, believing that the apostolic gifts are no longer operative. But at the same time, I believe that the cosmos is a spiritual place, and that there are many oddments that cannot be explained on mechanistic principles.
Have you read either one of Beale’s commentary’s on Revelation and if you have what did you think? If you haven’t I’d recommend them to you, especially his “shorter commentary” which is a more concise version of the longer one (but still at over 500 pages). Blessings to you, your family, and the ministry.
J, I have not read him on Revelation. But I have really appreciated everything that I have read.
Leavened Bread in Communion?
In the CREC churches I’ve attended, I’ve appreciated the use of wine (not just non-alcoholic grape juice) in the Lord’s Supper in obedience to the scriptural pattern. However, if Scripture directs that wine ought to be used in the Lord’s Supper (which I believe it does), should we not also use unleavened bread? It seems certain that unleavened bread would have been used when the sacrament was instituted at the Last Supper, a Passover meal.
James, yes, unleavened bread was used at the Last Supper. But when we read of the first post-resurrection celebration of the Supper, that occurred at Pentecost. And at Pentecost, with part of the offerings, leaven was required. But the Passover regimen not only required unleavened bread, it also required the utter absence of leaven. So I believe that bread can be bread, with or without leaven, but wine cannot be wine, with or without fermentation.
Greetings! I am Bible/ Ministry Department chair at a small Christian college in Florida and inheriting senior seminar. The goal has been worldview/ integration. Would you have some textbook recommendations? I am thinking of combining Watson’s Body of Divinity, Bonhoeffer’s Discipleship, and Eric Metaxas’s 7 Great Men.
The goal is to combine theology, worldview, and vocation.
Any advice? Thanks,
Tim, I would add Veith’s God at Work, and Pearcey’s Saving Leonardo.
But the Military is Woke
I am a 21-year-old man engaged to my high school sweetheart. I am graduating college this semester after a college football career and am faced with the choices that await such men. I have had a lifelong desire to serve my country, especially in special operations. I feel called to something more than the bland life of suburban America and wish to test myself the same way Joshua, Alexander, & Scipio did. I am faced with the choice of commissioning into a military that is led by those who hate us and our values or living with the regret and anger of trying to subdue the fire that burns in all men who wish to be in the fray. I would rather not face my first combat experience when the UN forces come raiding because we refused the metaverse VR goggles and made an observation about how beautiful Anglo-American art used to be before Marxism.
Some advice from Uncle Doug, Chaplain-in-Chief, would be greatly appreciated. P.S. My fiancee is devouring your wife’s books on marriage and motherhood. Praise God.
Addison, I think that joining the military is still (barely) lawful, but those who do it have to wake up every morning fully prepared to wreck their career. In short, I don’t recommend it. Not until this frenzy is past and somebody sane is rebuilding the military.
Not sure where to send this, but I’m interested in your thoughts on the recent interview between the Babylon Bee guys and Elon Musk. Justin Peters recently ran a piece deploring their failure to properly share the Gospel.
People I know are now saying they will essentially boycott the Bee until they repent.
Is it wrong to enjoy the BB content while still recognizing the failure and desiring to see repentance? Thanks.
Mike, I didn’t see those interviews, and I didn’t read the critique, so this is not directly about any of that. I would just register a general caution. One of the marvelous things about the gospel is how it advances despite the ineptitude of those who represent it. And so whether or not the BB presents the gospel the way I think they should, I would still rejoice at how many opportunities they create for the rest of us to stand for truth, and to share the gospel while doing it. And, as Dwight Moody once put it, “I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”
I have recently been introduced to your writing through my men’s small group. We are studying Future Men together.
Coincidentally (or as the Lord would have it perhaps) my wife and I toured our first classical Christian school. We are considering it for our two kids (12 and 9) who are currently in public school.
The reason I am writing is that I just read chapter 13—School Work. It was eye opening and a little scary. But I am left feeling like I need to understand more than just the problem. I am now really curious how to identify the problem as we consider schools, what to do to counteract it, etc.
I checked your blog to see if you have any articles on the topic but didn’t find any. Are there any you could recommend?
Austin, I am not quite sure how to address your question, but I think the best place to start would be with my book Excused Absence.
More on Rotify
Pertaining to Rotify: I really loved your take in the “Rotify” article and have used the very same biblical verses to talk to my children about how to choose music to listen to. I’d like you to expound a little further on that post, though, as it left me with a question I have been struggling with for several months. My 15-year-old son loves Spotify and would never DARE (or DESIRE) to listen to the extreme examples of filth that your article included . . . he does, however, like to listen to certain songs that are popular and filled with twaddle sung by less than stellar people (Bieber, Kanye, Rihanna, Swift or even contemporary Christian rap artists). He always brings it around to my appreciation of Johnny Cash music (which isn’t exactly daycare music). (“And after all, Kanye converted!”) What say ye about listening to the likes of losers even if their songs have catchy/somewhat innocuous tunes? Think of Lil NasX with his satan shoes singing Old Town Road, etc? or Save Your Tears on whose album cover is festooned with a guy dribbling blood down his mouth.
Not to mention we are of the mindset that dating comes (and only comes) when one is ready to marry . . . so it seems weird to let my 15 year old be singing about girls and relationships when we are discouraging him from going down that ‘Old Town Road’ in order to ‘Save His Tears’ for another day.
Are we being unreasonable or prudish? I do not what to be so strict or unreasonable as to make my son HATE the standard.
Rebecca, right. You want him to love the standard. So the first thing is to distinguish this issue from the point of my article. That was about basic morality, basic decency. The issues you raise are about maturity and aesthetic standards. The best thing you can do there is to have ongoing conversations with your son about what he is listening to, without trying to ban things you think are inane. But you also need to listen to it yourself because sometimes the inane is more subversive than it looks. And talk to your son about that. A couple of books might help—All God’s Children and Blue Suede Shoes by Ken Myers, and A Hole in our Soul by Martha Bayless.
The Kung Flu
My note is prompted by several of your articles about the Wuhan Virus. My position is, I respect what the WV can do, but I don’t fear it (cue Michael in Jude 9).
You have also highlighted the situation in Canada, and you have suggested that the ultimate tipping point for Christians here would be when they come for our children. I’m afraid that day has come in Quebec where an unvaccinated father has lost parental rights.
As usual, there is certainly more sin involved that led to the situation (divorce, mother’s live-in boyfriend), and it is possible that the father wasn’t exactly Ward Cleaver. However, vaccination was stated as the only condition to be met in order to restore parental rights.
There is no mention of any Christians in this dog’s breakfast, but I suspect Christians in Canada are more likely to be unvaccinated than pagans, so the day could be approaching when their government takes a proactive approach to parental separation.
Fighting doesn’t seem to be an option (also not very Canadian), but I have nothing better for our Christian siblings in Canada other than to stay in prayer and stand firm, or find a way to emigrate to a red state. I’m sure they would welcome any suggestions.
John, yes. And we can pray for Canadian examples of standing up to this so that others might see that it is in fact possible.
Baptism Into Death
You responded to my question on the relation of John 15:1a and 1 Corinthians 12:13 with this: “Jonty, in my view, this is actually the nub of the whole FV debate and/or misunderstanding. There is a connection to Christ that is not salvific, although it is genuine. There is also a connection to Christ, that which is enjoyed by the elect, which cannot be touched.”
Are you saying that the death in Romans 6:3 “by” baptism is the same work the Spirit does in 1 Corinthians 12:13, along with endowing a gift to the baptised person for the edification of the body?
Appreciate you answering on this topic! For all the controversy with FV you wouldn’t think there’s much going for it, but as I see it, some churches should carry on reforming.
Jonty, we are baptized into the Lord’s death, and the Spirit baptizes us into one body. This is what water baptism means, seals, and signifies. But the water of baptism does not accomplish this all by itself, ex opere operato. The catalyst that makes the sacrament efficacious is evangelical faith.
Sorry, Haven’t Read Them
Have you read the Harry Potter series? And where do you stand on them?
Ace, sorry. I haven’t read them, and hence do not have a detailed opinion about them. But I do have enough of an opinion to have kept me from reading them.
In trying to discern a proper biblical response to our ACCS school’s decision to voluntarily mandate masks on all JK-12 students, I found your article on “Humming ‘A Mighty Fortress’ Through Your Mask. There are parents who have a sincere conviction that it is wrong for them to mask their children. There are older students who sincerely believe it is wrong for them to wear masks. The students who refused to comply were sent home and given zeroes on their work for the days they missed. They have been told compliance is a character issue. One student, upon returning to school with a mask after being told he would not be allowed to do his work at home, the headmaster praised him. This puts this student in the position of having been praised by the school for complying with an order his parents have expressly told the school they believe is wrong. We are desperately trying to find a way forward with the school so our children can attend and still keep medical decisions in the hands of the parents. We are thinking that requesting a religious exemption to the masks is the best way forward. I would appreciate your sharing any wisdom you have on this matter with us. We just so torn over the situation we find ourselves in. We want to be at peace with others who see things differently, but not violate our consciences. My sincere thanks for all you do. Your writing has been a help and comfort to many of the families in our school community.
Cayce, yes, this is really disappointing. Short term, I would request a religious exemption. But long term, you need to rethink your relationship to the school, and examine alternatives. Even if they grant you the exemption, these are the people that you are entrusting with the task of teaching your children how to think critically. And how can they teach what they do not know?
Porn Creates Problems
In a response to someone’s letter about porn, you said,
“But if you are talking about stretches of faithfulness, interrupted with periodic failures, that is a different situation.”
Can you expand on this? How is it different, and how does one respond differently to this kind of situation?
D, I am talking about the difference between an occasional sin and bondage to sin. If a man lost his temper every decade, that is bad, and it is a sin, but I wouldn’t describe him as a hot-tempered man. And if a young man goes six months without porn, but then stumbles and has a bad couple of days, he needs to confess his sin and walk uprightly—which he plainly knows how to do. He did it for six months, so he must know how. This is quite different than a man who has not enjoyed victory for any length of time, ever. The second kind of man needs to get help from outside himself.
F.F. Bruce, for the Win
I’ve been reading Paul: The Apostle of The Heart Set Free. I just shared this with my sons and love to hear your thoughts on this- (From F.F. Bruce) In his chapter entitled ‘The Gentile Problem’, which could also been called The Judaizer Problem, he writes that gentiles who put themselves under the law were returning to slavery under the ‘stoicheia’
He says the stoicheia are “best identified as the planetary bodies (Gen 1.14) which the pagans deified and the Jews saw as real but merely “instruments serving their Creator’s will.”
“Stoicheia, or elemental powers, were, so long as they dominated men’s minds, like the weight of outworn tradition or THE PRESSURE OF CURRENT OPINION. “
“Those whose minds were emancipated by the gospel from their domination knew all such influences to be in themselves “weak and beggarly”, unable to exercise control where their control was not admitted.”
All this leads me to consider this biblical paradigm as explicative of the waves after waves of nonsense being spewed and enforced in our day. Maybe it would be helpful to call it by its biblical name—STOICHEIA.
Steve, there is something important in what you say. In the early days of my ministry, I read a boatload of F.F. Bruce’s stuff, and greatly profited by it. And I think this particular point is really worth meditating on.
The Flip Side of the Sabbath
What do you think of the 4 day work week push? I could see some scrutiny for it promoting laziness, yet I could also see how many people would benefit from an extra day off to not work in the office, but to work around the yard, the house, shop for groceries and so on. Perhaps less people would busy their Sundays and actually rest for a day. Or maybe we would find more tasks to fill our days off. I would love to hear your thoughts and if there’s any biblical texts that deal with this issue.
Mark, I take a dim view of it. I believe that the 4th commandment does require us to rest for one day, but I also believe it contains an implicit requirement that we work for six.