Unusually Cogent Responses to Letters Today

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Those White Orcs

No Forgiveness/White Orcs

For the most part I really enjoy your blog. But every now and then I get the impression you’re in a war against the content you find in memes instead of actual issues. Can we agree that sin in the form of racism is a thing that exists? Can we agree that humanity has a tremendous ability to ignore or not appreciate the depth of their sin and its consequences? Is it at least plausible that some of that overt or underappreciated sin has crept its way into countless aspects of our life from day to day interactions all the way to official policies. If any of these is possible why in the world would the practical wisdom of taking a step back and listening for a moment be a bad thing? I can’t tell you how many times I thought I was 100% in the right regarding a tiff with my wife. Fully expecting an apology and after doing the hard work of figuring out what really happened realized that I was blind to all sorts of habits, routines, rhythms that had cause the spat that were entirely my fault. So I think people are just taking a moment and stepping back and giving space to the idea that maybe the way we’ve been seeing the world is not entirely accurate. Maybe I’ve experienced benefits that others have not based on nothing more than the color of my skin. My wife’s sister (white) is married to a black man in Tampa. The stories involving buying their home for example were astounding.

I just wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate much of the wisdom and viewpoints you express on this blog that challenge me. And I think I’ve been reading long enough to get a feel for what you think your mission is, at least online, and understand that tough things need to be said and said bluntly. But man, giving sin and justice issues a second look just seems wise to me. And the flare and accusations of “Precisely because they have spent many decades excluding a transcendent God from all their reckoning, and precisely because they have necessarily rejected Christ, the Son of that transcendent God, the one who came as the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, they have been consigned to a closed system of guilt and retribution, a system that demands a never-ending line of sacrifices” is just way off the mark, in most examples I think.

BTW I’ve always really enjoyed how the Bible Project explains justice in their video.

Jim

Jim, first, thanks for the kind words, on the basis of which all is forgiven. Second, I think that stepping back and reconsidering our national double standard on race is precisely what happened half a century ago. And third, that is when the Trojan Horse was brought into the city. So my arguments are derived from books, and decorated with memes.

You named a name! Ligon Duncan. Just look at his suggested resources on race and you can see how his influence on RTS and the PCA, with respect to race issues, has been, let’s just say, less than stellar.

Mark

Mark, thanks.

Dilbert for the Win

Last week’s Dilbert (start with this) skewered the diversity thing brilliantly. Today’s cartoon pokes the aberrant alphabet group with the term “sapiosexual”.

It is sad that Scott Adams, a non-believing cartoonist, continues to mock the current Zeitgeist in ways that evangelicals are afraid to. (Note that I exclude you and Cross Politic from this assertion.) Please encourage the high-flying evangelicals in your acquaintance to step up the pace.

John

John, high-flying evangelicals in my acquaintance, eh?

McConnellery?

Does the following quote from Mitch McConnell bother you like it does me? ““And if this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it’s possible,” ​McConnell told USA Today Saturday when asked if a nationwide abortion ban is worthy of debate.”

1. Why say this? Inflame Dems more?

2. “One way or the other”??

3. We’ve been saying this is a state issue – but he thinks it should be Federal? Makes us look like hypocrites for debating purposes.

I’ve been trying to give this guy the benefit of the doubt, but the only way to continue that now it to assume he’s getting as senile as the Resident.

From Epoch Times: “McConnell: Nationwide Ban on Abortion ‘Possible’”

Craig

Craig, it does seem like an odd thing to do right now. At the same time, if Roe actually does go down, McConnell should get a good portion of the credit. Whether he wants it or not.

Answered Prayer

I enjoyed hearing your story about your dad Jim Wilson’s book Answers to Prayer on the Plodcast this week. I would like to know your thoughts about this approach to Christian living and use of finances, which was made famous by George Muller’s example. Do you think this approach should be entirely voluntary as God leads, or should it be something every Christian should aspire to?

Over the last few years as I’ve read about George Muller, Hudson Taylor and others, I began to feel a lot of guilt that I didn’t live that way, either because I didn’t have that kind of faith, or I just didn’t sense a leading to take their approach to my finances. I would just work, save, give, etc, as God provided opportunity. But it would nag me sometimes that I was just selling out, or lacked faith, if I didn’t take their approach to money. I know this is not a good approach to living by faith in light of Christ’s salvation by grace, but it has been hard to shake this mentality.

Something else that I would like to know your thoughts on that is related to this: If I remember correctly, Muller did not believe in going into debt for any reason, which means no mortgage for a house. “Owe no-one anything, except to love each other”, as Paul says in Romans 13 (on the face of it, it’s pretty hard to argue with that exegesis!). He also did not believe in saving money for a “rainy day”. Do you think this is simply a particular approach that some Christians are personally called to through a leading of the Holy Spirit?

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and for responding to the letters I have written to you in the past. I’m blessed every week by your ministry.

CD

CD, I don’t believe that this pattern of life is for everybody—although trusting God for our daily bread is for everybody. Some people are singularly gifted with this kind of faith, and sometimes it helps them get the exegesis wrong, but God still blesses them anyhow.

Antichrist and Beast

I am reading the man of sin article and I’m quite confused. I remember elsewhere you basically stated that the antichrist was already fulfilled and so was the beast. Is this not the antichrist? Couldn’t this have been an idea that Paul had rather than a prophesy? Maybe Nero in 70AD?

Jason

Jason, the man of sin and beast are a persecuting civil ruler, first fulfilled by Rome, but imitated many times since. The antichrist is quite distinct, and is a false teacher within the church who denied the incarnation. A modern beast would be Stalin. A modern antichrist would be a liberal Methodist bishop.

Nephew and Niece

Thank you for the way you share Biblical wisdom combined with life experience, applied to our time and presented in an engaging way!

In several of the “Dear Darla” and “Dear Dawson” posts you have mentioned something about the girl asking her father before going on a date with a guy. Is the assumption here that the girl still lives with her parents? How should the relationship be between a father and an unmarried adult son or daughter who has moved out?

Ruben

Ruben, the assumption was not so much a living arrangement as it was a close and healthy relationship with the dad.

Source Please?

I have a bibliographic question on one of those Sweater Vest Dialogues, The Trinity & The Patriarchy. At approximately 31:30 you speak about an observation of Augustine that the Son as the Word of God is not a passive recipient to the Father’s call to save His elect, as it is portrayed in Paradise Lost. Rather, when the Father speaks, His speaking is the Word. Where in Augustine do you draw that from? The best I can find is that you may be paraphrasing sections of De Trinitate or his commentary on John 5:19. Also, do you have a preferred edition or translation of De Trinitate? I’ve decided it’s time to really sink my teeth into it.

Thank you for providing what are the equivalent of seminary lectures basically for free.

John

John, I don’t remember the exact location, but it was from De Trinitate. And sorry, I don’t know enough to be able to recommend one edition over another.

Emergent Woke

Do you think there is any substantial difference between the woke church of the 2020’s and the emergent church movement of the 2000’s (where did they all go, by the way?), or are they pretty much the same thing at the root?

Mallory

Mallory, I think it was the difference between being 4 months pregnant and 8 months pregnant.

An Admonition

Hello! I’ve been aware of your work for years (‘Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning’ had an enormous impact on my life), but I do not explicitly recall reading much of your theological writing until a few weeks ago.

I do not expect you to reply to this letter; I address it to the ‘Letters to the Editor’ section of your blog simply because I can see that you do faithfully read and respond to those who write to you. I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned.

Brother Doug—and I take the liberty of addressing you that way because you proclaim yourself to be a Christian. I follow C.S. Lewis’ notion that in this life, rather than presuming to know the states of men’s souls, we should assume that those who call themselves Christians do in fact mean that they believe Jesus is Lord. Brother Doug, I am troubled for your soul. I am troubled because, in all your years of pastoring and writing (in which it should not be contentious to acknowledge that you have occasionally made mistakes, however well-intentioned), you do not seem on any occasion to have actually practiced repentance.

I do not say this lightly: I have spent many, many hours trawling through your prolific writings. I have not only been through your ‘Controversy Library’ with its attendant links, but also through the blogs and articles and interviews of many with whom you have been in dialogue with over the years. You have occasionally expressed a public willingness or desire to apologize for being misunderstood—which is of course sometimes a case of people failing to understand you—when it comes to questions of race, slavery, or what has been called ‘Federal Vision’ theology. You have expressed regrets for carelessness over some of your publication controversies. But, my brother, as best I can tell, you have never indicated that you have experienced real remorse for anything greater than failing to do due diligence in your editing work, or for contending somewhat belligerently during the height of the FV controversy.

I am not your judge and do not know you personally: of course the fact that I cannot find much evidence of repentance at any point in your life is not the same as saying that it does not exist. Nevertheless, I was even more troubled when I began searching your prolific online writings for any teaching about repentance.

Brother Doug, it is not there. You preach about the need for national repentance—all very well and good; you are not wrong. Americans as a group have many sins, many of them ongoing, for which we must repent and turn to God for forgiveness and correction. But repentance that is exclusively corporate (or would you say, covenantal?) is no repentance at all. Corporate repentance is a result of personal repentance, as we see for example in Daniel 9: it is not a replacement for it.

You acknowledge every so often that repentance is an aspect of the process of church discipline governed by Matthew 18—good!—but my brother, I have yet to hear a sermon of yours in which you exhort the congregation to repentance, or refer to any experience that you yourself have of repentance. (It is of course likely that you do that, somewhere, and that I have just missed it.)

My brother, you speak in tongues of men and angels, but I cannot tell whether you love your brothers and sisters in Christ. You speak of Christ, but I cannot tell whether you love him. I commend to you the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians—so often quoted at weddings, and yet written primarily as a rebuke to a church that was failing to live out the good news in many ways.

I love many of the things that I can see your love for: the works of Lewis and Tolkien and Sayers, philosophy of education, the singing of the Psalms. Whatever my other concerns about your spiritual welfare, I appreciate whole-heartedly your commitment to carrying on the worship of God last year. My prayer is that I will see you before God’s throne in the new heavens and the new earth, standing next to our shared intellectual heroes, singing together—

Holy, holy, holy LORD, God of power and might: heaven and earth are full of your glory!

With sincerity,

EEF

Brother, thank you for your willingness to tell me frankly what you think, and I will return the compliment. “Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). You read one book of mine years ago, and then recently spent hours scrolling through many of my blog posts, doing so over the course of weeks? You then make a judgment that I would not make about a person if I had been counseling them weekly for six months. Such evaluations are at times necessary, but from your own description of your process, and from my knowledge of what you didn’t find or recognize, I am afraid you did not do anything that was even close to due diligence.

Raise the Age

I have been working through my sample ballot here in North Carolina, looking for candidates who uphold Biblical values and true justice. An issue has come to my attention about something called Raise the Age, which would raise the age of being prosecuted as an adult from 16 to 18. I desire to face every issue in the light of Biblical law, but am at a loss of how to approach this. What do you think about this bill? Do you know of any laws or principles laid out in Scripture that can help me wrestle through this issue?

Thanks,

Levi

Levi, the age of adulthood in ancient Israel was 20, but I am not convinced that we are bound to that particular age. The main thing I am concerned about is consistency—privileges and responsibilities should generally go together, like voting, enlistment ages, able to be prosecuted as a n adult, etc.

An Odd Problem

For context’s sake, I have been a ravenous consumer of all things Canon Press since just before the beginning of the great reset. My wife, on the other hand, has never heard of you or Canon Press. Some of your work and the work of Canon Press have largely influenced my marriage and my self-identity (Fidelity; It’s Good to Be a Man). Over the past few years, I’ve striven to put the godly, biblical principles of manhood and husbandhood (not a father yet, D.V.) into practice. My wife is a faithful believer and was instrumental in my conversion out of atheism. Though fallen like us all, she is a faithful wife who strives to live a life as a woman and wife as described in the Scriptures. We’ve been married for 4 years and have had our ups and our downs (mostly ups, thankfully).

My question is more of an appeal for advice. My wife has no interest in watching “Eve in Exile.” I believe this lack of desire is more rooted in cynicism than rebellion, but either way, I think that just as “Fidelity” and “It’s Good to Be a Man” helped me tremendously, “Eve in Exile” will help her. She often comments on feeling “lost” in modern femininity and torn about how she should go about being a Christian woman in the 21st century. What would be your advice on helping her consume “Eve in Exile?” Should I persuade her, watch it with her, tell her she needs to, or just put it on while she’s on the couch and hope that she doesn’t run off?

Many thanks,

FA

FA, don’t push it, and don’t insist. You might think about getting her the book, or Rachel’s book You Who, which addresses those very concerns. But on something like this, I would really give her some space.

Decision Making

My question is a simple one, but one I think important, and one that weighs heavily on my heart. When it comes to making establishing dominion, we as men are called to lead and make decisions. Those decisions should be backed by Scripture and the courage of our convictions, and should always strive to do that which is right.

However, what does one do when they do not know what the right thing to do is? How may I decide which Church I am to join, or whether I should attempt to pursue my ex-girlfriend once again, when my convictions on either are not concrete?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and the mind clouded by doubt. How am I as a man to do that which is right when Scripture does not address the specific circumstance? Please let me know.

Sincerely,

Kyle

Kyle, the heart really is deceitfully wicked, but it is no less so when you are not taking a particular course of action. First, surrender the whole thing to God. Second, determine if God has prohibited anywhere in His Word. If He has not, then it is lawful and the only remaining question concerns whether it is wise. Surrender it to God again, and ask yourself three questions: What are my abilities? What are my opportunities? What are my desires? When those three line up, go.

Jury Nullification

This excellent video by CGP Grey convinced me that jury nullification was a viable option if I ever served on a jury and did not agree with the law. CGP Grey presents an interesting quandary, though. He says that lawyers will get around this by asking questions such as: “Do you have any beliefs that might prevent you from making a decision based strictly on the law?” If you say yes, you will never make it on the jury. If you say no, then you have perjured yourself, which is a crime. If you decide to say no to the question and then try to convince you fellow jurors about your plan it may also get you in trouble. If you were ever in a position where you might want to nullify the law, how would you handle this?

David

David, jury nullification is one aspect of the law. It is part of our system. I would interpret “the law” more broadly than this attorney is because he is simply talking about the law that the defendant is being charged under. But there are other laws that relate, and you are a law-abiding citizen.

Just a question regarding your post on “The Rights of Juries.” I am not convinced by the argument that juries sit in judgment on the law itself. What about woke jurors? or Muslim jurors? such people are likely to disagree with many laws (perhaps even, in a sense, all laws made by our Christian, white, patriarchal society). Should such people also sit in judgment on the law itself?

Surely the only hope we have of juries not descending into anarchy is for it to be made clear that a juror’s job is not to judge the law, but simply to determine whether the defendant is guilty of breaking the law for which they are charged? Surely a court is not the place to argue about the validity of a law, but only to deem whether it has been broken or not?

Richard

Richard, first, you are right that unbelieving juries could abuse this system. But the people are more likely to be abused with ungodly laws than they are to be afflicted with ungodly juries.

Masks and Church

Littlejohn, MacArthur, and the Binding of Conscience: My church required masks to be worn from June 2020 to July 2021. I brought up my concerns to my church leaders just recently about whether they had the authority to implement such a mandate and whether they believed it to be binding. Their question to me was “Did we violate your conscience when you decided yourself to wear the mask?” I’m having a difficult time answering that. I do have a conscience to not wear a mask in worship for various reasons 1) I don’t want to participate in the deceit of COVID hysteria nor propagate the idea that masks work to the extend that it does 2) I believe a mask requirement is a legalistic requirement for the ekklesia and 3) I believe that worship/fellowship is hindered by wearing one. When I wore one, however, I chose to do so with other principles at play: 1) submission/obedience to the leaders 2) not causing a ruckus in worship and 3) not wanting to leave the church for this reason. I do not know whether I myself was sinning against God from June to July but I do believe that there was a binding of conscience as they disregarded how I felt about the wearing of masks. Can you help address and categorize my decision to submit to them? Was it a sinful compromise?

John

John, I can’t say. It might have been a sinful compromise, certainly, but that doesn’t change your concern. When people bind consciences, the consciences sometimes actually get bound.

An Idea

Hi—I really enjoy your “Ask Doug” vids. Since you mentioned Gary North’s 75 Questions book, I thought it be a good idea for someone like Canon Press to do a reprint. This book has been out of print since 2000 (last printing was 1996) and you can no longer find it anywhere—blessings

Bob

Bob, thanks.

Covenant Children

Could the promise “to you and to your children” really be to covenant children when Peter didn’t even know that the men he was speaking to were believers yet?

Jonty

Jonty, he was speaking in Jerusalem in the course of one of Judaism’s high festivals. So the assumption was that he was bringing the promise over from the Old Testament, to the people of God.

Should the Supper Be Gloomy?

I attend a faithful and solid PCA church down here in East Texas, one that has contemplated leaving the denomination should the GA flake completely on upcoming issues. We have serious men in our session and diaconate, and not a few who are readers of many things originating from Canon Press. (Our pastor plugged “Reforming Marriage” last Sunday.) Overall, I am grateful and blessed by our church, with one exception. Our weekly Lord’s Supper is a 180° inversion of the glorious exhortations you present on Mablog. Whereas I am encouraged, uplifted, and edified by weekly reads of your blog on Mondays, the presentation down here on Sundays is more aptly described as dour, depressing, and rote.

With little variation, this is the template:

“This is the table of the Lord; it’s not the table of this church, so if you are a visitor in good standing with a Bible-believing church, meaning [insert long-winded definition here], then you are welcome. But there is a warning for all of us. You are not to partake if you are unrepentant [insert even longer, delineated definition with caveats and exclusions like a page from a legal document here], then you should let the elements pass, repent, and come back next week.”

Sadly, this non-exhortation is growing longer over time, and with it the weight of gloom. I pray it’s not just me doing a lot of internal griping. We have come a long ways over the past decade, when the Lord’s Supper was only weekly and filled with grape juice and Saltines.

So . . .I am hopeful that we will continue to grow in grace. Is there something I can or should say to our elders that would inject a little joy into the feast. It might have been Christ’s “last supper,” but it shouldn’t weekly feel like it’s MY last supper. I would love to discover that your weekly exhortations have been compiled into a 260-page book (that’s 52 x 5) and could be utilized in other churches like a Lord’s Supper devotional for pastors trying to work out how to rejoice in our salvation

Malachi

Malachi, thanks. Not sure if you were asking tongue in cheek, but as it happens . . . here

More Grove City Backstory

FYI: In March, Jon Fea, professor of American history at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, wrote an article showing Grove City’s board chair, Edward D. Breen, has advocated for diversity, equity and inclusion as CEO of the chemicals company DuPont. “(I)s the Edward Breen who led the Grove City College Board’s condemnation of critical race theory the same guy working for racial justice at DuPont?” Fea asks. Another board member, David Forney, is pastor of a Charlottesville church and has offered a list of racial justice resources to his congregation on the church website, including TED Talks by Bryan Stevenson and the books “How To Be an Antiracist” and “Between the World and Me,” both of which the report characterized as promoting “pop-CRT.”

Melody

Melody, thanks for the info.

Depression Question

One of the letters to the editor asked if depression is a sin, and you had a good answer—but it’s also always worth reminding people that the vicious cycle of depression is one of focusing inward on why one is depressed, which is depressing to do. So beyond just trusting Christ over current circumstances, it is important to find a way to lift one’s eyes off oneself.

Ian

Ian, thanks.

I am dismayed by how deep, wide, and smelly the whole slavery issue is in Ontario public education. My eldest daughters were educated in public schools (they now homeschool). All of my 19 grandkids are homeschooled.

When my eldest daughters speak of the history they learned, all they were TAUGHT about US history was slavery. Since my wife and I were born in the US, so we knew better. But here, the US is the place where slavery reigned, not where it was eradicated.

A fellow pastor here was surprised to learn the segregation, Jim Crowe, the KKK, and other nasties were all Democrat operations. He was sure it was the Republicans. I can tell by the looks I get that most don’t believe me on this; even more so when I tell them that the Democrat party is still racist and anti-Semitic.

But in spite of your efforts and others, the story line is that ya’ll are racist down there, and we’re so much better here. So I get lumped in with the best of you.

Thank you for Black and Tan, and for your work. You have enough listeners here that the Gospel Coalition Canada is worried about your influence.

In the Lamb,

Scott

Scott, thanks for paying attention, and for not getting spooked by lies.

More Credo Paedo

I’ve appreciated your ministry and partially because of it, I am dangerously close to moving from credobaptist to paedobaptist. At least I’ll still be baptist. One text in particular is a problem that I can’t seem to get past and haven’t heard paedobaptists address. The text is Philippians 3:3 where Paul tells us who the circumcised people of God are, and all elements he enumerates are byproducts of the new birth. Could you please explain to me how you understand this text specifically related to children being part of the New Covenant community?

Jon

Jon, thanks. Yes, the meaning of water baptism is all about the new birth. But so was the meaning of circumcision. If God wanted the time lines tidy, then why infant circumcision?

Classical Curriculum

Classical Christian Education: what paradigm should be used to determine which non-Christian texts to be taught in a K-12 school? I’m aware of the concept of “plundering the Egyptians,” but are there places that aren’t worth searching for treasure due to the quagmire one must go through to find them? What about texts with graphic violence, sexuality, or language? I’m personally not a fan of canceling books, but how has the CCE tradition handled this historically?

Joel

Joel, I would refer you to the introductory material that we published in the front of the Omnibus textbooks. The short answer is that we must be careful, first, not to corrupt the children, and second, to teach the kids how to interact faithfully with the best that paganism has to offer. It should be a long course in apologetics.

Men and Women Making Room

He needs to make room for the way women are, and stop doing certain things.” That being said, is there a difference between “[making] rooming for the way women are” and a woman being the way she is and as a result she ends up sabotaging the relationship, whether ill-intended or not? I believe you said something analogous some time ago in commenting on the weaker brother . . .

IOW, when Peter instructs husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way, that doesn’t imply that because wives are the weaker vessel that she gets a pass on all the basic character and personality traits that the Bible speaks to, does it? Anger, gossiping, slander, forgiveness, love, etc . . . there is in fact a Biblical standard for each of these, and that standard is not adjusted for the wife being the weaker vessel, is it?

More practically, how does a husband deal with such issues that his weaker vessel might have as a result of “the way women are”, without violating Peter’s other commands to not treat wives harshly, especially when a loving concern for one’s wife in those areas is often automatically received as “harsh” no matter what the true motivations of the husband?

Guymon

Guymon, no. Meeting in the middle must not mean that the woman and her whims must be catered to, and certainly does not mean that sin is okay, provided the wife is doing it. I don’t believe that Peter was referring to moral weakness there.

Medicine and Stuff

I have been tracking you and your crew of men and women for some months now and have found all of it to be incredibly enlightening and affirming. Your challenging stances and rigid Biblical foundations for each of your posts and sermons make their practical advice hard to turn away from. In short, I praise God you are doing your work along with your wife, daughters, and associate pastors as vessels of righteousness. You in Moscow have been nothing short of an asset both to me and my church, this is because I rarely spend time not relating something I just heard on Cannon Press or Blog and Mablog to my friends and elders.

Now that the gushing is out of the way I would like to ask my question as it concerns medical procedures and medicine. I have heard some things regarded as modern-day witchcraft and sorcery. While some people posit more sweeping damnation across the medical field in terms of even hospital care and baby delivery, others say that pharmacology and opioid use represent a new wave of arcanum that we in the Church have not been wise to in some time, allowing the forces from on high to slip things past our gaze in the name of easier lives and deadened emotions which threaten our daily stability. And because many do not want to be tossed about like waves in the ocean, they resort instead to antidepressants and therapy, well-motivated or otherwise. All these thoughts pose an incredibly complex network of questions and I cannot seem to find a practical scriptural application that would provide me with an answer.

If there is something you can do to shed light on that area I and some of my brothers would be greatly appreciative.

Best,

Alex

Alex, I certainly believe that secular medical establishment is drifting toward paganism, and in some places, galloping toward it. In some respects, I think that conventional medicine is like the medieval church before the Reformation, and alternative medicine is like the anabaptist separatists.

Household Membership

I see that kids are members at Christ Church by household. Does this change when they become “adults” or married? If you have written about this of membership in general as it pertains to children elsewhere please direct me, thank you!

Ace

Ace, we did that for a while, but found that it was pastorally unworkable. We vote by household, not by individual membership, but each baptized individual who comes into membership does so as an individual, including the littles. If we have an unbaptized child in a Baptist household, he would be considered a member of a member household, and his dad would represent him obliquely in an elder election. But he would not be subject to formal church discipline if he grew up and walked away from the faith, the way a baptized child would be.

A Real Dilemma

My husband and I have been discussing the moral and theological implications of embryo adoption, which before recently, we had not heard much about. After trying to find and read arguments from many sides, we have not been able to come across a Reformed evangelical perspective on the matter. Liberal/Evangellyfish views? Plenty. Catholic views? Yes. And certainly the arguments we have found in those camps have been thought provoking.

For instance, many Catholic theologians will say that women who adopt frozen embryos into their womb are, in a sense, being unfaithful or unchaste toward their husbands because they are becoming pregnant through technological means rather than through marital intercourse as God designed. My husband and I were thinking that this argument would apply in the case of using separate donated eggs and/or donated sperm to try to create a viable embryo, but perhaps would not apply to the scenario at hand where frozen embryos (which are already living humans, biblically) are being adopted into a family.

A second argument to the negative is that embryo adoption in some ways, indirectly supports the continuation of IVF, and also often utilizes the same facilities and medical providers that IVF procedures do. Does this outweigh the positives of saving the lives of many frozen embryos which would otherwise be used for stem cell research, frozen indefinitely, or simply thawed and left to die?

An example of an argument with a positive view toward embryo adoption would be that it, like traditional adoption, is a picture of our adoption into God’s family. It involves extending hospitality to a child, not only by bringing them into one’s covenant family, but also by giving an already conceived child hospitality in one’s womb.

Are there any other points of moral ambiguity that you believe need to be considered in the case of embryo adoption? Do you think it is biblically acceptable for Christians to adopt frozen embryos?

Thank you in advance for your time and wisdom.

In Christ,

Rachel

Rachel, those are ambiguous areas that I would think worth considering. The only other thing I would add is that we don’t know the long term effects of our messing around like this. We are, I suspect, in way over our heads.

You’re Welcome

I think thank you us in order. Just read the article ” Minneapolis Burning “. Proceeding by reading additional recommended writings. Not sure I understand the technicalities . The Minneapolis article was a beacon of light.

Florence

Florence, thanks very much.

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RT
RT
1 month ago

Regarding George Mueller and Hudson Taylor and how they lived by faith. I grew up in a denomination that are “descended” from the Plymouth Brethrens and the model provided by George Mueller, Hudson Taylor and many others were always uphold as the model for Christians. It is also very important to note that George Mueller and Hudson Taylor were called to ministry by God. In Hudson Taylor’s book “Retrospect” we read how God has called him to ministry to be a missionary to China and how God led him to prepare for his ministry by living entirely by “faith”, or… Read more »

Carson Spratt
Carson Spratt
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

Sometimes the way God provides is by having us count the cost, work diligently, lay up the harvest while the sun is shining, prudent investments…

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  Carson Spratt

Yes, in the grand scheme of things, everything that we have is provided by God. Our breath, our health, our ability to work, to provide for our families, all these are given by God. However, we cannot deny there is a difference in relying ONLY on God’s provision and rely on men’s methods in financial matters. And I believe this is especially true in the realm of ministries. What George Mueller, Hudson Taylor and many others did in their ministry and in their personal life, relying solely on God, should be the norm rather than the exception. For example, do… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

“ Or should we only look into the Word of God for what we should do in building up a local church?” Why the assumption that the two are mutually exclusive? Obviously there are certain preferences of man that fly in the face of Scripture, but there’s more than enough topics left undictated in the Word to enable you to, within limits, mold a local church service to the needs of the community. If people want a Thursday service, or red curtains, or a pizza party on the first Friday of the month, I’m not aware that Scripture has much of… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
1 month ago

John,

Don’t accept the premise in your church leaders’ question. If they didn’t require the mask, you wouldn’t have worn it. Simple as that.

The Cult of the Mask — not to mention the clot-shot — has always been a fraud. Now that people are finally waking up to it, those in charge are trying to weasel out of taking responsibility for having abused their authority and having harmed so many people.

Don’t let them.

RT
RT
1 month ago

Regarding issues of embryo adoption. I think first we should recognize that we are tempering with life to such a way that we do not know the full implication of IVF and giving birth to an embryo not conceived in one’s own womb. There can be physical, psychological, and spiritual implications, short term or long term. All these are unknowns. And by the very fact that such procedure are very unnatural, I would stay away from these kind of procedures. Secondly, the questions of whether embryos are fully human with a human spirit? We know embryos and fetus are fully… Read more »

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

Personally, I would almost take more issue with embryo adoption than IVF. There is the infidelity argument, though it is not adultery in the way sperm donation could be considered adultery. I have very little issue with IVF if it is used to give heterosexual married couples a baby that is just as much biologically theirs as if they conceived it the normal way, though I think it should be done only as a last resort to having biological children (which is how most Christians who use it use it). The main arguments I have heard against it are that… Read more »

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Personally I have much concerns and reservations about IVF as well from a Christian/theological perspective. Life is in the hands of God. Bible is very clear that God opens and shuts the womb. So for a Christian husband and wife who cannot bear children, they need to seek God for answers. Using human methods to “bypass” God’s natural design seems to me to indicate unbelief. It seems to be an action not out of trust and faith in God. I am not trying to attack Christians who used IVF, but I think Biblically it is clear a case where they… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Another issue with IVF is what happens to the embryos that aren’t implanted. In a cycle of IVF treatment, doctors almost always create more embryos than can be used. Patients are given the option of donating these to science, allowing them to be implanted in another woman, discarding them, or putting them in storage. It’s estimated that there are between 500,000 and a million frozen embryos in storage facilities across the country. Some have been there for over twenty years. The genetic parents retain ownership as long as they pay the storage fees. I think this has definite ethical implications.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  James

James, some pushback on miscellaneous points. How is adopting the biological child of a non-Christian couple more problematic than seeking to convert such a child to Christianity? What is this “heritage” that one would be in danger of “failing to honour” by adopting a child with a different skin colour to your own? Did the adoption of Jesus by Joseph not turn out well?

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

The adoption of Jesus by Joseph was unique, there will never be one like it before or since, and of course Jesus was God’s Son, and also Joseph was probably assumed to be the biological father of Christ by those who didn’t know, as Mary was Jesus’s biological mother. Therefore, I don’t see that as a reason to promote adoption, and it was, in any case, an adoption of the children of one’s wife, which I did not question, as my conversation dealt with fertility issues. Race is usually more than skin color, it is possible that a Euro-American couple… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
1 month ago
Reply to  James

I should hope they would fail to teach the customs of the child’s culture and simply choose to teach the child whatever customs they know to be right. The same goes for parents raising their biological children.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  James

In the case of orphans, I agree that it could make sense to legally insist that they be adopted within the same religion. In cases of neglect / abandonment, I would argue that parental sovereignty has already been forsaken and so there is no compelling reason to match religions. Where biological parents voluntarily give up children for adoption, some form of consent would be required. One could argue that they should be able to make their consent conditional on the adoptive parents being from a particular religion, but I don’t see why the law should force them to do so.… Read more »

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Rob

Rob, I don’t think that there is a biblical problem for adoption.

Historically, in the US, 90% of adopted kids fall away from church after they leave home. That figure is from a friend of mine who adopted four kids and did the research on what happens after they leave home.

Rob
Rob
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

I would be interested to see the source documents or data that substantiate that statistic, as I find it surprising.

Matt Bell
Matt Bell
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

I am very confused as to why Christians would be opposed to embryo adoption. My understanding is that parents who adopt embryos are aware of the ethically murky reality of thousands of frozen embryos created by IVF, and want to rescue one of these from a storage facility. They don’t necessarily see this as any kind of support of IVF or the creation of such unwanted embryos. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

Emily
Emily
23 days ago
Reply to  Matt Bell

Matt, I think you are right that there are many Christians who pursue embryo adoption and are aware of the ethically murky issues. However, there are also lots of people who are receiving embryos not so much in a spirit of adoption but as consumers, because it is cheaper than paying for a round of IVF. When I was researching embryo adoption I was really heartbroken to see that what a lot of people are calling “embryo adoption” is more akin to human trafficking. But I do think that embryo adoption can be done well and I think going through… Read more »

Zeph .
Zeph .
1 month ago

Rachel does bring up an interesting issue: abortion and IVF. the flushing of the extra embryos. Discarding IVF embryos: reporting on global practices – PMC (nih.gov)

Last edited 1 month ago by Zeph .
RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  Zeph .

Perhaps a very serious question is: “Are those IVF embryos the same as naturally or God ordained pregnancies?” Are those IVF embryos God created? Since they are “created” outside the natural premises designed by God, are they truly human? Yes, I know they are human physically or genetically speaking, but are they human spiritually?

Having a human body doesn’t make it human. Adam’s body was created before God breathed his spirit into the body that he became a living soul. So it is a serious question and perhaps we won’t be able to answer about those human induced embryos.

James
James
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

Surely you wouldn’t question whether a newborn baby (or an older child or grown-up) who was brought about by IVF had a human soul? That seems beyond undeniable to me. There may be the question as to when an embryo becomes human, but since it was created with the right materials, regardless of ethical questions, I see no reason to say that those IVF embryos are not human, unless you would say that is the case with embryos that have not reached a certain point at which one is given a human soul, as Aquinas believed that a baby was… Read more »

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  James

Well, I do not and cannot make such claim. I think there are too many unknown implications with IVF and issues like that (genetic modification etc) I suspect that when the baby is first born, he or she then becomes truly a living soul like Adam. However, I also know the Scripture recorded that when John the Baptist was in the womb, he leaped when Mary came bearing Jesus. So I don’t really know when does a baby in the womb truly becomes a living soul. However, I think the breathing of the newborn baby is a very telling indicator.… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

“Are those IVF embryos God created?”

There is no other possibility for anything that exists, other than God Himself.

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

In the Bible God clearly forbid us from mixing two species (in the Law of Moses), so it is possible to mix the species and it would work, but it is against God’s will to do so. That brings the question whether those things are truly “created” by God. Or they are just tolerated by God within the rules of this physical universe? Same thing with the Nephlim, the offsprings of angles and human. They are definitely NOT created by God, but they existed. We can say they existed being tolerated by God, but definitely NOT God’s creations. Many other… Read more »

Jane
Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

John 1:1 disagrees with you. Everything that has been made, has been made by God. We can act against His will in many ways, but ultimately, nothing can possibly come into existence without His acting upon things that already exist, or bringing new things into existence. We absolutely do not have the power to create life. We can behave in faithful or sinful ways connected with the creation of life, but ultimately God still brings about the creation.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

That’s the Catholic position: “Although the manner in which human conception is achieved with IVF and ET cannot be approved, every child which comes into the world must in any case be accepted as a living gift of the divine Goodness and must be brought up with love.” Even when there’s no destruction or storage of human embryos, the Catholic church says it’s wrong: ” Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person. In his unique and… Read more »

Emily
Emily
23 days ago
Reply to  RT

All human life is made in the image of God. Any and every image bearer has a soul. Why would we not think that the soul is created at the moment of conception? If you are interested in thinking about these things, there are Christians who have thought rigorously about these bioethical issues, including O. Carter Snead (“What It Means to Be Human“), Oliver O’Donovan (“Begotten or Made?“), Stephanie Connors (“Conceived By Science“), Thomas Berg (“Human Embryo Adoption: Biotechnology, Marriage, and the Right to Life“) and many others.

Seth
Seth
1 month ago

In the last letters post, reader Bob asked about Gary North’s out-of-print “75 Questions” book.

If he’s willing to read a digital copy, it’s available for free on North’s website:

https://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/2132_47e.htm

https://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/docs/pdf/75_bible_questions.pdf

Ross
Ross
1 month ago

Regarding McConnell suggesting a federal abortion ban: we want the murder of babies to end, 100%, and there is nothing wrong with it happening at the federal level. Changing the national status quo is a step in the right direction, because it will allow many (probably most) states to ban it. A federal ban would be another huge step in the right direction.

I don’t think any but the most squishy pro-lifers argue that murdering babies should absolutely be a state issue. It’s just that making it a state issue is an incremental improvement over Roe.

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  Ross

It is definitely a great thing if there’s a law at federal level banning all abortions. However, such power should not be given to the federal government in the first place. It is better to leave such power in the hands of the States. It would be better in the long run to stick to the Constitution and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.

Ross
Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

I disagree. The Declaration of Independence clarifies that the nation recognizes the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. If a state were to decriminalize rape, the federal government should step in. Same with murder.

Jane
Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Ross

The Declaration of Independence has no legal force on the United States of America under the US Constitution. However, the US Constitution does similarly recognize the right to life, liberty, and property.

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  Ross

I think the issue is that the US Constitution protects the right to life, liberty and property (not the pursuit of happiness, that’s not in the Constitution and that’s way too vague to protect) in principle. But the issue is WHO has the authority and jurisdiction to enforce and protect such rights? The federal government was designed to be a very small and a very limited government. The founding fathers do not trust any centralized authority that is too far away for the people to have any real control. The original US Constitution clearly spelled out the duties and responsibilities… Read more »

Cherrera
Cherrera
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

Agree. On a side note, the cognitive dissonance has reached a new peak, as hard as that is to believe after the last 2 years. The same leftists who praised or ignored violence and destruction during the Floyd riots (which dwarfed Jan. 6 by many magnitudes) are now calling for violence (e.g., Mayor Lightfoot’s “call to arms”) to protect their beloved child-killing. But after months of crying about an imaginary insurrection, no one dares to use that term or “domestic terrorists” to describe vandalizing, molotov cocktail-lobbing, SCOTUS personal house-harassing abortion fanatics.

Riot.jpg
Jane
Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Ross

The thing that would be wrong with it would be if it were a violation of the oath of office of members of our government to support a law that violates the constitution, in that the federal government is not constitutionally empowered to make such a law.

Given the mandate of the constitution to protect “life, liberty, and property” I don’t think this is the case, but this is the objection that is raised, and it is not an unreasonable one.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jane
Ross
Ross
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

You’re right, the federal government needs to protect life. If a state legalized murder, the feds need to step in.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, that boat sailed many, many years ago. We are sinking under many unconstitutional laws and actions; yet, our elected officials don’t blink an eye.

Jane
Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

That is true, but that doesn’t answer the question of what is right or wrong.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

Jane, if it unconstitutional, it is wrong.

Jane
Jane
1 month ago
Reply to  Dave

Yes, but the point is that “that ship has sailed” is not relevant to the question of whether a given act is right or wrong. Just because a wrong thing has been done 1000 times already does not make it useless to ask whether doing the next thing is also wrong.

Dave
Dave
1 month ago
Reply to  Jane

True. I was only pointing out that our elected officials have violated their oaths of office for decades upon decades.

Also, to be clear, if a law or action is unbiblical, it is wrong.

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
1 month ago
Reply to  Ross

I agree on your premise, stated vaguely as it is, but there are multiple ways to ban something at the national level and not all of them are equally valid. A constitutional amendment declaring that unborn children are full Americans protected by all rights of the constitution is ideal, and appropriate. An act of Congress would be violating the 10th amendment, which I object to in basic ethical principle, but 95% of what Congress does violates the 10th amendment, so the question of whether or not we treat it as even existing anymore comes into question, and if we decide… Read more »

RT
RT
1 month ago

Regarding the “White Orcs”. It is very interesting today’s claims of “racism” have its own set of “racialized” version of history that they have been teaching since the beginning. Such understanding of history went back to these following major historical events: (1) Crusades: White European Christians invading and oppressing and murdering peace loving Muslims brown people. (2) Colonization (Africa, India etc) (3) Slavery (especially the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and slavery in the Americas, and especially in the US. (4) The War Between the States (5) Civil Rights Movement (6) South Africa (Apartheid) So what happens is that if one wants… Read more »

Mike Freeman
Mike Freeman
1 month ago
Reply to  RT

So, just to be clear, are you seriously claiming that slavery wasn’t systemically racist? Or colonialism? Or South African apartheid? That is your claim, that those things were in fact not racist?

Can’t wait to hear the explanation for this one.

RT
RT
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Freeman

The school of thought which is the mainstream liberal/progressive have dominated our cultural and educational realm for more than 100 years now. They have established a certain narrative regarding all those major historical events. They have established the “good guys” and the “bad guys” and the “morals” in which we should learn from those historical events. And they have build their entire woke/progressive relgion and social Marxism on those narratives as unchallengable and undeniable facts. It is the same thing with Marxism and Communism. They have to have their own version or narratives on the entire history in order to… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Freeman

You equivocate “systemically racist” with simply “racist”. Which do you mean? Shoot, just with using the phrase “systemically racist” you still need to clarify, as people regularly use it to mean anyone one of 1. lots of racist people within a system. 2. A system whose rules explicitly enforce racist principles. 3. A system that disproportionately effects different races. and 4. A system that was intentionally designed to prop up and promote a particular race.

All of the things that you list meet some of these definitions and not others.

arwenb
arwenb
1 month ago
Reply to  Mike Freeman

Well, if the only people who will sell you slaves are the Arabs, and the only slaves they have available for sale are African, it kind of limits your options for meeting EEOC diversity targets in your enslavement quotas.

I don’t see how that kind of supply problem can be blamed solely on the Europeans though.

Robert
Robert
1 month ago

Mrs. Rachel,

John Piper addressed this in an “Ask Pastor John” episode about a month ago or so. This is one I didn’t listen to, but if you have respect for John Piper you might be interested in listening/reading this one.

Robert.

Rachel
Rachel
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert

Thank you, Robert. Listening to that episode was certainly helpful.

Rachel

Emily
Emily
23 days ago
Reply to  Rachel

Rachel,
I have been meaning to write to Pastor Doug with the exact same question that you posed, so I was pleased to see it here. I would love to exchange resources with you, if you are open to it. Feel free to send me a message on Facebook or email me at [email protected]. Thank you!
Emily

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Opus has a statement to make concerning our judicial system.

OpusOnLaw.jpg
Andrew Lohr
1 month ago

Uh, bro Doug, EEF asked if you had ever repented of any sin worse than careless editing or not making yourself clear Have you?.

Andrew Lohr
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

“…my whiteness is one of the few things that is not wrong with me—being as it is one of the things that God did, as opposed to one of those things that I tend to do” sounds promising, but vague..

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

What sort of an answer would you find satisfying? Anything not inappropriately personal would sound vague and possibly made up. I myself have repented of certain lustful habits. Does that tell you anything substantive at all? I expect not, as that could include almost anything, but if you demand I tell you with specificity, you put me in an awkward position. I could be referring to use of the computer in 1996, or I could be referring to an (purely hypothetical) affair I had against my wife three weeks ago. Sins rarely do not involve other people, and discussing them… Read more »

Cherrera
Cherrera
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew Lohr

Any reason to expect DW to do this but not other pastors, Christian authors/celebrities, seminary professors, etc.? Yes, some of them say things like “I’m a great sinner saved only by grace” repeatedly, but very rarely do they get specific. Others repent of having racist/sexist views many years ago, but this often looks more like appeasing the woke overlords and virtue signaling than anything else. Speaking of the FV controversy (EEF’s letter), I saw some really ugly things go down on the other side–people losing jobs and opportunities because they (or family members) were tangentially connected to FV or had… Read more »

Ken B
Ken B
1 month ago

Carried over from last week and might have been missed: To Cherrera, Justin, Nathan and fb Thank you for the input on abortion and the situation in the States. I intend to keep feeding it into the conversation. I particularly appreciated the offer of prayer, as this is a part of spiritual warfare, there are forces of evil at work in abortion as well as plain human wickedness. It can be very draining to have to cope with it. You also have to be careful not to cast pearls amongst swine. The universal line being taken – apart from me… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
1 month ago

“Is it at least plausible that some of that overt or underappreciated sin has crept its way into countless aspects of our life from day to day interactions all the way to official policies. If any of these is possible why in the world would the practical wisdom of taking a step back and listening for a moment be a bad thing?” The problem being that the slogan isn’t “Listen”. The slogan is “Listen and Believe”. Listening for the potentiality of a problem is indeed perfectly reasonable. That’s not what’s being demanded. What’s being demanded is that you openly affirm… Read more »

Tony
Tony
1 month ago

Totally shocked Doug’s response to EEF. Very defensive to the extent that it pointed out the very thing that EEF was referring to. Who says you have to wait six months before you’re qualified to make comments about somebody’s spiritual shortcomings. A few weeks reading Doug’s block is more than enough to get the gist of the type of sins Doug is guilty of. I think EEF was spot on. There’s an arrogant streak in Doug’s discourse, and pronounced evidence that he doesn’t really care for people–or at least that’s not his gift. What about the New York writer Jeffrey… Read more »

Justin Parris
Justin Parris
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony

“Very defensive to the extent that it pointed out the very thing that EEF was referring to.” He was responding to a broad accusation. It isn’t possible to give a response at all without it being definitionally defensive, since the accusation wasn’t specific enough for Doug to admit to it, even if it were correct. If Doug really wanted to simply protect his reputation from the charge, he could simply have not published the letter. “Who says you have to wait six months before you’re qualified to make comments about somebody’s spiritual shortcomings.” That’s not what he said. He said… Read more »

Cherrera
Cherrera
1 month ago
Reply to  Tony

Wow, Tony, you sure have the “gift” of knowing the secret sins of others. I never knew one could detect the hidden guilt of someone else just by reading their “block”(did you mean blog?). As for Toobin, while most men have done what he did at some point, I’m guessing most don’t regularly do so during work meetings–even online ones. That suggests an out-of-control habit/addiction. By your standards, I guess no one should ever give advice on stopping porn, smoking, excessive drinking, eating junk food, etc. if they’ve ever been guilty of the same.