You Say You Want a Revolution
I apologize that this comment is somewhat removed from the article to which it is attached, but I have been considering a related question since Cuomo signed this atrocity. You may recall that toward the end of Lewis’ Perelandra, Ransom comes to the revelation that his possessed enemy, Weston, is tireless, indefatigable, and will never stop tormenting the Lady until he achieves the corruption he desires, and so Ransom resolves that the only solution is to fight. In past conversations with friends I have commented, somewhat facetiously, that the moment the pro-abortion movement starts killing live-born children is the moment I take up arms. To my horror, that moment appears to be arriving much sooner than expected. In this context, what threshold and justification, if any, do we have as Christians for the use of force?
David, the theology of resistance that developed in the course of the Reformation had three stages. The first is prophetic denunciation. The second was flight—get away if you can. Go to America. The third was to take up arms in defensive warfare. If there is wisdom in this, as I think there is, then the line would be when they come for our children.
“And so we also pray fervently that You would judge and bring low any self-appointed ‘Ehud,’ the kind of person who is thoroughly convinced of his own righteousness, and who would rob You of Your glory in judgment.” Was Ehud in the wrong? Please explain.
Matt, no, Ehud was not in the wrong. But a self-appointed “Ehud” would be.
I’ve been reading your blog since 2008, and your books since a bit before that. I read you because you aren’t afraid to apply Scripture to all areas of life, and you aren’t going to turn hard words into limp noodles. That is a service to your church and the church as a whole. What is your take on revolution? I look at things like this (the NY law) and the further divide between “left” and “right” and I can’t help but think this will either make Orwell look like a walk in the park, or we are going to walk ourselves right into Civil War take 2. You call out the “Ehud” who might take vengeance on behalf of God, and you are right to do so. But I guess I just don’t understand if any revolution is ever acceptable? I’m not saying, nor do I believe in secret, that any aggression (other than prayers) should be taken towards these lawmakers, and I also think our American Revolution was just. While I know that to conflate these things would be a category error, I’m not sure why I know it or how I would argue it. Could you help me? Was our American Revolution just? Could a theoretical 2nd Revolution be just? Or is it the job of the Christian to suffer, even if it means watching his children taken from him and put in fostercare for the “sin” of teaching against whatever degeneracy is the weekly hot topic? I can understand if you would prefer to not address this. I’ve just struggled with it for a while, and I’m not sure how to proceed. Thank you for your time and your ministry.
Zack, yes, I believe that the American War for Independence was justified, and I believe that there are circumstances where another revolt would be justified. But I also think, remembering the nature of man, that a majority of the time, revolution would likely make things worse, not better. I have written a bit more on this here.
Our country’s leaders look more and more like members of N.I.C.E. from That Hideous Strength. Would that make Trump Mr. Bultitude?
Joshua, there you go.
The Abolition of Man is one of my go to books as well. I commend to you Alan Jacobs’ recent book The Year of our Lord 1943, where he investigates the question why in the middle of WWII, Christian thinkers including Lewis were thinking and talking about education. One of the best things I read last year. Also this essay is helping me to think about how to help my students fight the demons of their diseased minds and understand the true nature of the addiction that is crippling so many of them.
Michelle, thank you for the recommendations.
I have for years read about submission to ruling authorities as coming from Romans 13, but recently listening to CrossPolitic and reading some of your posts I see a different idea being espoused. Lesser Magistrates? Could you comment or point me toward some good resources? Also when are we going to get a book with all your essays about intersectionality, race, and feminism?
Jonathan, as far as a book on intersectionality is concerned, I have been thinking about it. On the lesser magistrates, start with Book IV of Calvin’s Institutes. Another great one is Vindiciae Contra Tyrannus, a theology of resistance from an early Huguenot.
That Prayer for Cuomo
Thank you for posting this prayer for the NY Governor. I am appalled by this and am seeing on the news that other democratic state legislatures, such as Virginia’s, are beginning to push for similar legislation. I am struggling not to focus my prayers on the second half of yours, but I know I don’t have a right to because I have not done anything myself towards the pro-life movement. So, my question to you is, what can and should we Christians do in the face of this horrific onslaught?
Jessica, you don’t have to do everything. But you should be willing to do everything within reach.
A hearty Amen to what Kat said. I have had the same experience. It is very discouraging to me as well. Thank you for your reminder to pray. We can always do much more of that than we are, especially on the issue of deliverance from the scourge of abortion.
Kelty, yes, and amen.
“A Prayer for Governor Andrew Cuomo” Long time (ok, not so long. . . about a year) reader, first time commenter. Thank you, Pastor Wilson, for posting your prayer for Governor Andrew Cuomo. I have much to learn about offering imprecatory prayers and incorporating them in my life as I pray for my state (California) and our nation. Thank you for your teaching on the subject (in past posts and sermons) and posting this as an example (but first and foremost as a prayer). As God raised up Pharaoh to bring him down, so He has raised up abortion to bring it down all for His glory! May the Lord Jesus continue to put all his enemies under his feet. Grace and peace.
Regarding your prayer for Governor Cuomo: Thanks for writing this and modeling this type of prayer. Imprecatory prayer is tough. It’s hard—for me anyway—to know when it is appropriate and how to apply it. This is very balanced. You address the issue as a whole first, then our (the church’s) role in it. You ask for forgiveness and reconciliation with God, and then for judgement if forgiveness isn’t God’s will. And close by praying against an Ehud figure (although I really like the story of Ehud). This is good for me to read. I appreciate it.
Nathan, yes. This is an area where we all need to grow.
As an alumnus of Williams College, my fact-checker funny-bone (plus some idolatrous school pride) got to tingling when, in your piece, “Distance Learning Across the Centuries,” you attributed Mark Twain as having said that, “all that was necessary for education to occur was to have a log with a teacher sitting on one end and a student on the other.” (I understand that you were paraphrasing.)
I may be wrong, but I’m pretty sure that the proper Mark is not Twain but Hopkins—the Reverend Mark Hopkins, president of Williams College from 1986 to 1872. A nearly identical phrase was coined by Ohio Congressman (later U.S. President) James A. Garfield about Hopkins at a banquet at Delmonico’s in New York City in December, 1871.
Samuel Clemens would have been 36 years old at the time, with only The Innocents Abroad, to his credit, still five years shy of Tom Sawyer, much less Huck Finn. I.e., he wasn’t exactly a household name. It’s possible he wrote something similar in his journalistic meanderings, and that Garfield picked it up from him. But I’m going with Hopkins. J He was a Christian apologist (e.g., see http://bit.ly/Hopkinslectures – a forgotten gem, IMHO!!), and thus makes for a better story vs. someone like Twain whose first literary impulse was a snarky send-up of Pilgrims’ Progress.
P.S., the Williams campus pub is called “The Log”
Art, thanks for the correction. I am going to have to start saying, “As Mark Twain once said . . . or perhaps it was Winston Churchill, or maybe G.K. Chesterton . . .
Please forgive my ignorance but can you please tell me how to access the articles that are referred to in your weekly Blog & Mablog? When I type something in the search box it won’t take me to any articles, e.g. “The Unbearable Whiteness of Intersectionality.”
Mark, which search bar? In the search bar on the right hand side of the blog, if I type in unbearable whiteness, the article comes right up.
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Well said. I’d like to give a nod to Harry McClintock for his marvelous contribution of Big Rock Candy Mountain to the great American songbook. And to you for a fine reference.
Ron, thanks. But remember there are no copyright laws on the Big Rock Candy Mountain.
The Right to Bear Rockets
Immensely enjoyed your recent entry on rights, but your reference to buying an AR-15 piqued a theological question where I’d appreciate your insight: You mentioned rights such as rights, arms, and religion. Of course, most would agree none of these rights are absolute—in the sense freedom of speech doesn’t permit me to commit perjury or make false accusations; freedom of religion doesn’t permit me to kidnap women for human sacrifice, etc. Now since these rights come from God (as you noted), the “limitations” or boundaries of where those rights stop seem to me relatively straightforward—similarly derived from God’s law: we may not use our speech to bear false witness, our religion to commit murder, etc. But the particular boundary line does not seem as obvious or straightforward to me (from either Scripture or general revelation) when it comes to the specific boundary regarding what particular weapons I should or should not be allowed to purchase or own. It seems patently obvious that people should be permitted to buy a handgun for self-defense or a rifle for hunting. But it also seems obvious to me that individuals should not be permitted to purchase a medium range nuclear weapon at the local gun shop, even if they had the money for such. Would appreciate your thoughts: What particular biblical, theological, or moral considerations should help us determine particular boundary lines in this area—for instance when considering questions of private ownership of explosives, grenades, automatic weapons, high-capacity magazines, chemical/biological weapons, blowgun with poison darts, nuclear weapons, land mines, etc.?
Daniel, of course a man should be able to own a shoulder-mounted surface to air rocket launcher. How else could he shoot down government drones?
Seriously, I believe this is an area that requires some serious theoretical work—and from people whose commitment to gun ownership is rock solid. I have no trouble with private ownership of automatic weapons, but to George Washington, such a gun would have seemed like something right out of the Apocalypse. So also we need to make mental adjustments, it seems to me, for our current limitations. But in my mind those adjustments should be necessarily looser than many assume they should be. It seems like crazy talk to let someone go down to the gun shop and buy a nuke, right? But is a day coming when a brilliant teenager could build a nuke in the garage? With 3-D printed parts? That makes me nervous, but it seems likely to me that the only thing that could prevent it is a totalitarian government, which makes me far more nervous.
Hebrews and Historicism
You mention, in your Hebrews’ commentary and sermon, that the church today is somewhere in Judges when it comes to its New Covenant version of the of the conquest of the land/world. I can see that being the case in Europe and the U.S., with our seeming backwards slide, but it seems to me that Asia and Africa would fit more into Joshua. Thoughts? Also, you mentioned that one day we’ll be in the monarchical books. But those books ended with failure, and, as you’ve noted, the church won’t fail like Israel did. Where, then, is the O.T. book that models/types the church’s victorious, though imperfect, conquest of the land as we with an optimistic eschatology expect to happen in history?
Bill, my view is that the Great Commission being fulfilled is pictured through Solomon’s reign. But this greater Solomon will not compromise, will not fail, and will remain faithful to His one and only bride.
The Problem With Mocking AOC
“What’s Wrong With Human Rights?” Thanks for this tutorial. It seems that the 30 and under crowd are in desperate need of Anti-Socialism 101. Along those lines . . . I’m beginning to see how the 60’s went down. The 40 and older club are scoffing at Alexandria Occasionally Correct by writing out her quotes and hooting and howling at the nonsensical nature of her speech. But if you actually listen to her, she is very winsome and charismatic and believable, as long as logic doesn’t enter in to your thought process. She is in lock step with what is currently being taught in high schools and universities across the US; so she is connecting with young people. The “older crowd” assumes that their “common sense” is common to their young adult children (which of course it isn’t) and that their values are absorbed by osmosis, oblivious to the totalitarian socialism their kids are ingesting. The more they scoff at AOC, the more they alienate their kids who like her, and show how little they know of how little their kids know—because chances are their kids think just like she does.
Ginny, exactly. AOC needs to be answered, not mocked.
The Right to Slow Medical Care
My reaction to your column “What’s Wrong with Human Rights?” Spot on. I’m an American who’s been living in Germany for the last 6 years and who has taken the opportunity to travel through France, Poland, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, and Italy. I’ve seen firsthand what all this “free” stuff actually costs. Though Germany is not England, it is still quite difficult to see specialists here or to get what in the US would be a fairly “run of the mill” medical test. In January 2016 I was plagued with massive headaches. I spent 6 hours in an emergency room, only to be told that I needed to see a neurologist, and that the hospital didn’t have one on staff. By the time I saw one 4 weeks later, the headaches were gone. He had me get an MRI anyway. That didn’t occur until early May. That was the soonest they could get me in. But my German friends accept this, because they think it is better than the horror stories they read of people going thousands of dollars into debt because they do not have insurance. It’s insane. Thank you for being a sane voice in this dialogue. Incidentally, I live in Chemnitz, Germany, which was formerly Karl-Marx-Stadt (literally Karl Marx City). Still a big bronze bust of him here in front of the building that used to house the Stasi. Keep fighting the good fight
Jim, glad the headache is gone. And may we all learn how to be a headache.
Wolves & Rabbits: It should be noted that in some states the wolves have already enacted the right to free grass for the rabbits.
Malachi, “free grass for the rabbits.” Now there’s a campaign slogan!
I just got done reading Future Men and I want to tell you something: I used to consider myself gay. I lived that way through high school and college. I hid it well—I was outwardly masculine but inwardly very effeminate. The Spirit convicted me about 4 years ago and I began the arduous process of repentance and belief. During that process, I’ve been longing to understand what it means to be a man, because my dad never taught me (and my culture sure isn’t teaching me, either . . .) I’ve been extremely disappointed at what I’ve found. Most evangelicals have a flaccid understanding of masculinity—one that I can’t respect or benefit from. Evangelicals call me to be some kind of weak, androgynous, non-gendered “person”—but not a man. (Probably because they themselves don’t know what it means to be a man.) And any time I bring this up with my mentors, they repeat the same flaccid talking points I hear everywhere else. But when I read your stuff (The Grace of Shame, Future Men, or just your blog) I come away thinking, “Thank God! somebody out there is telling me what I need to hear.” You regularly confirm things I’ve intuitively come to believe the past 4 years but don’t hear anywhere else. I wish there were more men speaking about masculinity as you do. Or maybe they’re out there and I just don’t know where to find them. I know you wrote Future Men for fathers teaching sons. I’m not a father, so I have no sons . . . but I still benefited tremendously from it. Thank you.
Ryan, thank you for addressing this in your life the way we all need to address sin our own lives, with repentance. God bless you in your continued walk. And, for the record, The Grace of Shame is by Tim Bayly. They have some good resources for guys in your situation (at Warhorn Media).
“9 Pitfalls of Homeschooling” I am wondering if you are still planning on writing an article on the pitfalls of Christian schooling. This one was very helpful on the homeschooling side. Thanks.
Shamira, yes, it is in the works.
Abortion as Murder
I have a question for you about the murder epidemic that we call abortion. Are we honest to call it murder, a holocaust which we believe surpasses that of even the actual Holocaust while only responding with protests and hope towards legislative change? A critique I have heard is that if we really believed it was murder then we would have a much harsher, targeted and efficacious response. As in D-Day, not simply blog entries, protests, and voting Republican. I am not looking to validate bombing clinics but are we speaking out of two sides of our mouth on this, are we merely virtue signaling? Are we in danger of being less of a Bonhoeffer and more of a Milquetoast?
Gabe, yes, that is a very great danger—using high voltage rhetoric for fund-raising purposes, but with no intention of real follow through. But there is also a danger in failing to count the count the way the Lord required us to do, even in life and death situations (Luke 14:31-32). I have no doubt the apostle Paul knew that the Coliseum was a place for many legally sanctioned murders, but he responded with a long term gospel strategy, and not by circulating petitions in a godless society. That is because godless societies must be bloody ones.
We enrolled our 1st grade daughter in a classical school this year and we are really enjoying it. Recently I looked at the future curriculum and noticed in 7th grade they read ancient literature, one book is The Epic of Gilgamesh. I read this in a college literature class and couldn’t remember much about it. I recently started reading it and felt like the content about the harlot and Enkidu was not appropriate for 7th graders. What is your take on this? A young mother of 5,
Hannah, I think it depends on the maturity level of the kids. I would recommend talking with the teacher beforehand to see how they handle it, and make special arrangements if you need to. But keep in mind that 7th graders should have read through the entire Old Testament, and that contains some gnarly bits as well.
Authority and Rewards
“You define masculinity as the glad-hearted acceptance of sacrificial responsibility. What do you think are the chief rewards for taking responsibility? Wil”
“Wil, the rest of that formula, as I teach it this. Authority flows to those who take responsibility. Authority flees those who seek to evade it. So I believe that sacrificial responsibility, true masculinity, is the foundation of biblical authority.”
I’m guessing you accidentally deleted or neglected to add an answer to Wil’s question. What are the rewards, specifically?
Garnet, you are right. I did miss that part of his question, probably because the answer was implicit and assumed in what I said. I believe the principal consequence (“reward”) of having authority flow to you is the “reward” of being respected. As love is food for a woman’s soul, so respect is food for a man’s soul.