The Bitterness Juke
Sometimes we preach the thing we most need to hear. And how often we think it’s ‘just the other guy!’
In a recent post you mention bitterness. I wholeheartedly agree that it’s important to be free from bitterness. But here’s my concern: it seems that some of this ‘bitterness’ talk in our circles is, at times, a rhetorical ploy, a sort of trump card to end all discussion, if you will.
Do we on some level have a duty to not be a ‘bitter pill?’
Charles, if I understand your point, I agree with it completely in the abstract. In other words, if we automatically respond to any and all criticism with some pastoral Bulverism—“he is only saying that because he is bitter, or envious, or resentful,” etc. we are shutting ourselves off from the rest of the body. The wisdom that is from above is “easy to be intreated.” And if someone refuses to respond to critical input with “meekess of wisdom,” then he is likely the one with “envying and strife” in his heart.
“Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace” (Jas. 3:13–18).
But when I write these exhortations against bitterness and envy, I am not giving a blanket diagnosis to any who offer a corrective to someone else. I am talking about something glaringly obvious, like the Pacific Ocean being a body of salt water. DJW
Where Did Demetrius Go?
Excellent. Too often any thought on this runs quickly to polity (which is important) but not to shepherding. If we are to find a biblical answer here I’d suggest Ephesians 4 where the saints are equipped to help each other along as they encounter ‘one another’ in the context of Acts 2:41-47. Imitating those early ‘parish’ meetings would go far in helping Demetrius no matter which worship service he might be attending—though, a point of maturity would cause him to be cheerfully consistent and readily expected in one place most of the time. Looking forward to the responses you get from this and any further development.
Laurence, good thought. DJW
Regarding “Where Did Demetrius Go?” you raise some interesting points I had not given much thought. I see the difficulties you mention, but I wonder where it might land us. If we take your observations as true “that church eldership may encompass several congregations in a particular geographical area,” where does that leave your polity in relationship to the Roman Catholic Church? Is the main difference the distribution of church authority?
Kyle, I am still an operational Presbyterian in my views of polity. One area where I differ with Rome on polity is in the idea that institutional unity is prior to unity of spirit. I believe that institutional unity is the eschatological goal, not the protological foundation. In Eph. 4, Paul tells us to labor to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. This spiritual unity is a given, and we are to keep it. As a consequence, the church will grow up into the unity of the faith—that is what we are striving for. So I would like to see all the evangelical churches in any given area to work toward some kind of functional polity together—but not to get too far out over their skis. DJW
So what are you saying, Doug? This piece may require a follow-up. Your denomination of Communion of Reformed Evangelicals has six presbyteries globally, but that maybe a denomination like the one you’re in should also have a council or board of elders from individual congregations (kirks) within the same community (or surrounding communities) also? You state the problem, sorta, but don’t really explain what the problem actually is. More clarity is needed. Thank you.
Trey, more clarity is needed mostly in my head. It does not yet appear what the unity of the global church will look like in the postmill vision. But I am convinced that a lot of our polity turmoil is the result of over-realized eschatology. We tend to rush it. DJW
Eowyn in Combat
Doug, I enjoyed reading your post, “Sexdollification of Western Woman.” Thank you for defending femininity. You have often pointed out that God prohibits women from dressing up like a man (Deuteronomy 22:5). You have also pointed out that this prohibition especially pertains to women in combat gear. Since you mentioned Tolkien here in the Content Cluster, it reminded me of a question. I am often a fan of the way Tolkien presents feminine characters in his work. However, it has always bothered me that Eowyn, in The Return of the King, dresses up like a man and goes into battle before defeating the witch-king. Do you see this as merely a blunder on Tolkien’s part or is there more to it? Cheers,
Josh, I think there more to it. Nancy and I recently re-read The Lord of the Rings, and just finished it a short time ago. I am death on the egalitarian “women in combat” nonsense, but the part where Eowyn reveals herself as not a man, thereby qualifying her to kill a being that will be slain by no man is one of my favorite parts. Tolkien is not setting up the ideal of a warrior-princess up for us. She is high-hearted, but is also plainly driven in ways that are not good for her. She is a true heroine, but when she is finally helped in the Houses of Healing, more than the physical harm is addressed. DJW
Regarding Antipathy: Great Genesis 3:15 album cover art by Dogs of Peace. (Album is as good as the art.)
Douglas, thanks. DJW
Thanks and Thanks Back
Thank you for your faithful preaching, blogging, publishing, declaring, challenging and denouncing. We appreciate you, Nancy, and your family so much. You have taught us and blessed us when we were near and now when we are far. We thank the Lord for you and pray for you always. So thankful God has built you for this good work. May God continue to bless you and keep you.
Bruce and Susan
Thanks very much. God has been very kind to us, and so have you been. DJW
Pastor Doug, Thanks for your fight. You are a blessing, and an oak of righteousness. May God keep sanctifying me through you. Keep it up.
Garrett, thanks for the kind thoughts. But it is more like the knotty pine of righteousness, and that’s on my good days. DJW
Baptism Down Under
Hi Doug, Thank you for the wonderful resources made available by yourself and family. It has made a wonderful impact on my husband and me over the years. We are baptists, however I’m very interested to see if you publish any of what you say when you baptize infants like you do for your Lord’s Supper talks. I am grappling with the topic at the moment and reading into both sides a bit more. We both grew up baptists but haven’t researched both sides fully yet. My husband runs a reformed Christian bookstore in Sydney and we’re really excited to get Canon Press books into Australian hands!
Shamira, thanks. Australia? Australia? Then I think I will just ask Mike Bull to field all these baptism questions for me.
Seriously, I am sorry I didn’t start writing baptism exhortations back in the day, the same way we do for communion. When we started down this road, the baptisms were fairly intermittent, and the Lord’s Supper was held every week. Because we had gone to weekly communion, I wanted to make sure that we didn’t start “dialing it in,” and so I started doing those exhortations right from the beginning. Doing that for the periodic baptisms didn’t occur to me, although I did write through the case for it—so the only writing I have done in detail on baptism is To a Thousand Generations—and I wrote the bulk of that while I was still a Baptist. I was reading a bunch of paedo books, which were good (in that I agree with them now), but they didn’t answer the particular questions that were troubling me at the time. So a lot of that was written to myself, trying to work through the problems. Sorry—that’s all I have. DJW
In light of yesterday’s post on the sexdollification of the western woman, maybe you should work up a good cover of “A Little Less Conversation.” On a related note, how do you draw the line between preaching Christ to the culture (people of the culture) and singing the culture’s songs? Don’t get me wrong, I like a little rock n roll and am not trying to accuse. But I find within myself a love for Jesus and Americana and the two don’t always mesh. I’ll hang up and take your response off the air…
Nathan, I think the question you raise is an important one. When we do these cover songs for our annual “Friends of Logos” concert, we are careful about the songs we choose. And sometimes we have to tinker with the lyrics a bit—a year or two ago, for example, we had to fix Norman Greenbaum’s Pelagianism. Never been a sinner, indeed. So when a love for Jesus and a love for Americana collide, Jesus has to win. DJW