Letters in Mid-April!

Wokery

Thank you for this. Would you mind explaining briefly what “woke” is, in laymen terms, and would you mind giving a brief explanation of why it’s sin? I agree that it is sin, but there are these contrary mind daggers competing for the moral high ground. Therefore, if I had a concise statement on this (maybe I should go back and read the Statement on Social Justice that I signed) it would help me navigate this well written blog. Thanks!

S

S, being woke means to become acutely aware of all the ways the system is inherently oppressive to victims and minorities, with all participants after that point clambering to become one of those victims or minorities. In evangelical circles it is the additional practice of trying to layer all this with a schtick that sounds biblical.


“Woke or Awakened” It’s about time somebody started saying this. It’s time to start calling a spade a spade. Repentance is what is needed not appeasement.

Mark

Mark, yes, and amen.


On being “woke” and “social justice”: I tend to summarize the social justice warriors as people who don’t understand either justice or society. The greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all your heart mind and strength, the second is to love your neighbor as yourself; being “woke” seems to mean breaking the greatest commandment while paying lip service to the second.

Christopher

Christopher, exactly right.


“And on top of that you might have a couple of deacons who think that income inequality is a real problem, and that socialism shows real promise, if only we are wise enough to pursue true socialism.’ I would be far more inclined to take this line of argument seriously if you would at least once in a while give some attention to the sin of greed—you know, the sin by which the 1% hoards half the world’s wealth and resources while all around them are people having trouble meeting basic needs. But no, when someone hoards a billion dollars while others go hungry and lack health care, the problem is with the people who are hungry and lack health care, not the greedy hoarders. This strikes me as a far more pertinent example of the other problem you were mentioning, of complete and total moral inversion.

Mike

Mike, sorry, but this betrays an almost perfect ignorance of what is happening. The one percent don’t hide all the food in caves. Income inequality in itself has almost nothing to do with greed. As for actual greed, the real sin, I have preached and written against it plenty.


“Woke or Awakened?” Have I just woke up from a coma? Is this still last November or next November . . .?

Neil

Neil, no, just regular old April.


Some of My Books

This is not particularly related to any post, but I wanted to let you know that I stayed up quite late last night reading The Man in the Dark from cover to cover and your understanding of human nature is embarrassingly accurate. Thank you for everything you write; I consistently and thoroughly enjoy it. Also I found the part in the book where Lambeth “bowed gallantly” while sitting down inordinately amusing, and continued to chuckle about it throughout the rest of the book. Please keep doing what you’re doing, sir. It is a great blessing to me and to my family.

Audra

Audra, thanks very much.


I recently finished your book, Mere Fundamentalism. Your discussion of what sin, Hell, and salvation actually are was outstanding. Your presentation of those things helped me to take information that I already had and see how it all fit together. When seen in the light of the big picture, sin looks all the more hideous and salvation all the more beautiful. I thoroughly enjoy your writing and your books are among my favorites. Mere Fundamentalism, Empires of Dirt, and Evangellyfish have all resonated deeply with me for different reasons. Your writing has been a real blessing to me over the past few years. Thanks.

Andrew

Andrew, thank you for reading.


I’ve recently read Angels in the Architecture for the first time. The book has been both convicting and encouraging. Nearly every chapter has provided me with plenty of food for deep thinking, which leads me to this letter. I’m eager to put the ideas presented in Angels in the Architecture (AITA) into practice, but I’m not naive—I see well the obstacles. I’ve been steeping in modernism for decades.  I’m resolved that a medieval Protestantism is a worthy endeavor but I want to be able to move towards such ideas with wisdom. And I know that I lack wisdom . . .

Drew

Drew, a number of my other books are attempts to fill this out. I would start with Mere Fundamentalism, A Primer on Worship and Reformation, and Empires of Dirt



Looking back a few years on the blog, you had a reoccurring series called the Basket Case Chronicles. What was the motivation for the project and where did it end up?

Boudreaux

Boudreaux, that series is now a book, a commentary on First Corinthians, entitled Partakers of Grace.


Keep Your Kids

I was reminded by this posting how very blessed I have been by your books on child-rearing that you gave away this past November. Thank you!

I am wondering, however, about retention. There is constant low-level angst in most churches I have seen about the many children who, despite making professions of faith, drift away as they grow up, a drift that I have heard explained by the Baptist practices that encourage children to doubt their salvation, making it hinge on the child’s credibility or maturity. My question for you is, does your approach to paideia tend to solve this problem? Is the phenomenon of children growing up and moving away from the faith unknown at Christ Church, or at least quite rare? One can’t expect perfection in a messy fallen world, but it would be a little odd if the churches that handle children properly were not a visible improvement on the status quo.

Farinata

Farinata, yes, our approach to paideia is intended to address this. In our Grace Agenda conference, just now finished, I cited some of our statistics with regard to retention in my talk for the conference—which should be available very soon.


Only One Olive Tree, Darn It

Yes, there’s one tree, but the difference between circumcision and baptism is the difference between roots and fruits. That is also the difference between Abraham (circumcision of flesh) and Moses (circumcision of heart). 2) A gaping chasm of a problem is your insistence that the New Covenant has a boundary like that between Jew and Gentile. That was done away with in the cross. Baptism is a rite of ordination for sacrificial service (even Israel’s national baptism was preparation for sacrificial service), a boundary of office. Romans 11 is about the priesthood. 3) Circumcision related to the promise of a fruitful land and a fruitful womb (Genesis 3, Genesis 15). Its sign reflected that. But the promise of the New Covenant is resurrection, not seed or real estate. So a sign upon children unwittingly testifies that Christ has not come in the flesh. Which is, you know, antiChrist, like the Herods.

Michael

Michael, are the infants of believers today on the tree?


Thank you for continuing to make cogent arguments in favor of infant baptism. I love this: When God redresses this problem through the new covenant, He does not say something like “in the old covenant, your descendants were faithless, but in the new covenant I will sidestep that problem entirely by making your descendants irrelevant.” It’s almost funny. Baptists of course don’t really think this, and don’t treat their children like little heathens (infant “dedication”), as if they were complete strangers to the covenant. In fact it was an infant dedication at a Reformed Baptist church many years ago that instantly turned me into a paedobaptist. I got viscerally angry that these people were in effect treating their children as strangers to God’s promises, and that was absurd! I realized quickly that baptism wasn’t really about me at all, but about God’s covenant promise to save his people from their sin, to them AND their children. Thanks!

Mike

Mike, thanks, and amen.


Reformed Baptist (RB) brother here. I’m sure that you are right about some (most?) RB on this, however while I would agree that the parallels are valid, I would suggest that given that we now have the complete Revelation (mirror not as dim), the Helper, etc. the application and outworking need not be a clone of that present during the Old Covenant. No, the visible church has not, and is not, pure. There are some that are of the 2nd and 3rd soil versions that look good but will fall away. However, given that we now have the discernment from the advantages listed above, indeed the commands to do so, it is our duty to work toward a pure church. The fact that complete success is only attainable through a work of the Spirit does not change this but it should remind us that we have not arrived. However I amen your vision of the future visible church as this is exactly the result that constant discernment produces . . . a church of mostly believers.

BJ

BJ, yes, and amen. Our task is to pray and work for a church that is faithful.


[On Infant Baptism] While I agree with some of the lovely parallels between the Old/New Covenants, the establishment of this covenant by Jesus at the Last Supper seems (at least to this daft Reformed Baptist) to throw a dirty great wrench in the works. “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:27-28). If some fall away from this covenant, though, wouldn’t that mean that Jesus’ blood is poured out for the potential forgiveness of sins, straight out of the synergist’s playbook? “It is truly offered to all in the covenant, but only some receive its salvific benefits?” It seems (unless I’m missing something) that the establishment of the covenant through Jesus’ blood, particular redemption, and forgiveness of sins are drawn together by Matthew as an inexorable 1-2-3 hopscotch jump—yet I’m not sure how the reprobate can step on 1, leap over 2 entirely, and land on a Schroedinger’s Cat version of 3! The only way I can see to square this is to drive an exegetical wedge into the comma in v.28 and say that Jesus establishes the covenant and forgives sin as 100% separate acts; however, Jeremiah 31:31-34 which Jesus alludes to doesn’t appear to make that distinction either. Unless I’ve missed something very obvious, I sadly won’t be signing up at the local presbytery to dunk my babies anytime soon . . . (I recall this very verse was referenced in one of the free books you released during #NoQuarterNovember, but it was only mentioned in passing.)

Michael

Michael, thanks. I believe that your line of argument is the strongest line of argument that Reformed Baptists have. Do the claims made for covenant membership undo the doctrine of definite atonement, which I definitely hold to? Now if the blood of Christ did only one thing (efficacious redemption), then the argument would be in my view unanswerable. But if false teachers can deny the sovereign Lord (despotes) who bought them (2 Pet. 2:1), and if it is possible for apostate Christians to despise the blood of the covenant, by which they were sanctified (Heb. 10:29), then it must be possible for the blood of Christ to lay an non-salvific claim on some.


Re: Infant Baptism Every explanation of infant baptism that I’ve ever read is predicated on misidentifying what the infant Christians are. Very respectfully, Bro. Doug, including this one. What’s born of the flesh is flesh, which is why the sign of circumcision was “in the flesh of your foreskin,” as Genesis 17 emphasizes repeatedly. If your parents had Hebrew flesh, then you did too, and got circumcised accordingly. Being born of the Spirit is something else entirely, and it isn’t transmitted through the human bloodline. After people are born of the Spirit, then they’re baby Christians and are proper subjects of the Christian rite of spiritual birth, which is baptism. Kind regards,

Steve

Steve, we all agree that baptism points to Christ. But the difference is over whether we are pointing to Christ in the heart of the one being baptized, or Christ on the cross. Are we pointing out or in?


Currently reading through To A Thousand Generations. During your discussion comparing the covenant of God to a building (circa loc 383 in Kindle) you write: “Furthermore, the scaffolding, when compared to the building as a building, is far inferior to it. Does this mean, Paul would ask, that the scaffolding was sin? Far from it—God required it; it was part of His perfect and revealed intention in the building of this house. The scaffolding as scaffolding is far superior to the building.” The last sentence there doesn’t seem to make sense to me and seems to directly negate the first sentence I quoted. So I’m having trouble understanding exactly what you mean here. I think I understand the overall illustration, and find it helpful, but the devil’s in the details, as they say. Clarification appreciated.

Nathan

Nathan, sorry for being confusing. I meant that scaffolding is superior scaffolding. The building can’t do what only scaffolding can. But the building is the point of the project, not the scaffolding.


Free Information

With the deep state wielding power and the apparatus of the administrative state seemingly used more blatantly for partisan reasons lately, I found this graphic interesting and thought I’d share it with you: here https://projects.propublica.org/graphics/eitc-audit. I find the overall lack of IRS audits in blue states (or in areas that would typically be represented as blue on a voting map during election time) quite startling.

BLT

BLT, I am sure it is all an honest misunderstanding.


Gifts?

How do I go about donating to this site or one of the many podcasts I listen to Doug Wilson on? He’s in so many places, I don’t know where would be best. (it’s not a lot, just as I can give) Thanks

Matthew

Matthew, thanks for the thought. Working on it.


Globalism Bad?

I may be under-educated or brainwashed about this, but can you briefly explain why globalism is something that should cause a Christian soul to revolt? Perhaps we’re revolting at globalism done badly like others revolt at nationalism done badly. Thank you!

Jess

Jess, I think we should work for a restoration of what I call mere Christendom, which honors and respects the nations and tribes that make it up. There is global unity in this, but it would be a Trinitarian unity, and not what globalism today is, which is Unitarian to the core.


Forgiveness?

RE: mechanics of forgiveness. What is the difference between restitution (as biblically conceived) and reparations (as conceived by SJWs)?

Jason

Jason, with restitution the guilty party or someone complicit in the guilt restores the object stolen. With reparations, we make people who look like the guilty party restore it, which is just a new crime.


From the Archives

Re: Sexual dirt and a gospel backhoe Dear Mr Wilson, I read your article regarding anal intercourse. I am in the situation where my husband has told me that he would like to try anal sex. I however, was not sure if it was right. I agree with everything in your article but am not completely sure if you are saying this is a SIN or just something you wouldn’t recommend. I am unsure how to respond to my husband. If it is a sin I feel like I need to lovingly say this is something I am unwilling to do. However, if it is not a sin, is it something that I should be willing to follow his lead in and submit to my head in? Could you give a little more clarity on weather anal intercourse is a sin? Also, how would you advise me to respond to my husband? I would like to clarify that this is something he is not trying to force me to do, but has expressed he would like and naturally I am wanting to please him, but not wanting to sin. Thank you.

PK

PK, yes, it is my judgment that this is something that should not be done, whether outside marriage or within it. I believe that it should be included under the “passionate lust of the Gentiles,” and is therefore sinful. This would be my argument, but it is not based on an explicit statement of Scripture. But that would be my judgment, since you asked.

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Armin
Guest
Armin

“I think we should work for a restoration of what I call mere Christendom, which honors and respects the nations and tribes that make it up.”

Does this apply to people of European descent?

JP Stewart
Member

One definition of woke is uncritically accepting narratives from the MSM, pop culture, gov’t schools and the grievance industry on race and sex. In other words, it’s an oxymoron as you’re just swallowing the blue pill and pretending to wake up to something that was already forced down your throat. It’s an Orwellian term for sure.

demosthenes1d
Member

JP, The thing with wokeness is that it is a relative term. You can always be more woke than your neighbor, and at times you must prove your committment to wokeness or lose your platform, or your job. This creates an environment where you can never be woke enough, or caught up enough on the latest trends in intersectionality. The purity spiral can be vicious and often eats its own. It may be that woke is just another term for current year blue pill (though I think it is a bit more exclusive than that) – but if you have… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Demo, let alone if, like me, you were formed by the late 1960s and still, like me, fondly believe you are a virtual fountain of tolerant liberalism. Nobody knows the abuse I have taken from the young for such mild statements as “Well, shouldn’t we wait to find out if he’s actually guilty of something?” Regressive monster doesn’t begin to cover it!

JP Stewart
Member

You should be able to handle all that abuse just fine…unless you suffer from white fragility. .

Jill Smith
Member

No, I think I only look frail. There is something energizing about abuse! It makes my eyes sparkle as I prepare to add another layer of frosting to the sarcasm cake.

JP Stewart
Member

“This creates an environment where you can never be woke enough, or caught up enough on the latest trends in intersectionality.”

Case in point: a plethora of articles claiming Democrat Presidential hopeful Andrew Yang is the candidate of alt-right white nationalists. And there were no typos there…”Democrat” and the last name of “Yang” are correct.

demosthenes1d
Member

JP,

Thats because frog twitter has hopped on the Yang Yacht and joined the Yang Gang. And we KNOW those people are racist. Right?

Justin Parris
Member

ugh. This made me facepalm.

Pepe the Frog is not a coherent symbol the way that Mickey Mouse represents an organized group of people. “Frog twitter” is a bunch of different people holding a bunch of different views. The only shared ethic is that SJW’s are not considered a good thing. I suppose though, to the SJW’s, that’s as good enough of a reason to call someone a white nationalist as any. After all, how could anyone criticize anything they have to say without believing in an ethno-state?

Jill Smith
Member

What I can’t understand is why no one on the “woke” side can see this can lead nowhere good. The Democrat party is devouring itself over whose claims to greatest victimhood and moral authority should take precedence. Some churches will do the same. And many reasonable whites who have traditionally felt sympathetic to minorities’ legitimate grievances are now seeing themselves as having an equal claim. It is time to stop all this before we turn into Yugoslavia after the fall of communism. Besides, the word affects me like nails on a chalkboard. Please assure me that future generations won’t describe… Read more »

adad0
Member

When are people going to start blaming George Michael and “Wham” for all this? ; – )

demosthenes1d
Member

Jill,

There are a lot of people on the left (ish) trying to pump the breaks, but to the true believers that just shows that they are part of the oppressive past.

Even people like Yglesias, at uber woke Vox, is gently questioning whether wokeness is good for the democrats. https://www.vox.com/2019/3/22/18259865/great-awokening-white-liberals-race-polling-trump-2020

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

“The Democrat party is devouring itself…”

In other words, the glass is half full.

Katecho
Member

I would define “woke” as that special hubris that presumes it is within man’s ability, with scorecard in hand, to carefully untangle generational, intersecting knots of offense, abuse, tyranny, disrespect and wickedness; all without making things far worse in the attempt. The alternative to the tarbaby of wokeness is the freeing realization that only the Gospel of Christ can slice clean through these old, hardened knots so that they just fall away, with the old offenses having been laid upon Christ. This kind of forgiveness and true reconciliation is only possible because of the shed blood of a Scapegoat. Someone… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

I made an (admittedly) snarky comment to Armin about Doug’s support for White Genocide which seems to have disappeared. Did I offend a censor?

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Armin is surely a minority voice, with a strong sense of grievance = victim-hood. And there you are, behind the trend as usual. Really, you’re sorry, but glad someone woke-ier than thou caught it, right?

demosthenes1d
Member

Thats true… I’m sure we can work up some intersectional victimhood narrative for Armin. I need to be nicer.

Armin
Guest
Armin

Demosthenes,

I’ve had conversations about race realism and Jews with a lot of people, and to be honest, you’ve handled it worse than probably 80-90% of them. Including women. You have a strange way of sinning with your words and then justifying it as being “snarky.” This is not healthy or righteous.

demosthenes1d
Member

Howdy, Armin. Including women… I’m astonished. I would be glad to continue a conversation with you if you will stop being so evasive. I’ll reproduce, from my last message to you, a short list of questions you have been evading – in order to jog your memory: “Just what do you have in mind? If you can’t do what you want to do through the legal/political process because our Jewish overlords control all of the sheeple just what do you want done?” “What is this nation you speak of? What are our “shared culture, tradition, ethnic background and religious values?”… Read more »

The Commenter Formerly Known As fp
Guest
The Commenter Formerly Known As fp

And Mike pontificated thusly:

I would be far more inclined to take this line of argument seriously if you would at least once in a while give some attention to the sin of greed—you know, the sin by which the 1% hoards half the world’s wealth and resources while all around them are people having trouble meeting basic needs.

I would be far more inclined to take Mike’s line of argument seriously if he would give some attention to the sin of envy — and man up and admit his own.

Nathan James
Member

Never mind the fact that anyone “hoarding” a billion dollars probably has $300 million invested in providing healthcare and food in an economically sustainable way.

Katecho
Member

Nathan James wrote: Never mind the fact that anyone “hoarding” a billion dollars probably has $300 million invested in providing healthcare and food in an economically sustainable way. Good point. Or, even worse, this billionaire really has just socked it all away in some dusty old bank, in which case the bankers, through the miracle of fractional reserve banking, have loaned it all out again to others, nine-fold, for a leveraged total of $9 billion released to do work in the new economy. Look how many, less fortunate, can indebt themselves further and leverage up to a whole new plateau… Read more »

bethyada
Member

Fractional reserve banking is evil. As is fiat cash.

Jane
Member

Fractional reserve banking is a blight, but no billionaire keeps his money in the bank so your rant while making a good point, may not be pertinent.

Katecho
Member

Indeed. I was being facetious, and playing with the suggestion that billionaires are just sitting around “hoarding” big piles of money and resources. I actually think the overheated bubble economy, and the level of consumption of resources, at all income levels, is being sustained by continually bailing out and propping up the billionaires. They don’t call it a moral hazard for nothing. If it weren’t for the leveraging of all that fiat money by the 1%, to supply more debt crack to the other eager 99%, the entire illusion of U.S. economic prominence and standard of living, for all 100%… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

I think Dave Ramsey has single handedly reduced the portion of those eager to take on debt to not more than 94%.

Katecho
Member

I may have been exaggerating slightly, for emphasis. Those who want to go after the billionaires don’t seem to realize it’s the branch that the “middle class” and poor are actually standing on. This branch is going to break under the monetary strain eventually, but is it really a sign of wisdom to jump up and down on it? It’s only today’s fresh debt that covers the sin of yesterday’s debt. I’m sure Ramsey sees where this is all headed, and is trying to spare as many as he can from a coming train wreck, but the truth is that… Read more »

demosthenes1d
Member

Katecho,

I’m not sure this makes any sense:

“We haven’t seen runaway inflation because the billionaires have just been feeding enough new loans into the economy to cover payments on the previous loans. It’s a debt drug addiction.”

If the cheap money dried up and people started defaulting on consumer credit and mortgages in droves that would cause a deflationary shock, not run-away inflation.

Katecho
Member

If the cheap money dries up, I don’t think anyone would expect inflation. But there is a question of why we haven’t already seen runaway inflation (across all sectors) with all the new easy money that was created. That needs an explanation. If the easy money dries up, my expectation is that we would see deflation, and far worse However, in a sound economy, deflation shouldn’t be considered a bad thing anyway. My point (oversimplified as it was) was an attempt to explain why all this new money wasn’t contributing directly toward runaway inflation. I believe, in part, it’s because… Read more »

Nathan Smith
Member

Re my question about the scaffolding in To a Thousand Generations: Thanks for the clarification. Now that you point out what you mean, I dont know how I could read it in any other way. Probably only a problem for dunderheads like myself.

Robert
Guest
Robert

The problem I have with Infant Baptism comes from Romans 7. ” 9 I was alive once without the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived and I died. 10 And the commandment, which was to bring life, I found to bring death. 11 For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it killed me. 12 Therefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good.” As I understand this Scripture, the first time a person Cognitively sins, they die, whether they are in a Christian home or not. They stay dead until… Read more »

Katecho
Member

When Adam and Eve fell, they died in the day they ate. Though they were still alive bodily, they were dead (separated in relation to the source of all life). All born after them have been born in the same hole that Adam and Eve fell into, separated from God and needing rescue and reconciliation. When God resumed making covenant promises to mankind (which actually began again immediately in the Garden), these covenant promises involved and included the children of believers (the Seed of Eve, for example, or the daughters of Sarah) even as infants (which is modeled in the… Read more »

Robert
Guest
Robert

I appreciate the fact that you spent some time writing out an answer, but I don’t feel that you really addressed the question. When an aborted baby dies, why do they go to Heaven? They go to Heaven because they haven’t sinned. They are born with a heart of the flesh, which means they will sin as soon as they are able to, but they haven’t yet sinned. It is a blessing to be raised in an obedient Christian home. The Reformers, I understand, were very concerned about the salvation of the very young, because one in four of their… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Robert wrote: When an aborted baby dies, why do they go to Heaven? They go to Heaven because they haven’t sinned. This can be a sensitive topic because we have notions of the innocence of children that are more sentimental than biblical. I’m not aware of any passage suggesting that all infants who die go straight to Heaven, without distinction. Instead, I see passages that describe the fall of man as representative in Adam and Eve, on behalf of all their offspring. In other words I see death coming to all (including infants and children) for all those represented in… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Katecho, I find this difficult to understand as it applies to children who perish due to induced abortion. Has the mother who aborts her child shown herself to be an unbeliever regardless of what she may think about whether or not she is Christian? If the father of an unborn child colluded in the decision to abort it, is his Christian belief sufficient to give us hope for that child’s salvation? In that case, don’t we have a situation in which God appears to have mercy only on the souls of infants who are killed by their believing Christian parents?… Read more »

Katecho
Member

Jill Smith wrote: Has the mother who aborts her child shown herself to be an unbeliever regardless of what she may think about whether or not she is Christian? First, let’s be clear that I’m not proposing that our task is to offer definitive pronouncements on the eternal state of any particular cases. Our perspective is finite. However, Scripture does give us foundational principles, and a pattern of examples, and corner stakes to guide us. We know that not everyone who was a circumcised descendant of Abraham (within the visible covenant) was actually a child of Abraham in the sense… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Hi Katecho, I was specifically responding to the abortion issue, which is why I found the idea of aborted children being covered by the covenantal status of their parents rather puzzling! Catholics are taught that while we are all in constant danger of falling into sin, a person who is faithful, obedient and vigilant is less likely to do something as heinous as getting an abortion than someone who, while retaining some kind of belief, ignores the means of grace and takes Christian morality pretty lightly. So I would certainly agree with about the flashing red beacon. A casual belief… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

At what point, if any, are children of Christian parents no longer represented in faith and belief by their parents, as federal representatives?
Are the children of unbelieving parents but believing grandparents so represented? Adopted children of believers?

Katecho
Member

JohnM asks some good practical questions: At what point, if any, are children of Christian parents no longer represented in faith and belief by their parents, as federal representatives? Great question. Representation seems to be a very layered and organic thing that only God is capable of sorting out exhaustively. I believe this is why rulers are not delegated any authority from God to sentence sons on behalf of the sins of their fathers. Only God can do the calculus necessary to visit the sins of the fathers to the third and fourth generation. In some sense, Adam and Eve… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Regarding wokeness, I appreciate the condemnation of feminism and socialism, but I think we’re going to have to go further. We need to give up on the myth of equality altogether. If we take it as a claim needing no support, that all men are equal, and then apply it as a weapon to argue against superior privilege, how long will it be before my own ox is gored? To put it plainly, if the colonists are equal to the king of England, how long before your six year old tries to assume an equal station among the powers of… Read more »

Katecho
Member

But, we must celebrate our diversity by stamping out any differences between men/women, rich/poor, black/white, strong/weak, righteous/wicked, etc, etc. It’s a strange new form of celebration where everyone runs around plucking their eyes and ears out so that they no longer have to be confronted with any actual differences that might call for gracious deference and covering in love, or for exaltation, recognition and emulation. A bland diet of gray goo is the extent of the diversity that we can stomach now.

JP Stewart
Member

Well, sort of. We’re supposed to stamp out differences while agreeing that “whiteness” is a pernicious problem (but not so with any other race) and of course men are pure evil, too (unless they have enough intersectional points based on their race, leftist politics, LGBTQ-identification, etc.) Someone put it well on Twitter: “What if in order to reconcile with someone you had to trash your ancestors, let the government redistribute your money, apologize for things you didn’t do, and hire people that look like the offended party? This is what ‘racial reconciliation’ in evangelical parlance means.” You also have woke… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Nathan, could it be that one of the difficulties is in determining the difference between inequalities we are born with and those which are the result of how we have used our gifts and opportunities? What made the inequalities of the ancien regime intolerable was that the clever peasant could not rise above his station. Most of us who grew up singing “All things bright and beautiful” in church are probably unfamiliar with one of its stanzas: The rich man at his castle, The poor man at his gate, God make him high or lowly And ordered his estate. But… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Jill, I’m not quite sure what angle you’re coming from with this question. I wouldn’t suggest that a recognition of inherent inequality is sufficient to produce justice, but it is necessary for it. Perhaps men found the ancien regime intolerable partly for it’s injustice, but partly because of their own impatience. When a wise man considers the world, he sees that the wise servant tends to rise and the foolish heir to fall. How long does that take to shake out? It seems to me that it might naturally, (that is, without any injustice,) take a very long time. Persistence… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Nathan, neither am I sure what angle I’m coming from! This is something about which I’ve never been able to make up my mind. A lot of people aren’t born with the ability to succeed in a system based on merit and competition, and a lot of people seem to need help in navigating the shoals of daily life. So I see the value of past hierarchy-based societies in which Molly the Dairy Maid wouldn’t have had much money or personal liberty, but she wouldn’t have been heartlessly told to learn to code. Where simple people worked hard and trusted… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Jill said, But those hierarchies resulted in misery for the lower orders when dominated by the wicked, the foolish, or the indifferent. Molly will be miserable if she’s governed someone wicked or foolish. That statement is true regardless of whether she’s governed by herself or by someone else. Now freedom is good for a good man, and may even be the right of a bad man, but egalitarianism does nothing to generate compassionate care for the least among us. It may corrupt them through entitlements. It may scorn them for “not trying hard enough.” But real care for the weak… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Nathan, I tend to agree with everything you said, which is why I am conflicted. The ideal world in which the intelligent are always virtuous and see wise oversight of the least among us as an absolute duty is not the world in which we live. The nuns drilled it into our heads that just as tall people have a duty to fetch items from top shelves for their shorter comrades, the intellectually able must, with wisdom , tact, and humility, use at least part of their brains for the welfare of those who struggle. Old-school nuns were short on… Read more »

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

The wise servant tends to rise and the foolish heir to fall, unless the laws, or customs supported by authority, or other other concerted effort, deliberately props up the foolish heir at the expense of the wise servant and holds down the wise servant to the advantage of the foolish heir. In that case it might take a very long time indeed for the reversal to shake out, and it seems to me with some injustice. Persistence of privilege can mean more than a man may leave an inheritance to his descendants, which is is something I would begrudge no… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

It doesn’t matter in the long run, but our lives would be much poorer if Shakespeare and Leonardo had been born to Russian serfs and legally prevented from doing anything other than till the land. Laws that debarred the lower classes from education even in basic literacy were unjust. One of the great achievements of the Protestant Reformation on the continent was the concern for universal literacy. In England, there was still a belief that a literate Molly would be discontented when she milked the cows. But, while that belief prevented the state from making education compulsory, it didn’t criminalize… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

The strong have often oppressed the weak. Laws against literacy are certainly an example of injustice.

My only question for JohnM is whether forbidding literacy really works out to the advantage of the powerful man or his heirs. It would be more profitable to have a literate slave than an illiterate one. So what circumstance would cause someone to want less capable servants?

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Nathan, You might best ask that question of people who made laws against literacy, but one thing I have learned is not to assume my priorities, no matter how rational they seem to me, are someone else’s. If a man’s priority is to ensure hewers of wood and drawers of water remain at his disposal, and his heirs, then literacy adds nothing to the utility of his slaves, or the servant class. In fact, literacy might lead to inconvenient notions regarding other possibilities. If a man’s priority is to retain the position of privilege for his family he doesn’t want… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

There are two important assumptions in this description of gaining advantage by forbidding literacy. The first is that the service currently being rendered to the powerful is not owned by them as a heritable right. This produces something like a “tragedy of the commons” dynamic, where the powerful person exercises power over something in which he has no ownership stake. The second assumption is that advantage is relative rather than absolute, and consists in being better off than your neighbors. This assumption has cruelty pretty much baked in.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Nathan, that description was in direct answer to your question: “So what circumstance would cause someone to want less capable servants?” The only assumptions in the description were that such could be the motives for suppressing literacy and that efforts to do so might well succeed. Your own statement “Laws against literacy are certainly an example of injustice.” comes closer to the assuming that the service currently being rendered to the powerful is not owned by them as a heritable right, unless we think moving from illiteracy to literacy would not broaden range of opportunity and provide an avenue for… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

JohnM, I understood that your description was answering the question. I still think it’s a good question and fertile ground for considering the causes of injustice in a society.

Jill Smith
Member

John, I think this is where the English view of servanthood was so different from that prevailing in ancient times and in some other European countries from the late Middle Ages onward. As we know, the Greeks valued educated slaves; the Romans hired them to be tutors to their children. No one would have felt threatened by a slave who knew a lot more than he did! It was similar in the Italian Renaissance; a literate servant was valuable because he could be trusted with greater responsibilities. It was a particularly English characteristic that you ought to be able to… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Jill said,

“There were people who told me they didn’t feel comfortable telling a middle class white person to scrub their floors.”

Remarkable! What a stew of bad ideas must lie behind this sentiment.

JohnM
Guest
JohnM

Yes, I did partly have the English view in mind, also Russian serfdom which you had mentioned. Other examples that occurred to me as fitting into the discussion were black slavery in the Americas and the Hindu caste system, though I don’t really know that much about the latter.

Jane
Member

There’s also a strange prejudice among some, against paying anyone to come into your home to clean up after you, that can’t be rationally accounted for (at least in any way that makes sense to me.) People talk about how they don’t want to subject another person to the indignity of scrubbing their toilets or floors for pay, because that feels like a demeaning use of other people — but somehow aren’t reluctant to hire people to change their children’s diapers, cook their food and set it on the table in front of them provided they’re in a place called… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Jane, it is a very odd prejudice indeed. The wish to dissociate oneself from a class perceived as arrogant is understandable, but then it should be no more palatable to give orders to a Hispanic than to an Anglo American. If it’s easy to tell Rosita to clean the bathroom but hard to tell Jill, then there has to be an underlying belief that Jill has social status or dignity that would be lowered by “degrading” tasks–but Rosita doesn’t. But I think there are other factors. The white person may unconsciously think that someone of her own race and economic… Read more »

Jane
Member

Yes, the ethnicity based thing is really odd in a different way. I don’t find it that hard to understand because racial attitudes are buried deep in people, for good and ill. If someone’s background includes generations of expecting people of certain classes or ethnicities but not others, to do certain kinds of work, I find it foolish, but not that unfathomable, that people would continue to think that way, when things are no longer so clearly delineated. But I can’t give a pass on not wishing to associate with an arrogant class, when that perceived association is based purely… Read more »

Jane
Member

It’s also irrelevant whether keeping people illiterate by force works out better for those who enforce it. What matters is that those with the power believe it, and enforce the unjust deprivation. And there’s pretty good evidence that they did believe it.

Nathan James
Member

Actually it is very relevant to the topic of this thread of conversation, which is whether we can tolerate the existence of any master-servant relationships. If wise masters are necessarily cruel then that is a strong critique of the relationship itself. But if, as I suspect, the misery we so detest arises from foolish masters then the situation is much better. For one thing, a wise master need not be cruel. For another, the cruel master is engaged in mismanagement, and is actively shrinking his jurisdiction.

Jill Smith
Member

Nathan, I’ve sometimes thought that many modern workers are involved in master-servant relationships under a different name, but fail to see that because they choose to sign on and are technically free to leave. I am sure that many Victorian employers of domestic servants were more solicitous for their welfare than the modern restaurant owner might be with his crew of underpaid servers and busboys. The personal assistant to a celebrity is called in from days off and expected to cater to demands most of us would find outrageous. A roofing company in my own city refused to pay workers’… Read more »

Jane
Member

I must be missing something in this conversation, then. I don’t see where it’s being asserted that wise masters are necessarily cruel. I thought that the argument was that best of masters were still participating in a cruel system, insofar as the system included things like criminalizing literacy. That’s not quite the same thing. We all live under laws that impose certain kinds of cruelty, but that does not make us as individuals cruel, if we are not actively promoting those laws and are in many cases (as there were some cases with respect to the literacy laws) attempting to… Read more »

Jill Smith
Member

Nathan, some of the English Tories opposed educating the poor for the same reasons some Southerners made it illegal to teach slaves to read–fear of insurrection due to reading rebellious literature, and a belief that the servant would no longer be content with his laborious fate. This comes across very clearly in a speech to the British House of Commons in 1807: However specious in theory the project might be of giving education to the labouring classes of the poor, it would, in effect, be found to be prejudicial to their morals and happiness; it would teach them to despise… Read more »

Justin Parris
Member

“you know, the sin by which the 1% hoards half the world’s wealth and resources while all around them are people having trouble meeting basic needs. ” Mike, I’m afraid you’ve been hoodwinked. What do you think the 1% do with their money? Do they keep it in cash, in fiant piles in their bedrooms, or do you they they have it in a bank? Probably the bank, right? What is it you suppose banks do with the money they hold? Have you, by chance, ever looked at your own banking information and why they give you a small interest… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

Even keeping money in a bin doesn’t make other people poor. If someone earned a bunch of money and then somehow arranged for it to never be spent, it would by like tearing up a bunch of IOUs. It would leave more wealth permanently in the hands of others. It would not impoverish anyone.

demosthenes1d
Member

Nathan, This is a really complicated topic, which I hate to get involved with in a combox for a lot of reasons (much better over beers). But when the Mike’s of the world complain about the 1% there is an unarticulated (probably because it isnt grasped) view that their wealth gathering is illegitimate. It is somehow accumulated through rent (in the proper sense). If the billionaire is extracting money through rents (including wage and regulatory arbitrage, in my view) of various types and then they destroy the money – it is making everyone else poorer. If they are accumulating resources… Read more »

Nathan James
Member

I agree that are serious complaints to be lodged against the economic/financial status quo. Comments like Mike’s don’t seem to have any of those legitimate complaints in sight. The comment reads “hoards, hoards, hoarders.” How is this complaint anything other helping ourselves to someone else’s money? “Stop hoarding and spend it the way I tell you to,” is an obnoxious line of argument even if directed at a genuine thief. Certainly, it would be a good idea for someone to start teaching us all how to complain righteously and accurately, not to mention persuasively, about the corruption involved in the… Read more »

mikebull1
Member

“Michael, are the infants of believers today on the tree?” The tree is the history of God’s people. Like Adam, it begins with what is “earthy” but has a “spiritual” intention, that is, the fruits of righteousness. To mix metaphors, the eye is not the big toe, something which seems to escape your understanding of Paul’s metaphor. The Gentiles were not grafted into the tree at the roots but at the fruits. So the New Covenant sign is not about earthly seed but about heavenly seed. This is not hard to understand. There is no sign upon offspring now because… Read more »