Keep hammering away on the Revoice Conference. You are one of the few that are publicly opposing it. Please keep doing so.
Michael, thanks and will do. Though thankfully, there are others, and more coming.
Enjoyed (?) your humorous use of the metaphor of the birth of sin. (It is especially appropriate since PCA also argues that human life actually begins at conception. “The PCA is busy arguing that her confessional standards don’t say anything about pooching out a bit.”) In such a debate, James, like his brother, would argue that, according to this metaphor, death also begins at conception. The manifest birth of sin is merely an inevitable chronological result of its conception. Overt copulation with the body can add no more severe punishment that what has already been accrued in the heart. It is as if the act were already committed (Mt 5:24). “Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15).
Personally, I have always felt that gay marriage was an inevitability, for good or ill (most likely both). I do not think that the arguments against gay marriage are all grounded in bigotry, and I find some of the arguments persuasive. But I also find it cruel and absurd to tell gays that living the free-love lifestyle is abominable while at the same time telling them that their committed relationships are illegitimate too.
“Many of my conservative friends who oppose both civil unions and marriage and object to rampant promiscuity often act as if there’s some grand alternative lifestyle for gays. But there isn’t. And given that open homosexuality is simply a fact of life, the rise of the HoBos—the homosexual bourgeoisie—strikes me as good news.”—Jonah Goldberg And, of course . . . link.
Barnie, this is how the conclusion gets smuggled into the premises. Of course there are no homosexual sexual options for homosexuals that are lawful. Neither promiscuity nor one partner for life are acceptable to God. But homosexual men have the same options that all of us do—find a woman and marry her. To say that this restricts them cruelly is like saying that standard menu options in restaurants is unfair to cannibals.
Do you really think it will take 5 years?
Melody, actually, no.
Thanks, Pastor Doug. It’s hard to believe my eyes. The small seminary I attended was unofficially PCA, and it’s almost too much for words to watch this happen. Question for you: Why should Christians bother with forming denominations and seminaries? Doesn’t church history teach us we are never doing more than building temples which will one day be ripped out of our hands and consecrated to Baal?
Dave, that temptation is at least understandable. My mother attended Prairie Bible Institute, whose president back then once said that he didn’t want to build stone buildings because he didn’t want to leave anything nice for the liberals. But it is a temptation. It is like refusing to rejoice over the birth of a grandchild because you know that he will one day die.
I appreciate your willingness to go into such great detail about the causes and nuances of this issue. I really do. But I think the cause of this conference is that they want to normalize homosexuality in the church. Plain and simple. They cannot resist the allure of being liked by the “cool kids.” 20 years ago, the homo lobby claimed they were just looking for fair treatment, not marriage. Of course not. Who would think of such a thing? Well, they are liars and here we are. The same is going on here. The best way to push back against this sort of thing is to state simply that they want to make gay marriage a thing in the church. Start with affirming celibacy until the crowds get used to seeing it and then, well we know where this ends. This is pure and simple boundary pushing. We need to push back. The PCA loves to argue about angels on the head of a pin, but this is ridiculous. Just censure them and discipline anyone who advocates for homosexuality. If they won’t, then have the local churches stop paying the Presbyteries who are okay with this. If the PCA won’t have the courage to do this, then they get to be the new PCUSA. Congratulations.
BJ, your summary phrase says it all nicely—boundary pushing.
I write again, not because I think it really matters to you what I think, but because your words have helped me and strengthened me for many years, and I wish more Christians would open themselves to your teaching and pastoral counsel at its best. Thank you so much for this post on The Mortification of Courtly Love . . . Your pointed assessment of decided weaknesses of Wesley Hill’s vision of friendship (finally!), your assessment of the watershed nature of this conference for evangelical Christianity, your engagement with Matt Anderson’s ambitions as noble and high-minded, but quite probably naive when it comes to shaping the actual issues at stake in this Revoice conference are all straight up the middle bulls-eyes. Thank you. It would have been deeply and tragically ironic if these young people (compared to you!), some of whom I believe are genuinely God-fearing and seeking to call others to a counter-cultural but joyful pathway of cruciform-shaped discipleship, lacked sincerely articulated Godly fatherly counsel from someone who really cares as much as you do about calling people to repent and believe the gospel, and who has spent so much time developing the problem of Father Hunger which is at the core of so many of these issues we are facing. They probably need that in person even more than in writing, so maybe faithful older men like yourself need to consider going to that conference if it ends up going forward to contend for the faith in person. Be that as it may, I wanted to say thank you for an excellent post. This is the kind of engagement that seems much more appropriate to the battle at hand. I pray for you and others who seek to fight God’s battle for God’s Church in God’s way. That is a tall order in these fractious times.
Michelle, thank you very much. But the organizers of the conference are now uninviting any registrants who have written against the conference online, and is refunding their money. And so, in record time they have established the social justice form of dialog, which is “I talk, you listen.”
Is all this talk of homosexuality something that is of the flesh, or something that is of the Spirit? Romans 8 is pretty clear: “Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
I appreciate your sound words on the conference. However, in this post you seem to be premature in decrying Covenant Seminary. The seminary is not sponsoring or organizing the event, and the one speaker (Jay Sklar) has stated that he isn’t affirming everything in the conference. He is going to be articulating the Bible’s prohibition of homosexuality.
Maybe I’m missing something, but your strong words for the seminary seem premature at best.
Tim, given what I mentioned above, which is that critics of the conference are not even being allowed to attend it, that would indicate at the very least that the organizers are not expecting Dr. Sklar to say anything that would be contrary to the agenda of the movement. And while I don’t have any problem with the “I’ll go anywhere to preach the gospel” standard (which is the position I hold), I believe that in this case it is disingenuous. I would be willing to speak at Revoice also, but am not expecting an invitation. It is very plain that they do not want any discordant voices, and they are not expecting one in Dr. Sklar.
What Temptation Is
There seems to be a kind of temptation that is either a direct assault from Satan against the mind, or just low-level psychological noise: the sudden impulse to cause a sensational crash by swerving into traffic, blasphemous words crossing your mind, or a promiscuous image. I usually dismiss these thoughts as feeble inputs by Satan, attempts to bind me to the fear that I’m a psychopath or blasphemer; but should they be understood as real temptations, in spite of their apparent passive nature? Is the passivity an illusion? Do they really represent the secret longings of my flesh? If they really tempt, was our Lord similarly tempted?
Douglas, I think it depends on whether the outrageous thought has any “purchase” in you. Sometimes the fleeting blasphemy is just external harassment. Other times it might reveal a closet in your heart that needs to be cleaned out.
It’s sad to say but the only people who are allowed to be feminine are not women these days but men. The opposite is true—the only people who are allowed to be masculine are women. We are a very confused people. My husband and I became a form to the PCA church but we saw crouching liberalism, and political correctness as well. We were not allowed to use the word abortion and homosexuality and any announcements in the church as to not offend anyone. My husband and I knew this denomination was headed in the wrong direction even then. There’s been much compromise for a long time in the PCA but there are still many faithful and I pray that they don’t go down without a fight. My husband also looked into going to Calvin College 14 years ago and when he visited and met with the staff he couldn’t believe how liberal it was. Thankfully did not go but it is no shock to us they are where they are now.
Valerie, yes. Sins and compromises can be mustard seeds also.
We’ve arrived at this point because the Church lost its shame concerning heterosexual relationships. Divorce came first. The expansion of what was permissible became wide enough to erase. Shame. Then premarital sex and shacking up. Repentance is defined as getting married no matter that the fornication continues in a public and proud way. Perhaps we need to dial it back and do a Vince Lombardi—“gentlemen, this is a football.”
Jeff, yes. Our problem is not our homosexuals. Our problem is our sexuals.
I appreciate your Post entitled “As the Serpent Uncoils” very much. Concerning all that you say about Revoice and its issues, I am in 110 percent agreement. I have more of a Christological question for you. When Romans 8:3 says that Christ came in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin, in order to condemn sin in the flesh, what does this mean? I am sure I must be in error because it seems my understanding is not at all in the mainstream of orthodoxy, but I conceive of Christ taking on flesh that has all the issues and deficiencies as ours, except that Christ is not guilty for this because He came in the likeness of sinful flesh “on account of sin,” in other words, to atone for our sin. It is part of His bearing His people’s sin. Adam is not His federal head, and so He cannot be charged with original sin or any guilt whatsoever for the sinful flesh that He has taken on for the sake of His people. As our sin is imputed to Him as He suffers and dies on the cross, could it not be that the sinfulness of the sinful flesh He takes on be sin/sinfulness that is imputed to Him from His own elect people? I think that is the essence of my question and position. I realize that sin arises from our soul, but Scripture also seems to indicate that our own corrupt bodies can tempt us, leading us into sin. Is a person suffering from PTSD not suffering in part at least from a chemical/physical/bodily issue (I am not denying that there are spiritual issues as well)? So then, could not Christ have dealt with internal temptations just as we do, perhaps even internal temptations toward homosexuality, and yet FOR HIM it would not be sinful because He came in the likeness of sinful flesh, and yet He came with this “on account of sin,” in order to “condemn sin in the flesh.” So the guilt, the sinfulness, if you will, of the flesh Christ came in owes to our own sinfulness, and thus we bear the blame for that sinfulness and not Christ, but Christ came in this way, in the likeness of sinful flesh, in order to redeem us from it. So, for Jesus, His internal temptations and their sinfulness were not accredited to Him, but to His people; He was not sinful, because He came bearing these temptations on behalf of His chosen people. Any human being who is not the God-Man cannot claim that their sinful flesh is of no fault of their own. It is, for we are represented by Adam our federal head, and are guilty in him. Therefore, if my friend says he has same-sex attraction/homosexual orientation—that for him is a sinful, internal temptation. It is sin, and it is his sin. Jesus could have taken that on in the incarnation, suffered with it if you will, but in such a way that the sinfulness of that internal temptation was not his sin, but the sin of those for whom He suffered. As an ironic twist to all this, in an email exchange with Greg Johnson, who pastors the PCA church where the Revoice conference is set to be held, he told me that Romans 1 indicates that all humanity is to blame for homosexual temptation, by which I believe he means same-sex attraction. Because we all sinned in Adam, he said that we all brought upon humanity the effects of the fall. So when we see homosexual sin, it is we who should grieve for what “we” have done to humanity when we sinned in Adam. He went on to say that most who experience same-sex attraction never chose the attraction or orientation, and that the condition “is part of God’s curse on our idolatry. We human idolaters all share in the blame.” Anyway, I don’t know if my view concerning Christ requires a belief in Traducianism or what, or how Traducianism would even work for the God-Man. So perhaps you could just point out to me how my position is heretical and illogical so that I can kick this understanding to the curb once and for all and swim to safer shores :) In Christ,
Thomas, two things. I actually agree with Johnson in saying that no sinner can declare independence from any sin. We are all complicit in everything. But what we do with that matters. I can either repent of all sin as though it were my own, or I can start indulging all sin as though it were my own. I think that Revoice is encouraging the latter.
With regard to the “likeness of sinful flesh,” I would say this. I take it as saying that Christ took on the appearance of an ordinary man, all the rest of whom were internally corrupt. You couldn’t tell that Jesus was not that way by looking at Him walk down the street. He took on the form of a servant, the form of a sinner. And in this, He was a servant, but He was not a sinner.
Fancy Boy Issues
Fancy boy: If you are referring to the photo you also have in your post, your points notwithstanding, the absence of socks gives it away.
Bethyada, the socks will tell.
Thank you for this very cogent, timely, biblical, and winsome piece (“Hey, Fancy Boy”). It is regularly a blessing to be encouraged and admonished by your writing . . . as a fellow follower of Christ by grace through faith in His name, I wanted to encourage you to continue to fight the good fight of faith in deed and in truth. Excelsior ad Dei gloriam and greetings from Little Rock,
Chad, thanks very much.
“Splagchnonistical” That’s a word worth a Benjamin. Googling it was no help at all. The only result was your Goldberg article. Since it seems you made it up, would you mind telling us what it means?
Also for interested readers, I made an RSS feed out of your blog (this link should work: ) as well as a channel that Pushbullet users can subscribe to [in order] to get notified every time you post something new (see here: ). Disclaimer: only for the serious readers.
Clayton, thanks for the links. And I am afraid that word was a coinage of my own, and is taken from the Greek word for the intestines. Roughly rendered, it would mean “dredged out of the gut.”
Isn`t this just another sign of the Hillbilly Elegy complaining the symbols around him are changing? Something like when the Scots started seeing men wearing decent pants and thought these men were pansies for not being ready for war at all times by having a lot of leg freedom? The mannerisms and manly symbols of a once dominant group are passing away. Douglas Wilson is simply trying to keep Idaho looking the same—Hillbilly Elegy.
LJ, in a confusing world, there will be people who are falsely accused of being pansies and fops. But there is also such a thing as being a pansy and a fop. In other words, I am sure that there were many instances when the kilt-wearers were exactly right. This is one of those times.
Re: the Wainscot Pastor Wilson, As one of those who reads your words at risk of disapproval, thank you for your faithful exposition of the God’s word. A question, if I may: I’m in the PCA and thinking about attending seminary but inclined toward the admission of children to the Lord’s Supper—do you have recommendations? If you would be willing to write about the options some time, I might not be the only one interested in reading your thoughts on the subject. Thanks!
NW, I am afraid that I am not in a position to rate seminaries based on their openness to child communion. The landscape consensus is pretty bleak that way, and openness to it is often a consequence of liberalism, not exegesis. So, if that stalls you out . . . here go.
A Brief Reply to Joel McDurmon: From Joel’s: “This is not to say eyes count for nothing. A man in a dress is a man in a dress; but this case is trying to draw those lines where they are not clear and God has not clearly spoken, ‘Thou shalt not.’” I don’t think God has said “thou shalt not wear a dress.” Joel is drawing that line all on his own, and he’s doing it by means of his eyes and judgement. Perhaps the question should be asked, “Is there an effeminate way to dress? Is there a masculine way to dress?” Obviously, based on this above comment, he believes that there is. So if there are two established end points, there’s a point in between there where one becomes the other. I hope it’s obvious to Joel that such a point isn’t right down at the end, just millimeters before the dress itself; if only because it’d be silly and baseless. Talk about drawing lines in the sand. Sounds like Joel just doesn’t like dresses.
Isaiah, thanks. I had some Facebook discussions about this which illustrated your point nicely.
More on Paige Patterson
“Paige Patterson at Colonus”—I waited to interact until a little more information had come to light, and thought I would share now that it has. There was a motion at the 2018 SBC to dismiss the entire executive committee of the trustee board for SWBTS; speaking in favor of the motion was actually a member of the full trustee board. Bart Barber, a very well respected pastor of a rural Texas church and member of the executive committee rose on a point of personal privilege, and explained how he personally came to the decision that Patterson should have been terminated. He did not speak for the whole board, only himself, so his reasons were not those of the press release, and it essentially came down to insubordination, as he revealed several facts that had not been made public. You can read the summary from the Baptist Standard here. Or you can watch the entire video of the debate here. (It is under “Wednesday Afternoon” and the entire video labeled “Previously Scheduled Business” concerns this matter)
Joshua, thanks for the additional information.
In response to your Calvinism 4.0. While we are spiritually dead, I never hear Calvinists bring up the soul. Are our souls dead too?
Matt, in Scripture death should be understood as separation, not cessation. In physical death, the soul is separated from the body. In spiritual death, the soul and body is separated from God. So yes, we have souls, and they are separated from God, and therefore in a state of spiritual death.
Where do you find the idea of the objectivity of the covenant? Did you get it from a particular Puritan writer? I’m not suggesting you’re not getting it from Scripture, I’m just curious as to what developed your thinking on this view of covenant theology.
Tim, the best place to see the objectivity of the covenant as a matter of historical theology would be in Peter Lillback’s The Binding of God.
Rethinking on Courtship?
So this question is not related to anything you’ve written recently. You were one of the guys who heavily promoted the courtship movement back in the 90s and 2000s. With Josh Harris now taking a step away from courtship, I am wondering where you stand on that subject today? Have you rethought any of your positions or changed your mind on anything? Does Her Hand in Marriage still accurately represent your views on how to go about getting married? (This is not a gotcha question—as a single man pushing 30, I am genuinely trying to work these things out myself.)
Andrew, yes, my views are still represented well in Her Hand in Marriage. I have made additional qualifications and clarifications since, which can be found here on my blog for the most part.
I am a fairly recent convert to the Post Millennial eschatological position by listening to you expound on the subject. Although I still have questions, thanks to you the Post Mill view makes the most biblical sense. My question is; how is the Post Mill view differentiated from the Kingdom Now or the Dominion Theology that is practiced by groups typically in the New Apostolic Reformation. I have struggled to get a clear delineation. Thank you in advance!
David, I know that there are optimillennialists in other quadrants of the church, but I simply don’t know enough about them to do a side-by-side comparison.
Trump Isn’t Going Away
As an avid consumer of the Plodcast I thought you’d be interested in this article by Victor Davis Hanson: https://www.hoover.org/research/hillarys-hamartia . . . As I’ve mentioned before I voted for Trump. I did so understanding he was somewhat of a travesty, but since that moment I’ve become much more comfortable with my decision. This article helps push me down the road a bit. Not so sure it will do the same for you, but I had to at least try.
TF, thanks for sharing.
“So when it was just a matter of personal ego, Paul was absolutely willing to let it go.” So are you saying that Paul was giving a pass to those who “preach Christ” as a matter of personal ego, even out of envy and strife? Paul did not in any way shape or form approve of such things, and in other places (like, the next chapter!) he spoke out explicitly against such behavior. Seems to me this verse is more a commentary on God’s sovereignty than some kind of tacit approval for such egomaniacs.
G (may I call you G?), I agree. Paul was not countenancing such sin. I am saying that so long as the envious preacher stayed orthodox, Paul didn’t let it get under his skin. You don’t charge someone at presbytery because you think that they are competing with you for the “best preacher” award. But you do say something when they veer off from preaching Christ—and which is something that can be shown and proven.
Mutterings Among the Outcast
“As it turns out, it is possible to look at the analytics, look at the stats, look at the trackers, and follow the adventures of a hot little something you said, studiously ignored in public, but obviously bounced all over tarnation in private.” I’d give a Klondike bar to see just one of those maps.
AR, as one who knows something about all the goings-on, I think you would be safe to raise your offer to three Klondike bars.
Take heart and be of strong courage. For if all the echelons of Corporate in Evangelicaldom Inc. HQ determine you are of too little significance to be responded to, er, what you say is of too yippy significance for them to actually provide a decent response, all the agitated onlookers on the other side of the embargo, Side ABC, must at least afford you this: you’re funny, man! I now unconsciously grin whenever the phrase “coventantal contraband” floats into my thoughts. Maybe that’s what makes you so alarming, what raises the threat level to DEFCON Q+: “Do Not Engage Under Any Circumstances.” This dog’s yip is so hilarious to listen to, people are magnetized at the ensuing chaos of the HOA trying to shut it up. “The Siren’s Yip” could explode YouTube. Lol.
Patrick, thanks very much. And at the risk of wrecking it, humor is one of the most serious things I do.
I’m curious about your perspective on the “separated families crisis” at the border. Can you write a blog post about it? Thanks!
Rachel, I hope to be able to do so. But frankly, it might be a dead issue by the time I get to it—the bloodhounds of the media are baying after absolutely anything that they think might bring down Trump, and this whole thing was simply one more manufactured screamer. So by the time I write about “separated families at the border,” the hot issue of the moment will be Trump’s ice cream selections, and my biblical analysis of “how best to detain the family units of illegals” will be yesterday’s newspaper.