Special Notice: The letters feature will probably be a little thin this morning. Few things are as important as attending to your letters, but going off to meet my latest grandchild, just lately arrived, is one of them.Show Outline with Links
Neglected Qualification: Thank you for this booklet. It has been a blessing to find men who are holding true to God’s Word. I have two questions regarding qualification of elders:
1) How would you treat works written by Christians that are acclaimed highly in Reformed circles who have had children who have turned from the faith? (I am thinking JC Ryle and Schaeffer, for example)
2) When I mentioned this at a men’s group, most seemed to interpret household as being in order not applying to children who have grown up and moved out. What would your response be to this?
Ian, thanks. Paul appears to attach the qualification to pastoral governance. If the author is now with the Lord, and the subject matter of the book is not something like “how to raise godly kids,” then I think the books can be read with caution and profit. As for the argument that it doesn’t apply to grown kids, keep in mind that someone could also say it doesn’t apply to little kids either, because the process is not “done.” But in that case, it would never apply. The question a session should ask is whether or not the current unbelief had anything to do with upbringing. And I believe it usually does.
I need some help with elder qualifications. Does having an unbelieving wife and children disqualify a person to be an elder? Also, what would be the case for an elder with a Buddhist son, who lives with them, and is dragged to church?
Please help with these questions. It seems clear to me that these are examples of where people are not qualified to be elders.
Werner, it seems clear to me also.
My Middle Name is James, So Jimmy Swagger?
My name is John, and I am writing you for 2 reasons. First, I want to say how grateful I am to God for your life. Growing up, I cut my teeth on the literature and commentary of the Omnibus curriculum you edited and I have been edified time and again by your articles, books, debates and videos in the years since. I have learned so much from you about boldly honoring Christ with our minds and witness in the world. As a high school Bible and Language Arts teacher, your approach to apologetics in particular comes through in my instruction at many points. Most importantly, you have modeled what it means to follow God’s Word as an expression of our trust in and communion with him. The Lord Jesus is our Captain and Friend, the one who’s commendation and consolation really counts. Thank you.
Second, I wanted to offer a comment and question: I am perplexed as to why you maintain such a high degree of public confidence and swagger on virtually every issue you address. It certainly seems intentional. Why do you think this demeanor is a helpful model for either your church or your wider audience?
John, thank you for the kind remarks. As for the confidence, I believe that Scripture requires it in Christian leaders. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (1 Pet. 4:11). As for the other part, I wouldn’t describe what you are pointing to as swagger. It might be mixed with other stuff that’s not good, but I try to keep a certain measure of self-deprecation in it. The thing I am trying to do is to take the truth seriously without taking myself seriously. Whether I succeed . . . that’s as may be.
I am a long time follower of your ministry, with much appreciation. In your Plodcast about winsomeness you point out that you wouldn’t trust people interpreting Galatians 5:13ff about love, kindness and not biting each other, unless they are prepared to also say things like 5:12 wishing certain people would “cut it all off”.
Good point! However, my impression is that Scripture reserves such taunts and insults (brood of vipers, etc) for a narrow sliver of people: legalistic or heretical religious leaders. (Although political leader, Herod is called a “fox”?).
Would it be right to limit such insults to this class of people?
Thanks, and God bless. Come to South Africa some time.
Pierre, you are correct. The scriptural examples of such language are overwhelmingly aimed at ungodly or hypocritical leaders.
The Printed Word
How did you and/or the church start a printing press? I find it fascinating all the material that Canon Press creates or prints and it has piqued my interest and has me thinking I should start one.
Daniel, it is a very long story, going back to the eighties when desktop publishing first came in. There are many good books on how to get started, and I will only say that the barrier to entry has never been lower. But it is still a lot of work though.
Do the Next Thing
The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.
Psalms 37:23-24 The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9
Good morning. I hope you are well. I have a ploductivity question for you.
From all outside appearances, you’re a man who makes grand and elaborate plans. I mean that in the best way possible.
Based on the two verses sited above, we know that God controls the outcome of all our plans. He providentially acts in the most minute details of our grandest plans.
My question is one of discernment. How do you discern that the plans or projects that you are currently working on are in conflict with God’s plan? By what means do you evaluate a book or video or whatever else you may be working on is ill-timed and needing to be put on the shelf for awhile or cancelled altogether. We only see finished product on the Canon app. There must be shiploads of projects that were put into dry dock.
Thank you and be blessed.
Vernon, you are correct. There are many sidelined or stalled projects. Sometimes it is just providential—God does it. Other times you just see that the time was not right, or that you didn’t have the money to do it right. But with that said, I would say the essential thing is that I don’t make big, elaborate plans, because they can be derailed by next Monday. Make big and ambitious goals. There is a difference.
Learn to Pray With a Guidebook
“There is a qualitative difference between whining and crying over a true need.” How does this apply to adults and commands in Scripture to “Do all things without murmurings and disputings”? (Philippians 2:14) It seems to me there are times when there is a real, legitimate, “complaint” that needs to be addressed, and then there is just me whining. But the problem I often run into is that *both* cases get lumped into the category of sinful complaining, and I am now confused as to which is which. I think it’s bad to indulge in sinful whining; I also think it’s bad to avoid bringing a real issue before God and others just because I’m afraid of being a complainer.
grh, this is why I think it is a great benefit to learn how to pray the psalms.
Subcultures and Church Selection
RE: so did Adam and Eve have to get remarried Dear Pastor Doug,
I think this is related to your interaction with Mattson’s critique regarding “natural relations.”
For my whole life, I have attended and served at minority ethnic/ethnic-American churches (my parents are Chinese immigrants). My question is about “Ethnic-American” churches. These are churches that are entirely English-speaking and otherwise theologically conservative, but the culture of the church is also undeniably (though unintentionally) Asian-American, to use my own example – everything from food preferences, to inside jokes, to educational values, etc. So, in my situation, some of my peers can’t wait to get out of the Chinese church. But others will go out of their way to find and attend an Asian-American church, even though there are closer non-Asian options.
Is it sinful or deficient to prefer a theologically sound ethnic-American church over a theologically sound white or multi-ethnic church simply because it is easier for one to get along with the culture? Is there a double standard here? What I mean is this: if an Asian person says that they prefer an Asian-American church, everyone understands. But if a white person says they prefer a white church . . . well, then that is white nationalism, etc. And yet, I wouldn’t blame a non-Asian person for saying my church was simply “too Asian” for them.
It seems to me that the way around this is to attend the church that is geographically closest to you and also theologically sound, regardless of its culture. But I would be interested to know your thoughts.
Tim, in my view it is not a sin in either direction. I think that the kingdom of God can do without our attempts at social engineering. Attend the church that best meets your family’s spiritual needs, and the cultural issues should be taken into account as a part of that. And you should feel free to take them into account in either direction.
An “After School Satan Club” was recently started in the government school district adjacent to my own. It is a voluntary afterschool club. This caused quite the kerfuffle, as you can imagine, among all the socials. It originally came to my mind that to protest such a club, or to attempt to get it banned from the school was a violation of freedom of religion, as the same school district allowed a “Good News Club” as an extracurricular group. I agree that it is bad thing, and is further reason to get all the Christian kids out of public schools. But this morning I listened to a podcast of yours which seemed to contradict this line of reason and now I am muddled in my thoughts. The episode was, “David French and the Chimerical Flibbertigibbet”. In which you seemed to say that French was wrong in his reasoning that “we should not protest drag queens in the library as a freedom of religion issue” because Bible clubs were not supported by drag queens or their philosophical idealist supporters. So now I am wondering if you have a word on this. It is a government school. The government should support free assembly, free speech, and free religious expression, and we should go along with that as long as it is truly free to all and not excluding some. Yes? I would think that Christians, in acting in accordance with their beliefs, would be unwilling to ask the government to exclude any voluntary religious group meeting. They came for the Jews and I said nothing..right? Is this not the same as supporting the secular conversion therapist that you speak of in a more recent post, the name evades me at the moment. My kids are not in the government schools, but I have many dear friends whose children are, and I want to think and speak clearly on this issue. Thank you,
Tina, the issue actually goes back further. I am opposed to Satan clubs in the government schools because the government schools are a Satan club. Our overarching goal should be to shut down the pretense of neutral education.
The Spirit and Governance
1 Samuel 16:14 where we’re told that “the Holy Spirit departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord troubled him.” God give Saul the Holy Spirit for a time and then took it away? This Scripture is often used as a gotcha against Calvinists to support the idea that someone could lose their salvation. What are we to learn from this passage?
Joel, the Spirit came upon Saul as a means of equipping him to govern. When the Spirit was removed, his governance mojo fell apart. David knew that his sin with Bathsheba deserved the same treatment from God, which is why he prayed “take not your Spirit from me.” He deserved to have his dynasty end. But this is not the same thing as salvation—because he also asks for the joy of his salvation to be restored.
Revolt at the End?
I am working my way through Eschatology and am currently looking for the preterist interpretation of Revelation 20:3. Do you hold that there will be a spiritual conflict of some proportions at the closing of the millennium? I apologize if you have answered this elsewhere on your website, but I was unable to find it. Thank you for your time and may God’s Blessings be granted you!
Tylor, yes, I lean that way. Not entirely settled, but I think that most likely.
Yes, the Answer is No
Wondering if you have any thoughts about whether a Christian can attend (or be in, for example as a best man) a same sex wedding. I imagine your answer is no, but I would love to hear your thoughts . Or if you have written about this, please direct me to the blog! I did search the blog but did not find anything specifically about that. I ask because someone I know will be have a same-sex ceremony soon, in a church, with Christian liturgy. And I’ll need to have conversations about this with both the parties directly involved, as well as family members who plan on attending, all of whom claim to be believers.
N, you are right that I would say no. The reason is that the ceremony is a celebration, and you cannot celebrate a sin. Suppose it was your brother-in-law, who ditched your sister for no good reason, and was marrying his secretary. And now suppose he asks you to celebrate with him.