Define Your Terms, Man
How would you define “your people”? Kinists want to define their people based on skin tone. They tend to use the verses you cited to support the idea that skin tone based racial categories must be preserved. This is obviously not what Scripture is teaching in the verses you cite. Also just because Scripture refers to nations doesn’t mean God is teaching we must preserve them in the form they currently are in. For example, at the time the New Testament was written Rome was a nation but was also an empire. Paul could be both an ethnic Jew and a citizen of Rome. He even used the benefits of Roman citizenship. However, it doesn’t appear he identified Rome as his people. This fact presents an issue with trying to apply honoring our parents to political boundaries. In our time and place the reality of how mixed we all are ethnically makes it difficult to apply honor father and mother to any ethnic category. On the issue of God’s command to disciple the nations, the context and point of the word nations seems to mean the world. It seems to be twisting the point of the Scripture that commands us to go out to all the world, meaning every nation, by claiming it means we need to identify our people for patriotism so we can apply the 5th commandment to whichever group we choose to identify as our people.
JSM, I would describe peoples, not define them. The problem with a apriori “definitions” is that the families of men are arranged differently. The Japanese are ethnically tight, and the Americans are a mutt. But every group to which a member of that group owes loyalty and respect is formed by covenant. To try to organize things by skin tone is simply absurd—like cataloging all the books in your library by color. All the blue books in this aisle, all the red ones here, and all the green ones over there. At the same time, libraries do contain sets, and they are all the same color.
Hello…. what happened to this link?
There is nothing there anymore! Thanks.
Robert, your question is most reasonable. We are looking into it. It is probably gremlins.
Eschatology Gets Into Everything
I recently heard you mention your final catechism question and answer that you ask your grandkids every week: What’s the Bible ultimately getting at Kill the dragon and get the girl. I love the way that communicates deeply the eschatological goal of history in a way that is evocative, concise, and simple enough for a child, profound enough for an adult. Just curious, do you have any resources other than children’s books that specifically adorn that statement?
Jim, try to track down Gentry’s The Greatness of the Great Commission.
Let’s Talk About Education for a Bit
In light of Arizona’s bill opening a voucher to all gov’t school students potentially getting passage—any thoughts on a God-honoring and founding-principles-protecting way new schools may possibly use this Robinhood tax money that follows each student? Looks like the only state reqs for receiving the funds are to hold some kind of standardized test each year—and report aggregate scores only to parents, not the state. So, the state is not involved in the current form of the bill. Can an anti-state-support private school budget accordingly to use this money for good things that are expendable, and have a plan to operate without it should it ever get yanked away—in good conscience before God?
DR, I would count on it getting yanked away. This is not being done to help out private education; it is being done to get some hooks into private education before it is too late for them. So the rules will change at some point. And if you think you have a plan to “disengage” when that happens, there will be financial pressures when the time comes not to do so—does your plan include layoffs? I can live with tuition tax credits, where parents keep their own money. But all vouchers are a trap.
With all these parents suddenly thrust into homeschooling, it seems there is not much that prepared them for it other than having been a student at some point. What resources would you recommend to either get parents prepared or get them up to speed if they are already doing it.
Russel, I would tell them to read, read, read. And then I would tell them to find a diligent group of like-minded parents in their area, and start hanging out with them. Classical Conversations would be a good place to start.
Would you care to comment on the recent Wayne Grudem posted on Desiring God?
Jason, sure. I read his article, and was (surprise!) unpersuaded. The flexibility required to make room for an old earth is a flexibility that also makes room for the blood kinship between Adam and other critters. And it does not matter whether Grudem affirms that, what matters is that his method and approach make room for it.
I’ve come to believe that the body of Christ is the new Israel—Israel died and was resurrected as one new man, Jew and Gentile—but how do we reconcile this with Paul calling Israel “God’s people” in Romans 11:1?
Jonty, Paul toggles back and forth between two uses of Israel. There is the old Israel, who had the promises, and there is the new Israel, who had the fulfillment. The old Israel still has a place in God’s economy, as Paul argues later in chapter 11. They will be grafted back into the olive tree, and take to it more readily than the wild olive stock had done.
Regarding an old post entitled “Your Sleep Will Be Sweet.” I searched up this post last week as I struggled with an inability to calm my mind and sleep. Thanks for this short piece that I think really gets to the heart of the issues that I have had/am having with falling asleep. The “letting go” that you mention is what I’m struggling with. Worries can keep me from sleeping, and then I add to that more worry about not being able to fall asleep which perpetuates the problem the next night. I confess this sin and attempt to avert my mind to other things, but it seems fruitless much of the time. My mind returns to the worry about sleep over and over again like a dog returns to it’s vomit.
I do see God at work as I confess this sin and attempt to be faithfully obedient in all areas of my life, yet I still struggle with how to truly and completely let go and rest my often overactive mind. To turn it off/down when it needs to be. In years past I have often thought of how much you and your family have on your plate and how trying some of those things are. I have often wondered how your mind is not constantly racing, including when you lie down. I am working on the practical suggestions you provide in the post, but wonder if you have any suggestions on how to completely and permanently let go of worry. Thanks for your hard work, my family’s life is impacted hugely by yours!
John, this is a huge subject, but I would start by fighting anxiety and worry in the daylight hours, when it has nothing to do with sleeping. Get victory there, and then move on.
The Case Against Western Civ
Uou and James Jordan appear to get along well and share a vision for the church despite any theological differences. I recently read his series of essays by the heading, “The Case Against Western Civilization (Parts 1-7).” Having just read some of your books on these topics (Angels in the Architecture and Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning), I was struck by how differently it seems you and Jordan view “western civilization,” especially as it pertains to cultural and educational retrieval. If you’ve read these essays, I’d be curious to know how you would respond to his arguments.
Caleb, yes, we do differ on this. I have interacted with him a bit in the past, but I am not quite sure where. There may be something in my book The Case for Classical Christian Education. My basic argument is that when God grafted wild olive branches onto the tree of the Abrahamic covenant, it was because He wanted weird things to happen, which they promptly did.
Is there any difference between the Christian worldview and the Worldview of Classical Liberalism present in the founding of USA? Could we mix the two? or ‘christianize’ C. Liberalism? What is our position as protestants to C. liberalism? Are this two worldviews compatible? what could be said about the thesis of Patrick Deneen in his book Why liberalism failed?.
Juan, my view is that classical liberalism functions as a subset of the Christian worldview. It eventually collapses as a stand-alone worldview by itself. It is not big enough to contain Christianity, but Christianity can certainly contain it.
The Liberty Catechism
I like this liberty catechism, but there are a few items I offer as hopefully constructive criticism: Since 32 clarifies what is meant by the right of property, I think perhaps it is best for 29’s answer to be the classic “pursuit of happiness”, and for 32 to clarify in its answer that the pursuit of happiness means property rights
When the two concepts of rights are explained in 38-40 I would try and find a graceful way to work in their names of positive and negative liberties, to equip the reader to follow that breadcrumb.
Ian, thank you.
As a principle, I really like the idea of the liberty catechism and I think you are off to a fantastic start. This is something that I would use in my home school. Since you are in the tweaking stage, I hope someone will propose an amendment to #23. On my first listen, the term “helter-skelter” seemed to grate at me, not for its meaning but for its out-of-place-ness. I let it be for a few days and returned again to see if I still felt the same way. I do. While it may appropriately convey your meaning, it may convey it a little too personally. When I imagine children memorizing and repeating the catechism (as they should), I expect it to be a little more generic in voice while remaining precise. That said, I am wholly unqualified to recommend a suggestion, just merely a suggestion that an equally effective phrase be found.
Steph, let me put it this way. I think you are correct.
“45. Do a Christian people have the right to resist tyranny directly themselves? In an extremity, yes. But we are Christians, not anarchists, and we should seek to locate our resistance under the authority of lesser magistrates whenever possible.”
Consider the scenario where one magistrate says, “For your good and the benefit of society, you can’t sing Psalms in public, and any attempt to do so will cause your arrest and incarceration,” and Christians resist by a) assembling in public and singing Psalms anyway, and b) doing so by grounding our resistance to a higher magistrate, namely, the Constitution and the First Amendment codified therein.
Government might say, “Your basis for grounding is illegitimate; courts have decided that we have the authority to do as we have, and you do not have the authority to interpret or apply the Constitution outside the scope of judicially approved rulings.”
What then? I guess my question is, instead of lesser magistrates, I think we actually have the highest “human” magistrate possible in the form of the Constitution, except what to do when lesser entities say otherwise?
grh, yes, but we do have an answer for their specially anointed interpreters. The reason for a written Constitution in the first place was so that all literate citizens could band together and keep an eye on the lawyers.
LOVE your Liberty Catechism. Its just what we need to advance our understanding of our national, covenantal relationship with God.
I have one year of teaching a 12th grade biblically-based course on government and economics. So I have just enough knowledge on this topic to be dangerous. With that understanding, I have some suggestions for the catechism that I offer at the link below. And a few explanatory comments that follow here.
One thing I noticed was that you did not use language explicitly covenantal language. Having been immersed in Dr. Gary North’s teachings on this, I feel compelled to offer some ideas on being more explicit on this. So I have.
But it is not just Dr. North that moves me this direction. Everywhere I turn, it seems I run into either R2K devotees, dispensationalists, and other evangelicals who seem to think that God has placed few (if any) obligations on how we run our government and shape the culture. And the language of the covenant is nowhere to be found in their vocabulary on this. So in addition to adding covenantal language, I also move up your language about obligations earlier in the catechism and tie it to your comments about rights.
This same rationale is why I took your answer to Question 46 and used it to replace your answer to Question 19. It seems to me the earlier we remind folks that God has laid out a plan for our civil government in Scripture the better.
I understand the focus on rogue agencies and the administrative state in Question 25, but thought the question and answer was better focused on all efforts to undermine biblical government throughout the three branches and at the state and local levels to.
On property rights, I thought it worthwhile to tie them to our delegated stewardship of God’s world.
On taxes, I agree with you on the 10% upper limit, but think applying the principles you are teaching here about the role of government also helps bring clarity to general and specific taxes that fund specific, unbiblical or unconstitutional spending. Also, I suggest that perhaps this question (33) might be moved up to follow Question 27.
On why these teachings seem to be such a novelty, I suggest it is important to note that “the leaders of the evangelical Reformed movement” have had some help in being false to Scripture and theology. While I agree we had a very Christian founding, the secularization of our political language and theory was already well underway by 1776 and 1788. I think this stating this helps, in addition to pointing to more modern evangelical Reformed movement, explain what has happened to our country over the last 250 years.
Finally, while I absolutely agree with the answer to Question 52, it seems to me ending the catechism on a more positive note about the path forward is a good thing. So, since I had an extra question available after combining Questions 19 and 46, I added such an ending.
Thank you again for this. We are already halfway through it in my home.
Bill, thanks for all the work.
A Sphere Sovereignty Primer
I want to say thank you for your ministry and books. I had an idea that I thought may be something you would be interested in, would you consider writing something short and digestible on sphere sovereignty? I thought something like C.S. Lewis’ Four Loves, but the Four Governments would be an awesome resource in these Statist times. The revelation that self government drives family government drives church government drives civil government is one that has opened my eyes to a lot.
Thank you again for you work. The Lord has used your work greatly to put some wind in my sails at growing in the Lord, pursuing a wife, marrying her, and starting the walk toward a godly household, and preparing what Christian education would look like.
Cody, thanks. Good idea.
The Holy Spirit’s Personal Assistants
What help is there for those trying to deal with the consequences of their sin after they have repented and been made right with God? I guess I’m thinking that yes, there are consequences to sin, and one of those consequences seems to be that there are those who, because they are fallen creatures too, adopt the attitude of “There are consequences to sin and I’m going to make sure you experience every last one of them,” and I think I am having trouble dealing with that…
RS, the only effective way to deal with these folks is to lean into the consequences they are trying to dish out. Say, “yes. What I did was very bad. Wicked, in fact.” Trying to argue with their self-appointed status as pay back artists only gives them more power.
Okay. Here Is a Question I Have Never Handled Before.
I am struggling on a issue I think needs to be addressed but am having troubles nailing down whether the people sinned or just have bad etiquette.
The individuals were visiting friends. The friends took the kids inside and the husband and wife found themselves swimming alone in the friends dugout. They decided this was a good time to have sex even though they ran the risk of being seen and were not in a place of real privacy. The friends do not know that this happened.
Is there places that are inappropriate to have sex with your spouse? Is something like this a sin or just unusual?
Any light on the issue would be helpful.
Steven, I would categorize this as a sin, but not a sexual sin. The sex part was lawful. The sin was the monstrously bad manners. If they had been discovered, what would their response have been? What would they have needed to apologize for? But because they were not discovered, they need only confess their foolishness to God, and resolve not to do anything like that again. It is a Golden Rule thing. Would they like their house guests to take their behavior in this as a general rule of what is acceptable?
The Darla Letters
Thank you so much for the Darla letters, they have been very helpful in thinking through matters of relationships as a young woman. I am a 23-year-old young woman who desperately wants to be married. There have been a few young men that I have been very interested in, but none that have ever been interested in me. I know that I struggle with introspection and am easily discouraged, and thus find myself often despairing over my deficiencies. I try to stay cheerful and hopeful, and to work on balancing self-improvement with focusing on Christ and not myself, but I find myself wondering if I am missing something, or if I just need to be told something like “honey, you just aren’t that pretty.” I’m growing weary of simply hearing “don’t worry, your time will come”.
Do you have any advice for young women in my situation, whose friends are all getting married and having babies, but find themselves without any suitors at all?
H, I would suggest two things to you. The first you already knew, and alluded to. Trust God, worship Him, walk in the Word, and so on. The second thing is that I would encourage you to travel a bit. Go to conferences. Branch out. Visit relatives, and stay over Sunday so you can visit their churches. Don’t chase anybody, but do show up.
In your latest Darla piece, you wrote “If you are forty and unmarried, is that situation to be preferred to being the wife of Bill? It is not just Bill v. John. It is also Bill v. ten years from now having yet another a glass of wine on your deck in the evening by yourself.” Why do we presume that unmarried people will be spending their evenings drinking wine and lounging around?
Might we lack a vision for what Christian women could be doing if they remain unmarried over the long run? Why do the mid-30s women in conservative Christian circles have a noticeable lack of accomplishments and skills under the belts? What exactly have they been doing for the past 1 5 years?
Andrew, I think you are missing the point. I am aware of the pastoral plight that many unmarried young women are in, and the fact that they are plenty accomplished does not address their problem. Vocational accomplishment does not fill the same need in a woman that it does in a man. So now picture her on the back deck, with her glass of wine, having spent a long day inventing things and getting patents. She is still lonesome.
Three Cheers for Dobbs
Monday morning film room: Let me count the players who did something amazing on the Dobbs play The Almighty gets all the glory that injustice is no longer “framed by statute”; we don’t need to smudge His victory by putting our grubby little hands all over it. Still, it’s great fun to run it back and see who He used to do what on the play. McConnell threw some vicious blocks, Trump got people free to score, the GOP, the voters, etc. etc.
But in regards to your comment that Roe was overruled because Trump kept his word, I’d say that’s true to a point. But, he could’ve done his level best to appoint justices and then they could’ve chickened out or changed their minds or just plain choked. I think Roe was overruled because the justices kept their word . . . they got the ball across the goal line.
Sports bar stool cheers,
Matt, agreed. They didn’t choke, and there was a clear opportunity to choke.. There was enormous pressure on them, and they held.
Nightmares and Kids
My wife just got off the phone with my son. He has been concerned about nightmares my grandaughter (9 yr) and her brothers (7 & 5) have been having. She asked him about family worship and he confessed to only spotty observations of prayers at bed and sometimes a bit of Bible. Alas, his father (that would be me) did not set as good an example as he should have. We were on and off with family worship, sometimes with the full Evening Prayer from the 1928 BCP, and sometimes from the Family Prayers section in the back of the 1928 BCP (we were attending an Anglican Church at the time). We now attend a PCA and he an ARP church. I went looking for recommendations in the Canon website for books on family worship that would be appropriate for his kids, but didn’t find anything I thought would fit the bill. Have you any recommendations for family worship materials for young families?
David, I think the strategy of filling their minds up with good things before bed is wise. For the ages of the kids you describe, I would recommend a Bible story book (say, Kevin DeYoung’s new one), and singing a few hymns and psalms before bed. Then dad should put his hand on their heads, and say a blessing.
Marrying a Divorced Woman
This isn’t in response to any particular post, but I’m seeking advice on divorce/remarriage which ends up being seeking advice on conscience.
I know you are on the sometimes divorce/sometimes remarriage side of the divorce/remarriage debate. I’ve never looked into it much, but have gravitated toward no divorce or remarriage due to what Jesus says. However, I recently ran into an old high school classmate that I’d like to pursue, but I found out she’s divorced. I don’t know enough about her situation yet, but at first glance it appears it may be an unbeliever leaving a believer like in 1 Cor 7. However, even in that passage it doesn’t explicitly say remarriage is permissible. Aren’t we in danger of reading remarriage into it?
So the conscience side of this is that I tend to have a sensitive conscience and have learned in recent years that my functioning ethic has been one of “holiness by avoidance”. When it comes to something like this issue which is not necessarily straight forward and where there is a more “liberal” side and a more “conservative” side I will automatically default to conservative because it seems safer. So in this case I’m not sure if I can go ahead with a clean conscience although I very much want to pursue her (and given my age a divorce scenario is much more likely than finding someone who’s never been married). I’m trying to be willing to do whatever I find the truth to be in the Word, but it sure is hard when a pretty lady comes along and I’m not getting any younger. But even then obedience is better than making an impulsive choice based on what I think will make me happy.
I know this is all from a distance and there are many variables that come into play, but looking for some advice.
Brad, right. You can’t change your theology because she’s cute. But you do need to change your theology, and that means reading and study. The reason you need to change your theology is that defaulting to the “stricter” view is not actually sticking close to the shore, and is the route to Pharisaism. Christ is the shore, not hard legalisms. Read, read, study, study, do it fast, and then pursue that girl.
A Hard Case
In reference to the “Respecting Husbands” YouTube video. My wife of over 18 years (we have 4 boys under the age of 14 together) has over the past year headed down the path of “deconstructing her faith.” I’d say she’s 3/4 to full blown woke at this point. She makes no clear stand on who Jesus is, what sin is, what repentance is, what heaven and hell might mean, etc. When we married she appeared to be a faithful follower of Jesus and we lined up pretty consistently across the board theologically. Her new “faith journey” has led to uncountable disagreements and daily friction. She has stopped talking with me about her financial, career and spiritual directions. She simply operates with me as little as possible. How do I faithfully serve and lead a woman who has no interest in associating with me and believes my role as such is actually wrong and abusive. I have been quiet and just basically go along to get along for a bit and speak up from time to time to keep things from getting “worse”. She believes if I do not support her career and life choices in and outside the home that I am being mean and abusive. Recently she has been excited about a career opportunity that I simply can’t get on board with and am not able to support because of financial limitations and the care of the children being sacrificed. So here’s the big question…HOW DO I SUPPORT AND LEAD SOMEONE WHOM I DISAGREE WITH SPIRITUALLY AND ACTUALLY BELIEVE IS MAKING DESTRUCTIVE DECISIONS IN OUR OUR MARRIAGE AND HOME. This is a wild ride and I want to be found faithful before God for caring for my wife nd children. Thanks in advance.
Richie, you can’t lead her in the day-to-day stuff, and you need to stop trying to. From what you describe, this can only end in one of two ways. Either you two get divorced, or she repents, down to the ground. You need to drive the situation to that decision point, but not by your manner of speaking with her. Every day, get alone with God and confess to Him the state of your family. You are the federal head of your home, and so tell God every day that your home is dysfunctional and messed up. Give it to Him to deal with. Then ask Him to bring everything to a head. Ask Him to bring it to the point where she must either leave or repent.