As one who works at the organization that built Solar Probe (and knows many of the good people who built it; yes it is audacious!), I very much liked your reference. And I do expect there will be some people who speak up about what happened in St Louis. We might not be the big and famous voices, but hopefully we will be faithful.
David, let’s hope so.
I appreciate your coverage of the Revoice conference, but do you know if anyone got in to report on what actually happened there? My understanding is that a person like you would not have been allowed to attend, so we won’t get to know all of what was said.
Ray, correct. My understanding is that people who had been vocal in opposition were uninvited, and not allowed to come. But I do know that there were some critical reporters there, and that information from that source should be coming out shortly. In addition, I understand that there are some official video now posted.
Well, “we” started with: “Our Balsa Wood Heat Shield.” Then “we” ended with: “They have built their heat shield out of reinforced balsa wood, and they have used tissue paper for the tiles, which they have lacquered on with pine sap. They are ready for the journey.” I like where “we” ended! ; – )
Jason, yes. Some of us didn’t like how it looked and got off.
Thank you. Sincerely.
Ed, you are most welcome.
Your latest piece on Revoice was excellent, but I want to take issue with your statement that, “Most of the church is normal. They are not sexually perverted.” I am a member of a PCA church, and I would submit that your analysis is correct only when it comes to the leadership of the church. Our pastors and elders are usually sexually normal, but inexcusably cowardly, just as you said. But I think your observation is extraordinarily wide of the mark when it comes to the actual members of the church. In my own church, many of our members toe the line in public, but once they are in private, they reveal their true hearts. We have many folks who pretend to be orthodox in the pews, but in their living rooms they have bragged about porn use (“it’s healthy for marriage”), abortion (“it’s a woman’s basic right”), and same sex relationships (“they’re a great form of sexual expression when life gets boring”). I do not believe this problem is isolated. It exists across the entire orthodox, conservative church. Even as a post-millennial, I have to admit that it appears that the majority of the people in our pews are wolves, and they are waiting for the opportunity to shed their sheepskins and devour the church. With all due respect, as you continue to treat these issues, I believe you are going to have to do better than, “Most of the church is normal. They are not sexually perverted.” I believe this is backwards: most of the church is sexually perverted. With that being said, I thank you for your faithful and consistent writing in these areas. It has been a lifeline of sanity. I hope that you will be able to address this issue of widespread apostasy-in-waiting as you continue to write on these subjects.
Drew, thanks for your perspective. I don’t doubt your experience, but it has not been the same as mine. Perhaps there are regional (as opposed to denominational) variations. That said, I don’t doubt there are places where “the people love to have it so.”
Susan Pevensie Lives!
Thank you for this! I had never quite resolved the question about Susan Pevensie and Narnia, but you have now closed the matter for me. Susan will be in Narnia . . .
Mary, you bet.
I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and emailed it to my family as my Dad read the Chronicles to us when we were wee kids. I agree that the inclusion of Emeth and the exclusion of Susan have always been frustrating for me. Particularly the inclusion of Emeth—which definitely deserves another post from you (what kind of pseudo-universalism was Lewis getting at?) One question for you: Is the Cair Paravel in Lewis’s heaven the same Cair Paravel “of the Four Thrones” that it was in the time of the White Witch and book #2? Because it seems that Cair Paravel of the Four Thrones eventually became Cair Paravel “of the One Throne” when Caspian, Rilian, etc. reigned on it. If Cair Paravel was Cair Paravel of the Four Thrones for only a short time in the shadow lands (with respect to all the years in between books 3 and 4), what makes you think that it would remain Cair Paravel of the Four Thrones for eternity in the ultra-real realm? I will say: “Once a Queen of Narnia, always a queen of Narnia” remains a convincing argument.
Daniel, I believe it remains Cair “of the four thrones” throughout, in the same way that men who were not David were able to sit on David’s throne. When the four children come back in Prince Caspian, even though their task is to put Caspian on the throne, they do so having resumed their former ranks. They do so as kings and queens.’
“There are two things that really bother evangelical friends of Narnia, and they both show up in The Last Battle. One of them is the presence of Emeth in Aslan’s country.” I disagree that it bothers “evangelicals.” It bothers a certain type of person who grew up in an inward-focused church community that see Christianity as the saving force rather than Christ himself. “What I would like to do here is address the troublesome absence of Susan from Aslan’s country. What does it mean?” It means she is not dead yet.
DB, right. That’s the same conclusion I came to in my article. She’s not dead yet. And amazingly, I came to this conclusion despite being the kind of evangelical that believes in salvation through inward-focus instead of through Christ. Just lucky, I guess.
What the Ornithologist Knows
What the Ornithologist Knows: You mention birds but don’t call females chicks or hens (succulent reference) in this article. All the work to set it up, and no payoff? Are you going to write a satirical book on “thought felonies?” I’m all for that. bête noire? Can we stay away from the French and go with German or a language more lovely in the ear? “Attraction is not impurity”—hello, Revoice? How many steps away from the devastation do we need to be to be far enough away from the potential? How close to the blast zone is too close? Again, AB may not have grown up with brothers, or have some general concept of “locker room” talk. The Danger Zone for guys is much earlier in the process than she realizes, by Glorious Design. If one recognizes these sins to be “devastating,” wouldn’t one encourage investing energy in the prevention of such sins? The Shy-er males require a few “encouraging signals” from females (aka flirtation). These things belong in group settings, as we’ve discussed previously and don’t include dudes holding doors open, offering a hand up or down steps, etc. Let’s get serious, what’s in bounds and what’s out of bounds? Yes, it’s different if you’re married, or not, or at the workplace, or at the grocery store or the State Fair or the town square. Affection is fine, in and of itself. But where are the guardrails against the devastation that has been foretold?
Ron, you seriously think German is more euphonic than French?
You are right as always, as my own personal experience attests. Too late, I saw how naive I had been in a “just friends” relationship with a Christian female. I was single, not attracted, too dumb to see her interpretation of the dinner date, blind-sided when, upon learning I had no romantic inclinations, she never spoke to me again. Open conversation drove the friendship. I saw a nice chat, she saw more. (If only we men had better social training.) Fast forward years ahead, my wife and I, enjoying supper with married friends. If the conversation is lively, driven by his wife and me, I feel comfortable so long as the quieter spouses also have lines, and the topic shifts to something less invigorating within an certain limit: a limit corresponding to roughly half my jealousy’s simmering point if it were lively banter between my wife and him. No need to be weird, just not naive.
Douglas, thanks. I am afraid that many have learned the hard way, as you did.
Really appreciate your going through Bird’s book like this. Extreme charity being offered.
Re: Stereotypical Manners Is there no balm in Gilead? Am I the only one who sees the fairly obvious puzzle piece that is missing from this endless conundrum? As a woman who has spent her life in the labyrinth of evangelical attempts to figure out what to do with godly, eager, and winsome women, I have personal stories that range from the awkward to the terrifying to the hilarious which support both Byrd’s and your positions, sometimes simultaneously. Why? Because we’re dealing with an unsolvable puzzle for which no rules, or lack thereof, are adequate. What we need is not a ratified code of interpersonal behaviors, but Humility. Particularly from men. At the end of your post, you are hitting the nail on the head. While women are weak in many ways that men by nature are less so, men have this particular weakness that women do not, at least not equivalently. We just are not as relentlessly and constantly beset by such an outrageously destructive temptation as men are in their sexuality. Many of us are frequently tempted by chocolate, by gossip, by self-focus. Dangerous, for sure, even damnable. But not the stuff by which illegitimate humans are created, and two souls become one. Not daily. Not several times a day. Not all day. Not usually. Wow, by your own admission, and as I’ve learned in marriage, probably the thing is not even really within our comprehension. So isn’t it amazing then that our feminine experience, and I believe I am concurring with what Ms. Byrd and many other women are trying to express, is that we are treated as if we are the problem? Hmmm. What do we call the unwashed man who treads through the kitchen where the lady’s baking bread every time he mucks out the barn to complain, “Why does it always stink in here?” (Some of us call that “marriage.” Ha ha) But really, what do you call it when someone with a self-destructive, addictive compulsion pretends someone else is their issue? An offensive description, to be sure. But is it unfair? Your tone is bold, as you honestly describe the battle with the devil over lust. But in the purview of history, have you not only begun to be honest? Are you really so very bold, or is honesty and humility in regards to male sexuality just that foreign in Christendom, you know, apart from condemnations of the pagans? Believe me, I am not looking for sordid, recurrent, articulated confessions, or a community of male consternation and approbation, as we see in the world these days. Nor am I asking to for women be treated like Beatrices, with errant imaginations of feminine virtue. I am just saying that what is called for is men who know themselves, because they know their God. Gospel men. Men who know their own sick hearts are what they are guarding against, not their sister in Christ. Men who call a spade a spade, and whose doctrine of utter depravity has beautifully apparent application in real-deal holyfield humility. These men would know, without a rulebook, how to treat women. By the Spirit. I know, “by the Spirit,” doesn’t count as an answer in evangelicalism these days. The Bible is so outdated. Esther was attended by eunuchs. Not because she was so vile, so stupid, so dangerous, but because she was so valuable. Of all the challenges she suffered in her story, I doubt this sexless boundary offended her. Women generally speaking respond very well to being treated with sacred honor and dignity, as highly valuable treasure to be guarded. (Seen any princess movies lately?) The principle in Esther is not that we should castrate the church’s men (which I believe you sense as the hidden threat lurking behind these initial measures that call for loosening borders between the sexes), but that men who have been dealt with honestly, both in the depths of their capacity and the profound value in the vault, are the safest and most trustworthy guards. And there is such a thing as trust. But it has to be gained in the context of honesty, which gospel people should interpret: brutal self-honesty. Humility would take this issue from being a chain of shame and lonely disappointment around the church’s loveliest necks, where it does not belong, and make it instead for women a dignified robe of protection and provision. As for the heavy burden of not-yet-fully-sanctified male sexuality, for which the men of God have all my empathy, support and encouragement (and I think I speak for many women), the gospel provides sufficient power and relief for those who actually Do and Must carry it—men. The battle must be fought, surely, but with these wishy-washy Christian cowardly deflections onto women, well, it’s no wonder this battle for purity is being lost by the evangelical church wholesale. The Pence rule is great, but what’s it going to do for the 65% of evangelical men who are watching porn? It’s like bickering over dress code in the Pennsylvania munitions plant instead of planning for D-Day. Why isn’t the main thing the main thing? There’s so much more to say, but I’ve already tried to fit too much into a little comment, so I’ll just return to my first question. Why isn’t all this obvious?
Suzanna, thanks for the sanctified and on-point rant. I confess that I find that your assessment of the undesirability of the rules/no rules option has certain attractions. So first, I agree with you that women ought not to be blamed for the men’s problems—always excepting Tiffany, who dresses like a sale at Penney’s, which is to say, 30 percent off. But second, and this is something I am going to be getting to in future installments of my review of Byrd’s book, I believe that when men are alone with men, talking about these things, there is a very accurate understanding of where the problems actually are. So communication across the sexes is difficult, not because the men are incapable of being honest with themselves, but because frank discussion would be socially disruptive. Men are often not fully honest with women because they don’t want the women to be angry with them, as they frequently would be. More on this to come.
Plodcast episode essential oils: Hey, I love so much of what you do, especially your family book series. I just listened to the Plodcast episode about essential oils, and I think you should redo it. I really agree with you that there is a big spiritual problem going on with essential oils. I think so many Christians treat them like magical cure all potions. But you sounded to me like you don’t know anything about essential oils. If I were a proponent of them I would easily disregard what you had to say because it didn’t seem like you were speaking to the claims people make about health benefits. If there are people out there selling forgiveness, it is much more self-evident that that is wrong (as a Christian). More dangerous I think is the worship of them for their supposed health benefits and mood modification. Please research this and speak to this problem, because I suspect your podcast seemed like you set up a straw man.
Amanda, not a straw man at all. Here is an example of an oil called Forgive.
Different Subject . . .
Random question. What do you think of John Piper writing additional verses to Great is Thy Faithfulness. The song is in the public domain. But in the spirit of the law, I tend to think of it as venturing into the area of artistic theft. Chris Tomlin is a perpetual offender in this area. What say ye?
Roger, there is a long history of this in the church, and I don’t have an objection if the additional verses are actually an improvement. But a lyricist should walk carefully if he is modifying a well-known and well-loved hymn.
I think Ken is right about the “Wives Leaving” article. #1 Your scenario did not give any biblically just grounds for her to leave. Hard man to live with? Maybe so, but such was also Jonathan Edwards according to Ms. Dodd. Man a hypocrite and tyrant? Ok, I can sympathize, but he did not want the marriage to end (“stay with unbelieving spouse if he wants you—maybe you will be the instrument God uses for his salvation”). #2 It does not matter that the witnesses might not be believed. If they were witnesses and willing to testify then this wife has a duty to supply the witnesses and attempt to seek justice (and if proven, sanctions for the husband). Just to run away is not appropriate. This might be hard for her but if things are as bad as you describe then it is doable and it is the check and balance to keep the “frivorces” from happening. #3 It would have been better to, instead of seemingly giving out blank checks for leaving, attack the reason why your scenario would have gotten to this stage in the first place. You say that the kids were grown (btw: quite convenient and makes the whole leaving much easier) which indicates that the marriage was one of quite a long time with the behavior old as well. So, why did this woman put up with this for so long? What did she not do that she could have done to bring the truth to light before now? Why did she not do this? (loss of reputation/status/income = pride? fear? etc.) How does a wife biblically point out sin in her husband’s life and still follow her admonitions of respectfulness and submission? I am not saying that she is at fault for his behavior, but if his behavior was so egregious then there would have been someone else that would have also been affected and know about it. It is unbelievable to say that no one else was affected or knew—therefore, the question remains: What do wives do in the very early stages to prevent the need to ever leave? How do they get help that either brings the husband to repentance or proves his hypocrisy? (though scripturally, even the pagan husband is not to be left without biblical cause) Why not educate and admonish women in how to biblically deal with the problem early (while still following all the other commands to wives), instead of to run from it later. In addition, I did appreciate your indication (though subtle) that should the husband repent of his behavior that then the wife should return to him. I expect that if you had not been so subtle about it then your cheerleaders for this pro-leaving stance might have been a little less than thrilled. However, it has been my real-world experience that after such a breech (leaving) has been initiated (esp. if children were also taken) that returning—even after proven true repentance—is harder than the initial leaving.
BJ, thanks for the feedback. Having the luxury of making the scenario up, I was able to be fully satisfied in my mind that for her relatives to welcome her were she to run would be an appropriate thing to do. But my whole point about the runaway slave law is that it can be appropriate to welcome someone who should not have left. That remains a possibility also. And one last thing. These letters are going to be collected in a miscellany about marriage, and there will be other letters that address the other possibilities. I really want to cover the waterfront, and there will be one that applies 1 Peter 3 and the hard reality that “despite the advice of everyone, you married him.”
What do you make of the role reversal between Matt. 19 and 1 Cor. 7. Jesus was asked about a husband divorcing his wife, and Paul addresses a wife departing from her husband. Is there any significance to this?
Ty, I think there is some significance because men and women are not interchangeable. But in the gospel of Mark, Jesus talks about a woman divorcing her husband. The curious thing there, which I need to develop further, is that when a man divorces his wife in an ungodly way, he is forcing her to be “adulterated.” When he divorces his wife that way, and marries another, he commits adultery. In Mark, when a wife divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery. But Scripture says nothing about the husband who was divorced.
Three random questions not connected to any particular post, but related to the Lord’s Supper. 1.) You used to post your homilies for the weekly Supper. Where can I find those now? Do you still post them anywhere? 2.) I know you use only wine in your services. What type of wine do you use? Any particular reason why? 3.) What advice would you give a minister who wants to shift his church from using grape juice to wine? Thanks,
BJ, our church recently called Toby Sumpter to serve as a minister with us, and he is currently doing the initial exhortation and homily with the Supper. He posts them at his blog. As we settle into our new rhythm and schedule, there will be times when I am doing the surrounding service, and I will post those pieces as I used to.
On the wine question, we use grocery store red wine, and with no particular theology associated with it. As you make the transition, I would urge you to go slowly, and to prep the congregation by teaching on it carefully beforehand.
Honest question time, not just here to make a statement that I hope gets posted publicly. I’m an elder at my church. We are a wee little gathering-50 or so regular attendees. We all know each other’s business, and we all interact as a tight-knit community. As a functioning community/family the full range of topics come up during conversation. My problem—as it’s been pointed out to me by several women—is that I take a stance on political issues rather than talk about how I “feel” about them. I say “my problem” because it has a way of causing problems, or rather hurt feelings. Now a family is leaving our congregation because of this. I’ve learned to stay away from condemning others for their opinion, blurting out that someone is wrong, or asserting that I have to be right. Heck, I don’t even have a FB page! I don’t stand on my Christian freedom to say whatever I want, but if someone solicits my opinion I’ll share it freely. And in doing so I usually project some sort of confidence in my opinion. Now before you lump me into that young Calvinist stone-throwing camp, I don’t think the label fits me. I’m very aware of God’s call on me to be gentle with the flock, to be forbearing with them, and to work with varying levels of sanctification (as well as plead with others to work with my low-level of sanctification). But if someone asks me my opinion about Trayvon Martin, Black Lives Matter, Bernie Sanders, the Clintons, the prison system, Trump, feminism etc. I’m happy to share my thoughts. I value a good debate: if you don’t agree with me show me where I’m wrong. But now a family is leaving our church because they disagree with me. If I wasn’t an elder they’d stay, but since I’m an elder they (obviously!) can’t sit under my authority. As one who has some unpopular political beliefs how have you experienced this same thing? How have you dealt with it? How would you recommend I deal with it? How do you seek to communicate truth no matter what realm it is in? From the pulpit, from your blog, in your books? What if you have a member that is a passionate liberal who wants to organize other church members to protest the Kavanaugh nomination (or some such other policy you agree with), would you confront them? I think that if it were a theological matter the family at my church disagreed with me about, they would be much more hesitant to leave. I think that because most members don’t want to get into a theological debate with their pastors, but when it comes to politics that’s open for disagreement because no one is an authority (besides whoever is the one doing the condemning of course . . .) Thoughts?
Tim, you don’t want a church community where topics like this are off-limits. We have to be able to talk about them. And we have to be able to bring reason to bear on them, and not just feelings. Rather than accept a situation of enforced silence, or an arena where feelings rule, it would be better for a family to leave the church. But with that said, there are some things for you to check. Pray to find someone who shares your views, who is open about them, and who doesn’t get into the kind of trouble you do. Ask them for pointers. Ask them to critique your manners. Learn how, when someone brings up a topic, to sound out how willing they are to hear you out before you say anything. “What do you think?” “Are you sure you want to know?” And last, make sure your congregation understands that the position of the session is represented by those things they have discussed and voted on, and not by what one member of the session may have said at the potluck.