In the month of November, recall, it is imperative that I write slashing and critical prose, and that I do so without qualification. This is a standard I believe all of us (by this point) have more or less internalized. Call a spade a spade, and do so without bringing shovels or hand trowels into it.
But there is another necessary November task, analogous to the first, which must also be undertaken without any awkward shuffling of the feet. I bring this up because this week the good folks at Canon+ released a documentary featuring moi, as Miss Piggy would have it, and the title for this doc is How to Save the World. The subtitle is In Eleven *Simple Steps, and with an asterisk next to *Simple that explains how simple and easy are not to be treated as synonyms. This second November task is one commended by Boethius, when he noted that from time to time it is necessary for one to toot one’s own horn. I will get to that shortly. After that, I will also get to the importance of this documentary. Give me a minute.
Some hostile critics took the name of this documentary as a fine display of megalomania. And I am not going to explain to them how it is not megalomania, for that would be to explain to them. I will, however, venture to say that people who cannot define marriage, sex, gender, sex organ, boys, girls, men, or women are certainly not to be trusted with terms like megalomania. That is because they are trying to get control of all the psych wards so that they can put sane people there, and I really don’t think we should give them the keys.
Think about it. Someone who submits to the created order as a fixed given, assigned to us by our Creator God, is thought to a megalomaniac, while someone else who treats creation as their own personal Etch-a-Sketch, one that they can turn upside down and shake in order to redraw everything, is described for us as humble and unassuming.
Getting the Balance Beam Out of Your Eye
Sometimes the ball lands on the line, you know, and you have to make a judgment call.
“Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.”
Proverbs 26:4–5 (KJV)
So which is it? The answer is both, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes a fool needs to be taken down, and when that moment arrives, it is somebody’s duty to take him down. Other times it is not possible to take him down without descending to that dismal level yourself. When you get down into the mud to wrestle with the pig you are wasting your time, friend. You get all muddy, and the pig likes it. So what you need to do is apply v. 5 in November, and wreath your prose with sweetness and light the rest of year.
Here’s another set of juxtaposed verses:
“Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; A stranger, and not thine own lips.”
Proverbs 27:2 (KJV)
Taken alone, this would seem to be an injunction against tooting your own horn. But is there room in Scripture for a judicious “I totally warned you guys about this . . .”? There most certainly is.
“But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss.”
Acts 27:21 (KJV)
So . . . Toldja
Over the last several years we have seen that our ruling elites have somehow come to believe that Thelma and Louise had a happy ending, and they are driving accordingly. And a lot of Christians have just realized that we are now airborne, but it has to be said that we have been on this particular road for a very long time. We have been going 80 mph for a long time, it has been night for a long time, and the bridge has been out for a long time. And this is an inexorable law—you always wind up where you have been going all along.
So below please find a small clutch of quotations that indicated my efforts over the years to warn the people about what was coming.
“If those who hate the Word of God can succeed in getting Christians to be embarrassed by any portion of the Word of God, then that portion will continually be employed as a battering ram against the godly principles that are currently under attack. In our day, three of the principal issues are abortion, feminism, and sodomy. If we respond to the ’embarrassing parts’ of Scripture by saying, ‘That was then, this is now,’ we will quickly discover that liberals can play that game even more effectively than embarrassed conservatives. Paul prohibited eldership to women? That was then, this is now. Moses condemned sodomy? That was then, this is now.“
Southern Slavery as It Was, p. 11 (1996)
“I will tell you what I think it is, in all honesty. My offense is that I saw the beast slouching toward Bethlehem a few decades before others did. That is my crime. The onset of our current cultural frenzy did not begin when the Beatles came to America. It began with Rousseau, and the French Revolution, and those seeds of secular totalitarianism.”
“All the deterioration we see today came from somewhere. It grew out of the public schools of thirty, forty, fifty, and a hundred years ago, and we are privileged to witness the breakdown of another god that failed. It is important to remember that the messianic expectations did not begin ten years ago, but more than a hundred years ago.”
“The tyrant may actually be engaged in trying to murder all the people, but as long as he bows and scrapes in front of the Temple of Democracy, his position is secure.”
There are plenty more I could assemble, and those who have followed this ministry for any length of time can testify that on certain themes, I have been Johnny-One-Note. I have been harping on this for multiple decades. We shouldn’t have sailed from Crete, people.
I Have Married a Wife, I Have Bought Me a Cow
Does this remind you of the tombstone that read, “I said I was sick, but did anybody listen?” It shouldn’t because that would be maudlin and self-absorbed. None of that. I once put it this way—”I am a pastor, and I watch people make bad choices for a living.” The trick is to be callused and tender at the same time.
The reasons for not heeding my warnings have been many and varied. And when the sky was blue and the grass was green, the reasoning that went into the excuses could seem pretty reasonable. The birds were chirping, after all. But now that we are up in that blue sky, along with Thelma and Louise, the warnings have started to take on the color of greater plausibility. Some of our academic brethren in the back seat have allowed that the issues I have raised may be worthy of further discussion.
The excuses, as I say, were many and varied. “We don’t believe that your tone is winsome.” “The ministry out there is legalistic and theonomic.” “I don’t want to listen to the guys in Moscow because they are antinomian.” “Sounds FV.” “Wilson enables pedophiles.” “When I read what he writes, sometimes I snort and laugh, my wife shoots me a warning glance, and then I feel guilty.” “I saw some memes once that had scary quotes on them in big block letters over top of a black and white picture.” “Don’t forget how he talks about slavery by quoting the Bible.” “Wilson is against women voting, and would have opposed the 19th amendment.” “We would rather write about Benedict options in the abstract than acknowledge those who exercise their option in the concrete.”
We have heard pretty much everything. Apparently I am buying up all of downtown Moscow—but the only thing downtown that I actually own is my truck, and that is only parked downtown during the day. But the best cautionary admonition we ever heard was the warning that said people shouldn’t join our “cult” because we make everyone make their own toothbrushes.
If you want to look up our group in a dictionary of cults, it is called Presbyterian. The kind that believes the Bible, not the other kind. Not the Lesbyterians.
This whole approach has depended on a mode of argumentation that resembles throwing a platter of spaghetti against the wall, and thinking that if more than two of the noodles stick, you have a right to declare your accusations entirely vindicated.
So before the great unraveling of the last few years came upon us, the reasons and excuses all served their purpose. They provided a sane and respectable and balanced and winsome and proportioned and engaging and pleasant set of excuses for kicking the can of hard consequences down the road of an eventual final reckoning. And Hezekiah said, “very good—there will be peace and truth in my time at least” (Is. 39:8). And incidentally, by “final reckoning” I am referring to the kind of day when the ravens of the air gather to feast on the flesh of kings and great generals. It’s all fun and games until the ravens start circling.
“Then said Zebul unto him, where is now thy mouth . . .”
Judges 9:38 (KJV)
So here’s something else I said upon a time:
“In these times, let us remember the stages that our evangelical leaders have brought us through: 1. There will not be any need to fight. 2. There may come a time when it necessary to fight. 3. It is too early to fight. 4. It is too late to fight. This is a post-Christian era.”Me on Twitter last year
So Back to the Documentary
So earlier this year I released a little book entitled Gashmu Saith It. The subtitle for that one was “How to Build Christian Communities that Save the World.” And one of the things you do to help save the world—if one critic within my family is to be believed—is that you don’t give your books any inside baseball titles like that. Gashmu saith it? That arch little title came from the episode in Nehemiah 6 where Sanballat and Tobiah and Geshem were trying to juke Nehemiah into coming down to meet with them—”but they thought to do me mischief” (v. 2). Nehemiah refused to go four times, and so the fifth time Sanballat sent a servant with a letter that ominously warned, among other things, that “it is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews think to rebel . . .” (v. 6). Whoa. Gashmu saith it. Sanballat was bringing in the heavy artillery. This Gashmu was apparently quite an important personage . . . now utterly lost in the thickets of unrecorded history, in the deep ravine next to the highway, down there with the beer cans and bent bicycle tires. We all know who Nehemiah is, but who the heck is Gashmu?
And yet . . . and yet . . . how many modern Christians scramble obediently back to their assigned places at the mere hint that somebody might bring in one of modern Gashmus? When Sanballat says c’mere these days, our modern Nehemiahs hop to.
“Shame the city wall didn’t get built in time. Shame everything fell into disrepair again. We could have had this whole thing done if those Moscow guys working over by the Fish Gate hadn’t been using satire. Yeah, they got their part of the wall done, but we were pretty discouraged after they hurt our feelings so bad. ”
Okay, back on track. However clever it might have been, Gashmu Saith It as a title did not communicate to the world what we wanted to communicate. So this documentary is entitled How to Save the World (In Eleven *Simple Steps), and the doc is a companion to the book. And whatever else this new title does, it does not make anyone scratch their head and say “who is Gashmu?”
We know of course that Christ is the Savior of the world (John 3:17). His earthly body was sacrificed on the cross so that, once raised, He could ascend into Heaven, and pour out His Spirit on His body (in another sense), a body that still remains on earth—the Christian church. This Christian church is assigned the role of saving the world. That is why we are not whisked off to Heaven as soon as we are saved. We are the hands and feet of Christ in the world. We can do nothing apart from His Spirit, but if we are empowered by His Spirit, we can do the impossible. The words of the Great Commission are explicit, which means the impossible is our assignment.
But in order to do this as the church, we must first learn that church is not a club for those with mild theological interests, a respectable club that meets on Sundays for an hour or so. We are tasked with building churches that are at the very center of intentional communities. And this book, and this documentary, are about how to do that.
Edmund Burke once emphasized the importance of what he called the “little platoons.” The secularists want us all to function as atomistic individuals. Think of each individual as a BB, and then all the BBs are dumped into a sack. There is no structural rigidity there. Then they bring in things like porn and pot in order to grease all the BBs. Then they make divorce easy. Then they say slaughtering your children is a constitutional right. Then somebody with important letters after their name argues that plentiful orgasms should be included in the Bill of Rights. Talk about a population easily manipulated. Lotus eaters don’t build great republics, and they pose no threat to tyrants.
But when worship of Almighty God takes its rightful place at the center, true community starts to form around that. And true community starts to create a molecular structure, with molecular firmness. As the community grows, complex molecules start to form, and this exasperates the statists—because they can’t control it. Free men and free women live in real communities, and they don’t thrive anywhere else.
This is not an academic issue for us. We have been laboring at building the kind of community we currently enjoy for decades now. It is up and running, and thriving. We heeded our own warnings back in the day, which is why we have a jump on it. This documentary talks about the ingredients of such community, and the necessary prerequisites. Don’t be discouraged because we have been at it for decades. You might think that you don’t have time to do anything now. It is true that you would have had more time had you not sailed from Crete, but you still do have some time.
But suppose you continue to keep a high priority on not getting tarred with an unwanted association with Moscow. What if two of your elders found out that you watched that documentary? Crazy times, right?
Rather you should just suppose in a way that does a little basic math. If you do nothing for the next year, by this time next year, you will have one year less than you do right now. So think. You can watch this thing for free on Canon+, and see below. No excuses, man.
More NQN Stuff
A big part of what we do here in November is that we give stuff away. As in for free. This helps offset the impression that our refusal to qualify assertions during November proceeds from a churlish heart. Rather it comes from a heart brimming over with generosity and open-handedness.
So at the bottom of every NQN post, look for the current offers, whatever they might this week. Please note that these are different from Weeks One, Two and Three.
I want to exhort you to take advantage of these giveaways. We have already busted all previous records for free books going out the door—numbering in the tens of thousands, actually—and it would be really fun to lap ourselves a few more times.
1. This week’s links to free Kindles include THREE free books, not just two. The first is The Lord’s Service, which is a great explanation of covenant renewal worship. The second is my book on building Christian community. It is called Gashmu Saith It, and the documentary that drops this week is a companion to this book. The third book is The Case for Classical Christian Education, in case you were wondering about this key element in our program. These are all Amazon affiliate links.
2. Also November, anyone can get one free month of Canon+ using the code NQNQ. This only works for new subscribers—sorry, it doesn’t work for existing or annual subscriptions. If you do this, you will be able to watch my new documentary over Thanksgiving, and to do so for free. The name of the doc is “How to Save the World (in Eleven *Simple Steps).” That would be simple steps, not easy steps. Critics should be sure to watch it in order to confirm their suspicions about the apparent megalomania of the title, but which will turn out to be a dud. Since disappointing my critics has become something of a hobby of mine, I do encourage critics to take advantage of this free offer.
3. And this November, current subscribers can give a year’s subscription of Canon+ for just fifty bucks—$49.99 instead of $95.88. That way you can get that pastor, friend, or enemy the Canon+ content they’ve been so wishing for.
4. And in addition to all of that, from my quaint little Mablog Shoppe, over the course of this coming week (Nov. 21-25), you may obtain my collection of tweets that I have sent aforetime out into the void. That book is called No Artificial Tweeteners, and is free below.
No Artificial Tweeteners
Okay, so I do tweet things from time to time. And over time, they accumulated, so when they got to the depth where I thought I should shovel the sidewalk, it also occurred to me that if they were all put into a book, it might make a book. And if it were refrigerated, to stay with the metaphor, it wouldn’t melt.