Lewis the Mentor
Your recent article on privilege reminded me of some other words from Screwtape’s author: “When equality is treated not as a medicine or a safety-gadget but as an ideal we begin to breed that stunted and envious sort of mind which hates all superiority . . . Every intrusion of the spirit that says ‘I’m as good as you’ into our personal and spiritual life is to be resisted just as jealously as every intrusion of bureaucracy or privilege into our politics.” It appears you are in good company on this topic.
Daniel, so it would appear. But, truth be told, I learned a great deal of it from him. I am in good company because in many respects, on many topics, I am tagging along behind.
Making Grammar Exciting Again
Apropos of no particular post . . . Pastor Wilson, I have been following your writing since the early newsletter days of Credenda Agenda, have read most of your books, and was a member of a Phoenix CREC church before it folded a few years ago. All that to say, I value your wisdom on many fronts. I am a manager in a high tech company and believe there will come a time in the near future when I will be confronted with the LGBTQ juggernaut and put in a position where I must say “I refuse to comply” with the certain consequence of my 28-year-career at the company either severely threatened or coming to an end. I have many scenarios swirling in my head for how this might look, but let’s say it is something like a seminar for managers on how to promote being an ally of transgendered employees by promoting the use of their preferred pronouns. The responses that tick through my mental menu range from starting with a “by what standard” presuppositional argument that would likely go over the heads of most to a reductio ad absurdum that would certainly offend, but get the point across. How would you respond in such a scenario, where the seminar leader or high-level manager goes around the room asking for manager pledges to promote or use preferred pronouns as a matter of company policy? I’m not in search of a job-saving answer, but one that honors our Lord Jesus Christ as certainly as it guarantees my dismissal from a company I’ve honorably served for almost 30 years with a good reputation.
Jon, very sorry to hear your dilemma—shared, as I am sure you know, by many believers scattered throughout corporate America. It is very difficult to judge the ins and outs before they have arisen, but I think that the best approach would be a gracious but flat refusal to tinker with any pronouns, followed by meticulous record-keeping on what happens next. The battle is over who will be “ridiculous”—the one who is fired over a pronoun, or the one who fires over a pronoun. It is currently the former, but I am seeing signs that it may break the other way.
On Not Wasting Your White Privilege
Great article. I’m very grateful for how thoroughly you insist on running ideas through the grid of Scripture; it has developed a great deal of my thought and has made me aware of what the Book does and doesn’t say in many areas. I also want to mention what a blessing your (somewhat) recent sermon on The Resurrection of the Body was. I listened to it today at work and was very strengthened in the Lord. I pray for you that God would bless and protect you, and that he would keep you pastoring many people, steadfast until the end.
Dave, thanks so much for the prayers
Are you a bassist? ;)
Steven, no, although I have played a time or two. But if I were a bassist, I am afraid it wouldn’t be out of central casting.
I think about privilege too much, I’ll admit that. I think the reason is that we are bombarded by it. But I’ve considered that my greatest privilege is not my whiteness, but that I was raised by Christian parents in a Christian home and in a Bible-believing church. Things weren’t perfect, but much better than many other situations. It would be absurd of me to repent of this privilege. This privilege is a wonderful thing. Many others have it and I am happy for them. Many have more of the same type of privilege and I am happy for them. I wish everyone had this privilege. Sin should be repented of. Privilege should not be. Not this privilege nor any other. When I look into the Bible, the privilege that jumps out at me is Jewish privilege. There are many things that the Jews, the OT covenant people of God had to repent from, but being the covenant people of God was never one of them. If privilege was a bad thing, God would have said so. “What advantage has the Jew? . . . Much in every way.” Now it is not enough to be of the circumcision or to have Christian parents, but it is a great start. It is a privilege. Let the world be filled with the knowledge of God and extend that privilege to every child born. May God grant us to hate sin, not privilege. And may He grant we hate sin more than oppression, cancer or sadness. And I, for one, think John Piper would approve, though he would caution against the softness that white privilege may lead us toward.
Nathan, exactly right. What is the difference between “privilege” and “blessing”?
I just got back from Guatemala. We heard a young lady tell us her mother started selling her to men when she was four years old. I don’t think people who complain about “privilege” in this country truly understand what the word means.
Been gone awhile. Checked back for some stimulating reading and find this site has turned into Twitter.
Ken, perhaps I would be more bothered by the jibe if I knew what you were talking about.
The White Water of Affliction
Awesome picture! I sent this to our pastor and the rest of the deacon board to read. I did add the following, expanding one of your points a bit further “I would add that the white water he speaks of may slow or speed our course and may change our direction slightly, but will not change where the river ends!”
I have spent about ten years reading your blog regularly. I started reading it right after I was saved in 2008. This means that a lot of what you teach has become ingrained in my assumptions in such a way that I am routinely surprised to learn that most other Christians do not believe the same things. For instance, you teach that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, and that he therefore has authority over the public square. However, most Christians I know do not believe this. Most of the conservative Christians I know do not believe that our Christian faith should follow us into the voting booth. They do not believe that abortion should be outlawed, they do not believe that Christian bakers have the right to refuse service to a gay couple, etc. So my question is this: how do you defend the lordship of Christ among conservative Christians who already believe all the right things regarding the gospel, the sovereignty of God, etc.? It’s easy to proclaim the lordship of Christ to secularists and Muslims, since they are well accustomed to a worldview where their god has authority over every aspect of life. But where do you start with Christians who will grant all your religious convictions but still say that those convictions have no bearing in the political realm? The total and complete lordship of Christ is something that I have taken so much for granted that I don’t even know how to defend it among Christians who don’t believe in it. Thank you for your blogging ministry!
Andrew, the problem really is a puzzlement. I would ask them if Jesus is being tiny with regard to the world because He can’t be bigger, or if He doesn’t want to be bigger. If the former, what happened to His power. If the latter, what happened to His love? In fact, I would probably quietly assume it is the latter answer (because it probably is) and reduce the question in your conversations with them to why Jesus is so unloving? Leaving us here like this, etc.
How do we distinguish between appeasement and faithfulness under cover? If we know we’re not in position to be an Elijah (and are pretty sure we’re not a prophet of Ba’al), but want to make sure we are a lot more like Obadiah (in Kings) than Hananiah (in Jeremiah). I’m a chaplain in jail, and while we have a fair amount of freedom while conducting religious services, we have to be very judicious in how we interact with officers and staff, as well as inmates who have not requested religious services (or who have requested non-Christian religious services, which we have some hand in administrating access to) and the local church. As someone who ostensibly represents a broad sampling of the church to the jail (we are essentially locally-funded missionaries) and strives to connect inmates to churches of a similarly broad spectrum (let’s face it, most won’t be coming through CREC doors anytime soon, even if they could drive to get there), what are some broad principles you would commend for maintaining faithfulness in a position such as this?
Brian, it sounds like to me you have the right patterns in front of you, one to emulate and the other to avoid. Make sure you maintain your freedom to speak the truth to those you are ministering to, and that they don’t get to tell you to say something positively false to those you are not ministering to.
More Death Penalty Stuff
Sir, if I may follow up my previous question—I just listened to the recent discussion with Joel McDurmon on “Iron Sharpens Iron.” Fascinating, but further underscores in my mind the importance of the exaples of Hosea and David: Joel argued that the death penalty laws were absolute and gave no exception (arguing the example of the Kings was a “description” rather than a “prescription”). However, the words of God’s prophet to David the adulterer were “You shall not die,” and God’ command to Hosea was to go and love a woman “who is an adulteress.” These particular cases are decrees from God, not “descriptions” of what fallible people did. I thus find your observation inescapable that the OT death penalty laws could not have been absolute or without exception, even for the Old Testament saints. But I am still unclear about the OT principle behind this, and am very interested in better understanding it. Would appreciate any further thoughts or direction for study.
Daniel, correct. And the description of the kings I cited was a description that included the sacred historian telling us that they did right in the sight of the Lord. The principle, as I understand it, is that the law itself establishes the base line—it instructs us on the meaning of holiness. Penology is of course relevant, but if we see variations in Scripture, we are allowed to take instruction from those variations. Which is why I say that there are circumstances where death could be an appropriate penalty for adultery, but would resist any attempt to make such a penalty mandatory.
More on the Gifts
In the last letter of the March 6th mailbag, you responded to a reader who asked you to address New Apostolic Reformation / Prophecy. You mentioned you wanted to write something more on that. I’d like to ask a few related questions, particularly about prophecy and the idea of listening for God’s voice. How would you assess and describe these situations? 1. You pray the psalm—search me, O God and know my heart . . . see if there be any wicked way in me. After you pray, you sense conviction over sin that wasn’t previously there. Have you ‘heard God speak to you?’ (since the content of the conviction isn’t in the text?) 2. You are going about your daily business and suddenly you sense a strong burden to pray for someone. 3. Similarly, you are out and about, going about your daily business, and suddenly you have a strong sense that you should go share the gospel with someone you see. (Is it ok to say, that you sensed God wanted you to go share? How about ‘I sense God spoke to me’) 4. One more. You are going about your day, and in a moment of quiet, you are overwhelmed with gratitude for God’s grace in making you His child. On the basis of Romans 8:16, is it ok to say that God spoke (testified) with your spirit that you are his child? I teach in Asia. There are several people I value that value ‘listening prayer.’ The argument is that if God can convict us, burden us in prayer, nudge us to go witness, why shouldn’t we be more open to his leadings? But, in almost all cases, this then bleeds in to ‘God spoke to me’ and a belief in prophecy (a la Wayne Grudem, NT is different than OT), that comes out as “I sensed the Lord is saying (implicit – I may be wrong, so you need to discern).” These are not people off the charts, ignoring God’s Word, although I worry that it will open to the door to devaluing the Word in favor of what is ‘fresh.’ But to be charitable and put the best face on it. Could you believe in the sufficiency of Scripture, that it is all you need for life and salvation, and yet be open to God ‘speaking’ into your life like the instances above—or by extension about other things as well? I’d really appreciate your thoughts. Peace,
Andrew, this will just begin to touch on it, and I know that I really do need to develop it more. Of course I believe that modern believers can be led by the Spirit, in just the kind of scenarios you describe—a timely sense of burden, answered prayers, etc. I appeal to two things: first a distinction I learned from Charles Hodge, the difference between revelation and inspiration. I can feel that God gave me a burden for someone (and be right about that), and yet believe that I have no guarantee of protection if I tried to reduce that burden to a proposition (which would amount to inspiration). I have no guarantee of inspiration, which I why I am very chary of sentences that begin with “God told me.” And I have real trouble with Grudem’s approach, which would make New Testament prophecy into a downgrade version.
The second distinction is this. Although I am a cessationist, unlike many other cessationist, I do not believe we live in a mechanistic cosmos, grinding away. In other words, without resorting to supernatural anything, there are dogs that know when their owners are coming home, and I don’t have to assert that they are prophets. There are caterpillars that turn into creatures that know the way to Mexico, and that they must go there. They are not on a mission from God, although in a way they kind of are.
Perhaps This Will Make Sense to You
Regarding the problems people are having with your site’s rendering: This occurs in webkit-based Linux browser Epiphany, too, as well as Firefox 59. The problem seems to be the following div, and the other divs like it (at least starting at soliloquy-item-2): #soliloquy-109084 > li.soliloquy-item.soliloquy-item-6.soliloquy-id-115962.soliloquy-image-slide These are rendering at 1920×1920, or 960×960, or whatever the window width is, causing the rest of the page content to be pushed below each of these six or seven (invisble) divs/links/images that are each as tall as the page is wide. These items are things like links to Mablog Shop, CrossPolitic, etc. I’m too lazy to look at your CSS for you, but anyway this should be enough information to fix it, or to find a doulos who’ll do it for you. Hope that helps.
Mike, thanks very much.