A Trump Fail
Do Trump’s recent comments jive with smash mouth incrementalism? If so, how so?
AW, it depends on what you mean. If you are asking if Trump’s comments are representative of smash mouth incrementalism, the answer is that they most certainly were not. His comments were atrocious. He was attacking heartbeat bills for a different reason than abolitionists do, but he was doing the same thing. But if you are asking whether Trump, if elected, would be useful to principled smash mouthers, the answer is that he most certainly would be. He would appoint judges who would answer that question far better than he did.
Everything Is a Theological Crisis
I was wondering if read Peter Thiel’s recent essay in the New Criterion.
I would be curious to hear your thoughts on Thiel’s analysis of wokeness as a theological crisis.
Mike, I only had time to glance at the essay but I do agree with him that wokeness as theological crisis. Everything is a theological crisis, including the kind of conservatism that Thiel represents.
Thank you for your ministry, I appreciate it very much! I read your post on sexual baggage. I recently found out the girl I am just about to enter into courtship with is not a virgin. She grew up in a Christian home but had a 2-3 year of rebellion when she was about 16-18 in public high school and during that time she had a boyfriend whom she slept with. She has repented and she believes she has been born again after these incidents, and is now as far as I can see a true believer. She is soon to turn 20. I am a few years older and myself a virgin. We have been knowing each other for about 1,5 months and I have liked so much of what I have seen in us. We met through family so they are already a bit involved. And we are already both in the zone of vulnerability and I am just about to ask for her father’s blessing to enter into an official courtship. That’s why I the other day had to ask this question about virginity, and the answer has made extremely sad, it has brought me to tears many times. I am perplexed. Would you please comment upon this and the things a mention down below?
– Will this lower the quality of an eventual future marriage? (Ex. fear of comparison, fear that I will be more attached to her than she to me, and fear of not feeling like a leader.)
– The ex-boyfriend was not at all a believer, and have had multiple partners, but is still alive. What is Gods view on them today? Since they had intercourse?
– I really think I want to continue with her, but how to handle the immense pain?
– And how do I forgive her like God has forgiven her?
This is a long letter, but I really hope that you can answer it. Thank you beforehand.
Peace be with you.
Anon, given the circumstances as you describe them, let me address the center of the problem, and then move out. You care for her, and are wanting to protect her from her past—but only God can protect anyone from their past. Only God can forgive sin, but He really does forgive sin. This leads to the next point. If you persist in trying to protect her from her past, instead of simply accepting the fact that God has cleansed her, then not only are you not succeeding in protecting her from her past, but you are becoming the threat she needs to be protected from in the present. “My husband is sad again. It must be because I wasn’t a virgin.” If you are going to behave that way, then do her a big favor and break up now.
As to your questions, her past intercourse was the sin of fornication, and does not constitute a marriage. You may court and marry her. And last, the quality of your marriage will depend on how you love and lead her. I would encourage you to do so, and to put all of that behind the two of you. Never speak of it again.
Two quick questions:
1) what Kuyper book would you recommend to a beginner?
2) I am a youth pastor of a PCA Church. My philosophy is that I don’t particularly care for the idea of isolating the younger people into a separate class of people, but that is just the predominant tide for many people today, so I just go with it. However, I have designed the classes to be set up like any other standard Bible study, and I invite anyone-parents or whoever-to join. I have gotten some kick back for this approach. Many people hearken back to golden age of youth groups where the youth play games, drink soda with a dirty sock over the can, and maybe get a short devotional before they leave. They believe my classes to be too much for kids who have been in school all day. In actuality I have designing the classes around solid Reformed biblical theology but I have worked hard to make sure the lessons are fun, relevant, and full of exciting illustrations from YouTube etc. So, my question is, do you have any insight for me to keep in mind moving forward? I am flexible and willing to bend to a degree, but would you advise that? I’d like to keep it simple and biblical and trust the Lord with the seeds, but there will be fewer seeds the more I bend. I also think that the whole goofy games, and chit chat approach is condescending and sells the youth short; which is the same reason why I don’t believe in separating them as a separate class of people. Anyway, now I’m just rambling. I’d appreciate any insight.
SM, I would stay the course on your approach. The goofy style really is a dead end. And as for Kuyper, I would start with his Lectures on Calvinism.
Id like to start reading some Kuyper. Do you have any beginner recommendations? Thanks Doug
BS, same as above.
Apropos of nothing you’ve written lately, my latest earworm is the Alabama song “I’m in a Hurry.” My earworms are always maximally oppressive, popping in my head immediately if I wake up in the middle of the night. (hang in there with me, there’s a point . . .) The line “rush and rush until life’s no fun” got me thinking, is there a biblical concept of ‘fun?’ I know the Bible speaks of joy, contentment, and even happiness, but does the idea of fun ever show up in the Scriptures?
Lewis, I think that question has to be answered in English. The word fun has a semantic range in our language. Sometimes it refers to silly youth group games, see the previous letter. But other times, it can legitimately refer to a time of warm family fellowship.
I have a very simple question about the Great Commission, and I’ll build up to it with a few premises:
(1) In Mark 16 , Christ commanded his disciples to preach to “every creature.”
(2) In Matthew 28, Christ said he would be with them “to the end of the age.”
But . . .
(3) In Colossians 1, Paul says the gospel was “preached to every creature.” This seems like a clear reference to Mark 16.
(4) In Matthew 24, Christ says the gospel would “be preached in all the world, then shall the end come.” This seems like the same idea as Matthew 28—i.e. “the end (of the Judaic Age),” which was in AD 70.
Upon the basis of the above 4 points, why is it wrong to claim that the Great Commission was fulfilled in the first century, before the close of the Judaic Age?
Thanks for your help,
Vince, beginning with Colossians. it says there that the message was “preached to,” which is very different than all the nations believing the message, receiving baptism, and learning to obey everything Jesus taught. The same thing with Mark. The Great Commission will not fulfilled until the earth is as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea—which did not happen prior to 70 AD. Not even close.
An immigration Question
This is concerning your post about immigration.
First, you write about a Good Samaritan fallacy. “This is the approach that glibly assumes that the duties and responsibilities of individuals can be transferred over to nations, straight across”. I thought that was really interesting. What are the duties and responsibilities of a Christian Nation in regards to other nations? Second, you write that our leaders are deliberately sowing chaos at the border, or are too inept to fix it. Granted. Suppose we somehow replace those leaders with leaders that are God-fearing, wise, and bold. What would they do about our southern border? What would they do about the millions that have already immigrated apart from the law?
Joel, they would restore order at the border, and immigration would no longer be characterized by chaos. For most of those already here, I am not sure it would be possible to unring the bell, so I would address that problem by reforming the benefits side (e.g. welfare reform). As for duties of a Christian nation to other nations, that is too broad a question. It all depends.
I have heard a debate lately where athiest debater and infamous youtuber Matt Dillahunty made a case for “secular morality.” The basis of secular morality is based upon “Well-Being” and human flourishing. If everyone thought that stealing was a good idea, it would still be wrong because it would stand against “Well-being.” It is worthy to note that it would be wrong to us as humans as we understand it and not in the very real sense outside of our heads. If humans cease to exist, then so would morality. This implies that morality is an understanding not a reality.
After all, morality has no tangible existence outside of human understanding. it is not like that objective morality exists somewhere out there in the universe. unlike “truth” and “logic,” moral judgments are based on individual or collective preferences, cultural norms, or personal experiences. This perspective suggests that moral values and principles can vary across different cultures, societies, or individuals. Moral values are often seen as influenced by factors such as emotions, social conditioning, or personal beliefs. Polygamy, for instance, is moral in the Bible and the Middle East and not so much elsewhere.
By the same token, most if not all humans would agree that chocolate ice-cream tastes better than rotten mushy onions. Would we say chocolate ice-cream is objectively more palatable in the objective real sense?
Therefore, the atheistic argument is that Human well being is the basis of secular morality. They argue that it is as objective as the rules of chess or the rules of traffic. In other words, secular morality is objective as the rules of chess are. The moment you buckle up and hit the roads, you abide by the “objective” rules of traffic. Otherwise, human well being would be compromised and negative consequences would ensue. Getting away with wrong doing only means that you have escaped the consequences but that would still be immoral in the eyes of humanity as a whole.
Well being is assessed by two fundamental aspects. One is wisdom, as being a wise person would ultimately lead to proper moral judgement. The other is the acknowledgement of consequences. In other words, you would not misbehave since you may have to suffer ill consequences of “unwise” actions. Some say just be wise and you’ll understand all there is to morality. Wisdom, consequences of actions, and well being seem to go hand in.
Humans are the creators of the standards and rules of Morality in order to govern their lives. I was wondering, by what standard are they basing their moral judgements?! Turns out, that “Well-Being” is the standard and people imposed the rules of morality to govern the well being of humanity ensuring a life free from chaos. After all, animals such as chimps do the same thing. We would not say that there is an objective moral standard that govern the world of apes as they have no free will.
(Free will is another issue that relates somehow to this topic by which some atheists reject or perhaps are ambivalent towards as they argue that much of other people’s actions and choices are the result of parenting when and where you are born and outside stimulus. Had you been born in ancient Greece to pagan parents, your choices and thoughts would have surely been different).
All in all, Well being they argue is the foundation of secular morality. It is objective but not in the very real sense but like the rules of chess or the taste of ice cream over rotten mushy onions. Well being is the standard by which everyone should abide by to ensure the survival and flourishing of society while minimizing suffering. Wisdom and the understanding of consequences to your actions are the framework by which moral judgements are made.
Understand Well being and consequences while being wise sums up the whole thing.
Dr. Doug, how would one refute such atheistic argument and establish the truth that morality is objective in the real sense?
George, this is just warmed over utilitarianism. Who died and left well being king? Why is well being good? This argument assumes what it needs to prove. And how do they get from my well being to our well being? The people who worked for corporate well being three hundred years ago and the people who were selfish pigs three hundred years ago have one thing in common. In this view, they all died and went to the exact same place.
I believe Logos has a no-dating policy. Do you have a Gr12 ball? If so, how do people have partners?
Pierre, yes. Logos has dances, but the dances are social and corporate dances, like folk dancing, and not like a prom. Not sure what a Gr12 ball is though.
Good Old Christian Nationalism
As Christian Nationalism seems to generate all sorts of controversy, and push back, Joel Beeke of PRTS just quietly goes forward and publishes a journal article that succinctly argues for its legitimacy. “Man’s laws must be founded on the laws of God. The Puritans believed that the moral law expounded in the Ten Commandments forever binds all men and directs civil justice. The Puritans drew wisdom from the civil law of Moses but did not treat ancient Israel’s laws as a binding political system for today.”
Joshua, thanks. Joel Beeke does know his Puritans.
I’d like to study on church history. Would you recommend an introductory book and something this a little more meat on the bones to follow up?
Rog, for a start and an overview, you could read Shelly’s Church History in Plain Language, or Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity. When it comes time to drill down, I would recommend biographies.
Per my previous letter about Dreher and Achord and invitations to Moscow, I had sent it in before your Monday article explaining the situation came out. Your invitation to Dreher was also sent before the bizarre “train incident” tweet. The internet is a funny place.
I will say though that Dreher’s psychotic episodes are not recent developments. Pepperidge Farm remembers the “primitive root wiener” episode, or the “Trump voters should die in a fiery plane crash” episode, or the “divorce my wife to gallivant around European monasteries” episode (no one really knows who’s truly to blame for THAT one, but regardless one would think it might lead an honest Christian to keep out of the limelight for a bit . . .). Not everyone is terminally online to keep up on all these things like a gossip column, of course, but Dreher seems both terminally online and terminally ill. Sadly none of this is new.
Michael, thanks. And as you might guess, I wasn’t current on that stuff.
Live not by lies, p 51-52.
“. . . Hebrew religion—and its offshoots, Christianity and Islam . . .”
“In Christianity, that redemption will come . . .”
“Again, progress can be real, and for Christians at least, history is moving . . . “
These quotes, I think, betray an idol for respectability, “see, I’m critiquing Christianity from the outside, being objective.”
Why anyone would want to be respectable in the eyes of baby-slaughtering, child-mutilating, cross dressing drag queens and their defenders, only our own sinful flesh can answer. The reward has been had.
Reading a bit more on the Dreher situation, I fail to see how Dreher has maintained any credibility in evangelical circles, at least that we should care about. It appears that he divorced his wife, not for marital infidelity, which would disqualify him from being any kind of leader in the church, and it seems also an evangelical voice anyone should listen to.
It boggles my mind that he can believe himself to be a more faithful man than you or Isker with that on his Resume. He had the audacity then to say he “can’t trust you to act in good faith” because you “couldn’t take a joke.” He’s a slandering hypocrite, and we have the receipts.
In the end, I don’t see the purpose of the invite on your end. Why should we want his good opinion? Why should faithful Christians platform HIM? He’s an unrepentant adulterer, is he not?
Wondering in Moscow,
Jonathan, I want to be careful. We don’t know the details of his divorce at all, and I don’t want to guess. As for the thinking behind the invitations, it would not necessarily be platforming him at all. And it handily illustrates that a lot of people are only willing to criticize from afar. When he declines to come, as he has, that makes one of our points for us.
Re: Honoring God in Personal Finances I don’t know as I’ve ever thought of this before: If we’re to tithe on the increase, should that include gifts?
Valerie, I would say yes and no. I think it is entirely unnecessary to tithe birthday gifts and Christmas presents. But if someone receives a steady income from gifts, I think that should be tithed.
The Tongue Is Always Loaded
While listening to Plodcast 296 today, you briefly compared the tongue to a gun when discussing hamartiology and James’ use of the word, “deadly,” with respect to tongues. That led me to think of John Lovell’s (Warrior Poet Society) Universal Firearm Safety Rules and how aptly they scan with good advice for firing away and holstering our tongues.
The Universal Safety Rules
(1) Treat Every Gun like it’s loaded—even simulation guns or training guns with blanks.
(2) Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are aligned and you’re ready to shoot.
(3) Never point a gun at anything you don’t intend to destroy
(4) Know what’s beyond your target, what’s behind it, in front of it, to the left and right of it. And remember, bullets can go through walls and other structures.
Todd, very good.
I don’t know if you’ve seen this yet or not, but it’s rather interesting coming from Russel Brand.
Sounds like he might not be very far from the kingdom. By God’s grace, may it be so.
Shawn, that would be truly interesting. But once you see some things, it is hard not not see others.
You Are Most Welcome, and Thanks
My family stayed in Moscow last weekend while touring national parks in the west and we worshiped at Christ Church on Sunday. It was a detour full of blessings.
The first blessing was the unexpected beauty of the Palouse. I knew the area around Moscow was rural and hilly, but I had no idea the hills would be endless tracts of prime cropland.
The second blessing was seeing that a rural college town in Idaho is different only in degree , not in kind, from a rural college town in Connecticut. Not a “misery loves company” sort of blessing, but the blessing of knowing that the fight is essentially the same in the Christian west, whichever colony you happen to be fighting at. Each colony is so much closer to each other than any are to heaven.
The third and greatest blessing was getting a glimpse of what an ambitious and faithful church looks like, decades into it’s mission. A Covid 2020 silver lining was pointing me and many other likeminded believers to an obedient, but young church in CT. Our church is a growing community full of exciting potential, and we are blessed to have churches like Christ Church show us what joyful spiritual warfare looks like.
Thank you Pastor Doug for your faithful work that blesses so many.
Brian, thanks. It was great meeting you all, and safe travels home.
As always, thank you for your seasoned and scripturally-based insights. This question is not in regard to any particular post. I’d like to ask your opinion of a prayer, circulated among those of Catholic persuasion, called “The Litany of Humility.” This prayer came across my Facebook feed a few weeks ago, and I’ve pondered it much since.
Our Heavenly Father said “This is the one to whom I will look, he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at My word.” Isaiah 66:2. Does the Litany of Humility capture the Father’s heart in this, or do you think it is overly sentimental and/or borders on self-flagellation? Certainly, I want God’s “well done” approval above the accolades of men. But are there times when it’s right to desire approval, honor, or praise from my fellow humans? Might it be better if the word “desire” was replaced with the word “need,” as in “Deliver me, Jesus, from the need of being esteemed”? I am grateful for your opinion.
Mark, you are right to be wary. There is nothing wrong, for example, with desiring to be loved. There are plenty of wrong ways to do it, certainly, but there are right ways also. The prayer does need a thorough theological edit.
You’re Welcome, I Think
Lord bless you richly. After I wrote this article, my wife said: “I think Doug’s writings are really rubbing off on you” haha! Best writing compliment I’ve received. Blessings to you!
Ben, thanks much.
Your opening segment in Plodcast 295 regarding election interference and prosecution of political enemies reminded me Sun Tzu advice in his chapter on maneuvering, specifically, “When you surround an army, leave an outlet free; Do not press a desperate foe too hard,” with a side note that indicates this is to “thus prevent his fighting with the courage of despair.”
TVV, yes. That is the point. And wisdom dictates whether you are going for total victory or simply a decisive victory.
The Battle of AI
When it comes to praising or fearing the advance of AI, I have noticed that the “Luddite” and “naïvely optimistic” camps, while holding opposite outlooks, share a (perhaps unconscious) Darwinian presumption: The advance of technology is unstoppable, and its inevitable progress will bring ever-increasing levels of AI into our world whether we like it or not. But take away the funding and support of powerful men and the fad could fizzle out in a decade. Sure, it’s probably here to stay, and I’ve made a sometimes uncomfortable peace with it. But the Darwinian presumptions disguise the fact that we could all decide, “actually, we like painting our own paintings, writing our own music, doing surgery with our own hands, filing our own legal briefs, and plotting our own military campaigns, so to Hell with the whole thing.”
But ultimately, I predict its potential for both blessing and harm will fall out to be less than we fear, and if it will produce a revolution of any kind, it will be for future generations to judge its real effects.
Douglas, yes. There is some wisdom in “wait and see.”
Is he “punching right” or this just a Christendom 2.0 edge case?
Bruce, nominalism is the tribute that the lukewarm pays to hot and cold.
I recently rewatched this video on magic in fiction. I sympathize with your position, and yet I expect you differentiate between the magic you agree with in fiction and practices you would approve for Christians in real life. Is that right? If so and if the Bible is not against the magic you appreciate in fiction, then “by what standard” would you object so in real life? I’m looking into this out of concern for friend, so thanks in advance for any response you can afford.
Ben, the standard is always Scripture. In Scripture, witchcraft and necromancy are condemned, and which we should to. The ability of Pharaoh’s magicians to make snakes was bad. The ability that Aaron had to make a snake that ate theirs was not bad.
I’m reading through Isker’s Boniface Option, and the chapter on education hit me like a ton of bricks. I’m an aspiring pastor, educated for 13 years in the Government School. I went to a Private, Christian Liberal Arts college for my Bachelors in Biblical and Theological studies. Now I am tasked with the decision of my Masters. I’d like to get an MDiv, but I know I’ve missed so much of the western canon to this point.
So, should I pursue an MDiv or a more general (NSA) degree? Or should I do an MDiv and be an autodidact on the side as I work through the classics?
Thanks in advance,
Chaz, that would depend on your circumstances. If you are a self-starter, either way would work.