Obedience and Sorcery
You speak of sorcery as the short cut to gain the benefits of obedience without the obedience itself, and that seems very apt. But I also can’t help but think of the fruit in the Garden also. That was the same deal. God of course wanted his people to be mature, knowing the difference between good and evil, but the fruit was a shortcut.
Corey, right. Not all of it is sorcery, but it amounts to the same thing.
Amen and amen!!! “For obedience to the faith to all nations” (Rom. 1:5, KJV). “We have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name” (Rom. 16:25-27, KJV). “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: to God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.”
Todd, hard to argue.
I’ve been thinking lately about two reasons why modern American evangelicals seem so hostile to any discussions of obedience, of any question of whether some issue may be sinful or not, or how to live appropriately as Christians. (How dare you speak up about me wearing yoga pants while I’m leading worship?) First, there is a fear of condemnation. In fact, “there is now no condemnation in Christ” is strongly believed to shut the door on all such discussion. In reality . . . that’s the very thing that opens the door. If we all are NOT condemned, doesn’t that free us to godly pursuits? Doesn’t that remove the fear of being wrong, of being paralyzed that we might have lived in shameful ways? Doesn’t the constant call and love of Christ beckon us from where we are? We can thus remove ourselves and our security from the things we have done (and therefore must argue strongly for) and look instead to Christ. The second reason is related, and has to do with joy. Good luck trying to convince the teen (or 20-something? or 30-something?) video game addict that they are wasting their life. In their eyes, that’s the strongest fount they know. The culture here does not want us to believe that joys and passions can change, that we can actually come to enjoy good works, that they can be fulfilling. If your brain can physically become addicted to X, then good news!—it can also adjust to enjoy Y instead. So a fear of boredom should not be a hindrance to working out our life properly.
Thanks to your advice in these areas (specifically within marriage). I want to build a home with much confession, repentance, and discovery of new joys in Christ.
Alex, many amens.
I know this is not quite relevant under this post, but I would love to hear your thoughts on the recent news of Joshua Harris. It always saddens me to see this stuff happen, and with this being the latest addition to a long line of pastors who “fell away” (Darrin Patrick, Tullian Tchividjian, Doug Phillips, etc.) there seems to be a strong theme of deep mismanagement of home life alongside a deadly coupling of high giftedness/low spiritual maturity. Would you be willing to parse through that? The other possible implication of this pattern amongst pastors like this is that those around them were either lacking in discernment, unwilling to hold them accountable, or completely blindsided by the change in these men. Is there a metric we can use to justly and wisely watch for the health of our leadership? Thanks for your time!
Whitney, it seemed to me that the whole world was commenting on Josh Harris’s apostasy, and I didn’t want to add to the clamor. But I would place the root of this problem in our evangelical celebrity culture. Harris was vaulted into that world long before he had the requisite ballast. The one thing he has not yet kissed good-bye is a good photo op.
Apropos of Nothing
I have been reading your blog for a little over a year now, and I just realized what the title actually references. Until now I imagined it was some witty, play-on-words, not to the Scriptures, but to you and your wife . . . you know, as in Pa & Ma Blog. This I am sure has occurred to others as well (mainly because, even in my dimwit moments, I am not that original), but maybe in mentioning it, I could pass on a well-earned chuckle to you. Thanks for your writing. It’s always interesting to read, and likely makes me smarter. Keep on keeping on, Pa Blog.
Scott . . . thanks for a new one!
I think there’s a very serious question that you missed in the series of questions you asked here: “and if the charges are false and destroy his reputation, how do we ever make it up to him?” The fact is, you can’t, and if elders and pastors look on what is happening across college campuses and choose to replay that in their churches then they richly deserve to suffer the same fate college administrators now often face: being dragged before the secular courts to be held to account by judges who tend to take a very dim view of throwing out objectivity.
When a crime is committed, it should be reported to authorities and the criminal put on trial. If there is not enough evidence to convict, then that is the end of the matter. One does not sue for money as a Christian, unless the crime itself was stealing, and reparations need to be made.
Ruth, thank you.
Regarding the lawsuit between Jane Doe and The Village Church, it is interesting to note that the New York Times had a non-file-stamped copy of the lawsuit, without a case number assigned. The only way they could have got this document is if one of the lawyers emailed it to the NYT reporter. That, to me, speaks volumes about what is really going on here. It’s a shame.
Kyle, right. A shame.
Who Does Theonomy Hang Out With?
How does Kuyperian “sphere” theology gel (or not gel) with your spin on theonomy? Does the Kuyperian model sufficiently account for the authority of God’s Law over the non-church spheres?
Owen, it doesn’t always, but I think it can. In my view theonomy and Kurperianism can be friends.
I agree with most all you say here, but I’m having a little trouble figuring out how this specific situation is being set at the feet of the Southern Baptist Convention. Matt Chandler’s church is an SBC church, that much is indisputable. But as you point out, they’re the ones being sued. They’re being sued by Boz Tchividjian (who no longer identifies as evangelical), and Matt Chandler is getting more of a chance to speak for himself than C.J. Mahaney (Sovereign Grace Ministries, not SBC) got, after being pummeled by Rachael Denhollender (who left her SBC church because she apparently felt they were too deliberate in their due process). I agree that the ritual SBC distancing from Tom Ascol and the film are troubling, but that’s not what seems to be at issue in your piece. The only active SBCer I see here is the one getting sued. What am I missing? Republicans during the War Between the States were undoubtedly at fault for many things, but was Lincoln getting shot one of them?
John, sometime you should ask about my speculation on the radical Republicans being behind the assassination of Lincoln, a moderate Republican with all that “malice toward none” business. If we ask who benefited the most from the assassination, it was the forces that wanted a hard Reconstruction. But that wasn’t your real question . . . Matt Chandler is a star in the SBC, and the treatment he is getting from outsider is comparable to the treatment that the SBC was giving to C.J. Mahaney. What goes around comes around.
I have three children 4.5, 3, and 1.5 and we really like reading and listening to all that your family has put out there about raising kids, thank you! My question is how and when do you transition from the artificial consequences (spanking, etc.) to more natural consequences? We tend to spank for everything, provided it was something the kids know they aren’t supposed to do (or we have just said “don’t do that!”), but I’m starting to feel like we are spanking way too much for small things, and I’m wondering if I should use other consequences for, say, yelling in the house, tattling, getting out of bed after being put down, not following all the way through with a task like cleaning up toys, and things like that. I’m a firm believer in spanking for any outright disobedience, but I’m not sure how to discipline for character problems or things they are supposed to remember. I am not sure how to move from the stage where everything is about teaching obedience to the stage where we are trying to instill good character, manners, etc. I love how you talk about putting artificial consequences up for small children and then gradually allowing the natural consequence to take place, but how and when do you move there? And what makes a “spankable” offense?
Amanda, this is a hard one to answer from this distance, but here is a rough cut. You should be done with spanking when they get to be around 12. Make sure you spank for clear cut disobedience, and do that consistently. If you think you are spanking too much, listen to that impulse. Don’t spank for things like rowdiness, but if the rowdiness is spiraling out of control, step in with a clear admonition. If that is disregarded, then spank for that. Don’t spank kids for being kids.
General question. My dad recently retired from the ministry after forty or so years. He’s giving us kids first dibs on a lot of books from the office, since he doesn’t really have shelf space to bring them home. Naturally, I grabbed all the John Murray, also the Lloyd-Jones’ 14 volumes on Romans; plus a few Watchman Nee just to mix things up and confuse any Presbyterians who happen to be in my house socially. Then my eyes lit on it . . . the bete noire of all that is polite and respectable: The Institutes of Biblical Law by Rushdoony. I opened the front cover and found that it was signed by the author. “Dad, is this Rushdoony’s signature?” “Oh, that? Yeah. Saw him a conference in Bowling Green in ’83. Absolutely brilliant. We argued about Romans 13 during the Q&A.” I brought it home and am enjoying it immensely. When I was a kid, I was always getting Rushdoony and Dooyeweerd confused (which led to problems), not to mention getting Gary North and Oliver North confused (which led to even greater problems). But all this aside, can you offer one thing you particularly appreciate about Rushdoony and one thing that you would warn me about?
Philip, I appreciated (very much) the ability of Rushdoony in his early writings to reduce modern forms of unbelieving thought to their basic principles, which enables you to see how the Scriptures apply. I would caution you to beware of rigid dogmatism. Rush was brilliant, and very helpful at many places. But he could be unhelpful as well.
On Being Whitey
“Perhaps the best thing you can do to start is to take a humble posture, recognizing that you have a racialized worldview of which you are likely unaware. Your beliefs, attitudes, and values have been formed in ways deeply informed by whiteness.”
Blog, I think you need a better grasp of English. You talk like you learned the language through reading Shakespeare, but you obviously have some trouble with the layman’s tongue.
Mr. Hall is simply saying “check your biases” or rather, “understand that your experiences aren’t the same for other people, particularly those of other races.” To put on my historian hat, I draw you attention to his audience. SBC, and in particular the SBC board of directors, are majority white. This means that Hall is telling a group of relatively powerful white men (they’re mostly men, aren’t they) that in making decisions that affect minorities, they should be mindful that their experiences aren’t universal.
A great example of this is MAGA. “Make America Great Again” . . . but when? The 1950s? When life kinda sucked for most African Americans? Does Trump really think fondly of Jim Crow and segregation? America has never been particularly great for everyone, so Trump is either harkening back to a time that has never existed or is harkening back to a time of oppression.
If you can’t imagine why MAGA is offensive then you are proving Mr. Hall correct: you are too caught up in your own experiences to understand that not everyone has lived a similar life to you. To undervalue the experiences of people different from yourself is the epitome of selfishness and is about as un-Christian as you can be.
Cat, no, that was not all he was saying. He was saying that to be white was to be racist. And that is a huge problem. And how Trump got into this discussion is a mystery.
Re: Like a Float for the Tournament of Roses | Excellent read. Although you, Doug, are a Presbyterian and people erroneously assume you don’t know how to talk to real people, I think this is a much needed blog post for every pastor, particularly those caught up in scandals or accusations that are along these lines.
Now, with all that agreement said and given much praise for, I think you’re wrong about Baptist ecclesiology and stating it as an implied problem we Baptists allegedly have without Biblically, Scripturally, and logically making that argument seems a bit on the nose, at least an unfair attack from someone outside of that ecclesiology.
I think Biblical ecclesiology does have more to do with the Local Church and the Local Court of Elders settling disputes and allegations (potentially handing over to civil authorities if needed) than the slightly more top-down ecclesiology of the Presbyterians.
I do need to make myself clear on the seemingly unfair attack on Baptist ecclesiology though. I am in no way opposed to a Presbyterian telling us Baptists that we’re doing something wrong. We might be blinded by our Baptist idols and our Presbyterian brothers are able to see it. So if you’d like to address ecclesiology in general, and the error of Baptist ecclesiology in particular, by comparing and contrasting different ecclesiologies with what Scripture actually and explicitly says and make the case for another particular ecclesiology, by all means do that and I will encourage my Baptist pastors to consider it.
Thank you for standard for a BIBLICAL standard of justice in both the Church and Society!
Trey, thanks, but you’ve stumped me. I don’t remember being critical of Baptist ecclesiology in this discussion. I have been in the past, but don’t remember doing it here. Could you point to the place you have in mind?
This is a horrible piece of article. First there is no evidence. The sexual abuser makes sure of that. They do it in private, never in public. There are no witnesses.
Most children cannot process what is happening to them, they deny it is happening as a mind mechanism to cope. I know that you have read all of this before. This has been a subject matter among Christians since 2006 and before.
Protection of children is first and foremost. When someone calls the police or Social Services, they don’t have iron clad evidence before they remove a child, or arrest someone for abuse, sexual or otherwise. They go into the situation, make an evaluation rather quickly and either determine it is abusive and remove the child or they do not.
As for Scripture you forgot to include the following: Isaiah 61:8, Colossians 3:25, Deut. 10:18, Psalm 140:12, 2 Samuel 13:1-22; Matthew 18:6; Luke 17:2. That should keep you busy reading for a while.
There is so much more to sexual child abuse than I have written here. But children should be protected and now that is happening. As a Christian woman, who is Southern Baptist and will be a messenger when I can, as often as I can attend the Convention, who was present at the meeting in Dallas, I will fight articles like this, men with your thinking with every fiber of my being.
And Debbie, how is it protecting a child to tear her away from loving parents, entirely innocent parents, without due process, because an officious neighbor complained about suspected abuse? By all means, protect the children as best as you can—but factor into the equation the prospect of doing actual harm to the children by your intervention. Recognize that harm is possible.
“You don’t believe the woman, and you don’t believe the pastor. You believe the evidence. Men sin and lie about it, and women sin and lie about it. You believe the evidence. And in the meantime, while you are gathering the evidence, the presumption of innocence lies with the accused.”
The problem in this case, is that there will likely not be any “evidence.” There will however, be plenty of “testimony,” which already conflicts. Boz is already running with biased “testimony,” when he says the church has not “demonstrated a good faith desire to resolve this,” when the church is in fact cooperating in a criminal investigation, and prosecution of the accused.
Is Boz the judge of “good faith?” He seems to think so. I have my doubts.
“Innocence until proven guilty’ is the appropriate legal standard, but you are a ministry leader, not a judge or investigator” (Rachael Denhollander). Are Boz and Rachael “ministry leaders?” Judges? or Investigators? (No?). I wonder when they will start taking their own advice? Or God’s?
God, please grant swift justice in this case.
Rules for Reformers
Reading Rules for Reformers and first I would like to say that it feels like someone has given me permission to stop holding my breath at every action and just keep on, keeping on. Reminds me of the permission I was given in the Marines, so . . . well done, sir.
2nd or finally . . . our (I write that as yours and mine but ours as a broader sense in the bride of Christ) eschatology doesn’t match. I am a dispensationalist pre-mil (and no matter how many times Pastor Sumpter says “the rapture isn’t happening” in those well done commercials, I know it is) and you are post-Mil “Bc it’s more fun” (I’m sure there are more reasons but I side with Piper on that . . . it is probably more fun), can my eschatological view allow me to put into place all the principles and the larger road map of Rules for Reformers, or is it necessary to have a Post-Mil view to know it will happen and trust the process that this wonderful book lays out?
Grace and peace to you! And I will wink at you when we are caught up!
Jordan, thanks. No, Rules for Reformers is not limited to those who share my eschatology. And I heard Rushdoony once say that he was not opposed to changing his theology in mid-air.