Am I Being Detained?
RE: “My Little Visit from the FBI” I’m not a glazed eyed conspiracy person, an Alex Jones-ite or any such thing. I do have some affinity for Ron Paul but that is as far as my fringe views go. I am pretty much a Greg Bahnsen type theonomist and love John Murray and the right wing of the OPC (sorry, no FV for me). All that said, next time I strongly recommend you insist on having witnesses and recording any interaction you have with the FBI. Your view of the FBI is that of a simpleton. We know they alter their 302s all the time and you are helpless to refute their assertions (lies) if you have no hard evidence. As a matter of fact, they could still arrest you tomorrow based upon “their recollection” of this interview. Don’t be simple. “A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished” (Pr 27:12).
Graham, thanks for the feedback, albeit a bit high and inside. I did think about recording it, or having someone sit in, but at the moment decided not to. My protection, such as it is, has been to write my account of it first. Remember if things are as bad as all that, they could just make up a 302 without having seen me at all. I do approve of prudence, however.
You write: “One group shakes the head disapprovingly, worried about the testimony, and what does this do to the good reputation among outsiders (1 Tim. 3:7)? The second kind of Christian leader hears of something like this, and his heart sinks. ‘Why can’t something like that ever happen to me?’ And his wife says, ‘Honey, don’t . . .’” I would argue that there might be a 3rd response from Christian leaders who would say “kudos to the FBI agents.” I know a number of Blog and Mablog followers who are literalists (probably a lot of home schoolers), and would take the statement literally. And that actually does become a matter of national safety: seeing as it comes out of Idaho where a lot of Christian cults reside. You also state: “One kind of Christian leader thinks that it is an honor to be honored. The other believes that it is an honor to be dishonored, a grace to be disgraced.” I would argue that the third kind of Christian leader believes it is an honor to be disgraced for righteousness. Now, a simple visit from the FBI is not necessarily a disgrace or even a dishonor. What I would argue for is the reason why we are dishonored as Christians. In this scenario, if we could argue that you are being dishonored, you are not primarily being dishonored for speaking out against public education which would be righteous (a U of I prof at your door would be dishonoring you for that), but for the metaphor of burning schools down which would be unrighteous. In that case, the I Peter 4: 15-16 comes into play: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” The FBI is looking into a scenario that could involve murder (or incitement to murder), and they did not arrest you, because they probably realized that you are a godly Christian pastor. Thanks for all the work you do in engaging the culture. I have learned a lot from your approach.
Nathan, thanks, and yes but. If they had just showed up because the phrases “burn all the schools” was tossed at them by an algorithm, then yes. But they came to see me because one of our intolerista enemies seized on a phrase which they then tried to use as a means of bringing a government agency against me. Remember that slander is an essential part of all this. At His trial, Jesus was accused of wanting to destroy the Temple (vandalism), which, even though vandalism should be against the law, didn’t prevent the accusation from being outrageous.
Thanks for sharing. I finally got around to reading Flags Out Front over the past week, so this is extra amusing to me. When I told my wife about your very first no-quarter paragraph leading to an FBI visit, she said “I bet he’s so pleased with himself. He’s exactly the kind of person that when God wants to give him an ‘attaboy,’ He sends the FBI.” May your tribe increase.
Keith, yes. But tell your wife that I was only pleased with myself in ways that comport with modesty and decorum.
Before the next time happens, I beg you, read You Have The Right To Remain Innocent, by James Duane (read it, but you can google his viral video now, about not ever talking to law enforcement without a lawyer present (who will tell you not to talk to them)). I know it sounds nuts, but you dodged a bullet. (Does your story, in hindsight, not sound a bit Michael-Flynn-ish?) . . . Keep up the good work!
Steve, yes, I have read that book and recommend it.
Another lesson: don’t talk to the police! Anyone who has been paying attention to the current political follies knows about perjury traps, and more broadly speaking it’s almost never in your interest. This is from a law professor, and part 2, which should be automatically linked to it, is from a former police investigator and is just as informative.
While I’m happy that there was an understanding, I hope in the future you will always insist on having, not a colleague, but an attorney present, any time law enforcement wants to speak with you. The fact that they say it’s not necessary means diddly squat. I say this as someone who hopes to read many more blog posts from you, and would prefer you not go to prison on the basis of your memory conflicting with an FBI agent’s faulty memory.
Edward, yes, reasonable point, but see above. I memorialized the visit in prose. My post, in effect, was “notes from the meeting.”
“. . . sack all those who were responsible for it in the first place, have them flogged in the church parking lot first . . .” Ummm, yes, hello pastor Wilson, this is the FBI again. Was that another H. L. Mencken quote? ; – )
Jason, it was in the style of Mencken. Performance art.
More on Emeth
Re the Salvation of Emeth. You write: “When Jesus cleanses the Temple, He drives out the merchants and money changers from the Court of the Gentiles.” Just curious about this—it doesn’t seem explicit in my reading of the NASB. I don’t really doubt it but I’m naturally skeptical and wonder how you know this. Maybe I just missed it.
Nathan, that court is not explicitly named as such in Scripture. We know about it from other historical sources. Here’s a link.
Salvation of Emeth—thank you for this. A very helpful and clear bit of untangling of a thorny issue. However, is this what Lewis himself would have said in defense of Emeth? Not being a precise theologian (by his own admission) it seems like Emeth’s salvation might have been less thought through in his mind than your explanation gives him credit for. How much should authorial intent impact our understanding here? Also, it doesn’t seem that Naaman is the best example to end with, because though he did not have contact with the name of Jesus, he did have contact with YHWH. Whereas all of Emeth’s “good works” were done strictly in the name of Tash, and Tash as understood popularly by the Calormens (even if not worshipped as devoutly by them as by Emeth). The parallel from the OT seems to be rather, whether a devout Philistine offering all his allegiance and love and loyalty to Dagon could be saved on the basis of that loyalty and love, because it was truly given. Isn’t that more like what Lewis is saying?
Joe, thanks. We don’t have an exact parallel anywhere. If a Philistine approached Dagon the way Emeth approached Tash, he would be a Dagon-heretic, out of step with all his people. And the way Emeth turned the moment he encountered Aslan seems more like Naaman to me.
Thanks for tackling the Emeth issue. I like what you have done with it, but might there be also a rather simpler shortcut to the whole thing? Emeth was not dead when he met Aslan. What he experienced in that meeting was not a postmortem evangelism, but rather something more like Saul on the road to Damascus. Sure, the circumstances are bit more spicy because the world was kind of ending, but the fact remains that Emeth had not yet died, and so the time for judgment wasn’t yet upon him. He met Aslan and responded with faith to the truth that was being proclaimed to him. So his zeal for Tash was actually misplaced zeal for Aslan, and that is easy to understand, but his salvation doesn’t have to be out of the ordinary at all.
Corey, yes. Emeth did not die exactly, and his encounter with Aslan was kind of in Heaven already.
Your post on the Salvation of Emeth is missing one very important text. “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!’ But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” The chain of logic present in Paul’s questions assumes that people need to hear the gospel and can’t be saved without explicitly hearing and believing it. It’s at least pertinent to those who are able-minded. I don’t see a way to get around this like Lewis was attempting to do.
Geoff, yes, but I don’t think it is that simple. You insert “those who are able minded,” which seems right to all of us, but Paul doesn’t even hint at something like that. So the first question is “are there any exceptions to the Romans 10 pattern at all?” If there are, and they are not referred to in that text, we have to find the boundaries of such exceptions in the rest of Scripture, in the whole counsel of God.
Thank you for this article. I have also wondered whether some people in the Old Testament era who did not know about the Lord would be saved. I am not sure if all babies or severely retarded people will be saved, especially since in the latter case some have been guilty of appalling crimes that could not be interpreted as anything but evil, (and children of unbelievers are considered unclean, unlike those of believing parents), but the possibility that a man who did not know the Lord but believed what little gospel truth he knew may enter Heaven may explain how every tribe has representation in the Heavenly kingdom, given that some tribes have certainly died out without having learned about Jesus. Thank you also for your article arguing for the eventual salvation of Queen Susan.
James, thank you. And it is fortunate for all of us that God is the one responsible for all it—and the judge of the whole earth will do right.
A Holy PCA Ruckus?
What form should the ruckus take? Maybe Christians who do not want the PCA to go liberal should join the PCA, where they could do something about it. Otherwise, those Christians might be right, but why should the PCA care? Not disagreeing or criticizing here, just observing that any effective resistance would most likely have to come from within the PCA. Do other reformed bodies have an association with the PCA that would give them any leverage? Don’t know, I’m asking.
John, the PCA in such instances is responding to cultural pressures that did not arise within the PCA. I believe that Christians outside the PCA should be able to make enough requisite noise.
And while we are on this topic, the session of South City has released a (lame) statement, which can be read here.
A Random Note:
Re: “When Things Go Awry” To this day, my instinct is to pronounce it AW-ree. David
David, have you sought help?
A Tough Situation:
For the last decade or so I have been reading your articles, listening to your arguments about public schools. Before I learned I was pregnant with my daughter, I knew that I wanted to give our daughter (my husband and I) a Christian education. When I learned I was pregnant, I was aware of the task at hand; to train up my yet to be born child into His Word. To minister the Gospel. By the time she was born, I already knew which Christian homeschool curriculum I was going to pick and I had found a good Christian brick and mortar school if we decided to go that route. I was ready. I wasn’t, however, ready for the challenge of a child with severe cognitive and intellectual delays. By the time she turned 4, she was barely meeting the milestones of an 18 month old and as we look toward her beginning kindergarten, it is clear that she needs specialized education. None of the Christian private schools in our offer a special education program, and if they do, they are not equipped for a still diapered, completely non-verbal 5 year old severely autistic little girl with violent tendencies. My husband and I are reformed in our theology, we believe that the Bible applies to her. We trust in the Lord that He has entrusted us with this child and that He is the great healer, she could talk tomorrow and we believe that He can extend saving grace to any soul, including our daughter. That’s why, despite the challenges, we attend a family-integrated church and we involve her in our family worship and Bible time. But we are struggling with how to move forward with her education. We don’t want to send her to public school, but it’s difficult to not see the appeal because they can offer her specialized education. There are specialized secular private schools for children with her needs, but they are 1) secular 2) come with a price tag of between 35-50 thousand dollars a year. We reside in a state where homeschool students are required to pass state testing and we are being told that they do not make accommodations for children with special needs. We are at all a loss. Because of all the work you have dedicated to the promotion of a Christian education, I am certain that I am not the first one to come to you with this question and I pray that you can offer some wisdom. Thank you in advance.
Tina, first I have a great deal of respect for you and your husband. So begin with the well-done. You are in a hard situation, and I wouldn’t want any advice that I might give to sound like I think it is easy. My teaching on the use of the government schools presupposes a normal situation, and difficult cases (like yours) make bad law. That said, in a perfect situation, I believe a Christian approach to severe special needs would be better than a secular approach to severe special needs. The question you are facing is whether a secular approach to severe special needs is to be preferred to a non-existent Christian approach. And I think that the answer is probably yes. But I would encourage you not to come to that conclusion until you have thoroughly researched two options. One has to do with the possibility of relocating (dependent on your husband’s job) to a place with a large enough population to support a Christian educational program for special needs kids. Is there a place anywhere in the country that could help your daughter, and is there a livelihood for your family there? And secondly, I would encourage you to get a legal opinion on your homeschooling options in your state. I would want more information there than “we are being told.” One final point. It is tempting in such situations, at least in the hard moments, to think about the hard providence that God gave you. But always remember that in this God has also given your daughter something remarkable in this. He has given her a true blessing in you. And so be encouraged. Your labor in the Lord is not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58)
What It Means to Forgive
You mention “forgiven people forgive.” I have three questions about this. Coming from an IFB background, this has eluded me: what is the connection between forgivability (the desire to forgive) and the act of forgiveness? Is it right to forgive someone of a wrong doing if they never seek forgiveness, and even if that person is hostile to the idea of seeking forgiveness, or do we just indiscriminately forgive the wrong? How does this work with restoration of fellowship?
Timothy, if someone has wronged you and for whatever reason does not seek forgiveness, the transaction of forgiveness cannot occur. If someone steals your car, you can’t yell down the road after them “I forgive you.” But the disposition to forgive can occur. You can have that present wrapped and waiting for them, so that you can give to them the first moment it is appropriate to do so. If you are in an ongoing relationship with someone like that, then you need to ask if it is the kind of sin that love can cover a multitude of. If so, then that’s what you do. If not, then you pull out of that relationship.
A Trenchant Counterargument
You da dumb man, dougie. Really, slavery was good? Hahahahhahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahah. Alignment with a southern nationalist? Hahahahahahahahahahah you are da idiot. Tell john piper to shut up.
Jim, thanks for the cogent riposte. I confess that I have never thought about this thorny issue from such an insightful angle before.
Another Thorny Issue
On the dancing squid dish, we need you to explicate Luke 10:8, “eat such things as are set before you.”
Steve, quite. What you need to do is anticipate when someone like that might conceivably happen, and make sure to be in another country at the time.
Love that Gospel revival! A group called The Lower Lights is cooking up similar goodness.
Joseph, thanks for the link.
No Quarter Marriage?
Pastor Wilson, the Book of Worship, Faith, and Practice provided online (https://www.christkirk.com/our-church/book-of-worship-faith-practice/) is an invaluable resource for a congregation desiring to become more CREC-like. As it is such a tremendous resource for budding congregations, may I ask for more? May I ask for variations regarding wedding ceremonies and funerals (while they’re unlikely to be part of Sunday worship, I think you get my point)? Having a blueprint of worship order and structure, if not the direct vow language itself, would be a great help. I also wonder if Christ Church would consider a “camp” of sorts for congregations to send a delegation of elders/pastors/lay leaders to be instructed on the how and why of expecting the Holy Spirit to move in a worship service. A DVD series, an online set of classes, an Idaho experience: I don’t know what shape this takes, but I suggest it as there is a paucity of faithful learning opportunities granted the church planter. A great number of idolatrous Hospice Churches will fall in the coming months and years. Please be an integral factor in helping educate those who would happily take the reins and drive congregations towards Christ. No Quarter Sunday?
Ron, thanks for the ideas. In the meantime, you might find Terry Johnson’s book Leading in Worship helpful—on weddings, funerals and other special circumstances.