Emeth and All
I once listened to a liberal preacher from a liberal denomination expound on John 14:6 and point to the “conclusion” that we cannot say Jesus meant belief involving conscious awareness is required to come to the Father through Him. He would not quite say that is not, he just questioned it in the “Jesus never said” way that liberals like to do; a way that made clear what he himself disbelieved. In other words, he was preaching inclusivism. The answer to that treatment of John 14:6 is that it contradicts the entire thrust of the Gospel of John, which is explicitly summed up in John 20:31.
Emeth: I like that you addressed this, as the story of Emeth has given me much consternation upon first reading it (as a young boy) and later as various loved ones began tossing the Chronicles aside as so much heresy. I chose principally to ignore the text as pertaining to anything “true” since it’s all just a story anyway, and as a loose allegory it couldn’t possibly get everything spot on accurate with real life . . . Now I think I shall need to go reread the Chronicles another time—which is never a bad idea—and see how The Last Battle reads in light of this essay. I’m reminded that Scripture is filled with little anecdotes that bake our noodles, frustrating our ability to figure it all out. Rahab was a believer, too, as was King Darius, the Ethiopian eunuch, and the Eastern magicians—er, mystics—er, magi. God does make my head hurt at times. Who’s to say there’s not some dude with a bone through his nose whose great-ancestor once met a missionary and passed down some stories of the All-Father and now worships the One who made everything via this vanishing shred of inherited knowledge . . . and then a lion eats him and he ends up in Heaven where everything is made perfectly clear. Or maybe there never was a missionary. . . It is quite interesting that we mostly all agree that God elects infants and the mentally deficient as He sees fit, even if those people are children of pagans living in wretched conditions, but we choke on the notion that He might elect others by His good pleasure who, through no fault of their own, still have no idea who Christ is. I don’t know if God is “winking” at their ignorance so much as trumping it with His Grace. No one deserved to be elected, so He gets the glory whichever way He wants to do it.
Malachi, yes. He gets the glory. And regardless of what happens in the salvation of anyone, it is not a function of justice, but rather of grace.
“There are things that Trump does and says that just don’t fit into any coherent conservative framework, like his views on tariffs. So what happens when a movement conservative continues to believe what he does about free trade, but moves it from his #3 priority to his #13 priority?” Just a slight criticism (and I know it misses the point of the post): tariffs and trade restrictions have a deep heritage in conservative governments. It’s probably more correct to say it doesn’t fit into a “contemporary” rather than coherent conservative framework as most conservatives have now backed away from protectionist policies (while still benefitting from a variety of different trade protections/supports and keeping quiet about it). The United States has a wide range of tariffs and market access restrictions designed to favour domestic producers. I can’t say definitively whether R or D governments that enforced them but I would be surprised if I didn’t find a single Republican government that didn’t opt for some type of protectionism.
Jordan, yes, I believe there is much in what you say as a historical matter. But modern conservatism, like it or not, is an amalgam of classical liberalism and social traditionalism. And, on the economics of the thing, I find the free trade arguments compelling. But they aren’t the only compelling factor, because I am not a follower of Mammon.
Climate and Such
Sir, appreciated your recent article on global warming, and the apt comparison to “Christian” End-of-the-World hysteria. I’m similarly incredulous about current climate alarmism (I share your support of carbon dioxide about which you wrote elsewhere; I hear it is good for plants.). However, there is one objective environmental “prediction” (which oddly doesn’t seem to get much attention) that seems both inescapable and worthy of at least some level of “alarm.” At some point (if the Lord tarries)—whether in 50 years, 500, or 5,000—given our current usage, this planet will undoubtedly deplete its supply of fossil fuels. For that reason (alone) I am sympathetic to the push for electric cars, improved mass transit, biofuels, developing renewable energy, increased energy efficiency, and the like. Granted, I imagine that this will largely work itself out at the time with basic economics: supply, demand, incentive, and necessity. But in godly concern about our future generations, it does seem prudent to support at least some incentives shared by the radical environmentalists (e.g., research on energy efficient transportation & infrastructure, renewable sources, etc.)—not because we care about our “carbon footprint,” but rather to help our posterity prepare to make the significant transition that will be required when those resources do become truly scarce. (Granted, this feels to me like making the alliance of necessity with the Soviet Union in WWII simply because we shared one limited, but critical, strategic goal). Would be interested in your thoughts concerning.
Daniel, I agree that it is likely that at some point we will run out of fossil fuels. I suspect that will be at least a millennium away, but centuries at any rate. But in a free economy, and with various superstitions about efficient energy sources overcome (e.g. nuclear), I think we’ll be fine. Rather than cut back on energy usage, I would rather urge people to try to increase their energy usage, while doing so intelligently.
A question was posed to me some years ago which I have pondered for some time. It has somewhat satisfied my desire to make sense of this global warming moral panic. (My previous iteration as a university science and mathematics graduate enabled me to recognise a scientist when I saw one. (BTW, if my inaccurate observations in the physics and chemistry lab were as acceptable to the lecturers as global warming predictions today, I would have graduated dux, rather than somewhere in the middle of my class). The question went something like this; if I were an (the) enemy of God, what optimal strategy would I utilise to destroy His people? The suggested response was worthy of consideration; it was to simply “remove the father.” This became, to me, more than an obvious reference to The Father God referred to by Jesus. At first, it was an interesting postulate, but on closer examination become more significant. In short, my thinking on this claim led me to recall recent history, identifying what I strongly suspect were a series of strategic community changes over time, seemingly innocuous in isolation, but in aggregate, more sinister. Some examples of the scope of my thinking follow. The transition from culture icons such as Andy Williams show (just one example) to the Simpsons, where fathers graduated from a trusted authority to buffoon. The ease which the law of the land enabled (I suggest tacitly encouraged) the easy removal of fathers through no-fault divorce and a strong legal default to maintaining a predominant mother-children family unit. The entertainment industry’s penchant to glamourise family and marriage dysfunction helped here. An important objective to liberating women to participate in a professional meritocracy (equality of opportunity) evolved into a resentment driven educational sector and media industry, third-wave feminist cartel, now pursuing equality of outcome, a more sinister declaration of war against the “patriarchy.” Many more examples, but here is my point re: global warming/climate change. This is, I believe, a significant reinforcement of the atheistic-evolution revolution; the replacement of Father God with Mother Nature as the ultimate idol of our generations: the strategic use of Hegelian dialect (creating an unprovable crisis to which idolaters can readily attach and parade their moral virtue) ) and then also convince governments to part with very large sums of taxpayer funds, no doubt to build more idolatrous structures and further propagate this myth through media, education and a fearful political class. My sense is that this really upgraded the dictionary wars to a new level, (“deniers”). There is obviously more to this and frankly, I realise it can become an academic pursuit rather than life-giving revelation, but this postulate has now become the default lens through which I now assess these macro trends, (that is, a strategy that creates the fertile soil to propagate societal degradation). It is idolatry on steroids, but is it a master strategy? If so, what might be the implications about how to fight this culture and dictionary war? Your insights are keenly sought.
Edmund, yes. The war on the father (as biblically defined) is a master strategy. And the state becomes a milch cow with thousands of teats. The fundamental answer is for us to preach the gospel in season and out of season, to preach it when they want to hear it, and to preach it when they don’t. The secondary strategic response, under the first, is to find a cute girl, marry her, and have a passel of kids, providing them all with a Christian education, doing so if possible in a like-minded community.
An Off-Grid Church
We know by now all fifty states are fine with same sex unions, and the national Union is not going to come apart over it. It might come apart over something else, but apparently not that. If you are correct, that leaves us with an off grid, underground faithful church. I’m sure you have thought about the various ways. What would you expect it to look like?
John, I expect the first wave to be the establishment of a distinction between registered and unregistered churches.
My heart was warmed by your reference of Dr Sproul. God put him in my life when I desperately needed someone to carry me along. I enjoy and benefit much from your writing and ministry. Thanks to God for all that He is doing with and through you.
Laurence, thank you for the kind words.
I’m a fairly new reader of the blog, though I’ve read some of your books. Thank you for your though-provoking posts. A seeming inconsistency occurred to me in today’s roundup email. One of the letters you post is from Roger, who laments the profane nature of the movies recommended by TGC, and you agree with him. But earlier in the email, you recommend a book by Kurt Schlichter, whom you describe as profane. So my question: How do you determine what kind of/how much profanity is allowable? Thank you!
Laura, thanks, and good question. The gent who wrote about the movie reviews was talking about entertainment, and how it appeared that the gunk involved was just being ingested without any awareness. They didn’t appear to care how many slugs are in the salad. Schlichter’s book was one of non-fiction analysis, not entertainment, and I thought that analysis was really worthwhile. But I did want to put a warning label on it so I mentioned that he can get profane. But I do think his writing would be stronger and better without it. So for me the issue is not whether Christians can come across that kind of thing in their reading and viewing habits, but rather how they react to it when they do. And whether they even notice it.
-The lane markings are being erased overnight, but the handwriting has been scribbled on the wall in big, black magic-marker letters for quite a while. The trendy objective of “consent” as the new amoral standard of “no marks at all” is to make criminal anything godly, conservative or commonsense in order to allow children to make decisions that are “right” to him/her in absence of parental authority. And while we’re on the subject, parent as authority is crossed out as outmoded, old-fashioned and cruel, replaced with being the “trusted friend” of your child, setting no boundaries whatsoever to his/her “pursuit of passion.” When yet another of these social experiments fail to work out, yet another victim category is created, replete with excuses, demands for reparations and an ever-expanding list of accommodations to be made by the rest of us to be “accepting” of this ugly and perverted diversity we have created. No one in this ungodly world expects there would be consequences to all of this, but Christians know better and need to stand up for and defend the truth no matter what. Christ never promised us a life free of persecution. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine (2 Tim. 4:2).
SHB, preach it.
Re: The Idolatry of Consent I mentioned to my wife at one point about 18 months ago that I thought pedophilia was the next logical “thing” in the moral slide that is afflicting our culture. She said she found that tough to swallow, that anyone could think this would be acceptable. I said once we’ve reached the point where we give children the right to consent to body mutilation and chemical sterilization/hormone therapy, how dare we tell them they can’t love some 60-year old guy? This progression is actually entirely logical and inevitable. In fact, in some ways it might actually be backing up slightly, depending on which bit of weirdness you believe is more egregious.
David, you are absolutely right. When you get on a particular train, when it arrives you have to get off.
Re: Idolatry of Consent—“Consent” is nothing less than the creative word that brings into existence the sexual reality. And it is not even a mutual act of creation because each party’s consenting word creates only their own interiorized version of the sexual experience. The sadness, for me, lies in the fact that this just underscores that the sexual act itself has been evacuated of all intrinsic meaning. Its meaning now is no more than as an act that has or has not been consented to.
Stephen, correct. And this interiorized version of sex means that there is no longer sexual communion, but rather just masturbation with others close by. And everything means what you want it to mean inside your head. Which makes it all meaningless.
Thank you for writing about this. The wolves do not want there to be a difference between wolves and sheep. Predators thrive when predator and prey are ill-defined. If definitions are fluid, then creation is fluid. If creation is fluid, then gender is fluid. If gender is fluid, then age is fluid. It is satanic.
This is very true. Having just spent the past eight years in Boston, I wish I could communicate to someone who has not just how very concrete all of this is in the present day. Obviously, among those who seek to defraud society by means of the introduction of such verbal disease, none of these issues pertain in fact to values or law at all. What is at issue is the establishment of social and political control by individuals who, if they succeed in these things, will themselves be above all laws they have established. In some cases, these individuals have already proven themselves to be beyond the reach of all prosecution. Provided the financial means and proper social connections, an individual can live two very different public and private lives, especially in a city. Regardless, in a city where genuine Christian influence is minimal, and probably has been for decades at least, those who know are well-acquainted with the fact that this phenomenon you are referring to is just a matter of playing with words. This awareness, and the willingness to join in the game, is part of what constitutes their notion of being cosmopolitan and sophisticated, and what great gay pride they take in that.
Iain, yes. And as I read your letter I thought again of C.S. Lewis’s prophetic work on this very issue—The Abolition of Man.
Would it be fair to say that consent is necessary but not sufficient for moral sexual activity? The standard of consent strikes me as an absurdly low bar. So low that our president in his infamous comments about how and where to “grab ‘em” actually clears it: ‘You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful . . . I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything . . . Grab ‘em by the p____. You can do anything.”
Josh, exactly right. Consent is one part of the standard, but is not the standard.
Pastor Wilson, This doesn’t respond to anything in particular but I haven’t read a good treatment of whether Christians should be vegans, and I thought you might have thoughts on it.
Nathan, I have written a book on various food and foodie issues, which can be found here.
Do We Really Want Liberty?
Regarding the comments on theonomy and liberty under President Doug: I’ve discovered that a huge proportion of Americans are out and out opponents of liberty. If they ever see something free, their reflex is to put a bunch of rules on it. How else can you explain a home owners association? Our family started home schooling way back in the 1980’s, and the most frequently heard comment (exclaimed with mouth agape and eyebrows aloft) was, “Can you do that?” So when you crank up your campaign for POTUS, don’t get the idea that freedom is something that everyone automatically wants, like ice cream or donuts. On the other hand, when people raise objections to your book about slavery, you could always say, “What’s your problem with slavery? You vote yourself into more bondage every chance you get!”
Steve, right. As Dylan put it, “You gotta serve somebody.” As the old guard reconstructionists would put it, slavery is inescapable. If you are a slave to sin, then you are eventually going to be enslaved to other men. And if you are a slave to Christ, you will find yourself walking in liberty. There will be no appeal in genuine liberty unless there is a massive reformation and revival.
Heavy Horses, Heavy Blessings: Having gotten married a little over five months ago, I find myself more than a little convicted that my marriage would not, as yet, be rightly described as of the Word and in the Word. Not consistently at any rate. Do you have any practical tips to help me build that foundation? What did it look like for you? Could you point me to any good resources on where to start with family devotions?
Jonathan, the thing I would do is keep it simple. Establish a beachhead for the Word in your home. Make it a point to read the New Testament aloud to your wife, a chapter a day, and also pray for your day. Don’t over-engineer it. Let your devotional time grow organically, but start simple.
You sketched such a good picture of Nancy in her denim skirt listening to Jethro Tull that I remembered it from when you first shared it thirteen years ago: https://dougwils.com/resources/personal/thirty-years-of-no-other-way-to-go.html. Grateful for you both, and for all the fruit that God has grown in the soil of your forty-three years.
Kyriosity, thank you.
RE: Heavy Horses Richly blessed indeed. Or to quote The Scarlet Pimpernel: dem fine woman!
Eric, not only the Scarlet Pimpernel, but also Uncle Andrew. But Uncle Andrew knew not whereof he spoke, while we do.
Thank you for sharing this insight into your life and for the album recommendation. Congratulations to you and Nancy! May the Lord keep your marriage and ministry fat and flourishing for years to come. “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing; to shew that the Lord is upright: he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him (Ps. 92:12-15).
Todd, thank you very much.