I was wondering if you are familiar with cognitive dissonance theory. I had heard of it, and just recently heard an argument that the New Testament writers followed all the same predictable lines of reducing dissonance after the death of Christ, as other doomsday and apocalyptic cults. The conclusion being that they reinterpreted and spiritualized all of the Old Testament messianic prophecies, and put all of the more concrete aspects of Jewish eschatology into the future, and therefore made them unfalsifiable. It seems to me there are a few key aspects being overlooked here, but just wondering your thoughts, or if you had any book recommendations. Thanks for all you do!
Nick, this is just an example of what C.S. Lewis called Bulverism. If you skip over the part where you show that your adversary is wrong, and proceed straight to the part where you explain how he got so silly, you need never engage with an argument again. The problem is that both sides can play this game. Just imagine the cognitive dissonance when the Sanhedrin johnnies were told by the guards that Jesus rose from the dead.
More Christmas Doggerel, the Good Kind
I read your Christmas poem, and then happened to read a not-so-wonderful modern rendering of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen. How do we get more of yours and less of theirs?
BK, I would suggest paying me more.
It seems that as Calvinism grows its influence, there continue to be rising opponents to it. Would you be willing to take on Leighton Flowers in a debate? Can you speak to the “provisionist” view? I’m tired of seeing Leighton talk about James White over and over and would love to hear you take him on.
Zach, I am willing for a debate like that in principle.
Not sure whether you had already seen this. Could this (“Siberian Unicorn”) be the behemoth of Job?
Daniel, I don’t think the behemoth. But perhaps the unicorn of Job.
Quite the Dilemma
I enjoy your content. I am on the Vestry of an Anglican Church in El Paso, Tx. We have become ground zero of sorts for immigration, what I thought was the illegal kind.
In any event, there’s a big push to help the “migrants “ and I am having a struggle. What we are seeing is clearly wrong on many levels.
I have been praying and I must admit, I am stumped. I will pray and pray harder, but seeking some guidance. What is an appropriate biblical worldview on the current immigration situation here in the United States?
Joshua, the problem is not the immigration, but rather the out-of-controlness involved. I would stay away from any subsidizing of the current chaos.
Thanks for reading, reflecting, and responding re: a Christian nationalist program for immigration. You said
“I think you are starting at the wrong end. I would start with cutting welfare benefits, free schooling, anchor babies, and so on.”
The end of welfare (of which I take free schooling to be a variety) is definitely one of the holy grails of Christian Nationalism, IMO. I will drop to my knees, sing the Gloria Patri, then get up and dance a jig when that day comes.
The quibble I have with stopping anchor babies is that, to my understanding, they are only a problem as long as welfare exists. So if I were starting from your “right end” I’d not even bother addressing them.
I view this issue as you view abortion. I’m a smash mouth incrementalist. I’d sign an end welfare bill if it were put on my desk, but I wouldn’t refuse to sign those other measures I imagined, if they were put on my desk before the welfare bill arrived.
Where does my sense of political pragmatism come from? Probably from the fact that conservatives, Christians even, are fully addicted to social security. So, I might be able to sell them today on the idea of taking in poor immigrants in exchange for a tax break, but I fear that they won’t be broken of the Rooseveltian drug until, as Gary North used to say, “the checks start to bounce”.
I was intrigued to learn recently that, for counterintuitive reasons (God drawing straight with crooked lines?) increased immigration actually does not tend to expand the welfare state . . . see here
What do you think of the idea of welcoming poor immigrants on very easy terms, but only naturalizing them, not giving them the franchise? I realize that’s politically a non-starter given what our political culture has become, but I’m interested to hear what you believe about the idea of a civic franchise in general.
Judd, as you noted, anything sensible here is going to be a non-starter. The problem with raw democracy is that you wind up with, as the fellow said, three coyotes and a sheep voting on what to have for lunch. But of course, oligarchies and aristocracies have their corruptions too. Perhaps we could have a universal franchise for the House of Representatives, and a property requirement for other elections. Just a random thought.
Question concerning the Last Days according to Scripture. For a few years I held, as many Reformed Christians do, that the last days are the time period describing Christ’ first to second advent. About two or three years ago I began familiarizing myself more and more with what I believe is to be your position (correct me if I’m wrong), and the position of others such as Jordan, Leithart, DeMar, Chilton, Kayser, etc. which is that the last days were the time period between Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension to the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the temple at 70AD, i.e., the last days of the old covenant economy. It seems to me that this is the more natural reading when allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. Nevertheless, when I read mostly the messianic passages throughout the old covenant that allude to the last days (or latter times), it seems at times to better fit the first description of the last days. Here’s an example (glorious postmill passage):
Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the Lord
Will be established [a]as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And many peoples will come and say,
“Come, let’s go up to the mountain of the Lord,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
So that He may teach us [b]about His ways,
And that we may walk in His paths.”
For the law will go out from Zion
And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
And He will judge between the nations,
And will mediate for many peoples;
And they will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning knives.
Nation will not lift up a sword against nation,
And never again will they learn war. (Is. 2:2-4, NASB)
This prophecy certainly found its inaugurating start at the first coming of King Jesus, however, if I were to be consistent with my current definition of the last days, this would have to be fulfilled by 70AD, because it takes place in the last days? That just doesn’t make sense, but it would work scripturally speaking, if I concluded that the last days ran all the way up to His second coming . . . ? Hope I’m making sense. Thoughts? Blessings!
Ben, yes, you are making sense. I don’t think “last days” has a one-size-fits-all definition. In any given use, you have to ask “last days of what?” and seek the answer from the context.
I am currently reading the “Justice Primer”. I am not all the way through it, but it has hit a nerve.
Several years ago now my wife’s daughter’s 5-year-old son, (I would say “step-nephew” but that implies a relationship that is not there for reasons that will become obvious.) accused me of touching him inappropriately. What actually happened was that I did NOT touch him inappropriately, even though he was trying to get me to. My wife and I were visiting the family. My wife was sitting on a couch perpendicular to the loveseat in which the boy and I were sitting, about 8 feet away. The boy kept trying to get me to put my hand between his legs. After the third time I told him I was not going to and that adults should not be touching him there. I immediately got up and went outside to where his mother was and told her what happened. The next instant the boy called for his mom and said that I HAD touched him inappropriately. I was not asked about it, but after we left my wife was told that I was no longer welcome as I had touched her son inappropriately. I wanted an investigation. I called CPS, I spoke with chaplains and pastors. CPS said that unless the parent complained there would be no investigation. The chaplains and pastors were sympathetic, but of no help.
My problem is that I am trying to forgive my wife’s daughter for not even wanting to find out if it is true. I have not ever touched the boy inappropriately, but someone has. He has anger management issues, throws tantrums and had problems with pooping in his pants up to about age 4. His mom is absolutely resistant to any counseling for him. It is apparently easier to banish me than to deal with the problem.
I have forgiven her. For 4 years I have been working on it, trying to study biblical forgiveness, praying about it frequently, and most of the time it is on the back burner, but every once in a while it comes back to the fore. I ask the Spirit to help me, but it is still there. Perhaps this is a case where it won’t ever be gone because I am not as good at forgetting as God. Do you have any suggestions?
R, there is really nothing to do here except have the forgiveness wrapped up in a present, and ready to give it if it is ever sought.
Regenerate But Unreconstructed
No need to post this one publicly, but feel free to do so. In the past, I’ve emailed you concerning your views on the Confederacy, the Civil War, Lincoln, Reconstruction, etc., and I’ve shared some book recommendations challenging the notion that the South was defending States’ rights and the original structure of the 1787 Constitution against the nationalizing encroachment of Yankee Republicans, and that the Fourteenth Amendment marked the triumph of nationalism and the demise of Madisonian federalism. In reality, it was actually the South that was the nationalist subverter of States’ rights in the years leading up to the War, and the 14th Amendment was a moderate Republican project to restore, affirm, and protect antebellum federalism and State sovereignty and to limit Congressional power. In addition to the books I have previously recommended to you supporting this understanding of the War and Reconstruction, I thought you might check out these lectures/interviews from Prof. Kurt Lash, who is arguably the foremost Fourteenth Amendment scholar around. He’s a conservative Christian and a very bright constitutional theorist in the Originalist school: here and here.
So now you can see these views of the War are not just the speculative musings of some nobody small-town lawyer, but actually have all but become the consensus in serious historical and Constitutional scholarship, especially among conservative legal scholars.To be transparent about my intentions, I’d like to rehabilitate you from your pro-Confederacy views, not just because they are historically misinformed, but because ditching the “neo-Confederate” label might help your curb appeal, doncha think?
But if you persist in holding to a “Lost Cause” view of the Confederacy, I will still continue to hold you in high esteem, and of course I do not impute racism to people like you and Steve Wilkins who see the Old South through rose-colored glasses. I know what you guys are saying, and while I disagree with much of it, I know you’re not espousing racism. But still, give it some thought.
Joe, first, thank you for the charitable take. The one thing I would like to take issue with here is the idea that I am a sentimentalist Lost Causer. If you haven’t read my book Black & Tan, I would recommend it to you. I really don’t think rose-colored glasses enter into it.
It All Depends
Situational Submission—I’ll make it blunt and quick . . . is a wife required to submit to her husband when he is drunk? Does this (all told, frequent) abandonment of his duties mean she can/must act as the “head of household” until he is physically and mentally able to do so again? Thank you kindly!
Staci, I would respond this way. If your husband is slightly tipsy, yes, submit to him as normal. But if he is blotto, incapacitated, then absolutely not. You don’t want to be in the position of him saying the next day, “Why did you let me burn the house down?” If a husband is not in his right mind, whatever the reason, then there is no problem with his wife, or his kids, respecting his office by ignoring the man.
The Perpetual Virginity of Mary
Thank you for your extensive commentaries, and especially your book “Get the Girl.” I have listened to it multiple times and found it profoundly helpful. For a long time, I was misled by people who unfairly censure you, but this year, I’m very thankful to have “examined” your side with an open mind. While I still have some differences such as baptism, you are now among my most appreciated and consistently listened-to preachers. Under the headship of my church’s ministry team, I recently started my own reformed YouTube channel called Reforming the Dust; and I always find myself inspired by your word skills as I write!
I have a question for your “Ask Doug” series. What are your thoughts on the perpetual virginity of Mary?
This issue is very important to me. I know that some theologians think that it is an unimportant and inconsequential matter. But I believe it is vital to the doctrines of natural order and the marriage covenant. I believe that when people say Mary’s marriage was an exception to the law of consummation, that opens up the door to all manner of other perversion and man-made “exceptions” to God’s law, leveraging other sexual abominations. For this reason, I believe Mary’s sexual relationship with Joseph is worth fighting for and a hill to die on.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this! If there is any interaction with this letter, though, I would appreciate your keeping my name anonymous.
Glory to God,
Nathan, we agree that it is important that we not affirm the perpetual virginity of Mary. It is doctrinally pernicious on a number of levels.
In “The Sound the Word of Christ Makes When Poured” from a few years ago, you mentioned that you don’t hold to exclusive psalmody, but do hold to dominant psalmody. You also pointed out that the passages talking about “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” likely refers to the Psalter.
I’ve seen some good arguments that the RPW requires exclusive psalmody because we only see commands to sing the Psalms in Scripture. I also did a lot of historical research and it looked like the early church didn’t sing anything other than Psalms for a few centuries. I haven’t yet found a good argument for singing things other than the Psalms.
What led you to not hold to exclusive psalmody? Could you point me to some resources on that, or write something about that? I’ve appreciated your thoughtful explanation of your position on things, and I’m wondering if you could help me understand this topic better. Thank you!
J, there are two basic ways to respond. One is to simply provide one counter-example. When Hezekiah recovered from his illness, he composed a song that was to be sung in the house of the Lord—and it is not in the psalter. “The Lord was ready to save me: Therefore we will sing my songs to the stringed instruments All the days of our life in the house of the Lord” (Isaiah 38:20). The theological response is that the strict version of the regulative principle that requires this is a principle that proves too much. If we say that anything not explicitly commanded is forbidden, then we lose Sunday worship, women partaking of communion, singing anything in church aloud, and so on.
R. Scott Clark and the Bee
Sir, I found your reaction to R. Scott Clark’s appearance on Babylon Bee to be particularly insightful. Two things stood out especially. Firstly, your general commentary helped to clarify for me the bottom line at issue: I resonate with your analysis—it sure sounds like Dr. Clark would find the idea of teaching Bible and catechism in Public schools to be more offensive than Drag Queens teaching transgender indoctrination; the latter at least wouldn’t violate our sacred “American” secularism. Indeed, as you observed at various moments in the video, he certainly sounds like he prefers our current secularist state of affairs to that of past generations that more reflected Christian values; he sounds like he would truly prefer a secularist society than one that was obedient to Christ. I was utterly dumbfounded by his suggestion that my preference for a Christian society (similar to what existed in the past) instead of the abominable current state of affairs is rooted in fear. Maybe it is because I genuinely believe such a society to be objectively better by any standard?
As you illuminated what Dr. Clark certainly did seem to be communicating; that he prefers a secularist state religion to a society obedient to Christ, my thoughts turned to Colonel Nicholson in “Bridge on the River Kwai,” who had become so comfortable and cozy with his captors that he forgot what side he was fighting for, and ended up aiding and abetting the enemy’s war effort.
Secondly, may I say that you absolutely nailed it by observing that our current society is ALREADY “punishing people who are not doctrinally correct.” I see that in my own circles on a regular basis – How many people have to cautiously choose their words to avoid violating transgender dogma or LGBT orthodoxy, for fear of being fired from their livelihood for expressing unapproved doctrine? I have to wonder if Dr. Clark really thinks that we would be safer from doctrine police in a secular society.
Thanks for your insight as always.
Daniel, thanks. And good illustration.
“Unless the definition of sin comes from outside the world, there is no such thing as sin.” Tarski proved this in the early 20th century. Of course, this is true because the Bible says it’s true, but I find it fascinating that there is actually a formal logical proof of this fact, and that it is nearly 100 years old.
G, do you have a link to that proof?
Too Late Now, But Go Right Ahead
Simple question. If Christmas Day lands on the Lord’s Day, as it does this year, would it be a sin to open presents on that day, or should I move that to another day?
Or perhaps more generally, whether or not Christmas lands on the Lord’s Day, but on whichever day between Christmas and the New Year lands on a Sunday, would it be a sin to open presents?
I ask in light of the prohibition from speaking our own words and walking our own words on the Sabbath in Isaiah 58, and the call in WCF 21:8 to abstain from our own worldly recreations and employments on the Lord’s Day. Does that fall in that category? If so, why? If not, why not? Or is this a more liberal case for which we can answer, “Well, it depends . . .”?
God bless you and your ministry!
PS. Your involvement in the film Antichrist and His Ruin was a great blessing. Your interview was very clear and glorifying to Jesus Christ. Thank you!
Christopher, I think that it is always appropriate to love one another with gifts.
Hagia and Hagiozo
Here’s a question that has been rolling around in my head for a while: if the child of a Christian parent is considered to be a Saint because of Paul’s evaluation in 1 Corinthians 7, wouldn’t a Christian’s unbelieving spouse also be considered a saint (per the appellation of “holy” in the same chapter)?
Elliot, good question. The adjective hagia, whenever it is applied to people is overwhelmingly rendered as saint. But the unbelieving spouse is set apart with the verb hagiozo, which doesn’t have that same kind of record.
Antisemitism is a Concern
It feels like you’re trying to force a point about antisemitism that’s not flowing very naturally out of your argument. Who is jealous of the Jews? Is this a problem in your church? Is there something the Jews have that you would like Christians to be jealous of? (The post seems like an ambiguous Baptist pulpit confrontation). It almost feels like you’re projecting some kind of weird personal fixation with the Jews. It’s kind of a creepy vibe. Otherwise keep up the good work. I appreciate all the “high performance people” stuff that you selflessly do for the benefit of others. Merry Christmas & Happy Hanukkah
Roger, just be patient. More is coming. But antisemitism is a growing problem in the conservative world, including in our circles around the country. Pastors need to be on it.