Rashness or Courage?
Your recent reminder to not take the bait provokes a series of questions regarding the application of Biblical categories to the current cultural climate in America. Did Phinehas take the bait? Why or why not? Would a Phinehas-like response in today’s environment qualify as taking the bait? Why or why not?
If you have already written somewhere on this, please simply point me to it. If not, I’d love to see a write up on how the Christian should or should not imitate Phinehas and what it would or would not look like in today’s clown world.
Anon, here is the thing. Perhaps you have seen that meme of George Washington in sunglasses, with the text that says, “It is only treason if you lose.” This kind of thing has a moral center, but it is also a tactical decision requiring great wisdom. Too soon and you are a rash idiot. Too late and you are craven and compromised. Just right and you are insightful and a hero. The way to do it is the “just right”way.
Money for Nothing
Good morning Brother Doug, I’ve been listening to you for quite some time, and have recently been engaged in a discussion with a fellow believer on a subject that I hope is of interest to you.
A friend of mine at my church, who we’ll call Stanley for the sake of this letter, asked me if I thought it was wrong to go to a casino. We both agree that sacrificing large amounts of money on the alter of “chance” is clearly sinful and irresponsible, so his specific question would go something more like this: If I just wanted to go have fun with my friends, and I had $100 budgeted for “fun” and decided that I wanted to use it on slot machines at the nearest casino, what would be wrong with doing that?”
My response to Stanley was built on the logic of Proverbs 7, which talks about avoiding the corner of the harlot. Is it possible that someone could go to that corner and not sin? I mean, I guess so. But why would you risk it? So knowing the rampant idolatry that casinos make their money off of, my question to Stanley would be “why go to a place like that at all?” My position is that going to a casino is always unwise, and therefore shouldn’t be done by any Christian. Stanley’s position is that, though it is generally unwise, it is possible for it not to be and really comes down to a conscience issue.
Now, he responded to my position by questioning me on my willingness to go to a bar from time to time. In Stanley’s mind, the arguments of idolatry and shady marketing tactics that monetize people’s addictions apply to bars, casinos, and even fast-food joints. I was unable to come up with a good justification for going to a bar that Stanley couldn’t also apply to the fun casino outing that he had mentioned previously.
I was hoping you could shed some light on this discussion and perhaps provide a good framework for thinking this through. I am aware of your video concerning gambling, as well as your videos and books that talk about the Christian and alcohol. Since both drinking and casting lots (provided you are relying on God’s providence and not luck) are acceptable at various times, I wanted to know what your belief is on actually visiting the establishments that are perhaps designed to promote less-than holy versions of these things.
I have also told Stanley that, if I were to become convinced that going to a casino and going to a bar was equally unwise, I would be inclined to do neither rather than accepting both as normal.
John, great question, and here is a quick version of an answer. If someone says that they had half a pint of beer, and someone else asks why, a good answer is because they were thirsty. It is nonsensical to ask why they got thirsty because God made us to get thirsty. But God didn’t make us to want to be entertained by winning a couple hundred dollars while only risking one hundred. Wanting money for nothing is not a noble desire.
Firstly I want to thank you for all the work you have done in advancing the truth, and certainly so when it comes to the sexes. I am a 20-year-old woman who greatly wishes she would have been told many of the things you wrote about in your dear Darla series.
I go to university currently and am involved in many co-ed spheres. I lead a co-ed Bible study and serve on a pretty male-dominated serve team at my church. I’ve been single all my life and have yet to be pursued by anyone, nor really know any man who I would like to be pursued by! I suppose my question is this, should I be doing more? Are there other spaces that I should step into/ should I be asking friends of mine if they know anyone or should I just continue to wait and pray and trust the Lord to bring about a good man in His time? I think it is hard as a woman to toe the line on being patient or being too passive. I would love to be married young and know this is a good desire, yet struggle to understand what my role in this process right now should be.
E.D., while you shouldn’t take the initiative by asking guys out, it is perfectly fine to take the initiative by asking friends if they know anyone, or asking your parents the same. You can take the initiative by going to conferences where godly men are likely to be, and so forth. Being proactive is not the same thing as being brazen.
What advice would you give a church leader considering issues like cigars and alcohol? In SBC life, it is often seen as unseemly for a minister to partake in these things. However, it seems clear that he New Testament does not require total abstinence from these things. Obviously, stronger/weaker brother dynamics come into play here. What if the weaker brother is in authority, and the stronger in submission to the weaker? Would submission necessitate abstinence? Would that be the wise thing, if not the required?
Anon, I obviously don’t believe that a moderate use of such things is sinful. And you are right that you shouldn’t swing your liberty around on the end of a rope, knowing that you will clock a weaker brother. But I would not recommend putting yourself in a situation where you are under the authority of a weaker brother.
My family and I took a recent trip to Scotland, a place that I get the sense you’re found of. We enjoyed some pretty fabulous scenery and figured we’d share it with you as you may enjoy it.
Thanks so much for all the great content! We’ve really grown a lot since becoming members of Canon Plus!
Tim, thanks very much.
I’ve learned recently about catechism and it seems like a great thing to do. I wasn’t raised a Christian and my church doesn’t teach it so my real life exposure is at zero, I’ve only heard people talk about it.
I want to begin doing catechisms with my wife before we have kids and wondered if you have any advice. I want to lead well but I’m a first gen Christian and I’m starting from scratch . . . I would really appreciate some guidance. Thanks in advance.
Colin, good idea. I would recommend that a good start would be to get a copy of the Westminster Shorter Catechism or the Heidelberg Catechism, or both, and read one question and answer aloud together with your wife as part of your devotions together. This will familiarize you with those catechisms, and will give you and your wife something meaty to talk about.
Candidates Out of Left Field
Unrelated to anything else, I’m curious as to your thoughts on Vivek Ramaswamy. While he’s a Hindu, he was raised in Catholic schools and has a deep respect for Christianity, and the consistent message of his candidacy is that we as a country have lost our faith and vision (and downstream of that values and everything else) and are filling the God-shaped hole in our hearts with all sorts of fake and false religions. And he’s calling for “revival in the great faith traditions of our country”. It’s . . . so close. Fellow traveler who we should accept as far as we can, or what?
Ian, I like what little I have heard, and am happy to have good candidates out there that I couldn’t vote for.
I know you at least used to have a friendship with Mark Driscoll. After all of his controversy, would you say that he is no longer someone that Christians ought to listen to? Some of his content on masculinity still seems helpful, but I don’t want to put myself in the position of listening to false teachers. It seems a little fishy that all of his worst critics were the same people who embraced the woke crowd, and didn’t bat an eye at any of the SBC plagiarism nonsense.
Thanks for your time,
LM, I would feel free to continue to listen, and make sure you remain discerning. I suspect that my doctrinal and practical disagreements with him are larger than they used to be, but he and his family still love the Lord. And as you point out, many of his critics disgraced themselves worse than he did.
Federal Headship and Marriage
I read your book “The Covenant Household” and am currently reading “Federal Husband.” I have found these books really illuminating of the nature of biblical covenants and how the a husband and father is to reflect the covenant headship of Christ. However, I have a question about how this relates to the federal headship of Adam. The way it is typically understood, the federal headship of Adam seems to be the opposite way from the way that you described biblical covenants as normally working in your books. It seems that normally the covenant head takes responsibility for the sins of those for whom he is the covenant head (e.g. Job 1:4-5). This is what Christ did on the cross and what you say husbands and fathers should seek to imitate. However, with Adam it seems that the opposite happens, the covenant head sins and those for whom he is covenant head have to accept guilt for his sin. I assume you wouldn’t say that a wife should accept guilt for the sins of her husband or children should accept guilt for the sins of their father, so why is it different with Adam? Some would say that it is because we would make the same decision that Adam did. I know this to be true, but then it seems that it is no longer an issue of federal headship, that is, it seems to me that a federal head has authority just by virtue of being the federal head, regardless of whether those for whom he is federal head would make the same decision.
I found your distinction between responsibility and guilt really helpful as well, but this distinction seems to go away when it comes to Adam. My understanding of the doctrine of Adam’s federal headship is that we are not simply responsible for Adam’s sin, but his guilt is imputed to us, and we would go to Hell as a result of it apart from Christ even if we never sinned ourselves. Why is it that a husband is responsible for the sins committed by others in his household but does not bear guilt for them, but we do bear guilt for Adam’s sin?
Finally, is the doctrine of the federal headship of Adam (and his guilt being imputed to us) taught clearly in Scripture anywhere? I know that people often appeal to Romans 5:12 saying that “sin came into the world through one man” . . . “and death spread to all men,” but Paul explicitly says that this is “because all sinned.” It seems that Paul’s argument in Romans 5 is that Adam sinned first and then we all followed in his footsteps, not that his guilt was imputed to us. Paul makes an analogy between the first Adam and the last Adam (Christ), but it would seem to me to be pushing to analogy too far to say that sin must be imputed in exactly the same way in both cases. In fact, we know that it is not imputed in exactly the same way because Adam’s sin would be imputed to everyone, but Christ’s righteousness would only be imputed to the elect. The Scriptures teach in many places that we are sinful from the womb and that we have a sinful nature as a result of the fall, but I can’t see anywhere that they teach the idea that Adam’s sin is imputed to us. I’m not saying that it would be unfair for Adam’s sin to be imputed to us, I just don’t see that the Scriptures teach it and it seems to cut against the normal way that biblical covenant headship works. Am I missing something?
Thanks for taking the time to read my letter!
Will, great questions, and let me tackle the last one first. I would appeal to Paul’s statement that we are by nature “objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3). You are correct that headship in marriage is only comparable to the headship of Adam and Christ, and not identical to it. This is why I have said that husbands cannot duplicate Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, but they are commanded to imitate it. The reason we are limited to imitation is for the reasons you point out. Adam was our representative, and he represented us perfectly. A regular husband is also a representative, but in a weaker sense. When the head of the home sins, the family is not guilty—but the family is ashamed.
Congrats. You got Joe. Impressions on this guy? You think he’ll arrive at a Thomistic metaphysic? I sure hope so. How will Rigney add to the team at NSA and Christ Church?
Blessings to you as you build Christendom.
Silas, if he winds up Thomistic, he wouldn’t be the first one. We can live with that—love covers a multitude of sins. The current plan is that he will teach a section of freshman theology at NSA, and he will serve pastorally on the staff of Christ Church, ministering as a chaplain to all of our newcomers.
I’m writing this in response to your blog piece titled, “The Politics of Justice, and the Injustice of Politics.” Your thoughts on the vindication of Paige Patterson are well-written and lucid. I’d love to believe that those in Big Eva would apologize and start showing some God-given integrity. But alas, I’m not sure anyone in that camp will be paying attention; or perhaps, like the corporate press, they’ll simply ignore this Patterson news in hopes that no one notices as it fades into the background.
That said, my eyes are wide open. The Patterson situation was one among many in 2018 used to beat the conservative & complementarian wing of the church into submission. These instances were used as a smear campaign to obscure very real abuses in the Egalitarian wing of the church such as Hillsong and Willow Creek. But the Christian media takes its cues from the corporate press and reported on those instances in a supposedly more objective manner.
Of course, what was missing in their pieces was a failure to suggest that egalitarian convictions might be a doorway opening into the potential abuse of women, which is the slanderous claim leveled against the complementarian view and its adherents. Like you note many times on this bat channel, this is a gross demonstration of unequal weights and measures.
It is true that “one of the central and screaming needs of our time” is an understanding of due process within the church. Is the writing of a book or a post to a blog the answer to that problem? It seems a good way for churches to examine themselves in this matter is to compare themselves to the advice that Jethro gave to Moses in Exodus 18. Men who understood these things were to be put over tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands. Do the math in your own congregations. How many congregations are there that have that sort of bandwidth. If these numbers no longer apply because “Old Testament,” then what should the numbers be now?
Does one man in a congregation of a thousand suffice?
John, yes. Hard to find the right kind of men.
I have followed Canon Press on social media for the past 2 years and have found so much truth and guidance for my Christian walk with it. For this reason I choose to write you a letter regarding my church and ask if you can give any guidance or truth on whether my church is biblical or I should find another church.
I have been in Dunamis International Family Church for the past 12 years of my life, I came to know God in this church and this is where I have served. Our senior pastor always preached the gospel and going out into the world to call people to repentance, he had a big heart for the youth and reaching them through arts through dance, music etc. He has passed away a couple of years back and our senior pastor now served under him since the age of 18-years-old. But recently since Covid our new senior pastor has preached a lot about the mysteries of God, commanding your day, govern under the sun, you become what you behold etc. His emphasis is on being spirit light being and moving in and out of God’s realms and courtrooms. Administer on earth what God reveals to you on heaven etc. We have found out that he was introduced to teachings from Ian Clayton from New Zealand who teaches all the “subjects.” Ian Clayton has only a few teachings available online though other sources but all his material must be bought on his website, but when I listen to his teachings and listen to our Sunday sermons it is copy and paste. I personally feel very unformattable with these teachings as I don’t believe it is what the Bible teaches us to do. But we have a youth group that we take care of and I want give them sound doctrine, can you give any advice on whether my church is biblical and I should share their message regardless of how I feel or would you suggest finding a more biblical church?
Thanks again for all your work.
Ilse, I know next to nothing about this group, but what you describe certainly sounds troublesome. Unless you are in a position to help turn things around, it sounds to me as though you should at least consider leaving.
Second Commandment Issues and More
Ask Doug: Visual Representation of Jesus What are your thoughts on the popular TV show The Chosen? Why is it rising in popularity and would you consider it something to be avoided as a second commandment violation?
Josh, correct. I couldn’t make a movie like that for second commandment reasons. I also couldn’t make a movie like that because I don’t know how to make a movie. But that is another topic for another day. And even if it were lawful to portray Jesus in a film, I would have serious doubts about the actor who thought he was up to the challenge. The results always seem to me to be like that early portrayal of Aslan in that BBC production—Aslan as vaudeville lion.
Disciplined as Sons
I almost finished with Why Children Matter and is has been tremendously helpful and convicting! It reminded me of a question that I have long had sitting in the back of mind concerning God’s discipline. I remember as a 7th grader going to my youth pastor and telling him I was doubting my salvation because I didn’t feel like I was being disciplined by God for anything in particular at the moment. He took the approach of talking about how sin brings natural consequences (e.g. adultery causing marital distress, unwanted pregnancy, etc.) and that if I was not engaging in some type of overt sin I may not see such causes in my life.
In another place (like the author of Hebrews, I cannot remember the reference) you wrote or said that God’s judgment is not a toolbox of torture from which he picks out certain punishments to hammer us with, but that rather sin comes packaged with its own effects. I certainly agree with the idea that the poisonous fruit of sin causes spiritual, emotional, and physical problems just by virtue of what it is.
Now to my question(s): What exactly is the nature of God’s discipline and how do we discern it in our lives? Bad stuff happens to everybody. That’s life. Then there are trials that God puts his children to to strengthen us, which is a certain type of preventative discipline I suppose. But the author of Hebrews presents God’s discipline as something we can recognize, and by recognizing it we can know that we are God’s children.
By God’s discipline does the author of Hebrews simply refer to the conviction that a believer feels that draws him to repentance and a return to fellowship with God? Or is he saying, “You told a lie so your car is going to break down.” I do not see such a neat cause and effect of times where I am being a stinker and particular bad things happening in my life. Though I do know well the experience of starting to drift and God yanking on the leash to pull me back through conviction.
Thanks for any clarification you can give
Johnathan, thanks. I believe that the discipline God administers to us is administered to us in and through the conscience. Sometimes the conscience can do the job in a stand alone fashion—you told a lie and you know that you did, and it bothers you. Other times, God uses circumstances to whack you on the side of the head, but even there it is your conscience that would make the connection. And you are right that it is not an automatic connection.
Men and Marriage
I appreciated your video last week “Why Aren’t Men Getting Married?” I recognize you were responding to a secular man, but I don’t think the marriage crisis among self-identified Christians is much better, even in conservative churches.
I personally identify with much of his assessment (minus his openness to cohabitation and fornication, obviously). Sometimes I can feel depressed about it, but nonetheless I remain open to the possibility of meeting a woman who overcomes those risks.
So, Pastor Doug, that’s really my way of asking… When are you starting a matchmaking service for Christians?
Miles, shoot me now.
Hypothetically speaking, if your daughter found herself falling (hard) for a good, godly and respectable Christian man who shared (and grew up with a family who shared) very similar values to your own (homeschooling, God’s opening of the womb, importance of worship, etc)… but differed on their views of baptism… would you prevent them from courting/dating? Or be grateful for the gift of a godly young man in a vast sea of….not that. And if, hypothetically speaking, their family has recently been introduced to the reformed tradition and have become recent Doug Wilson/crosspolitic fans and are showing signs of real growth and maturity? Because hypothetically speaking, your daughter and the guy are a great match in all other ways… but someday there may be hypothetical children who will be affected by your decision. PLEASE HELP! Hypothetically, he called to talk to you this week! :-)
HD, tough one. Here’s the principle. When you give your daughter away, you are not just pretending to give her away. She would be promising to follow him, and that would include following his decision on the baptism (or not) of the kids. As for my advice, if he is the paedo, and you guys are the baptists, I would say that you should totally encourage this relationship. If it is the other way, I would ask the young man about the depth of his convictions, and about how he would treat your daughter’s convictions (brusquely or tenderly). And make your decision from there.
Politics and Such
Re: A Ham Sandwich With 34 Slices of Felonious Cheese Rev. Wilson:
Thank you for this post. Your sailing-close-to-the-wind option #2 is probably the one the progressive Dems selected. They have nobody-nada-zip who can run effectively in 2024. There is no Clinton/Obama type figure (not even a Gore!) who can step to the plate (RFK Jr. isn’t going to cut it and his vax stance will drive them nuts, which is highly amusing). Assuming for a moment that the DNC powers that be decide that neither Biden nor Harris is an acceptable candidate, their best option is Gavin Newsome–he’s at least been a governor of California, which conventional political wisdom (har) says is a plus.
Trump raised at least $8m (from what I read) on indictment day. He doesn’t appear in court again until December. That’s plenty of time to fundraise (on both sides) and plenty of time for the charges to be dropped…in New York. At some point, I’d look for charges to be brought in Georgia against Trump. The timing gets tricky, but the goal would be to have Trump (as the presumptive Republican nominee) under indictment on charges that most legal scholars think are more viable (not difficult) than the ones in NY, going into next summer. The Dems must know that DeSantis crushes any of their candidates (I’m thinking Reagan vs. Mondale in ’84). There are plenty in this country who voted once or twice for Trump who absolutely will not–right or wrong–pull the lever another time for him. The left knows this, and it also knows how weak it is nationally. This strategy just might be the left’s last ditch hail Mary effort to win national power in 2024/2028.
Dave, you make a lot of sense. Keep making sense, whatever they say.
“And that means they must now openly join forces with the slow motion deep state coup that began in 2016” While I agree with your take on the whole situation w.r.t. Trump’s indictment, I think the first truly hostile and outrageous deep state action against the people wasn’t the 2016 actions against Trump, but the 2013 IRS Tea Party targeting.
Ian, I take your point. Many years of thuggish behavior, and nobody in jail yet.
The Holy Spirit and the Kids
Thank you for your ministry.
Could you recommend resources that talk about the role and work of the Holy Spirit and more specifically how the work of the Holy Spirit is modelled and taught to children who are not yet regenerated? In terms of teaching, I’m interested in what is taught about the Holy Spirit in a classical school setting.
EH, I am not quite sure I understand the question. In a classical school setting like Logos, the basic doctrine class teaches the person and work of the Holy Spirit. If they are not regenerate, they at least are taught what regeneration is.
Glenn Beck and the Gospel
What do you think about a member in good standing of the Mormon church who, taking his words at face value, preaches the true Gospel?
Specifically, I’m talking about the conservative radio superstar, Glenn Beck.
Glenn Beck remains an unrepentant, unapologetic Mormon, and yet to listen to him talk about God, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Gospel, substitutionary atonement, our need for an alien righteousness, grace, etc., one could think they are listening to any mainstream, evangelical Christian.
And yet, even though on the surface, the same words are employed, officially, the God and Christ of Mormon teaching are blasphemous monstrosities.
So how can an unrepentant Mormon preach the true Gospel, since even though the Mormon’s words are identical to the Christian’s, the meaning behind those words is anti-Christian?
I am especially exercised about this, really wanting to know your viewpoint, because I have loved ones who faithfully listen to Glenn Beck’s radio show and who resonate with everything he says about America, the Bible, the Gospel, etc. who are absolutely 100% convinced that Glenn Beck is a true Christian and think of him as a Christian brother.
When I try to point out to them that Glenn Beck is a Mormon, and by definition not a Christian, their basic response is, “How could anyone talk about the Bible, Christ, and the Gospel like he does and not be a true Christian?”
When I hear this man talking about the Bible, Christ, the Gospel, etc., my feeling is similar to hearing Handel’s Messiah on the radio, then learning I’ve been listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir… the feeling as if I had just eaten a wonderful meal in a restaurant, only to discover that the kitchen sits in an open sewer and all the cooks are covered in filth.
Pastor Wilson, what should we think about a Mormon preaching what sounds on the surface every bit the true Gospel? And does Philippians 1:18 have any bearing on this?
Robert, you are right that the Mormon gospel is a false gospel. At the same time, I have heard of renegade Mormons who get converted and who (for a short time) remain within the Mormon church. But when that happens, they are completely at odds with the church and the church is at odds with them. So the thing to ask would be “if Glenn Beck has really been converted, why hasn’t the Mormon church kicked him out yet?”