This month's Atlantic Monthly has a fascinating glimpse of the Marines in Iraq by Robert Kaplan.
He notes that the Marines he is imbedded with are:
a) More courageous than most men in general, and more courageous than he in particular, and:
b) Much more Christian than average
Unfortunately, the entire article is not available online. It's far more positive in its portrayal of American soldiers than accounts I've seen elsewhere.
There is this tidbit about the article and then a quote from the article itself (my favorite part of the entire article) on the Atlantic site:
Before the call to arms came, he had felt a strong sense of kinship with these fighting men; like him "they had soft spots, they got sick, they complained." But differences announced themselves as soon as the battle preparations began. Kaplan was struck first by their strict adherence to hierarchy--what he refers to as "the incontestability of command." Whenever the most senior officer present in a given planning session made a decision, there was no further argument or discussion; deliberations simply moved efficiently on to the next matter at hand. Kaplan also became keenly aware of the pervasiveness of Christian religious sentiment among the troops. "The spirit of the U.S. military is fiercely evangelical," he writes, "even as it is fiercely ecumenical." Indeed, a few hours before the scheduled attack, a military chaplain issued a blessing in which he reminded them that it was Palm Sunday and referred to the task at hand as "a spiritual battle" and to the Marines themselves as "tools of mercy." The most stark reminder of the difference between himself and the men among whom he was embedded, however, didn't come until they were in the thick of battle. On the second night of the operation, Kaplan was with a group that had penetrated far into the city when it began to take enemy fire. Kaplan struggled to suppress his own natural instinct to flee. To his amazement, his companions ran straight toward the gunfire.
Smith [the company commander] did not have to order his Marines straight into the direction of the fire; it was a collective impulse-a phenomenon I would see again and again over the coming days. The idea that Marines are trained to break down doors, to seize beachheads and other territory, was an abstraction until I was there to experience it. Running into fire rather than seeking cover from it goes counter to every human survival instinct-trust me ... In one flash, as we charged across [the street] amid whistling incoming shots, I realized that they were not like me; they were Marines.
Praise God for the witness and courage of these Christian men in the only branch of the military where women are still thoroughly segregated from combat roles.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 11, 2004 - 7:00pm
Ask me to list my favorite books and up there near the top would be Kierkegaard's Attack Upon "Christendom". Every pastor and elder should read it, as should their wives. It pierces our hypocrisy and points the way back to the path and cost of discipleship. It skewers the modern expectation that the model pastor will have the affect and temperament of a shopkeeper, instead calling for a restoration of manliness to our preaching and pastoral care.
To entice our good readers to find the book and read it, here's one of the hundred or so passages perfectly suited to the work of reform so desperately needed in the evangelical and reformed pulpits of our day.
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger.
(From Attack Upon "Christendom" by Soren Kierkegaard; 1944, Princeton University Press.)
[Please note: This recommendation of Attack Upon Christendom is not a general recommendation of Kierkegaard. My friend Don Johnson warns that Kierkegaard was a "father of liberalism," and I do not have the knowledge to agree or disagree, although the book Don cites for his concern, Murray's Evangelicalism Divided, has been one of the formative influences in my work and just yesterday, again, I recommended it to a brother for his reading list. So while acknowledging this concern with Kierkegaard--a concern I've heard before--I place this volume by Kierkegaard high on my list and encourage all to get it and read it.]
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2004 - 7:08am
A brother in Christ comments on an earlier post: "Today in America, the opportunities for a doctrinally orthodox pastor to maintain a bland inoffensiveness don't seem all that great."
To the contrary.
As a lawyer-friend of mine once put it concerning the preaching of his church in another state, "With the indicative, can't we please have the imperative?"
Or as a Bible Study Fellowship leader from one of my former churches put it, "It's not up to the preacher to apply the text--that's the job of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who should convict of sin, not you."
There is a relentless opposition to pastors preaching in such a way as to apply the text to the lives of their congregants, to preach to the conscience and not just the mind, and to call for repentance. In fact, there is a relentless opposition to pastors who move past teaching, to preaching.
This opposition is documented across church history and in the Scriptures. Consider Jesus' summary statement concerning Jerusalem:
Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, "BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!" (Matthew 23:34-39)
Speaking of the absence of danger in the preaching of his day, Kierkegaard was pointing out what is true here today--that pastors have given up preaching, settling for truisms, velveteen rabbit stories, and nostrums. We have given up working for the salvation of the souls we were called to guard and have settled for working for the building of our kingdoms or the maintenance of our lifestyles. And when security becomes the greatest good, danger must be removed. But not in too obvious a way.
If it's too obvious, the pastor might be exposed as the charlatan he is, holding the sinecure he does, and then the gig would be up. So we must act as if we're shepherds, good shepherds, and preachers and prophets, but do it in such a way as to avoid danger scrupulously. Give the congregants drama, all the drama they want, but fill the gun's barrel with blanks.
No, the market for "doctrinally orthodox pastors (who) maintain a bland inoffensiveness" continues to be a bull market.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 20, 2004 - 7:22am
Another word from Kierkegaard:
Folios and folios have been written to show again and again how one is to recognize what true Christianity is.
This can be done in a far simpler way.
Nature is ... acoustic. Only heed what the echo answers, and thou shalt know at once what is what.
So when in this world one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers: "Glorious, profound, serious-minded Christian, thou shouldst be exalted to princely rank," etc., know then that this signifies his preaching of Christianity is, Christianly, a base lie. It is not absolutely certain that he who walks with fetters on his legs is a criminal, for there are instances when the civil magistrate has condemned an innocent man; but it is eternally certain that he who--by preaching Christianity!--wins all things earthly is a liar, a deceiver, who at one point or another has falsified the doctrine, which by God has been so designed, in such a militant relation to this world, that it is eternally impossible to preach what Christianity is in truth without having to suffer in this world, to be repudiated, hated, cursed.
When one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers, "He is mad," know then that this signifies that there are considerable elements of truth in his preaching, without its being, however, the Christianity of the New Testament. He may have hit the mark; but presumably he does not press hard enough, either by his oral preaching or by the preaching of his life, so that, Christianly speaking, he glides over too easily, his preaching after all is not the Christianity of the New Testament.
But when one preaches Christianity in such a way that the echo answers, "Away with that man from the earth, he does not deserve to live," know then that this is the Christianity of the New Testament. Without change since the time of our Lord Jesus Christ, capital punishment is the penalty for preaching Christianity as it truly is: hating oneself to love God; hating oneself to hate everything in which one's life consists, everything to which one clings, for the sake of which one selfishly would desire to have God's aid to get it, or to console one that one did not get it, console one for the loss of it--without any change capital punishment is the penalty for preaching this in character.
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom," (Boston: Beacon Press, 1956), pp. 278-79.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 27, 2004 - 12:33pm
Page one of the New York Time's "Sunday Styles" section carried a piece by Alex Williams on the upcoming presidential debates titled, "George 'The Squinter' Bush vs. John 'The Grinner' Kerry--A Showdown of Style!" Here are some excerpts:
...the candidate who voters perceive as the winner will probably be chosen not on the substance of what he says, but on the cut of his jib. The subtle style cues... account for as much as 75 percent of a viewer's judgement... the mano a mano is about style--those nonverbal messages that speak to hearts, not heads.
...in some sense it comes down to which man you would want in your living room for the next four years.
...even one deftly delivered witticism, as long as it seems spontaneous (like Reagan's "There you go again" in 1980) could be the deciding factor.
Each candidate must channel his gifts as an onstage communicator--that is, a thespian--said Susan Batson, a longtime acting coach. (Kerry's) greatest opportunity... is to laugh more, to radiate a vulnerability with his eyes, a sense of compassion and wisdom, as opposed to single-mindedness and aggression. He can be "sort of a combination of Henry Fonda and James Stewart," she said.
Note there's nothing here of substance. The entire discussion centers around the candidate's ability to cop a posture or to be an actor, to put his audience at ease. Even taking into account that the piece appeared in the "Sunday Style," rather than the more weighty "Week in Review" section, it's clear the debates are expected to be the pivotal event of this election. And Williams points out that campaign experts expect "hearts, not heads" to prevail in the conclusions voters draw from the debates.
So what does this say about our view of leadership? If our president must put us at ease as we sit with him in our living room, could Abraham Lincoln or Winston Churchill carry an election today? No, it's doubtful either Lincoln or Churchill "radiated vulnerability with their eyes."
But to get really serious, what does this say about pastoral leadership today? If presidents are picked with little concern for substance, but an overwhelming emphasis on "subtle cues," "non-verbal messages," deftly delivered witticisms" that "seem spontaneous," and their ability to "radiate vulnerability," no wonder our seminaries are turning out men who have few leadership skills.
If "single-mindedness" and "aggression" are a liability to John Kerry, one wonders which church in which suburb and denomination would issue a call to Jesus or the Apostle Paul? And anyone who responds saying that a different philosophy of leadership prevails among biblical churches should pull his head out of the sand.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 27, 2004 - 1:28pm
Assuming that, when the normal American goes through church doors, he doesn't go through a paradigm shift about the nature of leadership, it's interesting to note what the secular authorities advise concerning the speeches of Bush and Kerry:
(Kerry) uses what George P. Lakoff, a professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkley, calls "hedges," words and grammatical constructions that imply uncertainty or qualification.
"There are certain forms of grammar that don't commit you, phrases like 'I believe' or 'I think,'" Mr. Lakoff said. "Kerry has to learn not to do that."
"It is possible to be decisive and not sound decisive," said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. "People who speak in sentences that contain parenthetical phrases, people who begin a sentence and then deflect to add a series of illustrative examples before they end the sentences" do not seem authoritative, she said. "The language of decisiveness is subject, verb, object, end sentence." (Alex Williams, "George 'The Squinter' Bush vs. John 'The Grinner' Kerry--A Showdown of Style!" New York Times; Sunday, September 26, 2004.)
And what of pastors? Do we use "hedges?" Do we preach in a way that "implies uncertainty?" Are we careful to "qualify" our proclamations?
If so, our preaching "does not seem authoritative" to the souls we have been called to shepherd. Nuanced, yes; but not authoritative.
How sobering is that? What a contrast to the preaching of the prophets, apostles, and our Lord Himself:
Now the word of the LORD came to me saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations." (Jeremiah 1:4, 5)
As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:9-12).
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18,19)
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."
When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.(Matthew 7:24-29)
One of the truly great men of the 20th century has passed into eternity. We need not consider theological differences at this point to mourn the passing of a man who stood courageously for God's Word in defense of the poor, the sick, the helpless. In his consistent defense of life, John Paul II is a hero to all who understand the Scriptural truth spoken by God, "All who hate me love death."
Much more could be said about the courage of John Paul II. His role in the rout of communism cannot be denied. His perseverance in the midst of physical difficulty, both after being shot and in old age, is in telling contrast to the leisured, death-embracing culture of so much of the Western world.
Negatively, his love for Mary seems to have consumed the conservative wing of the Roman Catholic Church.
Finally, however, Lutheran pastor Paul McCain writes of our hope, despite our opposition to the Gospel-denying teaching of Roman Catholicism, to gather before the throne of the Lamb with John Paul II in glory.
If you want to see a sewer in full flow, go over to World's main blog and take a look at the (currently 179) comments on Saturday's post, Wilson-Wilkins Booklet: Plagiarized and Revised. The post links to a recent World magazine blurb on the failure of author, Steve Wilkins, to attribute properly a number of quotes he used in a booklet published several years ago co-authored with Pastor Doug Wilson titled, Southern Slavery: As It Was.
A couple of things are noteworthy here. First, Pastor Wilson is absolved of personal culpability in this matter by his co-author's admission that he, not Pastor Wilson, was responsible for each of the non-attributed quotations. Second, the work not cited in certain spots is cited elsewhere in the booklet, so the error on Pastor Wilkins' part certainly appears to be one of oversight rather than planned theft. And third, this is an old story that already has a good ending. When the sin became public the booklet was immediately pulled from circulation so it could be corrected and a full apology was made. And that was back in 2003. So why a big stink two years later?
Likely it was inadvertent on their part, but we wish World had not dignified the current attack on Pastor Wilson and the church he serves, Christ Church of Moscow, Idaho, with space in our print publication or blog. Better yet, World should have done a fuller piece on Pastor Wilson's work in Idaho placing this tempest in a teapot in its proper context--namely, the rabid hatred of Pastor Wilson, his elders and congregation consuming the city where the souls of Christ Church confess their robust, biblical faith.
Certainly we're not trying to sweep Reformed dirt under the carpet. We regret Pastors Wilkins and Wilson issuing this particular work and are pained by the ammunition handed God's foes by the inclusion of material published elsewhere without attribution, but it's time for Protestant Reformed believers to recognize that Pastor Wilson, his congregation, and her officers are fighting here on behalf of every truth-loving church and Christian in America.
by David and Tim Bayly on April 30, 2005 - 10:48am
About twelve years ago, my wife and I were privileged to have Phil and Helen Jensen as guests in our home while Phil preached in the church I served. Since then, we have kept somewhat current with the vital ministry that surrounds St. Matthias within the Anglican communion in Sydney, Australia. For evangelistic materials that demonstrate boldness along with a deep understanding of our culture, but also many other fine publications with evangelical and reformed commitments, I'd direct our good readers to the Sydney Anglicans. Their ministries, institutions, and publications are well worth our attention and I've wished their publications, at least, would be more directly imported into the States.
It's not accidental that, appointed Dean of St. Andrews Cathedral by his brother Peter (Archbishop of Sydney), Phil Jensen has about as many enemies as Doug Wilson. Since making his acquaintance, I've often described Phil as "a fire-breathing iconoclast." Phil's wife, Helen, is an epistolary whirlwind devoted to the church and to her husband--a perfect helpmate.
Here, here, and here are a few other samples of Jensen's prophetic gift. (In the last link, note the similarity with Wilson concerning Scripture's teaching on slavery.) For a fine summary of the vision driving the Brothers Jensen as they lead Sydney Anglicanism, see Peter Jensen's Archbishop's Address given to Sydney Synod 2003.
Like Wilson, not everything Phil Jensen writes and argues is in line with my understanding of Scripture, but how I love his boldness for the Lord and His Word. There's good reason Dick Lucas brought him to London to oppose the movement to ordain women there. As Dick told me, he needed the blood and guts approach of his beloved Aussies.
It's natural, I suppose, for Aussies to have a soft spot in their heart for Canadians, so Don Carson has always been one of the Sydney Anglicans' luminaries. So it came as a pitcher of cold water thrown in their faces to have Carson take aim at them for their expression of concern over the new Bible versions that have been neutered (my word), and their endorsement of those versions' main competitor, the English Standard Version.
(Note from Tim Bayly: When I was a child, my parents sent me to camp in Canada each summer, so I grew up knowing something about Canada and Canadians. I don't remember any edge in my relations with the other boys, nor even one example of disdain for the United States. It all seemed quite amicable to me--almost as if our nations were twins separated at birth.
Then more recently, friends of mine and I have experienced a new aggressiveness on Canada's part as we crossed their border, and it's clear that we're all eating Canadian Bacon now.
But if I were to put my finger on why I have a different attitude to Canada than I did as a child, the following speech perfectly sums up my growing disgust for our neighbor to the north. It almost seems as if Canada, not being able to win the money or power battle, is determined to win by outdoing us in the killing of God and Truth and preening herself over being the most progressive light in the Americas.
She seems to be taking her marching orders straight from hell as she passes law after law and files charge after charge rejecting and persecuting those who accept the teaching of Scripture concerning the value of life, the meaning and purpose of sex, the nature of truth, and so on.
Watch Canada if you want to know the world your children will inhabit and the persecution they will face for confessing Jesus Christ.)
Religious Freedom in Canada
by Dr. Chris Kempling
(Kempling received a standing ovation for this address delivered on March 4, 2005 in New York City at a United Nations Commission on Human Rights Delegate Briefing.)
Canada is a country which prides itself on religious freedom and religious tolerance. And in many respects that is true. Citizens are free to practice their faiths according to their traditions, generally without interference from the government. And even when someone's religious beliefs conflicts with a long established Canadian tradition, great tolerance can be shown, as was the case with the first Sikh Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer permitted to wear a turban instead of the regulation hat. That constable started his career in my home town of Quesnel, and he was accepted and appreciated by the community.
Unfortunately, there are two primary areas of conflict between religious freedoms and government policy in Canada: abortion and homosexuality. A group of eight Christians, members of a group called Operation Rescue protesting abortion were arrested and sentenced to jail terms for peacefully protesting outside an abortion clinic. I met one of the men, Donald Spratt, who was incarcerated in British Columbia's maximum security Oakalla prison for his crime -- he was holding a sign outside an abortion clinic. Currently, he is awaiting trial in the BC Court of Appeal for violating the "bubble zone" of an abortion clinic. Once again, he was simply holding a sign with a Bible verse on it -- Thou shalt not kill.
A man by the name of Bill Whatcott, an evangelical Christian who is a licensed practical nurse, was fined $15,000...
The May 22nd issue of The New York Times Magazine had a very long cover story titled, "The Senator From a Place Called Faith: The coming of Rick Santorum." If you're able, pick up a copy. As the article starts out, it appears it will be one more slash-and-burn treatment of biblical faith, but deeper into the piece it becomes apparent the author, Michael Sokolove, is listening carefully and finding himself surprised by a growing sympathy.
Senator Santorum comes across as one of the bolder witnesses to the Christian faith I've ever seen profiled by a major media player, and it's particularly encouraging to read of his involvement, both legislatively and personally, in helping the poor. The good Senator reminds me of the Apostle Peter's exhortation:
Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 2:12)
One item of interest to those who have taken part in the discussion of Roman Catholic theology and practice on this blog is this sad statement:
Santorum is not a reader of Scripture-- "I've never read the Bible cover to cover; maybe I should have" --and has no passages he clings to when seeking spiritual guidance. "I'm a Catholic, so I'm not a biblical scholar. I'm not someone who has verses he can pop out. That's not how I interact with the faith." (emphasis added)
Jesus Christ had "verses he (could) pop out," and He popped them out all the time--one for every occasion. If He was tempted, pop. If he was faced by a murderous mob of religious leaders, pop. If He was giving a sermon on a hillside, pop pop pop pop pop...
Ironically, one of the article's illustrations is a picture of a grouping of the senator's personal effects. Sitting on top of a stack of books in his office is a black Bible with "Rick Santorum, United States Senator" engraved in gold leaf on the lower right corner of the cover.
Leaving this matter to the side, though, Senator Santorum honors God and I'd be proud to be lumped in with him.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 19, 2005 - 10:49am
Nigerian Anglican primate, Archishop Peter Akinola, has called for the suspension of the Church of England from the worldwide Anglican communion due to her anticipated endorsement of same-sex covenant unions for her priests. Akinola has often shown himself a man of the Word in the past few years, and again proves as much. He leads between sixteen and eighteen million Nigerian Anglicans.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 4, 2005 - 12:44pm
My dear friend, Kevin Offner, turned me on to this gem and I pass it along to our good readers for the strengthening of our faith. I've taken the liberty of putting the text here on our blog because I'm confident Mr. Riner would want his speech to have the broadest circulation possible. And I don't trust Dartmouth to keep it available for too long.
The Apostle Paul was in the habit of asking his fellow believers to pray that he would be given the gift of boldness as he preached. Well, dear brother Riner received a double portion when he gave this sermon. Praise God for a man who, within the stultifying world of the Academy, is not afraid to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ!
Here's the context: Noah Riner is the student body president at Dartmouth and he was asked to speak to the incoming freshman at a convocation at the beginning of the school year. This, then, is the speech he gave September 20, 2005. Since giving the speech, there has been a great hue and cry at Darmouth, including the resignation in protest of the student body vice president and raging debates across campus. Here though is one essay defending Mr. Riner that appeared in The Dartmouth, "the nation's oldest campus newspaper."
by David and Tim Bayly on January 31, 2006 - 5:23pm
Is there any verse in Scripture more redolent of the courage of faith than Christ's words to His disciples in Luke 21:28?
25 "And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Every once in a while a rock song seems to encapsulate the mood of a Scripture passage. I can't read these verses without Argent's anthem, "Hold Your Head Up," echoing in the back of my head.
Hold that head high, soldier. Your Redeemer's near.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 1, 2006 - 7:05am
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. (Hebrews 13:12-14)
Saturday, I wrote about my gratitude for the unity and peace of our own congregation, Church of the Good Shepherd. Since then, I've been thinking about how our unity came to be and I realize how central the battles a number of us went through in another prior congregation were for the development of this unity. In our prior congregation, the central issue was the refusal of a small group of influential leaders to allow any exercise of correction or rebuke by the congregation's elders. They considered anathema even the most private forms of church discipline.
It was a painful ordeal, but the Holy Spirit used it to produce the unity and peace of Church of the Good Shepherd we presently enjoy--including, now, ten years of loving and peaceful congregational meetings.
This comes to mind as I read of attacks other pastors are suffering, particularly our dear brother, Pastor Doug Wilson. David and I are not surprised Doug is under attack. He's a strong leader with biblical convictions, and he's at his greatest precision and boldness in preaching those convictions where the Evil One has focused his attack and there's a breach in the wall. But instead of other church officers giving thanks to God for raising up such a warrior, Pastor Wilson is the object of much envy and resentment. Like all of us, Pastor Wilson is a sinner in both his conduct and doctrine and we are confident he appreciates the licks he takes for his sin.
But taking his licks from fellow presbyters, his children, or his wife is a far cry from having any Tom, Dick, or Harry set himself up as a judge over every word of his pastoral conversations and session meetings extending years into the past and posting those judgments on this gabfest and gossip-pool known as the internet. Need I point out that Doug Wilson is not the only one suffering such persecution?
In both the church and secular world, leaders have lost the manly traits and pander to their constituency. Church officers are given to mollycoddling, equivocation, and self-doubt. One of my favorite cartoons shows a consultant meeting with a pastor in his office. The wall holds a graph of the congregation's attendance trends and they're down, down, down. Pointing to the graph the consultant says, "I'm no expert in these things, but I think it might help if you didn't end every sermon with, 'But then again what do I know, anyhow?'"
Pastor Wilson preaches, teaches, and leads as if he has received the good deposit and intends, come hell or high water, to pass it on to reliable men...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 9, 2006 - 3:38pm
Meet Bob Walter. Bob, his wife Ruth, teen daughter and pre-teen son are members of Christ the Word. Late last year the Walters purchased a farm twenty miles into Michigan. They moved into their new home, took possession of 600 baby hogs and started the arduous process of bringing a neglected farm up to snuff last November.
This afternoon I received a phone call from Ruth telling me their workshop burned this morning. Inside the two-story barn were tools Bob collected over a lifetime teaching high school automotive shop: a large Snap-On collection, air compressors, routers, hand tools, welders, all Bob needed to work on equipment and maintain his farm--moreover, tools that had generously fixed dozens of needy friends' cars over the years.
Bob Walter, hours after his barn burned
Also in the barn were furniture, Kelly's china and three cars Bob had purchased and restored over the years including a '67 Corvette fastback with just 6000 original miles.
All was lost: tools, cars, furniture.... Bob had been in the process of acquiring insurance for his tools but needed first to complete an inventory--an inventory he had been too busy fixing buildings and caring for animals to fill out. The sale of one car had recently been agreed upon but not completed. A secure storage facility for the rare Corvette was rented in January, but cold hogs and farm maintenance had taken precedence over moving the car.
Charred remains of barn
All told, hundreds of thousands in losses--yet only the building itself was insured, and that for far less than its worth.
When I arrived firemen were clearing up their hoses. Five fire departments responded with nearly two dozen trucks. I found Bob standing with his son, Bobby, in the still-smoldering ashes of their barn. Minutes later, Bob and Ruth invited several friends who had come upon hearing of the fire into their home for lunch. Ruth, a wonderful cook, had quietly prepared ham sandwiches and smoked turkey soup. Bob expressed gratitude to God for his family--and, despite the loss, that they had been preserved from harm.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 10, 2006 - 6:09am
The latest (Feb. 13 & 20, 2006) New Yorker also has a smashingly good article by Jeffrey Goldberg profiling Michael Gerson, the President's chief speechwriter and senior policy adviser for Africa, democracy in the Middle East, and domestic social programs (including faith-based initiatives). The article oozes biblical Christianity without being patronizing. If you can believe it, the piece is admiring--even glowing--in its presentation of both Gerson and his biblical faith.
For instance, there's a long discussion of the place of the Sermon on the Mount in the minds and hearts of the present administration, lots of talk about prayer (and it's clear that both our President and Gerson take prayer seriously), a discussion of the faith of President Carter that I resonate with completely, and an account of Gerson's departure from the Democratic party that includes this statement by Gerson:
The Democratic Party, in many ways, abandoned its great tradition of caring for the weakest members of our society. It has elevated a philosophy of choice and individual autonomy above the needs of the unborn, the handicapped, and, on the question of euthanasia, the elderly. These are the very people I thought the Democratic Party should care about.
My favorite parts of the article have to do with Gerson's advocacy for aid to the continent in flames, Africa, and if you've read Bono's excellent message just given at the National Prayer Breakfast on this same theme, you won't be surprised to find out that Bono and Gerson are friends. And you might just wonder whether Gerson had a hand in writing Bono's speech, at least the part of it that comes after the self-deprecating jokes that take up much of the first half.
Anyhow, about Africa, here's how the New Yorker presents the following excerpt from a speech President Bush gave in Sennegal back in 2003...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 24, 2006 - 7:51pm
A United Methodist professor at Asbury Theological Seminary named Ben Witherington keeps a blog, and this past Monday he posted a piece titled, "The Problem with the ESV." Witherington is a run-of-the-mill feminist trying hard to hold on to an evangelical commitment to the authority of Scripture while at the same time pushing the very thing explicitly forbidden by God--namely, women exercising authority over men. As men falling into this error go, Witherington strikes me as being in the "That's not what Paul really meant" camp. None of the honesty of the late Paul King Jewett who was man enough to say, essentially, "Yeah, Paul said it and Paul was wrong."
Speaking personally, I always admired Jewett for his courage. If my son's going to disobey me, I'd rather he did it like a man: "Yes, Dad, I know you told me to come straight home from youth group but I stopped and had a frappuccino with Emily. I disobeyed you and I'm sorry." Woe betide him if he tries to lie his way out of it: "But Dad, I know how important Emily's and my sexual purity is to you and we figured Starbucks was a good public place for us to sit and talk. You do want us to avoid being alone, don't you? I mean, when it comes to weighing which you care more about--me coming straight home or sexual purity--don't you think I made the right choice?"
But back to Rev. Dr. Witherington. Breathlessly, he reported the following New Information this past Monday...
Note: This was just forwarded to me by Shelly Connell. What boldness for the Lord and His little ones! Praise God for Ms. Gianna Jessen and Colorado Representative Ted Harvey.
Ted Harvey, not Paul Harvey
To all interested parties,
I want to share with you an awesome experience I recently had in the Colorado House of Representatives. It is a humbling experience to look back and realize that God used me to play a role in His divine orchestration.
As I was leaving the House chambers for the weekend when our Democrat Speaker of the House mentioned that the coming Monday would be the final day of this year's General Assembly. He went on to state that there were still numerous resolutions on the calendar which we would need to be addressed prior to the summer adjournment. Interestingly, he specifically mentioned that one of the resolutions we would be hearing was being carried by the House Majority Leader Alice Madden, honoring the 90th anniversary of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.
As a strong pro-life legislator I was disgusted by the idea that we would pass a resolution honoring this 90 year legacy of genocide. I drove home that night wondering what I could say that might pierce the darkness during the debate on this heinous resolution...
This past week, Stephen and Sebra Baker, my son Taylor, and I attended the Acts 29 Network lead pastors annual conference in Boulder, Colorado. We drove so we're tired of being in the car after forty hours of travel, but we like each other and had fun together.
The conference was great! Meeting sixty church planting pastors and their wives who are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ most particularly at those points where that Gospel is counter-cultural was a thrill and we hope to grow closer to these brothers and sisters in the coming months and years.
Most of the Acts 29 Network churches have an edgy style of ministry aimed at unbelievers and new believers, not middle-aged evangelicals who want to be confirmed in their complacency. So, for instance, Acts 29 men and women think and act as if the biblical doctrine of sexuality is not something to be hidden, but a strong suite in leading souls to Christ. And they teach and preach accordingly. They believe in the Church and call those who believe to be committed to the fellowship of believers, making sure each church is led by a strong male eldership.
They believe in preaching and plan their services accordingly. One pastor attending the conference had recently preached a two hour sermon on church discipline, and everyone claimed it as a high point of their recent church life. Since a high proportion of their membership is under thirty, they are firm on the necessity of fleeing fornication and sodomy. In their community life, people are getting married all the time and children are always a blessing from the Lord. At the beginning of the conference, each man was asked to give a thirty second statement of one victory God had given him this past year and it was beautiful how many of the men said that their greatest victory had been the birth of their first, second, third... child.
Most of the guys are jockish and still quite competitive, but I saw less jockeying for position at this conference than other meetings of pastors I attend. There was a generosity toward one another and a sincere interest in one another's ministries that I've rarely seen before.
It's likely our readers will be hearing more about the Acts 29 Network in the months to come. We liked them a lot and hope to make common cause with them in the work of the Kingdom.
Meanwhile, if you're looking for a church to recommend to friends or loved ones who are moving to a new city, you'd do well to consider sending them to an Acts 29 Network church. (You can find them here.)
However, if you think piano and organ are the only musical instruments that are appropriate for leading corporate worship; that healthy pastors wives will work full time outside the home; that pastors shouldn't have pierced ears; that sermons should be uplifting and end inside half an hour; that elders should spend their time debating budgets and time schedules; and that no real Christian is competitive, Acts 29 churches may not be a good match.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 23, 2006 - 7:15am
Women and children first?
July 6-24, the Scripps Survey Research Center at Ohio University put the following question to 1,010 men and women:
You may recall that male passengers on the Titanic agreed to give up their places on the lifeboats for women and children. If there were a similar situation today, do you think men should be expected to die and allow women to live, or is this an old fashioned idea?
Among men, 63% of men agreed to die for women; 23% thought the idea was old fashioned; and 14% couldn't make up their minds. "Quick, the boat's sinking, Mr. Bayly: What'll it be--you or your wife?"
"Well um... Ahem... On the one hand..."
Among women, though, 43% said men shouldn't bother sacrificing for them while only 39% still thought it was good for men to give up their spots in the lifeboats for women; 18% were undecided. "Quick, the boat's sinking, Mrs. Bayly: What'll it be--you or your husband?"
"Well um... Ahem... I don't know--Tim's the man of the house; let him decide."
We all know the world has lost its way on the meaning of sexuality, but what about the church? I'm reminded of two experiences in my own denomination, the PCA, where the state of affairs became clear.
Several years ago, I served on a study committee of our general assembly assigned to produce a study paper on women in combat. As you might guess, I was agin' it but there were a number of pastors and elders on the committee who would have fit right into this poll. Some were military officers (chaplains, sadly), while others were pastors of local churches. Just short of half our committee believed..
by David and Tim Bayly on January 29, 2007 - 12:30pm
We all know what it is to play warfare in mock battle, that it means to imitate everything just as it is in war. The troops are drawn up, they march into the field, seriousness is evident in every eye, but also courage and enthusiasm, the orderlies rush back and forth intrepidly, the commander's voice is heard, the signals, the battle cry, the volley of musketry, the thunder of cannon--everything exactly as it is in war, lacking only one thing...the danger.
So also it is with playing Christianity, that is, imitating Christian preaching in such a way that everything, absolutely everything is included in as deceptive a form as possible--only one thing is lacking...the danger
-Soren Kierkegaard, Attack Upon "Christendom" 1854-1855, translated with an introduction by Walter Lowrie, (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1956) p. 258.
Addendum: Wednesday evening, March 8, Bryan Chapell and I met together to discuss this recent series of posts. After our discussion, here are several clarifications and corrections that I believe need to be made. I have made them here, at the top of the post, because it would be difficult to weave them into the post itself in a way that would call attention to them sufficiently as corrections.
First, it is unclear that the paragraph beginning, "The whole things is a tempest in a teacup" is not my judgment, but rather a hypothetical construct of what the average member of the PCA might have thought to himself.
Second, I refer to "the Covenant/Redeemer/Reformed mantra, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." Bryan told me that this is not his position and that he speaks against this position as an adequate representation of the Biblical perspective. This is an encouragement to me.
Third, Bryan rehearsed his actions in response to the chapel time in which Diane Langberg spoke, and clearly my own summary of those actions is not accurate. Here is an accurate record of what happened:
When General Assembly convened that summer and the time on the agenda arrived when President Chapell was asked to give an answer for what had happened on his watch, President Chapell told the assembly:
That Diane Langberg had been told ahead of time what the standards were for her speaking during the chapel time;
That after she spoke at Covenant Seminary, Diane Langberg received a letter reminding her of the standards, and expressing concern that those standards had not been followed; and
That the administration of Covenant Seminary met with students to explain the situation and to assure the seminary community that what had happened was not according to the standards they were committed to upholding.
Since I implied Covenant Seminary was not upholding the PCA position in its response to Diane Langberg's chapel time, I regret this inaccuracy and now believe Covenant's response was good.
Some wonder how I could accuse prominent teaching elders of the Presbyterian Church in America and the institutions they lead of sympathizing with the egalitarian, feminist cause? Don't I know the PCA's reason to exist is tied at the heart to opposing these ideologies? When a group of mainline PC(USA) churches left their own denomination for a more conservative one back in 1983, wasn't it necessary for them to found the new denomination, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, precisely because the PCA wasn't willing to compromise on women in office? And isn't the same reason behind our present failure to bring into the PCA many churches currently departing the PC(USA) train wreck: that these churches and their pastors are determined to enter a denomination that allows their women to serve as pastors, elders, and deacons?
So, as a denomination we've paid our dues. We've seen the cost of our convictions, and haven't wavered. What on earth am I thinking, then, to accuse our seminary and its president of being allies of the egalitarian, feminist ideology?
It's a fair question, although I have no confidence I'll be able to answer it to the satisfaction of more than a few because the heart of the answer is tied up, not with specific arguments about Scripture's teaching about sexuality, but rather its teaching concerning the nature of pastoral ministry.
Several years ago, Covenant Theological Seminary had a woman preach in chapel. When it was reported within our denomination, it scandalized a number of presbyters across the country...
Here's some excellent commentary on Virginia Tech by Mark Steyn forwarded to me by my dear brothers, Revs. Dan Reuter and John McKenzie. As an act of conscience, Mr. Reuter (he reminds me he's no longer an ordained pastor) resigned from his PC(USA) congregation and now is studying law at the Indiana University School of Law. John McKenzie is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Lexington, Mississippi, a congregation of Brother David's and my denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America.
by David and Tim Bayly on August 21, 2007 - 12:30pm
(by Tim) Sadly, reformed pastors identify less with those who live in rural communities and make their living as sheep farmers (what used to be called "shepherds") than with those who live in books and make their living as academics. So this story from today's New York Times is particularly instructive.
There's a big stink over a psychology prof at Northwestern University named J. Michael Bailey who's gored the ox of transexuals around the country. But before we get to Prof. Bailey and the transexuals, a few comments about the lesson Christians should learn from this battle.
For decades, freedom of religion and freedom of speech have been under a sustained attack and the content of the books we read, the sermons we listen to, and the Bibles we carry to church Sunday morning all bear witness to the attrition of these freedoms.
Speaking only of our Bibles, did you know that millions of Bibles used by evangelicals have had words deleted in order to avoid expressing incorrect opinions deemed to have the potential of being hurtful to women and Jews? Evangelical Bible scholars, linguists, translators, graphic designers, publishers, bookstore owners, and pastors all joined together to produce and sell Bibles that would not be vulnerable to charges of sexism or antisemitism. Many hundreds of times, the original Hebrew and Greek words were changed or deleted so the Bible would be less offensive to moderns...
(by Tim, only half in jest) Tender consciences and the preaching ministry of faithful shepherds is resulting, today, in many reformed men repenting of their hard-heartedness toward brothers in Christ evidenced most clearly by the chronic neglect of the biblical command, "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss." We know we must repent and produce fruit in keeping with repentance, but how?
May I suggest, brothers, that we not try to bridge this gap all at once, but rather take a few baby steps to cover the distance between our current practice and biblical obedience. Starting with manly hugs seems a reasonable baby step, doesn't it?
Still, many of us find even manly hugs outside our knowledge base. Here, then, is a short video to get the thing jump-started. Watch it. Then try the technique out a couple of times in the foyer of your church tomorrow morning.
And if I may, don't just try it out with men well-matched to your own height and size. Challenge yourself by engaging in at least one manly hug with a fat man, a short man, or a man who towers over you. Conquering such intimidating body types will prepare you for the next step towards maturity in Christian intimacy--hugging men who wear Birkenstocks, have body odor, and don't know when to let go.
by David and Tim Bayly on September 4, 2007 - 11:32am
(Tim) The second group of men have now matriculated in our pastors college and, as part of the heart religion emphasis during the first of three years' study, I'm leading a seminar on Luther's commentary on Galatians. I have an old copy of the commentary published in 1953 by London's James Clarke & Co. which I've used preaching through Galatians the past couple of years. But I went ahead and bought a second copy of the commentary since the most widely available and cheapest printing today is a paperback edition sold by Wheaton's Crossway Publishers. It's one volume in their Crossway Classic Commentaries series and we had assigned it as the edition of Luther's commentary the men were to read for the seminar. It made sense for me to be on the same page with the men. Literally.
Still, I wasn't entirely happy with the situation. Concerning evangelical publishers and their theological trustworthiness, I have a naturally suspicious mind. "Surely no need to worry about Crossway, though," I thought. "They publish many good authors and, although Alister McGrath is one of the series' editors, Jim Packer is the other and he wouldn't allow them to bowdlerize Luther." In his essay, "Sola Fide: The Reformed Doctrine of Justification," Packer cites the same edition of Luther on Galatians I use, translated by Philip S. Watson and published by James Clarke & Co. He's drunk at the same well so he'll not allow anyone to ruin Luther.
And yet I had a nagging thought at the back of my mind that we'd made a mistake by going with Crossway's edition...
(Jesus said) I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. (John 10:11-13)
(Tim) Tonight I'm leading a discussion of Herbert Workman's Persecution in the Early Church (Oxford Paperbacks) with our first year Pastors College men. If you haven't read this book, you simply must. Nothing has helped me understand our present pressures and how best to prepare our children for the coming persecution as well as this little treasure.
Anyhow, I was reminded of Workman's book while reading this excerpt from an account published in the Times of the recent persecution of Buddhist monks in Burma:
A teacher talked about the pain of seeing Buddhism desecrated and the fear of the military that spread among the monks.
I know dozens of monks. One monk is very old. He is 78. It never occurred to him that in his lifetime he would have to hide. The day after the shootings started, I went to this monastery and the faces that I saw on those monks was something I had never seen. It is not fear. It was a sadness so unbelievable.
Now the young monks that I talked to--who weren't rounded up--they want to disrobe...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 15, 2007 - 9:21pm
Note from Tim: This just in from our African correspondent, David Wegener, who tracks track and field from Ndola, Zambia:
Here is a great video on YouTube. It covers the finish of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division 3 Girls Cross Country championships. A girl, Claire Markwardt, breaks her leg in two places and still finishes, crawling across the finish line. The fall occurs about 1:39 into the video. Not for the squeamish. Here's an ESPN article with the rest of the story.
If the Christian life is a race, and if it takes endurance and willpower and guts to finish the race, then the determination of this girl to finish her last cross country race is a model for us.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 5, 2007 - 7:06pm
(David) I spent most of my first thirteen years in ministry viewing my church's board as my primary opponent. The church I arrived at in 1988 had a mixed-sex administrative board. We managed to change it into an elder board three years later, and into a male leadership group two years after that. But its spiritual depth never kept pace with its change in name or makeup.
More significant to the life of that church was another change that occurred the year we went from an administrative board to an elder board, the arrival of Gary Knapp, a young Bible college graduate who became my half-time assistant pastor in 1992. Gary turned out to be a brother born for adversity. We went through conflict together, sacrificed salary together, prayed through danger together, and eventually in partnership with several dear men saw the glory of God revealed in the establishment of Christ the Word Presbyterian Church.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 5, 2008 - 1:40pm
(Tim) From Dad's October 1961 column in Donald Grey Barnhouse's Eternity magazine: It was through George Whitefield that John Wesley was converted to preaching outside the church. For a long time Wesley was opposed to Whitefield’s “fields preaching,” until one day he agreed to give it a try. “All my life I’ve been so careful to do everything decently and in order. Why, I must confess that I almost consider the saving of souls a sin if it isn’t done in a church.”
As the two men approached the little hill outside Bristol that Sunday afternoon, Wesley commented, “I submit myself to be considered vile.”
But then Wesley saw the large group of people, about three thousand, waiting silently for spiritual food. And he began to preach, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.”
That was the beginning of concentration upon England’s great unchurched masses, as tens of thousands heard the gospel in fields and prisons, mines and factories. And the poor and the oppressed received the Lord Jesus Christ.
If the Spirit of the Lord is upon us, He may take us out of our own comfortably established churches...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 31, 2008 - 7:37am
(Tim) While we're on the subject of persecution, Doug Wilson writes, "Too many Christians think they are being persecuted at work "for the
gospel," when the real reason is that they are just hard to get along
with." True enough. The Apostle Peter wrote, "For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?"
But for every believer who suffers persecution in the workplace for being hard to get along with, there are many more who aren't persecuted at all because persecution shames them and they'll do anything to avoid it. Instead of shaming us, though, persecution for the Name of Christ ought to make us rejoice:
...but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1Peter 4:13)
When Inter-Varsity came to these United States, Dad was appointed the first staff worker for New England and lived with his young bride, Mary Lou, in Cambridge, MA. Later, we moved to Philadelphia where Dad was appointed IV's eastern regional director. Wearing multiple hats, one week a month he flew out to Chicago to edit IV's magazine, His. My memory of our childhood is Dad away fulfilling endless speaking engagements on college and university campuses. Then, summertime came and we traveled to IV's Bear Trap Ranch or Cedar Campus where we took family vacations while Dad, again, spoke to college and university students.
Have the pressures Christians face in the academy changed in the intervening half-century?
Read this column Dad wrote for the June 1963 issue of Eternity magazine and it's apparent that back then Christian scholars, parachurch workers, and preachers believed it best to keep away from the nasty work of proclaiming the Law of God and repentance, justifying their evasions as we justify ours: "I just preach the Gospel. I don't try to convict people--that's the Holy Spirit's job."
Faithful men will work to bring the lost under conviction concerning greed and feminism and sodomy and child-murder, trusting the promise of our Lord is true: “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment..." (John 16:7, 8).
* * *
Hush, Hush about Morality: The Salt Losing Its Savor
by Joe Bayly
This year, speaking to college students—especially in dormitory and fraternity discussions—I’ve been asked one question again and again. It almost always takes this form: “Why is premarital intercourse wrong?"
Martyn is the son of missionaries supported by Church of the Good Shepherd. Recently, Martyn wrote and asked for prayer. Would you please pray for this brother in Christ serving with the USMC in Iraq? Pray particularly that God would make him holy.
It's long been dangerous for followers of Jesus Christ to speak publicly of Scripture's teaching on fornication, child-murder, divorce, adultery, father-rule, sodomy, and a whole host of other subjects our culture opposes God in. And although we don't like bad news, here's a case we should all be following and exerting our influence in.
Editor in Chief of the Toledo Free Press, Michael Miller, wrote an editorial advocating sodomy and smearing those who oppose sodomy as resembling racists. This prompted University of Toledo Associate Vice President for Human Resources Crystal Dixon to submit an op-ed opposing Miller's editorial. Dixon wrote: "As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of
Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great
umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims.' Here's why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not
be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and
very pleased to be so as my Creator intended. Daily, thousands of
homosexuals make a life decision to leave the gay lifestyle...
(Tim) When the Apostle Paul sums up his pastoral leadership and its impact on the church of his time, here's what he says:
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear. (Philippians 1:12-14)
Most of the brethren trusting in the Lord because of his imprisonment had far more courage to speak the Word of God without fear.
Because of his imprisonment.
On the other hand, here's how English professor-turned world interpreter Brian MacClaren sums up his leadership and its impact on the church of our time...
(Tim, w/thanks to David) Well actually, I don't know his name, but he caused Sodomite Gene Robinson's sermon in an Anglican church in England to grind to a halt by calling the bad Bishop to "Repent! Repent! Repent! I stand on the Word of God! Repent!" (See link below.)
Why is this wicked Episcopal bishop over in England preaching just now?
Archbishop Rowan Williams is presiding over the once-a-decade Anglican meeting of bishops known as the Lambeth Conference held in Canterbury. He's invited almost all the 800 Anglican bishops worldwide. Only a few were barred from attending. One of them--the most significant one--is Bishop Gene Robinson who the United States Anglican communion known as the Episcopal Church elevated to the bishopric despite his being an unrepentant sodomite. After his elevation, the first person to greet him in the chancel area as a part of the liturgy was his sodomite lover, followed by his ex-wife and two adult daughters.
Trouble is, by far the largest part of the Anglican communion today is in the Southern Hemisphere and, being somewhat backward, African and Central and South American, and even Australian, bishops and archbishops are scandalized by this heresy and threatening or carrying out schism. (Well, actually, not schism; it's impossible to be guilty of schism when you're separating from those who bless sodomy and elevate sodomites into the bishopric. Really, it's church discipline, but from the bottom up which is not the way things ordinarily are supposed to go.)
But back to the Archbishop of Canterbury His Grace Dr. Rowan Williams. He's in an awkward position...
(Tim, w/thanks to James) First, this from our sermon text yesterday:
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)
It's sometimes depressing, but other times very encouraging to see what believers in Jesus Christ are doing in their place of work or profession as they face the onslaught of demonic forces. Often, we compromise with this present evil age--incrementally, of course. Yet from the perspective of those who have lived longer than thirty-five years and have some familiarity with church history, the compromises are punch-you-in-the-nose obvious.
There are other brothers in Christ, though, who boldly confess their faith. All of us are strengthened by their pursuit of justice, mercy, and faithfulness. Take, for instance, this Washington Post piece reporting on pharmacists starting new pharmacies that refuse to sell drugs that kill unborn babies.
Of course, the Post is incapable of accurately reporting the story because they are committed to using their paper to market their belief that unborn children are not fully "persons" under the United States Constitution. Thus their story is sold as a battle over "birth-control," "contraception," and "rape" with no mention of the chemical murder of babies and those babies' deaths.
Many, many, many, many, many, many believers in Jesus Christ, both couples and pharmacists, refuse to submit to the claims of love as they apply to these little ones. We cultivate ignorance of the destruction of unborn children that is a constant in the use of birth control pills. For many years, now, pharmaceutical firms, doctors, and pharmacists have known birth control pills kill unborn babies. Some have adapted their definition of life to allow their own use of those pills, or their fulfillment of prescriptions for these abortifacients.
Sadly, most of us have such seared consciences that we feel no need to provide a biblical base for our actions. We justify nothing.
Within evangelical or reformed churches, no one raises the subject. When it comes to chemical (as opposed to mechanical) baby-killing, mum's the word. It's completely legit, no questions asked. After all, how would the whole evangelical reformed money-making machine work if women started having babies every nine months?
"'Chemical baby-killing?' What are you, some sort of fanatic? My parents used the Pill back in the Sixties. Are you saying they killed some of my brothers and sisters? That's absurd! Why don't you go become a Catholic? You aren't secretly going to Mass, are you? Matter of fact, tell me your views on justification, would you? Are you all imputation or are you sympathetic to infusion? And speaking of imputation, single or double, dude? No sneaking away and hiding behind a rock. Which is it? En garde!"
Beyond the church, though, the treatment of this issue by the Post is itself instructive. Look how their headline demonstrates...
(Tim, w/thanks to James) Who are my heroes from the last half of the twentieth century? Among others, Mother Teresa, John Cardinal O'Connor, Francis Schaeffer, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Joe Sobran, Iain Murray, Dad and Mom (Ken & Margaret) Taylor, John Piper, Dad and Mud (Joe & Mary Lou) Bayly, Elisabeth Elliot, Erwin Raphael McManus, Paige Patterson, Mrs. Kent (Barbara) Hughes, Doug Wilson, and
Alexander Solzhenitsyn. (One of these is a joke--you figure it out.)
About twenty years ago, I read Michael Scammell's Solzhenitsyn: A Biography. A very long read, it was superb and I commend it although I'm sure it's been superseded in more recent years. Personally, I'd attribute the fall of Communism more to Solzhenitsyn's courageous writing than any other factor, including Reagan's famous...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 27, 2008 - 3:36pm
(Tim) Chris Taylor is the father of Isaiah Taylor, the young man who wrote Barack Obama calling him to repent of his advocacy of baby-murder. We ran a copy of Isaiah's letter on this blog a few weeks ago. Earlier today, Focus on the Family put a pic of Isaiah on their home page. Chris Taylor writes: "For those of you who haven’t heard yet, here’s the scoop: Leslie was driving down the road a few months ago and passed a group protesting the killing of babies with large photos. It caused a lot of questions by our three older children (11, 9, 7). When they got home, Isaiah (9) was so disturbed that he decided to write a letter to Senator Obama to let him know that he hoped things would change in the future.
"Anyway, this little letter has made it’s way all over the states via newsletters, blogs, radio broadcasts, pulpits, and websites. Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece even sought to hand a copy personally to Senator Obama during the DNC up in Denver. Though, that never happened, Isaiah is still hoping for a response...
"Isaiah is getting a kick out of the fact that I am now being referred to as “Isaiah’s dad” at work."
by David and Tim Bayly on November 12, 2008 - 12:00pm
(Tim) Filmaker Ken Burns endorsed Senator Obama for president, commending Obama's "moral courage" and comparing him to President Abraham Lincoln. Since Obama's election, many have made this same comparison pointing out the felicitous conjunction of Obama's Inauguration and the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birthday. Senator Diane Feinstein announced the theme of Senator Obama's Inauguration will be "A New Birth of Freedom" with words courtesy of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address.
Such comparisons are great theater, but sheer hypocrisy. Barack Obama is the leader of the bloodshed consuming our land and we all pat ourselves on our backs congratulating one another over our nation's great strides against racism? What is the injustice of racism compared to the slaughter of tens of millions of little babies?
Self-congratulatory about the end of racism in America, we point to a black champion of freedom we say bears the stature and moral authority of Abe himself. We look forward to sitting down with our families, having a good cry while we watch his Inauguration. Happily, no bloodshed has been required to reach our vision. Pull the lever for Obama and we all become heroes of truth and justice.
Obama's another Lincoln? Is he willing to do battle to end the slaughter of fifty million of our children by wicked oppressors? Is he preparing an Emancipation Proclamation for those little ones? Will he speak of them in his first Inaugural Address, warning his nation of God's holy wrath unleashed against those who offend even one of His "little ones?"
What a wonder it would be if, to celebrate Lincoln's 200th birthday, Senator Obama were to model his first after Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address:
by David and Tim Bayly on November 23, 2008 - 4:10pm
(David) Two famous Californians were recently asked their view of homosexuality in light of the passage of Proposition 8, the constitutional initiative defining marriage in California...
The first, interviewed on Fox's Hannity and Colmes show responded:
“I absolutely believe in loving everybody, giving respect to everybody, and giving everybody the freedom of choice. I just am opposed to redefining marriage. For 5,000 years that term, marriage, has represented a man and a woman…. I absolutely believe that people should show respect to everybody, regardless of their lifestyle, regardless of their beliefs, religious beliefs or any other kind of belief. I think we live in a pluralistic society where we have to get along with each other and show common grace to each other. But I just didn’t believe in redefining marriage.”
by David and Tim Bayly on December 18, 2008 - 9:50am
(Tim) So everyone's talking about Rick Warren's payoff. He gets to
pray in front of millions during Senator Obama's inauguration, calling
down God's presence and blessing on a ceremony centered around the
national politician most committed to the slaughter of his
nation's children taking God's Name in vain as he falsely promises to
uphold the Constitution of these United States.
When our nation was founded, our Declaration of Independence declared our commitments this way:
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit
Thus, in the "Preamble" to our Constitution, we state the Constitution's purpose to be to "secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity."
how does a man swear by God's Holy Name to secure the blessings of
liberty to our posterity who himself is our nation's political leader most committed to the slaughter of that posterity? The wickedness of Governor Blagojevich pales by comparison.
Selling an appointment to the
U.S. Senate is child's play compared to the child slaughter which was a central
plank of Senator Obama's campaign. Talk about wickedness in high places!
no one's watching. We're all transfixed by our nation's little morality
play over there on Chicago's South Side.
Also, by the vision of Evangelicalism's own Balaam, the Warrenmeister, thinking gentle thoughts about how his invocation of
the Triune God can help heal our nation as we all unify behind our new
President. So Rick Warren, prophet of Israel, hoists himself on his donkey...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 5, 2009 - 10:15am
(Tim) Last week, Nat Hentoff was laid off at the (Greenwich) Village Voice. This brings an abrupt end to Hentoff's fifty year run there, appropriately and affectionately titled "Fifty Years of Pissing People Off" by fellow Voice columnist Allen Barra in his recent tribute to Hentoff.
Hentoff started as a staff writer for the Voice back in 1958. His dismissal fifty years later coincides, almost to the day, with Louis Menand's short history of the Voice that ran in the current New Yorker. Beyond the Voice, Hentoff has also published in the New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, JazzTimes (his best-known work may be as a jazz critic and historian), and Atlantic Monthly.
I note the dismissal of Hentoff, as well as the profile of the Voice in the current New Yorker, because this past week I've been enjoying a Christmas gift received from a friend in New York City who knows me well. A former member of Church of the Good Shepherd while studying at IU's School of Music, Regina Scow sent me an autographed copy of The Nat Hentoff Reader which I've been relishing this past week.
So far, I've read a short piece on jazz clarinetist, George Lewis; a longish one on my longtime favorite, Merle Haggard; some superb essays on racism in America including a good profile of Ken Clark titled, "The Integrationist;" and a rare glimpse of the racial suffering of Louis Armstrong in "Louis Armstrong and Reconstruction." The book also reprints Hentoff's classic essay exposing the practice of infanticide in America today titled, "The Awful Privacy of Baby Doe." I'll never forget reading it when it first appeared back in 1985. When I finished the piece, I remember feeling deep gratitude for Hentoff's leadership and courage.
I've been a fan of Hentoff for years now, largely (but not exclusively) because of his heroic defense of the First Amendment, the newborn, and the unborn. Interesting trio, aren't they? Imagine someone who tenaciously defends the First Amendment against the depredations of p.c. nannies also tenaciously defending the unborn and newborn against oppression and murder. He'd have to be a Christian, wouldn't he?
by David and Tim Bayly on February 5, 2009 - 6:12am
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
(Tim) One of the men just interviewed and accepted into ClearNote Pastors College for matriculation this coming September is a middle-aged recently-retired law enforcement officer whose gift is keeping the peace. He's trained men for SWAT team duties and has a deep understanding of the weaknesses and strengths of warriors. What will he add to CNPC's curriculum?
This morning, this brother sent me the poem below which has been widely circulated within the law enforcement community in recent years. As I read, I found myself thinking what an excellent commentary it is on Jesus' teaching in John 10 on hirelings, wolves, the flock, and the Good Shepherd.
Fellow pastors and elders: We're all happy to live in a nation that's never suffered any serious invasion by hostile forces, but we are silent when our President is attacked precisely for his vigilance in our behalf. We're all pleased as punch to live in the suburbs where we never hear the crackle of gunfire as we watch our male soaps of urban warfare, but we look askance at discussions of weapons, wondering what kind of monsters have a zeal for this or that brand of hand gun? We worship in Protestant churches holding to Protestant doctrine faithful to Scripture, but our skin crawls when our pastor warns us against heresy. Any heresy. Any heresy at all--but particularly Roman Catholicism.
In other words, we live in peace given to us by the Man of Blood; we live in the midst of a civil security given us by men of blood who laid down their lives for the sheep; but then we pull back in horror when one of them barks, kills a wolf, or comes to church with blood on his hands. "He's so dirty! He should be Baptist or Pentecostal."
by David and Tim Bayly on February 9, 2009 - 9:26am
(Tim) No links to Rob Bell's schlock, the deep and sensitive thoughts of Brian McLaren, the Christian Medical and Dental Society, Talbot Seminary's groundbreaking ethics and public policy think tank, faculty members at Wheaton College, or CTi journalists on this site. Ron Sider and Jim Wallis haven't made an appearance just yet--nor their "me too" buddy, Al Gore. There's been no sighting of Niel Nielson or Bryan Chapell--nor any of
their professors, for that matter. In fact, no sign of anyone in the Presbyterian Church
(Tim) Back when Dad (Joe Bayly) was serving as Executive Director of Christian Medical Society (now Christian Medical and Dental Society), he sent me a copy of the following editorial from the September, 1970 issue of California Medicine,
the journal of the California Medical Association. I've referred to
this editorial in prior posts, but never run the editorial itself.
might help readers understand David's and my commitment to push
Christian medical professionals hard in matters of life and death if
they knew that, in my files, I have copies of a series of letters
between C. Everett Koop and Dad immediately following Dad's assumption
of the leadership of CMS.
In the first letter, Dad tells Koop
that he intends to lead CMS to adopt an anti-abortion position as
official policy. On that basis, then, Dad appeals to Koop to restore
his membership in CMA.
Prior to then (1979-80), CMS had refused to take a stand against abortion and Koop had resigned in protest...
...but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
(Tim) Here in Bloomington, there were two sweet endings to a wonderful week among the People of God celebrating Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter. Let me share them with you for the building up of your faith.
First, following the service, yesterday, a young man came up to me with a smile on his face. Accompanied by a friend, he said he had a sin to confess and told me of his quite-serious dishonesty in certain academic work. Today he will tell the authorities about his sin--confess it to them--and it could well mean the end of his plans for the future. He was ashamed, but joyful. Christ died for that sin and he is forgiven. Christ rose from the grave and because He lives, we also shall live.
What a precious gift this confession of sin is. Everywhere it goes, it lays waste the pride of man and glorifies Jesus Christ. We are less and He is more. It was the perfect end to Holy Week!
But wait, there's more...
Later on in the afternoon, as the sanctuary was being cleaned up after having been packed for several hours with people feasting on ham, potatoes, and green beans, four young men who attend our public high schools asked for advice concerning how they should respond to the Day of Silence that will be taking over their schools' classrooms this coming Friday.
But first, a word of explanation.
The Day of Silence held April 19th each year is a day of student advocacy of sodomy and other sexual perversions. But of course, those who love sexual perversion never admit they love sexual perversion, nor do they demand that others love it. That would be gauche...
by David and Tim Bayly on April 15, 2009 - 11:13am
(Tim) From my incomparable tutor in all things political for over thirty years, Joe Sobran, I learned of the existence of the Tenth Amendment, but also of its impotence in the hands of the crooks who have served on the U.S. Supreme Court in recent decades. Also from Sobran, I picked up the habit of never, ever, ever referring to "the United States," but always and only "these United States."
The past few years, Church of the Good Shepherd has had an influx of Texans who move here for a few years to complete their doctorates at IU. Most of them plan to return to the motherland so, half-seriously, I've told them of my wish that Texas would secede so I could move there...
(Tim) The joys of serving Church of the Good Shepherd are all around me, day by day, and my heart is constantly thankful to God for this privilege. Just one of my recent joys was reading the following statement written by several of our high school students a week and a half ago in anticipation of being ready to respond to the pro homosexual immorality Day of Silence held at our two public high schools each year on April 17th (last Friday):
Silence Can’t Hide the Truth
Although people attempt to write
off sodomy as merely a lifestyle choice, it is in fact morally wrong.
Arguments to the contrary could go on forever, but the conscience and
the Word of God give indisputable evidence that it is sin.
this fact, many believe that they can continue in this sin without any
form of judgment, and try in every way to gain equal approval from
others. However, even if all voices were to cease speaking out against
homosexuality, in the coming judgment no one will be able to escape or
to justify himself.
While this may seem cruel and heartless, as
there are none who are perfect, God has given us a way to escape from
our sin and be saved from the coming judgment...