Discernment

Cutting through the rhetoric...

As already noted, the Hobby Lobby decision isn't particularly landmark. It is here, for now, but will likely dissolve within a short time-frame. During the interim, we will have our eyes and ears abused with twisted narratives used to induce panic and anger; certainly not careful thought or reflection. The weightier the issues, the more sinfully stupid people think about and talk about topics. It is not merely painful to our ears and eyes, it is tragic.

One such issue that sticks out is how so many articles and "news" outlets are focusing on the fact Hobby Lobby isn't a real person...


Establish the work of our hands...

For whatever reason, I just spent five minutes reading a bunch of Reformed superstars' tweets being exchanged among Reformed groupies. Glorious truths of God are reduced to sound bites recirculated by fan-boys who come away thinking they have struck a blow for the Gospel by tweeting twenty words and attaching some super-apostle's name.

The Bible tells us "solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14). But we're fat Americans, so instead of "practice" and "training," we have become facile, glib, feebleminded, giddy, and frothy in our repetition of the banal, phylacteried, hackneyed, and bromidic.

If you don't know those words, there's a reason.

Typical of the stuff we cycle through is, "Jesus didn't die so he could say he did his part. No, he died to save his elect in full." Then we attach a name to these twenty words, as if anyone could own copyright on such an obvious truth repeated by every pastor since the Apostle Paul.

Poor Mark Driscoll was caught...


Tim Keller's "divine dance": the Trinitarian twist...

Reading some of Tim Keller's books recently, certain emphases stood out. One being something he calls the "divine dance." Keller prefers framing discussions of the Trinity with this analogy. He concludes with it in The Reason for God and opens with it in King's Cross (aka Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God)...

Exploring the background to this analogy, I came across a very helpful book, Engaging with Keller: Thinking Through the Theology of an Influential Evangelical, contributed by various authors, including Pastor Kevin J. Bidwell.


Charles Finney on God's wrath against sinners...

Charles Finney's name occurs three times on Baylyblog. Each mention is simply a quotation of someone else, the most recent being a formal complaint filed within the PCA reproduced here in which the complainants cited Finney.

So now, something historic: here's a Finney quote just received from a brother that I commend highly. In a time when all-grace-and-no-law ministers of the Word are abusing "hate the sin, love the sinner" as cover for their own abandonment of God's "no," this quote by Finney is a good antidote. The reason silence concerning sodomy is evil is that, unless he believes and repents, God will judge the sodomite himself. Hell is not simply the burning of sinners' sin, but the burning of sinners.

Some suppose that these results of the excited sensibility against wrong would not develop themselves if our hearts were right. This is a great mistake. The nearer right our hearts are, the more certainly shall we disapprove wrong, the more intensely shall we feel opposed to it, and the greater will be our displeasure against the wrong-doer. Hence we must not only suppose that God is angry in the sense of a will opposed to sin, but in the further sense of a sensibility enkindled against it. This must be the case if God is truly a moral agent.

God is not angry merely against the sin abstracted from the sinner, but against the sinner himself. Some persons have labored hard to set up this ridiculous and absurd abstraction,...


Losing the forest for the trees...

In response to the post "The death of motherhood..." in which I cited 1Timothy 2:15 ("Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty."), some have asked how 1Timothy 2:15 applies to men, fathers, singles, or barren wives? To which I respond:

First, it is Scripture that declares woman will be saved through childbearing. How and in what ways is debatable, but the statement is there.

May men be saved?

Of course—the Apostle Paul was a man and he was saved. May single women be saved? Of course. Childless wives? Of course.

Those who do not bear children, whether men or women, are not saved through the bearing of children, but this does not mean they aren't saved because they don't bear children. There are many means of grace.

But what about married women who are fertile and wholly or partially repudiate childbearing? Are they saved through childbearing?

It might be better to ask whether their repudiation of childbearing is rebellion against God and places their souls in jeopardy? The answer is...


God never stops speaking (although we wish He would)...

Dear brothers and sisters, would you please read this? And don't get discouraged by confusion in the first half; persevere to the very end.


Theological critique of Escondido Two Kingdoms Theology (I): They adore separation of church and state...

(NOTE: This post is part of a series showing the errors of so-called Two-Kingdom Theology. We refer to it as "so-called" Two-Kingdom Theology because what the church historically has meant by "Two-Kingdoms" bears little resemblance to what Escondido Theology men mean when they write it today. Thus sometimes we write "Two-Kingdom Theology," but more often we write "Radical Two Kingdom," "Rigid Two Kingdom," or "R2K.")

I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day. --2 Timothy 1:12b

For over a decade, now, liberal men in Reformed denominations such as the PCA, OPC, and URC have fought like dogs to silence any witness by their churches that might look like a salvo in the culture war. Hypersensitive to being perceived as co-belligerents with those simple Christians who still believe in their calling to suffer as witnesses to the Gospel by guarding the good deposit, fulfilling the Church's calling as the pillar and foundation of the truth, and obeying our Master's command to be salt and light, these men demonstrate a cunning servility to the growing decadence of these United States. Wielding millions of words, they work assiduously to cloak themselves in Scripture and the subordinate standards as they scurry about silencing God's Word and Law in the public square.

Since almost no one reads history today, it's been relatively easy for these men to choose tidbits from here and there which are purported to support their project. Few know enough to call them on their revisionism and this is the reason Darrell Todd Maurina's post, "
What is (R)2-K theology and why does it matter..." elicited such endless comments and gnashing of the teeth. R2K men aren't used to having the spotlight turned on their tendentious abuse of church history, the subordinate standards, and the writings of Reformed fathers.

Picking and sorting their way backward through Protestant history..., feverishly searching for support for their queer trade of disengagement, they hit gold with the ante-bellum Southern Presbyterian defense of slavery. Hiding behind that very pious phrase, "the spirituality of the church," it seems not to bother them in the least that this rubric used to defend slavery continues to this very day to cause Reformed doctrine to be a stench in the eyes of godly black Americans. I've been told this myself by a godly black Reformed pastor, and having read Dabney's bio of Stonewall Jackson containing his defense of slavery, I have no difficulty understanding their well-informed position...


Christianese mixed with a lot of blabber...

Here is a post by Alastair Roberts using Rob Bell as his central example of a problem in American Christianity today. He describes him as an ad man, and he points out that there are lots of these in the Christian world these days.

His post isn't mainly criticizing Rob Bell, although it's important to know that Rob Bell is a false teacher. Instead it is about what has happened to communication in the 21st century. And he gets it exactly right. Here's the part I want to take further:

Advertisers can be masters of eliciting feelings and states of mind in a manner that makes you think that you are on exactly the same wavelength, without actually telling you anything. They give you the bucket and you fill it, without recognizing what you are doing. Vague and indefinite terms that will be filled with highly emotive states (e.g. ‘spiritual’, ‘transcendent’, ‘wonder’ – words which almost always carry great emotional resonance for any hearer) and prose that seems to be saying something profound without making much of a specific claim is fairly typical here. They hold up a mirror and you see yourself in it.


The self-publishing revolution is a blessing...

Publishers Weekly announces self-publishing is up up up, and that's good good good--particularly for the Church. Remember how the printing press helped the Reformation? Rome couldn't block the direct pipeline the Reformers now had to expose the wickedness in high places, warning the sheep.

The same is true of the digital publishing revolution of the past three decades, starting with Macs and laser printers. Wheaton and Grand Rapids and Covenant and Redeemer can't block the direct pipeline reformers now have to the sheep.


Why I'm not Islamophobic...

This morning I read an article on CNN by Brian Mclaren calling Evangelicals to choose between allowing Islamophobia to spread further or seeking a "more charitable approach to our Muslim neighbors." In the article he said, "Many sincere and good-hearted evangelicals have never yet had a real Muslim friend, and now they probably never will because their minds have been so prejudiced by Islamophobic broadcasts on so-called Christian television and radio." 

Let me start with a few facts:

  1. I have had a "real Muslim friend." More than one, in fact. Hi **** and ****. How's your daughter ****? (Names withheld for their own safety.)
  2. I'm no friend of Christian television and radio.
  3. CNN doesn't claim to be Christian. Neither does BBC. Neither does The New York Times.

I've watched a number of news clips and read many articles in the last week that talk about Islam. In fact, I can't seem to get away from them. None of them have been from Christian news sources. Now maybe the news sources can't be trusted, but they are claiming that there has been a lot of violence and even an attack on a US Consulate that killed 4 US citizens. I must confess, Mr. Mclaren, I haven't checked their sources. It could all be a huge hoax. Maybe Christians and other non-Muslims are perfectly safe...


An economist's advice on choosing a Church...

A couple months back, Six Rules for Dining ran in Atlantic Monthly. The article was written by economist Tyler Cowen and had some tips on how to choose where to eat. The article was insightful, but what I found more interesting...


Promoting Sexual by Design, Part II: The protestors organize...

(NOTE FROM JAKE MENTZEL: The following post was written by Jason Chen, with a few additions and changes made by me. It is also a continuation of his original post, here. Jason is a Clearnote Pastors College Student and just started his second year as an intern with Clearnote Campus Fellowship. He is in charge of outreach efforts on the campus of IU and was primarily responsible for the marketing and promotion of Sexual by Design.)

So our slow-build marketing plan didn't work out as we anticipated. We thought we'd be working hard to generate interest in the lectures, but as it turns out, from the first day we put chalk on the ground, the buzz around campus began to take on a life of its own.

Although some of our students were rattled by the opposition we were facing, we continued chalking. At this point we made our messages simpler and more direct. Once while we were out, a member of SAGE (Sexual Orientation and Gender Equality) told me and a CNCF student that they had just finished meeting to discuss how to respond to our advertising. We were told that they had decided to no longer erase our chalk. Very big of them! They had, however, set up a website to counter our efforts, www.bettermessage.org.

At the same time I went on campus to interview students to make a few promotional videos. We asked a series of simple questions related to the lectures—questions like, "What does it mean for you to be a man (or woman)?" Here's an example of what we ended up with...


Humble is as stupid does...

Recently Jared Wilson of The Gospel Coalition put up a quote from Doug Wilson's book Fidelity. The post (not the book) was meant to be an explanation of why women today are reading books like Fifty Shades of Grey, which include pornographic BDSM content. The simple version says it's because when we deny that authority and submission play any role in sex, we are lying to ourselves. Authority and submission are built into our nature, and rejecting them doesn't get rid of them. They just end up coming back to us in a "pathological form." Oh yes, and the quote also said, "This is of course offensive to all egalitarians." 

Then those who claim to be true sons of Abraham, but are in fact of their father the Devil, went on the attack. They were, quite appropriately, led by a woman in this battle--


Why Sexual by Design?

About this time last year, the women of our church invited Nancy Wilson to speak at their annual Spring Retreat. Like many godly couples in ministry, Doug and Nancy never travel separately, so that meant her husband was part of the deal. That worked out great for us, because we're friends with Doug and we had been hoping to invite him to Bloomington at some point, anyway. The ladies of our church just helped us pull the trigger.

Needless to say, having Doug in town was an opportunity that we wanted to take advantage of. And having him speak on campus was an obvious decision. Initially, we wanted to have a debate of some kind—something similar to what Doug had already done with Christopher Hitchens and others. It would have been familiar territory for him, and we would’ve known what to expect. But we couldn’t find anyone willing or able to partner with us to pull it off. That put us in a bit of a spot and required a bit more creativity.

After corresponding with Doug, we decided to have him do a series of lectures entitled Sexual by Design. The idea was simple. Doug would come and address God’s design for our sexuality—why did God make us male and female? And what then?

The reason for this is simple. If we were going to have Doug Wilson speak on IU’s campus, we wanted it to matter. And if sexuality is a hot-button issue in our culture, it’s a panic-button issue in Bloomington...


Dogs, dirt, danger, and Athanasius College...

Dirty is good in the church. Often I've pointed readers to that glorious warning found in Proverbs: "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox" (Proverbs 14:4). This is the Reformed church, today. Our mangers are sterile, and so there's no revenue. No babies by Evangelism or the marriage bed. We depend upon Cru to do the dirty manger work, and then cull from their revenue to keep our coffers reasonably provisioned. Which is to say the Reformed church is impotent in both kinds of propagating a godly seed--Covenant children and Gospel proclamation and witness. And the second half of this isn't just my own conviction--it was the relentless lament of Iain Murray every time he spoke at Banner of Truth back when David and our brother, Nathan, and I used to attend.

Dirty is good in the home. A study of Finnish homes demonstrates that children who grow up in dirt are healthier than those who grow up in clean. Children with pets have fewer ear infections and dirt in the first year of life inoculates them against allergies.

Homeschooling done by mothers who are the heads of their husbands (only privately, of course) and desperate to protect their children from every evil influence in the world (including the authority of the Church, of course) inevitably produces children with a defective immune system, spiritually...


A matter of life and death...

A wise man’s heart directs him toward the right, but the foolish man’s heart directs him toward the left.  - Ecclesiastes 10:2

A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, The naive proceed and pay the penalty.  - Proverbs 27:12

RCJr. tweeted a good question: are we as concerned about the slaughter of babies as we are about nationalized health care? Implicit in this question is that Roberts' National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius is no threat to innocent life.

But it is, and on a massive scale. Remember C. Everett Koop said, "for every Baby Doe there will be ten thousand Grandma and Grandpa Does." The bloodshed of innocents doesn't follow circumspect boundaries. It's contagious and has become a national epidemic here in these United States that is far worse than the governmental slaughters of the Third Reich or Rwanda.

Follow medical ethics and listen to physicians: they're already murdering patients, and that's without the sort of pressure they'll face as these unprincipled men inside the Beltway make more and more decisions concerning standards of care. The duty to be nice and utilitarianism are the only laws left among us, and neither provide the slightest protection for truth, justice, and human life. Which is to say you will kill your mother. And just like the Germans and Rwanda's Hutus, your justification will be that the government made you do it.

This is the fruit of Chief Justice Robert's so-called "brilliance." He's stuck one more dagger in the heart of constitutional government and the repercussions will be catastrophic...


Turns out children adopted by lesbian couples aren't OK after all...

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1)

Everyone who knows anything will tell you global warming is true; or at least likely enough to be true to justify a plate-tectonic shift in all the world's economies. Everyone agrees. Science doesn't lie.

Everyone who knows anything will tell you literalists are embarrassing to the young, restless, and Reformed entrepreneurial enterprise. It's time to climb on Jack Collins' and Tim Keller's bandwagon. It's time to join all the brilliant genomists and brilliant exegetes and embrace evolution. Everyone agrees. The high priests of the Human Genome Project and scientific exegetes don't lie.

Everyone who knows anything will tell you Scripture is stupid--an ancient collection of myths. Take, for instance, that very old myth that man was created first, then woman; and that the meaning of this fact is that woman is not to teach or exercise authority over man. Also, that same-sex intimacy is an abomination before God and that God abandons men and women to receive in their own bodies the fair or just penalty of their perversion. Everyone agrees this is not true. God's Word is a lie.

Everyone who knows anything will tell you gay parenthood is good for the children; or at least good enough to justify a plate-tectonic shift in artificial insemination, adoption, and family law. Everyone agrees. Science doesn't lie.

Then a social scientist does a study of the emotional and mental health of adult children of same-sex parents...


The Reformers were pamphleteers...

Again and again within the PCA, men sound the trumpet against the approaching enemy and immediately are shouted down by other men who say the blowing of the trumpet violated proper "process." Their claim is that sounding the alarm is not to trust the courts of the church where schismatics and heretics ought properly (and only) to be dealt with. They shush the buglers and their clear note.

This is to punish men for the very act of courageous obedience by which they serve our Lord and His Bride, and it's the same sort of punishment and condemnation Calvin, Luther, and Knox suffered. So buck up, men! You have a great patrimony! Calvin, Luther, and Knox blew their bugles, also, sounding the alarm house to house, city to city, day and night with tears.

Now to the details. When the Lord commanded Ezekiel to be faithful in his calling as a prophet, he called him a "watchman." Pastors today are watchmen, also, as indicated by...


Honor to whom honor is due...

While we're on the subject of money...

Over the years countless times I've given thanks to God, but also to Dad and Mom Taylor (Ken Taylor and Margaret Taylor), for the way they handled the money God poured out on them.

One of the minority of privately held Evangelical publishers left standing today is Tyndale House Publishers and it's owned entirely by Mom Taylor now that her husband, Ken, passed away a few years ago. (Prior to his death, Dad owned 51% and Mom 49%. Sweet, huh?)

Tyndale House has published a number of best sellers and Dad held personal copyright on some of the best-selling books in the Evangelical publishing world including the Living Bible and The Bible in Pictures for Little Eyes. Then of course, Tyndale's goose that lay ten thousand golden eggs was Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye's Left Behind series which reached sales (books and related merchandise) of over a billion dollars.

Add up the numbers and you'll see how high on the hog Dad and Mom could have lived and how much money they could have left their children...


You cannot serve God and wealth...

No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. - Luke 16:13

Recently we've spent time on Guidestar downloading and reviewing IRS 990s filed by various Evangelical ministries including Ligonier, Grace to You, Grace to You/Masters College and SeminaryInsight for Living, and Desiring God.

Like accountants, our Internal Revenue Service holds to a high doctrine of original sin--much higher than today's Reformed pastors and congregants. Taking money and conflict of interest seriously, the IRS requires nonprofits to file Form 990 answering a whole host of questions the government believes should inform the giving of those inclined to support these ministries. Then the information collected through the 990 is made a matter of public record. Here are some of the questions...