by David and Tim Bayly on August 13, 2005 - 2:42pm
It's been extremely hot this past week. When we first exited O'Hare a week ago, the heat was a welcome relief from the cool weather we'd had in Africa and England. But within a few minutes it became oppressive and it hasn't let up since.
The other day when I got in the car the heat brought to mind our Lord's account of the Rich Man and Lazarus in the afterlife, and how the Rich Man in Hell cried out for water, but could have none. For a few minutes I meditated on what an awful place hell is--a place where the heat is unbearable and the thirst can never be quenched.
Reputable evangelicals such as John Stott deny the eternity of hell torments and that is understandable. It's one of the most difficult doctrines to submit to in all of Scripture. But as Harry Blamires wrote in his classic, The Christian Mind, if we're going to start tearing difficult passages out of Scripture, shouldn't we start with the one that's always been more offensive than any other:
(Jesus) was saying to them all, "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:23-25).
For men tempted to take Stott's shortcut and play with universalism and annihilationism, I highly recommend Jonathan Edward's sermon, "The Eternity of Hell Torments." Commenting on the Biblical account of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19ff., Edwards exclaims over men like Stott:
It is strange how men will go directly against so plain and full revelations of Scripture, as to suppose notwithstanding all these things, that the eternal punishment threatened against the wicked signifies no more than annihilation.
Incidentally, for several reasons (including that, contrary to His habit in telling parables, our Lord actually names the central character in this account, 'Lazarus') John Calvin believed that this account was not a parable, but real history that Jesus knew from Heaven.
Today, my daughter Hannah and I were driving out in the country and we stopped at a farm stand. The stand's attendant was in her sixties and we waited while she finished her conversation with a customer of a similar age. Of course, the topic was the weather--specifically,the unbearable heat. The customer commented, "Preachers oughta tell their congregations tomorrow that this heat gives you an idea what hell's like."
Prayer: O Father, Creator of both Heaven and Hell, give us a living faith in the blood and righteousness of Your Son, Jesus Christ, that we might escape the fires of hell and be brought safely, along with all who love you with an undying love, into your presence where there is fulness of joy forevermore. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Greg Johnson is a graduate of my denomination's seminary, Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri, and this article he's written strikes me as typical of the sort of poisonous grace talk I've run into too often, recently, including among men from Covenant. Because the error is so common, it might be good for us to critique this particular piece as a means of warning others away from these errors.
Note well: I am not saying everything in this article is bad. There are things here worth saying, some of which are downright helpful and good. But the admixture of truth and error ultimately renders this piece unsalvageable except as an exercise in the practice of that most-neglected-of-all-spiritual-gifts, discernment.
So would you please take some part of this article and, quoting it, show how it is contrary to Scripture? Don't worry if your work is duplicated by someone else. I'm hopeful we'll have thousands of words written about this piece, permanently deposited here in our comments section to be read by others. Of course, it's proper to note the good points Johnson makes, but my principal concern is to see the errors exposed as a warning to all.
Feel free to argue against another reader's critique. The goal here is to grow our discernment quotient, making us all more useful in defending the church against false teaching--particularly false teaching hiding behind the cover of "grace."
Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt: The rare beauty of Weakness Christianity
by Greg Johnson
1. The Diagnosis: Quiet Time Guilt
I recently watched as a congregation I love was spiritually raped. A Christian ministry came into the church for a three-day program whose purpose was to encourage believers to pray more. During one of the breakout sessions, a man expressed his frustration with unanswered prayer. He had faithfully prayed with and for his daughter for years, and still she was not walking with God. He was broken, depressed, perhaps more than a little ashamed. How does God in his grace speak to this man? A bruised reed was crying out for help.
"You need to try harder. You need to pray more." That was the message he was given. I was enraged. Having known this church for many years, I was horrified. What I was hearing was what one seminary professor calls sola bootstrapa. Self-reliance--we pull ourselves up by our own spiritual bootstraps. The teachers who said such things surely meant well. The problem was not a lack of sincerity on their part. The diagnosis is far more severe. The problem was heresy. Any heresy wounds the soul.
When I look upon the evangelical world today, I see millions of sincere believers who are loaded down with false guilt by teachers who fail to grasp the basics of biblical prayer. To sharpen the point slightly, Christ's sheep have been lied to. They have been told that prayer is a work that we must perform in order to get God to bless us. As heresies go, this one is often subtle. Prayer has become a work rather than a grace. The result has been a loss of joy in prayer.
And prayer is not the only grace we've turned into a work. Personal Bible study has become a source of bondage as well. A whole generation of Christians has been told that God will bless them if they read their Bibles every day, as if the act of reading the Scriptures were some kind of magic talisman by which we gain power over God and secure his favor. This is not the religion of the Bible. This pervasive belief that God gives us grace as a reward for our devotional consistency is antithetical to the religion of Jesus Christ. Prayer and Bible study--what evangelicals for the past century have called the "quiet time"--have become dreaded precisely because they have been radically misunderstood.
It's ironic, but the Quiet Time has become the number one cause of defeat among Bible-believing Christians today. At one time or another, nearly every sincere believer feels a deep sense of failure and the accompanying feelings of guilt and shame because he or she has failed to set aside a separate time for Bible study and prayer. This condition is called Quiet Time Guilt. And it's a condition with many repercussions. The shame of Quiet Time Guilt manifests itself in even deeper inability to fruitfully and joyfully study Scripture. Prayer becomes a dread; Bible study a burden. The Christian suffering from Quiet Time Guilt then despairs of seeing God work in his or her life, until finally he or she simply gives up. He may continue outward and public Christian commitments like church attendance, but secretly he feels a hypocrite. What is the root of Quiet Time Guilt?
2. The Culprit: Legalism
The root of Quiet Time Guilt is legalism. Often when we think of legalism, we think of the petty man-made rules that have so often strangled the churches--rules against dancing or drinking or makeup or 'secular' music. But these legalistic rules are merely an outward sign of a deeper legalism of the heart. When prayer and Bible study are thought of primarily as duties ('disciplines') rather than as grace, both prayer and the study of Scripture become unfruitful in our lives...
Click here to finish reading Johnson's article, "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt."
Another exercise in discernment: please join this work. Resistance is not futile.
In the godly, fear and love embrace.
Dear readers, my brother, David, and I have often written here that our work on this blog is an extension of our calling to serve as shepherds of God's flock. And although we recognize this calling is primarily to particular congregations in Toledo and Bloomington, we approach this blog as an extension of our local ministry and work to serve as shepherds here, also. In fact, a high proportion of our readers are present or past members of our congregations. Whether the medium is the telephone, E-mail, church newsletters, or blogs, David and I are working to correct, encourage, and rebuke, with great patience.
At times we give in to the temptation to waste these words on inconsequential matters, but we hope not too often. Seeing the title of my recent post, "The World Cup, racism, and the reprobate," some likely wondered why I was squandering time on soccer? But the post wasn't really about soccer, but rather the sin of racism, and the failure of pastors and elders who connive at this sin in their congregations.
Why this lengthy preamble?
Here is a link to a piece I believe to be terribly dangerous. I've considered whether it's too dangerous to be circulated, but I think we need to read it. It's a sermon by Lutheran scholar Marcus Borg, titled "The Character of God," given at Calvary Episcopal Church in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 24, 2000.
Professor Borg is leading the souls he's teaching in a liberal and academic context to a place that is similar to the place Covenant Theological Seminary graduate and PCA pastor, Greg Johnson, takes us in his piece , "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt: The Rare Beauty of Weakness Christianity." Sure, Pastor Johnson uses terminology and arguments that would appeal to conservative reformed, rather than liberal Lutheran, academic types. But both pieces, I believe, lead souls to presume on God's grace and allow no place for the fear of God...
This excellent response to Marcus Borg was written by Pastor Dan Reuter, a dear friend who serves Brown County Presbyterian Fellowship in Nashville, Indiana.
Our British cousins commonly speak of automobiles as "motors." We, at least colloquially, tend to call them "wheels," as in "I got wheels, man." Which of us is correct?
It's a ridiculous question, but hardly more ridiculous than Dr. Marcus Borg's sermon on the character of God. Wheels are useless without motive power and the motor is no vehicle without wheels. But Dr. Borg tells us that there are two metaphors for God which are so far divorced that "they virtually produce two different religions."
One metaphor-the bad one, according to Borg-is of God as monarch, lawgiver, and judge. This is the God of the Ten Commandments, the God who demands obedience, the God who demands, at the very least, faith. And this is the God before whom we never measure up. He is the God who, ultimately, will "get" us because of our failure to do what he tells us. The last word of this God is, according to a colleague whom Borg quotes with approval, "divine ethnic cleansing." The words which Borg associates with the God of this monarchial metaphor are "requirements," "in-group," and "vengeance." Borg's language as much as his argument-actually, there isn't much argument-makes it clear that this God, if he exists, is bad. No right-thinking person today would admit to worshiping a God who has anything to do with vengeance or exclusion, much less ethnic cleansing. And even requirements seem to be a rather dated notion in an era of noncompetitive "sports" with no losers and no winners.
The other metaphor is the one which pictures God primarily as a lover. The bad, lawgiving God "also loves us," Borg admits, but his love is conditional and therefore not to be reckoned on the same exalted plane as the love of the divine Lover who is only that. God, says Borg, "is in love with us." In fact, he quotes another colleague who says that God is "besotted with us." And With this God there are also other words associated: "compassion," "liberation," "justice." Once more the language says it all. Who nowadays admits to being against compassion or liberation or justice?
I've said before that the evangelical church hates discernment. And although in theory we agree that the body has many parts and that the eye ought not to say to the hand, "I don't need you," the spiritual gift of discernment seems about as useful as an appendix or tonsils.
Not infrequently, then, a comment is posted on this blog in which some good fellow accuses David, me, or one of our readers of judgmentalism, discrimination, or some other variety of sinful behavior.
Here's a classic example of this genre that was submitted to our blog earlier today, followed by my response. The comment was posted beneath a post I did some time ago on Pastor Rick Warren.
[NOTE FROM TIM: This article was posted on Baylyblog back in 2006. Church of the Good Shepherd is now called Clearnote Church, Bloomington.]
The 2006 General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) met a few weeks ago and approved a measure that clears the way for practicing homosexuals to be ordained and installed as pastors and elders of the church. Many news organizations covered this event, but no one commented on the most newsworthy aspect of this radical step--namely, that the measure was itself the product of a Task Force that included a number of evangelicals, and that the evangelicals were instrumental in selling this proposal to the church. How does it happen that evangelicals promote the normalization of sodomy and advocate a plan that clears the way for sodomites to shepherd God's flock? There's a lesson here--a very important lesson--particularly for evangelicals who think all that's important is that people "love Jesus" and have prayed the sinner's prayer. Please read on...
Now I ask you, lady, not as though I were writing to you a new commandment, but the one which we have had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. (2 John 1:5-11)
The late Elizabeth Achtemeier was adjunct professor of Bible and homiletics at Union Theological Seminary in Virginia and served on the board of Presbyterians Pro-Life, a reform organization within the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA). Particularly because of her courageous opposition to some of the most poisonous aspects of feminism within mainline Presbyterianism, it came as no surprise that Elizabeth was appointed to the PC(USA) General Assembly's blue ribbon Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity as a representative of those on the evangelical end of the denominational spectrum.
When Elizabeth died in the middle of the Task Force's work, her son Mark Achtemeier, a PC(USA) seminary professor teaching systematic theology at Dubuque Theological Seminary, was appointed to take her place and he served on the Task Force through the completion of its work this past year. The Task Force brought a number of recommendations to the (national) General Assembly this year, all of which were carefully crafted to end the divisive battle over the normalization of sodomy.
Up until this time, those seeking to normalize sodomy and to ordain sodomites to the offices of pastor and elder had to contend with PC(USA) denominational standards that forbade such ordinations. If churches defied these standards, they could be brought up on charges, although through the years a variety of technicalities were used to escape accountability. True, the denomination's definitive guidance was a roadblock to those seeking to normalize sodomy, but the practice across the country was a far cry from that definitive guidance. Lesbians and gays were active at all levels of the church as members, leaders, and officers, and there was little accountability for those who flaunted their rebellion against God's Word.
Yet even as they rebelled against Scripture's doctrine of sexuality and got away with only a few slaps on the wrist, the sodomy lobby worked feverishly to change church law so that sexual perversion would no longer be formally condemned and informally overlooked, but positively celebrated. Nothing less would do. Thus for years every level of church government found its time consumed by the battle, and people grew so weary of the controversy that the PUP Task Force was appointed and given a mandate to find a way out of the quagmire.
This year's national General Assembly was D-day, and the Task Force released its recommendations a few months before the Assembly so there would be plenty of time for commissioners to weigh its recommendations before the assembly convened. When those with biblical commitments saw the report and read through its recommendations, they were sickened to see that the Task Force had thrown in the towel and called it quits. Assuming the General Assembly adopted the Task Force recommendations (which it now has), they knew the definitive guidance would become obsolete. Rather, local rule would prevail. True, in theory this meant conservative churches and presbyteries could enforce the definitive guidance if they so chose, but only within their own jurisdiction. Meanwhile, liberal churches and presbyteries would be cut loose to do as they thought best--including ordaining and installing self-affirming active sodomites as pastors and elders. Really, the recommendations amounted to a ceding of the historic Presbyterian principle of connectionalism to the all-American ecclesiastical default of congregationalism.
But as shocking as the parameters of the surrender were, the shock turned into disbelief when the names of those who had signed on to the surrender included a number of evangelicals, including Elizabeth Achtemeier's son, Mark. People were flabbergasted. How could Elizabeth's son betray Scripture and the souls under his protection in this way? Did he care nothing for those tempted by same-sex intimacy? Was he really prepared to join the long line of self-proclaimed prophets who cry "Peace, peace" where there is no peace? As the smoke cleared, there was no denying that Mark Achtemeier had been co-opted by the sodomites...
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...
So, twice in three days, I was depressed hearing about the influence of a certain cool dude's ear-scratching book telling everyone how wise he is at meeting the culture where it's at, and how unutterably stupid the Church is. Oh, how weary I grow of these Bible-betraying fools and their sycophants. They sell out to the world and call it thinking biblically. They betray the Lord and call it God's new thing. They are cowards and call it tact--sometimes even evangelism!
But do they bear one iota of resemblance to the Apostle Paul? No, the thought of them being lashed or stoned is laughable. The world wouldn't bother.
Well, God just reminded me that there are still many who have not bowed the knee to Baal. He has promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail against His Church and He's always faithful to His promises. How was I reminded? I came across this most excellent comment by one of Mom Taylor's granddaughters under my tribute to Mom on her 90th birthday.
May God give us many more mothers like Leslie Taylor. But more, may He fill His Church with Titus 2 women who WILL teach the younger women of the church to be godly women, and therefore godly wives and mothers. If Leslie is the kind of woman evangelical feminists are trying to push into the pulpit, I say "You go, girl!"
Here's Leslie's comment:
It is tragic that home economics has largely disappeared because I am convinced that being a mother requires more education and training than any other occupation.
One of the most noticeable effects of feminism is how unprepared and clueless many of today's mothers are (and I was one of them). I know that there have always been spoiled children and clueless mothers all throughout history, but what is going on in America today is an epidemic of enormous proportions, and the church is no haven.
When Christopher [her husband] and I left the park with the kids yesterday...
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...
Over and besides those qualifications that should be in all Christians--they that rule the church of God, should be men of counsel and understanding. ...Remember what was said of old, (Malachi 2:7) "the priest's lips should preserve knowledge: and the people should seek the law at his mouth." But when this is wanting, the people will be stumbling and departing from God and one another. Therefore God complains, (Hosea 4:6) that his people were destroyed for want of knowledge; that is, for want of knowing guides. For if the light that is in them that teach be darkness, how great is that darkness! and if the blind lead the blind, no marvel both fall into the ditch. (John Bunyan, Exhortation to Unity and Peace, pp. 29,30.)
In a screed for peace posted by Prof. Reggie Kidd of Reformed Theological Seminary (Orlando) a week ago today, Dr. Kidd proved himself an able controversialist, but of the modern sort. A jab, a parry, and a thrust; he lopped off the heads of his opponents sending them rolling into the ditches at the side of the road, but all was well—Dr. Kidd never posed the slightest threat to the feminized discourse characteristic of our modern defenders of the faith who claim for themselves Calvin’s, Luther’s, or Machen’s mantle. Said the good Dr. Kidd while sheathing his bloody blade, “It should be obvious to all that I am a man of peace.” And so he titled his post, “Mutual defenestration means self annihilation.” Not surprisingly, the one-hundred plus comments his post garnered are permeated with admirers congratulating him on his irenic spirit.
Apparently it takes a pastor with many session meetings under his belt to see who’s kidding whom. One could go on at length demonstrating the exact perimeter of the swaths cut by Dr. Kidd’s sword, but there’s one stellar example. Keeping in mind that Dr. Kidd possesses the terminal degree and his life’s work is within the Academy, could there be a more fatal thrust to the bodies of his intended victims than to call the Report of Ad Interim Study Committee on Federal Vision, New Perspective, and Auburn Avenue Theologies adopted by the PCA General Assembly this summer “a tendentiously and carelessly written paper?”
No, this short piece by Dr. Kidd is no blow for peace. It’s too bad the guys commending him can’t see it, but the rest of us shouldn’t allow ourselves to be bamboozled. To focus our thoughts, let’s line up Dr. Kidd’s good guys and bad guys. In fact, to purge the pomo spirit from among us this Monday morning, all at once let’s do every one of those hateful things that go directly against the spirit of our age: let’s delineate, distinguish, and divide.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 3, 2007 - 10:51am
(Tim: not for the squeamish) Back in the late seventies, my
wife, Mary Lee, and I decided to have our first child at home. Not
being lovers of hospitals, we figured childbirth was a labor best
carried out in an environment where the mother would feel perfectly at
home. Not being simps, though, we prepared as conscientiously as we
could. Since our parents weren't on board, we contacted a family friend
who was a renowned pediatric surgeon asking him what he thought of our
plans. He said hospitals were for sick people and a home birth would be
safer than a hospital birth. This did much to quell our loved ones'
Next, we read every book and article we could get our hands on and
enrolled in a course designed to prepare couples for a home birth. At
the end of the course, husbands were to be capable of catching the
child themselves if the doctor and midwife didn't show up.
This all happened in Madison, Wisconsin, so the other couples
taking the course were not, shall we say, entirely normal. Nor were our
The doctor who helped teach the course had practiced in Santa Cruz
prior to moving to Madison, and while in Santa Cruz had attended many home births. So there was a good bit of the northern
California funkiness coming with him which, combined with the Madison
east-side culture, reached critical mass within that group. One night
when we got home after our birthing class, we were repulsed to find among the evening's handouts a recipe...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 25, 2007 - 8:10am
(David Lehr, by way of Tim) Baudelaire said (in the Lehr translation), "It's more difficult to love God than to believe in Him. On the other hand, it's more difficult for the men of our time to believe in the Devil than to love him. Everyone serves the Devil, yet no one believes in him. It's his sublime subtlety."
(Tim: I first met Paul Cote walking down the hall of our dorm at Northern Illinois University. Wearing a tall leather Lincoln hat, Paul mentioned he liked Dylan. We became friends. Since then, we've roomed together, gotten our M.Divs. together, and we continue to visit and correspond. Through the years, I've occasionally asked Paul to retell the story of his friend, Gary Gygax, and the beginnings of Dungeons and Dragons. What did he think about all the Christians who were convinced that D&D was something close to necromancy or child-murder?
Here on the occasion of the death of Gary Gygax is Paul's personal account of the origins of D&D in the Gygax's merry home, a home large and generous enough to take Paul and many other teenage boys in and to give them fun. As you read this eulogy, stop and think: What if our Christian homes were as stable, joyful, and generous to the waifs all around us?)
When I was a 13 year old boy living in Chicago, a friend's father
introduced his son, my friend, and me to military board games published
by the Avalon Hill Company of Baltimore: Gettysburg and The Battle of the Bulge.
As boys we had enjoyed listening to our fathers telling stories about
World War II, and watching old war movies with John Wayne, and
especially Errol Flynn. And on rainy days when you couldn’t play
outside, these games were more fun than abstract games like cards and
chess. Historian John Keegan states in the introduction to The Face of Battle,
“for a young man training to be a professional soldier, the central
question is: what is it like to be in a battle?” Knowing that our
fathers had gone to war, and that it was a formative moment in their
lives, in becoming men, our imaginations were fired by the same
question, and war games, like reading military history, were a way of
thinking about these things.
Here's a picture of Gary Gygax at the podium, addressing the opening of the first
wargaming convention, the Geneva Convention (Gen Con.) held in Lake
Geneva, Wisconsin. Standing next to Gygax is Bill Hoyer, president of the
International Federation of Wargaming (IFW). This and the other photo below may be the only pictures taken at this first wargaming convention in 1968.
Avalon Hill published a magazine for its customers called The General, and through an ad in the back I began corresponding with a “war gaming club” in the Chicago land area, with the grandiose name, "The International Federation of War Gaming" (IFW). The IFW consisted of a couple of dozen gamers, most of whom had never met one another, but who played games by mail, wrote articles about games etc. That’s when I began corresponding with Gary Gygax, who worked in downtown Chicago but commuted by rail to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Gary lived in a small, comfortably run down house on a main street in the Town. He had 5 children, all close in age, and all having bright red hair just like his wife, Mary...
(Tim) An excellent post on Gary Gygax and D&D by Pastor Travis Hutchinson. The post makes good applications to the copy-cat nature of what passes today for Christian imagination; also to the inhospitality of our church youth groups.
by David and Tim Bayly on March 25, 2008 - 11:45am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) Last week, a young man training for pastoral ministry passed on a link to this article from USA Today. And next to the link, he wrote: "quoted: pope benedict, mohler, keller, driscoll, osteen, etc."
Not to destroy "peace ...in the world," or to "tear... the net of [PCA] interwovenness, the fabric of humanity," but really, men. Can anyone fail to see the stark contrast presented in the final paragraphs of this article between Pastors Keller and Driscoll? Sin is man-centered with Pastor Keller, but very God-centered with Pastor Driscoll.
Note the article's author says, "Driscoll is sharply clear."
(Tim) Here's a response to this comment left by a reader: "It seems that many in the complementarian community spend almost all their energy on the negative side of the equation."
Feminism is toxic and its relentless attack on Scripture and the Church doesn't give faithful shepherds a lot of opportunity to take their preaching and teaching somewhere else, avoiding this breach. We must focus our defensive work where the good deposit is under attack. In response to people complaining of the frequency of his preaching against fornication, Spurgeon said once that he'd stop preaching against it when people stopped doing it.
Pastors today aren't preaching or teaching against this heresy. And when we do, we do it half-heartedly making it clear to our flock and other shepherds that we wish the need for battle would go away because we're men of peace and love and grace, and we really don't enjoy beating up on women.
Now I may not have captured our critic's sentiments, personally, but from many years experience I know I've hit the mainstream. So think where we'd be if Calvin or Luther or Knox of any of hundreds of other shepherds had tried the positive approach in the darkness of Rome's shadow across the Middle Ages? What if Calvin had written his Institutes without the central thrust of opposing and exposing Rome? Would anyone read them?
The real issue isn't that many within the complementarian camp spend almost all our energy on the negative side of this equation, but that we live in an evil day much like the day of the Apostle Paul and Athanasius and Peter Waldo and John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards and John Newton and J. Gresham Machen and Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Francis Schaeffer, and that our work must follow theirs in being faithful with God's "yes" and His "no." And if our only "no" is said in opposing those who don't say "yes" often enough to suit our tastes, we're not really saying "no," are we?
God only knows God makes his plan The informations unavailable To the mortal man We work our jobs Collect our pay Believe we're gliding down the highway When in fact we're slip slidin away
- Paul Simon
(Tim) Yesterday, one of our congregation's Wheaton alumni was talking about other Wheaton alumni she keeps in touch with. She described her friends' typical post-graduate spiritual condition as consisting of a crisis experience a few years after graduation in which a decision is made between throwing it all away or turning and facing the fact that they're a sinner and coming to true Christian faith. Her grief was obvious as she described the spiritual bankruptcy so often characterizing her friends' post-Wheaton lives...
(Tim) For the record, I'm disappointed Rocky Mountain Presbytery's City Church in Denver was allowed to take the PCA's ball and go home without being disciplined for her rejection of biblical sexuality and polity. A plant of the Presbyterian Church in America, she (and particularly her pastor) should have heard a clear "No" from her presbytery, somewhere or sometime. Instead, she saw her presbytery enmeshed in a bunch of split votes that demonstrated tepid leadership, at best; and trendy postmodern commitments to biblical sexuality, at worst.
What would a pastor or session have to do in order to receive a clear disciplinary "No" from a presbytery of the PCA today in this matter of sexuality?
I can hear some responding, "No one's ordained a woman elder or pastor, yet."
If we think it's possible to avoid declaring the boundaries of biblical sexuality at every point leading up to the eldership, but then to hold firm there, our problems are much deeper than the biblical doctrine of sexuality...
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And He answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:1-5)
(Tim) The headline ran, "Some see human link in severity of U.S. floods." It piqued my interest, so I read the teaser: "Natural disasters like floods are normally blamed on
nature, but some experts believe humans are at least partly responsible
for this month's massive flooding in Iowa and elsewhere in the US farm
Right. Nature and man are blamed, but God is absent. Man can sin against nature and mother nature can take her revenge, but the discipline and judgment of God only comes in the life to come...
(Tim) Since the decline of his health about a year ago, requiring him to move in with his daughter, leaving Washington D.C. behind, my favorite columnist on American culture and politics, Joe Sobran, has been on hiatus. His articles are few and far between, about every three months, now, and I've missed him quite a bit. So it was a happy day, today, when a new column arrived--this one on our recurrent theme of why Senator Obama rocks, as hip, chic, submergent types see it.
For my money, the keys needed to unlock the submergent church scene are chronological snobbery--after all, they are chrysalises emerging from the slime of our patriarchal, authoritarian, institutional roots--and they hate authority. Thus their support for Senator Obama. He's new, he's about change; what's not to like?
But of course, neither Arcbishop McLaren nor Cardinal Obama are about change, not to even the slightest degree. They're carbon copies of one another. They're both relentlessly superficial, adroit, and non-Christian, in lockstep with our superficial, adroit, and non-Christian information class. Why bother faulting them with wanting to be on the winning side? It's positively democratic, isn't it?
But I do fault them with claiming originality in their consummately predictable, boring opinions. Sobran says it so much better...
(Tim) Starting in 1996 or so (actually, my work on the NLT started years before this), David and I worked hard privately and publicly to oppose a number of members of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) who, working through the International Bible Society, Tyndale House, and Zondervan, were removing the sex-markings of thousands of texts of Scripture in the Living Bible and the New International Version. At the time, the NIV was the Bible translation standard of the Bible-believing, English-speaking world, so it was the efforts to modernize this particular translation that were our main public focus.
Our opponents' plan was to put out an updated NIV called the New International Version Inclusive. Since then, they've updated their work giving it the name, Today's New International Version (TNIV). In the TNIV, Hebrew and Greek words such as adam, adelphoi, and aner are stripped of their male grammatical component. These scholars, publishers, and corporate executives worked together to mute these words, ending up with new books called "Bibles" where thousands of changes had been made to render them innocuous to those of us raised in a feminized society in which it has become gauche to make references to mixed-sex groups using any word with a male marking. Thus, in their book, 'man' became 'humankind', 'brothers' became 'Christian friends' (NLT) or 'siblings' (NIVI), 'man' became 'person', and so on--thousands of times across the pages of Scripture.
As you'll see from the above reference to the NLT, the NIV was not the only Bible in wide use across the evangelical world being similarly updated. In an effort to update the Living Bible which was growing long-in-the-teeth, Tyndale House Publishers had hired a long list of ETS academics to produce the New Living Translation which, benefiting from millions of dollars in advertising and purchased product placement in national bookstore chains, was steadily gaining market share. (The writer is the son-in-law of Ken Taylor, owner of Tyndale House Publishers until his death several years ago.)
Partly because of the naturally lower expectations of accuracy the NLT inherited from its predecessor, the Living Bible; partly because the academics who had done the NLT's translation work likely expected it to be more a devotional than a study Bible; and partly because the NLT's publisher responded to expressions of concern over some of the more egregious mistranslations evident in the NLT's text with thoughtful consideration and, eventually, a number of changes to the text of the NLT's subsequent printings; the public battle was focused almost exclusively on the updated NIVI, its publisher Zondervan, and Zondervan's subsidiary (in a manner of speaking), the International Bible Society and her subordinate Bible Translation Committee.
The public became aware of the battle through the publication March 29, 1997 of Susan Olasky's cover article, "The Stealth Bible: the Feminist Seduction of the Evangelical Church," in World magazine. For almost everyone this was the first hint of Zondervan's plans and the response was a good measure of the profound theological divisions present within the vast entrepreneurial business park named "evangelicalism."
Predictably, one side decried Olasky's divisive spirit and focused their attack on World magazine...
by David and Tim Bayly on August 16, 2008 - 7:00am
(Tim, w/thanks to David) Evangelicals hate discernment. To hate discernment is to hate truth. God's Word is truth.
But evangelicals love God's Word, right? Evangelicals love truth.
These thoughts upon the occasion of this article announcing the divorce of Lakeland revivalist, Todd Bentley. Charisma magazine's editor, J. Lee Grady, admits Bentley's failure has serious implications for the entire pentecostal/charismatic movement. Here's an excerpt from Grady's mea culpa...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 16, 2008 - 11:46am
(Tim, w/thanks to Dave) Last week, a friend in Florida wrote to call my attention to an article detailing the results of a political survey of the faculty at Covenant College, the school affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America. (Students were polled, also.)
Conducted by the school's Director of Institutional Research, Kevin Eames, the survey received responses from 47 faculty members. Here's what Covenant's administration wants prospective students and their parents to know about these faculty members:
Eighty-eight percent of Covenant's faculty have doctorates or
terminal degrees, earned from such institutions as Oxford, Stanford,
Yale, and the University of Chicago. Our professors regularly involve
students in their research activities. In fact, many students actually
help edit books that their professors are writing.
The administration goes on to describe faculty members as "passionate about teaching and sharing their Reformed faith in a
setting that sharpens the intellect and encourages increased awe of our
sovereign God." Then, by way of reassurance, Oxford and passion are anchored by the declaration that "all faculty members subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith."
So, what might doctorates from Yale and Stanford, combined with a passion for the reformed faith and the Westminster Standards, lead these men and women to profess to our children about Christ's dominion in these United States and our own confession of that faith in this election year?
Asked, "Do you believe John McCain is a Christian," 33 of the 47 faculty members responding said either "No" or "Not sure." This seems safe since I read just last night that Senator McCain has never received Christian baptism. Likely not one of those faculty members questioning Senator McCain's Christian faith knew that, though.
Still, my concern is certainly not to prove Senator McCain's Christian faith, to get others to agree that he's sincere in his Christian profession, or leastwise to write this post to the end that even one reader will decide to vote for him or the Republican party. Such concerns have not entered my mind.
But on to Senator Obama. Different candidate, same question: "Do you believe Barack Obama is a Christian?" Twenty-one faculty members are definite in their response with five answering "No" and sixteen "Yes."
What ocular disease has led sixteen of our best and brightest to say for the record among students they are paid to lead into a greater knowledge of Christ's Lordship over all the earth that a man who unabashedly promotes baby-slaughter and sodomite marriage is certainly a Christian? If Senator Obama is a Christian, Robert Mugabe is born again and Jean Paul Sartre was a strict subscriptionist Presbyterian pastor.
by David and Tim Bayly on October 7, 2008 - 8:43am
(Tim) Speaking of what words to use to refer to a certain type of sexual immorality, I don't remember leaving a comment on this blog where someone used the word David Lehr mentions in one of his recent comments, but I don't question David's accuracy. For myself, I prefer the word 'sodomy' and would be pleased for those who comment to avoid other terms, whether 'bugger' or 'gay.'
'Gay' because it's a word expressing solidarity with an oppressed people group and there's no hint of shame or condemnation. Souls who believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture--that it's every word of Scripture that's inspired, not simply the concepts those words convey--should desire to speak as Scripture does.
Those complaining here about a lack of love and gentleness in the comments and citing Scripture to make their point are, by their arguments, agreeing that Scripture is the standard for our words. Would they, though, take a confessing Christian to task for using the word 'gay?'
They ought to. 'Gay' says all the wrong things and none of the right ones...
What's interesting is not so much what Tim wrote, but what his readers commenting beneath his piece said and didn't say. Or what they considered and what they didn't consider in weighing his claims and arguments.
Tim Keller's article must be interpreted in the larger context of his ministry at Redeemer. Only then will it be understood properly. The operative rule at Redeemer with regard to all things sexual is, "A woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." So the working out of Redeemer's theology of sexuality is that women at Redeemer are allowed to teach and exercise authority over men everywhere and always except from the pulpit Lord's Day morning and in any way reserved for the elders as they exercise something they call "teaching authority." But whatever this "teaching authority" is, it's not when women teach Scripture to men because that precise thing they explicitly allow.
When Tim Keller claims to hold firmly to Scripture's Creation Order of sexuality, those weighing his claim should know that the actual implementation of that Order in his church would be unrecognizable to any previous generation of Christians...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 21, 2008 - 4:15pm
For we are not like many, peddling the word of God... (2 Corinthians 2:17a) (Tim, w/thanks to Jeff) You couldn't make this stuff up, could you? One company's peddling an "Illuminated" Bible that "looks more like a gossip rag you'd find in a dentist's office than a
Bible... (and) features intense pictures of violence and death
around the world along with the people who are working to find
solutions for many of today's problems."
Intense pictures of violence and death? Maybe it has color images of aborted children's body parts next to a photo of Judie Brown, Joe Schiedler, or Justices Thomas, Scalia, or Roberts?
Not missing a beat, Zondervan's released a Green Bible that "highlights more than 1,000 verses about the earth in
soy-based green ink" and contains "essays by religious leaders and other resources on
eco-justice." The Green Bible's editor, Michael Maudlin, reports that environmental concerns are "a big part of the Christian agenda
today, especially among the youth."
Also, this: "Matthew Sleeth, a doctor who's been pushing fellow evangelicals to go
green in recent years, writes in his introduction to the Green Bible
that the biggest problem in the world is that the planet is dying."
Over seventy million babies slaughtered each year by medical ghouls and the mothers and fathers who paid them, but bad doctor Sleeth breathlessly reports the imminent death of the planet itself. Or maybe I should say, "the planet herself."
by David and Tim Bayly on October 27, 2008 - 4:15pm
(Tim) It's hard reading the old guys. Think about Jonathan Edwards preaching any of his sermons to his flock in Northampton--any sermon at all, just pick one. In those days, the church wasn't a thinly sliced part of the town's demographic. Being reformed didn't mean smoking cigars, drinking single malts, keeping one eye on the Dow Jones and the other on the R. C. Sproul video. Rich and poor, young and old alike sat under Edwards' preaching and understood him.
Today, even pastors who spend our lives working with words are challenged just trying to read Edwards. If we'd been there to listen to him, the sermon's length, vocabulary, logic, and the prominence of biblical terrors would have left us stupefied. We would have left the church-house shaking our heads and clucking our disapproval.
The old guys require the reader to be literate and to have a heart knowledge of the Word of God. But who has the patience for such work today? And what congregation would put up with it?
by David and Tim Bayly on October 28, 2008 - 6:44am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) Day after tomorrow, my former prof, David Wells, will give a chapel lecture at TEDS titled, “How, Then, Should We Preach to Postmodern Persons?”
As a teaser question to get people interested, Dr. Wells was asked, "What is a postmodern person?"
“Postmodern is how we are speaking about our current cultural mood.
While in some ways we become more and more modern—more technological
advances, more information, more medical breakthroughs, and more
things—in terms of a world-and-life view, we are adrift. The old Enlightenment paradigm with its belief in unaided,
naturalistic reason, human potential, and the prospect of progress have
all collapsed. In the way we think about our lives, we are not modern
but postmodern because we think about ourselves differently from what
was true up though the 1960’s.”
Leaving everything else aside, did you notice the one absolutely glaring thing about Wells' lecture?
by David and Tim Bayly on October 30, 2008 - 7:40pm
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, that the cross of Christ should not be made void. For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside." (1 Corinthians 1:17-19)
(Tim) Here are some thoughts about the state of our civil compact as we approach Election Day. And, following the political stuff, I make a stab at some applications to those who identify themselves as the prophetic voices of the Emergent Church. If your patience wears thin with the political part, buck up and finish it because it forms the perfect backdrop to grow in our understanding of the goals and strategy of church leaders today who have woman deacons, talk a lot about the city and contextualization, and have a staff member titled "Associate Pastor for Art, Weird Glasses, and Chai." First, then, let's look at the political scene...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 5, 2008 - 10:18am
(Tim) Natalie is a longtime friend of the Bayly family--particularly our eldest daughter, Heather. This afternoon, Heather forwarded this e-mail she received from Natalie earlier today, and I asked Heather if Natalie would permit my posting it? Natalie was fine with it. I appreciated very much what she had to say and thought it would strengthen our readers, also. So here are the post-election thoughts and feelings of a young Christian wife and mother named (Mrs.) Natalie Calhoun.
* * * I'm feeling pensive and sad this morning. It has less to do with who won the election, though I am disappointed in that result. It has much more to do with who voted for him. Perhaps I was naive to believe that people I respected in college, who, I thought, shared my world view, would think the same as me. But I don't understand this wave of young Christian people who supported and voted for Obama. I really want to understand.
I have heard a lot about social justice with regard to this election. I'm for justice. I'm for taking care of "the least of these". I believe that "true religion is taking care of widows and orphans." What I can't get over is the complete disregard for the value of life that is represented by Obama and how a Christian can support that...
by David and Tim Bayly on November 22, 2008 - 9:00am
(Tim w/thanks to Lucas) No, not that Hitchens, sillies; this one. Watching this trailer for a soon-to-be released documentary of the debate last year between Doug Wilson and purported atheist, Christopher Hitchens, I thought back to a conversation I had with longtime Village Voice columnist, ACLU board member, jazz expert, and one of the two or three best essayists against euthanasia, infanticide, and child-slaughter in our land, Nat Hentoff. He was in Madison for a speaking engagement and, being active in Presbyterians Pro-Life at the time, I asked Mr. Hentoff if he'd be open to an invitation to debate an abortion advocate at our Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly?
Quickly, he said "Yes," but then inquired, "Why would you want me?"
I responded that I thought he'd be perfect because he'd speak from the same presuppositional basis as our denominational leaders.
Another part of our conversation that sticks in my mind was Hentoff saying, "Every atheist should be pro-life because life's all we have."
by David and Tim Bayly on December 4, 2008 - 6:54am
(Tim, w/thanks to many) Looks like Indiana, and now Bloomington, are becoming watchwords for crimes against humanity. First, we had Christmas gift certificates offered by the bloodthirsty wretches of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, legal tender for anything Planned Parenthood offers--including baby slaughter. Now, Live Action Films has released this video showing the counselling minor children get here in Bloomington, at the abortuary our church members picket faithfully, year after year.
What? Can it really be true that child-murderers will help cover up the statutory rape of a 13-year-old by a 31-year-old man? Horrors!
Planned Parenthood here in Bloomington just announced they've suspended the film's villain pending their own internal investigation. Child-murderer is suspended pending investigation of allegations she covered up statutory rape. What a precious piece of hypocrisy...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 14, 2009 - 2:11pm
He who conceals hatred has lying lips, and he who spreads slander is a fool. (Proverbs 10:18)
(Tim) This afternoon, I was talking with a man who was describing how a young couple had been alienated from their church, in large part because of a bad report they heard from a couple who had left that church to escape the discipline of its elders. And yesterday, I heard a similar report from a couple who had been subjected to their church leadership repeating evil and malicious words against another church, while every indication was that their leaders had never spoken personally to those they were attacking. "Lying lips" and "he who spreads slander" are constants in pastoral ministry, and always have been. Thus the Apostle Paul writes:
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. (Ephesians 4:31)
Man leaves church angry and bitter at church's leadership for their correction or rebuke of him. He's accepted into another neighboring church without question. Yet he's not content to have left his former church. From bitterness, he slanders it to anyone who will listen--starting with his new pastor, church board, and members.
But maybe it's not slander at all, right? Churches do abuse people and you can't be too careful guarding against church popes and dictators who oppress the souls under their care. So how do you know when you're listening to slander and when the bad report is actually true?
A few simple tests will make things clear.
First, ask the person badmouthing their former church whether he has been formally disciplined by that church...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 20, 2009 - 5:19am
(Tim; this from and by Rev. David Wegener of Ndola, Zambia)
* * * This is an open letter from an American Reformed Christian living in Africa to my African Christian friends on the occasion of the Inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the U.S.A.
20 January 2009
Dear African Christian Brother:
I would ask you to pray for your brothers and sisters in Christ in the church in America, particularly for those who believe in the complete truthfulness of Scripture.
I’ve just begun a new term at the college and one of the courses I teach is a survey of church history. Last week we learned about Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna, who was asked to curse Christ or die. The old man replied, “for 86 years I have served Him and He has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” Minutes after making this good confession he was burned alive... We also read about Blandina, a slave girl who endured indescribable tortures before being killed for her faith. In a few weeks we’ll study Athanasius, who was exiled from his pastorate five times because of his faith in our triune God and his willingness to stand alone against the world for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 20, 2009 - 11:12am
(Tim) Here’s the truth. Obama is the oppressor of children, born and unborn. But since his skin color is black, we can’t believe he’d oppress anyone. So we come out with all this blather about other social justice issues equally commanding our attention as Christians. Our goal, of course, is to obscure the fact that abortion absolutely dwarfs the death toll of all other forms of oppression around the world combined. That’s combined, brothers and sisters!
Why, just in these United States alone, since the bloody decision, Roe v. Wade, was issued, our nation has torn limb from limb, leg from torso, body from mother’s womb, over fifty million—50,000,0000—of our little children.
This number is so large that it makes Africans' Rwanda, Asians' Pol Pot, and Europeans' Hitler look tame by comparison. The only bloody oppressors who are even close to slaughtering the numbers we have slaughtered by our own national, systemic, bloody, oppressive, enslaving child-murders are Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong.
But, get this: If instead of talking about the death toll in our nation alone, we consider the international death toll from child slaughter through the murders we call “abortions,” then we’re talking about one Joseph Stalin every year. That’s well over 50,000,000 children slaughtered EVERY SINGLE YEAR!
It’s disgusting for otherwise educated and thoughtful men to seek to legitimize their conniving at this great bloody oppression that defines our nation by sniveling about systemic poverty and education and secondhand smoke and carbon emissions and AIDS.
If men who claim to know the Triune God want to vote Democratic; if men who claim to know the Triune God and have faith in Jesus Christ have black skin and want to vote for another man with black skin; we’d all be better off if they’d have the courage of their prejudices and admit them... You know, something like, “I’m afraid of not appearing progressive enough.” Or “I’m afraid my congregation would have my hide if I didn’t speak up for the brother.”
by David and Tim Bayly on January 31, 2009 - 8:05am
(Tim) Many believers gamble, some in the stock market, others playing bingo or the lottery, and still others in casinos. So posting this from David Wegener, our Africa correspondent, is no exercise in a well-worn public policy debate, but rather a pastoral warning to me, you, and every believer. Thank you, David, for passing this on.
* * *
We got some new books for the Theological College of Central Africa library, recently. Now they are being processed to go into the collection and I was reading one of them this morning. The book is, John H. Leith, 2001, Pilgrimage of a Presbyterian: Collected Shorter Writings, ed Charles E. Raynal, Louisville: Geneva Press. On pages 208-13, there's a short article he wrote in 1956 titled, "Gambling--What's Wrong with It?." Here's a summary:
1. "Gambling encourages the belief that a man can enjoy the advantages of a prosperous society without making a significant contribution to that society."
2. "Gambling arouses false hopes and gives little in return."
3. "Gambling is parasitic by nature. It creates no new wealth and performs no useful service. At best, it merely redistributes wealth from ... the many ... to the few."
4. Gambling is an attempt "to escape responsible work..."
by David and Tim Bayly on February 11, 2009 - 6:56am
(Tim, w/thanks to Jake) For a number of years, Yale's been hard at it putting the works of Jonathan Edwards online, freely available for hoi polloi who can no longer afford the critical edition now running around $110 per volume
. It's an ill wind that blows nobody some good, though, and I suspect the high price of the hard copies is part of the reason all of us are now able to search the volumes online. So I'm happy.
Don't allow anyone else to give your Edwards to you. When I was at seminary in New England, I took a course in Edwards' works under Richard Lovelace. One night (it was a small evening seminar), I well remember coming to the session with great anticipation, having read a good portion of Edward's harder truths that week. But then, Dr. Lovelace started the class with a statement to the effect that "Here, Edwards goes a little bit off the deep edge, engaging in his well-known penchant for negativity."
Yes, yes; that's the problem with Edwards. He's so negative you get an ulcer reading him. What we need today is something positive that people can relate to; something that will give people hope and not lead them into despair.
Well, if you've read Edwards, you know that there are few men in the history of the Church who are more...
(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...
(Tim) Yesterday, our text was Matthew 27:1-10, the account of Judas' repentance and suicide. What a terrible end he chose!
Then, this morning, I read the following meditation Michael Foster put up on Facebook and I got thinking about Judas, again. Judas was paid handsomely to betray Jesus and did so by kissing him. The Apostle Paul resisted Peter to his face. Two men and two public actions that shouldn't be hard to interpret. Yet Judas was our Lord's enemy and Paul was Peter's friend. Appearances are deceiving, aren't they?
(Tim) Too many hop, skip, and jump through the Christian year, from Palm Sunday to Easter to the Fourth of July to Christmas. Even among those who are more observant, though, almost none of us include the cleansing of the Temple, the cursing of the fig tree, and the condemnation of the elders, stated clerks, and pastors in our Holy Week festivities.
So, dear souls, why did the religious leaders hate Him so? Why did they spend a night suborning perjury? Why did they hound Him to death? And what occupied Jesus' time between the cries of "Hosanna to Son of David" and these, a few days later: "His blood be upon us and upon our children! Crucify him!"?
Earlier today, a comment was posted elsewhere on this blog that included this statement:
I simply think we need to be careful before generalizing a particular trait to an entire class of people. Categories are useful for us humans, but I don't think God sees us in those terms...
To which I responded with a comment that, by private e-mail, a reader requested I post here on the front page. So here it is, my own meditation for the middle of Holy Week:
There's truth in what you write, but the minority report is stunning...
by David and Tim Bayly on April 13, 2009 - 11:17am
(Tim) Four years ago, Lucas Weeks wrote a paper on AIDS in Africa for a class he was taking at Indiana University. He focused particularly on the politicization of the issue and some of the success one nation, Uganda, had achieved in protecting the public health of her citizens. But of course no one wanted to know about the reason for Uganda's success because it demonstrated the immutable glory of God's Law.
Recent crud on Her.minutiae prompts me to make Lucas' paper available here for any interested in this issue. Lucas' parents are lifelong missionaries to Africa, focusing particularly on the same country his grandparents served as missionaries which in the past has been known as Congo or Zaire, but now is called the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To Mary Lee's and my joy, Lucas is now our son-in-law, married to our youngest daughter, Hannah. Currently a second-year student at ClearNote Pastors College, I hope you enjoy his paper. As you read, please keep in mind Lucas wrote this back in 2005.
"Women at Redeemer will be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no restrictions on (women's) ministry at all." -Keller/Redeemer
(Tim) In what was billed as a debate, but turned out to be more a love-fest between Tim Keller and Lig Duncan in the PCA's deniminational magazine byFaith, Tim gave his rationale for something approximating his church's practice of woman deacons. If readers take Tim's piece at face value without comparing this public argument with what Tim writes and does in his local church, everything will be muddied and obfuscation will win. The obfuscation may be unintentional or inadvertent, but it will win.
Thus it is that the article must be interpreted in the larger context of Redeemer's structure, words, and actions.
operative rule at Redeemer with regard to all things sexual is, "A
woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do." So the working out of
Redeemer's theology of sexuality is that women at Redeemer are allowed
to teach and exercise authority over men everywhere and always except
from the pulpit Lord's Day morning and in any way reserved for the
elders as they exercise something they call "teaching authority." But
whatever this "teaching authority" is, it's not when women teach
Scripture to men because that precise thing they explicitly allow:
"In a nutshell, our position is this: whatever a non-ruling
elder male can do in the church, a woman can do. We do not believe that
I Timothy 2:11 or I Cor.14:35-36 precludes women teaching the Bible to
men or speaking publicly. To 'teach with authority' (I Tim.2:11) refers
to disciplinary authority over the doctrine of someone. For example,
when an elder says to a member: 'You are telling everyone that they
must be circumcised in order to be saved--that is a destructive,
non-Biblical teaching which is hurting people spiritually. You must
desist from it or you will have to leave the church.' That is 'teaching
authority'--it belongs only to the elders. Thus, women at Redeemer will
be free to use all the gifts, privately and publicly. There are no
restrictions on ministry at all...
Actually, he spent his entire article making elaborate arguments for what our Book of Church Order already permits.
Well, read what he wrote for national consumption and you'll see what I'm saying. Tim says he doesn't want women ordained to the diaconate.
So what's the big deal?
I'll let you in on a little-known fact not mentioned in the article: Tim and his session refuse ordination to the male deacons of
Throw in that small fact and Tim's writing for the denominational magazine takes on an entirely different significance. Throw in that large fact and we realize the significance of Redeemer's mantra, their operative rule about all things sexual:
woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do.
Since a woman may do anything a non-ordained man may do, they stopped
So now, as Deacons, women and men are both free to do the same things. Or, as unordained Deacons, women and men are free to do the same things. Or, as members of the Diaconate Team, women and men are free to do the same things. Or...
Wouldn't it have been helpful if Tim's article had mentioned
the fact that Redeemer no longer ordains their male deacons?
Think about it: female deacons can do anything male deacons can do.
That is, after you've stopped ordaining your male deacons.
(Tim) From all the facts surrounding Metro New York Presbytery's recent formal approval of unordained male and female deacons serving together in her churches, without sexual distinction, what's the most noteworthy detail?
That the presbytery was informed that Teaching
Elders Bryan Chapell and Joe Novenson, in agreement with TE Tim Keller, also did not think the presbytery should overture General Assembly with the proposal.
by David and Tim Bayly on April 28, 2009 - 11:02am
(Tim) There's an excellent online community called the Puritan Board (just to the left) where discussions have been carried on, recently, concerning a couple posts, here. Predictably, The longest discussion focused on the Complaint filed against Metro NY Presbytery after their recent adoption of a position contrary to the PCA Book of Church Order--namely, approving the practice within her bounds of withholding ordination from male deacons and affirming male and female deacons serving together in diaconal ministry without sexual distinction.
The apologist for Redeemer's practice frequently posting here under the name "Mason" has been active in the discussion there, also, but with a somewhat different posture. You don't need to be a member of the Puritan Board to read the comments and I encourage our readers to note the common sentiment expressed that Metro NY, Redeemer, and other churches, presbyteries, and elders taking similar positions may need to be questioned concerning their practice.
More interesting to me, though, is the discussion recently put on ice by the Puritan Board's moderators because it was getting warm. Started by a man who posts under the nom de plume, Pergamum/MacDaddy, he wrote:
Article about the PCA
Is this a good article, bad article, accurate, inaccurate?
(Tim) We're looking forward to hosting a number of you for the first annual ClearNote Fellowship conference, Standing in the Gap, to be held here in Bloomington two weeks from now, July 10-12. If you haven't done it yet, please register now and we'll look forward to meeting you and your children.
Online registration is available. And here's a PDF of the conference brochure for you to download. Message titles include, Who Will Stand?; Fight or Flight--True or False Contextualization; Cheap Grace; and Worship Wars.
plan a refreshing time of fellowship, teaching, food, and worship. The whole family is welcome--we'll be child-friendly but we'll also provide childcare.
I hope you'll register now and join with us for the weekend.
If you'd like more information, please e-mail (Mrs.) Ali Trout at churchoffice at shepherdchurch dot com.
Or, give her a call, Tuesday through Friday, at (812) 825-2684.
(Tim, w/thanks to Scott) Being profoundly color blind, I've known it's not always a deficit. Here's a good article on the sexes, their senses and sense utilities (ahem) documenting what I've long known; that the ill wind of colorblindness does indeed blow us some good.
The story's told that, during the Second World War, the RAF had a small group of pilots they noted were quite good at spotting camouflage. When they looked into the matter, they found the thing this group of pilots had in common was that they were all color blind and had memorized the color charts to get into the RAF.
As the article puts it, "'Dichromads do better at tasks where color acts as a distraction,' in situations where spotting camouflaged objects is important,
(Tim, w/thanks to David B.) Shortly after posting on the charade-posing-as-debate-over-woman-officers-in-the-PCA, I opened an old e-mail from David Baker and read this one-paragraph review of a book that might have arrived in the nick of time. We're at a kairos in our denomination, and before we go whole hog for submergent contextualization, we ought to give Harry Frankfurt's latest work a chance. Here's a description:
One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern. We have no clear understanding of what bullshit is, why there is so much of it, or what functions it serves. And we lack a conscientiously developed appreciation of what it means to us.