Faith

Scholars and the Fall...

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.  - 1Corinthians 2:12-16

Regularly, I warn academics that reason is not the one faculty of man that has escaped the Fall. To err is human, and institutions of learning both lower and higher are equally subject to this fruit of Adam's sin.

Reason and logic have been corrupted by the Fall. So, although we can say that all truth is God's truth, we must keep in mind that all man believes to be true is not. True.

The Fall's determinative impact on man's intellectual work is quite obvious to readers of Paul Johnson's Intellectuals. Again and again, Johnson demonstrates the connection between famous intellectuals' private sins...


Seminaries and search committees in the dance of death...

Pastors are called to warn their sheep. This is the reason the Apostle Paul declares his innocence of the blood of those he pastored, saying he never failed to warn them. His warnings were both public and private and he gave them every last warning God commanded him to give. (See Acts 20.)

This is not true of Reformed pastors, today. There is a great absence of pastoral care among us and the pastor whose ministry is characterized by warnings must justify those warnings while the lethargic and conflict-avoiding Reformed pastors around him who trade in flattery and presumption are viewed as paragons of clerical virtue.

Think of the spiritual destruction of their sheep caused by such careless pastors and we tremble. Let's keep in mind, though, that people choose their own churches and pastors, and thus a certain measure of blame belongs on the congregants themselves. They have a chaplain rather than a pastor because they prefer a chaplain to a pastor. They prefer a man who can keep a good religious shine on their Reformed veneer providing religious cover for friendship with the world.

If this were as far as it went, it would be bad enough. Remember how our Lord took pity on the crowds because "they were sheep without a shepherd?" This is the condition of all those souls who have chosen churches and pastors who are committed never to warn their sheep. But it goes further. The damage caused by faithless shepherds extends beyond their own parish to sheep tended by faithful shepherds, also. Richard Baxter describes the process by recording the irritation sheep have with


"He comes to my house and works His will..."

Earlier today, I wrote this in an e-mail to a dear friend whose father-in-law died in his home a month ago...

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The baby box...

Wondering why Christians adopt so many children? Watch this video and give thanks to God for the lovingkindness and tender mercies He pours out on this world through His people. Set up a baby box in your own town and see what little blessings He sends your way.


From a thousand years ago, St. Peter Damian's warnings against sodomy...

New Oxford Review just ran a review of a new translation of St. Peter Damian's eleventh century jeremiad against sodomy within the Roman Catholic priesthood and hierarchy in his time. Damian's Book of Gomorrah: An Eleventh-Century Treatise against Clerical Homosexual Practices is translated and edited by Pierre Payer and the reviewer is Anne Barbeau Gardiner, Professor Emerita of English at CUNY's John Jay College.

Professor Gardiner summarizes Damian's warnings:

As a result of their laxity, priests who have “fallen into this wickedness with eight or even ten other equally sordid men” have remained in their ranks. And so the sin has come “to be committed freely” without its practitioners fearing the loss of their priestly faculties. Damian calls this negligence rather than love because it allows a wound to spread in a neighbor’s heart, a wound “from which, I have no doubt, he dies cruelly.” Therefore, Damian himself will not “neglect to cure” that wound with the “surgery of words,” for if he remains silent, he too will deserve punishment.

And:

Rather than “fear the hatred of the depraved or the tongues of detractors,” Damian fears God, who warns him through the mouth of the prophet Ezekiel, “If you see your brother doing evil and you do not correct him, I will require his blood from your hand” (3:20). Damian will not be silenced, no matter how many tell him to put the sword of his tongue in the sheath of silence: “Who am I to see such a harmful outrage growing up among the sacred orders and, as a murderer of another’s soul, preserve the stricture of silence, and to dare to await the reckoning of divine severity? Do I not begin to be responsible for a guilt whose author I never was?”

Last night, I was talking to a pastor who told of one of the men of his church...


Nathan and Anna's story...

Here's the testimony of a young mother of two who was diagnosed with melanoma a little over two years ago. Please pray for Anne, her husband, Nathan, and their two sons.


Take the time and watch this...

Wonderful testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ. Wonderful example of fatherhood after the Father Almighty, a mother in Israel, and brotherhood in Christ. Thanks, Taylor.


Why Evangelical and Reformed gnostics hate Doug Wilson, RCJR, and Doug Phillips...

One longtime friend of Baylyblog commented under Pastor Wegener's post, "What's up with the Aquilla report...". First quoting another's criticism of Doug Phillips, Ross followed with his own question:

//Maybe because Doug Phillips was a legalist who majored in minors and encouraged people to live by an increasingly strict set of man made rules?//

With an eye to the reputation Bill Gothard got for himself, is this comment about Doug and the Vision Forum ministry a fair one? (I don't know, honest).

To which I respond:

Ross, the other thing worth saying about Doug Phillips, RCJR, and Doug Wilson—the three patriarchalists that female feminists claiming to be Christians live to gossip about and spit on—is that, in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

But let's change this slightly: in the land of blind Reformed Evangelicals, the one-eyed man is a monster. Evangelicals, Reformed or otherwise, hate any man who has faith, particularly when that faith is demonstrated in the most earthy and organic matters of sexual body parts and what we do or don't do with them.

Because Reformed Evangelicals are gnostic, we refuse to be pinned down with anything except words—and even those confessional words have no visible content...


R2K is segregationist...

It's a regular theme in the New Testament history that the Jewish religious leaders felt the need to guard the precarious relationship that existed between their fractious nation and the Roman Empire. If they did not keep the peace, who would? And if the peace was not kept, what would happen to their synagogues and to the Temple and to their authority and wealth and status?

It is always the established religious leaders who feel the threat God’s servants the prophets pose to their carefully negotiated separation of powers between church and state. The balance is precarious and only they are qualified to maintain it—for the good of the people, of course!

Why "R2K" instead of "2K"?

First, a word about names. Why do I make it a habit to refer to this modern novelty as “R2K,” the initial 'R' standing for "Radical" or "Revisionist" two kingdom theology, rather than simply “2K” standing for "Two Kingdom"?

In the Reformed and Protestant world, fathers of the Church have long referred to “two-kingdom” distinctions they have employed as necessary to delineate the proper spheres of authority of state and church; of city councilmen on the one hand and deacons, pastors, and elders on the other hand. These two kingdoms or spheres of authority Martin Luther variously referred to as the Kingdoms of this World and the Kingdom of Christ, the Kingdoms of God’s Left Hand and the Kingdom of God’s Right Hand. So in that sense we could say that, insofar as the modern Escondido Theology or R2K men are speaking about the distinctions between the state and Church, and therefore the distinction between the Kingdom of this World and the Kingdom of God, they are joining a large and long conversation dear to the heart of each one of us pastors, elders, and believers living in this world while not of it.

In his helpful article, “One Kingdom or Two?”, Cornelius Venema writes:

…the two kingdoms [R2K] doctrine is alleged to be the venerable, original position of the Reformed churches. …(This) historical claim on the part of two kingdoms [R2K] advocates… represents a tendentious reading of the historical record.

- in "One Kingdom or Two? An Evaluation of the 'Two Kingdoms' Doctrine as an Alternative to Neo-Calvinism," by Cornelis Venema. Mid-America Journal of Theology 23 (2012): 77-129.

In Protestantism, both Presbyterian/Reformed and Lutheran, we now have five centuries of discussion and debate of this distinction and how best to work it out. No one has arrived at a solution to the tension and conflict that have always prevailed between the two kingdoms and it was this same conflict that led to this exchange between Pilate and Jesus Christ...{C}


Thank God for Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile...

A week or two ago, Thabiti Anyabwile, a faithful Reformed pastor from the Cayman Islands, ran a post calling for Reformed Christians to recover their ability to feel shame and revulsion at sodomitic practices (The Importance of Your Gag Reflex When Discussing Homosexuality and "Gay Marriage"). Pastor Anyabwile pointed out how those practices perverted God's sexual design and this made his readers mad, so they inundated Pastor Anyabwile's blog with catcalls and rotten tomatoes and Pastor Anyabwile apologized.

Through many years working with men and women fighting against temptations to same-sex intimacy, I've learned the precious truth that the straight and narrow road of Christian faith runs right next to the straight and narrow road of body parts and shame... {C}


An account of Abraham Kuyper's conversion: "one had to be born again"...

In connection with David Wegener's review of James Bratt's Abraham Kuyper: Modern Calvinist, Christian Democrat and his discussion of Kuyper's conversion, here is a piece of correspondence that complements Bratt's own account. The letter was written by P. H. A. van Krieken, niece of Maria Hartman who was longtime housekeeper to the Kuypers, recounting her own knowledge through her aunt of Kuyper's conversion and subsequent change in his pastoral work and preaching. The account warmed my heart and I'm guessing it will strengthen the faith of readers of Baylyblog, also. It is used by kind permission of its translator, Prof. Harry Vandyke.

* * *

Some third-hand information about Kuyper’s conversion

[The following letter was found in a typewritten copy among the papers of M. C. Smit in the Institute for Christian Studies, Toronto. Presumably the original is in the Dr. H. Colijn Archive at the Free University, Amsterdam.]

Letter from: P. H. A. van Krieken Huize Zonneweelde, Looydijk 158, [name of town left off]

Addressed to: His Excellency Dr. H. Colijn; Minister of State, The Hague

Dear Sir,

I was delighted to read in the Utrechtse Nieuwsblad that on 29 Oct. 1937 a commemoration is to be held of Dr. Kuyper, and because I come from Beesd and was born in 1868 I heard a lot about him, since my Aunt Maria Hartman was his maid for five years and experienced his whole turnaround [omkeering] and also knew Pietje Baltus as friend and always visited her conventicle [gezelschap] on Sundays, who told me everything that she went through with him, and I knew the elders who sat with him in Church Council.

His first round of visits that he paid as pastor in Beesd was announced to Pietje Baltus: Rev. Kuyper is in the neighborhood and will soon come to you too.

She says to that neighbor lady: That rascal might as well stay away, I don’t care for him...


Hypocrisy...

Hypocrisy ...is the way Satan attacks the Church of God, when he can get nowhere with open war.

- Calvin on Acts 5:1-11

Hypocrites do not care for Christ. Drunk with their own righteousness, they are not hungry and thirsty for His grace. Those who are devoted to the world, think nothing of the heavenly life.

- Calvin on Matthew 11:28

We are often taught, that the seeming goodness and piety of hypocrites is not of a lasting and persevering nature. It is so with respect to their practice of the duty of prayer in particular, and especially of secret prayer.

They can omit this duty, and their omission of it not be taken notice of by others, who know what profession they have made. So that a regard to their own reputation doth not oblige them still to practice it...


Theological critique of Escondido Two Kingdoms theology (VIII): Machen was a culture warrior...

Modern culture is a mighty force. It is either subservient to the Gospel or else it is the deadliest enemy of the Gospel. For making it subservient, religious emotion is not enough, intellectual labor is also necessary. And that labor is being neglected. The Church has turned to easier tasks. And now she is reaping the fruits of her indolence. Now she must battle for her life.

- J. Gresham Machen *

Any movement's claims of lineage should be examined with a critical eye for the legitimacy of those claims. Because someone is writing history doesn't mean he's writing history.


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...


Living with your wife in a misunderstanding way, as with someone stronger...

Under the post titled "Men and Women as It Ought To Be," a couple men objected to the post. They commented that my commendation of Russian men helping women across streets indicated I was a chauvinist fool, and to prove their point they went on and on about how strong and bright and competent women really are. I put my response here because it's possible I will not get to writing another post today, and I hope this will be helpful to some of you living with your wife in a misunderstanding way as with someone stronger. Smile.

* * *

Dear (brother),

Thank you for your comment. Maybe you think a man who holds up honorable gentlemen for emulation, calling attention to the feminine vulnerability that prompted those men, logically leads to the conclusion that the man who holds up honorable gentlemen for emulation is a chauvinist, misogynist, fool? 

I would not have survived my mother, let alone my wife and three daughters, had I been a chauvinist. As a matter of fact, were I to choose a woman to escort me across the street when I was feeling a bit intimidated by the horns and wet pavement and semis, it would be my wife. For sure. Our family and church family well remember the evening she was so frustrated by the IU basketball traffic on IN 37...


Unless a man is born again...

Humble sweet testimony to our Lord Jesus Christ (added since Bill Mouser's comment below: But if you note the reader will notice there's no mention of Jesus, he may well ask why is said the above and I'll respond, dumb me!)...


The heart of our opposition to R2K...

Here on Baylyblog, David and I are pastors first, second, and last. Thus it is our purpose to call men and women who are former gays or lesbians, fornicators and adulterers, those unbiblically divorced alongside gossips and materialists growing old with their first wife to be witnesses to their neighbors and thus to fulfill the law of love.

Sincere Christians willing to obey their Lord in this matter of loving their neighbor by being salt and light ought not to be ridiculed and shamed into silence by professional intellectuals claiming the Name of Christ. We aim to protect them from this abuse. By exposing the Biblical and spiritual—not to mention theological, legal, and historical—errors of R2K, it's our purpose to create a safe space for faithful men and women of God to witness to their Lord without fear of...


Presbyterian preachers with Scottish accents...

Scotland is seeing a radical loss of religious commitment and faith, particularly among her young adults. Why the decline?

Members of the Church of Scotland were polled and only 37% said they believe Jesus was God's son and came back to life after being crucified. Are the pastors who have been presiding over this apostasy still getting paid? If so, does it please them?

I ask because I'm remembering Kierkegaard's comment that, for many pastors, a church without people is their ideal. They want a sinecure—not a messy, smelly flock.

As goes the preaching, so goes the church; and as goes the church, so goes the nation. After years sitting in presbytery meetings listening to sermons by recent grads of my denomination's seminary...


What is "Two Kingdoms" theology and why does it matter...

(NOTE: This is a prequel in a (so far) eleven-part series opposing the liberal theology called "Two Kingdom," "Radical Two-Kingdom," "Rigid Two Kingdom," or "Revisionist Two Kingdom," and abbreviated here simply as "R2K." Here's the first in this series, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth, the sixth, the seventh, the eighth, the ninth, the tenth, and the eleventh.) 

Some weeks back, I read on another forum some shorter posts by a friend, Darrell Todd Maurina, that were quite helpful in understanding the "R2K" or "Radical Two Kingdom" error. Contacting Darrell, I asked if he'd be willing to compile the posts into a larger essay making whatever additions he thought helpful. Darrell agreed and this is the result.

It's rare we run such a long piece, but really, this one is a must-read. Please give your time to it.

We live in an evil day when the usurpation of the authority of mediating institutions by Washington D.C. and its satellites is growing each year. Combined with the demands of the monsters of the id that no contrary voice be allowed to speak and Christians find ourselves in an increasingly untenable position...

{C}


Thank you, RC and Darby...

The weekend with RCJR and his loving daughter, Darby, was very good for us here at Clearnote Church, Bloomington. What joy to have a brother come alongside and put his shoulder to your plough.

We regret to say, despite every bit as much effort on our part to publicize his two talks on the slaughter of the unborn given on the campus of Indiana University as we gave Doug Wilson's talks on homosexuality a year ago, no one bothered to get mad or express the slightest disagreement. That's abortion today—utterly passé. No one but those who claim the Name Christian either love or speak up in behalf of the unborn.

RC preached Sunday morning on the solidarity of our Lord with His people in our suffering pointing particularly to Jesus' rebuke of Saul using the first-person pronoun, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" (Acts 9:4). Videos or recordings of some of the messages will be up soon. Keep watch here for their announcement.

I'm very grateful to Doug and Nancy (last year) and RC and Darby (this year) for strengthening us here in Bloomington by their faithful witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ.