January 2008

Shame silences many...

(Tim) While we're on the subject of persecution, Doug Wilson writes, "Too many Christians think they are being persecuted at work "for the gospel," when the real reason is that they are just hard to get along with." True enough. The Apostle Peter wrote, "For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?"

But for every believer who suffers persecution in the workplace for being hard to get along with, there are many more who aren't persecuted at all because persecution shames them and they'll do anything to avoid it. Instead of shaming us, though, persecution for the Name of Christ ought to make us rejoice:

...but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. (1Peter 4:13)

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I know it when I see it.

(David) Justice Potter Stewart's 1964 assertion that he couldn't define obscenity and pornography, "but I know it when I see it," is the consistent Christian response to idolatry in our own day: "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it." Yeah, right. Just like Justice Stewart knew pornography....

Stewart's problem was twofold. First, by rejecting any objective standard for obscenity he disdained the necessarily defining character of law. Second, subjectively, his standard for obscenity began just beyond where he was willing to go and was thus inherently self-justifying.

This is the problem with human standards for sin. Any view of sin that leaves its ultimate definition to the sinner will of necessity prove self-justifying. We are never idolaters when we define idolatry because the boundary between innocent image and "idolatry" always lies one step beyond where we stand.

So, as we've seen recently in interaction on this blog, in the most objectively idolatrous nation in the history of the world and the most image-crazed nation on earth, literal idolatry does not exist....

This brazen silence...

To be wrong, and to be carefully wrong, that is the definition of decadence. The disease called aphasia, in which people begin by saying tea when they mean coffee, commonly ends in their silence. Silence of this stiff sort is the chief mark of the powerful parts of modern society. They all seem straining to keep things in rather than to let things out…Even the newspaper editors and proprietors are more despotic and dangerous by what they do not utter than by what they do. We have all heard the expression "golden silence." The expression "brazen silence" is the only adequate phrase for our editors. If we wake out of this throttled, gaping, and wordless nightmare, we must awake with a yell.  - G. K. Chesterton

(by Lucas Weeks, a ClearNote Pastors College student) Last October, 138 Muslim scholars issued this open letter to Pope Benedict XVI and other Christian leaders entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You”. One month later, dozens of Christian leaders responded in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, the text of which can be found here.

The Muslim clerics who wrote the first document say that the common ground between the three Abrahamic faiths is the love of God and the love of neighbor. The Christian response to the Muslim call for “a common word” affirms, as I do, that love is at the very center of the Christian faith. The respondents write, “For Christians, humanity’s love of God and God’s love of humanity are intimately linked. As we read in the New Testament: 'We love because he [God] first loved us' (1 John 4:19). Our love of God springs from and is nourished by God’s love for us. It cannot be otherwise, since the Creator who has power over all things is infinitely good.”

These words are powerful and true. It is not what they say, however, but what they do not say that makes the Christian response to “A Common Word Between Us” so inexcusably bad...

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Persecution ought never to strike us as strange...

(Tim) Tonight, family devotions fell in 1Peter 4 and again we read that wonderful exhortation of verse twelve that is destined to become ever more precious to American believers in the coming years:

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you...

Sharing the sufferings of Christ is a great privilege which should cause us to rejoice. But it rarely does. Instead, our normal response is to express shock and horror that things have come to this and to ask, "Whatever happened to our Christian nation?"

It seems clear that, rather than being surprised at persecution, we're to be surprised when it's absent. This is why our Lord warned us, "Beware when all men speak well of you" (Luke 6:26). Having a stellar reputation in this evil day is a good indication that we have not been faithful to the Lord and His Word...

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Reformed Seminary shills for Frank James' wife...

  • shill: a beguiler who leads someone into danger; an associate of a person selling goods or services who pretends no association to the seller and assumes the air of an enthusiastic customer; a person employed by the casino to begin a game, or to fill empty seats at a table.

(Tim, w/thanks to Jeff and Andrew) Several readers called my attention to the just-released E-newsletter of Reformed Theological Seminary which hypes the latest book of their president's wife, Carolyn Custis James, as follows:

NEW! CAROLYN JAMES’ BOOK, THE GOSPEL OF RUTH, NOW AVAILABLE
Traditionally, the Book of Ruth is viewed as a beautiful love story between Ruth and Boaz. But if you dig deeper, you will discover startling revelations, including:
  - God makes much of broken lives
  - God calls men and women to serve Him together
  - God counts on His daughters to build His kingdom
Click here to order now.

According to James, simpletons think "traditionally" while "warriors" dig deep and find hidden treasures that just happen to conform perfectly to their own feminist ideology. You know, stuff like "God calls men and women to serve Him together."

Tip your hat to the new constitution.

TidBITS strikes it rich...

(Tim) Seriously, the latest addition to the editorial staff of Adam Engst's TidBITS is a certain "rich mogull."

And by the way, if you use a Mac and don't subscribe to TidBITS, you should. For many years, now, TidBITS has been far and away the best source of news for all things Apple. Here are a couple articles (one and two) typical of the fare provided by the Angsts--er, Engsts.

And by the way two, if you don't use a Mac, you might want to consider switching over---particularly if you're a pastor. My son, Joseph, uses both Macs and PCs doing about everything you can imagine, and he'll tell you why, when he needs to use a PC, it's virtualized on his MacBook Pro. Or my son-in-law, Ben, will tell you why he's always frustrated doing web and book design on a PC, rather than a Mac.

But yes, my dear brother David uses a PC and used to have a Mac. So there's a majority report on this that opposes what I'm suggesting.

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Hoosiers: Stop this legislation in its tracks...

(Tim, w/thanks to Jim) According to the reputable and trustworthy American Family Association, our Representative Peggy Welch is at work behind the scenes greasing the path for a hate crimes bill. (Note added a day later: Rep. Welch's assistant reported to one reader that AFA is wrong in its report concerning the procedural motion. Please see the first comment by David Talcott.)

Friends, these hate crime laws are awful for all the reasons the American Family Association says below--and more. If you know our Democrat representative, Peggy Welch, call or E-mail her and tell her that no Christian should have any part in passing such legislation. If she's not your representative, find out who is and contact them. Tell them that they reprensent you and that you are opposed to the nannie state setting up safeguards for sodomites that place them in a privileged position within our state. (For a short summary of the lawlessness of such hate crime bills, read this two and a half page statement by the most excellent Alliance Defense Fund.)

Our legislators can't figure out a way to protect unborn children from being slaughtered for pay just a mile or two from the home they sleep peacefully in each night, but they can find a way to silence the Word of God? And make no mistake about it--this bill is all about gagging God by intimidating those who would dare to repeat His decree that sodomy is an "abomination" before Him. For now, the assault is cloaked by violent crimes, but the cloak will soon come off. Read on for the American Family Association alert...

Congressman Siljander's new way past Islamaphobia: Follow the money...

(Tim) This indictment is interesting news. Congressman Siljander is at the forefront of the movement to meld Islam and Christianity into one faith while claiming believers from both sides are being perfectly faithful to their own tradition if they affirm this syncretistic mutation.

In the old days, Congressman Siljander was known to be an evangelical Christian. But now he's living off the fat of Islamic land taking money from Islamic groups in Pakistan and Sudan to help him write a book purporting to show us the way to rapprochement between followers of Jesus and Muhammad. Says Cong. Siljander: "I could not find one verse in the entire New Testament that ever suggested we should convert anyone to any religion."

It all reminds me of the letter my Dad wrote to Rabbi Yechiel Exkstein declining Yechiel's request that he sit on the board of Eckstein's newly chartered Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews (since renamed the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) back some twenty-five years ago. Despite their close personal friendship, Dad explained to Yechiel that it would be impossible for him to serve on Yechiel's board without feeling pressure to compromise his faith by no longer calling Yechiel to faith in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus Christ. And yes, those are the very words Dad used...

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Gov. Huckabee and complementarians' useful lie...

(Tim) Since they regularly show up on this blog making comments that demonstrate their impiety and rebellion, I assume no one's learning it here, first, if I say that the church is filled with women who hate God's command that wives submit to their husbands in everything. Such rebellion against God and His Word is nothing new. The scribes and Pharisees were masters of the technique two thousand years ago: "Oh yesssss, we must honor our fathers and mothers. Absolutely! But there's this little thing called Corban..."

Our Lord responded, giving us a pattern to follow in our exchanges with hypocritical rebels today: "You nullify the Word of God for the sake of your tradition." Those who speak of "mutual submission" as a cover for no submission anywhere or ever ought, at times, to be dismissed precisely as Jesus dismissed them.

But what of the many who speak of "mutual submission," not as an act of defiance, but as a way of making God's order of father-rule less offensive to our authority-hating culture? Are they friends of God?

One dear sister sent me a link to a discussion of Governor Mike Huckabee's comments on mutual submission carried on among feminist rebels who claim the Name of Christ. Skimming what they had to say, I found it interesting how much I agreed with them (all emphases in the original):

  • "If I was still a complementarian, I would be thinking that politics has corrupted him..."
  • "When I first heard the quote on television, his words seemed promising. Now that I’m seeing what he said in print… that was slick."
  • "Notice he never says the husband submits to his wife. He’s definitely playing to both sides of the sex roles debate. ...Of course, he could also talk complementarian but live egalitarian for most practical purposes, like a lot of complementarians tend to do."

Mutual submission is bunk...

It is the final sign of imbecility in a people that it calls cats dogs and describes the sun as the moon--and is very particular about the preciseness of these pseudonyms.  To be wrong, and to be carefully wrong, that is the definition of decadence.  The disease called aphasia, in which people begin by saying tea when they mean coffee, commonly ends in their silence. -G. K. Chesterton

(Tim) I've been privy to a private E-mail discussion between a few men concerning the response Governor Huckabee gave during the recent Fox debate to a question about his having signed a Southern Baptist Convention statement affirming the Creation order of father-rule. Originally, it was our intent to start this post with an excellent summary statement David Talcott had written to initiate the private discussion. As things developed, though, it became clear other good responses to David's argument needed to be included here, and that collating the discussion was going to be a big job. So there things sat.

Still, I don't want to let the moment pass without comment. At this point you might want to watch the video of Gov. Huckabee's response, before reading my own comments.

Few things have been used to greater effect by men wanting to skirt the issue of father-rule and the opprobrium they would suffer if they were plainspoken in their affirmation of Biblical sexuality than mincing words about mutual submission. And make no mistake: every pastor, seminary professor, or presidential candidate who speaks in any way analagous to the way Gov. Huckabee spoke knows precisely what he's doing and why he's doing it.

By this late date many thousands of oil drums of ink have been spilled in argument about the connection between Ephesians 5:21, "Be subject to one another," and Ephesians 5:22 through 6:9 where the wives, children, and slaves of Ephesus are singled out and specifically commanded to submit to their husbands, fathers and mothers, and masters.

Those who hate authority, and specifically the authority of father-rule ordered by our Creator, make much of the "submit to one another" command, trying to use it to trump or confuse or hide or obfuscate the "wives submit to your husbands" command immediately following it. And all their tactics can be illustrated by an exchange something like this:

Foolish Christian: "The Bible tells me to submit to my husband."

Wise Christian: "Yes, but the Bible tells your husband to submit to you, also."

Foolish Christian: "Oh, you mean in 1Corinthians where it talks about me having authority over my husband's body, sexually?"

Wise Christian: "Well yes, there's that; but also in Ephesians 5 where it commands us all to submit to one another."

The house in which we trust...

(Tim) When our Lord was being tried, He was passed from church to state and each authority had one principal charge that stuck. With the senior pastors and elders, it was difficult to condemn Him for any of the many false charges lodged against Him--until one stuck. What was it?

Two men came and reported Jesus as saying, "I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days."

With the civil authority, it wasn't the destruction of the temple they focused on, but Jesus' claim to be King of the Jews.

Both had their high crimes, didn't they? And who can fault the Romans for being jealous for the throne? "Another king? The man's a zealot, a rebel, an anarchist! Away with him!"

But the senior pastors and elders--they had their high crime, too: An attack upon their precious temple. Why, just think of all the godly souls who had poured their life savings into that capital campaign!

There's a whole lotta faith goin on...

(Tim) Even unbelieving demographers will tell you that few things are as closely tied to faith and piety as having babies. Well, bragging unabashedly, three pregnancies were announced in our women's Bible study yesterday, bringing the total children we're preparing to welcome into our congregation to fourteen. We  now have twelve pregnancies (one of twins) and one couple well on their way to adopting a child from Ethiopia. During the past year or so, ten children were added to our nursery.

Look and see! Children are a gift from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is His reward. Like ammo in the hand of a soldier, so are the children of a man's youth. How blessed is the man whose mag is filled with them. Such men will not be ashamed when they and their wives are attacked by uber-hip evangelicals who despise fruitful sex, motherhood, and fatherhood.

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