Letters and Then Some More Letters

Naughty Boy

I very much appreciate your descriptions and metaphors of the different categories of evangelicals. But I’m more thankful for your clear vision and your courage to step onto the battlefield. I have some sense of the pressure you must be under. Would that more of us gird up. Warren Zevon sang,

“Don’t you feel like desperadoes under the eaves, heaven help the one who leaves”

I’m praying for you and your comrades in Moscow and that more of us would leave the eaves.


Jason, thanks for the kind words. And, as Warren also sang so memorably, “Send lawyers, guns, and money.”

NR Stuff

A beautiful soliloquy, Dear John letter, and eulogy all in one. Buckley would have enjoyed it. Maybe even written it.


Malachi, thanks.

Referencing your article about leaving NR:

Where I’m from (Tennessee), Cracker Barrel restaurants don’t have booths, only tables.

Do Cracker Barrel restaurants in Idaho have booths or were you speaking metaphorically about people who frequent cornpone eateries?

Cracker Barrel actually IS a cornpone eatery, of course.

(My husband and I love your work, by the way.)


Carole, see? I can’t get away with anything.

Worth Getting

Reading a book I bought as a result of an American Thinker piece I read- The Power of the Powerless, by Vaclav Havel (the Czech dissident before the Soviet collapse and later President of the Czech Republic). Not sure whether he had an overt commitment to our Lord, but the principles he espouses for living in and even overthrowing a post-totalitarian system (not “post-“ in the sense it’s no longer totalitarian, but in the sense it’s self-perpetuating without a dictator; i.e. the citizens themselves are both victims & oppressors in that system) sure seem compatible to my understanding of our country and our duties to it as Christian citizens. (Cliffnotes: The Power of the Powerless is to live within the truth in a society that is living within lies) 1) Are you familiar with this work?

I give you the money quote which prompts my second question-

“Since all genuine problems and matters of critical importance are hidden beneath a thick crust of lies, it is never quite clear when the proverbial last straw will fall, or what the straw will be. THIS, TOO, IS WHY THE REGIME PROSECUTES, ALMOST AS A REFLEX ACTION PREVENTIVELY, EVEN THE MOST MODEST ATTEMPTS TO LIVE WITHIN THE TRUTH.”

And so, question #2 is- What the latest on Stickergate and your dissident progeny?

Kind Regards,


Steve, thanks for the reference. I ordered it. As for Keystone Koppery of Stickergate, the next thing up is a jury trial in a few months.

Wodehouse Intro

Thank you for introducing me to P.G Wodehouse. I am devouring an Overlook Press copy of “Carry On Jeeves” , as recommended by Stephen Fry for folks new to Wodehouse. As he puts it, “if your Wodehouse journey begins now, you are the luckiest person in the world”.

After going over your Goodreads account, in your whopping 88 Wodehouse titles you have read, you gave a perfect 5 stars to “Cocktail Time” and “The Code of The Woosters”. Which Wodehouse book should I pick up next?



Gary, I would go with Leave it to Psmith.

Dawson, Dawson

I have been following your Dear Dawson series and have been challenged by it, and learned a lot from it. Yet there is one question that I have had that brings me back to this paragraph from Lack of Communication is Key:

“They are constantly exhorted to “show, don’t tell.” There is no way to keep your dinner conversation on that first date from being a time of self-disclosure. Her interactions with you will tell her many thing many things about you. But if you approach it wisely they will tell her these things obliquely, and they will leave her with the sense that there is much that you are holding back.”

I have been struggling to find practical ways of how to not over share on a date but to have interactions that will tell her about me. Any advise in this area would be greatly appreciated.


Noah, to keep it as simple and straightforward as possible, talk about things that interest you, but don’t talk about how those things that interest you make you feel. But don’t make the opposite mistake (if what interests you is astrophysics) of going down a wormhole.

Are your “Dear Dawson” letters going to be made into a physical book, perchance? Can I at least hope? I’d be the first to jump in line to buy it.

Thank you,


Annie, the answer to that one is yes. I have turned the manuscript into Canon Press already.

Short Accounts

I’ve been listening to Nancy Wilson’s “Women & Marriage” series on myCanonPlus. In the talk on “Keeping Short Accounts” she mentions not being in front of others when you are out of fellowship with your spouse. I have heard this being taught by Doug Wilson and Toby Sumpter as well. Nancy said something like, if you have a class or job to go to, quickly get back into fellowship by asking forgiveness and granting forgiveness. It doesn’t have to take that long to humble yourself and get back into fellowship. She says that you can work out the details later. You can discuss the situation later (not at 10pm or not when high emotions are there). She also says to not bring up something that forgiveness has previously been granted for. I would like some clarification on this teaching. If you can quickly get back into fellowship by asking forgiveness, and then you are not supposed to bring up something that forgiveness has been granted for, how is it ok to “work out the details later”? It would seem that during “later” when there is more time to discuss it would be inevitable that you would discuss something for which forgiveness had been granted in the quick “get back in fellowship”.

Also, given the premise of “don’t ask forgiveness for something unless God thinks you should,” you would not want to offer a fake “please forgive me” in order just for things to be quickly put to “rights”. This is where we get stuck a lot. Neither of us sees what we need to ask forgiveness for. That makes it difficult to get back into fellowship quickly. We ask God to show us, but it is often not until the “discussion” part between us, which takes some time, that either of us see the sin and then ask forgiveness. If the sin is not seen, yet it is 12am and work looms tomorrow, what do you suggest?


Wendy, what this means is that if you had a bump because the checkbook wasn’t balanced, you don’t need to go down to the bank in order to get back into fellowship. You can balance the checkbook later. What you are confessing are the attitudes that put you out with the other person, and those are almost always right there, right on the surface. And you are right—you can’t make a sincere confession if you don’t know what it is. But as soon as you know, confession should be immediate.

A Woman as Magistrate

Greetings from the UK. I have my husband’s permission to seek your wise counsel on a question regarding the magistracy.

In our household, my husband is the breadwinner and I am the homemaker. The Lord has thus far chosen not to bless us with children. We decided that I would make a good candidate for the (voluntary) role of civil magistrate. However, I was stopped in my tracks when I read in one of your recent newsletters a quote from Gashmu Saith It:

“The family is the ministry of health, education and welfare. The Church is the ministry of grace and peace. The civil magistrate is the ministry of justice. But the (non-institutional) government that supports and makes possible all three of these is self-government.”

Following the example of Deborah (Judges 4:1-5:31), I had always thought it permissible for Christian women hold the office of judge/magistrate. Having looked again at what the Bible says about rulers and governors (Isaiah 3:12; Proverbs 31:23), it struck me that the role of arbiter of justice is perhaps a uniquely masculine calling, and the civil magistracy is not a sphere in which a woman should hold authority.

Does a female magistrate undermine the Biblical doctrine of the headship of man (1 Corinthians 11:3)? Should I abandon my plans to apply for this position?

Thank you for your work for the kingdom. Your ministry has been such a blessing to us, in countless ways!

Yours sincerely,


Lucie, thank you for the question. My take on that one is that for a woman to be a magistrate is lawful, given the example of Deborah, but that it should not be routine and ordinary, given the other passages and principles you cite. So I would continue to pray about it, seeking guidance, but I think the burden of proof should be high. I wouldn’t just stroll into it.

And With the Judgment Ye Judge

Please tell me you saw that RISE AND FALL OF MARS HILL just released another episode where they put themselves under the microscope. Lots of interesting and troubling dialogue in that episode with key Christianity Today leaders. I’d love your perspective/response on what they shared.


Jonathan, I haven’t listened to any of the Rise and Fall episodes, regarding them as unedifying click bait. But given the recent stories coming out of CT, it seems to me that the only thing fitting would have been for them to release a statement that they had been an institution that was an utterly unqualified critic of Mark Driscoll, and that they were going to stop it now.

Side Hustles

I was wondering if you could answer a question for your videos you do with Ben Merkle. What is the balance between being a Pastor and pursuing side jobs such as writing and podcasting? In Christ,


Noah, I don’t regard the writing and podcasting as side gigs—it is not as though I am tentmaking or bivocational. I regard it all as kingdom work, although I do have different lines of authority depending on the task.

When to Launch

Thank you for taking the time to read my question. I do not reference a given article, but rather I seek your counsel. My younger cousin has been attending a private Christian school for all of his upbringing. As he matures, his parents are considering enrolling him in a public school for high school, out of fear they may shelter him too much. I’ve encouraged them not to, citing the boy’s love for Christ and is growing as a disciplined young believer, being very bright and mature spiritually, why throw him into the lion’s den just because he’ll be in high school!? What else can I tell them that would seriously prompt them to reevaluate this consideration? This boy, although only twelve, talks about seminary and even his pastor sees him as a strong contender for the faith.


Elle, while it is true that young Christians need to launch sometime, and interact with unbelievers at some point, in my experience, this should not be done without full preparation—a complete Christian grounding—first. And in my experience, a young man just entering high school is extremely unlikely to be in that position.

Vax and the Military

Didn’t know another way to thank you. However, regardless where people stand on the Vax itself, I’d like to thank you for your links to assistance for DOD personnel. As a 9 year leader in the Army, I did take it. People can debate all day about the validity and efficacy of it (and as the days roll on, it’s clear it’s not effective). The one thing we forget though is that most have “moved on” from this since other world events. However, many soldiers are still stuck with repercussions or declining an ineffective Vax, many of whom are amazing soldiers. So I was able to share your resources with them. Something many leaders aren’t doing while “taking care of their soldiers.” So thank you for that.


Nathan, you are most welcome.

Some Trouble

I just have a question. You spend a lot of time giving instruction for husbands, and for wives in their respective roles in marriage. I appreciate the information and the encouragement. My husband listens to your podcasts and reads some of your writings, but there seems to be a disconnect between what he hears, what he states he believes, and what he does. I suppose there is a disconnect in all of us to some degree—sin. We’ve been married for twenty-five years. In the first five years of our marriage I found my husband had been lying to me about a decade long struggle with porn. Early on in in our marriage, I asked him to go to biblical counseling with me. He refused. The last time I asked him was about three years ago and he again refused. I don’t ask anymore. I want to say I don’t care, but obviously I’m bothered otherwise I wouldn’t be writing to you.

I don’t believe he views porn anymore, but he still ‘enjoys’ the occasional rated R movie with nudity. I leave the room and want nothing to do with them. He continues to watch, seemingly without introspection nor conviction to do otherwise. He says “I’m holier than thou” and too sensitive—that watching these movies is no big deal. What say you? Am I being too sensitive?


J, from this distance it is hard to say whether you are being too sensitive, but it doesn’t sound like it. If you don’t think he is using porn, then it seems that you want counseling because of other issues in your marriage. Or do you want counseling because of the occasional R movie? If the problems are serious, then I would do what it takes to bring things to a head. Ask again if you can get marriage counseling together. If he says no, then ask if you can get pastoral counseling by yourself.


What are your thoughts on the NKJV? Or the KJV2000?

For children who are learning to read the Bible, what’s a good starter? The KJV would seem too cumbersome for young ones.


Tyler, I think the NKJV would be fine for younger readers.

Do you preach from the original King James Version, or some version that’s been updated to remove the Scriptures that many biblical researchers now believe were added a bit after the fact (such as Mark 16:9-20)?


Ian, the KJV was regularly updated for several centuries before the accommodations were made with textual criticism. The Bible I use has the pericope of the woman caught in adultery, and the last twelve verses of Mark.

Book Recommendations

Any book recommendations on fearing God? Thanks!


Shawn, yes. The Fear of God by John Bunyan, and Rejoice and Tremble by MIchael Reeves.

I was reading your answers to people’s questions a couple weeks ago and read an answer in which you recommended a book on the historical development of feminism in the United States. Any chance that you know what that title might have been? I can’t remember what day I was reading, what question it was, and definitely not the title you recommended.

I appreciate any help you are willing to give in regard to this topic.

Thank you,


Alicia, the book was The Feminization of American Culture by Ann Douglas

Maybe Someday

You do great apologetics in your articles / book / posts / answers to letters. PLEASE consider writing a short, basic book, with concrete examples, on how to DO apologetics. It would be beneficial to your readers, and to the church!


James, that is a good idea. I will mull on it.

Sola Fide

To my knowledge it is your view that trinitarian baptism obligates a person to obey the new covenant. I concur, from what I see in Romans 6, Galatians 3 etc. I am reading through Hebrews 9 and 10, I can’t help but think we are being taught that the blood of the covenant sanctifies and enjoins one to the covenant, thereby obligating them to keep it. Exodus 24:8 is referenced in chapter 9 verse 19, where Moses sprinkles “the people” and enjoins them to the covenant, and it is the same blood that v13 says “sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh.” Then, as you know, 10:30 says that apostates called “my people” will be judged, because they “counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified” an unholy thing.

Would love to hear your thoughts on how trinitarian baptism and its obligations, relate to these obligations on the person that come about by being sanctified by the blood of Christ.



Jonty, the sacraments of the new covenant obligate us to keep the new covenant. But the only way to keep the covenant is through faith, by faith from first to last. And so to receive the sacraments is to obligate one to trust God for everything.

Inflation or Deflation

RE: Inflation, Debt, and the Future I watched your video with David Bahnsen (Canon Plus is fantastic by the way) and was thinking about this idea of foretelling doom. I’ve thought for years how right those hard money conservatives are about debt/inflation and have been wandering about, staring at the heavens, wondering when it was gonna all go crash. His explanation makes much more sense, going out in a whimper makes much more sense.

Do you think that’s how this how our sin resolves itself both personally and nationally? Europe went out with a whimper. The USSR went out with a whimper. Men I know who didn’t take lay the axe to the root of the tree go out in a whimper. Sure, sometimes it’s a spectacular display of fireworks like martial conquest or the prostitution sting arrest; it just doesn’t seem like the norm.

I’ve been half hoping things here in the states would come to some ugly head, just so we could get on with being done with our foolishness. But I would hazard a guess that we will just meander down mediocrity lane on our way to hell (if we don’t repent).

Do you agree? Or do you think we have, in the true American fashion, shown the world the first class, no foolin’ way to anger God such that it will be fireworks. Pun intended.

Thanks always for your answers


Thomas, I think that apart from repentance, and a massive revival, we will go out with the staggers.

A Santa Claus Question in the Springtime

I’ve got me one of those wonderful Christian women. Diligent, wise, faithful in the study of Scripture, beautiful, and on top of that, we get along great. We’re moving towards marriage now. We only have a minor disagreement: how/if we do Santa with our kids one day! I don’t want to, she wants to—not to the typical American extent, but some nonetheless. This isn’t a massive deal to me, but how can we discuss this graciously, and with patience?


Mike, in my mind it is not a question of Santa/no Santa, but rather a question lying/no lying. If Santa is part of the celebration, and the kids are not being lied to, then I don’t see a problem with it. It is not a story I care for that much, but if the kids know that it is a story, a decoration, then I don’t see a difficulty.

Yikes Is Right

Quote from CT article trying to reconcile Genesis with evolutionary thought. “If a concern for evangelism is still one of the hallmarks of evangelicalism, pastors and lay leaders especially need to stop drawing needless lines in the sand on evolution and the interpretation of early Genesis. It only pushes people away from Christ.“

Have these CT folks been comatose for these past 2 years?


Blair, I suspect the answer to your question is yes.

A Couple Lines of Criticism

To be honest, I find your ministry to be incredibly damaging. The chief reason centers, of course, around your views of masculinity and femininity. Your dominant images for both are fundamentally *violent*; he “penetrates, colonizes, conquers,” and she “surrenders, receives, and accept.” Surrendering assumes conflict; it’s the yielding up of a conflict. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body lays the foundations for just as totalizing of a view of masculinity and femininity (I agree that egalitarianism leads to androgynism) is so much more robust and beautiful. JPII pointed out that our bodies tell our stories; masculinity fundamentally *gives its life* for the flourishing of the other, and so is first in the order of loving strength rather than pre-eminence. That doesn’t diminish him at all or turn him into a “beta male” if done right; he is to, like Jesus, strongly confront the cross, bear it, and pour out his life. Or to use the pre-Fall image, she proceeds from his very side. He gives of his very self for her life. She, in turn, responsively transforms; her body tells that story. In sexual consummation, she receives and transforms that which is given from his life. She nurtures it, and in her vocation of “help” she is known to be a perfecter of life—bringing the initiating act of love from him to its completion in herself. That’s an image for the overarching dynamic form that organizes their relationship to each other in marriage.

Isn’t that so much more beautiful than your image? Why bash servant leadership as a beta vocation if it means this—the initiating strength of self giving love?


Sean, if you compare JP2’s vision to the vision taken off a scary meme made by my enemies, then I confess that I much prefer the former. But if you gathered up all the lovely things you attribute to JP2, it would be the work of fifteen minutes to find a Protestant expression of those same sentiments in my books on marriage. One of those books is even entitled My Life for Yours.

Re: A Matter of Rank

I have struggled with the biblical view of a woman’s role a lot. I agree that after the Fall, Eve was punished according to her sin. She wanted to be God, therefore she would have that tension all her life and would be subject to a man. However, I disagree with Doug’s one comment: “what they are by virtue of creation and what they are as a result of the Fall. In the order of creation, the woman is a man’s helper and companion, suitable for him.”

To me that does not infer the man is over her. She has a different role than he does, but we do not know how that relationship would have played out if Adam and Eve had not sinned. I guess you could argue that the Son and Spirit are under God and so mankind would also have that submission component. Maybe it is just wishful thinking on my part, but I think Doug may be taking liberty with submission BEFORE the Fall. I do not disagree with submission in marriage but part of that is because I have a strong, yet gentle husband. I can see how many who have not had examples like that to follow want to throw the baby out with the bath water.


Lorraine, my view is that had there been no sin, no Fall, there would still have been headship and submission. But without the presence of sin, it would have been a frictionless thing—very different from what goes on in our fallen experience.

The post Letters and Then Some More Letters appeared first on Blog & Mablog.






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