I saw an ad in my August/September issue of First Things for Paul D. Miller’s just released book “The Religion of American Greatness: What’s Wrong with Christian Nationalism.” I would love to read your review of this book. There are numerous opinions of “Christian Nationalism” mostly from a progressive perspective. However, many Christian leaders and evangelical organizations are warning the faithful of its dangers. Would you please cut through the crap and lay out a descriptive overview? Thanks!
Ray, I will take a look. I think we are in for a flood of this kind of book. I will certainly be dealing with the topic.
“Christian Nationalism and Other Things That Skeerded Us Real Bad” This essay fails to make any distinction at all between a nation as a people group and a nation as a collection of institutions of government. Would you assert that because Christians are commanded to love their father and mother, that 1st century Christians were commanded to love the Roman Empire? Would you assert that Christians in China are commanded to love the CCP? I don’t think you would, but correct me if I’m wrong.
Now I can imagine a retort that the institutions of American government are far more worthy of affection than those of the Roman Empire and the CCP. I can grant that much, and my point would still stand. There is no command in Scripture to love the kingdoms of Earth, nor to disciple and baptize them. We are to disciple and baptize the people, then the kingdoms are transformed from within. Discipleship does not mean taking every opportunity to seize the levers of power and enforce the teachings of Jesus from the top down. That seems opposite to the yeastly/mustard seed-ish kind of of discipleship that Jesus taught.
To my mind, Christian nationalism feels like surrender and a loss of hope in the power of the Gospel to convert and transform hearts, minds, and souls.
Ken, of course this is done by means of evangelism. The reforms that Josiah instituted were good, but they didn’t stick because of the condition of the people. So, I think I agree with you. Politics is not our savior. But here is where we might differ. Politics will be saved.
With respect to making disciples of all nations, starting with our own, how do you apply the guiding principle of incrementalism in this regard? Your critique of the unfailingly “winsome” squish is appreciated, but it seems to me that at least some of them may be acting to balance out what they perceive to be hard-edged, even impatient voices in other quarters, perhaps including your own. I’m especially interested in affirming co-belligerence between God-fearing Jews and God-fearing Christians who it seems to me are often effectively partnering in the fight for the culture. Does it not seem possible in your imagination that God might have incremental work to do through such partnerships, that may end up in HIs perfect time and way with many Jews seeing Christ in all His glory and putting their trust in Him? How does one hold the ideal of a Christian nation—full of Christian people—with faith in what is not yet seen but which we understand to be increasing invisibly, incrementally, submitting ourselves to God’s time and ways, and practicing faithful love toward God and neighbor daily for however many decades or centuries it takes to see the fruit?
Michelle, I don’t think it is an either/or thing. Christian preachers and evangelists can summon all to Christ, and Christian politicians in the legislature can vote to protect babies alongside conservative Mormons, or Jews. And while I grant that what I teach has a hard edge, I don’t think it is impatient. Our game plan here in Moscow has a 500-year run time.
King David and Rape
Re: Denhollender and David, and the Question of Rape Pastor Wilson,
I really enjoyed your solid, insightful, Biblical reply to what Ms. Denhollender said in that clip. (at least it looks to me to be solid, insightful, and biblical).
In that clip she mentioned “the Woman at the Well” and “Mary Magdalene” as women who have not gotten a fair shake from the pulpit, correct?
Will you please explain how Ms. Denhollender, etc. say these two women and/or their stories have been mischaracterized?
. . . and please . . .
Does Russell Moore *agree* with her take on King David? . . . (and also on Mary Magdalene and the Woman at the Well)?
P.S. If Mr. Moore *does* in fact agree with her it would help explain a LOT about the concern I have seen you express about him.
Robert, good questions all.
Regarding David, adultery or rape, I’m in agreement that we have to let the text do the talking and not read into it things that are not there. However, I did not notice in your argument you addressing what is often mentioned as the dominant feature of the narrative: the repetition of the word ‘to send.’ It appears a dozen times in the narrative, then God sends once (Nathan) and then the word vanishes.
As yo know, Hebrew narratives are often sparse on details me might like to know, but in this case it shouts what it would like us to see. Denhollender doesn’t make the case in the brief clip I saw, but I imagine the best form of her argument is that while a few of the ‘sends’ are communication of information, many of the sends are exercises of the king’s power. He sends his army to war, he sends to find out who this woman is, he sends for her and takes her, he sends for Uriah, and he sends to have Joab maneuver Uriah to his death. Also, the clearest point of contact between the narrative and Nathan’s parable is through the repetition of ‘took’ (11:2, 12:4 twice).
So clearly with the word ‘send’ woven through the narrative, it isn’t just about sex, but about power (sending army, sending for Bathsheba, sending Uriah).
So my question is twofold—a) would you you agree that the key word repetition ‘to send’ is the dominant narrative feature of the text? b) how would you integrate this feature of the text into your argument, since it is missing?
For what it’s worth, I think it’s unclear what bathing signifies (I doubt she was nude in a porcelain tub up there) and her motives throughout are opaque to us in the narrative. By comparison the act of David’s power in sending is quite clear and the main interest of the story.
Andrew, you will be happy to know that I agree with your point about sending entirely. David was acting authoritatively throughout as a king, and when he sent for Bathsheba, he was abusing his authority as a king. But this does not make him a rapist, and does not automatically absolve Bathsheba of anything. David also sent a message to Joab to have Uriah killed, but that does not absolve Joab of complicity in a crime. He remains a moral agent despite David’s sending. In Bathsheba’s case, it could have been rape, but it could also have been something she wanted, and something she tried to make come about. In other words, have there never been women who enticed men with authority to abuse that authority? So if Bathsheba protested, it was rape. If she did not, then it was not. We don’t know for certain, but the bathing gives us a clue, I think. While I agree that throughout the history of bathing, while the porcelain tub has been optional, the nudity generally hasn’t been.
In your “Denhollender and David” post you wrote: “And having said this, I want to insist that there is a biblically responsible way to rejoice in the historical growth and development of kingdom ethics—meaning that I rejoice that we no longer have concubinage—but that as we do this we have to ensure that we do not make room in any way for the tenets of critical theory. This is because spiritual maturation through history is quite different from spiritual rebellion in history.”
Since concubinage (having slave wives) is expressly permitted in God’s law (Ex. 21:7-11; Lev. 25:44-46; Dt. 21:11-14; 2 Sam. 12:8; etc.)— and therefore not a sinful but righteous practice—why do you “rejoice” that we no longer have it? Why would you characterize its abolition as “historical growth” and “spiritual maturation” when God’s law plainly permits and regulates its practice? Isn’t spiritual growth or maturation the process of conforming our thoughts and conduct to be more in line with God’s law? Were the patriarchs and other faithful men in Scripture spiritually immature for conducting themselves in conformity with God’s law regarding having concubines? As you later point out in your post, “The real issue is going to arise with what biblical law expressly allows.” Amen. If God’s law permits something, then it’s righteous (Rom. 7:12). If God’s law prohibits something, then it’s unrighteous (Rom. 7:7; 1 Jn. 3:4). David’s conduct with Bathsheba was unrighteous because God’s law prohibits adultery and murder. David’s conduct in marrying multiple concubines was righteous because God’s law permits concubinage. It’s really that simple.
Roger, actually it is not that simple. God’s law prohibited the king from taking multiple wives, whether slave or free (Dt. 17 ), and David disobeyed. And if God’s law allowed something, that does not make it righteous. What it does is make it allowable. When a cannibal tribe converts, they must repent of and abandon their cannibalism immediately. When a tribe that allows concubinage converts, it is allowed to continue for a time. Certain things can be phased out in the life of the tribe, just as God phased certain things out in the history of His people. God allowed the system of the blood avenger, regulating it to keep things from getting out of hand. God allowed polygamy, but requires Christian leaders in the new covenant to “a one-woman man.” Etc.
Re: Denhollender and David Found Moore’s comment at the beginning of that clip quite useful. Couldn’t agree more that we need a new vocabulary about sin so as to avoid hurting or offending sinners or friends of sinners. Made me wonder what kind of harm is being done by using the potentially damaging language of David “committing” rape or murder. We really need to be more careful about these kinds of things. Don’t want to offend David or his relatives.
Dave, this is true. Adulterers and such find this language off-putting.
Not Much You Can Do
For years, I have been urging my sister to pull her kids from public school, warning of all the different ways her children would struggle with the lies they would be taught there. To no avail. Now, those lies are (as suspected) beginning to permeate the hearts of my nieces and nephews. One of my nieces, in particular, is struggling the worst. This year alone she has decided to flip-flop from having a girlfriend to a boyfriend, she is experimenting with lucid dreaming, dreaming she is in a man’s body and experimenting with “cutting”. She is 14 years old. I have children the same age who I have been trying to protect from all these lies, who have grown up homeschooled but also loving their cousins. Two questions: How do I navigate protection of my own family with love for my extended family, particularly with the same age cousin/friendships already established? Also: what would you say to a teen about “cutting”. I am not sure if cutting is a stepping stone to suicide or something different entirely—but how would you council someone who struggles in that area? I am the lone voice of Christian reason in her life yet I feel unequal to this particular task.
A Worried Aunt
WA, I am afraid that you will not be able to do as much as you would like to. The main thing is to protect your own kids at this point, which does not necessarily mean protecting them from their cousins. It could mean teaching them how to talk to their cousins. And a good relationship would be one in which your kids were not pretending that all this is not going on. And cutting is, in my view, more a function of frustration, guilt, and self-loathing. I would teach and train your kids how to share the gospel.
Inheriting the Land
Hello and thanks very much for reading this,
I’ve become pretty much convinced by the postmillennial view of eschatology (courtesy of online resources provided by theologians like Doug Wilson) . . . for all but one thing: Genesis 13 and the “land promises” to Abraham forever.
My question is this: Gen 13:15 explicitly says that Abraham himself would inherit the land forever, yet he has not. When will this be fulfilled, and how does it fit the postmillennial scheme of history?
What resources can I use to answer this question? I can’t seem to find any answers from postmillennial sources, but I may be looking in the wrong places.
Thanks very much.
Fort, I believe that in and through the gospel Abraham inherits the entire earth—which includes the land of Israel. “For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13). So when the earth is as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the earth, that flood will be global. And all Israel will be wet.
Church Discipline and Abortifacients
Have you ever had to confront or discipline a member of your church for using an abortifacient as a method of birth control?
If not, how would you address someone using an abortifacient as birth control?
The reason I ask is because 5 out of 6 of the newly married couples I talked to at my church are using abortive forms of birth control. I met with some of these couples to inform them about the abortive effects, assuming they didn’t know. I was ignored or told they already knew it was abortive. I’ve asked my elders to address this. The question has come up if and how they should address this. Thank you for your time.
No King But Christ,
Chad, yes. In principle, it is a matter of church discipline. But I would begin by asking the elders to have the pastor preach a series of sermons on practical evangelical ethics, with this issue front and center, and anchor the church’s position on the whole topic first. Otherwise, any discussion of discipline is just going to make a mess. If the elders refuse to address it, then it is time for a new church.
Too Many Red Pills
Firstly, thank you for being a voice of calm and reason in my life in these last few tumultuous years. This blog, and the Canon app, and the work of your wife and daughters, has been a steady lifeline and a tool of sanctification in my marriage and home. Second, I beg you to please counsel a wife on how to be a fitting help meet to a “red-pilled” man who may be on the verge of mid-life nervous break. Maybe you can help . . .
Married 19 yrs, 5 kids, by God’s grace and blessing, our marriage itself is healthier than it ever has been on most fronts. We homeschool and belong to a faithful and thriving Reformed Baptist church (in California!) and he has a secure and well paid job that he finds meaningful and rewarding. We have overcome many relational issues, for which I am so grateful, and our home government is in order in most ways. Our physical relationship has always been a very healthy one . . . but even that doesn’t seem to help these days . . .
In the last few years my husband has become morbidly obsessed with current politics. He follows several political podcasts. He listens to Alex Jones. Every. Day. He is inseperable from his phone and the news/meme stream. It is very literally the only thing he ever talks about to me anymore: NWO, evil elites with evil plans, degenerates, impending social/cultural/economic collapse, genocide/mass depopulation, nuclear war, global natural/cosmic catastrophe . . . I have done all the doomsday prepping I can possibly do for him. We sold my childhood home and rearranged our life to become debt free and secure our life’s worth in goods we can use/sell/barter. I am stocking freezers and learning to grow food. But I cannot give him peace. He does not know what we will do next or when.
I don’t know if he is right or wrong about the future. As for me I will trust in the Lord anyway; it is all I want and ought to do! But I am so discouraged . . . . I want to give back the knowledge of good and evil. I am burdened with much more knowledge than I ever wanted . . . I wish the Lord would come swiftly to wipe away every tear and put all to right.
I try to put your content in his way, it has helped me to try to put your Christ for ALL OF LIFE/Christendom perspective into the conversations . . . I implore him to pray, to read the Bible . . . I am afraid he doesn’t at all. He has lost all initiative to lead the family in prayer and Bible lessons which was a real spiritual nourishment to us for a blessed short while (it was never his inclination in our early years)…
And the thing I am really most worried about is how this is affecting our children, especially our boys, now 13 and 8. I feel like I am constantly running damage control on the fear and negativity, salacious headlines and inevitable F-bombs, in the conversations we have while children are within earshot. He believes it is his duty to prepare them for a very uncertain, but certainly difficult future, in a world that wants them dead.
He is quick to offense, uncharactariatically irrational, and often moved to tears. I sympathize with him wholeheartedly, but he is so angry at the world. He talks about isolating from society completely. Is it wrong to give pushback on that? Will this pass?
He alienates himself from members of the church and sizes up everyone everywhere by their reactions to these topics he brings up. He avoids the children to listen to his shows and work in his journal . . . I don’t even know if I can/should talk to him about it—and how? Maybe as a woman it is hard for me to understand what he is going through. . . What can I do besides suggest counsel he probably won’t seek or take? Maybe I will take to singing A Mighty Fortress on repeat till this passes . . .
In the meantime I pray for the Lord to intervene in his life, and in our nation . . . but first in the hearts of our men. We do desperately need them.
Dear Anon, I am very sorry for your plight. Yes, there is a point where push back is necessary, but you are not there yet. What I would suggest, because you can’t fight something with nothing, and because what is wrecking your husband’s life is an eschatological deficiency, is that you starting reading some postmill theology. Start with something like Heaven Misplaced. At the very least, it will cheer you up, and if he shows the slightest interest in what you are learning, ask him to read it to you.
Serving in the Military
I am thankful for you and your keen analysis of our world. Thank the Father for saving you and that you’re on His side.
As a fellow military veteran (Marine Corps) and Reformed kinsfolk, my question is: Would serving in the military today be considered a worthy cause? Is it still a commendable act of service and righteous patriotism to defend these lands and our freedoms despite the social experimentation the military has suffered on behalf of our democratic “leadership”? My first child was just born a couple of weeks ago, and I was asked if I would ever encourage him to consider the military, and I did not know what to answer, given what is around us right now. But the military is bigger than the social-political experimentation publicly visible in the news. Is it still a masculine and good thing to consider service in our military? Would you stop your sons or grandsons from joining up?
Andrew, I believe that serving in the military is still lawful, but you have to be prepared to wreck your career every day. It is no longer a course that I recommend to anyone though.
I thought I’d recount a couple of conversations from my house to give you a chuckle.
*Several weeks ago*
Me: Honey, there’s a new science curriculum that I’d really like to try. It looks like it would be really easy to use.
Husband: You can feel free to get it if you can fit it in your budget.
I couldn’t fit it in my budget, so I didn’t buy it.
*A few days ago*
Me: Honey, did you see that Douglas Wilson just did a post on that science curriculum I wanted to buy?
Husband: You should buy it.
Me: I would have, but I couldn’t fit it in the budget.
Husband: It would be great to have a simple curriculum to use. We’ll find room for it in the budget.
I’ll be buying the Noeo curriculum. Thanks for the help in convincing my husband.
Charlotta, see? That’s what we were trying to accomplish.
Given that the state-sanctioned institution of marriage has been debased (e.g. no fault divorce laws, extreme biases against men, etc), why haven’t Christians sought to do an end-run around the system? For example:
* Standardized prenuptial agreements that forfeit child custody / finances in the event of adultery/serious sins, “mandatory arbitration” clauses that set up clergy as fact-finders/decision-makers in the event of divorce (rather than a judge).
* Contracts that exist in parallel to the marriage that enforce strict penalties in the event of serious sins.
* Forgoing government-sanctioned marriage altogether in favor of a new set of contracts entered into by the husband and wife.
Erik, I do think there are some good ideas in there. I would want it to be surrounded with a requirement that a church wedding provide the covenantal context for everything—because marriage has to be seen as something more than contractual.
I have enjoyed your sermons and books on the family, especially the things about women and our role. Do you think women should vote? If so, should her vote, if married, be submitted to her husband? If not, what Scripture would you use to defend your opinion? What part can women play in the civic realm?
Nautica, in my ideal set-up, in the ideal biblical republic, which we currently do not have, I would want households to vote. That vote would be cast by the head of the household. If it was a woman, like Lydia, she would be the one who voted. If it was the husband, then he would. But in the meantime, if a husband and wife disagree on election day, they should save their gas money and stay home. Why drive to the polls in order to cancel one another’s vote?
Return to the MInistry
I have a question regarding the return to ministry for my husband who committed adultery while serving as pastor. He has confessed, repented, and has faithfully served and grown in his office as husband since the confession 8 years ago. He served as a worship pastor for 6 years prior to the affair. He has not served in any formal capacity in the church since then. I am happy to say that our marriage is strong and we have dealt with the issues that created the atmosphere for the affair. Is it possible for a man like this to once again serve in the office of pastor? I have heard different expositions of the requirements for pastor and must say I am very unclear on the issue. He is not actively seeking a position and is unsure himself what he thinks on this topic. He has close friends in the church that would offer him a chance to serve if he would want it. Any guidance you could give on this issue would be appreciated.
L, I am glad you are now in a position where this is even an option. I don’t believe that this is a sin that automatically disqualifies a man forever and ever, but while I do think that 8 years is a good start, the gravity of that sin (both against you and the church) means that giving it more time would be good.
Regarding your praise of Jordan Peterson in the Cluster Muster –
I agree with your assessment of the video and appreciate JP in general. My question for you is, have you seen his message to the Muslims and what do you think of it?
In the video he exhorts Muslims, obviously. But he also makes comments about Jews, Christians, Muslims and various religious sects coming together in unity despite their differences. This, he says, is because we are all People of the Book. This seems completely naïve, elementary, and altogether utopian. Disputes over the very nature of God are not easily resolved. And I agree that there could be less animosity and real dialogue in society. But the Book is the final arbiter of Truth and society cannot have unity without the Truth. Furthermore, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have mutually exclusive views of this Book. If the Book is true, and it is, somebody is wrong. Dead wrong. And this brings me to my main point about JP, in the video and in general.
Until he rejects Jungian archetypal pluralism JP has no place in the Kingdom. He has continually brought unusual people together because he seems to be an evolutionist, a theist, a Nietzschian, a Christian, and a follower of the Book. His wisdom is piecemeal and therefore contradictory. In his own words: Sorry not possible. And no amount of psychological nonsense will make them compatible.
Jackson, I have not seen that video, but I agree entirely with your take. It is not enough to have loyalty to the Book. We also have to read it.
On Leaving a Church
I know you can’t give me very detailed and specific advice because you don’t know my exact situation. So I’ll try to ask this question in a general way. When is it acceptable to leave a church? I’m a new Christian coming from a very messy background of church-going and false conversion. My parents stuck with the church I grew up in for 10 years despite so many problems and so much pain. They eventually did leave, but they first set an example for hanging in there out of a desire to do the right thing and out of loyalty to their church. I know now more than ever the importance of being faithful to your local church and don’t want to take leaving one lightly. I’ve toughed it out for the last eight months through things that made my flesh just want to throw in the towel. I’ve had to put aside a lot of expectations and preferences and had to do lots and lots of asking for God’s forgiveness for pride and anger and bitterness towards my leaders as they did things I didn’t agree with. However, things just keep piling on each other. Little things here and there, finally being compounded by really big things. And now I can’t escape the question. Is it time to leave? What are the principles for leaving a church and doing so in good conscience? How do I stop worrying that I’m just being arrogant and putting my expectations for how a church should run down as law?
Any advice is appreciated.
CC, it really depends on what issues are upsetting you. If it is the color of the carpet they decided to put in the fellowship hall, then you need to grow up. But if is because they are getting woker by the minute, then it is time to go. But if you transfer your membership to another church without rancor or bitterness, then you are not guilty of schism.
Just a Glance
First off, I thank God greatly for your ministry. I have received much sanctifying grace through your books, articles, and sermons throughout my new life. Being a high-testosterone, 18 year old man, one topic that I have particularly benefited from (and one that you talk about frequently) is the topic of sex, dating, relationships, and so on. I’ve heard you address a wide array sub-topics in this category but I recently came upon an interesting article that I believe has some wisdom and would be fruitful to discuss. Have you heard of Mary Harrington’s “The Three Laws of Pornodynamics”? I would love to hear your spirit-guided opinion on it.
Timothy, I only have had time to glance at it, but I believe you are right. It looks like there is some wisdom there.
My husband and I have come to believe in infant baptism. We attend a church that I believe is very sound, but unfortunately we disagree greatly on the subject. Not only does our pastor disagree with infant baptism he doesn’t agree with baptizing a child whatsoever the age. Our nine-year-old son has pulled him aside on several occasions (without prompting from us) to ask if he can be baptized. our pastor just asked him a few questions and says he will talk to us. Last time we talked to him he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and said “well he’s got all the right answers . . .“ But he thinks we need to “kick the ball down the road . . .“ I was so upset. Anyway we live in a small town in South Dakota—we don’t have many options out here for sound churches. What are your thoughts on a father baptizing his children? If you’re not in favor, do you baptize saints that are not members of your church ? We might need to make a trip to Idaho! And also, we have six children ages 11 to 7 months. Do we now wait for the older children to be professing faith before baptizing? Thank you so much for all of your videos and posts. We have learned so much from you and your family.
Dora, I am sorry. This sounds like a bad jam. I would be against a father baptizing his children unless it were in the context of planting a church. And as soon as they are baptized, the question of communion comes up—would your church serve communion to your kids if you baptized them, or had them baptized at another church. It doesn’t sound like it.
The Withdrawing Problem
Having been an elder of a church for 10 years or so now my experience leads me to agree with you what you said once about being a pastor: It’s watching people make bad decisions for a living. A lot of those bad decisions are common to certain people at certain times in their life, and its become easier to spot them early on. One such bad decision that is common for women is to express the frustration that all the other people in the church don’t pursue them enough (which usually isn’t the case), and then their resulting behavior is for them to withdraw from community as much as possible. This only exacerbates their problem further as one might imagine. Have you dealt with the same issue? If so how have you handled it to good effect? Follow up question: Have you become more direct in confronting sin as you grow older? It seems to me that once you deal with the same situation over and over again your patience wears thin for tolerating it.
Timothy, I believe that I have become a little more direct in addressing particular sins in the pulpit, and probably more cautious in personal counseling. And when someone tries to back out of the church, two things. First, pursue them or have folks pursue them. And second, create a climate in the church through preaching that discourages this kind of narcissism.
The Real Artists Went Off Grid
“A walk through our art galleries reveals our cultural bankruptcy as few other activities can.” Only of our elites. There are fantastic artists in our society making fantastic art. None of it our elites deem worthy to be included in their museums and galleries. And none of those artists want their art displayed there anyway.
Ian, quite a proper response.
Brace for Impact
I am currently AD military and have a commissioned officer in my unit that is very obviously a man but claims to be a woman. This individual also wants to be addressed as woman.
As a Christian who aspires to live in line with Biblical principals, I cannot address this individual as anything else than a man.
As a pastor and theologian, I am curious to how you would handle this situation?
Virgil, I would be praying for strength, and waiting for when the moment comes. I would also be shopping for lawyers.
Always appreciate what you write and the great help you provide in engaging the culture in which we live.
I am writing to see if there is some further qualification you would like to add to your Book of The Month from June 2021, Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund. You had written that “The downside is that, as a result, there are a handful of places where the rhetoric comes off as maudlin or mawkish. But that is an occasional rhetorical misstep—the theology is tight, and Ortlund’s doctrine of the wrath of God is as hard as nails. “
I had collected some quotes from this book where an on the face reading, it is not merely maudlin or mawkish, but quotes that state things that are not true. A God with “something” that “recoils within him” or who is “conflicted within himself” seems further awry than rhetoric that is off in tone. Some examples follow:
“Something recoils within him in sending that affliction. . . . He is—if I can put it this way without questioning his divine perfections—conflicted within himself when he sends affliction into our lives. . . . But his deepest heart is their merciful restoration” (p. 138).
“Mercy is natural to him. Punishment is unnatural” (p. 140).
“We are given a rare glimpse into the very center of who God is, and we see and feel the deeply affectional convulsing within the very being of God. His heart is inflamed with pity and compassion for his people” (p. 73).
“If the actions of Jesus are reflective of who he most deeply is, we cannot avoid the conclusion that it is the very fallenness which he came to undo that is most irresistibly attractive to him” (p. 30).
“It is not our loveliness that wins his love. It is our unloveliness” (p. 75).
“The minimum bar to be enfolded into the embrace of Jesus is simply: open yourself up to him. It is all he needs” (p. 20).
“If Jesus hosted his own personal website, the most prominent line of the ‘About Me’ dropdown would read: GENTLE AND LOWLY IN HEART” (p. 21).
“the one place in the Bible where the Son of God pulls back the veil and lets us peer way down into the core of who he is” (p. 18).
“What helium does to a balloon, Jesus’s yoke does to his followers. We are buoyed along in life by his endless gentleness and supremely accessible lowliness. …his tender embrace …is his very heart. It is what gets him out bed in the morning.”
Is this more than something “excessively and objectionably sentimental” or “emotionally silly”? Do these quotes set forth false propositions of the revelation of God concerning himself? Should one read with discernment for the good of the rest and just beware of excessive sentimentality because the theology is tight. Or do you think at least some of time a line is crossed and statements are made contrary to God’s character as found in Scripture and these must be rejected. Because of the popularity of the book and a study I have been teaching from the confession, I have your review, from last June, called to my mind from time to time. Have you thought upon this book, yourself, since last June
Scott, I hadn’t thought about that book much, but I have thought about this issue. Expressions like “that’s what gets him out of bed in the morning” are over the line. Just bad. But I want to be careful. While I agree with you that God’s internal emotional weather is not tempestuous, and that Ortlund’s descriptions are sometimes inconsistent with God’s immutability, we must always remember that Scripture frequently does the same thing. For example, is the Spirit actually “grieved”? The difference is that when Scripture does it, it is not mawkish and sentimental, and the poetry is better. But Scripture does permit anthropomorphism. So I reconcile the statements that Ortlund makes that are technically incorrect the same way I do when Scripture does it—with Scripture, we know the theology is tight. With Ortlund, I believe that it is, based on the Puritans he was channeling.
A Holy Impatience
I am a 23-year-old guy, working a job that will Lord willing move full-time soon enough. How much money should I have stashed away before I approach the parents of my girlfriend whom I’m in love with about marriage?
If I could I’d get on the next flight out to them, but what say you?
Anthony, if you are a self-starter, and a hard worker, then I would save a thousand dollars, and then enough money for that plane flight, and then I would approach her parents. The amount of money you need is whatever they say.
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