Letters Waft Gently Down, Like Autumn Leaves

The Gear of a Warrior

With reference to your post entitled “So the Answer is ‘No’”

I don’t have a particular argument to make with regard to women in the military, and I am not a Hebrew scholar, but this claim does not appear to hold up exegetically, if you view the link. “Geber” is translated just plain “man” virtually everywhere it appears, and the contexts do not seem to indicate exclusively or even predominantly a military milieu.

Thanks for your time

Katharine

Katherine, the argument is not from geber alone, but from the phrase keli geber—the gear of a man, that which pertains to a man, or the weapons or tools of a man.

Who Must Be Baptized?

Could you prove the proposition that “All saints must be baptized” from Scripture? That seems to be the reasoning that you are hanging on to assert paedobaptism from 1 Cor. 7:14. Thanks,

Luke

Luke, sure. In Mark, Jesus says to preach the gospel to every creature, and those who believe and are baptized will be saved (Mark 16:15-16). If you are dubious about the last twelve verses of Mark, Jesus tells His disciples to disciple the nations, and how? It begins by baptizing them (Matt. 28:19-20).

Fighting for Our Rights?

In the NT, it is fairly clear that the church did not fight for its rights or its safety or its possessions or its freedom—despite having more provocation than we do. And the apostles did not tell them to fight. So why do we moderns not follow the example of the early church? I read through many defenses of standing up to tyranny but it never sat well with me that it is the opposite of what the early church did. How do you square the circle?

Wane

Wane, I don’t think it is squaring the circle at all. You are right that their provocations were greater, and it is also true that we have far more rights that have been historically granted and recognized. But here is the principle. What rights they did have, they were not hesitant to use—take Paul’s Roman citizenship. He used that with the centurion who was about to have him flogged (Acts 22:25), he used it with the officials of Philippi (Acts 16:37), and he used it to appeal to Caesar (Acts 25:11).

Christian Nationalism . . . Akkk!

On Christian Nationalism:

Yes, Judaism and Christianity make transcendental claims, and it is true that this makes the two religions co-belligerents at best when confronting a State that wants ultimate authority. Interestingly, Islam is also in this camp. More interesting is that the State has decided, for the time being, to sit up and pay attention to the transcendental claims being made by the Muslims while continuing to give lip service to the Jews and relegating Christians (sometimes literally) to dark, forgotten corners of the dungeon. I wonder if this is a natural flow of assimilation leading to control, tactics employed by the State to give a place at the table for the enemy religion, a deal which is later altered in the State’s favor, and which then becomes repression and, finally, a complete ban. Christianity came first for America, and so it has moved the farthest along this natural series of controls; Judaism came later and is not quite as deep into the repression; Islam is a relative newcomer and so finds itself happily enjoying a bagel from the center dish on the conference room table of the State’s control room. Just wait, we say, things will get much worse for you.

Or . . . it could be—I suspect this is closer to the truth—the State is foremost an enemy of God, since it wants to be god itself. And so it stands in opposition proportional to the amount of Truth being propagated by each of these transcendent religions. Islam is a total corruption of Truth, believing in the wrong god, and so the State is happy to give them a wide berth. Judaism is half-corrupt, believing in the right God wrongly, and so the State gives them a narrow berth. Christianity, however, has the Truth, believing in the right God rightly, and so the State gives them no berth at all.

Just theories, random ruminations about the obvious disparate treatment shown Muslim, Jew, and Christian. Maybe it has to do with our relative willingness (or lack thereof) to use lethal force. Muslims commit jihad, Jews fight back, Christians lie down. Makes it easy for the State to figure out where the “easy wins” are.

Andy

Andy, thanks.

In “Learning in War-Time,” C.S. Lewis differentiates between a duty worth dying for e.g. duty to a party/ nation/ class, and a duty worth living for—which solely belongs to Christ.

Lewis also warns against being the person who devotes himself to lifesaving “in the sense of giving it his total attention—so that he thought and spoke of nothing else and demanded the cessation of all other human activities until everyone had learned to swim—he would be a monomaniac.”

For Christians fighting in the culture wars, what are signs that someone has (unfortunately) allowed the fight to “get to him”? Can we fight the culture wars in a way that makes us a monomaniac? And how have you tried to avoid that personally (if you can share)

Thanks!

Shawn

Shawn, that’s a great question. And I believe that the answer would be a settled demeanor of anger and bitterness.

Pastor, one thing to consider in this discussion is the nature of the prevailing ideology. What we often read as incompetence can easily be explained by ideology. Our elites are overwhelmingly Marxist, whether by name or by instinct, and Conflict Theory is the heartbeat of that worldview. When the oppressed masses do not revolt as the elites wish (or worse, vote for Trump), then the revolution must be provoked in order to bring about the utopia from the ashes.

BJ

BJ, yes, I grant what you are saying. But when an ideology has failed as many times as Marxism has, at some point holding to it becomes a matter of competence.

The Sovereignty of God

I watched with my wife the Sovereignty of God as part of the series Reformed Basics . Our question is about the God divide (eternal and temporal) and how can one reconcile God’s omniprescence in relation to it. I thought the explanation in the video answered my wife’s question (a minister had used the puppet analogy). After the video she said, “Well, if there is a God divide then how does He interact (since He is not in the system). We are older but new to the deeper understanding. Thanks and by the way came to one of your conferences in Moscow in the mid 90’s-00’s Thanks

Tony

Tony, the infinite chasm between Creator and creation is one that only the infinite can cross. Frankly, we can’t answer the how questions—we can’t do the math. We can only point to the content of what Scripture teaches. We maintain that God interacts with His action, because Scripture does. But we can’t say how.

Dawson and Darla

I’ve been walking with God for a little over a year and in that time I had been referred to your post entitled “On Guarding Your Heart.” Although I found what you said to be insightful, it was recommended to me AFTER the fact I wandered into the zone of vulnerability. He was my only guy friend and I mistook his kindness to mean something more. Admittedly, I took a foolish approach in clinging to him until it was evident a friendship between us could not be possible. The question to be asked is, now that I’m in the zone of vulnerability, what steps do I take to get out of it? Many thanks if you get to this!

Jane Doe

Jane Doe, getting into the zone of vulnerability means that you have become “wound-able.” In your circumstance, it appears that the wound has already been inflicted. The best thing to do is to learn from the experience, and to make sure you keep the wound clean and dressed so that it can heal. Which it will.

Related to Love, Honor, and Obey.

(And the rest of the Dear Dawson Letters)

I’m a 23 year old man in Northern Virginia. I’m caught in a mire of confusion and I don’t know where to go. In January of 2022, I started dating a girl from my church. She was smart, and kind, and funny, but most of all she loved the Lord with all her heart. Godly wisdom poured forth from her like a clear mountain stream. We’d talk often and for hours on end about important topics like children and the future, and then for hours on nothing important at all. I genuinely believe I was falling in love with her, and it was wanting to know how to be a good husband that brought me here. We never so much as held hands, yet I still cared more for her than anyone I’d ever met. Her smile when she saw me lit up the room. I felt like Adam in the Garden when Eve was brought to him, that here finally! was someone just like her. She wasn’t perfect: she had trouble extending patience and grace to people at times, she could be overly black and white, but I really did care deeply for her.

Then in March, she dumped me via phone call. I never learned what changed for her, and she more or less refused to speak to me about it. She cut me out of her life with a scalpel, never talking to me except to say that she couldn’t be my friend, that she wasn’t the right person for me and never would be, that God was leading her to break up with me. Losing a friend, more than a friend, like that . . . it broke me for a while. I had to leave that church just to escape that pain.

Its now September. I’ve been on a handful of dates again with another girl, but I don’t feel exactly the same way as I did before. She’s nice and I think she loves God, and I think she wants a traditional marriage like I do, but our conversations lack the depth between me and my ex. Things don’t flow with ease like they did back then. She doesn’t seem to enjoy talking about theology, and the world, and movie themes, she doesn’t verbally spar with me like my ex did. My conversations with her simply lack depth.

I don’t know what I should feel, Doug. If my ex was a fluke and I need to stop looking back on a relationship that’s dead and gone, or if that’s what love is actually supposed to look like, and I need to not settle until I’ve found that again. I don’t know how to pursue the right path because I’m not sure what the right path is in this case. If I pursue someone with whom I’m not sure I will never be truly happy, never as happy as with my ex, does that make me a horrible person? Or should I abandon those dreams as folly and seek to try and build a relationship with someone who is good, but with whom I don’t necessarily fit with like a glove? Help me Doug Wilson, you’re my only hope.

Kyle

Kyle, I am a long way away, and so there are many aspects of this that I don’t think I should comment on. But I do think I can say one thing. Your relationship with your old girl friend, for whatever reasons, was not at all what you thought it was. And the chances are pretty good that it still was not what you continue to think it was. That being the case, I would not attempt to use it as a measuring rod for anything else.

Thank you for your ministry and your continued commitment to preaching the Word of God. The work that you and your staff do has been such a blessing to me and I am sure countless others. Yours is a voice of wisdom in a season steeped in foolishness.

I’ve seen you recommend in past posts and videos that one should write their father a “respect” letter. I think that’s a fantastic suggestion and I really want to write my dad, but I honestly have no clue where to begin. I’m 31, a father myself, with a Dad who in most respects is just a fantastic example of godliness in fatherhood. I have plenty to say, but I’m really not sure how to say it. Any practical advice you have would be very much appreciated.

Blessings (Num. 6:24-26),

Josh

Josh, I would sit down first, and make a list of things you admire about him. Just put down the bullet points. When you have your list, put it into prose. Put it into a letter. The reluctance you may feel is because it seems emotionally awkward. But write the letter, and then decide whether to send it.

Hello! I was wondering if there was a blog already written about taking your husband’s last name when you get married. If not, is there anywhere you could point me to? I am writing a paper about how keeping you last name when you get married (if you are a woman) is wrong. I’d love to hear Pastor Wilson’s thoughts.

Eleanor

Eleanor, I think (but am not sure) that I wrote about this in Federal Husband. The basic argument would have two points. The first is that God calls the first couple by the man’s name: “This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created” (Genesis 5:1–2). And the second is a practical point. What big advance for feminism is won when a woman refuses her husband’s last name, and keeps her father’s?

A Death Row Conversion?

I have a weird, completely off-topic question. I recently saw this quote on capital punishment, which I agree with: “When a man sheds innocent blood, he forfeits his life.”

What should happen in the case that a murderer is tried, convicted, sentenced to death, and in the interim before his execution repents and is brought to saving faith? I’m not talking about the one-each stories that every inmate claims, but I’m talking a true conversion. Should the death penalty still stand, and if so, how does the new convert deal with that?

My gut instinct says that the death penalty still stands, and that the true convert *should* accept that and commit his well-being to God with the assurance that if his faith is true saving faith, then the moment his sentence is carried out, he will be in the presence of his savior and welcomed with open arms.

But, the other part of me wants him to be shown mercy even in this life, even though that is not deserved . . .

I am also taking into account the unbiblical delays our system has in failing to carry out just sentences speedily. So, let’s say for sake of scenario that this is a multi-year death-row inmate.

GH

GH, I believe that the sentence should still be carried out. And I also believe that one of the marks of the conversion being genuine would be the fact that the condemned prisoner accepted the justice of it. As Paul said, if he had done anything deserving of death, he did not refuse to die (Acts 25:11).

Battle for the American MInd

I greatly appreciated your review in “The American Conservative” magazine about Pete Hegseth & David Goodwin’s book, “Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation.” I’ll make sure to pick up a copy to support the good work.

As an expectant father taking in all this content about how to educate your children, I’m wondering what the acceptable borders are in Christian education. Is it wrong for the wife to homeschool your children K-12? (I think it creates some unnecessary gaps for sure.) If you attend a small, but theologically-rigorous, Reformed church that does not yet have a co-op or school, is it a failure to send your kids to a “nondenominational” (ugh) Christian school? And if your church lacks the resources (financial and otherwise) necessary to launch some educational endeavor, what can the average church member do to move the ball forward for the coming years?

Many thanks, and I hope your words appearing in “The American Conservative” didn’t give Mr. Dreher heartburn.

-An American Conservative

AAC, I am afraid that my answer is that you do whatever you can. It is not wrong to set the ultimate goal, and then do what you can to get there. So, no. It is not wrong to home school. It is not wrong to use a generic Christian school.

Apologies That Lie

My question concerns your post “Apologies That Lie” from several months ago. You used an example of a silly quarrel that begins “over a trifle, over something that he did or did not do that really should not have been a problem,” namely “an encounter in which she thinks you were thoughtless, or insensitive, or too abrupt, or something in that neighborhood, and you do not believe so, and you work it through with her . . .”

Perhaps in part due to two pregnancies recently, and the physical weakness, heightened hormones, and particular emotional sensitivity that accompanies this . . . I find that many of our conflicts stem from silly things which turn into bigger problems. By God’s grace I have a very repentant and forgiving wife and our conflicts are generally short-lived. You really helped clarify and spur me towards patience in how you described the husband needing to work through the problem without getting angry and sinning. Historically, my failure has been: lack of listening (being slow to listen, quick to speak), lack of compassion (not seeking to live with her in an understanding way as the weaker vessel in that moment), and becoming defensive.

My remaining question is two-fold: Firstly, what recommendations do you have for the wife in instances like this, before she brings up something that hurt her? I imagine that asking questions instead of jumping to conclusions is one best practice, but hard to do. Secondly, what further recommendations do you have for the husband? I confess my last ‘sin’ listed above, that of being defensive, is somewhat unclear in my mind. When someone brings up something that was hurtful to them, if it was not a clear sin on the offender’s part, it seems natural and right for them to be defensive . . . while ensuring they are listening, compassionate, and patient. On the other hand, I know the blindness I often have to my own sin, and there is always something I could have done better, more quickly, more proactively, more compassionately when thinking of and dealing with my wife. This sin of omission, even minor omissions, seems to have no end in our fallen state, so I am still struggling with how to not apologize in cases like this.

Tying this last sentence into another of your blog posts, “What Women Want and What They Say They Want” brings me to another question, whether between a couple dating, or between a married couple. If the man is to lead and stick to his guns in the example you used of his already having made reservations at one restaurant and when they pull up the girl says she wants to go somewhere else… . . . What happens when the man respectfully and kindly says “no” and the girl perhaps grumbles that he is not applying Philippians 2 “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself”?

Thank you in advance for any spiritual and practical counsel you can provide.

Jason

Jason, I will start with your last question first. His (cheerful) response should be that he is putting the interests of others first. He is not putting the other’s restaurant first, but he is putting the other person’s interests first. There is no way she would want to be married to a squish.

With regard to your first question, when I use the word defensive, I am referring to something prickly or brittle. In other words, defensiveness is not a very good defense. If your behavior was just fine, an outstanding way to communicate to your wife that it was not fine would be through a defensive demeanor. But if you hear her out, repeat her concern back to her so that she knows she was heard, and promise her that you will pray about it, that kind of confidence will create in her mind the possibility that you were not in the wrong. And it might even be true.

The Boundaries of Lust

From my studies of the Greek word, porneia, it seems to only refer to physical sexual activity involving actual people. But I feel like many preachers that talk about this word also apply it to lust. While it does seem like a broad word for many different kinds of sexual activity, it seems to be limited to physical, “real” kinds of sexual activity, rather than the kind that happens in the heart and mind. What are your thoughts on this? So if we apply this to 1 Cor 7:2, Paul is not saying marriage will be effective against lusting after your neighbor’s wife, per se. He is, rather, saying that it will help keep you away from your neighbor’s wife, in reality. Marriage is not an antidote to lust, it is an antidote to fornication.

If applied to the criteria Christ gives for divorce then, lust would not be a proper reason for divorce, no matter how long the lust has been occurring or the severity of it (assuming it was in the mind). Fornication with another individual is where it crosses the line.

Anon

Anon, I do agree that mere lust is not grounds for divorce, unless it gets to severe levels (e.g. a major child porn collection), but I don’t think you can so easily distinguish the spark from the forest fire. One of the obvious ways to keep you from actual fornication is by keeping you from the incitements to it.

Reason and Wokeness

I was reading Owen Strachan’s book “Christianity and Wokeness” and in that he shows how the entire Critical Theory project has thrown reason under the bus. Now, as Reformed Christians, we tend to appeal to people’s reason, but given the autopsy of the fallen human soul by Paul in Eph 4:1 7 (“their understanding darkened”) and the jettisoning of reason by the Woke, how are we going to convince them with arguments and debates? Arguments and debates are useful to convince the fence-sitters in the church, but is it time to answer the fools according to their folly here and just refuse to give in to them?

How would one go about this with, say, an angry leftist in a university screaming into my face? The funny thing is I am from India but I am just a step above a “white” dude in the intersectional hierarchy because of my faith and hetero-normative, cis-gendered status so that itself tells you the definitive issue that bothers the left is Christianity. (yes, I had to sit through those Maoist struggle sessions, and it saddened me no end to see such a great institution as Hopkins falling for this. There must have been an earthquake wherever Sir William Osler was buried due to him spinning with a very high RPM in his grave).

If you were to revisit your famous lecture at Indiana University where you patiently answered all the questions, would you change your approach today?

Shalom

Shalom, I believe that we must address the shift that is happening, but I think we should do it through preaching and declaration. Apologetics can follow after.

Atheism and the Lord’s Work

“I like it when atheists like Lindsay do the Lord’s work.” One of the remarkable things the last few years has been seeing people one would other think of as political or ideological opponents join up because they’ve realized there are some lines regarding truth or reality or freedom they won’t cross. Unfortunately, that has come at the cost of seeing many one would think are allies fall away because they lack the intestinal fortitude or perhaps awareness to see when culture tries to push them across those lines.

Ian

Ian, yes. Odd times.

Yet Another Coincidence

Plodcast: Little Book of Coincidence Here’s a coincidence, I received the Little Book of Coincidence in the mail the day before your Plodcast dropped with your review of it. Who recommended the book to you?

Eric

Eric, fun. I actually saw it in a bookstore, and picked it up there.

Military Service?

As a young man in his 20’s I have been truly blessed by your ministry in the past year and a half or so. I can’t remember the title of the post but it was earlier this year and in it, you said that you probably wouldn’t encourage any good Christian to go in to the military currently (paraphrasing). I am about to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute in December (a place with plenty of it’s own woke issues having arisen since 2020) and it has been my dream and goal to serve as a Navy SEAL since I was a teenager. Now though, I have a few conflicting convictions about the state of our government and society due to my faith. I also have a probable bride and hope for a family in the future so I am considering the impact this decision will have on them too.

I consume a large amount of your content as well as that of other reformed patriarchal believers and see that the battle is definitely here at home all though I do look at the military as an institution that is not going away and therefore still needs good men willing to serve and lead. I realize that at the very least, I would have to look myself in the mirror every morning and be willing to lose my job that day if I did still go that route.

This has been my focus for so long that I’m currently not sure what I would do for a career otherwise. Ultimately, I am trying to count the cost and I’m not sure it’s worth the cause currently. Do you think this can still be a noble endeavor? I am praying constantly. Thank you.

Weston

Weston, yes, it can still be a noble endeavor. But you really would have to be willing, every morning, to wreck your career that day. Because the military is a command and control organization, if they go woke, they can do it more savagely. So, I don’t recommend it, but am grateful for those in the military who are still standing tall.

Baptismal Cooperation

Cletus’ inquiry on this subject in the last batch of letters recalled to my mind the following observation. The cooperation seems to work fairly well when the position of the church leadership is Presbyterian, but can run into snags when the church leadership is Baptist. Would a Baptist pastor and/or elders encourage the congregation to attend and celebrate an infant baptism? Would they attend or participate themselves?

I know from personal experience that the answer to those questions can certainly be “no.” So a Presbyterian family in such a cooperative context is faced with a “farmed out” baptism of their children without the benefit of their own local body being witness or vocally covenanting with the family in that sacrament. I wonder if there are CREC churches lead by Baptists that have bridged what I can certainly understand is a conundrum of conscience on a Baptist elder’s part. Do those Baptist elders perform infant baptisms?

Jon

Jon, no. The cooperation would not extend to requiring ministers to violate their own conscience. Baptist pastors should not conduct infant baptisms, and paedobaptist ministers should not baptize someone again, if they were baptized in infancy. But if someone in that spot came to me, I would arrange for that baptism, conducted by someone who could in good conscience perform it. And I have a Baptist friend who would not perform and infant baptism, but he was willing to stand by and hold the font. That said, I believe that this sort of accommodation is easier for Presbyterians than it is for Baptists. But both can do it.

Don’t Take the Bait

Reading your latest post about not taking the bait provoked a few questions. There is no doubt in my mind that our overlords would like nothing more than us plebs to rise up and blow something or other to pieces in order to justify their next move. I think we on this side all see and agree with that.

My inquiry is about the traditional and historical responses to these kind of abuses by tyrants.

We live in a culture mortified by shame and have forgotten that shame can be applied “upward”as well.

Aside from giving vent to public and private frustrations, things like tarring and feathering, stockades and pelting with rotten vegetables served as a relief valve for the population and kept the public officials in check.

If this were to happen (not encouraging it, btw) but IF, would that be “taking the bait”?

Asking for a friend.

Just Curious

JC, it is not taking the bait if you succeed. But in order to succeed, you must have the resources to succeed. And their intention is to get us to react to them before we have the resources.

The post Letters Waft Gently Down, Like Autumn Leaves appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

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