Mid November Letters, With a Chance of Rain

Some Additional Kibbitzing

What with the recent Dave Chappelle bit on SNL, you sure picked the wrong week to mock people who’ve (((noticed))). Like the man said: ‘When it’s blacks, it’s a gang; when it’s Italians, it’s a mob; when it’s Jews, it’s a coincidence and you should neeeeeever speak about it.’ Missing the laughter, you add, ‘…and you’re just envious.’ It’s shameful for you to keep and cherish this ridiculous cultural blind spot. Your position on (((noticing))) isn’t just untenable, it’s now a punchline.

Buford

Hey, Buford. I have more than a little suspicion that you have not read all the things I have written on this subject over the years. You refer to my position as though you understand what it is, but you clearly don’t. I am capable of noticing quite a few of the same things that (((( parenthesis-mongers))))) do—it is just that I don’t then render (((universal))) by induction. Thus, I think that wicked Jews are wicked, and that what they do is not a coincidence. But I also think that Jews who aren’t destructive to society aren’t destructive, just like law-abiding blacks and Italians. And I don’t think Woodrow Wilson was such a disaster for America because he was an Anglo.

“I think we also need to recognize that it was the progressive left that created and continues to sustain this abysmal situation.” Um, no. The progressive left did not give us slavery and Jim Crow. Those are national sins, for which God will continue to visit the iniquity of the fathers unto the third and fourth generation, until there is national repentance. We can discuss what that repentance should look like, but until there has been national repentance, the consequences of those sins aren’t going away.

And every word you write on the subject simply underscores that you aren’t repentant. You fault those who point out continuing injustice, and ridicule them as woke, rather than deal with continuing injustice. You slander critical race theory by calling it Marxist, which indicates only that you understand neither Marxism nor CRT. None of that indicates repentance. So continue to expect the judgment of God.

Kathleen

Kathleen, it would seem from your comments that are maintaining that the Frankfurt school wasn’t Marxist. What was it then? I could make Buford happy by calling it Jewish, but what would you call it?

I wanted to write about some concerns I have with Andrew Torba. I’ve read his book on Christian Nationalism, which was excellent, and has your endorsement, but I keep noticing some alarming comments both from his Gab account and his Twitter accounts that seem anti-Semitic. I’ve linked a few examples below (language warning on the last one). I know his handling of ethnicity in his book is orthodox, but I worried that he may not be exactly who he says he is. Are you aware of these accusations again him and do you have any thoughts? Here, here, and here

Sam

Sam, there are certainly some worrisome things there. I highlighted one of them in my post yesterday. I don’t believe he is being disingenuous in what he affirms, but I believe that at a minimum he is reading the battlefield in an extraordinarily foolish way.

Ward and Lewis

I’m preparing to teach a Sunday school class in 2023, on C.S.Lewis. I will find opportunities, I’m sure, to refer to your book on him, A Light From Behind the Sun. There’s no index, and I’ve not completed it yet, so I don’t know if it shows a familiarity you might have with Michael Ward, who wrote two works on his theory about Lewis’s secret connective framework that he worked into the Chronicles of Narnia (If memory serves, they were The Narnia Code and Planet Narnia).

Are you familiar with his thesis? (That each of the seven books were filled with allusions to a planet of the pre-Copernican universe.) If you are, what do you think of it? Also, what does it say about Lewis that he took this secret to his grave, when it could have shut up Tolkien who found the Narnia books a total mishmash?

Steve

Steve, yes. We have had Michael Ward here to speak several times, and his Planet Narnia is one of the best books I have ever read. Easily in the top ten.

Lawsuits Before Unbelievers

Your recent Plodcast (The Foundation of Human Rights) brought to mind a question that I have had for a while. I Corinthians 6:5-6 said it was shameful for them to bring lawsuits before unbelievers. But Romans 13:4 says that the government is “God’s servant for your good” (ESV). Where is the shame in bringing a lawsuit before “God’s servant”? Is the government that Paul was speaking of a more Godly government that would hopefully appear in the future, but did not exist in Paul’s time (“…let’s just say England in 1590”)? Do governments like this wax and wane in faithfulness, and it is up to the church to judge? So Christians bringing a lawsuit in 1590 England would be acting faithfully, but bringing a lawsuit in 2022 England would be acting shamefully? I have never quite understood how “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1) and you can have a government that is run by Stalin or Mao Zedong. Please do not thinking I am judging the Word, but this has been something that I have desired to understand faithfully—especially in this day and age. BTW: I have read Slaying Leviathan and Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos, and I apologize that the answer to this question is still not clear to me.

Thank you again,

David

David, Paul does not say that Christians cannot bring a civil suit against a fellow believer. Nor does he say that we shouldn’t submit to the determinations of such a court if such a decision were to be applied to us against our will. He says that when there is a dispute between two Christians (who have the Word of God), it is shameful for either of them to go before an unbelieving civil magistrate and ask him to tell them what justice is. Just humiliating.

Forgiveness and Politics

Can you speak to the topic of forgiveness in politics? I certainly believe in forgiving individuals, especially if they are repentant, for bad policies that they were behind. But I also think there should be no forgiveness or forgetfulness of bad policies and the political movements that pushed them. Using the obvious extreme examples, I don’t think I would ever forgive Nazi or Communist parties and movements for their atrocities had I lived through them, and I see no reason to dampen my fury or desire for justice for so much of the last several years. But I’m having trouble teasing out the biblical principles and nuances on this issue.

Ian

Ian, sure. Forgiveness of this sort is a transaction, and you cannot conduct a transaction with only one party participating. The party concerned still stands for doing the same things again given the opportunity. You cannot forgive an evil party for their genocide, when they are still in the middle of their genocide.

Pastor Wilson,

I was talking to a woman at work who attended a Catholic middle school and received frequent knuckle rappings for not having the skirt below the knee. The reason she was given is that we “don’t want to make the boys stumble.” She is now a staunch, frumpy lesbian wearing a preponderance of plaid. She recounted that story to me like there was something that died in her at the time. To her, it seemed like beauty was nothing but treachery; something to be hid. Like an aesthetic HIV, she had to spend a lifetime cautious of accidental transmission.

There is obviously legitimacy to the idea of the types of clothes women wear promoting the type of guy they are wanting to attract. As untoward some may think the word “hoochie mama” may be, it is a word for a reason, and that reason has much to do with surface area of bare skin in square inches. But I also think there is another level.

As a father of an 11-year-old girl who LOVES fashion, I have had opportunities to talk about clothes choice, make-up, nails, etc many times a week. She is obedient, happy, and trusts me even when I can tell she may not be thrilled about my decisions.

One thing I constantly massage into my daughter’s mind, mostly because she is too young for me to go into the whole object of sexual attraction thing, is that Modesty is also meant to protect Beauty. Femininity is part of God’s image and seems to have as its key characteristic Beauty. On planet Earth, the shape Femininity takes is the female form. It was given to her to enjoy and reflect the clearest image of God’s beauty, so that it flows back to him and isn’t hoarded by stuffing it into hemispherical lycra.

As a man, the Image takes a different form, and I was not given this gift in the same way, and so cannot protect it in the same way. I am like Sam to Frodo: I cannot carry the ring, but I can carry her. I do not have as immediate a connection to Beauty as she does, but I can protect her while she is protecting it. So my role as a father is both to help protect her from men by using modest dress, but also protect the Image of God from being mismanaged by her by principles of Modesty.

The image we were made in is meant to be as unmuddled and ungreasy as we can make it, so that the world can see the Lord’s strength and Beauty through how we use these gifts. It leads others to see the immaculate and sublime God through her physical beauty and the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, instead of the beauty terminating on her midriff.

Tim

Tim, nothing to say except for amen.

Elder Qualifications

I am a member of a faithful, elder-led church. It is clear that God is at work here and that our elders seek to glorify God. Some of our elders have adult children who do not profess Christ or are living in ways that give sufficient evidence that even their father (our elder) does not believe them to be saved. My reading of the requirements for elders would require me to step down as elder if I were in their position, yet they do not and there seems to be no appetite for this to be suggested by the congregation. When it is brought up, the pastor and elders seem to feel that the passages requiring believing children only apply to young children living in the father’s household. Any help clarifying the situation and suggestions on how I ought to proceed would be appreciated.

Your brother in Christ,

Anonymous

Anonymous, I agree with your general take. The problem is that when the children are young, the excuse is that they are too young to determine anything, and the upbringing is not over yet. And then, when they are grown and gone, and the upbringing is completed, the excuse is that they are out of the house, and no longer under their father’s authority. For more on this, check out my book The Neglected Qualification.

A True Crime Question

I am not sure if you’ve noticed our culture’s growing fascination with true crime (especially young adult women). In light of this, how should a Christian go about engaging with this genre of…entertainment (for lack of a better term)? I am eager to hear your thoughts.

Christian

Christian, depending on how graphic or lurid the storytelling is, it could be seeking to satisfy a morbid sort of lust. At the same time, it is lawful in principle, depending on how it is done.

Men and Beards

Hi Pastor Doug, just regarding men & beards, what to do in a situation where the husband enjoys having a beard & the wife really prefers him clean shaven? Should the husband shave for the sake of his wife or should she rather try to get over the beard issue?

George

George, like so many other issues in this category. I remember in the Navy we used to have the question, “Are you growing a beard or are you not shaving?” Some men, when they are not shaving, are still not growing a beard. If your beard is a scraggly thing, then you should listen to your wife. She is the one who has to look at it. But suppose it is a good beard. If your wife is a wise woman, and does not want her husband posting photos of his beard on Instagram so that all the other guys can say whoa about how epic it is, again, listen to your wife. Too many Christian women change their profile pic so that all the friends can comment on how hot she is, and that is a small indicator of how flattery and narcissism are creeping into the church. And because there is a small industry of guys starting to do the same kind of thing, so that would be bad. But if your wife is simply put off by the masculine nature of a beard, then you need to (patiently) work with her through that, and with a beard at the end of it.

Christ and Divorce

In your answer to a question you said: “Moses granted divorce because of man’s hardness of heart, and Jesus approved of Moses doing so.” What in the text ( that one or another) brings you to the conclusion that Jesus “approved” of Moses doing this?

BJ

BJ, the allowance that Moses made for divorce was a scriptural allowance, meaning that Moses was right to allow it. And Jesus said that Scripture could not be broken (John 10:35).

The Challenge of Forgiveness

“Are Christians ever required to forgive a person even if that person never repents? Is forgiveness only to be extended when asked for? Rose

Rose, the short answer is yes, but with a qualification. Forgiveness is to be extended before it is requested, but it cannot be transacted until it is requested.”

Ok, thanks. This is where I’m at. Two questions if you don’t mind. First, the shorter:

“Forgiveness is to be extended before it is requested.” What are some practical ways to communicate that to the one whom we are to forgive?

Next, the longer: Eph. 4:31-32 says,

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

I see these verses telling me to do two separate but related things: 1) put away bitterness, wrath, anger, clamour, evil speaking, malice, and 2) be kind and tenderhearted while forgiving.

In other words, forgiveness always implies putting those bad things away and being kind and tenderhearted, but putting those bad things away and being kind and tenderhearted does not always imply forgiveness?

My question: how to do that? Because that seems like a tall order. Not conflating those things is something I rarely do successfully, if ever. And I am wondering if I am unsuccessful because I’ve got it all wrong?

grh

grh, I would say that putting the first set of things away is the process of extending the forgiveness, and the second set would be the proof of whether you had done so—when the person comes and seeks it, you are prepared to conduct the transaction. If you are not, then that means you weren’t successfully putting anything away.

Eschatology Still

I’m writing to try to clear up some confusion in my mind about eschatology. About a year ago I listened to your sermon on the new heavens and the new earth. I thought it was great and made me view eschatology in a completely different way. I had one question regarding Revelation 21. In that passage it says that in the new heavens and new earth death shall be no more. So why is it that you claim there will be death in the new heavens and new earth? I know that you’re a busy guy but I would love if you would respond to my question.

Caleb

Caleb, I believe that in the Christian aeon the new heavens and the new earth have been inaugurated, but have not yet come to their fruition. When it all comes to fruition, as it is doing in Rev. 21, there is no more death. It is a gradual build. Fifty years into the process, you might not notice a difference. Near the end of it, the guy who dies at a hundred is considered accursed. But then the whole thing is swallowed up by life.

Realistic Hyperbole

I just watched your live Q&A with Jared and you mentioned being hauled off in train cars . . . Do you believe that’s actually something possible on the horizon, or was that more of an exaggeration to make a point?

Coming from an Arminian dispensationalist background, and being a rather newly reformed postmil, it’s very difficult to read the room these days. Part of me expects utter doom and the other part has a hope to see God really do amazing things in my lifetime. It’s an awkward spot to be in, especially in Creepy Clown World. Do you think severe persecution is really that close?

God bless,

Heather

Heather, I was overstating it to make a point, but I do not think such persecution is impossible. The ardent secularists would certainly do that if they could.

Elections and Power Dynamics in America

Re: Red, Red Whine If you are willing, would you be able to explain the possible logic behind democrats having sabotaged voting machines in Maricopa county? As much as I would love to believe we didn’t lose fair and square, the takes claiming that this was some Democrat plot seem a bit absurd. Maricopa County tends blue and is really the Democrat’s only shot at holding Arizona. Why in the world would they sabotage those machines as opposed to those in any of the surrounding deep red counties? Seems a bit like shooting yourself in the foot in order to cheat in a footrace.

In any case, the votes were taken to be tabulated in ballot boxes by teams of rabid partisans, one Republican and one Democrat, and then counted by teams made up of both parties. You don’t think the republicans on these teams would be screaming bloody murder if there was any funny business?

This whole “we were cheated” narrative to me seems pretty childish, especially given we used to be the serious, sober minded party. Now just seems like we’re sore losers.

Joel

Joel, I think you make a good point on the voting machines. My big concern—besides mail-in voting—is the new normal of delayed election returns. Every day that goes by without a result is a day that should diminish our confidence in the honesty of the result. We used to count all the votes in one night, and other countries still do.

Red, Red Whine Doug, two lessons here, lessons that Evangelicals want to learn, are:

1. We’re not anything like a majority, never have been. America is not an Evangelical nation, not really even a Christian nation. You’ll seldom persuade the majority on a point of Christian principle. In our generation people don’t think they are sinners and they are not afraid of spiritual consequences; therein lies one of the immediate tasks of the church. And in fact that task needs to start in the church. Like you said.

2. Of late, Republicans just attract and promote some really ridiculous, obnoxious, some times outright bizarre candidates, and people notice. Evangelicals may be entertained and flattered, but the majority is not amused. Evangelicals need to recognize that, and keep it in mind when considering some likely future choices to be set before them.

Of course Evangelicals want to also keep in mind that they don’t absolutely *need* politics anyway.

John

John, you’re not wrong. The question in my mind is what a great reformation and revival would do to this situation. And how should we be preparing for that?

How Grim Is It?

I am writing in the spirit of “Believeth all things” regarding your historical understanding of this: “The point here is that nobody appears to care how anything looks. They care about winning, and are quite prepared to brazen out whatever it is. But it is possible to gain power and forfeit legitimacy at the same time . . .”

I am respectfully hoping and believing that your observation of the above is not epiphanous. The people in question have long operated under a “by any means necessary” protocol. Legitimacy is, for them, simply having jimmies (otherwise know as sprinkles for the reconstructed) on the ice cream cone. It is a feature readily jettisoned with explosive bolts if it stands in the way of gaining and maintaining power. They do not care “how it looks”; appearances are nothing more than a tool to be used pragmatically.

Their standard operation model is to break everything possible, steal/defraud every vote possible, take every vote (that does not go their way) to court, investigate everyone, jail anyone they can with fanfare, and deny and lie when confronted with the truth. It is what they do, and in broad daylight. Link.

These people are the children and grandchildren of the Ayers’, et al 60’s communists that have, as you alluded to, permeated every institution in this county.

I would add one more point of repentance, and for me it is the trip wire that signals a genuine sea change (I used a cement mixer to blend those two): When Christians remove their children from the government school system in accelerated fashion. Either incrementally or en masse, until that center of gravity shifts past the balance point, the current dynamic remains.

Gray

Gray, yes. Where our children are educated will be a central indicator.

That Would be Fun

Have you ever considered writing a modern day version of Pilgrim’s Progress? Considering the clever fiction you’ve already written, your knowledge of the modern world and its various pitfalls, along with your ability for both metaphor and biblical application, it would seem that this would be a work fit for your pen.

Lonnie

Lonnie, that would be fun. But it is an hours-in-the-day problem.

My question is about Ezekiel 38-39. The title “Blog and Mablog” got me rather interested in these chapters, but now I’m quite confused about what event these chapters are talking about.

In this article, you imply that they refer to a historical event (that serves as a type for Rev 20:8 etc).

There seems to be at least three problems with this (not that I have a better explanation to proffer):

1. As far as I know, there is no historical record of such an event involving so many nations (mentioned in Ezekiel 38:5-6) attacking Israel. There seems to have been an attack like this in 628 BC against Israel, but Ezekiel is prophesying in around 580 BC of a future event.

2. The chapters appear to be given too much prominence in Ezekiel for them to be merely a reference to some minor historical attack (by which I mean that it doesn’t warrant a mention in either 2 Chronicles or any other historical records). The language in these chapters is very ‘superlative’, indicating something quite significant. They come hard on the heels of chapter 36-37 which are monumentally important chapters, and are followed closely by chapters 40ff which are also extremely significant.

3. Ezek. 38:17 implies that this attack was prophesied earlier by other prophets. Which other prophesies exist of a historical attack like this?

Do you have answers to these problems, or could you recommend any resources where I could look to find answers?

Thanks for your time.

H

H, no, I don’t have detailed answers for you. My current view is that Ezekiel’s historical prophecy was fulfilled, but that the fulfillment was not recorded anywhere. This by itself should not be startling. History is crammed full of epic events that we don’t know anything about.

Another Kink in the Hose

“But I think a problem is developing when such an interest rises to the level of that “interest” routinely substituting for ordinary sexual intercourse. As foreplay, I think a couple should do what they both enjoy. The fundamental kink arrives when we try to get rid of God’s idea of a good finale.”

Along those same lines, it seems like one consequence of porn is that it becomes difficult to not conflate good, biblical sex with immoral, sinful sex, thereby tainting the good, biblical sex with a guilty conscience. Is it possible to overcome that consequence, and if so, how? Asking in the context of past hardcore porn and immorality that has been repented of and forsaken over a decade ago . . .

fsa

fsa, yes, I do believe it is possible. We are summoned to be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:1-2), and I believe the Spirit makes this possible. If there is a deep challenge associated with it, I would encourage you to make God’s design for sex your special study. If this is a big enemy, marshal all your forces.

Turning a Church Around

Before I proceed with the nitty gritty, permit me to thank you for your ministry. I found your videos during the covid craziness of 2020. And your wisdom and biblical application greatly helped me. Glory to God and a great deal of thanksgiving to you and yours!

I’m an early-thirties pastor of a SBC church who recently discovered the Bible actually expects believers to baptize their babies. And as luck would have it, my wife gave birth to our first child this year. I’m no longer convinced of congregational polity and, as much as a guy who has never attended a Presbyterian church can, I agree with Presbyterian polity. So, as a major contributor to my new-found convictions, I’m asking you for any advice, principles, and wisdom you’re willing to share as I navigate my family and the local church I lead. Since I’m new to this whole ask-Doug-anything thing, I’ve added more specifics below that may shed light on my bind.

My wife agrees with me 100%. Like me, she only knows the SBC and gets skittish thinking about starting fresh in a new denomination. She’s convinced of covenant succession and sees paedobaptism clears up a lot of questions we’ve raised as Baptists. We’re both willing (but not wishing) to start fresh while I find another vocation if need be. At the same time, I hesitate rushing my family into a new denomination. Or do we just say “Geronimo, Amen”?

Concerning the congregation I serve, I’ve only pastored here since late 2019. Historically, the church operated more on the Andy Stanley side of Baptist life than John Piper. The members were politically conservative while theologically liberal. Demographically, the members are retirees with a few recent empty-nesters and even fewer young families. Years before I arrived, women began leading the church through elbowing their husbands in the ribs. So, I’ve experienced more passive and indirect confrontation than direct.

Even so, God has brought about much change during the last 3 years. Now, only men lead during worship, we practice a bare-bones covenant renewal liturgy, we just started learning the Psalms, many are reading the Bible all the way through for the first time, and we’re reconsidering the donations we give to the SBC. Despite these significant reforms, we have few qualified deacons and no elders. Even though the church knows I’m a Calvinist, they avoid talking about it. And since my family is the youngest in the church, most ignore my instruction on basic biblical principles on the family.

So, on the one hand, I think it’s my responsibility to pull the congregation toward presbyterianism. I’ll put my cards on the table and pastor them through this as best I can. On the other hand, I have no elders to work with and few deacons willing to work. I know their frame and asking the congregation, as it is now, to change with me would feel like a betrayal (and reasonably so). I believe my only options after coming clean to the congregation are 1) offer reform and 2) offer aid in transition finding a Baptist pastor. Is this right? And do you have any specific instruction, correction, and direction? I appreciate whatever counsel you bring.

Joyfully,

Caleb

Caleb, I think your choices are right, and it sounds like your read of the situation is right. But from what you describe, what is going to happen is that you are going to help them find a Baptist pastor. If they surprise you, then you can lead them in a Presbyterian direction. But it is crucial that you do such a thing, if at all, honestly and above board.

The post Mid November Letters, With a Chance of Rain appeared first on Blog & Mablog.

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