Letters That Brighten the Lives of Everyone

KKK?

I’m a Canon+ Subscriber and I listen to your work frequently. Thank you for all you do. I have a C.S. Lewis question. How much did C.S. Lewis actually know about American history and culture? In a couple of his essays he brings up the Ku Klux Klan as a negative example of vigilante justice that can emerge in an unjust society. But, the Klan is a relatively obscure part of American society and culture. Why would Lewis know about the KKK but not about any other aspect of American culture and society? Thanks,

Andrew

Andrew, I would think he was reasonably well informed. But I also don’t believe the activities of the Klan were all that obscure in the UK. There is a Sherlock Holmes story about them, for example.

Sacrament Time

RE: Paedocommunion Debate with James White

Our family is part of a reformed church that does not hold to paedo-communion. Our oldest two children (ages six and four) were recently admitted to the table. Our third child (age three) was denied admission. For context, Child #3 insists on praying before meals and saying the Lord’s Prayer before bed, is learning the catechism, memorizes Scripture, worships with the family and in church, and participates in Bible study. The first Sunday that the older two children partook, the third child burst into tears and said, “How come you didn’t get me one?” The older two children are confused as to why the third is denied communion (“Why can’t he? He answered all the pastor’s questions!” “We know he loves God.”). And we are faced with the question, What do we say to our child? We know what we can’t say: “You are not ready.” (False).

In a past video answer to the question, “Should we leave a church over baptism/communion differences?”, you answered, more or less, “All other things being equal, no. Don’t break unity over disagreement on the symbol of unity.” Every other advocate of paedocommunion I’ve come across says the same thing. Don’t break fellowship over this issue. However, the one question I have not heard any advocate of paedocommunion yet answer is, What should parents who hold to paedocommunion say to their child who is excluded from the table, and who is old enough to know he is being excluded, and who hates that he is being excluded?

The dilemma appears to be twofold: One, the parents want to respect the authority of the elders, but to explain the situation to the child would seemingly undermine that same authority in the child’s eyes (“They are wrong to exclude you and are contravening Scripture. But it’s on their heads.”) And two, you want to maintain unity within the church, but seemingly introduce a division in the family between those who can and can’t participate (“Why do Brother and Sister get to take it, but I don’t?”).

To add to this, we have a fourth child (age one), and are struggling with how to approach this in the long-term.

While any advice would be most appreciated, I will always remain, with or without reply,

Your Most Humble and Devoted Blog Reader,

Confused in Canada

CIC, on the assumption that this church is a good church, and is the only viable option in your area, and you are not going to move elsewhere (i.e. “everything else being equal”), the way I would explain it is by teaching your children at home. It is possible to explain a difference with your leaders on this issue without disrespect. You believe your elders are mistaken on this issue, but we are going to pursue unity with them. And the fact that they were willing to admit a six and four-year-old means that they are not hardcore in opposition to communing children. I would also have a family prayer meeting at home every time you have had communion, and ask God to extend His blessing throughout the family until such time as you can all come to the Supper together.

Given Christ Church’s position on paedocommunion, does Christ Church—as a body—take an exception to WCF on the Lord’s Supper. If no, how do you all understand “worthy receivers” (WCF 29.7)?

Bryan

Bryan, no, we don’t. We would have to take an exception if we were bound to the Westminster Standards in their entirety, but the Confession does not explicitly excluded paedocommunion. Worthy receivers are those who come in faith and submission, and we ask parents of children who commune to regularly remind them of what it is we are doing. Unworthy reception by children would be when two children are squabbling in the middle of the rite.

We have been attending a reformed baptist church with the intention of becoming members. It was brought to our attention that folks that were baptized as infants do not qualify. The wife and I were credo baptized and the chillins were done in diapers after we became reformed. Should we do Ground Hog Day all over again and waste all that water or just hang out in the visitor pews? Much thanks.

Bill

Bill, I am afraid it is the visitor section for you.

As we approach Easter this year, one of the things I deal with every year is my in-laws insistence on holding a Seder supper. The past few years I have been very uncomfortable with the thing, thinking how ridiculous and seemingly unbiblical it all is, but I go along to get along, and ask for cleansing after. Any helpful tidbits on if I am viewing the whole thing correctly, thinking it is wrong? And as I am leaning toward keeping myself and my children out this year, how to address the most assuredly awkward conversations ahead?

Chris

Chris, provided that no one thinks it is functioning as a “sacrament,” I think participation is lawful. You can treat it as a 3-D history lesson. But if your in-laws are treating it as a biblical requirement, you have to abstain. And I think your position would be stronger if you were telling them that you can participate, but just not if excessive claims are being made for it.

Hi Doug. Credobaptist here but the knees are wobbly, no thanks to you. Can you comment on the New Covenant sign being applied to both males and females and what this says about the status of women in particular under the New Covenant? What does this change in recipients mean?

Dave

Dave, I believe that it points to the great expansion of the blessing of the Spirit under the new covenant. They were baptized, both men and women (Acts 8:12). The effusion of the Spirit means that your sons and your daughters shall prophesy (Acts 2:17).

Floor Joists

“The left actually wants to replace the floor joists with something else—their own supporting structure.” I modified Phil Johnson’s primer on post-modernism slightly, and developed this chart here:

Guymon

Guymon, thanks.

Motives for Marriage

I think it would be fair to say that David married Bathsheba out of selfishness, would it be fair to say the same of how Jacob married Rachel? Would you say Boaz married Ruth out of love or unselfishness? How does one pursue marriage without being selfish, or even unselfish?

Justin

Justin, I believe that “unselfishness” is a false virtue. God requires love from us (giving), not unselfishness (not receiving). And love means to treat someone lawfully, from the heart. So David married Bathsheba wrongly, but the other two were great. And David put it right later.

Timing of Services

Thank you for taking the time to answer questions! What are your thoughts on a church having a Thursday evening service in order to accommodate those that have jobs that require them to work weekends(first responders, nurses, etc. . . )and therefore are unable to make a regular Sunday service?

AH

AH, I wonder if there would be enough people in such a circumstance to make up a service. I would be reluctant to move away from the Lord’s Day because their schedules could conflict with Thursday night also. It would be better to do what the early Christians did when Sunday was just another work day—they met before sunrise.

Thank a Christian

Re. Thank a Christian

You might enjoy this historian making the same point.

Rob

Rob, yes. Great book.

Get Out Now

I’m currently listening to “Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning” on the app. I haven’t read this since pre-Covid and am wondering if you would still recommend the reforms to government schools if you wrote the book today, or if you would have a chapter of one sentence, with something like, “GET OUT!” Thanks.

Jordan

Jordan, I am curious about what reforms you are speaking of because I have always encouraged Christian parents to get their kids out. But you are right to guess that I would be more forceful about it now.

Homosexual Uncles

I was wondering if you have some thoughts on dealing with homosexual family members? Specifically uncles? This may be a jumble of questions, but here are some of the questions I am wrestling with.

My wife has an uncle that is gay, has a current gay ‘partner’ that is invited to family functions and an ex-‘partner’ that is also invited sometimes.

1. My wife and I do not have children yet, but I want to be prepared with wisdom when we do. If we did Christmas at our house, should we invite this uncle? what about the ‘partner’ to come? I would not want my kids to be brought up around that example, but want to be honoring natural family relations. As for the blood uncle, I always seek to show him love and charity, but it is strange with the partners. We do not have much of a relationship, but he visits my wife’s grandmother (local) a few times a year and we usually see him for dinner or something.

2. When we visited this uncle’s house once, it was very uncomfortable to stay over. He lives 5 hrs away, so we ended up sleeping in a guest room there. The uncle has a partner who is much younger than him and I have a gut reaction against the effeminacy and Romans 1 type ‘abusing’ of nature. My gut says I would not want to sleep under that roof again, and would not want to bring young children there.

What would your advice be? I have very little relationship with this uncle, but he has been a big part of my wife’s life. I want to lead my family with wisdom in this area, and have not really arrived at peace about what to do yet.

Thank you!

CI

CI, the thing to avoid is anything that communicates tacit approval, anything that normalizes the relationship itself. Jesus ate and drank with sinners, and so that can be done—so long as everyone knows what you do and do not mean by it. And I share your views on sleeping under the same roof.

RUF

I am the fellow who was having all that trouble with RUF before. I wanted to let you know that I ended up doing what you recommended: I and a friend of mine prayed about it and we started a Bible study (Every Wednesday, 7:00 pm). Already, two other guys have joined and another is coming next week. My friend and I are alternating leading the studies, and we’re going through the Psalms (and singing them to the best of our abilities as we go). I am tackling evens and he is doing odds. I wanted to ask, did you have any recommendations for books on the Psalms (or commentaries)? Also, what would be some good sorts of inductive discussion questions to ask of the Psalms in general? I would be remiss if I didn’t thank you again here, the Bible study really is going to be great and the straightforwardness of your previous advice on the subject certainly got me moving toward making it a reality.

God bless,

Caedmon

Caedmon, thanks for letting me know. And for something like what you are doing, Spurgeon’s Treasury of David would be great. You won’t be able to read it cover to cover, but it would be a great resource.

Some Thanks

I have only become a reader of late. I’m a 22-year-old aspiring to pastoral ministry. I mention that I’ve only become a reader recently because that means I am VERY behind on my reading. There’s so many classics that I know I should have read by now but haven’t.

My question is, what should I make a priority to read? Do you have a “Reading Bucket List” I could borrow? Or do you have any direction in which to point me?

Brother, I also want to say that I appreciate your ministry and that of Moscow deeply. I’ve always been in SBC life, and there is a significant lack of Kuyperian-Calvinistic joy in these parts. Blog and Mablog got me though the COVID craziness, as I found a brother who saw what I saw in those times, and for that—as well as the rest of your ministry from which I have greatly benefited—I am profoundly grateful.

Chaz

Chaz, thanks very much. I have a broad reading list at the very end of The Case for Classical Christian Education. But for orientation for pastoral engagement with clown world, I would recommend Idols for Destruction, We Become Like What We Worship, and The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self.

I thank God when I remember your ministry to me and my family. May the Lord continue to bless the work of your hands.

In Christ,

Steven

Steven, thank you for paying attention.

Over the past decade or so, reading your blog has been incredibly helpful to me in teaching me to reject envy and be thankful. How happy is the man who can learn those two things. Thank you for your faithfulness to Christ

DS

DS, thank the Lord.

Making Things Right

A thought I’m wrestling with, and I would appreciate your thoughts. On the subject of restitution for wrongs done as a result of repentance . . . There is a difference between a surmountable-but-steep debt to be worked hard at and repaid by the debtor and an insurmountable-and-impossible debt created by the one offended, and it is often hard to tell the difference between the two, and sometimes the former can seem like the latter.

grh

grh, that is very true. Sometimes the offended inflates the offense. But other times the offender minimizes it. And other times, they compound one another’s negative tendencies by trying to compensate for the other person’s failings. One person leans this way, the other leans that way, and that is how you capsize the canoe.

Ecumenical and Conservative

I would just like to take a minute to tell you how much I’ve appreciated the work you have been doing over the years. But in particular I would like the address the divide that continues to come out between the MacArthurites (or dispenatioalists), the camp that I would fall in, and the Post mil brothers, or optimistic amil brothers. All I really wanted to do was to encourage you that all the things you mentioned, our dispensational church teaches, and does. People ask me if I am reformed. I tell them not according to the Presbyterians, we are not allowed to call ourselves reformed. I tell them we are the red-headed step children of the reformed world. But our Soteriology is no different than yours. You love Calvin; we love Calvin. you are justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone; we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ alone. You love holiness; we love holiness. You believe this present tribulation is a judgment from God, so do we. You love evangelism; we also love evangelism. You preach Christ crucified; we preach Christ crucified.

Where we differ. We think the end is nigh; you do not. But many of us don’t know how nigh nigh is, so we continue to call a sinful world to repentance and teach our children to fear God properly.

All to say, we are not that much different. I have learned much from you. And sometimes I think, you almost persuade me. But alas, I tell you, that it is Scripture and not tradition that prevents me.

Love you very much. You inspire me to plod on. Keep up the great content. I thoroughly enjoy 95+ % of all that you put out, and am thoroughly challenged by the other 4.95%.

Your friend in Christ,

Mark

Mark, thanks very much. As for me, I am happy to just be brothers in arms.

A Stumper

I am a young Bible-believing christian and am writing to you to ask what your stance is on anime. In particular, I am inquiring about the shows called One Piece and Demon Slayer. Could a Christian watch these in good conscience?

I would appreciate any feedback you could give.

In Christ,

Cole

Cole, sorry I can’t help. I know next to nothing about the world of anime. We could open this question up to the gallery though.

Christians in Politics

Re: Biden Their Time “Those Christians who believe that we should stay out of politics and ‘just preach the gospel’ are saying, in effect, that we should tell the nation to ‘repent and believe.’ But, they hasten to add, we cannot tell them what to repent of because that would be getting into politics. But the message is not ‘repent generically, and believe in the Jesus who will wash away all your undefined brokenness.’ That doesn’t work. Sins must be named, and most of our corporate sins today are political. If our rebellion is political, then our repentance must also be political.”

I’d wager that those Christians you mentioned in the first sentence would be the same ones that would deny the validity of corporate entities as a moral category. And therein may lie some of the problem.

Aaron

Aaron, I think you are on to something.

The Cool Factor?

It has been some years since I have had the time to engage with you, your blog and your courses. With the news of the recent stabbings reaching even here in Ireland, I have been praying that there will be no attempt to link you or the church.

This however, has jogged my memory to one of our last conversations, in which I asked you about playing the ‘cool” card in a recent music video you had released. Whilst clearly this topic is of minor importance, it occurs to me that I never followed up to your reply claiming mockery or parody. I agree, that clearly you were and often do use parody, but isn’t that in some way, almost “meta cool?” It seems to me, that there is at first a type of borrowing form the bit which you are mocking and then a type of exceeding it, by standing beyond it, in a place which enables it to be mocked by you. In this way, therefore, I present the question to you again, in some way, do you not play the “cool” card?

As I doubt you remember, I am a fellow practitioner of Miss Sayer’s great experiment proposal, and a fellow Philosophy MA holder. I also am a grateful recipient of your many sermons, books and wisdom. This question is solely intended for discourse, and not as a “gotcha!” ha ha.

Thanks for your fearless, frank and unapologetic years of service to encouraging others to think!

May I add to my question that it also occurs to me that there is simply an inevitable intoxicating ‘cool’ that accompanies the practice of wordsmithery, which like it or not, is part and parcel of the delight it creates.

Again, not a reflexivity demand, but a true interest in how you account for what I see as a natural consequence, regardless of whether or not it is sought. Or is that the difference…the seeking…?

Carole

Carole, thanks for the kind words. I do think that all of us have the standing temptation to approve of ourselves in what we say and do, or in what we do not say or do. I can say something and applaud myself, or I can refrain and then congratulate myself on being too cool to participate. All forms of vanity must be mortified, whether you are a public Christian or more of a private one. All I ask is this one indulgence, which would be the liberty to laugh at my own jokes.

A Young Valentine

I’m writing with my husband’s permission to ask your advice. A mom from our Christian homeschool group told me her son has a little crush on my 12-year-old daughter and wants to give her a Valentine next month, but she wanted to make sure it was ok with us first. I was caught off-guard and told her I’d like to run it by my husband, which she understood. It would seem on the one hand that it is a harmless gift, but on the other hand this could be setting a tone for how we approach these things in our household. We read “Her Hand in Marriage” many years ago when we had twin toddlers. Now we have a house full of daughters, and it would seem with the oldest drawing some attention it is time to revisit the ideas in your book. My inclination is to either say no, or to insist that the Valentine focus on friendship rather than romantic interest, although I’m not sure if the later is quite possible given the context. If there is interest several years from now, I think there would be something to discuss because I have been impressed with this boy and his family. Anyway, some input from a father who has thought through and lived through these things would be most appreciated.

Jeanie

Jeanie, what I would recommend is that you thank this family for checking first, but then go on to say that you don’t want to start this sort of thing this early. Do not awaken love before the time. Then thank her again for checking with you. We did have this sort of thing in our family, and it is more than legitimate to say that “in our family we want to wait.”

Romans 13

I’d like to know whether Jesus broke the law when he cleansed the temple or whether he was telling his disciples to break the law by carrying swords (and if need be sell a cloak to fund it). I know that he did not sin, so I am asking about civil laws.

The reason for asking this is that I have been wrestling with Romans 13 and related passages since the whole COVID debacle and I think this question may clarify a few things for me. I have found a lot of articles and sermons online about the cleansing of the temple, etc. but have yet to hear about the civil laws of the day.

Thank you for the work that you do, it has been educational and usually entertaining at the same time which is an uncommon mix.

Dave

Dave, I do not know the state of statute law in the examples you cite, but I am sure there was some disturbance of the peace in the Lord’s cleansing of the Temple. But I think they wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it because He was so obviously right. There are other plain examples of breaking the law though—Peter breaking out of jail, Paul evading arrest at Damascus. I would recommend you read Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos.

Going to Church Alone

I’ve been listening to you for a few years and enjoy your stuff and generally respect your opinions so I wanted to reach out for some advice.

My husband won’t go to church anymore because he thinks I’ve “intellectualized” Scripture, or made it too difficult, or am being too bossy about it.

I would like to go myself but I have a bowling ball of a baby to manage and am embarrassed now that I have to go alone.

We got baptized together four months before we got married. This was three years ago. Since then, the Baptist church we were attending repelled my husband by telling him AA would not save him. I agree with them.

But since he wouldn’t go anymore, I went back to the reformed vein in which I first came to Christ over eight years ago (also I really liked your blog). There’s a OPC here in Southern Maryland but it is very traditional it seems almost to the point of being ineffective in outreach. And my husband really took to this Calvary Chapel down here where the pastor was preaching a bunch of baloney. As in, “Jesus emptied himself of some of His divinity so He could be like us”, that we can choose our own salvation, and Christians should give side hugs (?). I was most upset about the kenosis theory and stopped going to that church after all that. Now I have a indignant husband and a little baby who needs to go to church and no seemingly desirable options.

Do I bite the bullet and go it alone?

Olivia

Olivia, yes. You should go alone. But have a talk with your husband, and tell him you are going to be going to church, but you want to do it in a way that is as respectful of him as you can be. And ask him for things you could do or avoid doing as you return to church.

The Flat Earth Thing

I’ve got several friends and family members that have gotten heavily into red pill conspiracies in recent years. I’ve noticed that the final stop often ends up being a belief in a flat earth. The big idea is that “they” (the bad guys) have lied to us about everything, and the ultimate lie is about the fundamental reality of our world itself.

I realized somewhere along the way that, while I do not believe the earth is flat, there is no way I can actually prove it. All my evidence was given to me by someone else—it’s all what “they” wanted me to see and believe. I’m struggling to answer the flat earth objections.

How do you personally handle this issue and how to you answer flat-earth types with charity?

Many thanks,

JD

JD, honestly, I wouldn’t give it the time of day. And I would change the subject to the sovereignty of God, and ask if they believe that God is in control of all human events. Conspiracy thinking of this sort is driven by fear, and I would go straight for the root of the fear, which is the belief that evil men are more powerful than they are.

The post Letters That Brighten the Lives of Everyone appeared first on Blog & Mablog.


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