Annoying the Salmon?
There is strong wisdom in the “don’t take down the fence advice” (Podcast, July 19). But there would also be wisdom in avoiding, tricksy, slippery language. “Annoying the salmon” is a long way from what actually happened—destroying one of the most productive fisheries in the world. This was done either by people who knew this would happen and didn’t care, in which case the dams were evil in motive. Or, the dam builders had a puffed up and foolish appraisal of their own wisdom, in other words they didn’t consider why the fence wasn’t there, before they put it up. Truth should be one of the hallmarks of Christian ministry, all the way down.
DCH, certainly. Truth is truth in every direction. But I said not a word in defense of how the dams came to be constructed in the first place, and have no trouble believing that more than a little technological hubris was involved. The only point I am making is that the hubris levels have not gone down at all.
Thank you for all the work and content! We are thankful for your input which keeps us simultaneously overwhelmed and encouraged!
Something coming up more these days is the topic of eating disorders among our people. What do you make of this problem in professing Christians and what do you think is the best way to handle it from the perspective of the person dealing with it and from the family involved? Any good reading suggestions?
Thank you again!
N, as far as resources go, I think I should crowd source the question. Anybody out there know of some good believing books on eating disorders?
As far as your larger question goes, I am concerned about how much seepage into the church is occurring when it comes to issues like this—antidepressants, sleeping pills, eating issues, and so on.
Sex Ed at Home
I have questions concerning sex ed at home. I’m a homeschooling mom of 5 children, all under age 10. My friends who are also educating their children at home are starting to get specific questions from our children, and I’m looking for wisdom as to how to handle these questions. On the one side, there seems to be a push to “tell the children as much as we can before THEY do.” Meaning, we need to get ahead of our children’s peers and our cultural influence by supplying lots of specific information to them as soon as they can possibly handle it. I’ve seen admonishments that not doing so communicates to our children that we are “ashamed” of sex and closes lines of communication for the future. On the other hand, I’m drawn to the response Corrie Ten Boom’s father gave when she asked him a question about sex as a young girl. He communicated to her that such knowledge was “too heavy” for her, and that she should trust him to carry that knowledge for her until she is ready.
So, do you have advice for handling specific questions from our elementary school-aged children? I honestly am not comfortable communicating all the physical specifics with my children at this age, but I’m willing to push past that discomfort if it would be for their good. However, knowledge can be burdensome, and I’d like my children to remain children for as long as is appropriate. I appreciate any advice you would be willing to share.
Charlotte, I think it is important to answer questions that arise naturally. I also believe that parents should volunteer information that equips their kids to resist the temptations they will be facing (e.g. porn). There should be enough communication going on such that you know the lines of communication are functioning well. But with that said, I don’t it is necessary to give lots of detail to kids. There are some things that should wait until premarital counseling.
There was once a six-year-old kid who came in from playing, and said, “Dad, where do people come from?” Dad thought, “Oh, no! This is early.” But he had all the materials, and so he dutifully got them all out and worked through a detailed answer. When he was done, he said, “I hope that addresses it for you. Just curious . . . why did you ask?” And his son said, “Well, I was playing with the new kid next door, and he said that they came from Baltimore.”
Why does the New Testament refer almost indiscriminately to “the coming of Christ,” although some of these references are to AD 70, and some are to the 2nd coming?
For example, Matthew 16:27-28 describes Christ’s coming using unique language that is identical to the language used in Matthew 25:31ff. But Matthew 25 seems to quite clearly reference the 2nd coming (it refers to the judgement of all nations); and Matthew 16 describes a near-term judgement (some standing here will not taste death). How should I rationalise the similarity of language here?
Glenn, the similarity in language seems really understandable to me. The Lord comes in various ways, and we don’t have trouble navigating this in English. The second coming and a coming in judgment on Jerusalem can both use the word coming. My rule of thumb would be the presence of a general resurrection—that would indicate His final coming.
This is not a question, but a follow-up to a previous question I had a couple months ago.
My public-schooled friend that I was asking for advice about will be transferring to a private Christian school this fall! Even though the reasons for her transfer are not the reasons I would have wished for, I am thanking God for working good through not-so-good. Thank you for the advice, as it helped me to keep my mouth shut in some instances where I would have done more harm than good. And please pray for her and her family that they would wake up to the toxicity of the public schools in general, not just the one she is escaping from.
Alice in Clownworld
AiC, first, it is far better to be Alice in Clownworld than to be Alice of Clownworld. And second, yes. The Lord often uses poor beginnings as a way of getting us to better endings.
Back in 2012
I saw a video where you were answering who you voted for in 2012 and had a couple of follow-up questions. In that video you strategically voted for a no chance candidate.
Say you did not have your strategy in mind but instead chose to vote for a no chance candidates because you simply did not want to choose the lesser of two evils; you wanted to cast your vote for the right man. Do you think that is an admirable or foolish choice? It seems to me to be the same as voting with the majority since you did not cancel one of their votes.
If you consider the above scenario as admirable or at least not foolish, do you think Trump would rightly fall into the category of a man a Christian just can’t vote for in this upcoming election or would they be the weaker brother constrained only by a mislead conscience?
Stephen, the reason the character issue is so important is that it is indicative of whether the candidate is going to do what he promised to do. I did not believe Romney was going to govern in a conservative way, and subsequent event show that assessment was correct. I did not think that Trump was reliable in 2016, and so did not vote for him. But then, to my astonishment, he kept his promises on judges, unlike so many others, and so I voted for him in 2020. Give us more of that, was my thought. If he is the nominee next time, I will vote for him. At the same time, I would prefer a candidate who will keep his word, but who has better impulse control.
My question is not related directly to any particular post of yours, but rather in response to a potentially troubling scenario that I see coming. Specifically, how would you recommend Christian men and their sons respond to a military draft in support of the growing conflict in and around Ukraine? It doesn’t take much imagination to foresee that this may be where we are headed. Especially with the recent unusual presidential call-up of reservists to serve in that region. I am not a pacifist and neither are my sons. And we will defend our nation from enemies both foreign and domestic. But it is honestly nauseating to think of sending my soon to be 18-year-old son as fodder for what seem to be nefarious purposes in a conflict half way around the world. I would appreciate any wisdom you can provide on this topic. Perhaps it could be a future post?
Regards in Christ,
Mark, good suggestion.
“This means that we must arrange all the needs in an appropriate order, scripturally defined. Christ > wife > children > parents > grandparents > Levites > strangers in the gates > Chinese orphans”
Do brothers/sisters-in-laws and their children come before or after covenant members of one’s local church (assuming them to be mutually exclusive and not attending the same congregation)
How does Paul’s “especially” affect that order?
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Also, in what place would you assign employers, employees, co-workers?
Paul’s household codes (cf, Eph. and Col.) seem to begin with marriages and move on then to parenting and then employment. Those codes are, however, written first and foremost to covenant members of a church.
Todd, sorry to dodge, but when it comes to shirt-tail relatives, it all depends. Some cousins are practical brothers and sisters, and you might not even know the names of others. So sometimes they would come before fellow-believers in need, and sometimes not. Judgment call.
Dying in a Battle That Your Side Wins
I was having a conversation with my pastor about post mil, as I have had a slow and steady conversion to this way of seeing things over the past two years. He disagrees. He asked me if Jeremiah’s mission was successful? What he was getting at is that God gave him the command to prophesy and that alone determines success, not the number of people who repent. His point was that the Church should not determine success by the Christianization of the world but only through the faithful preaching of the gospel. I think this is incorrect. But it got me thinking of Jesus being the savior of the world, so I went back and listened to “From the Rivers to the end of the earth” sermons. Couple questions about this. Do you think ‘world’ means the total mass of believers through time? And would you also include creation in this definition of world? And as I was reading John 3:17, it looks like the original Greek says “For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” ‘Might’ seems to be denoting the possibility of saving, not the certainty of it, like if I were to say “My son did his laundry so he might be able to go to the game.” Any thoughts on how to understand that verse?
Tim, first, on might. It is more like “He learned Spanish so that he might read Don Quixote in the original.” There is not the uncertainty that you have with “Are you going to the game . . . because I might.” With regard to your pastor’s question, the evangelization of the world is a task assigned to the Church. Christ did not tell us to try to disciple the nations. He told us to disciple the nations. To say that every single Christian needs to disciple the nations is the fallacy of composition. To illustrate this, ask the following. If a soldier was killed in the first ten minutes of the Normandy invasion, was he successful? Yes. He laid down his life in a victorious cause. As for Jeremiah, how many millions have read his book and been edified. And how many of us remember all the names of the powerful people who persecuted him?
An Olive Tree Question
I do not believe I stated my question clearly in my last letter to which you responded, “Faithless in the Covenant.” I believe you have stated that baptism is the sign of covenant membership and there are covenant members that are not elect. They never have true saving faith and are therefore cut off from the olive tree. However, this seems to clash with the concept of a unilateral covenant. After all, if the covenant promises are not applied based on covenant status then what are they based on? If faith, then would that not be the basis for covenant membership rather than an empty claim of faith? This would then allow for covenant membership to only be given to the elect since only the elect are given saving faith. This makes Christ sacrifice a universal atonement for a limited/particular population (those with whom He has made His Covenant).
If there seems to be a logical conflict between a possible, but not explicitly mentioned, application of the Olive Tree metaphor, then it seems likely that we might be misinterpreting that metaphor. Perhaps there is an interpretation that does not grant the pre-pruned branches covenant status. Perhaps those branches do refer to children of covenant members but their status of covenant membership does not occur until the fruit producing power of the sap (the Spirit) continues further down that branch (family line).
Thank you for your consideration. It is a blessing to be able to have correspondence with an author/theologian this side of eternity that has been so influential in my walk.
Stephen, thanks for the interaction. The problem is that the connection of apostates to Christ is stated in covenantal terms. “Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:29). So the other solution is to grant that there are two sorts of covenantal connections—one necessarily salvific, and the other not.
Pardon Me, Forgive Me
I’m sure you’ve answered this question somewhere but I couldn’t find it. You’ve made it clear that one should only apologize when he has wronged someone. Does that extend to either: (1) inadvertent mistakes he’s made without being negligent (but where true harm of some form has arisen); or (2) actual sins committed by someone in his family (i.e., for whom he is responsible)?
S, with regard to the first, that would be why we need expressions like pardon me, or excuse me. You harmed someone inadvertently, but the thing you did was not culpable. You still need to say something. With regard to the second, I would want to follow the example of Job, who offered up sacrifices because it was possible that some of his kids had cursed God in their hearts.
What Happened With That Movie?
Hey Doug! What’s the latest with the Ride Sally Ride film? Is this still going to happen?
Martin, unfortunately, no. We ran into the realization of how much money it was going to take to do it right, so we put the project on hold, and returned the donations that had already come in.
Any tips for those who are prone to be morbidly introspective? Or ways to resist that temptation when hearing sermons that encourage the listener to really examine his heart and make one’s calling and election sure? How can someone who is constantly critical of themselves practice being truthful with where they are at but not fall into sin while doing so? I know many who live this way but am not always sure of the best way to encourage them away from morbid introspection.
Laura, I would encourage them to add morbid introspection to the list of sins they are looking for when they examine themselves. The problem is not that they are confessing sins, the problem is that they are confessing the wrong ones.
I’ve been teaching the Sunday School class my children visit as the only male teacher in the bunch. My term is about up and I’ve been wrestling with what to do. I’m starting to think my son shouldn’t go to Sunday School taught by one of the church ladies. So either I teach the next grades or just pass on it. You’ve said in many places that Christ Church doesn’t do Sunday School. Could you talk about why? Is it because its usually lame or is it a resource question?
Thomas, whether your son is taught by “all women” is only a problem if he is getting older. There is no problem with women teaching little kids of both sexes. There are a number of reasons we don’t have Sunday School, some of them logistical—no time for it Sunday morning because of multiple services. But virtually all the kids in our community are receiving Christian education all week long, and so it is less pressing, and in addition we are starting up a set of catechism classes during the week.
Equal Weights and Measures
“In a biblical marriage, respect confers respectability.” What do you say to those who say that respect is earned by being respectable?
grh, I would say that in that case, love is earned by being lovable. Which is obviously false.
Something worth writing about, considering that the star Betelgeuse is likely to blow up within this century. The earth is not scheduled to last forever, and the sun has to burn out at some point. This fits in with prophecies of the heavens wearing out, and signs being seen in the sky, and it may be that, after several stars have burned out or blown up, Jesus will come back, though it may not be for a very long time, as we would understand it.
James, yes to your general point. But I do think that we probably have very sketchy notions about when Betelgeuse will go blooey.
The idea you mentioned about decay before the fall and that everything was not made out of permanent stainless steel reminded me of some things I have been pondering. Scripture seems to infer that pain existed before the fall. The curse on women was to increase the pain of childbirth. This implies pain was already present. If pain existed before the fall what was its purpose? The purpose of pain now is to limit injury and to keep you from accidentally destroying yourself. Before death entered creation through sin was death still possible? If death was not possible without sin then what is the purpose of pain before the fall?
John, I believe that it was the sin of Adam that introduced death. I also believe that there was no agonistic suffering before the fall, including that of animals. Whether Adam could have skinned a knee before the fall is an interesting question. While I certainly don’t know, I suspect so.
Sir, I find myself a bit baffled by hyper-preterism; it was something I never encountered in previous study and have not read anything else about it . . . But from your description, it doesn’t sound like an intramural debate between Bible-believing Christians of good faith that have different interpretations of eschatological Scripture passages (as I would consider debates between pre-, post- or a-millennial Christians) . . . but from your description, it seems a radical and heretical departure from basic Christian theology, departing even from the early creeds.
I mean, any Pre-, post- or a-millennial believer can affirm with the Apostles or Nicene creeds that Jesus “will come again to judge the living and the dead,” and ” the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting”. . . but do I understand correctly, a hyper-preterist position would reject even these basic tenets of the early creeds? That even the various promises of Jesus regarding eternal life after the resurrection, and his promises of his return—including his claim from Mt 25 that he will return and separate the sheep from the goats in a final judgment—that we should not be hoping for any of this in the future?
And as you observed in your most recent post on “Old Jeans,” the entire perspective is completely at odds with the overall themes of Scripture, that there is an end and a complete restoration where death itself is destroyed and there will be individuals raised to eternal life. (Not to mention how it connects with other doctrines . . . I fail to see what Christ’s atonement actually accomplished if all is to go on essentially just as it is eternally).
Hyper-preterism then, if I understand it, doesn’t seem then a debate between good-faith Christians who are pursuing what Scripture says, but sounds like a totally different, non-Christian (near deistic?) perspective and world-view, that is being attempted to be foisted and overlaid onto Scripture by the slight-of-hand of calling it a variation of “preterism.” What else would I call a view that denies the second coming, the final judgment, the resurrection of the dead, eternal life of resurrected believers, and restoration of a new heaven and new earth—a perspective that denies significant parts of our ecumenical creeds?
I mean, their perspective seems to be *precisely* what Scripture explicitly condemns as utter heresy: “in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation,’” and “Their teaching will spread like gangrene . . . who have departed from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.”
So I’m curious your thoughts or clarification—am I missing something?…. would you think hyper-preterism’s adherents to be good-faith Bible-believing Christians that are simply very confused about prophecy and unaware of the logical consequences that require them to deny large swaths of established doctrine; or is this essentially a non-Christian, perhaps essentially naturalistic or deistic world-view that sets out to deny any future activity of God in this world, and tries to wear the veneer of “preterism” to gain ground?
Also, please forgive my ignorance, but I’m curious about your recent attention to the topic? Is this perspective gaining ground in otherwise Bible-believing churches such that it needs addressing?
Daniel, yes. This is a perspective that is gaining ground in some quarters, and hence my attention to it. I believe that some well-meaning Christians are attracted to it, not realizing that it is a destructive heresy with a long fuse. Other basic doctrines are entailed in it, and not just eschatological doctrines. I would recommend this book as an introduction.