The Most August of August Letters

Gilder Responses

Proverbs 20:29

The glory of young men is their strength:

And the beauty of old men is the grey head.

Amen. Young men are strong, but don’t know what they’re doing. Older men know what they would do if they had the energy. When these get together, it is glorious in that their respective glories are glorified. By covenant, God binds these together through fathers and sons, elders and congregants, leaders and citizens. When these glories are divorced, they lead to devastation. What God has joined together, let no man separate.


Todd, amen. And what I was going to include yesterday was a comment about how I know it appears self-serving for an older guy to be writing about respecting your elders. It is this kind of thing that really does invite the ok boomer response. But I felt this same way back when I was a young pup.

Oh boy, this is a bit entertaining. Various types of gynocentrism and incipient feminism is absolutely one of the blind spots common to the Boomer generation. This is true despite Millenials, like me, owing our existence (and so much more) to Boomers, like yourself. I personally have benefited greatly from your blogging and writing, and particularly from your defense of patriarchy. You could never be a real feminist, because you fear God. This doesn’t mean you couldn’t err in a gynocentric direction, of course. You wrote:

“So how might it be possible to incentivize his sticking around? Look, here’s the deal, the wisdom of the ages said. If you stay, you can be in charge of everything. So he agrees, and civilization is born.”

This story belongs on the shelf right next to the social contract theory of government. Neither one ever happened, and both put the relevant phenomenon on the wrong foundation. Social contract theory makes mankind (rather than God) the source of government. Your story (or is it Gilder’s?) makes female pragmatism the origin of male headship and female sexuality the source of civilization.

The story points to a number of real incentives. Men want women. Women need men. Women are better off when men “stick around.” Men are greatly motivated by a desire to be in charge. Great things are possible when people act wisely in light of these incentives.

But the story also implies a fictitious time of before males were civilized. It’s as if a large tribe of men were wandering the earth in ape-like barbarousness and met a nation of innately civilized but impoverished women.

Perhaps we recognize this is not intended to describe a real historical episode. It’s just a sort of creation myth for civilization. But the point of such creation myths is that we should act on them. The story is supposed to describe the nature of men and women, even if it is not their true history. But the story fails at exactly that point. Men are not naturally savage, nor are women naturally civilized. Civilization belongs to both sexes. We could say it comes in two flavors.

The true creation account gives us to understand that mankind, male and female, were created with an inborn relation to the logos. Men and women are born to be civilized. Their civilized-ness becomes realized as they are brought up in wisdom, and as they seek after the logos with treasure map and shovel in hand.

Putting female sexuality in the place of the logos in the story of civilization is going to have major repercussions. As my favorite blogger might say, jeepers.


Nathan, thanks very much. Two responses for you. The first is that I don’t locate this male barbarism in a prehistoric state of nature, but rather in a post-fall judgment on all mankind from God. We find the basis for that in Gen. 3:16. Since the entry of sin into the world, woman has to play a vulnerable, but very attractive hand. For you other comments, I generally agree. A good and sensible response to Gilder is here, with which I agree. So I don’t think the gynocentric blind spot is as big as you might think.

This article posted today on Gilder is a nice read. If I had to imagine it strikes right at what Canon/Moscow was trying to do by republishing his book.


M, thanks very much. Yes, it does.

Getting a Map in Your Head

I have read through the Bible several times, and a common problem comes up for me. Very often I find myself asking questions like “where did this take place on the map?” Or “ how long after a previous event did this take?” Or, “ when did the prophecy happen, and when was the prophecy fulfilled?” Or, “What was happening in Judah, while this was taking place in Israel?”

Essentially I am looking for an outline of the Bible with timelines and a geography of the Bible for that specific point in history.

This is a harder question: If there existed some sort of “Through New Eyes” thesaurus that helps me understand some of the symbolism in the Bible, then Christmas would come early for me.

I have tried Logos Bible Software, but even if I spent a lot of money I am not sure it would give me what I want. Also, it is quite daunting to use. I am not sure I would even know how to navigate all that it offers.

If you have any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it. I think that it would help my Bible reading if I could understand the context.


David, I think I can help you with your first question at any rate. Check out Satellite Bible Atlas. The guy who did it has since veered off into some weird doctrinal stuff, but this work is a great resource.

A Hindu President?

I recently listened to Vivek Ramaswamy’s pitch for president. His policies and promises align with small government and Christian values. However, Vivek is a practicing Hindu. Is it possible for a Christian to vote for professing non-believer? Vivek says he supports the principle upon which the country was founded. These principles are undoubtedly Christian principles. While Vivek has the incorrect religious authority to believe in these principles, he still upholds them. Does Christian Nationalism require a Christian magistrate, or can we vote for someone who shares Christian values while not being Christian? Thank you for your advice.


Ryan, Christian nationalism does have the goal of seeing Christian magistrates in office, and consequently I would have trouble voting for someone like him. So the fact that these sorts of choices keeping coming up means that we have gotten to the stage of the story where the Lord is just messing with us, seeing how long it will take us to repent. That said, I would rather be governed by a Hindu who governed like a Christian than by a Christian who governed like a Hindu.

Flusing the System

Been reading “A Primer on Worship and Reformation”. I noticed at the end of Chapter 7 Bone of His Bones you write, “A pastor can fully expect and anticipate that moving to weekly communion will cause quite a bit of sin to be uncovered in the congregation.” There is no further comment on why this will be so.

Do you think you might create a post on this idea? Or point me to something you’ve already written? I will also re-read the chapter in case I missed something.


Jack, no, I don’t think I have written anything more on that. But the basic idea is this. Christians know that communion means that they are supposed to be in fellowship with everyone else in the room. When they are not, they can navigate around monthly or quarterly communion. When they are confronted with the koinonia summons every week, there is no getting around it. They must either deal with the sin, or it blows up sideways.

Yes, Exactly

In the last couple years I picked up Spenser, and to my delight discovered this map that I knew well. There was Castle Despair and a giant, the House of Holiness with the three ladies and their mother, and St. G receives his name at the home of a hermit with a view of the Celestial City. Pilgrim’s Progress fit right in, Christian is walking through the same world. Then the other foot dropped. There were small perspective differences. St George was told he would not get to go there until his work here was done; Christian was told to keep his eyes no where else. The knights wander everywhere fighting every monster and knight they meet; Christian’s path is narrow to the point of falling of either precipice. Spencer’s world is brimming with good and bad; Bunyan’s is burning, about to burn, or only burns three months of the year.

But yesterday, I realized the biggest difference is the location of her king. There is no king in the land. The wicked prince rules and wins, driving Pilgrim’s out or destroying them. And the King of the Celestial City sends letters from far away and leaves keys that are nearly forgotten. The clear response is, “Well, the key wasn’t forgotten and the letter wasn’t ignored. Providence, my dear.” And yet, it is all a very close thing. But when there was no king in Israel, it was a curse. And Christ is Emmanuel.

Spencer wrote a different land. The clearest place to look is in Castle Despair. The key of promise got Christian out. The king himself got George out. There was no near chase. The king leveled the enemies.

“Fair virgin to redeem her dear

Brings Arthur to the fight:

Who slays the Giant, wounds the beast

And strips Duessa quite.”

– Canto VIII

Whether you look at Arthur as high noble, a David in his wanderings, or a Christ type, it comes down to this—He is Arthur and Arthur is a good king. Bunyan’s king does not seem good, his world is not beautiful, and there is scant refuge on a long lonely walk. I don’t think this is true.

I love both of these books, but now I am heartily questioning the degree I share Pilgrim’s Progress with my kids. That will be difficult because they have been reading various children’s editions for years. A friend pointed out Bunyan’s own biography was as angsty as the self-flagellating monks, without the violent catharsis. Pilgrim’s Progress is an imaginative lodestar in the world. Is this concerning or is it small potatoes? What is your take?

Am I reading this right?

Can I just say, all is grace and God uses the weak things of the world?



Kate, two things. First, I think you are on to something that should be developed and taught to your kids. Second, I think that Pilgrim’s Progress should continue to be treasured and taught. Bunyan got through the angst of his conversion well, and he has written a very valuable story regarding our individual pilgrimage. And when you consider how long Bunyan was locked up, we should allow him his perspective. But we also need—body life—a more spacious perspective from others.

On Marrying a Younger Man

The Law of Attraction

Dear Uncle Douglas,

Thank you very much for your letters to Darla. They have been the most practical, helpful, thought-provoking, insightful wisdom I have ever heard on navigating friendship and courtship, and I return to them often!

My question is, what are your thoughts on marrying a man who is younger than you? Say you are very attracted to him, he has great character, spiritually mature, and is not significantly younger, maybe 3-5 years. I grew up thinking that the man should always be older or within a a year or two younger than the girl, but things at my church are very different. My friends have married guys several years younger and it seems to be fast becoming the norm. I’d appreciate any thoughts or advice you have on this. Thank you!


Kate, I don’t have any problem with that kind of age difference. The issue would be respect. If you look up to him, respecting his godly character, and he shows interest, then pray and go.

The Draft

I suspect I may not be the first to tell you, but your recent answer to Mark in a letter titled “The Draft” was a complete non sequitur. Unless I’m being a complete idiot, you may want to hit that one again.


Lewis, not a non sequitur. He suggested that I write something on conscription, and I agreed. I need to do that. I just recorded something on it yesterday for an upcoming Plodcast. The short form is that biblical law allows for a mandatory muster of warriors, but does not allow them to be conscripted into combat.

Fellow Muscovite

I’ve been a fan for many years. Your book Future Men enabled me to raise my son understanding masculinity and how to affirm it. I homeschooled my kids and later discovered classical education in large part due to read Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning. I’ve read and benefited from many of your books. Oddly, many of my friends have an allergy to you as some kind of patriarchal monster, whereas I feel respected as a woman in your books and writings, unlike more traditional fundamentalist types who seem to think women are sort of grown up children who need male management. Anyway, thank you. For everything. My question: I was recently introduced to Marty Solomon and the Bema podcast. I listened to a few episodes and found them thrilling. But I also had some red flags: he attributes much of his view at least in his Genesis teaching to Rob Bell. And he talks about “deconstruction.” Oh oh. I gather he is in Moscow so I imagine you may know him. I have several Jewish friends I’ve been sharing Christ with for a number of years and was hopeful about this podcast, but I certainly don’t want them to end up with Rob Bell’s doctrines! I trust your wisdom and knowledge, and this appears to be a growing “movement,” so your commentary would be appreciated.



Lynn, I know of Marty Solomon, but I am afraid I don’t know him. I do think you are right to be wary of anything Bellish.

Fourth Turning Responses

Would The Fourth Turning Is Here (which is available on my audiobook service) be intelligible to someone who has not read The Fourth Turning (which is not available on my audiobook service)?


Kyriosity, yes. He has a good summary of the first book at the beginning of this most recent one.

In response to “The Fourth Turning and the Future of Reformed Leadership.” What is amazing to me is, those who want to promote Christian nationalism seem to fail to realize that our Churches are continuing to empty out. Those Churches which may be seeing growth is not due to an influx of unbelievers converting to Christianity, but rather Christians leaving the dying Churches. Moreover, it is a fact that the overwhelming majority of the few Christians we have left, cannot even explain what it is they believe, nor why they believe it. This should clearly demonstrate that the Church has lost the war inside the Church, and if we cannot even win the war inside the Church then what makes us think we can win the “culture wars”? If this nation could have ever been considered a Christian nation, it is because the overwhelming majority of it’s citizenship was Christian who attended Church and placed themselves under the authority of said Church. I think we can agree this is no longer the case. It is the duty of the Church to preach the Gospel to unbelievers in hopes of bringing them under the authority of the Church. If this occurs the laws will take care of themselves. However, the Church is so concerned about the behavior of those outside the Church to the point we are neglecting those inside, which is the exact reason we are losing both those inside, and out. It is not like the Church has not been involved in the “culture wars”. Rather, it has involved itself in the “culture wars” for decades now, going all the way back to the 1970’s. The Church has lost the “culture wars” and we will continue to lose the “culture wars” because the Church was never called to fight a “culture war”. Continuing to do the same thing over, and over, expecting different results is what is called insanity. I wonder what would happen if the Church would stop concerning itself with the behavior of those outside it’s authority, (you know like when Paul said, “what do I have to do with judging those outside”) and begin to focus upon equipping those under it’s authority, and these Christians would then go out to love, and help our neighbors outside, getting in the ditch with them like the “Good Samaritan” not concerning ourselves with changing their behavior, but rather changing their hearts? I wonder what sort of impact this would have? What would there be for unbelievers to criticize? Right now the Church is being criticized, not because we are preaching Christ Resurrected, but rather because we are preaching law. The only hope for this world is Gospel. The law will not save us. Therefore, the answer to our problem is not Christian nationalism, but rather the Gospel.


Jack, thanks. This is a great summary of what we have been seeking to do here in Moscow for the past four decades. Reformation within the church first. Then flow out.

An Updated Persuasions?

My question: If you updated Persuasions, what additional chapters would it include? I still use the wisdom contained therein in my mentoring and witnessing: e.g., Evangelist’s question to Jim (in Jim and Sarah): “So you have received much good advice, and no good news?… The good news must come first, and then the good advice. Until then, the only value that good advice has is that it reveals to you how far short of God’s requirements you fall.” In conclusion: Thanks be to God for your line-upon-line, ploductivity-based ministry. It’s been a big help to me.


Frank, if I were to do that, I would want to include a chapter on sexual identity, one on abortion guilt, and one interacting with a black-pilled Nietzschean.

Tricky Situation Is Right

I am counseling a former member of my teen group on a tricky situation. He was dating a young lady and they made a private “covenant” before God to commit to each other for life so that they could be considered married and then proceeded to do things that married couples do. They kept this decision private from everyone including their parents until recently when, under conviction, they came clean and are seeking to make things right. He contacted his pastors and me, his former youth pastor, to confess and ask for wisdom.

Understanding that it was wrong to do these things behind their parents’ backs, I find myself having trouble articulating biblically why their covenant before God is invalid. I want to say because it did not involve witnesses, but I do not recall that being a biblical requirement for marriage or a covenant. So are they married, but still need to make the covenant public somehow? Are they not married, guilty of fornication, and now needing to start at square one with a proper marriage?

Thanks for any help you can provide,


Jonnie, I think they are not married because the covenant they made is not enforceable by anyone outside the two of them. In other words, if he was lying for the sake of sex, when that became obvious, she would have no recourse at all. The point is not that it needs to be public for publicity’s sake. It needs to be public so that it has teeth.

We’ll See What Happens

Thank you for interacting with my previous message asking for your engagement with Provisionist/Molinist arguments. For the Provisionist arguments, Leighton Flowers has two books: “The Potter’s Promise” and “God’s Provision for All.”

There is also this statement of faith with Leighton’s acronym here.

The above link has some other sources in it regarding their beliefs.

Personally, I would be pleased to see your thoughts on the “Corporate Election” position on Ephesians 1—particularly their interpretation of “He chose us in Him” as that seems to be one of the Provisionist hinge-pins. You can find the Provisionist position on that here.

As far as the Molinist arguments go, I have found that Anti-Calvinists pick them up as a means to fill the cracks in the Provisionist system. So when Calvinists start talking about God’s omniscience, they often resort to God’s “middle knowledge” and “counter factuals.” Tim Stratton is probably one of the most prominent Molinists. He has no shortage of his beliefs online.

I think that is more than enough to trouble you with. I thank you very much for your time and any effort you put towards writing against these positions.

In Christ,


Matthew, thanks. I will try to keep this in mind. But there is that old “hours in the day” problem.

Two With the Same Question

During your night of eschatology roundtable in 2009 with John Piper, Jim Hamilton, and Sam Storms, when asked, you mentioned that one of the most challenging things to your postmillennial view was how to harmonize the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians together. Since then, have you been able to clarify this interpretive challenge and if so, would you be able to recommend any resources to help someone out who’s having the same challenges?



Question regarding the “Evening of Eschatology” discussion with John Piper and folks in 2009: Pastor Doug, toward the end of this discussion, you mentioned that the hardest thing for you to deal with textually with respect to postmillenialism is harmonizing 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, particularly the Man of Lawlessness and some of the implications of him being “the Roman emperor” (I assume you mean Nero?) and the fact that him being “resurrected” and the rebellion would have to have already taken place in the greater postmil eschatological narrative. Have you had any other thoughts on this since the talk? Did you find a better way to manage the textual issues? Thanks for all you do.

Best regards,


RKM and Brandon, yes. Since that time, I have preached through both epistles to the Thessalonians, and you can find those sermon outlines here on the blog. There is also a commentary that should be released in the foreseeable future.

God Bless Him . . .

Recently, Dr. John MacArthur was on the Babylon Bee Podcast to be interviewed for his new film, “The Essential Church,” chronicling his church’s battle with the State of California over COVID mandates, while also including the stories of Pastors James Coates and Tim Stephens in Canada, and tying those stories with the events of the Scottish Covenanters and John Bunyan.

The interviewer made mention of the Psalm sing arrests in Moscow in September 2020, and Dr. MacArthur responded by saying that he would not condemn the group who sang the Psalms there, but that generally it’s not the Christian’s place to protest or march around City Hall. Rather, he says, it is to live quiet and peaceable lives. He also still maintains that the American Revolution was unbiblical, that Christian Nationalism is misdirected, and that there is no way to make people change by changing laws, but rather, you may only change laws by changing people.

Could you please point me to past articles that you have written in response to these sorts of beliefs? Or, would it be helpful to write a new Blog and Mablog article in response to it? It seems to me that we need to change laws and people because the relationship is mutual, hence why we need Christian Protestant nations and why the Left is winning so noticeably right now. They are changing laws and people at the same time.

God bless you!

Comrade to Moscow

Comrade to Moscow, in the first place I agree completely that the strategy should not be to change the people through changing the laws. It has to be the other way. But when it goes the other way, it does establish a reinforcing loop. My best response to all of this would be found in my Mere Christendom.

Jews and the Land

Do you believe the return of the Jews to the land of Israel in 1948, and their subsequent defence of that land in 1967 was in any way a fulfilment of prophecies made in the Bible? If so, which prophecies? If not, why did such miraculous events occur?

I am an amillennialist, and I personally do not believe the 1948 and 67 events were prophetically significant. However, the more I read about them and their history, the more they seem miraculous. Could it be that God orchestrated these events as an answer to the prayers of many sincere premillennialists and dispensationalists who pray earnestly for the welfare of the Jews? Would God answer prayers in this way, despite the motives of the prayers being grounded in a false understanding of eschatology?

Appreciate your time.


Ben, I don’t believe that their return to the land, remarkable as it was, was in any way a fulfillment of prophecy. At the same time, I regard it as something of a providential staging move, preparatory to the time when they do return to their Messiah.

A Thorny One

First, I want to extend my thanks to NSA and all of you at Christ Church who helped put on the Called Conference. Our daughter attended (from Texas), and it was an incredible week of encouragement for her. Living in the Bible Belt, despite being in a wonderful church, Christian nominalism abounds which is tough for a Christian teen. She came home astounded that so many teenagers with such vibrant faith exist (not to mention boys who are unashamed to sing Psalms walking down the street, who also hold open doors and pull out chairs). We are grateful that she was able to attend.

That said, NSA has moved far up on her list of college prospects, and alas, we are reformed Baptists. My question to you relates to how we ought to guide her in this interest in NSA. Given that she’s a young woman, who would likely meet a spouse in college, is it best that we guide her in studying the theological differences that would be quite likely in someone she would meet there, so that she, herself, can ascertain how strong her own convictions are regarding baptism/communion/eschatology? I should say that we, at this point, don’t think we’d be opposed to our daughter marrying a Presbyterian if she ended up sharing those same convictions. However, if she were to come to the conclusion that she’s staunchly Baptist, say, is it wisest for her to consider other college options? Or should she attend (obviously contingent upon admission) while avoiding courting anyone there who does not share her Baptist views? We are still a few years out from this decision, but we are so impressed with NSA that we’d like to approach this with wisdom for our daughter. She’s currently so giddy from a week with like-minded teenagers that all she can talk about is moving to Idaho in a few years!


Heather, these are all reasonable questions. If she were to attend, with her Reformed Baptist convictions intact, she would not be entirely lonely. There are others here, students and faculty included, who would share those convictions. Thus far we have been able to maintain an atmosphere of mutual respect. The broad consensus is certainly exuberantly paedo, so she would certainly have to be braced for that.

Alright no fair . . . Thoroughly enjoying Mere Christendom right now (while my wife and I are enjoying the first week with our first child). But I reached page 101-102 and the litmus test of a Palestinian non-Christian and Republican Christian and all I have to say is that’s not fair. Definitely a good test, while not hitting it exactly on the nose you did illustrate a challenge I have with my family. They are professing Christians (father and brother and wife) and we all live within 30 minutes of each other, but we could not attend the same church. This is a great bother and disappointment to me, and I know my heart needs to continue to be shaped like Christ in my relationship to them both. Now to my question. Where is the book for working on those sort of relationships?


Shea, you are right. There really does need to be a book on that. In the meantime, as best you can, cultivate fellowship in non-church settings.

Interested in Interest

“You May Not be Interested in Interest, But Interest Is Interested in You” Good essay on maintaining a Christian view of modern finances. And to offer a bit more of an explanation of “good” debt: At it’s best, banks are materializing the wealth of the future into the present. They ARE creating wealth, by seeing what could be and bringing it to now. It is very similar to the patchy present/future nature of the way the Kingdom of God is advancing throughout the earth.


Ian, thanks very much.

Off the Beaten Path

I am reading your book, Fidelity. What I have been wrestling with for a long time is a sexual attraction to women’s hair. The problem is that I don’t have to go to a beach to be blindsided by temptation; Walmart will do. I frequently fall into a depression wishing that my wife would do something similar with her hair, and I get angry with God and/or my wife.

How can I develop contentment when it is impossible for me to avoid triggers? Is it wrong for me to request my wife do certain things to her hair, or should I be trying to kill all sexual desire for hair?

(As a side note, I do not masturbate or go looking online for photos of hair. That is “easy” to avoid because it is an external action. But I don’t know how to “feel” content in the moment, or the hours thereafter. I also have obsessive tendencies, so there’s that too.)

Any wisdom you can share is appreciated.


C, this is complicated. A woman’s hair is her glory, and it is part of her sexual attractiveness. But it sounds as though your temptations may take it beyond that, moving into the realm of a fetish. It sounds as though your obsessive tendencies might have something to do with it as well. So I would begin by mortifying your desires in that area (not all, but most). I would be do this by giving yourself to the study of contentment. Jeremiah Burroughs’ book, The Rare Jewel, would be a great place to start.

Yeah, I Think You Need to Talk

Respectfully requesting some guidance, acknowledging that you are only hearing my side. Before I talk to my pastor about what I believe is some bad lessons he is teaching, I would appreciate your wisdom. About 2 years ago, we found a nice little church with a faithful pastor. Recently, however, he has been calling out husbands. While I have no problem with husbands being guided, my fear is that he is calling out husbands for women’s sins, while not addressing the fact that the women should take responsibility for their own sins. To add to this, I have two teenage daughters I am trying to raise into good women, and I am uncomfortable with the fact that I keep having to correct him to them.

Here are some examples of what he has been saying:

* He railed against the divorce rate, and then proclaimed “I blame the men.”

* He added that it is men that need marriage because no one will reveal their flaws and keep them in their place more than their wife (not the best sales pitch to reluctant men I might add, but I do not want my daughters thinking that this is their role as a wife).

* He told men they must listen to their wives, because what she is saying to him comes from God. He added “even if she delivers it in a sinful way, it is from God.”

* He talks about the serpent deceiving Eve, and he said “Where was Adam? I blame him for not protecting her.” Of course, Adam’s sin was listening to his wife instead of God, which contradicts my pastor’s assertion that a woman’s words come from God even when they are sinning.

* He admonished husbands to not bicker with their wives, and added “even if she is royally chewing you out, don’t bicker, if you’re a man you should be able to take it,”

Now, to be clear, if he were speaking to men only, a lot of this would make sense. But he isn’t speaking to men only. He’s speaking to wives and future wives, and if he is going to specifically discuss a woman’s sin, I think he is doing them a disservice by holding only the men to account.

He and I have become good friends, and I believe I need to hold him to account. But I also acknowledge that the discord in my home being added to by this may cloud my judgment.

God bless you.


John, yes, I agree that you need to talk with him. But I would strongly recommend that your first talk simply be to ask him questions. Don’t debate, don’t complain, don’t protest. Just go to him to ask clarifying questions. Get his actual position fixed in your mind. Do it so that you can take it home and pray about it. If you decide that it is as lopsided as it sounds here, then you should have a follow-up talk where you register your concerns.

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