Letters That Express Your True Feelings

Why Can’t the Winsome Win Some?

Re: Sly Dog Teachers

I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed (and doesn’t appreciate) the word “winsome” creeping into Christian teaching. I’ve heard it on Christian radio from one teacher in particular, and I roll my eyes every time I hear it. Makes me feel kind of guilty to do so, I mean, this guy’s got a radio ministry ‘n stuff, and he thinks being winsome is a positive trait, so he must know something I don’t, right? But I try to think of Paul being winsome, and it just doesn’t work. Nor Moses, nor Isaiah. Hang on . . . nor JESUS, for that matter!

Thanks,

Lewis

Lewis, thanks. That is correct. We are being most provincial in our thinking when the thought that we are being provincial has never occurred to us.

RE: Sly Dog Teachers Pastor,

Given the tags and inferences in ‘Sly Dog Teachers’, I’m assuming you are pushing back against those of us who have lost patience with all this Christian Nationalism talk. You seem to indicate in this post that your main detractors are of the Big Eva sort, but I think you are mistaken. Big Eva just doesn’t like you. I think the main opponents you should be engaging are those who love you and your work, but hate this current focus of yours.

You say you don’t want to ‘get distracted’, but I’m convinced Christian Nationalism is itself a very dreadful distraction. It’s a divisive side conversation that is premature at best. Preach the gospel, full of repentance, for all of America’s sins, and worry later on about what the results will be if and when America finally repents.

Sinners, whether in Moscow or abroad, won’t repent when they are confronted by what looks like a mere political power play, an impotent political power play by 1/10,000th (I’m feeling generous today) of the Evangelical church. If they will repent, it will be as it has always been, the result of the unvarnished proclamation faith and repentance.

For what it’s worth, and in case you’d like to interact publicly in your posts, I should mention that you know the debt I owe you and your wife, in saving our marriage at a most stressful moment. I hope you know we respect you and will love you to our graves. But better are the rebukes of a friend than the praises of Twitter.

Gladly under your care,

C

C, I think we agree more than we differ, and so I would refer you to yesterday’s post. Part of the reason I don’t think all of this is a distraction is that CN helps to make the point that the claims of Christ are total, and not limited to a man’s personal felt needs. The Christian faith is not a private mystery religion. But it needs to be law and gospel all the way, and you are quite right that massive revival is the only hope. So if a man is preaching the way he ought, whether or not he brings up CN in the message, it will come up in the Q&A.

I just wanted to make a quick comment on your post: “Straight Talk on the Christian Prince, No Varnish.” Your critique of Lindsay and others is all fair, but their critique is not the appropriate critique of Christian Nationalism. The real problem with the idea is that it is in direct contrast of Christ.

There was no effort made by Christ to take hold of state authority. Now, that alone may be reason enough that we “little Christs” should make no effort to do so ourselves. However, even if that feels a stretch too far, it should at least cause us to pause and question why? The answer I think is fairly obvious: state authority exists only because of pre-emotive threats of force. That is something that God the Son, the perfect example of what it is to be a human, simply does not do.

This is not to say that God does not use threats of force. I do believe God the Father does. But God the Father is not human. Humans have limitation, and those limitations make us unfit to do something like that. God warned as much when Israel wanted a king. Jesus demonstrated as much by living righteously and allowing state power to do what it would, rather than take it for himself, as he could have. We are to do the same. We are strangers in a strange land. And while I don’t like almost all of what the state does with its power, I also understand that it is not the means of change that a Christian should seek. The ends do not justify the means, and the means of the state are antithetical to the example and message of Christ.

There will be a Christian nation and kingdom one day. That kingdom, though, will not rule by threat of force but by the desire of its subjects to be with and like their king. As Christians, we await that state dynamic, not the one that exists today. After all, it’s very telling that the one man fit to wield the power of the state chose to go nowhere near it.

Thanks for your time,

Derick

Derick, the reason Christ didn’t seize the power of the state, which he could have done, is because that was not His mission. He was the mustard seed going into the ground, and it was not yet time for the birds to nest in the branches. The rock that struck the feet in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was the same rock that later filled the whole earth. But God does different things at different times of redemptive history. At one time, He has His Son crucified by the existing authorities, as a lamb before the shearers is dumb. But at a subsequent time, He has His preachers throw down principalities and powers, and every high thing that sets itself against the knowledge of God. And what instrument do they use? The preaching of the crucified one.

New Covenant Sacramental Stuff

The New Covenant in Hebrews

Pastor Wilson,

My family and I have been working through the Reformed views of the covenants and the sacraments. My wife and I were raised Baptist, introduced to the Reformed tradition in college, and since getting married and having kids, the importance of establishing where we stand has become all the more important.

We are convinced of the inclusion of our children and the ramifications of that, but as I have worked through Hebrews on a couple occasions in this process, I have found it still produces the most questions for me.

In Chapter 8, the author (Paul?) famously quotes Jeremiah. I listened to your “Surveying the Text” sermon on this passage, and it was quite helpful. However, one thing you did not mention, and I have not heard discussed anywhere else, is that the passage seems focused on the Mosaic covenant. Which, to my understanding, would not even allow it to be used as a proof text against the continuity of the Abrahamic covenant, though I also see this passage as the place where a Baptist view is at its strongest.

Am I right to make this distinction? Is distinguishing between the Abrahamic and Mosaic in this way valid or am I off base? I hope I have made my question clear.

Also, do you recommend any commentaries on Hebrews?

Thank you sir for your time and ministry.

Cagan

Cagan, I can recommend John Owen on Hebrews (7 volumes), but I believe there is an abridged version available. There is also my commentary on the book, Christ and His Rivals, available here. As to your question, I am not sure I understand it. Are you asking whether the words of Hebrews taken in a baptistic way would erase the Abrahamic covenant also? A good approach in the meantime would be to look up all the places where Jeremiah uses the phrase “least to greatest” and ask who it includes. Does it include children?

Hard One

I am wondering how you would advise a woman who becomes a Christian while living in a particular circumstance. She has 2 children under 10 and is living with the father of her children, but they are unmarried. He is very anti-Christian, but is happy to marry her. Does the fact that they have children nullify the teaching of Scripture to not marry an unbeliever? Is the most important thing to keep the ‘family unit’ intact as they have lived for a few years in a way that culture recognizes as a family. Or would obedience look like separating from her partner in order to live in purity and not not marry him. Your wisdom and biblical reasoning for such a situation would be appreciated.

Laura

Laura, the dilemma is a real one. I would first check the laws of your state to see if it is already a common law marriage. If not, then I believe it would be the woman’s responsibility to move out, and to not marry. But his willingness to marry her means that he is also willing to be a dad to the kids, and so she should do everything she can to facilitate that (e.g. not move across the country). And if the concern is to win him, as it should be, that would be difficult for a compromised Christian to do.

Good Old Zechariah 14

Dear Doug

I’m writing from Cyprus. I take the view of partial preterism. I’ve had a bit of a hard time understanding zechariah chapter 14. Do you think it refers to the second coming of The Lord? What would you suggest me reading that gives an indepth understanding of the chapter?

Kind regards . The Lord be with you.

Panayiotis

Panayiotis, this is what I’ve got.

NSA and Westminster

A few years ago you did a podcast series for NSA on the Westminster Confession. Unfortunately it no longer seems to be accessible, whether on NSA’s website or via Apple podcast. Is it possible for someone to reinstate these? Thanks

Pierre

Pierre, I honestly don’t know. Does anybody out there have a link?

Keli Geber

In your recent post “The case against conscription”, you mentioned the Hebrew translation of “keli geber” being the gear of a warrior. I don’t see that in any of the English translations of Deuteronomy 22:5, do you have any resources to help understand why this is a better translation than say ESV, KJV, or even GEV?

Thanks!

Zach

Zach, I think the KJV and NKJV do capture it (“that which pertains to a man”), and the ESV and NASB miss it. The phrase can go broader than simply weaponry, meaning that I would include a telephone lineman’s tool belt. But the ESV route actually creates more problems, because they render it as, in effect, prohibiting trousers. I take it as forbidding vocational confusion for the women, and kinky time for the men.

Bribery Lawful?

This is not addressing any post of yours. I have the blessing of being in a church with several members from China and India, some raised as Christians and some having been converted since coming to the states. Both have described how bribing officials is sometimes the only way to get something done, either at all, or in any reasonable time frame. We have not had too much discussion about this, but one family from India in particular has a conviction that they must not bribe, and will bear the burdens that come with that. Others are more ok with bribing, as it’s seen as basically just the way things go. I’m curious what you would think, particularly if you were in a country or city where bribing was so common that it was the only way to get paperwork done on buying a house, just for example. (Granted, buying property in China doesn’t exactly make the property YOURS per se :)) Thanks!

Cole

Cole, I believe that Scripture teaches. that it is wicked to take a bribe, but that it is lawful under certain conditions to give one. Taking bribes is prohibited: “Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not wrest judgment; thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee” (Deuteronomy 16:18–20). And when a system has integrity, I would argue it is wicked to give a bribe, because you are corrupting the system, tempting to wickedness. But when the system is already corrupt and/or tyrannical, and all you are trying to do is “get through customs,” say, a bribe can be lawful. “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” (Proverbs 18:16). “A gift in secret pacifieth anger: And a reward in the bosom strong wrath” (Proverbs 21:14).

CREC Church in FL?

I’m wondering if you know of any CREC churches in Jacksonville, FL? or any church plants there? I’m looking make a potential move there, and having a good church would be crucial.

Some One

Some One, the CREC web site allows you to search by region, so check here in the upper right. But we can also crowd source this one—anyone?

Conscription Questions

Article: The Case Against Conscription

In the final paragraph of this article, there is the suggestion for church leaders to develop a conscientious objection statement regarding conscription. I have written a number of conscience statements for my church, but I feel a bit out of my depth on this topic. I agree with the need for this statement on conscription, but I am not sure I am able to write it. Do you know of some churches that have some good quality statements that I could use as a starting point?

Thank you,

Richard

Richard, I honestly don’t. I was hoping my post would inspire some men to get started.

The Case against Conscription:

And not only all that, but we do, in fact, still have a Constitution presiding over this once-great but falling fast Republic. It may be torn, tattered, riddled with stains we’d rather not know the source of, and covered in layers of neglected dust, but it DOES still exist. And we can still appeal to it. There are at least five Justices who have remembered its place (and theirs). So, with that thread of judicial hope yet remaining, we can mention the inconvenient truth that we haven’t properly declared a just war in 80+ years, and none of the last several decades of non-stop skirmishes has been worth bleeding over. Conscripted or not, we should be very hesitant to give our lives for the gay U.S. democratization of another country. We really have no right to demand even a straight version of that, but certainly not the rainbow unicorn version of it. Until Congress officially declares war and includes both a state of victory and an exit strategy, we really ought not lay down our lives for the warmongers. That might be another reason not to enlist . . . or to leave. Voting with one’s feet has frequently been more persuasive than a million voices. Just ask Bud Lite.

Andy

Andy, yes.

Forgiveness and Trust

Are there specific Bible passages to reference proving forgiveness and trust are separate or is it a matter of wisdom gleaned from biblical principles? My brother-in-law was convicted of molesting his eldest daughter and, based on his recent conversations with my wife, we have serious concerns about his continued lack of virtue since his release from jail. My wife and I are pregnant again (please pray that we could keep this one) and we’ve decided not to expose our children to him until adulthood to prevent him from luring them into becoming his next victim. He still lives up to his reputation as a selfish manipulator. My in-laws are accusing my wife and me of being judgmental and unforgiving because we’re not willing to accept him back into the family as if his crime never happened. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Brent

Brent, two things. First, it is fully appropriate for you to guard and protect your children, and that would include not ever being in a situation where he could be alone with them. But it seems to me that being at a Thanksgiving dinner where he is present is quite different than asking him to baby sit. That’s one thing. As to your question on forgiveness and trust. The Bible is plain that forgiveness is to be simply available for the asking (Luke 17:3-4). But a different category comes into play when a person holds an office or a responsibility—say if a husband cheats, his wife may remove him from office, e.g. through divorce (Matt. 19:9). If he asks, she must forgive him his infidelity, but that is a different question than whether they will stay married. Forgiveness is not the same thing as trust.

Complementarianism and Patriarchy

I am working on a paper for my Church’s Pastoral Internship on complementarianism. Would you be able to give me a working definition of what you mean when you say patriarchal and how that is more biblical than standard complementarianism. Thank you so much, I enjoy your content.

James

James, this is a rudimentary response, but think of it this way. Complementarianism tends to restrict their understanding of the biblical teaching on the relationship of the sexes to the home and to the pulpit. Patriarchalists would tend to say that if we have those two places straight, it will affect all of society.

Works as Animating Spirit

“grh, I simply want to do justice to the expression used by James. As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead. In that illustration, the animating principle of faith is works. But what James means by works is what Paul means by fruit, or by life.”

Thanks for the interaction. In your answer above, what do you mean by “animating principle”? Do you mean “that which gives life to,” or do you mean “that which is given life”?

grh

grh, when God gives saving faith, the kind of faith He gives is living faith, not dead faith. As living faith, it moves around and does stuff. James calls those motions works, while Paul calls those motions fruit.

Postmill Intro?

Though I have been around the block a bit in theological circles (I have an MA in NT studies from Wheaton), I have avoided studying eschatology like the plague. I’m convinced this is due mostly to PTSD that I incurred as a result of growing up in pre-millennial circles in the age of endless (pun intended) End Times films and Bible studies and, later, the Left Behind behemoth. I enjoyed your participation in the panel discussion that John Piper moderated, but it left me with more questions than answers. What resources would you recommend to a recovering eschatological trauma victim to learn about post-millenialism?

Andrew

Andrew, for an introduction, I would recommend either Keith Mathison’s Postmillennialism or my Heaven Misplaced. If that whets the appetite, I would move on to Ken Gentry’s He Shall Have Dominion.

Head Coverings Again

I am listening to the book “Federal Husband” and in the book Douglas Wilson briefly touches on the subject of head covering. He stated that a woman’s hair is her covering and she has no need for a veil of any sort when praying. So, does it not stand to reason, if hair is considered covering, a man ought to shave his head, for a man should not pray with his head covered? Paul does not leave us with no reason, causing us to speculate. He gives two reasons. One, creation. Two, the angels. Can you please give the reasoning behind thinking hair is the covering Paul is referring to and clear this up for me

Douglas

Douglas, my understanding is this: when it say “her hair is given to her for a covering” (1 Cor. 11: 15), this does not mean a covering for the scalp, because any amount of hair can do that, including, as you point out, a man’s short hair. He is clear in the context that he is talking about a woman’s long hair, which is her glory, and which would cover more than a man’s short hair would cover, meaning her head and perhaps face.

Two Cheers for Constantine

RE: The Prodigal Son and Christian Nationalism

Did No Quarter November come early? It’s like Christmas in July! Keep it up brother, your writings are an inspiration and have emboldened me to speak more forcefully on this subject than I otherwise would have been.

And a recommendation to the readers here, I just finished Peter Leithart’s “Defending Constantine” and as for a historical example of the relationship between the church and a Christian leader, it is excellent! He points out the flaws for sure, but we can learn from those as much as from the strengths. From the end of the book, written in 2010 BTW!

“We can escape the apocalypse. But this can only happen on certain conditions: only through reevangelization, only through the revival of a purified Constantinianism, only by the formation of a Christically centered politics, only through fresh public confession that Jesus’ city is the model city, his blood the only expiating blood, his sacrifice the sacrifice that ends sacrifice. An apocalypse can be averted only if modern civilization, like Rome, humbles itself and is willing to come forward to be baptized.” AMEN!

If possible, Canon needs to get this book and release it either in book form on Canon Press or in audio form.

I will continue to pray for you, the CREC, and the church as she strives to bring the nations to repentance and baptism!

In Him,

Andrew

Andrew, amen. That was a really good book.

Strategic Prayer for Ohio

In my earlier email titled “Strategic Prayer,” my goal was to draw your attention to the current situation in Ohio where pro-abortion activists are working to “enshrine” abortion into the Ohio state constitution. This amendment will appear on the ballot this November and the threat is dire. Many Christians in Ohio are engaged in reaching pastors and churches within the state of Ohio, but I hope, by bringing this to your attention so that you can call upon Christians nationwide to join us by praying and offering what support they can.

Our opponents have a national strategy. Sadly, our side does not. Many on our side are only now recovering from a year-long post-Roe victory nap… I mean lap. Thankfully prayers are the easiest form of support to mobilize and the most effective means of pushing against this darkness. For Christians who are in securely pro-life states, I’d suggest that they consider temporarily pausing their donations to their own state’s pro-life policy groups and redirecting those donations, for a time, to states where the fight is hot.

In my last email, I alluded to the fact that abortion activists in several other states are employing the same constitutional amendment strategy and that they are likely to begin in states which require a low threshold of votes for passing such amendments. I would like to follow up in this email with more information.

This interactive map from the Family Research Council shows a state-by-state lay of the land: Pro-life State Policy Maps (frc.org) Dark green indicates states with total bans on abortion. Light green indicates states which have banned abortion after a heartbeat is detected (around 6 weeks) and pale green indicates states that have some sort of abortion limitation based on gestational age. There are a variety of other laws in each of the lighter-than-they-should-be states which limit abortion in a variety of circumstances. States with the orange stripes indicate that the current pro-life laws are snarled up in the courts and thus are not being enforced. Clicking on each state will provide that info.

A total of ten states with varying degrees of pro-life laws ( Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota,) all allow for citizen-led ballot initiatives to amend their constitutions and only Arizona and Florida require a 60% majority of votes to pass these amendments.

Of the 18 states with a total ban on abortion, 7 of those states are at risk for this new pro-abortion constitutional amendment strategy: Arizona, Arkansas, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. The constitutions of those states allow for citizen-led ballot initiatives to bring amendments forward for a popular vote. And again, only Arizona requires a 60% majority to pass such amendments, the other six states have a low, bare majority, threshold of 50% + 1 vote. This is very troubling! One by one, at their leisure, national pro-abortion groups will target states like these, pouring in millions of dollars into these states, overspending and overwhelming the state and local pro-life organizations. Pro-abortion amendments will overnight change these solidly dark green states into bright red states. Their pro-life state legislatures and governors will be unable to pass pro-life laws and no matter how conservative their state supreme courts may be, the justices will be bound to honestly interpret the right to an abortion now guaranteed by their constitution.

Ohio (an embattled light green) is the only state with an abortion amendment on the ballot this election and, thanks to our low, bare-majority, threshold for passing amendments and the lack of awareness/boldness from Christians, it is highly likely that it will pass.

Please pray for us and encourage others to do the same! Please encourage whatever pastoral connections you have in Ohio to faithfully speak out against this! Please encourage your listeners and Christians from across the country to pray for us and consider donating to one of our state’s pro-life groups who are actively engaged on this front: Ohio Right to Life, The Center for Christian Virtue, Protect Women Ohio.

Pro-abortion constitutional amendment campaigns are already underway for the 2024 elections in Arizona, Florida, Missouri, and South Dakota. You can see from that selection of states that they are targeting another state with a “heartbeat” law (Florida) and two states with total bans (Missouri and South Dakota). I expect more 2024 pro-abortion ballot initiatives in other states to be announced later this year.

I trust you can see how devastating these pro-abortion amendments are and the need to act in a concerted effort against this strategy. The Roe ruling infamously based its conclusion on “penumbras formed through emanations.” Our opponents have learned from this mistake and are seeking to constitutionalize abortion at the state level, no penumbras needed.

Please, Pastor Wilson, I am imploring you to bang the gong, sound the alarm, rally the troops, pretend November is already here and set a couch or two on fire! Christians need to be aware of and praying over the fight against abortion, even though it is raging beyond their state’s borders.

Thank you again and God bless!

Laura

Laura, again, thank you for writing.

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