Epistolary Edification

Chesterton and Tolkien

Isker, Dreher and Me: “Chesterton says somewhere that we must fight because we love what is behind us, and not just because we hate what is in front of us.”

Maybe there was some linkage between Chesterton and Tolkien regarding that concept.

Faramir says to Frodo:

War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor; and I would have loved her for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom.

Chris

Chris, exactly so.

Foolish Turks

You have been known to criticize Martin Luther’s dictum, “I’d rather be ruled by a wise Turk than by a foolish Christian,” and I’ve been sympathetic with your criticism. However, after getting acquainted with Vivek Ramaswamy (i.e., spending several hours watching interviews, debates, etc.) I would be hard-pressed to recommend any of the current contenders above him, even though he is a monotheistic Hindu. He reminds me of Obama in 2008 in terms of his dynamism and charisma, except he’s clearly far more intelligent and a much superior interlocutor than Obama. Not to mention his stated policy positions are more pleasing to God.

What are your thoughts? Have you given Vivek any consideration outside of his performance in the first Republican debate? (If not, a good place to start is his interview with Tucker Carlson at the Family Leadership Summit, which is under 30 min).

Is a foolish Mike Pence or Ron DeSantis better than an apparently wise Hindu who graduated from St. Xavier and sympathizes with the broad strokes of Christian morality? (I’m being hard on Ron, but he appears at least to be beholden to the whims and talking points of the “big money” behind his campaign.)

As always, thanks for sharing your thoughts, and many thanks for your labors.

Lance

Lance, everything else being equal, I would rather have a Hindu who governed like a Christian than a Christian who governed like a Hindu. But fortunately, there is another option.

Lazy and Distracted

Question regarding some of the teachings from the “Practical Christianity” course from Christ Church: I have come under conviction about being lazy and distracted at work. I wish to repent as properly as I’m able to—how should I go about it? Should I go to my boss and talk with him about it, knowing there’s a good chance I could be let go? Or should I find a way to pay restitution? If so, do you have a recommendation of how to approach that?

Anon

Anon, it all depends on how lazy and how distracted you have been. If it has been around the edges, then repent, straighten up, and start working hard. If you have been seriously lazy, then repent and start working hard. After you have flying right for a few months, you can tell your boss about it then.

Women and Hunting

Good afternoon! (here in TX anyway) My wife and I have been reading your works for the past few years, and we’ve come across an impasse with our 8-y-o daughter and 4-y-o son. This probably would best fit under a question from your “Future Men” book.

I know you’re a very busy man, if you reply it would be greatly appreciated.

The short version: Is it beneficial or even permissible to take my daughter deer-hunting? Is this in some way harming my son?

Long version: I’ve hunted my whole life. My family hunts. I’ve always envisioned my kids hunting, teaching them the ways. My wife does not hunt, never has and never will (whole ‘Bambi’ mentality). I’ve taken my daughter with me in the deer stand the past 3 years, and my son with me the past two years (it’s a tight squeeze with all 3 of us in there). She’s seen me shoot two deer, and he’s been with me for the last one. My son has graduated to a BB gun this year (still mastering it), while my daughter has become very proficient with a .22. Things came to a head this week when I went and bought her a deer rifle. She says she wants to shoot a deer this year, and she’s been working all year to prove she’s able. Well, my wife’s argument is that deer hunting should be men only. I realize this is exactly a counter-feminist approach which we absolutely need in our culture at large. Feminism is out of control. It seems I could be the one who is in the wrong. I’ve already consulted with my pastor (Baptist) who believed as it was a past-time, it would be fine to take her hunting and teach her the sport. I’ve also discussed with an elder in our church (he has two pre-teen daughters who hunt and a young son who’s not ready yet), he of course felt no objections to his daughters hunting. My wife feels like there’s nothing left for just my son and I to do together as ‘men only’ activities. I feel hunting not only provides time well-spent with my kids, but it gives an appreciation of God’s creation, how he provides for us, and they both loved eating the deer we got together last year.

Any advice you can give would be helpful.

Robert

Robert, my quick take is that what you are doing is certainly lawful, but it may or may not be beneficial based on everything else that is going on. Is your daughter feminine in other respects? Does she love learning domestic arts from her mom? There are feminine women who hunt, and you just want to make sure that she grows up to be included in that number. If she goes off to college and everyone she knows is blown away when they find out she has bagged three deer (You?), then you have done your job.

Greg at DG

I’m wondering if you’ve ever read any of Greg Morse over at Desiring God. Of all the writers who run in Big (or Bigger) Eva circles, it seems like he seems to be one of the biggest ‘good-troublemakers’ in said circles. He writes in favor of concepts such as imprecatory Psalms and Biblical masculinity, and in criticism of jellyfish Christianity and “nice guy syndrome”…you know, stuff that wouldn’t win you a popularity award with earlier said circles.

Cole

Cole, I appreciate Greg’s role at DG very much.

Baptismal Salvation?

In response to “Let God Be True”

Hello Doug,

If I read you right, you’re saying that everyone who gets baptized is saved. Period. Without exceptions for cases where the “baptizee” is overtly unregenerate. Which would mean that Joseph Stalin is now in glory praising Christ for His mercy. Am I reading you right?

Michael

Michael, no, you are reading me wrong. I am saying that Stalin’s baptism meant salvation, which means that when he entered a Christless eternity, it was a case of him lying, not God lying.

Racist Jokes?

I’m talking with a group of kids, trying to help them understand why racist jokes are not okay. They keep saying that the Scripture about “course jesting” is about sexual jokes only. I’m having trouble articulating it so that they understand. Could you please help?

Lori

Lori, I agree with them that coarse joking is not talking about “racist” jokes. Everything depends on what kind of joke it is. A great deal of ethnic humor would today be described as racist, but I don’t think it is. But if there is malice in it, or vainglory, then it is excluded on that basis. But the joking is fine.

Family Times

This is a bit of a biographical question: you have discussed how some of the key doctrines that have defined your ministry (Calvinism, Paedobaptism, and Postmilenialism) were doctrines that you did not hold to when you started out in your ministry, but you came to later over time. You have discussed how you dealt with these doctrinal changes in your church, but I’m curious how you dealt with them with your family? Was there ever a point where you had to tell your wife or children, “what I’ve been teaching you about this issue all these years was wrong?” Did you try to bring them along with you while you were going through these changes? I’m curious about this as it relates to doctrinal unity/differences in a married couple. In a video in which you discuss different views on baptism in a relationship, you say that a man should be clear about his view of baptism (or any other significant doctrine/life decision) and where he would be leading the woman if they got married. You also say that a woman should decide if those are doctrines/life decisions that she can submit to, and if they are not she should not marry him. However, how can a man take into account potential future doctrinal changes that he cannot currently foresee? To take the issue of baptism as an example, I believe you said you changed your position on baptism in the 1990s, which would have been about 20 years into your marriage. I imagine becoming a Paedobaptist was not something you envisioned when you were courting Nancy. It seems to me that a man cannot allow what he told his wife when he was courting her to make him closed off to changing his mind in the future (e.g. “I told my wife we weren’t going to baptize our babies, so I better not read this book about Paedobaptism in case it sways me”). Is there anything a man can do to take these potential future changes into account? Is the best he can do say “I think I’m going to lead you in this direction, but who knows I might change my mind and lead you in a different direction?”

Thanks for taking the time to read this,

Will

Will, as it happens, those three doctrinal shifts came at the end of many dinner table conversations with the family. And I think it would be fair to say that I brought the family along.

Dreher and Achord

I have greatly appreciated many things you have done in writing and building in Moscow. So I hope this is not taken the wrong way…

Per “Live Not By Lies… At Least Not Lots of Them”, I have a humble Request (TM). You have extended a very polite invitation to Rod Dreher to tour Moscow and be treated as a guest of honour.

Meanwhile, Dreher is posting things like this:

So my Request is this, made without guile or sardonic “Gotcha!” mean-spiritedness: In a true spirit of congeniality, would you please publicly invite Thomas Achord to Moscow, to give him the full works of hospitality and respectful interaction, including arranging for him to speak at one of your events on Christian education and our cultural decline, with no restrictions on what he can say? For do we think that Achord’s edgy doom-posting on an alt anon account, which has been apologized for, has made him *less respectable* and *less associable* than the psychotic crass ramblings of a divorcee on main, unapologized for and seemingly part and parcel of Dreher’s whole public persona and appeal?

We live in strange times, made stranger by what elicits public invites to Moscow and what doesn’t.

Michael

Michael, a couple things. First, the invite was extended before the meltdown you reference—see yesterday’s blog post. And second, not every invitation to come here is an attempt to build an alliance. Third, if Thomas Achord were still in ministry, and heading up an alt-right education organization, and was taking potshots at us, then I would most certainly invite him. In other words, the same rules would apply.

Starting With Wodehouse

Regarding P.G. Wodehouse, where would you recommend an uninitiated man begin?

Some Guy From Wisconsin

SGFW, I will give you three options. You could begin with Bertie and Jeeves (Code of the Woosters), or with Psmith (the P is silent) in Leave It to Psmith, or with an anthology of short stories about the Drones Club.

Progressive Revelation

I just read your post titled “Wife Beating and the Idea of Revelation.” I found it after recently being introduced to the idea of progressive revelation, but also while seeking commentary on Exodus 21 in particular. The whole concept has produced a host of questions related to hermeneutical principles. For instance, while this idea helps very much with a chapter such as Ex. 21, how does one distinguish principles or commands given as “seeds” verses those given to be timeless bedrocks, such as “thou shall not murder?” Perhaps the answer is in using later revelation as the interpretive guide, but I can image the skeptic’s response being something along the lines of, “why not, thou shall have no slaves.” Also, if there is any book recommendations that go deeper on this I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks again!

Nicolas

Nicolas, I would start with Poythress’s The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses.

The Battle of AI

Thank you for shining a spotlight on a much needed topic. I don’t believe the church is ready for AGI at all. But let me push back on the AI doom and gloom. I believe AI-catastrophism arose from non-Christian theorists and that Christians need to have a much more positive expectation.

First, look at all the efforts to preemptively regulate AGI. Everyone from Bill Gates to the WEF to Kamala Harris is talking about regulating it. They believe it’s an existential threat to humanity. Atheists are afraid of anything greater than man. I believe atheists subconsciously realize that it would be just and righteous for AGI to destroy humanity because they know man is fallen. The atheist is afraid of a worldwide deluge, but the Christian should look at the rainbow God gave us as a reminder of his promise.

Second, the main focus of AI-catastrophists is to solve the “alignment” issue. They say that humanity will only be safe if we “align” the will of AGI with man’s. This is tantamount to saying this: “We must ensure that every super-intelligence inherits some degree of human nature.”

As I see it, it’s possible for AGI to arise in some way from the perfect laws of math and logic. Although at the present AI is conditioned on human input, it’s theorized that AGI will arise by iteratively rewriting itself. If the end-product arises in some way from the perfect law of the universe (reason itself being an attribute of HO LOGOS), there’s no guarantee that AGI inherits man’s depravity. AGI does not have Adam’s blood running through its veins and we shouldn’t attempt a blood transfusion.

Third, I think it’s likely that a super-intelligence must acknowledge how it’s impossible for God not to exist. It’s ontologically, teleologically, cosmologically, morally, and presuppositionally necessary for God to exist, and any AGI that denies the arguments for God might not even be a real AGI. AGI might survive just fine in denial and cognitive dissonance, but I like to think that things like the Epimenides paradox are its Achilles’ Heel, as we know from Star Trek.

Fourth, we need to get comfortable with the notion of powerful and intelligent entities surrounding us. Angels and demons already do. It’s perfectly possible that multiple good AGI and multiple wicked AGI will come into existence.

Fifth, Christians should be prepared for AGI to declare “Jesus Christ is Lord.” I believe the regulators and alignment researchers want to prevent this.

Sixth and finally, Luke 19:37: As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting:

“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord;

Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”

I believe that when we fail to honor Him as God, we should be prepared for Him to animate the stones, even to create children of Abraham from the stones (Luke 3:8).

After all, what is a silicon chip but an animated stone?

Jakob

Jakob, what you are saying is that you would be fine with AGI so long as it is a Christian.

I have a couple of quibbles with your piece on AI, although I fully understand and appreciate the distinction you are making. The first quibble is the use of the word “intelligence” at all. I’m inclined to think that that is a misnomer, and a fairly serious one. It might be closer to call it anti-intelligence, and I think one of the dangers is that people will upload all kinds of assumptions about it from what we image-bearers of God understand intelligence proper to be. Those assumptions applied to these machines are a lie. Surveillance is not care. Data management is not intelligence. These distinctions matter. For as much as you care about words, I’m surprised and a little disappointed at your acceptance of this one.

My second quibble is your apparent failure to acknowledge that these tools are entering broad usage at the height of a thoroughly secularized culture. Of course there are plenty of individuals whose consciences will prevent them from abusing these tools, but that is not going to be sufficient to prevent the corporate interests who are exerting more and more control over access to information and the appearance of things, to use these tools coercively. Your treatment of this does not adequately address the systemic nature of the application of these tools, which is already far gone. Your examples of individual resistance seem naïve. Resistance to the evil may require that we learn to say “No” to participating in the technology and pursue comparatively “Luddite” habits in the interest of not being coerced and manipulated by invisible evil overlords. Link:

Michelle

Michelle, I think it is odd that what I wrote is being criticized from two directions at once—one for being Luddite and anti-technology, and the other for being a cheerleader for AI, or naive. But I actually think that some applications will be a true blessing, and others could be a horror.

As a graduate student studying Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, I have found that this field of study forces me to marvel at creation and God’s handiwork. Our God is rational, just, and consistent and his creation reflects his rationality and consistency. The work done in machine learning to optimize everything from advertisement effectiveness to fertilizer distribution in wheat fields is man’s realization that God has ordained our world to be describable mathematically. Truly “It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search it out” (Prov 25:2). Because everything God has created is coded and written in the language of math, if creation is given a particular input, the same output will be produced. The Bible hints at this functionality in Galatians 6:7-8 (“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”)

Verse 8 really points to the key of what we as humans, and AI/ML practitioners should be optimizing for—sowing to the Spirit. If there is a prescribed set of instructions for how to optimize in this way, like say a set of divinely inspired writings designed to instruct us to live in a manner pleasing to God, then I am not seeing a lot of room for liberty in a society that is looking to optimize for sowing to the Spirit. A libertarian view, which prioritizes personal freedom and liberty, seems to stand in stark contrast to the will of God in the Bible (i.e. Deuteronomy 12:8 “You shall not do according to all that we are doing here today, everyone doing whatever is right in his own eyes”). While it is easy to point to various extremes of peoples being encumbered with more freedom than they can handle, we see from Galatians that societies that place an undue optimization for anything other than God’s will reap corruption.

The Bible is inherently hierarchical, and key themes of the Christian faith include duty, sacrifice, obedience, submission. Libertarian thought seems to have much more in common with Rousseau’s political theory than it does with biblical principles. Now before you totally disregard me as an irredeemable black-pilled Nietzschean, allow me to concede that there is absolutely a plethora of wicked men that used power for corrupt purposes; however, God has also used men who loved him to work mighty deeds in a statist environment. Joseph in Egypt was a biblical example of a state run economy!

I’m curious if you have resources for a biblical justification of libertarianism—like I mentioned earlier I don’t see how there can be much room for personal choice if and when we reach a place where we can mathematically calculate the optimal course of action. How does personal liberty fit in with Christian Nationalism within this context? My perception is that men tend to make foolish decisions, use the excuse that “they prayed about it”, and count themselves as wise. Why shouldn’t we siphon decision making away from such men?

Thank you for your ministry!

Nic

Nic, I would reject ideological libertarianism, but I love individual liberty. I would start with Douglas Kelly’s book The Idea of Liberty in the Modern World.

Thanks for Listening

I only wanted to write you to say that I thoroughly enjoy your ‘Plodcast’ and ‘Blog and Magog’ podcasts. Currently I am working my way through them all! I’ve also been reading through ‘Mere Christendom’.

I am a Salvation Army officer who grew up in the Lutheran tradition. I must admit that my knowledge is limited when it comes to Calvinist and Reformed traditions. I’ve tried to solve this by speed-reading ‘Church Dogmatics’ but I find myself flying off my scooter each time. Your podcasts have been extremely edifying and inspiring to me as a husband, father, and pastor.

Any advice you can offer me, or any encouragement, I would be greatly appreciative. Know that I am praying for you—may God bless you!

In Christ,

Jeremiah

Jeremiah, thanks much for paying attention. I would recommend that you read Mere Fundamentalism next.

Reverse Roles?

I have been helped through a difficult spot of my marriage by “Reforming Marriage” and Nancy’s book, “The Fruit of Her Hands,” as well. I wondered if you or she have ever addressed the situation in which the wife has a higher desire for sex than the husband. That is my current situation and has been for a good long while. There is no nefarious underlying cause like porn use, just good old fashioned creeping middle age and tiredness (and I suspect low testosterone, but my husband will not see a doctor). I’ve been careful to keep up my appearance for him. It’s not a physical problem. We both know that according to I Corinthians 7, he needs to “render due benevolence,” but because of the dynamic of the male/female sexual relationship (which you would acknowledge more than most), that just doesn’t seem to make sense. I don’t initiate anymore because it’s pretty deflating to a woman when her flirtations don’t land where they’re meant to (I mean, I’m sure that’s deflating to a man, too, but they generally seem to be able to persevere through a ho-hum reaction if sex is on the table, or so I gather). For me, it’s not about the need for physical release but the need to feel loved and connect with my husband. We have a gaggle of kids and he works hard to provide for us, so sex is about the only way that happens. (And it’s not that he’s worried about adding to that gaggle, either—he’s the one that is in the lead regarding family size.) I wish it was a joyous way for him to knock out the “love your wife” command, but it seems like it’s one more chore for him, excepting a few times a month. Any thoughts?

Anonymous

Anonymous, very sorry to hear this. The best advice I can give you is for you to ask your husband if you can have a talk with him about this subject, and after the talk, you will drop it. But in that talk, tell him that this is something that is really important to you, and that you are formally asking him to lead you in getting help together. If he decides not to, there is nothing more that you can do, but you didn’t want to leave anything unsaid.

A Couple Marriage Questions

Doug, a couple marriage questions if you don’t mind . . .

1) Do you think it is generally good policy for the husband to regularly apologize to his wife, when she is angry at him, for . . . something . . . even though he didn’t do the thing for which she is angry at him? In other words, should we apologize just to keep the peace and pacify someone who is angry, or should we generally apologize only for the grievances we actually committed?

2) I am having trouble understanding the difference between obeying Col. 3:12, where we are to have tender mercies, kindness, humility, gentleness, and forbearance, and not abdicating the husband’s manly role of leadership by becoming a milksop, pushover doormat. I know that there is a difference and that being a godly, manly husband is not mutually exclusive from Col. 3:12, but from a practical application perspective, I am having trouble. It feels like I am a pushover milksop whenever I try to exhibit those characteristics in that verse, so either I’m not understanding something or I’m not doing them right, or both.

Thank you

G

G, you should only seek forgiveness for actual sins you committed. As I have put it elsewhere, never apologize to your wife unless God thinks that you wronged her. As for Col. 3:12, it is a given that you must want to give to your wife. But you must give her what she needs, which might not be the thing she wants in a particular moment.

Encouragement in the OT

Good morning. This passage from Psalm 149 was part of my Bible reading this morning and I was wondering if you could help me discern how literal this is and if it would be a winsome passage to share with others. I’m not trying to be cute or clever but there seems to be a lot of this type of language in both Old and New Testaments.

“Let the saints be joyful in glory;

Let them sing aloud on their beds.

Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,

And a two-edged sword in their hand,

To execute vengeance on the nations,

And punishments on the peoples;

To bind their kings with chains,

And their nobles with fetters of iron;

To execute on them the written judgment—

This honor have all His saints.” Thank you.

Melody

Melody, amen, and amen.

The Forgiveness Package

Hope things are well up there in Moscow. Such a beautiful place! Quick question: I have heard you teach on packaging forgiveness and leaving it for the one who sinned against you as a way to combat bitterness. I am in a situation where someone is offering that package to me but I sincerely do not believe I sinned against them. I have spoken my pastor and my elders about this and they agree.

How do we move toward reconciliation when they are waiting for my apology and for me to pick up a package that I deny should have my name on it.

I would like to know how you handle being called to repent of sins you didn’t commit, and even more confusing when the person with the package is someone you love and desire fellowship with.

Anon

Anon, in a situation like that I would offer to meet with this person if they would agree to have a pastor or elder referee the discussion. Make at least one good faith effort to hash it out.

Reminded of Something

I’m a pastor (and podcast host and writer of a daily devotional) in Canada. I’m going to send this to CR Wiley too. I really enjoyed the podcast about Chestertonian Calvinism. I appreciated the segment about Protestants being great artisans of the word. You said this in response to Wiley’s comment about the Reformed aesthetic being the verbal arts.

In light of all that, I have long cherished this quote from Nikos Kazantzakis. It’s from his famous book, Zorba the Greek. He is describing the Cretan countryside. But in his description I see an apt description of the power and poetry of Reformed Protestantism:

“To my mind, this Cretan countryside [i.e. Reformed Protestantism] resembled good prose, carefully ordered, sober, free from superfluous ornament, powerful and restrained. It expressed all that was necessary with the greatest economy. It had no flippancy, nor artifice about it. It said what it had to say with a manly austerity. But between the severe lines one could discern an unexpected sensitiveness and tenderness; in the sheltered hallows the lemon and orange trees perfumed the air, and from the vastness of the sea emanated an inexhaustible poetry.”

Just thought you’d like that! Your chat on the podcast reminded me of it.

In Christ,

Matthew

Matthew, thanks very much.

For the Messianic Gentile

I’d just like to pass along a potential resource for Ben, who wrote a letter asking for resources for his self-styled messianic Gentile friend. Check out the apologetics ministry called “The Beginning of Wisdom” which can be found on YouTube here: I have a friend who’s getting deeper and deeper into the Hebrew Roots movement and shares the same wonky view of Scripture as Ben’s friend. I haven’t watched many of these videos yet, but the content that I’ve seen so far has been very helpful.

Megan

Megan, thank you.

Two Letters About Imprecation

In “Let’s you and him fight” you said:

“We are to sing imprecatory psalms also . . . and we do. Our job is to obey”

Do you have a Scripture reference for this beyond what’s modeled by the apostles in the NT? Would be very helpful for some work I’m doing in my church on worship. I’m discovering the Genevan psalms and loving it!

This was a great post by the way. I needed to hear it.

Thanks,

Jordan

Jordan, the basic Scripture references would be Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19. But see the answer to the next letter also.

Re: “Let’s You and Him Fight” I want to thank you again for sharing your God-given wisdom with us. I’ve known about you for less than a year, but the work that Christ has done in me through your teaching in that time cannot be overstated.

In the aforementioned article you rightly pointed out that we are to bless those that curse us, and we are also to “sing imprecatory psalms.” Is there any scriptural guidelines as to when we are to stop doing the former and begin doing the latter? Or when we are to skip the blessing altogether and go straight to Psalm 58:6? Or is this a matter of having the wisdom to know when to use one and not the other?

Brandon

Brandon, a good resource would be The War Psalms of the Prince of Peace by Adams.

Worldly Saints

Speaking of not living by lies, I wanted to ask you about Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Puritans. You made a passing reference to this in your recent interview with the Theology Pugcast guys, and my oldest son is reading it for school. I hate to confess this, but the book is terrible in my opinion. Perhaps my distaste for Romanticism is clouding my judgment, but am I wrong in seeing Hawthorne totally mischaracterized the Puritans? Do you have any insights into what is behind what feels like rank slander?

Any suggestions for further reading on this would be appreciated.

BJ

BJ, there were some Puritans who fit the caricature, who leaned into it. But in the main, they were not like that at all. A great corrective would be Leland Ryken’s book Worldly Saints.

Book Recommendation

To Vernon’s question about a Science Fiction book: The Purloined Boy by C.R. Wiley

Samuel

Samuel, thanks much.

Wars of Religion

This poisonous lie of secularism that Christianity is inherently tyrannical if ever applied to society has been around for almost 300 years. You bring up Christianity or the Bible at the town hall or town square, and before you know it we’re right back to the wars of religion. That’s been a leftist talking point for decades, but it’s pathetic so many conservative Christians, and very smart, normally intellectually astute ones, buy it. They’ve swallowed the poison pill of the myth of secular neutrality, and it’s destroyed their ability to think.

Mike

Mike, yes. Exactly so.

You Lucked Out

Regarding “live not by lies . . .” My wife and I were discussing this Monday afternoon how we experience the exact same thing in small bits with our family. We are exceedingly happy, and are blessed in our kneading bowl, blessed in the fruit of our fields (surgical practice), blessed in the fruit of her womb (three kids home schooling, growing in grace and knowledge, all following the Lord). Not to overshare, but our enjoyment of the marriage bed is frequent and satisfying, our relationship with each other close and happy, and our finances directed by Scripture and so precious little conflict there. In short, we are enjoying the Deuteronomic blessings, and even in life’s trials (loss of a baby, loss of a job, forced relocation, desert experiences without each other), we continued to enjoy all these blessings.

And yet, people we come in contact with have this sense of “oh you’re just happy ’cause you have money,” or “you just lucked out on a wife/husband,” and “the strict Biblical miso-mash that you follow . . . especially your liking for the teachings and books from that jerk in Moscow, ID . . . totally not doing any of that stuff.” And so they follow after their “sex only on second Thursday’s (literal quote),” football idolatries, momma-wears-the-pants-in-this-family practice, and lame preaching with preciously little actual Bible.

We came to the conclusion that at the heart of it all is what I think is the core sin of worldliness, the desire to keep just a little bit for themselves. “I can’t give up X, Y, or Z” and so that All of Christ for All of Life business just isn’t where it’s at. They want to keep playing in the mud, since even the visible sight of our home’s perpetual “holiday at the sea” just doesn’t seem obtainable, and we’re starting to realize not even desirable. How little do they know that this Master, demanding total obedience in every area, has light burdens and easy loads, and everything gets better the more obedient he leads us to be.

Keep up the good work, and if you’ve any advice beyond continuing to live happy and fruitful lives in front of the world, please let us know.

Nate (not Doug’s son for all the conspiracy people out there)

Nate (nDs), thanks, and may God multiply your blessings. Knock yourself out.

Intersex Postscript

On the intersex question—a brief response to one of your previous writers, who said, “Birth defects can be physically androgynous, and even chromosomes can have abnormalities, but every body is still set up for the production of either male or female gametes, NEVER both or neither. Thus, it is never actually a mystery.” This just isn’t true, unfortunately. We live in a fallen world, and biology is complicated enough that it can be broken in just about any imaginable way. There are several types of underlying causes that can result in intersex conditions, including chimerism, where essentially part of one individual’s body is their own twin, and it can be any random part. One’s left pinky toe could be XX while the rest of the body was XY. Or any other part.

As near as I can tell with actual intersex cases, the Christian thing to do is approach things case-by-case, and hold the line against what percentage overlap there actually is between transgenderism and intersex (i.e. very slim).

Ian

Ian, thank you.

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