8.06.2022

The Christian Reformed Church's Course Correction - Why?

Here's a fascinating article on why the CRC, going mainstream liberal for decades, made an abrupt about-face and affirmed biblical sexuality, even resolving to discipline specific cases over it.


The whole thing is worth reading, but this paragraph especially caught my eye (I took out the graph and references):

But beginning in 2017, the quiet practices of personal piety have changed trajectory. The percentage of congregants who have been praying privately..., having family devotions..., reading the Bible daily..., and having personal devotions daily ... began to rise for the first time in 20 years....

Another chart shows that the mean number of children in households with children—that is, the number of children among parents of childbearing age—also began rising around 2012.

This correlation makes sense to me. The connection between personal piety and favoring traditional marriage has been well documented. It follows that a denomination of people who pray, read their Bibles, and go to church would favor biblical sexuality.

Less clear is why CRCers began praying and reading Scripture more after 2012. There wasn’t an organized push for quiet times. The denomination didn’t campaign for Bible reading plans. The pastors I talked to didn’t even notice it was happening.

8.05.2022

An Example of Beauty // Down with Patriarchy? // Creation Proved?

This was a fascinating piece on the Pantheon in Rome.


Kevin DeYoung talks a lot of sense here, on the difference between patriarchy and complementarity.  He looks at the pros and cons of each.  His last sentence is a good summary: "The biblical vision of complementarity cannot be true without something like patriarchy also being true."


I found this quote by Thomas Aquinas in First Things, naturally.  Interesting to consider it in light of the recent Creation Science movement sparked by Henry Morris.  I share this as a convinced 6-day creationist.  The quote could be misused to argue for old-earth views or other nonsense, but Aquinas is just wisely marking the boundary of what science can prove, theologically.

"That the world had a beginning is an object of faith, but not a demonstration of science.  And we do well to keep this in mind; otherwise, if we presumptuously undertake to demonstrate what is of faith, we may introduce arguments that are not strictly conclusive; and this would furnish infidels with an occasion for scoffing, as they would think that we assent to truths of faith on such grounds."

First Things, Feb 2022, pg 12.

8.04.2022

Wilson Rebutted (Poorly) on White Man's Backlash

Thomas Achord, co-author of a book I criticized recently, has responded in a podcast to the Doug Wilson posts I praised with some strong disagreement.  I'm with Doug on this one.  Below are my shorthand notes that I took while listening, summarizing Achord's argument.  My comments are in [Italics] until the end.

 

Doug said we have more in common with a Nigerian Anglican Christian, than with a white, non-Christian neighbor.

Achord: we do NOT have more in common with Nigerian Anglican Christian women, than with white conservative neighbors.

We have heavenly eternal things in common, but MORE in common?  No.

I have more spiritual things in common with the Nigerian…

I have more earthly things in common with my neighbor than with Nigerian…

Thus, my earthly resources should be more engaged with my neighbor.

“You have a lot in common with them [the Nigerian], supposedly.” 

[Our earthly resources should be directed by our spiritual priorities, not by physical factors in common.  And what is this “supposedly”?  He’s talking about union with Christ.  Achord grossly devalues the spiritual bond of brotherhood in Christ, to uphold earthly factors of place and race.]

 


Shouldn’t your spiritual priorities be focused on the Nigerian, then? No.

You have nothing to do with them.

DW is not sending part of his check to help them.

 

You can’t pray for every Xian in the world.  Who do you focus on?

 

DW throws out rhetorical bombs here.  We should be more careful.

It’s not a game of counting numbers of how many things I have in common with Ghanan Christians.

 

Augustine’s order of loves: Achord reviews this for the last 40 minutes of the podcast.

Achord contrasts Augustine with DW

[To assume DW doesn’t get Augustine’s order of loves is ridiculous.  He does.  And he knows how to apply it to the issue of race far better than Achord does.]

 

Give to the one more bound to you, and closer to you.

[A good general rule, though there are times to heed the Macedonian call.]

 

Care about your people, not those half way around the world.

[What affect would this have on international missions efforts?  I hear Achord basically arguing against them, altogether.]

 

Love the ones God put you with.  Marriage analogy.

[So if God puts you with white people, you just love white people?  Marriage is a covenant to "forsake all others."  There is no such restriction in society.  Rather, we seek "justice for all."]

 

Augustine: consideration of race remains “embedded in our mortal interactions.”

[Achord changes this to “should be respected.”  A big change I don’t think Augustine would have agreed with.  There are plenty of times we need to take race into account in interactions, but these should be minimized, more than respected.  We want to respect the dignity of each person’s background, but whiteness or blackness should not be a major driver shaping our identity or opinions.  Since when is Augustine our expert on modern race relations, instead of a theologian, anyway?]

 

Don’t blend the heavenly/ecclesial realm, where there is no Jew/Greek, with the earthly realm, where gender [and racial?] roles should still be taken into account.

 

There is an analogy to gender roles.  The Left is trying to wipe out the roles. 

[So there is a similar dynamic with race??  Yikes, what is that supposed to look like?  He never says.]

Destruction of social distinctions is the problem generally.

[I agree with this, regarding gender roles, and the bane of egalitarianism.  But race should not be a part of that concern.]

 

Don’t spiritualize the earthly or let the earthly overwhelm the spiritual.

[Agree with this principle, but Achord certainly overwhelms the spiritual with a focus on earthly/physical factors.]

 

Augustine: peace of soul = order of the parts; peace of society = order of the parts

Have to regulate your affections to the natural order of what is better

[I generally agree with this, but again, Achord implies an application to race, but says nothing about it.  I deny an application of this excellent classical principle to race.]

 

Paul: there are different members of the body (1 Cor. 12). 

[Same problem: Achord implied that difference of race makes you a different member of the body.  But a black pastor may have the exact same gifts as me, and be the same kind of member, regardless of race.]

 

We shouldn’t feel bad about focusing on the people around/near us.

[Agree.  Rejecting all forms of “white guilt” is important.  But to over-react, and PREFER people who are like us, especially racially, is to violate the 1 Cor. 12 principle!  The finger is naturally going to prefer other fingers, and denigrate the ear, etc.  That needs to be BATTLED, not respected.]

 

 

 

Summary critique (me, not Achord, now):

This is an over-emphasis on earthly/physical factors and priorities.

It is an over-reaction to Gnosticism.

Past generations in the church focused overly on pietistic spiritualizing.  But ever since Darwin, Marx and Freud, society has been materialistically focused.  Christians are tempted to be sucked into that vortex, rather than critique it with a balanced, biblical worldview.  While we should revel in the particularities of God's material creation, spiritual principles should always direct, temper, and even overwhelm, the weight we give material/physical factors (John 4:9 is a good example).


If you love being white, because the woke are trying to shame you for being white, it's just passive-aggressive anger at the woke, to spite them.  That's not Christ-like or biblical at all.

 

It was the curse of Babel to scatter and divide us, geographically and racially.

Let’s not call that a good thing, and affirm any and everything "natural," but rather seek unity over racial issues in Christ, and seek common cause socially, instead of reinforcing the dividing of people a la Marx.

 

The woke are dividing society over class and race.

Ironically, the ultra-right is agreeing with them.

More on White Man Backlash

Douglas Wilson had two great posts lately, that I just read. Here are two snippets:

"But in the meantime, here is a word for the red-pilled. A lot of the anger that I see floating around the Internet is simply ungodly. This ungodly anger is directed from the left to the right, and from the right to the left. And it is just as carnal, just as ungodly, when it is aimed at Nancy Pelosi as when it is aimed at Tucker Carlson."


"When young white straight men are continually harangued for their whiteness, and their straightness, and their men-ness, and are constantly told that they are the cancer of the cosmos, and that the world would be a better place if they all just went and filled up a bucket and stuck their collective head in it . . . well, certain things tend to follow. One of the things that happens is that these young men get angry, and do not see that this is a trick. It is a trap. It is a stratagem, a subterfuge, an inveiglement, a ploy, a gambit. Don’t do it. It is a machination; it is a ambuscade.
Because they do not see the trap, they react in the other direction. Told that whiteness is a cancerous disease, they react into the just-as-silly idea that whiteness is somehow a virtue. But no. They are not being tricked into denying their whiteness. They are being maneuvered into adopting the structure of their [woke] way of understanding the antithesis."

8.03.2022

Homemaker of the Year!

I love that the fair a town over from me has a “Homemaker of the year.” Glorious.

Never mind the wrestling…


8.02.2022

Contemporary Christian Music Compared with the Psalms

Old Testament scholar, Michael J Rhodes, tweeted a glimpse into his research on the Top 25 Christian worship songs, after spending months studying the Psalms. Here are his main insights (lightly edited by me for readability):

1. Justice is mentioned only once in one Top 25 song. In contrast, the Hebrew word for justice “Mishpat” alone can be found 65 times in 33 different Psalms.
2. The poor are completely absent in the Top 25. By contrast, the Psalter uses varied language to describe the poor on nearly every page.
3. The widow, refugees, and the oppressed are completely absent from the Top 25. The orphan gets two mentions, one occurrence of which appears to refer to a "spiritual" orphan.
4. Whereas "enemies" are the third most common character in the Psalms, they rarely show up in the Top 25. When they do, they appear to be enemies only in a spiritual sense.
5. Maybe most devastatingly, in the Top 25, not a SINGLE question is ever posed to God. The Top 25 never ask God anything. Prick the Psalter and it bleeds the cries of the oppressed pleading with God to act. This is completely lacking in the Top 25.

Rhodes goes on to say, “Indeed, there is very little evidence that the Top 25 are ever speaking clearly about situations of social and economic harm.
‘Are you hurting and broken WITHIN’ sums up the way these songs transform the holistic nature of the psalms into songs about spiritual healing.
Worse yet, we deny the poor and oppressed the "First Amendment Right" to protest the psalms offer them.
Meanwhile, those of us who are not poor and oppressed continue to refuse to learn how to mourn and protest alongside them.”

8.01.2022

Civil Disobedience // Handling Our Debt to God's Grace // On the Conservative Backlash to Woke-ness

This was a very insightful interview with Glenn Sunshine, on Romans 13, church history, and our current politics.


And this:
"O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be..."
How are we in debt to God for His grace to us, yet today, if at all?
Should we seek to pay off this debt?
Please read carefully, for your own spiritual health.


Very helpful article on the ultra-right over-reaction to leftist identity politics, going on today.

7.30.2022

The Environment, Politics, and Christians

Gordon Wilson, "Is the Dominion Mandate Green?" Fight Laugh Feast, Spring 2022, pg 31.


"The flood was the biggest act of judgment in all of history but the ark was the biggest biodiversity conservation act in all of history.  Keep this in mind in formulating your opinion on saving endangered species.

"When we immerse ourselves in the great outdoors it not only refreshes our spirit, it declares the glory of God and also puts my life in perspective by revealing how utterly puny I am.

"Our tendency is to exert political muscle power to affect change on a big scale.  But getting into political activism or into office to exert top-down political pressure to change environmental policies isn't very realistic for most of us and not very effective in a democracy....  But if you're called to that, knock yourself out.  For the rank and file, the best approach is grassroots change....  

"Cultivate an appreciation of nature in yourself and your kids... because you love its Creator."

7.29.2022

Of Whiteness...

Thoughts after listening to Brian Sauve's latest King's Hall podcast, "Of Whiteness...."


When woke people make you feel guilty for being white, the proper response is not to take pride in being white.  Any pride in cultural achievements must always be tempered by gospel conviction of sin, more than comparing your culture favorably to other cultures.  God's holiness is the standard, not the politics of man.


Skin color is morally neutral, and whiteness is not a "proxy" for Christianity.  When the left attacks white identity and Christianity, it does so out of envy against the majority, as all the players in a board game go after the one who is starting to win.


White people face reverse discrimination today, as the podcast points out.  The solution is not to embrace or advocate for whiteness in any way, other than to say, "It's as okay to be white as it is to be black or brown."  Conservatives today are in the same position as blacks in the 1960s: many were tempted to Malcolm X's more radical position, favoring blacks over whites, and working for it violently.  So today, conservatives are tempted to the politics of power, aggressive rhetoric, and group assertion.  But MLK had the right dream: judge people by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin.


The woke left is a leveling force, akin to the French Revolution as Sauve points out, seeking to be the "more equal" pigs of Orwell's Animal Farm.  They want God's power - that's why they attack His image in the world, and accuse everyone else of being motivated only by power.  It's literally Satanic.  Western civilization and Christianity are in the way of their goals.

To assume they are really just after us as Christians is partially true (see Revelation 12:13-17).


But to respond with White Boy Summer is weird, and very off base.


Instead, the church needs to continue to assert that God is there, and has made us all in His image.  That Jesus has restored our broken humanity.  This gospel is what gives every person equal dignity, freedom of conscience, and brotherhood/fellowship (fraternitie).  

The state cannot give us those three hallmarks of the French Revolution.  

Neither can your assertion or celebration of your particular heritage or identity.

Only the Gospel of Jesus the Christ can do this.

7.27.2022

Moses' Ethiopian Wife

 I just listened to a sermon on Hebrews 3, Moses faithful in God’s house as a servant, and it referred to his Ethiopian wife, which I’d forgotten about.  Here’s the fruit of a bit of study I did.

 

In Numbers 12:1, Aaron and Miriam criticize Moses for his Cushite wife.  Cush was the normal bible name for Ethiopia, then.  Opinion is mixed on this:

 

1 - how could Moses have had a second, foreign wife, if he was faithful?  They must have been talking about Zipporah – maybe Cush was a geographical name for where Jethro lived.

 

2 - there’s no way you can make this wife be Zipporah.  Moses had an Ethiopian wife, and God was fine with it.

 

I go with #2.  Besides there being nothing wrong with an inter-racial marriage, God had singled out Moses for leadership.  Aaron and Miriam were jealous, and just using this as an excuse in a popularity campaign against him.  God rebukes them for it.

 

This is a tactic we see all the time on our political landscape today, and God says we should avoid it.

 

Don’t highlight a questionable-but-okay practice, to throw shade on those you want to take down a peg or two.

7.26.2022

Nationalism // Republican Tensions

 Two articles from a local paper on the west side of the state:


1. A local pastor writes about nationalism and patriotism, and the difference.




2. The Detriot Free Press writes an article less biased and more informative than usual, on the state of Republican party.  It highlights candidates I'm voting for August 2, so was highly interesting.





7.25.2022

Refuge and Assurance, for When We Confess

 Psalm 9:9-14

    "The LORD also will be a refuge for the oppressed,
    A refuge in times of trouble.
    10      And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
    For You, LORD, have not forsaken those who seek You.
    11      Sing praises to the LORD, who dwells in Zion!
    Declare His deeds among the people.
    12      When He avenges blood, He remembers them;
    He does not forget the cry of the humble.
    13      Have mercy on me, O LORD!
    Consider my trouble from those who hate me,
    You who lift me up from the gates of death,
    14      That I may tell of all Your praise
    In the gates of the daughter of Zion.
    I will rejoice in Your salvation."


When we prepare to confess our sins, we usually set some aspect of our sinfulness out there and think about it.  We need to remember how we are sinful.  That’s good to do.  But Another important way to prepare to confess our sins is here in Ps 9: we need to remember that God is our refuge, vs 9.  When you confess your fault to someone, you are confiding in them, opening yourself up to them.  We can do that to God, and He will take care of us.  He will lift us up from the gates of death, vs 13.  It’s almost as if we need to start with the assurance of pardon, to be okay confessing our sins.

 

We don’t realize how much we need assurance.  Our children need to hear from us, that it’s going to be okay.  Your spouse needs to hear and see that you still love her or him.  God is constantly assuring us in His Word of His love for us.

 

So David asks God to consider his trouble, vs 13.  He asks this a lot.  But trouble can come at you, through no fault of your own.  Or you can cause your own trouble.  When you cause your own trouble, it’s time to set it before God, admit your fault.  Forgiveness will follow.  Vs 14, Rejoicing and telling God’s praise comes after, too.


Call to confession - 07/24/22

7.22.2022

Submission or Resistance? // A Debtor to Grace Today?

 This was a very insightful interview with Glenn Sunshine, on Romans 13, church history, and our current politics.


"O to grace how great a debtor, daily I'm constrained to be..."
I found this article VERY edifying spiritually.
How are we in debt to God for His grace to us, yet today, if at all?
Should we seek to pay off this debt?
Please read carefully, for your own spiritual health.

7.21.2022

A Review of Stranger Things 4


 

I’ve been watching Stranger Things 4. 

 

Yikes.

 

As I went to bed (eyes wide open, trying not to fall asleep), I realized how close to a Christian worldview it is.  The monster comes to kill/crush you, because of your guilt.  But there is a way of escape from his curse.

 

But of course the show’s specific diagnosis and solution is wrong on both counts.  The guilt that crushes in the show is subjective – feeling bad after a traumatic experience happened to you, feeling like you caused some bad thing you’re going through, when you didn’t.  It’s a hard assertion of the view Oprah often croons softly: “you aren’t responsible for this!  Bad people around you put you through this!”  If we’d just believe this, and be able to forgive ourselves, monster Vecna couldn’t get us.

 

The way of escape offered is also friendship and loyalty to friends (and music).  This is good on a human level – “friends don’t lie.”  There’s also a fair bit of accountability among friends that is shown, which is good, though it’s done in a pretty hokey way.  We should express our love and commit to our friends, and encourage them to do what is needed in their lives.

 

But a supernatural demon-curse needs a supernatural solution.  And modern shows like Stranger Things will never acknowledge the existence of a good God above who might show you mercy and save you from the monster stronger than you.  No, we have to fix it, by our effort, ingenuity, unexplained abilities, and loyalty.  That way, Dustin, Mike, Will, El, and Max get the glory, not God.

 

After watching more, the Christian storyline is evident, though twisted in various ways.  Papa is God the Father, a flawed and misguided father.  He wants to bring out our abilities, but hurts those he tries to control/help.  He is irrelevant/dead, now, and we are on our own to fight evil.  The One character is Lucifer, who hates life and wants to destroy it.  Hawkins lab is heaven, where there was war among the angels.  One is cast out, but monsters are unleashed on the earth, because of it.  El is the Christ figure (cruciform positions and hanging between earth and heaven are frequent), but she makes mistakes, and has to learn to harness her power without hurting others.  The way Vecna kills people is very similar to crucifixion.

 

I’ll end with a positive note.  Stranger Things has a strong moral compass.  We see evil for what it is, and viscerally know how wrong and destructive it can be.  But evil is not just out there.  The show also depicts the subtlety of sin, the swords of scorn and dissension that can divide those who should be friends and allies in the cause against evil.

 

If you can handle a high level of gruesome violence, jump scares, and PG13 swearing, I’d recommend the show.