Would that all clerks were so bold for Christ

Two of my favorite writers, Peter Leithart and Doug Wilson have written about the Kim Davis situation in Kentucky. Pastor Wilson wrote of the importance of viewing this not as a religious vs. secular case, but a religion A or  religion B case. Dr. Leithart wrote about how the case could give a wide degree of religious liberty in time, but too many on the right and the left have been quick to speak against her.

Those articles are worth reading, and for myself I would add that I appreciate Mrs. Davis. There is much misinformation and disinformation about her (such as the fact that she has been married four times, all of which took place before she became a Christian). She is under attack because she is standing for her constitutional rights. Yes I said constitutional rights. The first amendment gives someone the freedom from having to endorse what they believe is wrong, and having your name appear on the bottom of a homosexual marriage license is in her mind (and mine) an endorsement. It is no different than me endorsing a check to a friend that I know he would use to pay for a prostitute. I wouldn’t do that and she should not be forced to either. The question isn’t why did she do it. It is, “Why isn’t any other county clerk willing to do this?” The answer is that we are, by and large, cowards. We can’t imagine doing anything that won’t at least gain us immediate martyr status with “our”crowd.

At this point I am going to suggest something that I’ve not heard anyone say: please pray for Kim Davis. She is the scourge of the left (understandable) and right (crazy!). She needs strength, patience, and continued grace in the face of spiritual and emotional assault. Pray that God would send her encouragement and wisdom (James 1:3-8). Pray that God would raise up many more men and women like Kim Davis in positions of authority who will stand in the power of the Spirit. And finally, pray that God would give us all courage to stand for righteousness in the face of trials.

Have you heard one?

“Many Americans have complained of too many hellfire and damnation sermons in their past, but Bradford was one of the 112 individuals in our generation who had actually heard one.” – Doug Wilson, Evangellyfish

To celebrate or not to celebrate

Here are a few links to interesting articles about Christmas.

This one discusses why December 25 was chosen as the date for Christmas.  It leans against the belief that Constantine started it.

This article is an excerpt from a recent book by Doug Wilson on how our celebration of Christmas displays the grace of God.

The last one is not for those with sensitive skin.  James Jordan explains why we should not eat Chinese food (yes it relates to the topic).

Enjoy!

How deep does it go?

That’s a question many people ask.  What must we do to fix the problem?  Some die-hard, evangelical Republicans say start by voting for Mitt.  Some work for doing whatever is necessary to go back to the “good old days” of 1950’s (we forget the Korean war conflict and that the highest tax bracket was 91%).   Some want to go back even earlier.  But you can’t go back.  The remnants of Christian culture we inherited are quickly dissipating.  It would be like trying to rebuild ancient Rome with what little rubble we have left from that period; it can’t be done.  Our problems go deeper than the symptoms (homosexual “marriage,” abortion, obscenity, etc.).  We are a fallen people.

Which brings us back to the question, what is to be done? Since the problem can’t be fixed naturally, the only answer is supernatural.  This is where are recent blog post from Doug Wilson comes in.  In it he spoke about how deep in the soup we are.

“We live in a time when the charismatics need the Spirit, the Reformed need a reformation, and the evangelicals need to be born again. We do not need particular doctrines about the Spirit in the abstract. If we are given the Spirit of reformation, we will get the doctrines we need. We will of course need doctrine that arises from the Scriptures in order to help us understand what the Spirit just did for us. But if the Spirit didn’t actually do anything, then our systematic theologies are nothing but printed kits for organizing smoke. If the Spirit didn’t do anything, then any religious frenzies, conducted under an unauthorized use of His auspices, have all the religious authority of a priest of Baal cutting himself with a knife at a Stones concert.”

Apart from God, it’s going to get really ugly, really fast.  We’re almost to the point that we can’t rely on anyone else but God to save us; what a place in which to be.

“In short, we need the Spirit to be poured out upon us. And when God is pleased to make this hap (more…)

Christianity as a football game

Doug Wilson had a great post recently explaining how Christianity at large approaches the battle with the enemy.   The last paragraph is the best:

“We are two minutes into the second quarter, and half of our coaches (trained in Dallas, but not by the Cowboys) want all our plays to be “taking a knee.” “But the wide receivers . . .” I say, and then trail off. We go into the huddle and I suggest that we air one out. Send the receivers downtown. Our opponents will totally not be expecting that, since we have taken a knee for the last eighteen plays. One of the other players looks across the huddle at me, and says that we really need to guard against a spirit of triumphalism. And I say to myself, but only to myself, “I can’t believe Isaiah said we were going to win this game. I can’t wait . . . the fourth quarter is really going to be something . . .” “

Another round of most influential books

A good pastor friend of mine, Andy White, responded to my post about the books that have been most influential in my life with a list of books that been most influential to him.  With his permission, I am posting his list.

Reforming Marriage (Douglas Wilson) – My wife and I read this together
before we were married and have consulted it since.  It helped us to
discuss and gain a biblical perspective on a host of issues related to
marriage.  This book helped prepare a solid foundation for our
marriage, which benefits us to this day.

God Gave Wine (Ken Gentry) – The thesis of this book is simple: the
Bible does not forbid or discourage the moderate use of alcohol, but
rather, sees wine as a blessing from God for our enjoyment.  It might
seem strange that this would be high on my list, but I assure you it
is not because I am a winebibber or a drunkard.  The benefit I gained
from this book was in the broader themes that this issue touches upon.
Firstly, that God has bountifully blessed our lives with a multitude
of good things.  God is not opposed to our enjoyment of life, but
gives so many good gifts to enrich our lives, including food and
drink.  And secondly, that we are not permitted to add to God’s
commandments or be stricter than the scriptures and impose that on
other people.  Gentry does a good job dealing with the issue of
Christian liberty.  Gentry makes clear that the Bible is steadfast in
opposing and condemning drunkenness.  But not the enjoyment of wine
and other alcohol when done in moderation.

Knowing God (J.I. Packer) – It’s been a while since I read this book,
but I remember reading it with great excitement and enthusiasm as it
unfolded the character and attributes of God as revealed to us in the
Bible.

The Sovereignty of God (Arthur W. Pink) – Who’s in control of this
world, God or the Devil?  This is one of the over-arching questions
answered in this book.  Pink pulls no punches in showing how God is
sovereign over all spheres of existence, whether it be creation,
salvation, or any other thing.  He also does a good job distinguishing
God’s sovereignty over his own good works and his sovereignty over the
sinful acts of man.  He describes God’s sovereignty over the righteous
in terms of words like: quickening, energizing, directing, and
preserving, while he describes God’s sovereignty over the wicked in
terms of words like: restraining, preventing, softening, and
hardening.

Repentance in the Pulpit and in the Pew (Michael Ivey) – The title
pretty much says it.  This book is about repentance.  It is about the
importance of repentance, especially in leaders of God’s people.  I
found this book convicting and instructive.

My list of most influential books

I love book lists.  I have too many book lists on the computer.  But some books are more influential than others.  The following is a list of the five books that most reflect my Christian walk.  I’m not including the Bible in this list, although if you want me to, it would be #1.  They aren’t in any particular order, so here goes.

  • Desiring God – John Piper  This book changed the way I thought about God, myself, and the way the Church does business.  Reading it required me to reorganize my priorities and unsettled my thoughts about the process of salvation.
  • Chosen by God – R.C. Sproul  When I started reading this book, I believed man’s free will trumped God’s sovereign will in salvation.  After reading it, I knew I had to submit to God’s sovereignty in everything (including salvation) or live a lie.  There may be other books that explain God’s sovereign grace more clearly, but none ever gripped my heart like this one.  I’ll never forget the feeling of my old belief system crumbling as I read.  It was truly life changing. 
  • Angels in the Architecture – Doug Wilson and Doug Jones  This book was also a surprise, somewhat because of the title.  It isn’t about architecture (which I knew) but it is about almost everything else.  It highlights Christian culture in the past and crafts a vision for what the rule of Christ looks like in every area of life.  Many can describe abstractly what Christianity should look like when it’s lived out, but this book puts flesh on the bones of those descriptions.
  • Orthodoxy – G.K. Chesterton  I had no idea what I was getting into when I first read this book, but it changed the way I look at, well, everything.  Chesterton’s thought is best summarized in this volume, which turns everything upside down in order for us to look at it right side up (if you don’t understand what I mean just read a page of this book, you’ll get the idea).  Many books talk about Christians having joy in their lives, but this one describes what that looks like.  Chesterton does include a few nasty references to Calvinism, but they are straw men arguments that can be easily ignored.   
  • Postmillenialism: an eschatology of hope – Keith Mathison  This book is the best combination of several books that influenced me in the area of prophecy.  I came into a little maturity in this area through the likes of Gary DeMar, Gary North, Doug Wilson, and R.J. Rushdoony.  Mathison presents the ideas of the gospel spreading throughout all the earth by way of sound exegesis.  It’s a great introduction to the topic. 

Don’t forget to renew your mind

“It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”–G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

And now Doug Wilson, speaking to a graduating class, explaining how we gain that type of mindset:

“There is a way of growing wise that keeps the right kind of bright in your eyes. You can lose your hair, that’s all right. In a few decades, some of you may lose your right to the adjective svelte. In the years to come, in games of pick-up basketball, you can lose a few steps. But don’t ever lose the right kind of bright in your eyes.

Wisdom, like the mercies of God Himself, is new every morning. If you grow in wisdom, your outer man will still get weathered, and your bones will still age. We live before the final resurrection. But your inner man will be renewed by the Spirit of God, though your outer man perish (2 Cor. 4:16). As you grow in grace over the years—which is not the same thing as getting spooled up over additional scruples—you will find yourself renewed in a way that keeps the right kind of bright in your eyes. Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge (Col. 3:10). Be renewed in the spirit of your mind (Eph. 4:23). These things are not said so that you might run them through a moralistic filter, and translate them all into a respectable and dreary way of being spiritually dull. No.”

It can’t be that simple

I came across this posting by Doug Wilson recently and found it interesting, especially since I’d just told a student the exact same thing not a few hours earlier.  He discussed how many Calvinists have to do exegetical gymnastics to make the universal passages of Scripture (I John 2:2, John 3:16) fit with their theology.  How can we be Calvinists and not have to play footsey with God’s Word?  Wilson does a good job of saying this. 

“Not surprisingly, postmillennialism is the answer. Not only does postmillennialism ride to the rescue of the world, it also rides to the rescue of a decrepit, rationalistic Calvinism. Calvinists don’t like to be told that when they are hobbling through the universal texts that they look just like the Arminians hobbling through the sovereignty texts. But they do.  So try this out. The world will be saved. The nations will come to Christ. The families of the earth will turn to the Lord. The earth will be as full of the knowledge of God as the Pacific is wet. Why will all this happen? Because Jesus died so that it would. Jesus died to secure the certainty of it.”

It seems so simple, it’s hard to understand why people would reject it.

Preaching Hard Words

“Hard words, hard teaching, are the jackhammer of God.  It takes a great deal to break up our hard hearts, and the God of all mercy is willing to do it.  But He always does it according to His Word, and His Word is not as easy on us as we like…When Christians call for smooth words, easy words, the result is hard people.  When we submit to hard words, we become the tender-hearted people of God.”  Doug Wilson, Mother Kirk.