A short description of what we’re up to can be found here. Comments are welcome but may be moderated for content and tone.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Libels and Labels

People love labeling stuff.

This is not without good reason, I think. In bringing the animals to Adam to see what labels he would put on them, God dignified both, granting the man authority and the animals identity. It was also an immensely practical thing to do. Imagine the complexity of having to forever refer to “that big leathery thing with tusks and a hose for a nose” or “the small furry black thing that lives in my house that is not the same as the slightly larger small furry black thing”.

You can see why we have taken to labeling things like fish to water. It simplifies life.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

An Open Letter to Dr. Jordan B. Peterson

Dear Dr. Peterson,

I’ve been enjoying immensely your online lecture series on The Psychological Significance of the Biblical Stories. Hearing you reframe these familiar truths and ancient tropes in the terminology of psychology and mythology — and occasionally in plain secular language, rather than religiously and liturgically — has lit up the OT landscape for me in a new way. As you mentioned in your fourth lecture, a hypothesis that works itself out in human experience on multiple levels is that much more likely to represent the real state of things.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Choosing A Church

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Woodcrest Church has a helpful “Denomination Selector”. No, really, I’m not kidding.

The survey* asks the user to agree or disagree with a series of 24 statements along the lines of the following:
  1. There is one God
  2. Godhead exists as three distinct Persons
  3. The Bible is free from error
  1. There a literal Heaven and Hell
  2. The preferred day of worship (or Sabbath) is Sunday
  3. People receive charismatic gifts today (tongues, prophesy)
  4. A woman can serve as a pastor or a church minister
and so on.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Humility and Compromise

Most Christians would agree humility is a goal genuinely worth pursuing. After all, it is our Lord himself who both modeled it for us and encouraged us to behave humbly toward one another.

Paul picks up this theme and runs with it, declaring that disciples of the Lord Jesus are to, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” Religious habits that promote personal exaltation over others are not Christian habits.

So why is it so many of us confuse humility with taking a “live and let live” attitude toward inferior teaching in our churches?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Semi-Random Musings (1)

My workplace isn’t a complete and utter hive of political correctness like so many major corporations today, but that’s sure not for lack of trying.

In our case the issue is economics rather than ideology. It has been deemed insufficiently cost-effective to put a dedicated Human Resources rep in what is really only a regional satellite office, so instead we are PC-policed from over a thousand miles away. Which means we aren’t, really.

That would be a nice benefit if we were free to enjoy it. But we aren’t. Somehow, without any discussion of the subject, we have managed to begin policing each other … for free.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Ten Commandments That Failed

It seems morbid, perhaps, to be raising the topic of 9/11 well over a decade after it was all over. It was a sad, bitter moment, one that we might all wish to forget.

But wisdom does not always come quickly, and events of this magnitude take a very long time to understand. There are some things which are best left unsaid in the heat of the moment, but are better brought slowly to the surface when due time has passed. Such is the case with what I am writing today.

Even now, the fall of the World Trade Towers is not an easy subject.

Monday, June 19, 2017

This Would Be Why I Can Do Without Denominations

Wow, those Southern Baptists sure don’t waste any time.

Seems like the Alt-Right only really came to the attention of the mainstream for the first time back in September when Hillary Clinton gave her now-infamous “basket of deplorables” speech in New York City. Whether calling a significant number of Trump supporters racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic and Islamaphobic hurt the Clinton campaign is a matter of opinion; what isn’t debatable is that today the “deplorables” have their guy in the White House.

The Dems don’t.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Bad Idea Revisited

Here’s yet another post about the need to reunite the visible Church. They’re a dime a dozen at the moment, a fact which might set off alarm bells in the heads of our premillennialist readers.

As is usually (but not always) the case, well-intentioned folks are convinced the Church cannot be effective on the world stage until it is politically unified:

“The first step in [retaking our culture and rebuilding our civilization] is UnSchisming the Church. And the first step in UnSchisming the Church is to agree that the Body of Christ needs to be whole again. The 3 segments of the Church [Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant] are going to have to agree to that before we can make any movement on resolving this issue.”

Color me a bit cynical on that front, but I appreciate the thought.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Can I Sit Down Yet?

Ever sat through an 18 minute prayer?

I have, and I promise you it is tough sledding. Anyone who says otherwise nodded off for ten minutes in the middle.

Is that an unspiritual attitude? I’m not trying to be mean. The prayer culprit almost surely thought he was doing a good thing. Perhaps he was trying to avoid a few minutes of awkward silence, or maybe he wanted to make sure every concern he thought was important to God got covered. Maybe he thinks a spiritual prayer is a long prayer, or maybe that’s just what he’s used to.

Maybe his dad prayed like that, and maybe inside he was screaming, “Can I sit down YET?”

Friday, June 16, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Rethinking Sunday School

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: I have a confession for you, IC. I was a terrible kid in Sunday School. I made everybody’s lives miserable, from the guy tasked with leading the singing to my individual Sunday School teachers. I really didn’t like it much.

The odd thing is that I had nothing against church particularly, or the Bible. I even believed it was true. But I was a total cut-up.

How about you?

Immanuel Can: Yep. Dead with boredom, and ready to make trouble.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Mark of the What?

Rod Dreher brought it out of the closet with The Benedict Option.

By “it”, I mean the ongoing discussion in evangelical churches about being “in the world” but not “of the world” in a political climate where the Powers That Be are increasingly disinclined to let anyone opt out of their pro-LGBTQWERTY program, and in which technology has given them the tools to make sure you don’t, at least not without hurting you in a big way.

Wait, what? You say there IS no ongoing discussion about these matters in your local church?

Why am I not surprised?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Letters from the Best Man (5)

The following is absolutely fictional and increasingly common. There is no Brad and definitely no Jill, in case that is not obvious. There are, however, way too many people in their position.

Dear Brad,

Yes, it has been a while, and I’m happy you feel up to keeping in touch. I know it’s been hard. Dan mentioned you ran into Jill at the mall, but neither he nor I can imagine how difficult that was for you.

Your account of that accidental meeting reminds me how easily we can miscommunicate, but I think I can relate to your confusion: years of familiarity combined with sudden, obvious emotional distance can make you reassess everything you once thought you knew.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Let’s Just Back That Up A Step

From the Department of Missing the Obvious: I appear to have missed the obvious, and for most of my life. Funny how that works.

The more seasoned believers who read and comment here occasionally are welcome to have a giggle at my expense, though I know some of you well enough to be sure you’ll be considerably more gracious.

This is how the Christian life goes, right? So I throw this out there for any who are as thick as I am, which may well be nobody.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Agenda is Served

I don’t read much that comes out of the wilderness of liberal Christendom (some will argue that’s a good thing, and I won’t argue back). So it was a little jarring to come across a rather poetic meditation on the Holy Spirit here that refers to him throughout as “she” and “it”.

Uh, no. Just no.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Too Big to Fail

My morning walk/prayer reverie was disrupted by the sight of a bumper sticker that read like so:

“God is too big to fit inside one religion.”

Interesting. One the surface it sounds like a compliment — this guy has a big god. Big is good, right?

Well, yes and no.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

On Tactics and Their Acceptability

A well-known biblical precept begins with the words “Do unto others ...”

Context strongly suggests the Lord intended his followers to engage with his teaching actively rather than passively, by performing positive moral acts toward those in need of them.

That said, the negative implication most commonly drawn from his words (“Refrain from doing things you WOULDN’T like done to you”) is not wrong.

Either way, the social justice crowd would do well to pay attention.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Alt-Personhood

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Fox News reports that the Baltimore Book Festival has dropped Rachel Dolezal’s invitation to participate in the festival this year after receiving too much negative public feedback.

You may remember Ms Dolezal from a flurry of media scrutiny in 2015 when it was revealed that the leader of the Spokane chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wasn’t really a person of color after all, but was in reality a little blonde in blackface.

Tom: IC, I don’t understand. Society says it’s not only okay but morally imperative for me to self-identify as a woman if that’s how I feel about myself, even if I have been born biologically male. It will defend my right to call myself any made-up gender I like, even to the point of stripping you of your right to disagree with me about it in the public space.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

A Dose of Worldliness

What does it really mean to think or to speak “like a Christian”?

Does it mean to be able to make inside spiritual jokes, or to speak bluntly about the human situation? Does it mean to think only from individual experience, or to have a view of the world? Does it mean always to have tidy answers, or to be willing to speak unflinchingly about difficult questions? Does it mean presenting oneself as the self-satisfied fount of all knowledge, or as an earnest learner, a work-in-progress still growing into new answers?

Here are two sets of song lyrics from the same year. One song is nominally Christian and the other is not. Can you guess which is which?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

A Tale of Two Methodologies

Two kings, two different ways of doing business. One worked, one didn’t.

Here’s their story.

Well, technically it’s a story of two nations as well. The ten tribes of Israel had parted ways with Judah and Benjamin and formed their own political entity. The king of Judah was intent on reuniting the people of God, by main force if necessary. While he was mustering his troops, God sent word to him that this was not to be. Division was his chosen state of affairs for the time being.

Checkmate. So everybody settled down to live with the status quo.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

No Reinterpretation Required

Love is a two-stage project: there is the declaring of it and then the hard work of actually doing it. It is impossible to effectively communicate love without doing both.

The order of operations is not terribly important, but both elements are critical.

Now of course declarations of love on their own may mislead us and require us to do a little contextual reinterpretation. A classic Canadian rock tune from 1970 made the point that we often say “I love you” when we actually mean something else entirely.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Technical Difficulties

A reader reports that the internal link from the introduction page of all our blog posts to the body of the article has gone missing (the line at the bottom of each day’s intro that says “Read More »”).

I suspect the Blogger tech team are making adjustments to their program and we’ll be back to normal shortly. In the meantime, clicking on the title of any article takes you to the entire thing.

Sorry for the inconvenience!

The Best Possible Spot

There is a time-honored tradition in Old Testament oratory of addressing one’s enemies from the safety of a nearby hilltop.

Jotham called out his family’s murderers from Mount Gerazim. The Philistines hurled their insults at the Israelite army on one side of the Valley of Elah from the mountain on the other. Even David appealed to Saul from atop the hill of Hachilah.

Not too bad a strategy, really, before the invention of megaphones and loudspeakers: just stand far enough up and back to avoid the enemy’s arrows and occasional javelin toss while staying close enough to remain audible.

It was the best possible spot, especially if things went south and you had to beat a hasty retreat down the far side of the hill.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Some Deliverance

Divine law was not given to mankind simply as a means for us to avoid God’s wrath (though obedience to the law in any generation may defer judgment for a time).

Neither was divine law given only so that men would live happier and more productive lives (though history and the evidence of our eyes tell us societies in which God’s laws are obeyed are better places to live than societies where God’s laws are not).

Still less was divine law given as a means of justifying ourselves in the court of God. That one has never worked.

No, the law was never an end in itself, but rather a means to an end. The desired end was a flourishing relationship with the God who gave it.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Recommend-a-blog (24)

Are you a young Christian diligent in your pursuit of truth, burrowing into the scriptures daily and digging up every resource you can find on the side to explain those things you encounter there that don’t initially make perfect sense to you?

Well, I’ve got just the thing for you: it’s a new atheist app.

No, really. This is a useful tool, if only as a window into the mindset of active disbelievers who are expending an awful lot of time and energy trying to turn others from faith in Christ.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Why I Don’t Share My Faith

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Tom: I’ve just finished wading through a list of reasons why Christians don’t share their faith. Here’s what Daniel Darling says keeps him from spilling what he knows about the person of Christ to a needy world:
  1. We don’t share our faith because we don’t realize we have a mission
  2. We don’t share our faith because we misunderstand our mission
  3. We don’t share our faith because we misunderstand the Holy Spirit’s mission
  4. We don’t share our faith because we misunderstand what it means to be a friend of the world
  5. We don’t share our faith because we are ashamed of our identity
Immanuel Can, when I fail to share my faith, it is usually because I’m scared of messing up my next line. So I overthink it, and suddenly the conversation is over and I’ve gotten nowhere significant.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

History Told Twice

Nothing too profound this morning.

I’ve been enjoying a book on the gospel of Luke (see an earlier post) that draws attention to the differences between the gospel records. Not those pesky “apparent contradictions”, but just differences in content and presentation.

Each inspired record of the life of Christ has its own theme or themes. (In other news, water is wet.)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Letters from the Best Man (4)

The following is absolutely fictional and increasingly common. There is no Brad and definitely no Jill, in case that is not obvious. There are, however, way too many people in their position.

Dear Brad,

Firstly, I’m so glad to hear that your elders are comfortable with you breaking bread with God’s people despite the conflicting stories about your marriage breakdown. That’s most encouraging and speaks well of them, I think.

Secondly, no, I’m not really all that surprised to hear that Jill has not yet given you legal notice of pending divorce proceedings despite what she said in the letter she left behind.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Life in Suspended Animation

I grew up a Trekkie.

You remember that word? It was a nerd word. A “trekkie” was a person who loved the television show Star Trek. My daily ritual was to get home and plop myself down in front of the telly and catch whatever rerun was on that day. I think I saw most episodes of the original show a half dozen times or more.

I remember one episode called Space Seed, in which the crew of the Starship Enterprise discovers a ship loaded with sleeping men and women. They’re all in what’s called suspended animation: alive, but asleep and on life support, so that they can endure a lengthy trip through space. The crew revives one named Khan, and he turns out to be a kind of wild superman they’re unable to control. He’s more than a little agitated that he and his people have become the rejects of planet earth.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Double Jeopardy

“I wouldn’t want to be a teenager today!”

I hear that a lot. And I suppose there’s something to it. It’s not easy going through those vulnerable transitional years today.

But then, it’s never been.

It’s a really unnatural stage of life. Today, we may take it for granted; but we are losing touch with just how irregular, how unhealthy and how bizarre it really is. That’s because most of us were raised through a socialization process — including urban economic life, mass schooling, post-secondary training, late induction into adulthood, and so on — that took it for granted. We are out of touch with just how developmentally weird it really is.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Who Hardened Whose Heart?

Sovereignty discussion time.

Scripture is rife with examples of the peculiar streak of human perversity that sets itself against the will of God to the bitter end. But even with all that competition, Pharaoh and his Egyptians must surely rank in the Top Ten.

Or do they? What about this verse:

“Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob sojourned in the land of Ham. And the Lord made his people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes. He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.”

On the face of it, Christian determinists would seem to have good reason to jump on the words of the Psalmist and say, “Aha, you see, it says that God ‘turned the hearts’ of the Egyptians to hate his people. They didn’t have a choice!”

Except they did. Let’s look at why.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Desultory Spiritual Noises

I wrote recently about the subject of Christian confession in connection with Peter Ditzel’s comments on 1 John 1. Confession is how believers deal with disruptions in our fellowship with God that come from our tendency to sin.

Repentance is another part of that process.

Ideally the two go together, but they are not identical. As Ditzel demonstrates, like repentance, confession has both an attitudinal and an active aspect. Both involve changes of heart and life. But while genuine repentance gives rise to confession (where confession is appropriate), not every confession demonstrates real repentance, as we will shortly observe.

Thankfully, the Bible doesn’t just tell us what these things are, it also shows us what they aren’t.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Snakes, Mistakes and Better Takes

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

According to Infogalactic, the late George Went Hensley, a mover and shaker in the Holiness movement, argued that believers who truly have the Holy Spirit within them should be able to handle rattlesnakes and any number of other venomous serpents. David Kimbrough writes that Hensley even insisted his congregation in rural Tennessee prove their salvation by holding a snake.

He also died after one of his snakes bit him during a revival meeting in Florida one afternoon in July 1955. His death was understandably ruled a suicide since he picked up the snake voluntarily and refused treatment after the bite.

Tom: I suppose one could attribute that to a temporary failure of faith. What do you think, IC?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Quote of the Day (33)

The English Language & Usage website is a useful tool for readers who come across words and phrases they don’t understand and can’t find an answer elsewhere. Other users generally supply the answers they are seeking.

“So, what does it mean to come to the end of yourself? Is it related to getting to the point where you are powerless? Or maybe to the fact that you are sick of yourself? Am I even close?”

Now, if you’ve ever circulated among Christians at all, you’ve almost surely encountered the expression, but it’s my sneaking suspicion you won’t come across it elsewhere and that if you do, it’s probably crept in quietly to secular thinking from Christian theology.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Almost But Not Quite Circular

Claims are not proof. But nobody looks for proof unless some kind of claim has first been made.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Andy Stanley’s assertion that the Genesis account of Adam and Eve is history, not just spiritually valuable mythology. For Andy, it is how Jesus spoke about Adam and Eve that is definitive.

I agree with him on at least two things: first, that Genesis is historical, and second, that the words of Christ are of vital importance to the believer. They are there to be pored over, memorized, analyzed with all the faculties God has given us, meditated upon and lived out wherever they apply to our lives.

Good so far. And then, me being me, I have to lob a monkey wrench into the machinery.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Letters from the Best Man (3)

The following is absolutely fictional and increasingly common. There is no Brad and definitely no Jill, in case that is not obvious. There are, however, way too many people in their position.

Dear Brad,

Your question about participating in the Lord’s Supper during your separation from Jill is a good one, especially as the weeks pass and your wife shows no signs of coming home or even of being willing to talk things through with you.

Still, perhaps the answer is not quite as complicated as you are making it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Divorce: What We Don’t Know

I’ve been thankful to see a few posts from Tom on the subject of divorce, and I’ve been encouraging him to research and write more. We, in the church, need information about this.

I’m afraid we’re not very wise on this. Time was when divorces were rare. Back then, what tended to happen is that if a person got divorced, they just left the church — end of story. Maybe one of the partners hung around … especially if he or she was presumed “innocent” in the event. But for the most part, divorce was just an uncomfortable subject, a Pandora’s Box that churches just didn’t want to open.

I think the problem was really that while the scriptures give us a pattern for God’s ideal — marriage for life — they don’t really give us as much as perhaps we’d like about what to do when the ideal just hasn’t happened.

We may have the broad outline. What we don’t have is any of the details.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Better Word

“Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?”

Washed in the blood. I’ll be frank: that’s kind of a grisly image, though a very popular one in late 19th and 20th century hymnology. If some of our modern churchgoers cringe at the mental picture it conjures, we can hardly blame them.

Elisha Hoffman’s lyric presumably riffs on Revelation 7, where John sees an innumerable multitude of worshipers in front of the throne of God and is told, “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”

In Revelation it is the robes that are washed in the blood, not the worshipers themselves. Hoffman probably understood this, though his title is a bit too ambiguous for me.

What we do find much more often in scripture is sprinkled blood.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Nice Getting to Know You ...

Embarrassing story of father-failure. Brace yourselves.

My youngest son was fired not too long ago. Well, “fired” is a harsh word for something that was actually done with unusual politeness. The Asian manager of the donut store where he’d been working for three weeks let him know at the end of his shift that, “Uh, it was really nice getting to know you, but you don’t need to come back next week.”

Hmm. Okay then.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Religious Freedom, Limited

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

The Independent reports that Belgium’s Walloon region is the latest territory to ban kosher and halal meats. Denmark, Switzerland and New Zealand all got there first, in each case turning a deaf ear to the protests of Jewish and Islamic minorities.

Tom: That’s fine with me. We’ve already established in the U.S. and Canada that there are reasonable limits on religious freedoms, though these have been applied more frequently (and certainly more visibly) against Christians than against religious minorities recently.

But this is the nature of multicultural societies. Wherever different religions have coexisted in the same national space, some limits on specific practices have always had to be set. Where blasphemy was concerned, the Jews groused to Pilate that “It is not lawful for us to put anyone to death.” Too bad, so sad. That’s life in the Roman Empire.

Where did the West get this concept of “freedom of religion” in the first place, IC?

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Letters from the Best Man (2)

The following is absolutely fictional and increasingly common. There is no Brad and definitely no Jill, in case that is not obvious. There are, however, way too many people in their position.

Dear Brad,

Glad to hear that Sunday did not go as badly as you thought it might. I’ve been praying and will continue to do so.

As I mentioned in my previous email, the elders accepting your resignation from teaching Sunday School is normal. Don’t take it personally. They haven’t heard Jill’s side of the story yet, and they never will if she doesn’t come back to church. Suppose they had refused to accept your resignation out of some kind of misplaced loyalty, then later discovered that Jill really left you because you had an affair at work or something insane like that? I know you didn’t, but these things do happen in the real world. They are being responsible to the Chief Shepherd and doing their jobs. The truth will come out in due course, trust me.

Meanwhile, you’ve done the right thing and the Lord is honored in it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Flitting Sparrow

Just more hot air ...
Most curses are just bunches of empty words. After all, a curse can’t do any real damage without the cooperation of the divine Third Party whose power they attempt to invoke.

In any case, we’re not big on curses in our modern world. Oh, I don’t mean profanity: as a culture we’re pretty much over the top with that, as anyone with Netflix will easily confirm. But the real deal — the Old Testament “God is gonna getcha” kind of curse — is rare. And that’s a good thing, I think.

All the same, some curses are very powerful indeed. One or two are even of historic import.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

You Don’t Want To Be ‘That Guy’

I wonder what it was like for the Jews who sang David’s psalms.

I suspect a bunch of them were kind of like we tend to be. You know how you can sing a hymn 100 times and on the 101st time it suddenly dawns on you what the writer was trying to communicate.

The same words were all there before; they all meant the same thing they mean when you figure them out, but somehow you sang them over and over again from childhood without really processing them. Maybe you were reading the music and trying to figure out if you should go for that high note or drop down an octave for safety’s sake; or a kid down the pew was fidgeting and kept dropping crumbs from the cookie you wish her grandma hadn’t given her; or you were somewhere else entirely in your own head, possibly contemplating missing the NFL pre-game show.

Whatever the distraction may have been, you sang those words but didn’t register them. You missed the point.

I’ve certainly done it enough.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Letters from the Best Man (1)

The following is absolutely fictional and increasingly common. There is no Brad and definitely no Jill, in case that is not obvious. There are, however, way too many people in their position.

Dear Brad,

I am so deeply, deeply sorry to hear that you and Jill have separated. Standing up for you was a privilege and an honor. It’s been … what, almost a decade? But I still vividly recall that crazy, way-too-lengthy conversation we had in the Four Seasons lounge after the wedding rehearsal when everybody else had gone to bed, and I haven’t the slightest doubt that when you took those vows before God and everyone you love, you meant them with all your heart.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Two Glories

Well, it’s Sunday again.

Time to go and meet with the Lord’s people and think about him.

That’s good work, really. It’s just about the best thing we really ever do. The works we do here on earth end when the Lord returns. But some things continue into eternity. Paramount among those things is worship. It’s one of the few things we do that lasts forever. I think that makes it worth getting up for.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Recommend-a-blog (23)

What political theology are you?

I’m a ‘Radical Anabaptist’, or at least so says Mere Orthodoxy’s political theology quiz.

Not sure quite what to think about that. I guess I’m glad to be a radical something. These days I think I’d be more insulted to be called a moderate. And while I dislike the implicit nod to infant baptism in the “Anabaptist” label, I am indeed a firm believer in baptizing believers only, as readers of my baptism series (left sidebar) will confirm, and glad to take a stand on that.

It seems a funny point of theology to fixate on, but I’ll take it ... I guess.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Too Hot to Handle: Unhinged Racism

In which our regular writers toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

Jonathan Merritt contributes to The Atlantic and has been named one of “30 young influencers reshaping Christian leadership” by Outreach Magazine. All good so far, provided you don’t mind your “Christian leadership” flavored with a big honkin’ tablespoon of social justice.

Tom: He also just called Doug Wilson an “unhinged racist”, and Doug has sensibly called foul right here in one of the funniest posts I’ve read in a long time.

IC, these accusations of “racism” are getting so common today as to be almost meaningless.

Immanuel Can: Yes, along with the words, “sexist”, “homophobic” and “Islamophobic”, they comprise today’s “Four Horsemen of the Horse Manure”.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Christian Confession: An Elaborate Fabrication?

Is it really necessary for Christians to confess our sins in order to be forgiven them?

Peter Ditzel says no, that being forgiven for the sins we commit from time to time as believers does not depend on regular confession. That, he says, would be working for our forgiveness.

He is also not a fan of John MacArthur’s take on 1 John 1, which draws a distinction between judicial and parental forgiveness that Ditzel thinks is an “elaborate fabrication”. He sees the ongoing search for MacArthur’s “parental forgiveness” as a Protestant form of penance.

The judicial/parental distinction probably did not originate with MacArthur. I’ve been hearing it my whole life. It is a very common explanation of what the apostle John has to say about forgiveness.

But is it correct?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tom 1, John the Baptist 0

Jim Plunkett when he was
not winning Superbowls
Congratulate me, gentle reader. I have officially beaten John the Baptist.

Oh, he put up a good fight. Taking on the Jewish religious establishment was brave. Living on a diet of locusts and wild honey was certainly evidence of great devotion to his job, not to mention that he spent way, way less than I do on his wardrobe. Excellent stewardship there. And that whole martyrdom thing, well ... it’s a pretty special honor to die for what you believe. I’m not sure I’m up to that at all.

But I won anyway. How do you like them apples!

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Going Out With A Bang

Things are changing at the office.

Sixty-five is no longer mandatory retirement age in Canada, so a few of the men I learned from are still on the job, though they have definitely slowed down. Most are gone despite the change in law. Some even took packages and opted out early. Others who thought they’d work past sixty-five found they were running out of gas and changed their minds. Still others had unexpected health crises or family drama.

Hey, there are no guarantees for any of us, right?

Monday, May 08, 2017

By What Authority?

Busted for blogging with insufficient authority
I love error. Error is a beautiful thing.

Don’t panic. Let me get going here and you’ll soon see what I mean. And in case it doesn’t become howlingly obvious, I promise I’ll clear it up at the end.

Ready? Here we go. So … Tish Harrison Warren is an author and a priest in the Anglican Church in North America. She currently serves as co-associate rector at Church of the Ascension in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I’m going to quote her a bit here, so I mention this not at all in an attempt to disqualify what she says, but so that you can better enjoy the many, many helpings of mouth-wateringly delicious irony she dishes up.

You see Ms. Warren fears the Christian blogosphere is off its leash. She thinks its various Christian and heretical voices are operating without spiritual authority and ought to be reined in.

Wow. Just … wow. Pot, meet kettle.