Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Saving America

Personally, I don’t think America can be saved. As a Canadian, I think we’re toast too. I believe both those venerable entities are bound for history’s wood chipper. We are on borrowed time, enjoying the last dregs of the benefits conferred to us from previous generations. Our own generation’s lazy, haphazard defense of the blessings we have inherited has pretty much guaranteed they will not survive us.

That’s pretty negative. But don’t check out yet.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Civilly Disobedient

“Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name.”

We’re all doing it. You know you are.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Anonymous Asks (141)

“Should someone start attending a church if he or she doesn’t believe in God?”

I will add a couple more related questions: Should someone read the Bible if they don’t believe it? Should someone pray if they are not sure there is anyone out there to hear them?

And then I will answer them all the same way: Absolutely.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Breaking Point

There is a lot of talk these days about Christian COVID “conspiracy theorists”, the spectrum of which ranges from anyone who does not accept lock, stock and barrel the ever-evolving mainstream media narrative about masks, vaccination and the efficacy of social distancing, all the way to the full-blown “George Soros and Bill Gates set up the whole thing” crowd.

A not-insignificant movement is underway to encourage these whispering saints to please curtail their speculations before they manage to ruin the collective testimony of the people of God by making us all look whack-a-doodle.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (11)

One of the subtler themes of the book of Amos is this: that God hates strongholds.

That probably requires a little explanation. Chapters 1 and 2 are full of references to these fortified places. There are the strongholds of Ben-hadad in Syria, the stronghold of Gaza in Philistia, the stronghold of Tyre, and so on. Each of seven strongholds mentioned is slated to be devoured by fire, the judgment of God poured out upon them. Then in chapter 3 the word “strongholds” is used four times, and it is Israel’s strongholds, particularly Samaria, which are in view.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Rainbow Unicorns and Cosmic Heat Death

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

I’m hearing this all the time now: Just a couple of days ago, our Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Russia has a chance to get on the “right side of history” and help negotiate a political end to the reign of Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. Former president Obama loved the expression, and Bill Clinton used it more than 20 times in his speeches. Writer Ben Yagoda says the phrase — whether it’s “right side” or “wrong side” — has been in use for over a century.

Tom: I can vaguely understand what a Christian might intend by the use of the expression, Immanuel Can. But what on earth does “the right side of history” mean in a post-religious, thoroughly secular context?

Thursday, April 15, 2021

True Revolutionaries

Welcome back to our two-part treatment of the (post-)modern attitude to truth.

A little while back, we were observing that the concept of an actual objective truth has gone out of fashion these days. More and more, the average person of today tends to disbelieve that anything can be, in any final and universally binding sense, “true”. Truth has been banished because there are so many voices shouting so many messages that most of us don’t know where to find it if it did exist. We’re overwhelmed by multiculturalism, media overload, the speed of modern life and the decline of the formerly-solid touchpoints of religion and tradition, even if we know nothing about the theory behind it, or about the new skeptical “hermeneutics” being taught in the contemporary academy. We’re all just pretty confused about truth.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Little Bed Rest

“They rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness.”

If we are thinking this verse from Isaiah describes the peace of mind that accompanies righteous living, we need to look a little closer at the context. He’s not talking about the proverbial “sleep of the just”. The “rest” Isaiah has in view is of the rather-more-permanent variety.

There are lots of ways to exit this world, but departing quietly in one’s sleep has got to be among the best. There are nobler ways to go, sure, but they tend to come with their share of heart palpitations.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (14)

Garrett Jones wants to straighten out a very important scriptural misconception.

Perhaps you have read that the Lord Jesus will one day “rule the nations with a rod of iron” and have always understood the rod metaphor to convey irresistible might and the instantaneous crushing of all rebellious impulses.

That’s an immature take, says Garrett, a caricature of God’s intentions for our world, the equivalent of your kid’s refrigerator artwork. You are reading the passage as if it speaks of an angry God who is going to “spank everyone with a long metal stick”, in ignorance of its real meaning.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Anonymous Asks (140)

“Does God want humans to sin?”

Years ago I used to leave pocket change lying around the house where anyone could see it. My father, concerned for the constant temptation loose coins posed to his then-six-year-old grandson, suggested I should put them somewhere less obvious.

It wasn’t a bad thought. After all, I didn’t want my son violating his conscience, did I? Why tempt him unnecessarily?

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Everywhere a Sign

The apostle John has a thing about signs. You might say it’s one of the dominant themes of his gospel.

Every gospel mentions that the Lord Jesus performed signs (or miracles, depending on your translation), but John leaves the rest of them in the dust. In connection with the earthly ministry of the Lord, he references the word on sixteen separate occasions. Compare that to Matthew (three), Mark (one) or Luke (four) and you’ll see what I’m saying.

Unlike the old song, in John, signs don’t block out the scenery. They are the scenery.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Mining the Minors: Amos (10)

God doesn’t enjoy punishing people, even when they are unusually wicked. He takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, preferring that they change their ways and prosper rather than get what is coming to them. This is a well-established principle of scripture; both prophets and apostles testify to the fact that our God lets us off the hook every single time he can possibly justify it.

As the psalmist put it, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”

Friday, April 09, 2021

Too Hot to Handle: Spreading the Infection

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

France is getting ‘woke’, or at least so says the New York Times. Young people on the other side of the Atlantic from an entirely different cultural background and with an entirely different history than their counterparts in the U.S. are mobilizing, protesting and even rioting over the treatment of blacks, over gender issues, over colonialism — you name it, they’re up in arms about it. What’s interesting is that, as French president Emmanuel Macron puts it, all this fuss and bother is “entirely imported”. It is the product of American universities and American media.

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Bottom of the Ninth

I’m beginning to think that the ninth commandment is more important than I ever realized.

Traditionally, it reads, “Thou shalt not bear false witness” (KJV), or more colloquially, “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

Well … Duh!

“Okay,” I said to myself when I first read it, “that makes sense. In court, telling a lie about someone or something can get an innocent person into serious legal trouble. And to do that would be malicious. Fair enough.”