Thursday, August 11, 2022

Brains With Feet

I was reading a book on apologetics, a collection of essays. It had one by Sean McDowell. Yes, that Sean McDowell, son of the more famous Josh McDowell. (How tired he must be of hearing that!)

Anyway, I’ve read a few McDowell books, and from the first moment I opened one, I remember feeling a vague sense of … what was it? ... a sort of vague ‘missing’.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Machiavelli on Fortresses

I can’t help noticing that Hosea is not the only Old Testament prophet who declaimed against fortresses. You may remember he told his nation, “Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors, therefore the tumult of war shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be destroyed.”

So it happened, as we have been discovering in our Saturday studies in Hosea.

Tuesday, August 09, 2022

Staring Down the Barrel

A recent Gospel Coalition “Good Faith Debate” included comments from a pastor who says using a firearm to stop an attempted massacre in a church is as erroneous as Peter’s attempt to prevent Christ’s arrest.

Uh, say what?

Such opinions naturally stir the pot. This responsive post entitled “The Neutered Evangelical Man” provides a great starting point for a discussion on whether Jesus really taught universal pacifism, and it prompted me to pull together a series of thoughts on the subject I have expressed in this space over the years.

Let’s start with a bang.

Monday, August 08, 2022

Anonymous Asks (209)

“Why do Christians try to impose their values on others?”

The word “impose” is an intransitive verb that means:

  1. To establish or apply as compulsory; levy.
  2. To bring about by authority or force; force to prevail.

Is this really what Christians do when they preach the gospel? At worst, we might say that they strongly recommend an alternative they believe preferable to the direction our society is currently going. The climate change folks, depopulationists, would-be socialists, vegans, vaccination mandate supporters, LGBTQ+ activists, and a whole host of other opinionated people do precisely the same thing.

But impose? Where is the force in the Christian message? Where is the coercion? Where is even the threat of such things?

Sunday, August 07, 2022

Should I Go to Confession?

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Whenever some people hear the words “confess” or “confession”, they think of what is encouraged in some churches — regular visits to an appointed location to unload any sense of guilt. It is an example of understanding a word, verse or promise in the light of common practice, then supposing the scriptures support that human tradition.

Saturday, August 06, 2022

Mining the Minors: Hosea (39)

The Bible condemns a proud, independent spirit from Genesis to Revelation and everywhere in between. And where men prosper, pride often follows.

This sort of defective thinking first shows itself in Cain, who found ways to work the earth with some degree of success despite the curse. Cain knew what sort of sacrifice was acceptable to God but thought offering the evidence of own his success in his chosen field a better idea. Pride.

Friday, August 05, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: Islam Fading

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

This is a curious little video:

Tom: As you know, IC, I tend to take such things with a dumpster-sized grain of salt. There’s enough disinformation circulating these days to keep the Christian perpetually on his or her toes. But the gist of this video is that Islam’s popularity and reach may not be all it is cracked up to be. Rather than growing prodigiously as we have assumed, the evidence may suggest the influence of Islam is actually shrinking.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

The Mythical Native

So you’re speaking to someone about the gospel. And suddenly he gets that ironic glint in his eye. He folds his arms, steps back and says, “Well, what about the people who have never heard? What about people not born in Christian cultures, or even in cultures with some other religion? Hey, what about the native on some remote South Sea island, who has never even seen a white person and knows nothing about Western culture? If you have to believe the gospel to be saved, then isn’t that poor guy going to hell? And how is that fair? After all, he never even had a chance.”

He smiles smugly at you, confident you won’t be able to field that one. And you stumble.

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Quote of the Day (43)

The always-excellent Antemodernist performs surgery on a post about Romans 13 and submission to authority from Stand to Reason’s Jonathan Noyes:

“Suppose a stranger walks up to you and declares himself a king and says he is your king, and by virtue of his authority over you, he compels you to pay taxes and serve in his militia. A bit strange, and you’d probably pretend to take a phone call to get away. Mr. Noyes, if he is consistent, cannot do this. He’d be disobeying authority.”

Like many of our readers, I have been struggling with this issue since early 2020. Prior to that point, if you had asked me when Romans 13 does not apply to Christians, I would have promptly answered, “When we are told not to preach the gospel.” That much I was sure of. Beyond that, I’m afraid I hadn’t given the illegitimate exercise of authority much thought. Since then I’ve had to give it plenty, the results of which you can find here and here.

Antemodernist has obviously been doing a fair bit of thinking as well.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

Loving and Respecting

“Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Phil and Katie are a Christian couple in their fourth decade of married life. They have three grown children. Both are close to normal retirement age. As a director of a small company, Katie makes slightly more than Phil does in his role as middle manager for a larger one. She is also brimming with confidence that comes from long-term day-to-day success on the job.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Anonymous Asks (208)

“Should Christians boycott companies that support anti-Christian policies?”

I’m old enough to remember when discriminating was a synonym for discerning rather than a reason to call somebody out as prejudiced. Whether we are talking about products or services, a discriminating person looks at the available options and makes the best possible choice for himself and his family.

It’s hard to see what could be offensive about that.

Sunday, July 31, 2022

Overcoming Discouragement

Do you ever feel sorry for yourself or downhearted without being sure of the cause?

Apparently David did. He asked himself twice in Psalm 42, “Why are you cast down, O my soul?” Then he prescribed an effective remedy for himself: “Hope in God”, he said, for he had good reason to believe he would yet praise the one he called the health of his countenance and his God.

David was not whistling in the dark to dispel his distress. It was not merely good psychology; it was an act of faith. He knew he would “yet praise him”, and thus he put his hope in God.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Mining the Minors: Hosea (38)

The photo to the right reproduces my favorite classical attempt to represent Jacob’s struggle with the angel by French painter Pierre Patel (1604-1676). If you squint, you can just about see two figures wrestling on the bottom left. Patel’s design displays a certain cautious reverence sadly lacking in other painters of the period.

One of Hosea’s main themes in chapter 12 is the patriarch Jacob. The second and fourth divisions of the chapter use different aspects of Jacob’s life to instruct any willing ears in Israel or Judah.

Friday, July 29, 2022

Too Hot to Handle: Keeping It Controversial

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

Matthew Block at the National Post says it’s a bad time to be religious in Canada.

Now of course he’s looking across the religious spectrum, not just at Christians, touching on everything from proposed government training and certification of imams on to the Quebec government’s plan to ban ostentatiously religious clothing through to the resistance to Trinity Western opening a law school.

Evidently it’s not just terrorism the Canadian government is concerned about, and it’s not just Canada where religious restrictions are either being considered or have already been rolled out.

Tom: I’m not a fan of the hyper-regulatory state, Immanuel Can. Do you see any silver lining here?