Sunday, August 18, 2019

Taking Canaan by Degrees

“The Lord your God will clear away these nations before you little by little. You may not make an end of them at once, lest the wild beasts grow too numerous for you.”

For the believer, victory often comes in increments.

That goes against our natural instinct about how things should be, doesn’t it? After all, occupying enemy territory in the Christian life is not just desirable, it is morally imperative.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (72)

As mentioned in previous posts, the specific details of the wife’s labors in Proverbs 31 are largely unimportant. It is the character qualities they show us that matter most. The fact that these verses speak of fields and vineyards does not limit wifely excellence to the spouses of farmers. Let’s not discourage ambitious, creative married women living in modern urban settings. An excellent wife today might write or edit books, give music lessons, provide after-school care for neighborhood children or popularize her own YouTube channel.

Okay, maybe not YouTube. These days, anything excellent on YouTube is guaranteed to get demonetized.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Five Bad Reasons (2)

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

Liberal Christian blogger Benjamin Corey claims more believers — especially older ones — are becoming “LGBTQ-affirming”, and this Pew poll appears to back him up. Whether this is due to social pressure, a fear of being thought intolerant or just plain old battle fatigue remains to be seen.

Tom: Corey lists five reasons he believes Christians are changing their minds about homosexuality. Immanuel Can and I are fisking his arguments for orthodoxy. We’re not finding much ...

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Command Performance

I’ve been thinking about the commandments.

People say that in the Old Testament, God is full of these things. Rabbis claim there are 613 of them, as a matter of fact — an odd number, to be sure. Why should God have an opinion on these particular items? Why not 614? Why not fewer?

And the nature of the commandments — everything from killing each other, to what people eat, to how they wash, to how they match their fabrics … and still the list is not exhaustive, for it leaves many aspects of life totally unmentioned and spends what we might deem far too much time on others.

Why does God care about all these particulars?

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Right Thing to Do

My job involves the occasional visit to another office. I make a fair number of new acquaintances this way. Names on the system become real, flesh-and-blood co-workers with delightful qualities, quirks and the occasional less-appealing feature, depending on the individual and the sort of situation we have to deal with.

Generally speaking these are good experiences. It’s hard to relate to people you don’t directly interact with.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Faith of the Gospel

“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.”

These “opponents” were primarily Jews.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Anonymous Asks (53)

“Why should I pray if God already knows what will happen?”

Before we begin, I should point out that knowing what will happen is not the same as wanting it to happen, nor is it the same as making it happen. In fact, some people even argue that God does not know absolutely everything that will happen. I’m not one of them, so we won’t waste a lot of time considering that possibility.

Nevertheless, the distinction between God knowing and God causing is worth keeping clear in our minds when we talk about prayer.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Recommend-a-blog (29)

Evangelicals are under attack. The bigger the denomination, the more resources and congregants they have, and the more formally they are constituted, the more enthusiastically the enemy is coming at them.

The Southern Baptist Convention (15 million members) is currently hardest hit, but that makes a certain sort of sense: they are the second-largest Christian denomination in the U.S., and the largest Protestant denomination. Get effective control of that behemoth and you’ve really accomplished something.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (71)

As mentioned in the previous two posts in this series, the description of an excellent wife in Proverbs 31 is frequently dismissed by its modern critics as anachronistic. They point to words like “distaff” and “maidens” and mockingly inquire whether all Christian women ought to have a loom in the house and servants to call on.

It is true that the excellent wife’s described routine is that of a fairly well-to-do Hebrew woman some three thousand years ago. That said, it should be evident that our habits and routines declare to the world what sort of person we are. A wife who habitually falls asleep on the couch at 2 a.m. after a few cocktails and a movie, then struggles out of bed bleary-eyed around noon to lounge by the pool gossiping with her girlfriends is not simply operating on a slightly different schedule than the home-schooling mother of three down the street. Her habits are making a statement about her values and character.

Good character remains good character whether we see it displayed in the daily activities of 1000 BC or in those of AD 2019.

Friday, August 09, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Five Bad Reasons (1)

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

More Christians are becoming “LGBTQ-affirming”, says blogger Benjamin Corey, basing his claim on this Pew poll.

This comes right on the heels of a Harris Poll commissioned by GLAAD which appears to indicate — much to the chagrin of LGBTQ advocates — that affirmation of same-sex relationships by unsaved millennials is trending in the opposite direction.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Sailing the High Seas

An old friend sent me an email a while ago. He was concerned:

“My daughter is going off to university next year, and she wants to take English Literature as her major! I’m worried about her: could you talk to her?”

I had to smile. Sure, I could talk to her. After all, I had been through all that, and I had survived just fine, thank you.

But why the panic?

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Under the Microscope

“... so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

It matters what the church is and how it conducts the business of God. It matters because the multifarious wisdom of God is revealed both in what we are and in what we do. We may choose to obscure that wisdom, or we may choose to hold it up in the light to be seen and marveled at throughout the universe.

In short, what we are and what we do matter because we are being watched. God’s ways are under the microscope.

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Kissing Jesus Goodbye

Joshua Harris, pastor and author of 1997’s moderately controversial I Kissed Dating Goodbye, on doing much the same thing to the man he once called Lord and Savior:

“I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is ‘deconstruction,’ the biblical phrase is ‘falling away.’ By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practise faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now.”

Put bluntly, Mr. Harris has apostatized.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Anonymous Asks (52)

“Why is the Bible so weird sometimes?”

I’d love to know what specific sort of “weird” the writer of today’s question was thinking about. An example or two would’ve been great. Unfortunately, when your questions come from people who have chosen to keep their identities secret, it’s a bit of a trick to get them to clarify.

That’s okay. I’m pretty sure every reader of this column can think of some story in the Bible, or some command in the Law of Moses, or some principle taught by some church somewhere that seems weird to them. I can think of dozens.

There’s lots of “weird” in the Bible, but the problem is not always the Bible. Most of the time it’s us.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Sheep Without Shepherds

The first and last recorded requests Moses ever made of his God are almost identical. Both may be summed up in the words “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.”

The first time he said it, it was very likely out of a justifiable sense of personal inadequacy. He was a mere man — a lowly shepherd, of all things — confronted with the spectacle of flaming foliage in which burned the presence of the Eternal God. For Moses, “Please send someone else” really meant “Surely, O Lord, you must be able to find someone more qualified than I am.” Moses wasn’t a lazy man by any stretch, but the scope of the task with which he was presented was breathtaking.

Not everyone might have answered God exactly as Moses did, but any sensible soul would have felt his legitimate apprehension.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

How Not to Crash and Burn (70)

A few more general comments before we get to the meat of the chapter.

The Oracle of King Lemuel (Proverbs 31:10-31)

Poor, much-maligned wife of the last chapter of Proverbs! Google her and see. After you get through the usual spate of citations from major commentaries, much of what you find is Christians complaining.

Friday, August 02, 2019

Too Hot to Handle: Over the Target

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

Immanuel Can: A thought occurs to me this morning. If there is one thing I could do for the people of God, I would want it to be this: I would want them to start talking again as if being a Christian really matters.

What I mean is that I’d like to provoke people to start saying things like, “Well, that’s the natural perspective, but how does the Lord fit into this situation?” or “What does the Lord have to say about the choices I have to make?” or “How do I get my kid to be more spiritual?” or “What will happen if I do X, in view of heaven?” You know the kind of thing … talking and debating as if something’s at stake there.

Tom: Okay, I can see that ...

Thursday, August 01, 2019

Wedded Blitz

Every summer, couples line up to tie the knot.

There was a time in my life when it seemed like every summer weekend was occupied with somebody’s nuptials. Now, however, like most middle-aged men, I’m quite content to leave that to the younger set, and if I’m roped into one or two such ceremonies during a summer that’s about my limit.