February2011Archive for

Noblesse Oblige

The Kingdom Notes

Watching The King’s Speech reminded me of the purpose of kings who reign but don’t rule. They serve an important function for a given culture, one that in turn touches on the whole nobility. Kings serve as “public persons,” personifications of the morals and manners of the nations. This concept, rightly understood is the broader context for what we mean when we speak of noblesse oblige, the obligation of the nobility. Too often we reduce it down to a sort of financial “to whom much has been given much is expected” principle that argues if you have a lot you have an obligation to give a lot. Instead it understands the more subtle workings of leadership. A given culture is not made up only of its highest classes. It will, however, always reflect its highest classes. Consider the history of Israel. The spiritual rise and fall of God’s people in…

Ask RC: What is the RCJR Principle of Hermeneutics?

Ask R.C.

I’m so glad you asked. Hermeneutics, of course, is the science of interpretation, typically Bible interpretation. There are any number of basic, fundamental principles we all ought to be aware of. One principle argues that we interpret less clear passages in light of more clear passages. Anyone who builds a theology on that text that mentions “baptism for the dead” is likely all wet. A second principle reminds us to interpret the historical sections of the Bible in light of the didactic, not the other way around. Here we learn our understanding of Christian marriage from Jesus’ reminding the Pharisees that from the beginning it has been one man and one woman. We don’t develop our understanding of marriage by looking at Solomon’s family portrait. The Bible, in its historical books, tells us all sorts of things people did wrong. When it is teaching, rather than giving us true history,…

Five Things I’m Surprised I Can’t Find in the Bible

The Kingdom Notes

God is all and only wisdom, the very font of all truth. The Bible is His Word, and is true in all that it teaches, as well as sufficient to guide us into every good work. His Word is perspicuous, that is clear, and understandable. Not all of the Bible, however, is as clear as all the rest. These ground rules inform us, broadly speaking, that the Bible tells us everything we need to know, but that it might not all be right out there in the open. He has not only not left us orphans, He has not left us blind. That said, here are five things that are less clear in the Bible than I might, in the abstract, expect them to be. 1. Proper form of church government. The Bible is crystal clear that women are not to rule in the church, and that we are to…

Sending My Thoughts Your Way

The Kingdom Notes

I seek to be a professional persuader. Though I am much less pushy in my more private life, my profession is to profess my confession. Sometimes I am given a classroom of students. Sometimes I am given a sanctuary of sheep. I seek to persuade readers of books, or magazines, and of the internet. My desire, of course, is to help. My prayer is that my confession matches one for one with the fullness of the Word of God. His wisdom, not my own folly is what we all need. And so here I am sending my thoughts your way. My wife is sick. She has acute myelomonocytic leukemia. By God’s grace she has beaten cancer twice before, and we remain hopeful she can do it again. We are deeply and profoundly blessed to have so many saints praying for us, storming the mercy seat on her behalf. We find…

Outrage Du Jour

The Kingdom Notes

Media, as a general rule, is directed more toward our emotions than our minds. As Neil Postman argued so eloquently in his delightful book Amusing Ourselves to Death, a word based culture tends to be more reasoned, more thoughtful, whereas an image based culture tends to be more emotive, more reactionary. We are a sensate culture accustomed and comfortable with experiencing emotions lightly and at the behest of others. We pay Hollywood to make us fearful, or sad, or excited. But of course the monster isn’t real, the sick child just an actor, the rampaging dinosaur a creation of a computer, rather than a mad scientist. We take our emotions in manageable doses by feeling them in contexts that have precious little to do with reality. Those outlets outside the mainstream media also know their audience. Whether it is conservative talk radio or Christian blog punditry, even though our perspectives…

Ask RC: Is God Happy When We Are Happy?

Ask R.C.

Of course. God, however, is also happy when we are sad. He’s happy when we are frightened, when we are disappointed, when we are hungry and when our foot falls asleep. God is always happy, ultimately speaking. The God we serve is the ever blessed God. While it would be a mistake to equate happiness and blessedness, such is so because blessedness is more than happiness, not less. God is God and as such is not dependent upon any or all of us for His joy. He has no “needs” that we can meet. He is altogether satisfied by Himself and in Himself. God is happy, for instance, to manifest His just wrath against the sins of men. Perhaps never more so than on those who would seek to justify their sin by suggesting that it serves God’s happiness. That is, those who use this little nugget of “wisdom” to…

Ask RC: Sovereignty and the Little Things.

Ask R.C.

If God is sovereign, how do we determine the significant from the insignificant? I often hear the layman exclaim how God’s hand was in this or that, but they seem somewhat selective in their testimonies. If something good happens, God is often referenced. When something bad happens there is also the desire to find God in the matter. But what about the seemingly insignificant things? What about the rolling stone? Are we to see God’s hand in absolutely everything, if His hand is in fact in absolutely everything? Of course the first thing we have to address is those two little letters at the beginning. There is no “if” about God’s sovereignty. He is absolutely sovereign over all things. He ordains whatsoever comes to pass, from the rise and fall of nations to the rise and fall of each dust particle in a gentle breeze. There is, of course, no…