June2012Archive for

Breaking Hearts

The Kingdom Notes

It had been my plan to be in Virginia this past week, teaching what we call Couples Camp, a small group gathering where we talk for a few days about the sovereignty of God, the family, and the kingdom of God. I looked forward to the trip, my old stomping grounds, visiting dear old friends, talking about issues that matter to me. In God’s providence I am not in Virginia. I am not teaching, but am learning.  I am not talking so much as listening. And worst of all, I am in some old stomping grounds, roughly 100 yards from the hospital room where my beloved spent much of the last months of her life. Five days ago, concerned over a radical increase in seizure activity, and a frightening lethargy I called Shannon’s neurologist. Shannon is my 14 year old daughter. Her brain did not develop properly, and she has the…

The Wizard of Ahhs

The Kingdom Notes

My incessant gasps were potent portents to my comparative illiteracy. I let them escape my mouth, however, in a faith driven hope that such would at least communicate to my young charges the passion I felt for both wisdom and literary dexterity. The setting was my recently completed class for older homeschoolers on the great modern British conservative canon. We read Orwell’s Animal Farm. We journeyed through Tolkien’s The Hobbit. We tested our wits alongside Lord Peter Wimsey, creation of Dorothy Sayers. We looked deeply into CS Lewis Till We Have Faces. Only one name, however, appeared twice on our reading list. We read a delightful little novel, The Napolean of Notting Hill, and then we read Orthodoxy. It was my habit for this class to, in preparation for our weekly meetings, sometimes dog-ear and sometimes underline key passages I wanted to discuss with my charges. During class I would find these notes, and off…

Ask RC: What is most needful in our pulpits?

Ask R.C.

First, we need to know which pulpits we are talking about. The world is full of “pulpits” that are filled by men and women who are missing the most important thing- the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  That is, the pulpits in mainline churches are not truly “ours” for they are marked by fundamental unbelief. This is why J. Gresham Machen wisely titled his great work Christianity and Liberalism, affirming that they are two different animals, and that there is no such thing as liberal Christianity. So perhaps we would be better to ask what is most needful in evangelical pulpits. The first most needful thing, of course, is the evangel. And our pulpits will be filled with the evangel when they are filled with the Bible. We need sermons that are expositing the book of the good news of the work of Christ on our behalf. There is, however, yet…

Dissing Our Mother

The Kingdom Notes

It wasn’t the first time a wife upstaged her husband, and the results were nearly as disastrous. In Eden Eve took the lead, conversed with the devil, bit the fruit, and then served it to her husband. By the time the Reformation came around the bride of Christ, the church, had taken it upon herself to become the mediator between God and man. An institution created to be a help suitable to the second Adam, like a second Eve the Roman church, desiring to be like God, affirmed that she was the means by which a man might have peace with God. She held the purse strings to merit, to the means of grace, and to grace itself. Rome fell when she affirmed that she saved the lost. Ever since the serpent has been slithering through a different tack.  Rome made herself to be everything, and the serpent has since…

Ask RC: What is the “theology of glory”?

Ask R.C.

There is an appropriate tension in the relationship between Christians and the world. We serve a Lord who came to bring life abundant (John 10:10), who has overcome the world (John 16:33), who is bringing all things under subjection (Ephesians 1:22), who will see every knee bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:10). Jesus is the second Adam succeeding where the first Adam failed, not only in obeying God’s law perfectly, not only atoning for our failure to keep the law, but in fulfilling the dominion mandate. The church, which is the second Eve, or bride of the second Adam, is a help suitable to Jesus in fulfilling that calling. We are in union with Him, bone of His bone. We are to be about the business of pressing the crown rights of King Jesus. Trouble is, we, like the…

Ask RC: How old will we be in heaven?

Ask R.C.

The Bible doesn’t say. My first inclination is usually to push against the prevailing wisdom of the world. They think that youth is better than age, whereas the Bible seems to suggest that wisdom is the main thing, and such comes with age. The Bible also, however, as I argue in my book The Call to Wonder, calls us to be child-like. If that is our end, if of such is the kingdom of God, perhaps we will be rather young in heaven. The truth is we will probably be both. CS Lewis, in my favorite novel, That Hideous Strength, struggles to describe both the crowning wisdom and the wide-eyed innocence of its hero, Ransom. He looks both remarkably aged and remarkably young, and usually both at the same time. And so I suspect, shall we. For many years as I thought through this issue I took, however loosely, a rather odd…

Worldly Pro-Lifers

The Kingdom Notes

There are some Christians that are unhappy with Live Action for their tactics. These are the good folks that take hidden cameras into Planned Parenthood offices, spin horrendous stories, and show the world just how wicked Planned Parenthood really is. The objection from some Christians is that these activists are lying. I am far more concerned with the truth they are exposing. The most recent film has a young lady explaining to the “counselor” at Planned Parenthood that she wants the abortion because the child she is carrying is a girl, and she wants a boy. The “counselor” doesn’t bat an eyelash. And pro-lifers are aghast. The truth revealed by this hidden camera is not that Planned Parenthood is an evil organization that encourages and provides abortions. No, what is revealed is just how pro-choice we pro-lifers are. That is, our beef isn’t with abortion, but with this kind of…

Fat Fingered Feelings

The Kingdom Notes

The Enlightenment must have been the birthplace of fat fingered fiends. The hubris that argued that we could, in principle, usher in paradise on earth was matched by the hubris that in practice bollixed everything up. It is madness to seize the engines of power, and doubly madness to think you can actually operate the machines. A few taxes here, a little engineering there, a modicum of support for those in need in this other place, and the next thing you know, a whole city is underground, and it looks like hell has broken loose all over. When we tinker with God’s law, even with the best of intentions, the law of unintended consequences, sooner rather than later, bites us on the backside. Our thumbs are too fat to push the buttons of tomorrow. We mean this and we get that, and then make it all worse by pushing faster…

Ask RC: What’s the difference between teaching and preaching?

Ask R.C.

Like prose and poetry, these two terms are better understood as opposite ends of a spectrum, rather than raw opposites.  When we write prose we are given to sundry poetic devices,  word-plays, metaphors, etc. and when we write poetry we are communicating information. In like manner it is rather difficult if not impossible to teach without preaching to some degree, or to preach without some level of teaching. One way to illustrate the distinction however is to note the difference between the indicative and the imperative. The former tells us what is, the latter tells us what we’re supposed to do. Teaching, obviously, tends toward the indicative while preaching tends toward the imperative. But what if we made the distinction absolute? Would not any teaching utterly bereft of any imperative cause us to yawn, to reply, “So what?” In like manner, were we to drain preaching of all indicative, and…

Imagine No Generations

The Kingdom Notes

There’s a new division in town, and we’re talking about my g-g-generation.  With the rise of sociology, demographics, and marketing we find the world is finding new ways to divide us, sift us, and put us where we belong. Which means in turn that the church is doing much the same. Add to the mix the potent brew of victimology and we are off to the races. I was born in 1965. On more than one occasion I have seen statistics that suggest the baby boom ended in 1964, and others suggesting that Gen-X begins in 1966. That makes me, and others born in 1965 the Generation-less Generation.  We don’t know who we are, or where we belong. We can set the clock on a VCR, but don’t know how to do a hard-drive refresh. Which may explain why none of this makes any sense to me. What does being…