August2012Archive for

Ask RC: What is Pietism?

Ask R.C.

Pietism is a view that looks at the broader world as a matter of utter insignificance, because it focuses exclusively on making the individual soul better. Radically individualistic and deeply Gnostic the movement eschews political involvement, denigrates the exercise of dominion and sometimes adds to the law of God. This, of course, ought never to be confused with piety, which is a good thing. Piety is godliness of character, a zeal to grow in grace and wisdom, to bear much of the fruit of the Spirit.  Because these two are often confused it is not at all unusual for those more lax in the pursuit of holiness to accuse those more zealous with pietism. In like manner it is not unusual for some who are passionate about pressing the crown rights of King Jesus, who long to see His reign acknowledged, to look down on the pursuit of personal piety…

Idols for Destruction

The Kingdom Notes

Written 2008 I’m confident that many Christians have not slept well these last few nights. I suspect that tonight they won’t do much better. Over the last several days, as I write, the stock market has not performed well. It has reached a five year low, having lost over forty percent of its value since its peak. It is not difficult to muster sympathy in these difficult economic times. Forty percent is rather much to lose, though only slightly more than half of seventy percent. I lose sleep at night not because Christians have lost forty percent of their investments. I lose sleep at night because Christians are losing seventy percent of their children. They spend their days in institutions where Jesus doesn’t matter. Seven hours a day, 180 days a year, Jesus doesn’t matter. I am not surprised that when they graduate Jesus doesn’t matter to them. The children of…

Five Things I’m Surprised To Find in the Bible

The Kingdom Notes

God has made an orderly world, and given us an orderly Word. The God we serve, however, is a God of surprises. We serve a God who waters the fields in Spring in part by showering His world each winter with billions of unique, tiny ice sculptures. He made the platypus. Sometimes also the well ordered Word surprises us. We understand something of why He tells us about the Creation, man’s fall, God’s plan for redemption. Sometimes, however, He tells us things we wouldn’t expect. Other times, in the pages of His Word, He does things we wouldn’t expect. He is not, after all, a tame lion. I was a young seminarian teaching my first Sunday school class for the singles group. I chose the book of Ecclesiastes, and began by asking the class if it were true that life is vanity. One sweet young lady raised her hand and…

Jesus Meek and Mild

The Kingdom Notes

Jesus, like love, is something everyone wants to lay claim to. That is, just as there is no organized coalition banded together by a hatred of love, so there are precious few people who are willing to lay a charge at Jesus’ feet. In both cases we simply change the meaning of the term, into something we’re in favor of. Like Joshua outside the walls ofJericho, we want to get Jesus on our side. This is why Marxists have created their own Jesus. This is why theological liberals have their own Jesus. We come to the Bible wearing our own glasses, and aren’t at all surprised that Jesus comes out looking just like us. We who are Reformed are well practiced at this art as well. Only we create a Jesus who is as cranky as we are. When our gentler evangelical brothers chide us for our bitter sarcasm, we…

Ask RC: Where would you send your children to college?

Ask R.C.

There are not just different reasons why people go to college, but different legitimate reasons. There are in turn perfectly appropriate reasons why some people don’t go to college. I am not of the mind that anyone’s mind is wasted if it has never matriculated, or doesn’t know what matriculated means.  As such, there is no one size answer fits all. Which is why I am framing the question the way I am framing it, answering how I look at the question. What follows may sound something like a commercial. I apologize for that- it flows less from being a faculty member, and more from being a grateful parent. My two oldest children are students at Reformation Bible College. There are some obvious reasons why this makes sense for us, though it might not make as much sense to you. First, I teach there. I love, after years of homeschooling,…

Silencing the Devil

The Kingdom Notes

How easily, because of his craftiness, we confuse Satan and Santa. Their names are indeed anagrams of each other, and they both were obviously told by someone, somewhere along the way that they look good in red. We tend to think, however, that just as Santa carries about a giant bag of goodies, so the devil carries around a giant bag of temptations, that his principle weapon is to tempt us toward illicit pleasures. Truth be told Satan’s name is derived from the word for Accuser. He is far more interested in pointing out our past failures than he is enticing us to new ones. This in turn serves a number of his other goals. Several years ago I went through a rather unpleasant tussle with the denomination in which I was ordained. Part of the root of the tussle was sin on my part. Part of the fruit of the…

Ravenous Sheep

The Kingdom Notes

I had already failed my first test in becoming a gentleman farmer. Three years and roughly 200 chickens produced eggs for my family at a rate of roughly $1… each. A few years had passed though since my experiment in folly, and I was ready to try again. I purchased three recently weaned lambs, set up portable fencing on my land and became a shepherd. Things went rather smoothly, until they didn’t. Two weeks into the experiment I looked out into my field and saw a third of the fencing was down. I raced outside to find two of the lambs safe and content, still eating grass. The third also had not run off. No, she had managed to turn the downed fence into a straight jacket. She had gotten herself hopelessly entangled, was on her side and kicking about wildly, tangling herself all the more. I remember grabbing one…

Honor to Whom Honor Is Due

The Kingdom Notes

Written: 2008 My political convictions are simple enough- no man gets my votes who will not use every power at his disposal to protect all unborn children. This perspective is not new, having informed my voting from the time I was of age. That means, in turn, that in every general election since the 1984 election, I have voted neither Republican nor Democrat. Despite my wishes to the contrary, every election since 1984, and for the last roughly one hundred years, has been won by either a Republican or a Democrat. And then follows the same pattern. The disappointed Democrats, when a Republican wins, read the worst possible motives, ascribe absurdly low intelligence quotients, and in every way imaginable disparage the President. If the Republican helps an old lady across the street, he is accused of pandering to the AARP. If he invents a cure for cancer, it’s just because…

Shooting at the Peacemakers

The Kingdom Notes

Whenever there is an issue, one will usually find two issues. You believe, for instance, that it is immodest for a woman to wear pants. I believe, enlightened knight that I am, that it is not necessarily immodest. That’s an issue of disagreement. While it is certainly possible that it could go the other way, odds are that the second issue would work out this way. You believe it a grave problem that I don’t hold your view on women and pants. I, on the other hand, am profoundly indifferent to your view, quite content for you to go on holding it. Now we have a second disagreement. We differ on the relative importance of the issue we differ on. Shrewd politicians have learned how to use this to their advantage. Suppose, for the sake of argument, that you believe the federal government ought to spend more money on education….

Ask RC: What kind of people walk into your local abortion mill?

Ask R.C.

There are any number of common myths, lies we tell ourselves, to somehow make it all seem not so horrible. The first lie is that the clientele at the local mill is made up of sweet faced high school girls who got carried away with their boyfriends, and come in blissfully ignorant of what goes on inside.  There are people at the mill that fit this description, but they are exceedingly rare. The second lie is that they are women in hopelessly desperate straits that see no other way out. The boyfriend has threatened to beat her if she doesn’t abort his child. The step-father threatens to kill her if she doesn’t abort his child. The rent check is about to bounce, and she will lose her job if anyone finds out she is pregnant. Again there are people at the mill that fit this description, but they are exceedingly…