Ask RC: What is Sonship theology?

Sonship theology is a set of biblical notions originally propagated by Jack Miller, a former missionary and pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America (former because Jack has gone on to his reward.) The ideas were first spread through a Bible study, then through a Presbyterian missions agency. The central theme, as evidenced in the title, is that we must come to understand that we are not only justified, but that we are adopted.  It begins with an assumption that while our lips may affirm we are justified by faith alone, our Pelagian hearts are given to thinking that God is happy with us when we do well in our walk, unhappy with us when we do not do as well. It encourages us to enter fully into our union with Christ. Among the common slogans birthed in this movement are these- “Relax!. You’re much worse than you think.” And “Preach the gospel to yourself every day.”

So far there is nothing here that I could imagine objecting to. Indeed these themes are near and dear to my heart, central to my preaching, my teaching, my writing.  I agree with Jack Miller not only that we need to understand these truths, but agree that getting our hearts around the glorious truth is a potent means to a more sanctified heart, a more God-honoring family, and a more grace infused church.

But there have been complaints. Some have accused Sonship theology of being implicitly antinomian. That is, some suggest that the notion that God is already as pleased with us as He is with His Son will remove the motive for better behavior. I find this accusation profoundly telling. I am unable to see how this accusation can stick on Sonship, but not stick on the gospel. That is, this accusation is a precise echo of what Rome said about the Reformers.  Though it may be apocryphal, it is said that Luther once quipped about preaching the gospel “If you are not accused of being antinomian, you are doing it wrong.”

Others have suggested that Sonship is too introspective. As you are encouraged to look for the idols of your heart, so that they might be torn down, it seems you could spend your time gazing at your navel. But do you notice how this complaint works against the former complaint? That is, how can one movement take you off the moral hook, and then also be too accusatory? And how can it be a bad thing to mortify your sins?

Finally, some accuse the movement of being a Reformed version of “higher life.” That is, like the Keswick movement, like the charismatic movement, Christians always face the temptation to create a two-tiered Christianity. There are those Christians over there, who haven’t had our experience, and us over here that have. We’re willing to see them in heaven, but if they want to join the elite, they need to have our experience. That higher life perspective is deadly, Gnostic and foolish. But surely that can’t mean that we can’t grow in grace and wisdom. Surely it can’t mean that we can’t encourage others to grow in grace and wisdom. Surely believing the gospel more fully, more faithfully, more biblically is a good thing. Indeed, surely believing this more fully will make us more humble, not less so.

My only complaint with the movement, as with most movements, is that it is a movement. That is, it can become THE KEY in the minds of some. It can be divisive in the minds of others. It can become a focus ironically, away from the work of Christ. These failures, however, are our failures, not a failure in the glorious gospel truth that in Christ we are made the sons of God. These failures are our failures, not a failure in the glorious gospel truth that we are forever sons, and not only can nothing tear us from our Father, but that nothing from this day forward can diminish His infinite love for us. We don’t need a movement. We do need to believe the gospel.

First Church of the Not So Bad

We are adepts not at fighting our sins but hiding them. We gather each Lord’s Day dressed in our smiles, share our praise reports and our health concerns, pat ourselves on our backs, and return home to our gross and heinous sins.  We miss this in part because we are preternaturally positive about ourselves. We are willing to confess that there are some weak churches out there, somewhere down the road. There are destructive schools out there, but ours is one of the good ones. There are broken families out there, but ours is, as far as anyone can tell, a model of grace and peace. There are deluded sinners out there, but I thank you Lord I am not like them.

We are more than willing, individually and corporately to cop to the respectable sins. Maybe college football or NASCAR is something of an idol to us, but it’s good clean fun. Maybe I lose my temper from time to time, but kids drive everyone crazy, right? I don’t read my Bible like I ought. Sure we don’t tithe, but we’re under grace, not under law. Besides, didn’t Jesus die for sinners like us?

No, actually, He didn’t. Jesus, according to Jesus, came for the sick, not those who have no need of a physician (Mark 2:17).  We might have a little tickle in our throat. We might have just a pinch of a fever. But sick? No, that’s not us. That’s those other people. We think we need Jesus because His Father demands perfection, and while we admit we’re not that, we think we’re pretty close. We have a small salvation rescuing is from a small problem by a small savior.

We won’t face what we are. Imagine if you will you’re a member of a medium sized evangelical church, with 100 adult males and 100 adult females. There are six ruling elders and two teaching elders.  Chances are good that at least ten of women, and ten of the men have procured or encouraged abortions, several of them while they were professing evangelicals. Chances are good that at least a few are drunkards. Chances are good that at least a few adults are actively engaged in an extra-marital affair, and that at least a dozen are in adulterous marriages (Matthew 5:22). It is likely that at least one member hits his wife and/or his children.

These numbers are still small enough though that we can push them to the side, treat them as aberrations, rather than proof of our weakness. But consider this. According to a survey taken five years ago by, it is likely that one pastor, three ruling elders, twenty of the women and fifty of the men regularly consume pornography.  This is not the people at the church down the street that we never much cared for. This is us. We are sexually immoral.

My point here isn’t merely to rub our noses in our sins. It certainly isn’t to deny the work of the Spirit in our lives. We are, if we are in Christ, forgiven for all our sins, and are most assuredly becoming more like Him.  My point here isn’t even that we are worldly. Rather I want us, and me, to come to a deeper understanding of what a mess we are, and I am.  I want us to come to a deeper understanding of just how far we have to go. I want us not once, but all our lives to beat our breasts and cry out, “Lord, be merciful to me, a sinner.” I want us to be Reformed enough to embrace the first thesis of the 95 that sparked the Reformation- When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, “Repent” (Mt 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.  I want us to come to understand that the journey from dead in our trespasses and sins to being like Him for we shall see Him as He is is one we have all just begun. Whatever progress we are making is dwarfed by the great distance before us. Though the Great Physician died for us, though the Spirit indwells us, though the Father loves us perfectly, in ourselves we still more resemble the zombies we once were than the Savior we are called to be like.

God gives grace to the humble.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Shannon

It was always my contention, living with a special needs daughter who could be called home at any time, that it was not her health issues that determined when should go, but my spiritual health issues. When each seizure forced me to face her fragility, when each morning I checked first to see if she were breathing before trying to wake her, I comforted myself with this thought- God will not call Shannon home until Shannon is through with me. It was apparent rather early on in her life that she had a peculiar calling, that she was less the child I needed to teach, and more the child that needed to teach me. I was the student, she the master.

My mistake was in thinking that her being done with me and her home going would coincide. She is gone, but she is not done with me. She is still teaching me in her absence. She is teaching me how to deal with pain. Shannon’s seizures were not demure affairs. She fell to the ground. Her legs shook violently. Her upper body jerked back and forth. Her breathing became noisy and labored, and fruitless as her skin would begin to turn blue from lack of oxygen. It might last thirty seconds. It might last ten minutes. When it ended, however, it ended always the same- with deep, unshakable sleep. Immediately after being terrorized by her own body being utterly out of her control, immediately after the electrical waves in her brain became a violent thunderstorm, immediately after not being able to breath, she did not look to me for an explanation. She didn’t look in panic for a place of stability and sanity. Wherever she was, she just slept.

My home was convulsed nearly a year ago when my bride, the love of my life, went on to her reward. It was convulsed again six weeks ago when Shannon went on to join her. And I can’t sleep. For months the routine of caring for my wife was my sanity. For the months after she was gone, the habits of caring for my daughter were my sanity. Now they are both gone. And I have lessons to learn.

For Denise I could be grateful that she went on to a better world, that she would no longer suffer. For Shannon, ironically, I’m not so sure. Oh I am quite confident she is in the arms of her Lord. I’m certain she will have no more seizures. But the thing is, Shannon never felt the weight of her weaknesses. And Shannon had a faith that saw through the veil. She lived on earth as if it were heaven. She was so full of love, joyful, peaceful, so filled with patience and kindness, so good, so faithful, so gentle and so self-controlled that she bloomed, bore fruit in God’s own garden. When she woke up able to walk and speak, when she woke to feel our Lord’s hand on her head, it was no great change for her. She always felt His hand upon her. She always beheld His glory. The gap for Shannon between earth and heaven was just one small, unsteady step.

Which is just the lesson I need to learn. Neither my wife nor my daughter, though they are now a higher order of being, having been glorified, are far from me. My Lord is not with them in some distant dimension. Instead I am there with them, seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). I have been lifted up by His grace. Because He is with me, I make my bed not in Sheol, but in paradise. For wherever He is, there is my treasure. I will lay down and rest, for so He gives His beloved sleep (Psalm 127). And Shannon watches, to see if I breathe, as we both look forward to that day when I finally wake.

I pray you will take the time to watch the sermon I was blessed to preach at Shannon’s memorial service. My hope was to preach the grace of God in her life, and the grace of God through her in my life

Ask RC: What’s the most important economic lesson Americans need to learn?

There are any number of appropriate ways to answer this question. I have for years now affirmed that the most foundational economic truth is that God owns everything. We need to learn that, down to our toes. I have also affirmed that the first law of economics is that consuming more than we produce leads to poverty, consuming less than we produce leads to prosperity. Grasping these truths would go rather a long way in fixing what ails us, economically speaking.

Having barely survived another election season, however, and mourning the end of Twinkies, I’m tempted instead to start with this lesson- governments cannot create any wealth, though they can and usually do destroy wealth. On both sides of the aisle we had voters demanding and candidates promising more jobs, better health care, rising home values. Government, however, is a parasitic institution rather than a productive one. That is, the government doesn’t actually produce anything. Everything that it has it first must take from someone else. If it “invests” in infrastructure, it does so with money taken from others who would invest where there was market demand. Federal loans (or guarantees which amount to the same thing) to green companies happen because people investing their own money don’t think it a wise investment. Turns out people were right, the government wrong, again. The key point, however, is that they had to take money from you and me first.

Please remember this when the left complains of corporate greed supplanting human need. What these folks mean is, “I know better what to do with the wealth of stockholders than they know. I should have control over the wealth of others.” Every dollar directed by the state is a dollar that once belonged to someone else, who would make market decisions, rather than political ones.

Which brings us to the other side of the coin. The state cannot create wealth, but they certainly can destroy it. The notion that businesses can just pass tax burdens on to consumers is patently false. Suppose for a moment that Michelle Obama successfully lobbies for a Twinkie Tax of $10 a Twinkie. How many Twinkies will Hostess be able to sell? Demand for a given product or service goes down when prices go up, even if prices go up because of an increased tax burden. Lowering demand is generally bad for business.

Governments also destroy wealth by inflating the money supply. This is a tax on savings. My $1 can buy a loaf of bread in an economy with x paper dollars. Double the number of paper dollars to 2x and dollars to donuts my dollar will now buy only half a loaf. The government, without taxing me, without breaking into the bank, has stolen half a loaf of bread from me. Inflation isn’t businesses being greedy, but governments being devious and destructive.

Finally governments can destroy wealth by regulating businesses. Requiring companies to provide health insurance to its employees, or pay them a wage above some arbitrary standard may seem like a good idea. Until we realize that wages are actually determined by supply and demand. If it costs me $10 an hour, because of government mandates, to hire someone for a job that I value at $9 an hour simply means no one gets hired to do the job. Multiply that principle across the board at a given business and it will go out of business.

God gave the state the power of the sword, to punish evildoers. That’s what they are to do. When they step outside their calling hardship comes, every time. Economies create wealth. Governments punish evildoers.

Talking to Our Teddy Bears

It has been, from time to time, rather lonely for me, holding with passion a number of convictions that are positively wing-batty not just to the world but to the broad evangelical church. I believe children are a blessing from God’s hand. I believe a man cannot rightly raise his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord if he leaves them, seven hours a day, 180 days a year with those who cannot affirm His Lordship. I oppose socialized education, medicine, and retirement. I believe God ordains whatsoever comes to pass, and that the children of believers should be given the mark of the covenant. All of which makes me a rather weird duck.

On the interwebs, however, it is possible for ducks of a feather to fish together. Most of you reading this buy into at least one of my quirky views, and a few of you embrace most of them. We’re an ideological demographic, and by and large, we don’t get out much. Which may explain why so many of us are not just disappointed but stunned that President Obama won the election. I suspect Obama received roughly the same number of votes among my readers as Governor Romney received from those Cleveland precincts, that is, none. We can’t believe that the majority voted for him precisely because among most everyone we know, in real life or online, he lost in a landslide.

The mass media now knows that they can’t teach us the news, but they do get to pick what the news is. They set the agenda, even when they can’t make the decisions as to who wins. In like manner our Twitter and Facebook feeds don’t tell us what is going on in the world, only what is going on in our world. If you’ve been following me the past few months you would have thought the great question to be answered November 6 was whether Virgil Goode or Governor Romney would receive more votes. The rest of the world didn’t notice.

I’m not though arguing that we need to get out more, though that may be a good thing. I’m not suggesting we measure our spiritual maturity by the number of heathen who friend us. I am not suggesting that unless or until we start swimming in the broader culture’s sludge no good will come. I am saying that it is rather important that we not confuse our little world with the rest of the world. The President won because the majority in our country believes in what he stands for. Eighty percent of evangelicals have their children in the government’s schools because they believe in what those schools stand for. Moms, outside and inside the evangelical church, murder their babies 1.3 million times a year because they believe murder is okay, if it’s legal.

The happy, however occasionally heated world of our internal internet debates isn’t the real world. The real world is much worse than we think. It’s worse than we think because we’re worse than we think. The world is full of idolaters who worship the state, who worship wealth, who worship convenience, who worship acceptance, who will happily sacrifice whatever these bloodthirsty gods ask, even their own children. The church, she is full of the same. We just hide it better. The good news is from outside our little internet circles. It’s from beyond our pew neighbors. The good news is that our Lord has already overcome the world, and is bringing all His enemies under subjection, even the ones we hide in our hearts. A bigger view of the world goes beyond the internet teddy bears to which we preach. But it also goes beyond a western culture slouching toward Gomorrah. Beyond, above, there is The Man. Break our knees Lord, that we might worship.

Neither Were They Grateful

It is a sure sign that we are sinners that we tend to be more concerned about what we do than what we are. That is, our guilt or peace oftentimes is the fruit of our own judgment of how often we commit a known sin, less often grounded in what we think and how we feel. I may hate my brother, but if I can keep myself from killing him, well, how bad could I be?

In Romans 1 Paul is setting about the business of explaining the universal guilt of men before God. There he answers the telling question, what about the innocent native in Africa who knows nothing of Christ by affirming that all men everywhere both know who God is, and reject that knowledge. Before we have done anything we stand guilty, if only because our eyes tell us there is a God and our hearts hate that truth. Paul then, however, in describing the universal sinful condition of all men outside of Christ adds this condemnation- neither were they grateful.

If it is true that all men exist, were made to glorify God, our gratitude failure is not simply a failure of manners, akin to forgetting to write a thank-you card for a gift. Instead it is like adultery, like murder, like cosmic rebellion. How so? Well, a failure to be grateful is grounded in the conviction that we are due better than what we have been given. We are all born with an expectation of a certain level of comfort, a certain level of fulfillment, a certain level of pleasure. When these exceed our expectations we believe all is right with the world. We have received our due. When they fall below our expectations, however, we grumble, we complain, we howl. We scratch our heads thinking something is wrong with the universe.

Something is wrong with the universe- us. The lost are, well, lost. They have not been changed. They do not have the Holy Spirit. They are on their own. But we complain just like them. We have the same set of expectations, and so mimic their grumbling. We, because we are worldly, look at the world and our place in it just like the world.

Gratitude, however, isn’t the fruit of happiness, but its root. When we give thanks, when we look at the world and our place in it realistically, remembering what we are due in ourselves, what we have, and all that we have been promised in Christ, we are astonished, overwhelmed. And therefore overjoyed.

I have with me four daughters who love me, and their Lord. I have three sons who love me, and their Lord. I have friends who love me, and their Lord. I have work that I love, that serves the Lord. I have a church where our Lord and His Word are preached. Most important of all, I am beloved of the Father. How could I ever even begin to think “It isn’t enough”? And, when I fail, my Father forgives me, His Spirit works in me, and I get better. Saint, thanksgiving isn’t a holiday to be observed, but a lifestyle to be practiced. Give thanks. And when you are done, do it again.

Ask RC: Now that President Obama was re-elected, what should we do?

The church, after President Obama’s re-election, finds itself in serious trouble. Part of the good news is that at least she is beginning to recognize the trouble she is in. One wonders how many Christians would have been dancing in the aisles had the election turned out differently, and if we would have actually been in appreciably less trouble. During previous moments of mass fear within the church I have been asked what we’re supposed to do. When the housing implosion looked set to topple the entire economic house of cards under President Bush, when President Obama started racking upWeimerRepublicsized debts, and now again my counsel has remained the same. Yes, by all means we are to discern the times. Having done so, however, we find that what God calls us to do is what He calls us to do in all times. Fearful of the economy? Spend less then you make. Want to benefit from the booming economy? Spend less than you make. Inflation running rampant? Spend less than you make. Deflation rattling its saber? Spend less than you make.

This, however, is but a specific application of a broader principle. Whatever the nature of the trouble, however broad its scope, when the national economy is just one ship among many, the national morality; the national defense; the nation’s unborn; circling the drain our calling is the same. The call to the individual Christian, to the Christian family, to the local Christian church, to the whole of Christendom is ever and always this- repent and believe the gospel.

We have abortion in this country not because we can’t agree on the right political strategy to end it, but because we are at ease with abortion in this country. We need to repent of our comfort, our complicity, our complacency over the murder of the unborn. We need to repent that we in the church have embraced the world’s notion that children are a burden, rather than a blessing. We need to repent that so many of us became politically aware, politically active not because President Obama changed the abortion landscape, but because he threatened our 401ks. We have shown where our treasure lies.

We repent, however, not for the power of our sorrow but to look to the power of the gospel. We believe the gospel when we move from mourning our sin to dancing His grace. The election of the President does nothing to impact your election. We are to believe we are sinners. (And so are due a far worse President than the one we now have.) We are to believe that our sin makes a mess our lives, our homes, our cities and our nation. But just as our Lord is remaking us, so He is remaking the world. The gospel promise is that He will bring all things into submission. The gospel promise is that He will break every obstreperous knee of every ruler that bucks against His rule. The gospel promise is that every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.

It is true enough that our President defends and protects the murder of God’s littlest image bearers. Such is indeed an abomination of the highest magnitude. It is likewise true that had God ordained the election to end differently there might have been fewer victims of the carnage. It is also true, however, that there is much we can do for the babies besides voting for the less bloodthirsty man every four years. That this battle went badly doesn’t mean we can’t win the war. Because our King is the very one who determined that we should lose the battle. Jesus chose our President. Repent and believe the gospel, because Jesus changes everything.


Christianity Today magazine recently published, as its cover story, a list of fifty women to watch. There were names I would have put there, women like Elizabeth Elliot who have for decades faithfully taught young women to love their husbands and their children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their own husbands (Titus 2:4). There were other names on the list that I would watch as well, in much the same way that I would watch the fox slinking up to my chicken pen, women who teach other women precisely the opposite of the above.

The online venue where I read this list asked its readers to make any suggestions for names to add to the list. I immediately thought of two- Denise and Shannon Sproul. They were not, in the sense that Christianity Today meant, up and comers. Denise’s book was never on a best-seller list. Shannon, though 15 when she went home, never read a book, let along wrote one. The largest audience Denise typically spoke to was her husband and eight children. Shannon never spoke.

We live in an age of celebrity. The British philosopher George Berkeley (pronounced Bark-lee) is remembered for this Latin nugget, esse est percipi, to be is to be perceived. In our day we have come to believe that to be is to be on TV, that you aren’t there, or at least real, unless you are on a reality show. Fame is the stuff of essence. In the church we set our sites (pun intended) a smidge lower. If you are published in the right magazines, speak at the right conferences, if your books or blog posts are read by the right people, then you are worthy to be watched. You are judged to be mighty in the kingdom.

When Jesus tells us that the last will be first He is not saying the way to get that big book contract is to be the worst writer. He isn’t saying that if you develop a stutter you will surely get a slot at the big evangelical mega-conference. I would suggest that He is instead telling us that it is being last that is of the utmost importance. I suggest that the kingdom is changed, that its beauty is made more visible, that its King is more delighted, when we serve faithfully where we can’t be watched. Denise loved and served her children and her husband, where only we would see. Shannon loved and served her parents and her siblings where only we would see. And now they both continue to serve their Lord where I cannot see. They are great in the kingdom, as they were on earth greater than the great, more powerful than the mighty.

The great things that we aspire to do for the kingdom are not great because they are visible. Neither, however, are they great because they are invisible. Rather they are great because they reflect His glory. When we give to those who cannot give back, we give as He gives. The kingdom friends comes with changing diapers. The kingdom roars in a quiet kiss goodnight. Fame will not make you live forever. Jesus will. Because Jesus changes everything.

Doing Theology Proper(ly)

God bless the Westminster Shorter Catechism. I cut my own theological teeth going through G.I. Williamson’s find study guide on the catechism. I have helped my children to memorize it. I have taught through the catechism at least three times in the last fifteen years. I believe it, confess it, and learn from it. But, I have a bone to pick with it. Question four asks, “What is God?” It answers, “God is a spirit, infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, justice and truth.” All true, gloriously true. But first, my problem with the question. Why, I have to wonder, does it not instead ask, “Who is God?”? I am willing to grant their may be some grammatical reason for the distinction. I suspect, however, that the answer is revealed in the answer.

When we ask what God is, we are already looking at Him not as a person or persons, but as a thing. God is not a person or persons with whom we have a relationship, but is the object of our study. The answer betrays this kind of approach because of what it is missing- not a word is said about God being tri-une. I am happy to grant, of course, that the catechism does get around to the trinity two questions later. (Don’t forget, I love and believe the shorter catechism.) But I don’t believe you can be in the neighborhood of defining God until you get to the reality of the trinity. And I don’t believe you could cover the trinity and still ask what God is instead of who God is.

I think it strange as well that we cover the trinity the way that we do. Question six asks, “How many persons are in the godhead?” and answers, “There are three persons in the godhead: the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” Once again, all true, gloriously true. But is the essence of the trinity the essence of the members of the trinity? I’d humbly suggest not. If you want to get at the trinity, do not begin with their sundry attributes. Do not even begin with their callings. Begin with their relationships. The Father loves the Son and the Spirit, the Son loves the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit loves the Father and the Son.

God is not a string of attributes. God is trinity.

Ask RC: Is it wrong for a Christian to get a tattoo?

I don’t know. This text seems to settle the matter- “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD,” Leviticus 19:28. The anti-tattoo party is likely to pitch their tent here, perhaps wisely so. The pro-tattoo party, however, will object that this is either a. in the Old Testament and therefore invalid or b. ceremonial law, and therefore invalid. I have little respect for the first objection as it divides the Word of God. It is true enough that the God we serve has changed His law on occasion. It is also true, however, that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. If an Old Testament law not being repeated in the New Testament means it is no longer binding then that perversion known as bestiality must be acceptable for the Christian.

What then of the second objection? Is this law merely ceremonial law, that which has been fulfilled in Christ? Would submitting to this law be incipient Judaizing, a going back to the shadows of the Old Covenant? Maybe. The distinctions theologians make about the law of God, dividing the Old Testament civil law (that law imposed on and by the state) from the ceremonial law (that law touching on religious ceremonies and concepts of cleanness and uncleanness) and both from the moral law (that law which simply tells us what we are required to do, such as the first commandment) are valuable and play an important part in sound biblical interpretation. Trouble is, our Bible’s do not come color-coded, wherein God inerrantly reveals to us what law falls into which category.

Scholars argue that this text is tied to certain cultic practices of the surrounding nations. But that doesn’t solve the dilemma. That is, God may have forbidden His people to get tattoos so they would be set apart from their neighbors (making it more a ceremonial law as we are now set apart by Christ). Or He may have forbidden it because there is some kind of inherent connection between marking our bodies and false worship (in which case it would be moral.)

Without a firm answer my counsel has been two-fold. First I would want do as deep and honest as possible an assessment of my own motives. This is rather more serious than a mere, “Am I doing this for the dead? Heck no, since I don’t even know what that means.” We have to ask what, if any subtext comes with a tattoo. Am I trying to look cool, and what does that say about my security in Christ? Am I trying to look rebellious? What does that say about my submission to godly authority?

I am not confident that I could answer these questions with sufficient insight into my own motives, which then brings me to the second part of my counsel. While not at all suggesting that such an argument ought to bind the conscience of another, I would encourage, if asked, a Pascal’s Wager approach to the question. He, you will remember, argued about the Christian faith as a whole, that if you accept the faith, and it turns out to be false, it will cost you little. If, however, you don’t accept the faith and it turns out to be true, you’ll regret your choice eternally. (I understand there are serious problems with Pascal’s Wager, but I note it only to illustrate a similar point.) How then does this apply? One thing we know about the Bible- it does not require me to get a tattoo. It may forbid me to get one. Given that reality, and my own uncertainty, why would I want to get one?

Stand on the Word. Walk by the Way. Run to the Battle. Rest in the Son.
Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. teaches at Reformation Bible College and Ligonier Ministries in Sanford, Florida.
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