Ask R.C.

Ask R.C.: How Should We Respond to the Recent Scandal Regarding Josh Duggar?

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We shouldn’t. Sorry to burst the bubble, but unless you are his family, his employer, his elders or his church, it’s none of your business. I am none of those things. Yet I find myself reading about it, praying about it, thinking about it. I get that people are interested. This, after all, is quite a moral train wreck. Given both the high public profile of the Duggar clan, given their public espousal of counter-cultural sexual ethics, and given the previous scandal it is no surprise that the world is fascinated by this. Indeed perhaps the most discouraging fallout for me has been watching the world dance around Josh’s grave like a pack of hyenas. Some believers, though I have seen precious little of this, seem to be so invested in the Duggars that they are utterly disheartened, or worse, desperately seeking some excuse, some rationalization.

Ask R.C.: What is “Cage­ Stage” Calvinism, and What Causes It?

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Cage­-Stage describes an all too common phenomenon wherein a believer comes to embrace the doctrines of grace, and for a time becomes an obnoxious lout in defending the doctrines to all comers, whether they are interested or not. It suggests that such a newbie should spend some time in a cage until they calm down. If you are a Calvinist you likely have been through this stage. If you are not, you surely have encountered those who were infected.

Ask R.C.: Is It a Sin To Be Wealthy?

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No. One can certainly get wealthy by sinning. One can certainly sin while being wealthy. But it is surely not a sin to be wealthy. Though few would be so crass as to express such a sentiment, it nevertheless often reveals itself, ironically among the wealthy. Wealth, remember, is a relative term. Most of us like to think of ourselves as somewhere safely in the middle. But I suspect 99% of you reading this are, in terms of wealth, in the 1% of the wealthiest humans to ever walk on this planet.

Ask R.C.: Why Does It Seem like the World Is Going to Hell in a Hand Basket When Jesus Reigns Over All Things?

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Last Sunday I was blessed to preach at Ascension Presbyterian Church from Hosea chapter 2. Like many prophetic books Hosea is a bit of good news, mixed with what looks like bad news, but is really good news. Most of us, when we think of Hosea have a rather simple summary- yuck. The prophet is called to live through rather dramatic prophetic theater, by marrying Gomer, a prostitute. God is telling His people that they are like Gomer, whoring after other gods. God’s promise is that He will redeem His bride, that they will once again be His people.  But first comes the judgment.

Ask R.C.: Why Do We Have Such a Hard Time Grasping Grace?

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Because we need it. I mean that in two ways. First, we have a hard time grasping grace because we are sinners, and sin begins with pride. All of us, from the most pious saint to the most egregious sinner have within us a little Pelagius. We think ourselves, even when our lips confess otherwise, essentially good. Sure, we sin, who doesn’t? But by any reasonable standard, we think in the secret places of our hearts, we’d pass the test. Those other people, the ones who score below us on the test, they’re the ones in need of grace. And of course, those who score higher than us, they’re the self-righteous ones. If only everyone were like me, recognizing my own lack of perfection, but striving to do well, well then, the world would be a happy place.

Ask R.C.: What Would You Tell Someone Who Has Had or Encouraged an Abortion?

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A great deal would depend on what that someone had to say first. The most important question is, is this person repentant. To such a one I would encourage them to remember that Jesus suffered the wrath of God that was due to us for our sins, that those who rest in the finished work of Christ are not only forgiven, but that their sins have been removed from them as far as the east is from the west, that they are not only forgiven but immutably and infinitely loved of their Father, who because of Christ loves them as much as He loves His Son.

Ask R.C.: What Should I Look for in a Church?

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First, that it be a church. The Reformers argued that there are three distinguishing marks of the church- the Word, sacraments and discipline. That means your campus ministry isn’t the church; your podcasts are not the church; your family sitting around the table is not the church. But it also means that those institutions claiming to be the church that lack these things are not the church. If a church refuses to exercise discipline, excommunicating the unrepentant of gross and heinous sins, it’s not a church.

Singles in Church

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How should churches acknowledge singles to help them feel equally valued as members of the congregation? By calling them, along with the marrieds, to repent and believe the gospel. I’m beginning, but just beginning to get some of the social challenges that come with being single. When you speak, no matter how innocuously to a single woman, you have to worry she fears you may be hitting on her. When you speak with married couples sometimes they fear to talk about married life. I don’t want to diminish the hardship. I do, however, want to suggest that such questions mean little to the work and calling of the church. The church has a call to deal with people as people. Each of us, parent and child, married and single, man and woman, tall and short, do not have our final identity in those distinctions, but in Christ. What I need…

Supreme Comfort

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Friday’s Supreme Court decision, though not much of a surprise, is distressing, disheartening and disgusting. Even the most adamant defender of so called “gay rights” ought to at least affirm that the decision is fundamentally flawed, driven by judicial overreach, and by any sane reading of the Constitution, unconstitutional. It has, nevertheless, been decided. How state and local governments ought to respond is an important question. How local churches and the church as the church ought to respond is an important question. But today I would like to make some suggestions for believers as believers. What should we do? The same thing we do every day.

Ask R.C.: What Are Some Concerns You Have With the Homeschooling Movement?

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I’m writing from this year’s Christian Home Educators of Colorado conference. It’s always encouraging to be here, to visit with friends and to be encouraged. I always find homeschool conferences encouraging.  That said, where there are people, there are sins to be concerned about, and that includes we who homeschool. Here are five things I believe are a current danger.