I gotta have my orange juice.

Jesu, Juva

Metábasis eis állo génos (17)

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From this week’s reading:

May YHWH bless you and keep you!
May YHWH shine his face upon you and favor you!
May YHWH lift up his face toward you and grant you shalom! (Numbers 6:24-26, Everett Fox)

James Jordan observes this is the only scripturally commanded liturgical blessing (there are of course commanded prophetic blessings, like that of Balaam).

Arise (to attack), O YHWH,
That your enemies may scatter,
That those who hate you may flee before you!
. . .
Return, O YHWH,
(you of) the myriad divisions of Israel! (Numbers 10:35-36, Everett Fox)

Duane Garner points out in surveying Revelation that Israel used the same trumpets as a call to worship and also as a call to war. Worship is warfare!

YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying:
Make yourself two trumpets of silver,
of hammered-work you are to make them;
they are to be for you for calling-together the community
and for (signaling) the marching of the camps. (Numbers 10:1-2, Everett Fox)

I now know that a writer cannot afford to give in to feelings of rage, disgust, or contempt. Did you answer someone in a temper? If so, you didn’t hear him out and lost track of his system of opinions. You avoided someone out of disgust—and a completely unknown personality slipped out of your ken—precisely the type you would have needed someday. But, however tardily, I nonetheless caught myself and realized I had always devoted my time and attention to people who fascinated me and were pleasant, who engaged my sympathy, and that as a result I was seeing society like the Moon, always from one side.

But just as the moon, as it swings slightly back and forth (“libration”), shows us a portion of its dark side too—so that chamber of monstrosities disclosed people unknown to me. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 268)

Nassim Taleb would approve:

Over the years I have had much occasion to ponder this word, the intelligentsia. We are all very fond of including ourselves in it—but you see not all of us belong. In the Soviet Union this word has acquired a completely distorted meaning. They began to classify among the intelligentsia all those who don’t work (and are afraid to) with their hands. . . . And yet the truth is that not one of these criteria permits a person to be classified in the intelligentsia. If we do not want to lose this concept, we must not devalue it. The intellectual is not defined by professional pursuit and type of occupation. Nor are good upbringing and a good family enough in themselves to produce an intellectual. An intellectual is a person whose interests in and preoccupation with the spiritual side of life are insistent and constant and not forced by external circumstances, even flying in the face of them. An intellectual is a person whose thought is nonimitative. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 280-281)

With apologies to Keller and Piper (my friend Mark Horne has a very helpful response to Piper), it can’t be simultaneously true that voting is important but also that reasonable Christians may differ about almost every possible vote. At this moment, the fact of Christians differing does not imply its necessity. Rather, it means that many Christians are in want of discipleship. It is not true that it is debatable which of the two ways (largely) in front of us have a reasonable possibility of enacting neighbor love (Keller) or destruction (Piper). Although I appreciate them, Keller and Piper are too kind to a great and demonic evil. By demonic, of course I mean things that are so evil they did not even enter into God’s mind:

I do not want you to be participants with demons. (1 Corinthians 10:20 ESV)

But the way this is going down is also evil. Maybe Romans 13 will help us know what to do.

Note also that Christian discipleship is different from how the world works. Christian discipleship is imitative, and is generative of more rule and dominion. Worldly rule is not imitative (do as I say, not as I do), and it is restrictive not only of others’ leadership and dominion, but even of basic agency. Worldly rule treats adults as perpetual children; Christian discipleship graduates baptized infants into dominion-wielding adults who are fruitful and multiply.

For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” (1 Corinthians 3:19 ESV)

It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of Citizens, and one of the noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The free men of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much soon to forget it. (James Madison)

There are different ways the world has of going about this. In the past, tyranny might be concentrated in a few individuals, but today’s soft despotism is much more diffuse and sMothering. Reaching back four years, Alastair Roberts had profound insights into one facet of what is driving this enormous shift in the nature of discourse, not only in politics, but in the business world and even the church. Of course, as Anthony Bradley observes, women need not be present in the room in order for them to dominate the conversation.

There are complicated bedfellows in this discourse. At a populist level, egalitarianism is now seen as an unquestioned simple good. On the one side, the radical left has long been driving this as part of their larger agenda, thus revealing that the principalities and powers are behind it. On the other side, it is enabled in the church by thin complementarians who limit Scripture’s voice to the spheres of home and church, and who therefore could agree with Roberts’ observations but not his value judgment.

I mentioned Protestant resistance theory last week. Apropos this, my friend Brad points to Trewhalla’s recent book, The Doctrine of the Lesser Magistrates; and the inimitable Glenn Sunshine is publishing a new survey on this topic, Slaying Leviathan. So many books, so little time!

This was a cute parable:

I say it is cute because Terry and Wrath have their hermeneutics all wrong; cars are only the tip of the iceberg. The real question is this: would you give up your smartphone, Netflix, Prime, Spotify, and your college degree if you could bring sixty-one million babies back? Yes, Amen!

I know that Wrath would heartily agree with me, though:

I’ve been thinking about prophetic speech lately. I wonder that cessationists have any problem with prophecy. We all believe that the preaching of the word of God is the word of God, and yet no one is worried whether sermons are an attack on the inspiration of scripture.

I’ve mentioned before Jordan’s observation that the chief role of prophet seems to be to stand in the heavenly council as God’s friend, receiving revelation from him (Amos 3:7) and wrestling with him (as Abraham the prophet—Genesis 20:7, Moses, Habakkuk, etc.). The prophet then goes out into the world to speak God’s new creation into existence. Often this involves teaching people how repentance will enable them to pass through the death of the old creation into new life. I love how Toby Sumpter helps us to understand the book of Job as Job’s own maturation through suffering into prophethood.

There is a death of an era upon us; the old ways are no longer working, certainly outside the church, and in some ways within the church (to the extent we have become gnostic). God has given us the job of reflecting how to pass through to the other side, and how to bring as many as we can on our lifeboat-arks.

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh. (Jude 17–23 ESV)

The prophet thus must be a keen student of God and his word and his ways in the world. Speaking for myself, I have found James Jordan to be the single greatest teacher of the word. Through New Eyes is a good introduction, although his lectures are the real treasure trove. In the way of the world, René Girard and Edwin Friedman have been tremendously helpful to me in understanding human nature and relationships. Please comment to share what you have found helpful in these areas!

One other kind of prophecy seems to be simple singing, and we see this show up in several places in the Old Testament. I think this is the key to unlocking how 1 Corinthians 11 relates to 1 Corinthians 14 without resorting to extrabiblical supposition and handwaving. I hope to write on head coverings and silence in church at another time.

Considering God’s ways in the world, it’s reassuring to know that the wicked will eventually be caught in their own trap, will bite and devour one another. Plunderers may prosper for a time (here’s looking at you, Yelp), but unjust gain takes away the life of its possessors. I mention Yelp only as one small example:

You should listen to Mark Horne’s sermon on walking wise:

This is beautiful. Oktavist was a new term for me:

I forgot to mention that the Lutherans are doing good work in the public square too!

Written by Scott Moonen

October 24, 2020 at 10:25 am

Based

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So there was that dispensationalist, and then the reconstructionist, and he had that great interview with the Anglican, and now there’s this Calvary Chapel guy you should hear about. Three cheers for faithful pastoral ministry in the public square! And diversity!

Written by Scott Moonen

October 16, 2020 at 9:20 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (16)

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I wonder if Leviticus 21:4 is another hint, together with Deuteronomy 25, that priest-pastors are levirs, husband–caretakers for God’s people:

He is not to make himself tamei (as) a husband among his people (does), to profane himself. (Leviticus 21:4, Everett Fox)

Whatever resulted in a court of Gentiles—and reluctance to eat together with Gentiles—in second–temple Judaism, it was a perversion of God’s commanded worship. It is true that you could not participate in Passover unless you were circumcised, but the uncircumcised Gentile God-fearer could bring offerings to God, and he could participate in the feast of booths. This perversion is part of the great judgment on the faithless priest–shepherd–husbands of Jesus’s day (e.g., Matthew 23:13-14).

YHWH spoke to Moshe, saying:
Speak to Aharon and to his sons and to all the Children of Israel, and say to them:
Any-Man, any-man of the House of Israel or of the sojourners in Israel
that brings-near his near-offering—including any of their vow-offerings or including any of their freewill-offerings that they bring-near to YHWH, as an offering-up— (Leviticus 22:17-18, Everett Fox, emphasis added)

Every native is to sacrifice these thus,
to bring-near a fire-offering of soothing savor for YHWH.
Now when there sojourns with you a sojourner,
or (one) that has been in your mids, throughout your generations,
and he sacrifices a fire-offering of soothing savor for YHWH;
as you sacrifice (it), thus is he to sacrifice (it).
Assembly!
One law for you and for the sojourner that takes-up-sojourn,
a law for the ages, throughout your generations:
as (it is for) you, so will it be (for) the sojourner before the presence of YHWH.
One instruction, one regulation shall there be for you
and for the sojourner that takes-up-sojourn with you! (Numbers 15:13-16, Everett Fox)

The pilgrimage-festival of Sukkot / Huts you are to observe for yourself, for seven days,
at your ingathering, from your threshing-floor, from your vat.
You are to rejoice on your festival,
you, your son, and your daughter,
your servant and your maid,
the Levite,
the sojourner, the orphan and the widow that are within your gates. (Deuteronomy 16:13-14, Everett Fox)

Thanks to my friend Nathan for this great quote from Thomas Boston:

Christians should wisely observe [God’s] providences . . . Because they are always perfect works. They will abide the strictest search and the most narrow inquiry, Deut. 32:4. Whatever faults we find with them, as we do many, it is for want of due observation. But at length he shall gain that testimony and recantation, ‘He hath done all things well,’ Mark 7:37. In these his works no flaw is to be found, no mistake; nothing too much, nothing too little; nothing too soon done, nothing too late done; nothing misplaced, nothing in or over; nay, nothing done that is not best done; nothing that man or angel could make better. The world will startle at this as a paradox: but faith will believe it, on the solid ground of infinite wisdom, though sense contradict it, Isa. 38:8, Jer. 12:1. O that they who will debate this truth would come near and observe.

This is a neat converse of iron and bronze:

Now if, after all that, you do not hearken to me,
I will continue to discipline you, sevenfold, for your sins—
I will break your fierce pride!
I will give your heavens to be like iron, and your earth like bronze, . . . (Leviticus 26:18–19, Everett Fox)

But it shall be:
If you do not hearken to the voice of YHWH your God,
by taking-care and by observing all his commandments and his laws
that I command you today,
then there will come upon you all these curses, and overtake you: . . . .
The heavens that are above your head will become bronze,
and the earth that is beneath you, iron. (Deuteronomy 28:15, 23, Everett Fox)

I always thought that it betrayed a deep misunderstanding—of God’s word and his ways—for modern Israel to name their air defense system Iron Dome. Much like how we used to sing “they rush on the city . . .” with such oblivious gusto.

Leviticus 27 is not a later addition or afterthought to the book. One reason we know this is that there are credible chiasms where it fits well. Also, if we take Leviticus as a covenant document, this chapter fits perfectly in the “succession” section of the pattern, immediately following the “oath” or “sanctions” section. Leviticus would be incomplete without making plans for the sustaining of the sanctuary.

To the Word took us through Ephesians this week. Some reflections, past and present: (1) There is a very real shadow government that determines everything that takes place (Eph. 1:20–23), and we are privileged to participate in it by our prayers and worship (Eph. 2:6). (2) Once you see that Ephesians 2 is primarily about historia salutis rather than ordo salutis, it is difficult to unsee it. (3) The mystery here and elsewhere in the Bible is that of Daniel’s stone cut by no human hand: Jesus would inaugurate a new kingdom that would not be Israel über alles, but would rather supersede all other kingdoms. (4) There is a counterfeit and impotent stone, uncut by hand, reputed to be from the heavens, right there in Ephesus! (Acts 19:35) (5) Jesus’s giving gifts is not Paul misquoting David through the Septuagint; it is a brilliant application of totus Christus: what Jesus receives he shares with his bride. (6) You can find echoes of all ten commandments in the book. (7) The identity between covetousness and idolatry (here, as in Colossians) is profound and important. (8) It is interesting to me that the word itself is an offensive weapon (the sword of the Spirit), but faith in that word is a defensive weapon. I suppose that we must trust the Spirit to make the word powerful in and toward others, but we also have some direct responsibility to cultivate its power within ourselves.

Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? Making room for Lenin, Stalin, and Mao is a sin (even if a foolish and unwitting one), and certainly a disqualification for leadership.

My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood;
let us ambush the innocent without reason;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with plunder;
throw in your lot among us;
we will all have one purse”—
my son, do not walk in the way with them;
hold back your foot from their paths,
for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood. (Proverbs 1:10–16, ESV)

This is a year the evangelical church will look back upon with great regret. In so many ways, we have redoubled our effort to appear respectable to the world, and unsurprisingly we have been played. But friendship with the world is enmity with God. There is a slow-motion coup being attempted in the United States, under cover of a thin veneer of righteous platitudes and bald-faced deception. Many people in our bureaucracy, politics, journalism, media, entertainment, and big tech are well overdue for their stay in prison. And this is not just about the bloodletting of babies but also the grooming of our neighbors’ sons and daughters, and the general bloodletting of our neighbors’ households and livelihoods. To make room for this coup is to actually disobey Romans 13, grossly; to hate our neighbor grossly; and to disqualify ourselves from leadership. You know that they will not be satisfied with the heads of inconvenient troublemakers (aren’t all prophets inconvenient?) like Wilson and Gagnon and Baucham. No, they will also come for Greear and Chandler and Thabiti and even Mason—the omelet must have its stooges—and eventually for you and me. Bezhmenov, McCarthy, Solzhenitsen, and many others are being vindicated before our eyes.

Of course, you have to observe flesh and blood rather than chapter and verse to discern that I am right and Keller is wrong, to discern that our political future is not a simple and neutral debate over which reasonable people may disagree. I was going to say that it requires wisdom to see where this is going, but that is not really true: it is already out in the open, unmasked, so to speak, and brazen. And this is why identifying this evil is a qualification for leadership; the fact that the line separating good and evil passes through our own hearts does not acquit us of this responsibility, but simply requires us to overcome that evil too. A pastor–husband must know what needs to be done, and he may not fear seeming unloving when this requires him to speak words of warning in actual love.

And yet we are happy warriors; we are ministers and officers of such a shadow government, and the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh:

Why do nations conspire,
And peoples murmur a vain thing?
Positioned are earth’s kings,
And rulers take counsel together,
Against Yahweh,
And against His anointed;
Saying, “Let us break Their chains,
And throw off of us Their ropes!”
The One enthroned in the heavens laughs;
My Master scoffs at them! (Psalm 2:1-10, James Jordan)

God is doing a good work of exposing and testing and tempering right now. May we be strengthened, purified, and proven true!

C. R. Wiley and friends recently provided a delightful encouragement to study Protestant resistance theory from, of all quarters, a Roman Catholic. Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos is in my reading queue after Solzhenitsyn.

The Theopolis conversation on the manosphere and the church is complete. I encourage you to read all of the articles.

Roundup:

Written by Scott Moonen

October 16, 2020 at 5:58 pm

Seventy

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Genesis 10, Everett Fox translation:

Now these are the begettings of the sons of Noah,
Shem, Ham, and Yefet.
Sons were born to them after the Deluge.
The Sons of Yefet are Gomer and Magog, Madai, Yavan and Tuval, Meshekh and Tiras.
The Sons of Gomer are Ashkenaz, Rifat, and Togarma.
The Sons of Yavan are Elisha and Tarshish, Cittites and Dodanites.
From these the seacoast nations were divided by their lands,
each one after its own tongue:
according to their clans, by their nations.
The Sons of Ham are Cush and Mitzrayim, Put and Canaan.
The Sons of Cush are Seva and Havila, Savta, Ra’ma, and Savtekha;
the Sons of Ra’ma—Sheva and Dedan.
Cush begot Nimrod; he was the first mighty man on earth.
He was a mighty hunter before YHWH,
therefore the saying is:
Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before YHWH.
His kingdom, at the beginning, was Bavel, and Erekh, Accad and Calne, in the land of Shinar;
from this land Ashur went forth and built Nineveh—along with the city squares and Calah,/ and Resen between Nineveh and Calah—that is the great city.
Mitzrayim begot the Ludites, the Anamites, the Lehavites, the Naftuhites,/ the Patrusites, and the Casluhites, from where the Philistines come, and the Caftorites.
Canaan begot Tzidon his firstborn and Het,/ along with the Yevusite, the Amorite and the Girgashite,/ the Hivvite, the Arkite and the Sinite,/ the Arvadite, the Tzemarite and the Hamatite.
Afterward the Canaanite clans were scattered abroad.
And the Canaanite territory went from Tzidon, then as you come toward Gerar, as far as Gaza, then as you come toward Sedom and Amora, Adma, and Tzevoyim, as far as Lasha.
These are the Sons of Ham after their clans, after their tongues, by their lands, by their nations.
(Children) were also born to Shem,
the father of all the Sons of Ever (and) Yefet’s older brother.
The Sons of Shem are Elam and Ashur, Arpakhshad, Lud, and Aram.
The Sons of Aram are Utz and Hul, Geter and Mash.
Arpakhshad begot Shelah, Shelah begot Ever.
Two sons were born to Ever:
the name of the first one was Peleg/Splitting, for in his days the earth–folk were split up,
and his brother’s name was Yoktan.
Yoktan begot Almodad and Shelef, Hatzarmavet and Yera,/ Hadoram, Uzal and Dikla,/ Oval, Avimael and Sheva,/ Ofir, Havila, and Yovav—all these are the Sons of Yoktan.
Now their settlements went from Mesha, then as you come toward Sefar, to the mountain–country of the east.
These are the Sons of Shem after their clans, after their tongues, by their lands, after their nations.
These are the clan–groupings of the Sons of Noah, after their begettings, by their nations.
From these the nations were divided on earth after the Deluge.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 16, 2020 at 9:47 am

A second childhood

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When all my days are ending
And I have no song to sing,
I think that I shall not be too old
To stare at everything;
As I stared once at a nursery door
Or a tall tree and a swing.

Wherein God’s ponderous mercy hangs
On all my sins and me,
Because He does not take away
The terror from the tree
And stones still shine along the road
That are and cannot be.

Men grow too old for love, my love,
Men grow too old for wine,
But I shall not grow too old to see
Unearthly daylight shine,
Changing my chamber’s dust to snow
Till I doubt if it be mine.

Behold, the crowning mercies melt,
The first surprises stay;
And in my dross is dropped a gift
For which I dare not pray:
That a man grow used to grief and joy
But not to night and day.

Men grow too old for love, my love,
Men grow too old for lies;
But I shall not grow too old to see
Enormous night arise,
A cloud that is larger than the world
And a monster made of eyes.

Nor am I worthy to unloose
The latchet of my shoe;
Or shake the dust from off my feet
Or the staff that bears me through
On ground that is too good to last,
Too solid to be true.

Men grow too old to woo, my love,
Men grow too old to wed;
But I shall not grow too old to see
Hung crazily overhead
Incredible rafters when I wake
And I find that I am not dead.

A thrill of thunder in my hair:
Though blackening clouds be plain,
Still I am stung and startled
By the first drop of the rain:
Romance and pride and passion pass
And these are what remain.

Strange crawling carpets of the grass,
Wide windows of the sky;
So in this perilous grace of God
With all my sins go I:
And things grow new though I grow old,
Though I grow old and die.

—G. K. Chesterton

HT: Paul Boccaccio

Written by Scott Moonen

October 11, 2020 at 2:31 pm

Posted in Poetry, Quotations

Metábasis eis állo génos (15)

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We recently spent a week at the beach with our small group. It’s hard to pick a highlight. Good food, great fellowship. One thing I enjoyed was getting introduced to the game Dominion. Ironically, I had received this game as a gift last year but hadn’t yet had a chance to play it. It’s now a regular part of our rotation!

I reflected on voting this week. It occurs to me that another way to express the value of voting is to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I would certainly appreciate a great many of my neighbors voting a certain way; I ought to do the same for them.

Speaking of voting, my friend Brad pointed out that child sacrifice is unusual in having a judgment on its even being countenanced:

Now if the People of the Land should hide, yes, hide their eyes from that man
when he gives of his seed to the Molekh, by not putting him to death,
I myself will set my face against that man and against his clan,
and will cut off him and all who go whoring along with him, to whore after Molekh,
from amid their kinspeople. (Leviticus 20:4–5, Everett Fox)

Aaron Renn of The Masculinist newsletter has started a podcast. I appreciated his recent episode reflecting on dangers and temptations in how we attempt to reach the culture.

I’ve been freshly struck reading through Exodus and Leviticus at the importance of worshipping God according to his word.

Now Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, took each-man his pan,
and, placing fire in them, put smoking-incense on it,
and brought-near, before the presence of YHWH, outside fire,
such as he had not commanded them.
And fire went out from the presence of YHWH
and consumed them, so that they died, before the presence of YHWH.
Moshe said to Aharon:
It is what YHWH spoke (about), saying:
Through those permitted-near to me, I will be-proven-holy,
before all the people, I will be-accorded-honor!
Aharon was silent. (Leviticus 10:1-3, Everett Fox)

Moshe and Aharon were returned to Pharaoh,
and he said to them:
Go, serve YHWH your God!
—Who is it, who is it that would go?
Moshe said:
With our young ones, with our elders we will go,
with our sons and with our daughters,
with our sheep and with our oxen we will go—
for it is YHWH’s pilgrimage-festival for us.
He said to them:
May YHWH be thus with you, the same as I mean to send you free along with your little-ones!
You see—yes, your faces are set toward ill!
Not thus—go now, O males, and serve YHWH, for that is what you (really) seek!
And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s face.

YHWH said to Moshe:
Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locust-horde,
and it will ascend over the land of Egypt, consuming all the plants of the land, all that the hail allowed to remain. (Exodus 10:8-12, Everett Fox)

I mentioned Exodus 22:5 and willful spreading of fire among thorns (i.e., wicked men) recently. The spreading of fire is at the same time a judgment from God upon a land that cultivates wicked men.

For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8 ESV)

I was also struck by the fact that Leviticus 19 links the fourth and fifth commandments:

Each-man—his mother and his father you are to hold-in-awe,
and my Sabbaths you are to keep:
I am YHWH your God! (Leviticus 19:3, Everett Fox)

and the third, eighth, and ninth commandments:

You are not to steal,
you are not to lie,
you are not to deal-falsely, each-man with his fellow!
You are not to swear by my name falsely,
thus profaning the name of your God—
I am YHWH! (Leviticus 19:11-12, Everett Fox)

This latter association matches Ephesians 4, where lying and stealing are linked with grieving the Spirit.

Yes. As a result of this, the practice of 1 Cor 11 commonly commits the sin rebuked right there in 1 Cor 11! It is precisely failing to discern the body to forbid part of the body access to the table. See also Pharaoh above.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 10, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Pebbles

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Voting in a large-scale first-past-the-post election is not a statistically meaningful action. I didn’t vote in the United States’ 2016 election. I do plan to vote in our 2020 election, but I do so with a sense of proportion that I am not achieving something tangible or practical with my vote.

Far more important is prayer and corporate worship. We have a weekly audience with the king of the universe, a king who works all things according to the counsel of his will!

There is somewhat more significance to boosting than voting, since your words may influence many votes. I plan to vote for Trump in 2020 and I hope that you will as well. If you think this is a strange position for a Christian, Doug Wilson had some helpful thoughts that I encourage you to consider. Voting is, as Gary DeMar says, not a valentine.

Yet it is troubling that Christians are expressing support for Biden and Harris.

This is of course more obvious among liberal Christians, but folks like Greear, Keller, and Tripp are ongoing enablers as well with their smooth words. I was going to quip that it is not enough to be non-gnostic in America today. . . But, sadly, it turns out that these folks are gnostic.

As for Biden and Harris, they are not merely, er, non-life; they are actively anti-life.

Keep in mind, of course, that both the vote you approve and the vote you disapprove are insignificant. We do not put our trust in princes (they also are insignificant), and there is absolutely no need to be anxious about the future. We are full of joy! But it still matters before God what we advocate and embrace, and, since God’s world is not gnostic, it also matters very much how we live that out.

I really appreciated how Mark Horne framed voting recently. This seems to me a very helpful way to encourage folks to vote, yet without pretending that it has more tangible and practical value than it does:

My current voting philosophy:

1. Mathematically: voting is stupid. Remember all the science fiction stories about time traveling and the dire consequences that occurred when the past was changed? If you changed every ballot I ever filled out throughout my life to the opposite, nothing would be different. Voting, for an individual, is inconsequential to political outcomes.

2. God answers prayers, sometimes affirmatively. Lines of causation can be obscure just like any case of one friend asking another for a favor. But praying to God for a better future is not stupid, but wise.

3. But all prayer is not equally wise. Praying for a job promotion is usually superior to praying to get a million dollars in the next month. This is because, while prayer does involve wishing for a better future, it also involves interacting with God and how you see him working in the world.

4. So while I pray for a better political society in general, my more specific prayers are usually informed by foreseeable possible outcomes. Just like I pray for my current car to not break down rather than for a new car to appear in my driveway tonight, so I pray for a better candidate to win rather than a perfect candidate who I know is not going to win.

5. And if I’m really praying for a candidate in my district to win, why not express that by voting for him or her? It seems inconsistent to tell God I want someone to win an election and then not bother to express that preference in that election. (It certainly seems crazy to pray for a candidate to win but refuse to vote for him merely because he’s evil and stupid. If you’re worried that God might impose a worse ruler on you, and yet think you’re too “good” to vote for a better—if only less destructive—candidate, how are you not claiming to be holier than God?)

So voting, in my mind, can and should be a kind of prayer that complements the more regular verbal prayers.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 8, 2020 at 9:04 pm

Antignostic

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Duane Garner resumed preaching through Revelation. From this week (I elided some words for brevity, but without ellipses):

The Revelation of Jesus confirms to these churches and these Christians in this context that they are on the right side of history, that they are behind the true king of the cosmos. Jesus is king, and Caeser isn’t.

We are in a very similar context today. It’s not our worship of Jesus that brings us in conflict in the sphere of our dealings with other people in our society. Nobody cares about that, it’s not a big deal: it’s our refusal to worship the gods of this age. When you are persecuted for being a Christian, it’s not going to be because you worship Jesus: it’s because you are refusing to bow down to the gods of this age.

If you’re going to be persecuted as a Christian, they’re not going to charge you with being a Christian. They are going to charge you with being a bigot, and a homophobe, and a racist. And as they carry you off, the rest of the evangelical world is going to be cheering, because obviously you are a bigot and a racist and a homophobe.

It’s not about Jesus, it’s not about worship of Jesus: it’s about not worshiping the gods of the age. This book is communicated to people in that same context. John is communicating the centrality and the almighty power of Jesus over all things. Jesus is over all things and Caesar isn’t. The book of Revelation does not teach about a Jesus who is uninvolved in world affairs.

A quiet, passive, internal Christianity is exactly what the kingdoms of this world want. Totalitarian regimes are incredibly compatible with a heart religion. If you want a heart religion that never works itself out in any significant way, if you want me–and–Jesus Christianity: the nations of the world are fine with that. The kind of church that is compatible with the modern state is the kind of church that’s content with sitting at home today. They’re content watching the internet, and they’re content using the Ritz crackers and the Gatorade for communion.

When the church believes that Jesus is not only the future king but the reigning and present king over everything right now, that’s when we come into conflict with the powers of our age.

Jesus deserves our embodied presence, our embodied worship and obedience. That’s when things start to heat up. And this book backs these Christians with a Jesus who is mighty, and victorious, who is regal, who is a conqueror: not just the king of your head or your heart, but the king of everything.

Written by Scott Moonen

October 6, 2020 at 5:58 pm

When the Frost is on the Punkin

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When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;
But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps
Is poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;
And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! …
I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could be
As the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me
I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!

James Whitcomb Riley

Written by Scott Moonen

October 4, 2020 at 8:59 pm

Posted in Poetry

Metábasis eis állo génos (14)

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My Soul Among Lions released some older tracks. I love this version of Psalm 23:

Here’s a free tip: if you are designing a screen that says “do not remove card,” make sure that the very next screen says “remove card.” The only change you should consider making to the screen in the meantime is to update some kind of progress meter.

Have you ever been near someone wearing a mask and smelled their breath as they talked to you? I have. True, it may have only been a stale mask. But either way, isn’t this a ridiculous charade?

[Ransom] was only too well aware that such resolutions might look very different when the moment came, but he felt an unwonted assurance that somehow or other he would be able to go through with it. It was necessary, and the necessary was always possible. (C. S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet, 79)

Every Christian man is called to get involved in God’s work in some way. I like to think of it as going into “the family business.” (Richard Phillips, The Masculine Mandate, 49)

Too bad for Soros and Bloomberg (among many others):

When fire breaks out and reaches thorn-hedges, and a sheaf-stack or the standing-grain or the field is consumed,
he is to pay, yes, pay, he that caused the blaze to blaze up. (Exodus 22:5, Everett Fox)

In addition, fighting everywhere, all the time, is likely to distort God’s redemptive intention for the world. As we look at the unbelieving world, we should see it as that which the war is over, and not simply those whom we are fighting with. Who are we fighting against, and who are we fighting for? This is a war of liberation. We are fighting with the slave-masters over their slaves.

Our chief adversary is not flesh and blood. Our chief adversary is made up of principalities and powers, and is a world system that holds millions captive. If we get sucked down into the sin of personal malice, then we have actually been taken captive by the other side. We are not overcoming their ways of accusation, we are surrendering to them. (Doug Wilson, Rules for Reformers)

At the beginning of things, few people realize, or admit, where they are going:

The impression is left that the air of Solovki strangely mingled extreme cruelty with an almost benign incomprehension of where all this was leading, which Solovetsky characteristics were becoming the embryo of the great Archipelago and which were destined to dry up and wither in the bud. After all, the Solovetsky Islands people did not yet, generally speaking, firmly believe that the ovens of the Arctic Auschwitz had been lit right there and that its crematory furnaces had been thrown open to all who were ever brought there. (But, after all, that is exactly how it was!) People there were also misled by the fact that all their prison terms were exceedingly short: it was rare that anyone had a ten-year term, and even five was not found very often, and most of them were three, just three. And this whole cat-and-mouse trick of the law was still not understood: to pin down and let go, and pin down again and let go again. And that patriarchal failure to understand where everything was heading could not have failed entirely to influence the guards from among the prisoners also, and perhaps in a minor way the prison keepers themselves.

No matter how clear-cut the declarations of the class teaching, openly displayed and proclaimed everywhere, that the sole fate the enemy deserves is annihilation—still it was impossible to picture to oneself the annihilation of each concrete two-legged individual possessing hair, eyes, a mouth, a neck and shoulders. One could actually believe that classes were being destroyed, but the people who constituted these classes should be left, shouldn’t they? The eyes of Russians who had been brought up in other generous and vague concepts, like eyes seeing through badly prescribed eyeglasses, could in no wise read with exactitude the phrases of the cruel teaching. Not long before, apparently, there had been months and years of openly proclaimed terror—yet it was still impossible to believe!

Here, too, on the first islands of the Archipelago, was felt the instability of those checkered years of the middle twenties, when things were but poorly understood in the country as a whole. Was everything already prohibited? Or, on the contrary, were things only now beginning to be allowed? Age-old Russia still believed so strongly in rapturous phrases! And there were only a few prophets of gloom who had already figured things out and who knew when and how all this would be smashed into smithereens. (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 45–46)

It turns out that “fascist” has been a very malleable term for quite a long time:

“So you are the Fascists? Are all of you Fascists?” The approaching [prisoners] asked us hopefully. And having confirmed that yes, we were the Fascists—they immediately scurried off and left the scene. There was nothing else about us that interested them.

(We already knew, of course, that “the Fascists” was a nickname for the 58’s, introduced by the sharp-eyed thieves and very much approved of by the chiefs; previously they had well named the 58’s—KR’s [counter revolutionaries]. But then all that had grown stale, and a catchy label was needed.) (Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 2, 169)

Written by Scott Moonen

October 3, 2020 at 9:23 pm

Posted in Miscellany, Quotations