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

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