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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

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

Metábasis eis állo génos (13)

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To the Word took us through Exodus this week. The portrait of leaders hardening their hearts, and God displaying his power and glory for the sake of his people, sure is encouraging. The fickleness of God’s people is also an interesting reminder.

Notice what is sin (translation Everett Fox):

But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had stopped,
he continued to sin: he made his heart heavy-with-stubbornness, his and his servants’.
Pharaoh’s heart remained strong-willed, and he did not send the Children of Israel free,
as YHWH had spoken through Moshe. (Exodus 9:34-35)

Take careful note that part of that hardness was excluding Israel’s children from the worship–feast (Exodus 10).

The 400 and 430 years of Israel’s time in exile is interesting. It is obvious that the numbers date back into the time of Abraham, since Moses’s mother was a daughter of Levi. As Jordan suggests, the numbers have to do with a time in a land under Egyptian hegemony and not just an actual stay in Egypt. See Biblical Horizons vol. 6 no. 6 for some brief references.

It’s also important to keep in mind the reason that Israel had become slaves in Egypt. They had forsaken Yahweh:

So-now,
hold YHWH in awe and serve him in integrity and trust;
remove the gods whom your fathers had served across the River and in Egypt
and serve YHWH! (Joshua 24:14, Everett Fox)

Why didn’t Scalia receive universal acclaim? You know, I’m sure that his dying wish was for one of his clerks to succeed to the court.

Big Eva and RINOs would have us evaluate the world upside down. In a magistrate, what matters is not that they are personally nice, but that they rule justly. It is of little consequence that they were a nice and interesting neighbor, or that they were a courageous crusader for what they believed to be right. Rather: were they actually right?

Let’s survey some scripture. It is true that we are not to be glad at calamity (Prov. 17:5) or rejoice when our enemy falls (Prov. 24:17). And yet it is also true that we plead for God to break the teeth of the wicked, and rejoice in God’s vengeance (Psalm 58); the righteous bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked (Psalm 58, 68); there are shouts of gladness when the wicked perish (Prov. 11:10); the wise king laughs at and mocks the willful fool (Prov. 1:26ff); we celebrate the death of wicked baby killers in song (Ex. 15); and celebrate this with feasting (Esther 9:16ff). This rejoicing carries into the church’s worship and into eternity (Rev. 19).

We have to do the hard work of harmonizing these verses. As to calamity, it is clear that this refers to a general calamity. So we are not glad to see the destruction of Portland and California even though we could all see it coming and it is a comeuppance for God’s enemies. As to enemies falling, that seems to be a warning to a king not to lift up his heart like Nebuchadnezzar. It is possible still for a leader to humbly rejoice in God’s work in bringing down the wicked; the song of Moses seems like a happy way to harmonize this.

The shaking of the foundations and the planting of a little worshiping community: that’s the same thing. The planting of a little worshiping community is a strike at the foundations of a pagan city like Philippi. — Peter Leithart, emphasis added

Wiley and friends covered Leaf by Niggle recently, an enjoyable discussion. While it’s interesting to reflect on how the works of our hands endure in time and eternity, certainly the chief of those is our children. This is especially interesting in Tolkien’s case, as his son Christopher became the means of preserving much of Tolkien’s artistic work. And although Niggle did not have any children, his work is also reflected in the preservation of Parish. Parish himself was a gift.

Naturally, after reflecting on Niggle, you must read “The best introduction to the mountains.”

Written by Scott Moonen

September 26, 2020 at 8:15 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (12)

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What is Canada doing right about forest management? Or addressing arson? Or both? Maybe all is well as long as Trudeau remains in power?

This was thought provoking:

Man, Peterson’s 12 Rules is not very good. His view of the world is that of a scared little boy. It’s this terrible brutal scary place but you’ve got to overcome your fear of it or you’ll be paralyzed. It makes sense that this would resonate with men primarily raised by women.

Raise your sons to be explorers, adventurers, overcomers, and conquerors. Tell them that though there is wildness and danger in this world, God still made it for us to subdue and rule.

There are “dragons” in the world… The mother says be careful, son. The father says bring back the head of a dragon, son.

— Michael Foster [1], [2], [3]

My mind immediately jumped to “This is my Father’s world.” We are sons of the king (Matthew 17:24ff) and heirs of this world (Romans 4:13). ND Wilson recently had similar bracing words (thanks to Brad for the find) on how we should live in 2020 or any year whatsoever.

I saw Trump compared to king Saul this week as a self-important godless failure. Perhaps Trump thinks of himself as a king David. (I suspect it’s a typical serpentine slander that there are many evangelicals who think of Trump as a David.) I think it is better to think of him as a potential Nebuchadnezzar or Pharaoh. We don’t trust in chariots or horses, but we can pray that God will send bad dreams, or use him to protect us from a Zedekiah or a famine.

Big Eva would have us believe it is a tortured question whether to serve Zedekiah or Nebuchadnezzar. (I realize all of the ways the analogy is imperfect, but let the reader understand.) After all, who is to say which chariot or horse God will use? (O Keller!) But it is only tortured if you love the glory that comes from man. Gotta appear thoughtful, and make sure your name is not in the papers for the Wrong Reasons™ (O Greear!). It’s going to keep getting worse, you know, all because we thought we should pay attention to the serpentine slander. That is a treadmill that keeps going faster and faster.

I’m so grateful that John MacArthur hasn’t paid attention to any of it. God is the one who checks to see if our hands and heart are clean, not the accuser.

Mark Horne was on Canon Calls this week to discuss the book of Proverbs and his recent book. Check it out.

I had a couple of occasions to revisit Matthew 18 this week. I’m freshly struck by the interconnectedness of this chapter on body life. It especially struck me that little children are present all the way up through verse 14. Although verses 3 and 4 invite us to expand the application beyond children, certainly the first application is to children. I was previously aware of that for verses 7–9, but not for verses 10–14; these two passages form a kind of mirror image to one another: don’t lead children into temptation, but preserve and protect them.

I hold that most passages and parables like this are to be read first as a critique of the shepherds of Israel. Thus, the leaders of Israel failed utterly in their role as shepherds to the children, and sheep, of Israel (see also Matthew 23:13–15). Moving to application, I’ve long held that verses 1–9 urge us to paedobaptism and paedocommunion. But I think this application continues into verses 10–14. So far from chasing down our little ones, evangelicalism has for a very long time been chasing them away from the table.

I remarked briefly on Biblical chronology last week. My reference to Paul’s 14 years is an insight from James Jordan, of course. I checked to see whether Jordan had anything to say about Tiberius or the 46 years, but found nothing. Interestingly, he did observe that there were likely 46 years between Josiah seeking God’s face (2 Chron 34:3) and the destruction of Jerusalem. If so, that is a neat mirror image to the 46 years in John 2.

I also mentioned Jephthah’s daughter. There is an interesting parallel in the story of Abraham and Isaac, where God commands Abraham to conduct just such an offering-up. God’s substitution for Isaac I think shapes how we want to read this word going forward into Jephthah’s case. I looked at the law for other connections, but in my brief search I found only mention of enemies devoted to God (destroyed) or gifts (which are redeemed).

I finished Leithart’s Theopolitan Reading. One more quote:

If you don’t know Adam thoroughly, you won’t spot the meaningful variations on the theme. You won’t recognize Noah as an improved Adam. You won’t realize that Yahweh’s promises to make Abraham “fruitful” is a promise to fulfill Adam’s vocation in Abraham’s seed. You won’t see the Adamic features of Aaron the priest. You won’t sense that Solomon has what Adam doesn’t, namely, knowledge of good and evil. You won’t recognize the prophets as Adams who have reached a stage of maturity that Adam never reached.

Most importantly, if you misconstrue how Jesus is the Last Adam, you’ll miss the heart of the gospel. You might think Jesus comes to whisk us from earth to heaven. In fact, the gospel presents Jesus as the Last Adam, who has fulfilled the human vocation and is now fulfilling it on earth, by His Spirit, through the church. If your palate isn’t trained to savor the Adams of the Bible, you won’t have any good sense of who you are: a priest, king, and prophet, co-member of a community of priests, kings, and prophets joined to the great Priest, King, and Prophet. (93)

Written by Scott Moonen

September 18, 2020 at 10:36 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (11)

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Shall we call the rona the Y2k20 bug?

It’s not too late to join the To The Word reading plan. Psalm 119 is such a wonderful way to begin and end a reading plan! I’m taking this opportunity to read Everett Fox’s Schocken Bible wherever it satisfies the readings. No translation is perfect, but I love Fox’s translation philosophy. It’s the only translation I’ve found that handles Jephthah and his daughter properly; from Judges 11:

Now there came upon Yiftah the rushing-spirit of YHWH;
he crossed over to Gil’ad and Menashe,
and he crossed over to Mitzpe of Gil’ad, and from Mitzpe of Gil’ad
he crossed over to the Children of Ammon.
And Yiftah vowed a vow to YHWH and said:
If you will give, yes, give the Children of Ammon into my hand,
it will be: the one going out who goes out of the doors of my
    house to meet me, when I return in peace from the Children of Ammon
shall be YHWH’s
and shall be offered up by me as an offering-up!

Thus she went up to serve at the tabernacle, like the women of Exodus 38:8.

I was struck by the 46 years in John 2. No numerological significance jumps out at me, but the chronology is interesting. The current alternate chronology of 18 BC would put this event in AD 29. That fits with Kostenberger’s suggestion that Jesus began his ministry in AD 29 or 30. However, this is not able to account for Paul’s fourteen years (Galatians 2) which is usually linked to Acts 12:25 and therefore the death of Herod (Acts 12:23) in AD 44. That would put Paul’s conversion (and Jesus’s crucifixion) in AD 30. So, unless we introduce a large gap into Acts 12, it seems we are awaiting an alternate chronology either for the temple and Tiberius, or the death of Agrippa.

Speaking of the fourteen years, which included time in Arabia, it occurs to me that this is a kind of wilderness time for Paul. If 17 is an analog of 70— seven and ten remixed—then 14 is an analog of 40.

Did you know that the Fed now owns nearly a third of all US mortgages? Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. Also, it is definitely time to cancel your Netflix subscription.

Here’s an interesting scenario: what if you waited to ensure good census numbers for your state, then took various executive and economic steps to ensure that the opposing political party middle class fled your state? Why, you’d be sitting fat and happy for the next ten to twelve years, electorally speaking. Now repeat across several key states, and you just might be able to pawn off your financial problems on all of those suckers and losers to boot.

It might actually be a mercy from God if this happened; it could help to ensure that the coming dividing lines formed between states rather than neighbors.

Jamie Soles has a new album: Supplanter. It’s about a great man of faith, a perfect and complete man, who wrestles with man, with God, and with gnostic hermeneutics, and prevails. On this subject, see also Mark Horne and James Jordan.

Mark Horne also has a nice commentary on Mark’s gospel. My pastors are planning to work through Mark this winter and this is a good supplement. Also be sure to check out Mark’s latest book on Proverbs and wisdom.

I’ve been enjoying Peter Leithart’s recent Theopolitan Reading. It is outstanding, a kind of distilled appetizer for Jordan’s Through New Eyes. Some choice quotes:

Different species of animals represent different kinds of people. Kings are supposed to be lions, ferocious protectors of their pride and dangerous to their enemies (Gen 49:9; Rev 5:5). Samson and David demonstrate their prowess by killing lions (Judges 14:5–9; 1 Sam 17:34–37). If they can kill lions, they can successfully battle Philistines. As the lion king, David gathers leonine warriors who share his strength and skill in combat (1 Chr 12:8).

Other men are violent scavengers, jackals who prey on the weak or sneak into abandoned cities to pick through the garbage (Isa 13:22; 34:13). Imagery like this could well be literal. . . When human society breaks down, wild animals move in. But the imagery is also symbolic. When the king is not a lion, predatory men roam freely, preying on their defenseless sheep.

Other people are serpents, who kill with the poison under their tongue (Psa 58:4; 140:3). The righteous who trust in the Lord mimic the Seed of the woman and crush the heads of the serpentine wicked (Gen 3:15; Psa 91:13). Groups of animals represent groups of people, which is why Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David start as shepherds and herdsmen before leading the “flock of God” (cf. Ezek 34:15, 17; Zech 9:16; 1 Pet 5:2). Other groups are like packs of dogs, roaming the streets and baring their teeth against the righteous (Psa 22:16; 59:6, 14). (p. 42)

Many Bible teachers say the number 7 is the number of “fullness.” That may be true but doesn’t tell us much. And it’s the wrong way to read the poetry of Scripture. It’s a move from a concrete number (7) to an abstract quality (“fullness”).

Bible teachers make this move a lot. The desert represents “testing.” Lions represent “strength” or “destructive power.” White symbolizes “purity.” In each case, we move from something we can sense—a place we can survey, a color we can see, a number we can count, an animal that could rip us to shreds—to some quality that we can only think about.

The Bible doesn’t work like that. It doesn’t move from body to mind, or from matter to Spirit, or from concrete to abstract. Instead, the Bible connects one body with another—one thing, event, or person to another. We move from one concrete reality to another to another, seeing each in the light of the others. Scripture doesn’t move us away from our senses but trains them. (p. 45)

At his trial, Pilate presents Jesus to the mobs: “Behold the man” (John 19:5). Behold man. Behold Adam, cursed Adam, shamed Adam, soon-to-be-new Adam, risen in glory. (p. 52)

Written by Scott Moonen

September 11, 2020 at 7:10 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (10)

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Early on, most of the contrarian chatter on the rona was that it was worse than we all thought. I can recall early theories that China’s numbers were way under-represented. Remember the mobile subscriber reports? Perhaps this was fluctuations in gaming all of the mobile advertising and attention-reputation systems. Perhaps some of this was Uighur. But since then, most of the contrarians have focused on ways in which we have tended to overestimate. Antibody studies have consistently showed that the spread was greater than we thought and therefore the risk was less than we thought. We heard of specific accounts of case inflation and death inflation, and wondered at the fact that there seem to be perverse incentives in place for both of those numbers. This week it was interesting to see the CDC numbers showing extraordinarily high levels of co-morbidity. I do not agree with the simplistic claim that we should adjust the death count by 94%, but the numbers were certainly surprising. It was equally interesting to see additional suggestions that PCR results may be exaggerated (with potential for both false positives and also positives for weeks post recovery) but at the same time antibody results may be under-representative. Of course, this is not the final word, but these are interesting developments to me. As always, stay tuned to Alex Berenson if you are also interested in this kind of stuff.

I am no lover of public school, but this tweet caught my attention. Fauci: “asymptomatic transmission has never been the driver of outbreaks.”

I feel more and more that we have collectively decided to drive 25mph just because Miss Daisy is out there on the roads. I’ve been reflecting: what are the long-term implications of this collective insanity, this iatrogenicide if you will, on our institutions and leaders, even if we somehow miraculously agreed to abandon it all tomorrow and pretend that things were back to normal? Friedman would say that we cannot cater to anxiety for the sake of temporary peace and unity without always creating a fragile situation where greater anxiety and greater disunity will ultimately reign. Every parent knows what happens when you coddle anxiety; the tyranny of the weak really is a tyranny. As Wilson says, “there is a difference between deferring to the weaker brothers, on the one hand, and putting them in charge of what the whole church must do.” Girard would say that we cannot play the game of imitation without coming to live on the knife’s edge where one wrong move will bring a wave of scapegoating upon our own heads. If you glance over your shoulder now to imitate others’ “leadership,” you will eventually be running glancing back over your shoulder on a mob.

Many churches have given up so many things they once claimed to cherish and even to be commanded by God. Whatever happened to the regulative principle? In many decisions, the fear of God was exchanged for the fear of man and fear of the unknown. Churches know that Friedman and Girard are not just describing natural processes, but that we are always sowing into a future where God himself ensures that reaping and judgment will take place. Judgment begins with the household of God, and he judges leaders with a greater strictness. Churches and leaders that have decided, contrary to God’s word, that they still have the authority to close doors and tables to hungry sheep, must continue to experience shaking from God until they repent. God is not mocked, and salt that has lost its saltiness is good for nothing except to be thrown out and trampled. As things stand right now, I believe that even if all of this were to stop tomorrow, we would not be making a fresh and exciting start, emerging stronger than ever, etc.; but rather experiencing the eye of the hurricane.

But enough about the rona. Wow, Big Eva. Are Tripp and Duncan going to repudiate Eric Mason? I am not surprised by Stetzer, but Ortlund? Funny, though: I launched into Marriage and the Mystery of the Gospel recently, expecting to enjoy it, but was deeply disappointed. However, I now realize that I had confused Raymond Ortlund with Rob Rayburn. Forgive me, Rob.

Apropos all of 2020, Satan always couches his lies in a partial truth.

This was a great testimony of conducting disagreement as a happy warrior!

Would you join me in the To The Word Bible reading challenge? It starts on Monday!

Written by Scott Moonen

September 5, 2020 at 6:49 am

Metábasis eis állo génos (7)

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Please accept this friendly reminder that the CDC considers your risk for the ‘rona to be negligible until you have spent at least fifteen minutes within six feet of someone who is symptomatic or pre-symptomatic. I know firsthand of multiple cases where spouses have not contracted the virus from one another. It’s still so strange to me that we are valuing self-preservation over natural affection right now.

Lisa reports that mask compliance in Dunn is much lower than in Fuquay. My theory of county color holds.

Please also accept this friendly reminder that slavery still exists in the United States.

Chicks for sale. Resistance is futile:

And the onions and the figs are coming in!

Doug Wilson has a good word about John MacArthur and the binding of the conscience. Apropos MacArthur, I ran across this great clip this week:

So they feared Yahweh but also served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. (2 Kings 17:33)

For a class at church, I’ve had the occasion to read Grudem’s material on creation and providence. A few things stand out to me.

First, there is (unsurprisingly) more to the story of Galileo than popular history lets on. There is certainly ugly church politics, but it is a story of science vs. science and Christian vs. Christian rather than a story of science vs. boorish religion. Here is some interesting reading on how the science vs. science was not settled. On Christian vs. Christian, Galileo seems to have loved the church and been a staunch believer in the inspiration and inerrancy of scripture, so he is not a very sympathetic character for the new atheists.

Second, concerning creationism, I believe that the universe is roughly 6000 years old. Of course the universe has the appearance of age; doesn’t any work of art? It is true that not all genealogies capture every generation for theological reasons, but it seems clear to me that the genealogies with years and ages attached are given to us as real chronological markers in addition to their theological significance. And it is far from a hill to die on, but I especially love the idea that we will celebrate 6000 AM in 2070 AD. (James Jordan has done extensive and compelling work on this; here is a brief summary.) Grudem seems to prefer an age of 10 to 20 thousand years, while holding it lightly. What I’m especially struck by is his insistence that “neither [the young or old earth view] is certain” which he links with a call for “much more humility.” Of course we may not despise one another, but here our classic evangelical confusion between pride and conviction rears its head again.

To judge between “A”, “not-A” and “be not proud,” it is not enough to simply observe the configuration of the debate; we must assess the truth of each claim. Grudem knows how to do this on matters where he is convinced; he is obviously gracious in the matter of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, but makes no appeal to humility there.

Actually, knowing only the configuration of the debate, we should probably be prepared to rule against “be not proud or self-righteous.” It is true, but it is also a truism, and one which applies to all three parties. Remember that Paul wants us to be both convinced and humble in our disagreements (Romans 14). Too often, we stop at “just be humble” and remain unwilling to adjudicate the truth; the man who does this is not only failing to be convinced in his own mind but is also unwilling to allow others the privilege of being convinced. Worse, in doing this, he is giving error the same standing as truth. Sproul, again:

Finally, I appreciated Grudem’s work on predestination. I’m freshly struck that one of the best ways to show how Arminian arguments fall flat against Calvinism is to show how they fall flat against human authorship. Consider that: (1) We would not be surprised or confused if Frodo stomped his foot and insisted he was completely free to choose whether to destroy the ring. (2) We would never blame Tolkien for the great wrongs committed by Sauron. (3) We gladly affirm that Sauron deserved punishment for those wrongs. (4) And in fact we praise Tolkien highly for writing a beautiful story in which justice is done. (5) We would not at all be surprised to find Tolkien weeping at the outcome of Sauron’s destruction; loving his own creation and even responding to the very things he has decreed.

In short, the Arminian does not stop to consider what it really means that God is transcendent (just as Tolkien is transcendent to Frodo and Sauron). But on the flip side we can’t lose sight of God’s immanence, either. That’s something Tolkien couldn’t do!

I’m also enjoying Solzhenitsyn. This week’s quotes:

But . . . for mercy one must have wisdom. This has been a truth throughout our history and will remain one for a long time to come. (The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1, 271)

There is a simple truth which one can learn only through suffering: in war not victories are blessed but defeats. Governments need victories and the people need defeats. Victory gives rise to the desire for more victories. But after a defeat it is freedom that men desire—and usually attain. A people needs defeat just as an individual needs suffering and misfortune: they compel the deepening of the inner life and generate a spiritual upsurge. (The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1, 272)

But I had begun to sense a truth inside myself: if in order to live it is necessary not to live, then what’s it all for? (The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. 1, 280)

Written by Scott Moonen

August 14, 2020 at 6:38 pm

Metábasis eis állo génos (6)

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Cooper extended North Carolina’s phase 2. And Lee County caved as well. Meanwhile, I read and greatly appreciated Alex Berenson’s Unreported Truths, volume 1 and volume 2. I appreciate that he does not varnish estimates and readily admits where he was wrong. His sources are plentiful and far from arcane. Quoting a 2006 paper by Dr. Donald Henderson:

Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted.

It is odd and interesting that Europe is not gripped by confusion quite as much as we are. Over there you see thoughtful critique of the value of masks and lockdowns (e.g., Netherlands, Switzerland), but here the public voices and socialmarms stand together with their scorn and tar and feathers ready for folks like Berenson. Berenson recognizes there is more going on here than careful, reasoned debate:

But the most likely explanation is the simplest. Faced with a risk of hundreds of thousands or millions of deaths, the public health experts who for decades had counseled patience and caution flinched. They found they could not live with acknowledging how little control they or any of us had over the spread of an easily transmissible respiratory virus. They had to do something—even if they had been warning for decades that what they were about to do would not work and might have terrible secondary consequences.

Friedman and Girard strike again. MacArthur, on the other hand, is not an anxious leader. His interview with Eric Metaxas is great:

May God grant him great success in his legal battle. In this good work he is not only providing a fatherly covering for his own people, but also for many other churches.

In contrast with MacArthur, consider now the scenario where a pastor and worship team gather together to make a video recording or conduct a live stream. If, unlike MacArthur, they choose to override people’s own risk decisions and refuse admission to the congregation, it seems to me they are guilty of 1 Corinthians 11, where “each one goes ahead with his own meal,” doing so without “discerning the body.” And just as in Galatians 2, it seems to me that they “stand condemned” and are “not in step with the truth of the gospel.”

I do not say that the whole body must gather at one time and place (though I think it best by far) but at least there should be actual appointed smaller bodies if there is any gathering at all. The Greears and Stanleys of today need not copy MacArthur exactly, but as those who will have to give an account they should consider their plans very carefully.

And if we have failed in today’s temptation, the church is guaranteed an opportunity to try again when normal fall and winter sniffles knock on our door. Sickness is an unfortunate but a normal part of life. Preparing ourselves to handle this well is actually a great pastoral service to people; remember carefully what Dr. Henderson wrote above.

We must hold to what we have quoted from Paul [Romans 10:17]—that the church is built up solely by outward preaching, and that the saints are held together by one bond only: that with common accord, through learning and advancement, they keep the church order established by God [cf. Ephesians 4:12]. It was especially to this end that, as I have said, in ancient times under the law all believers were commanded to assemble at the sanctuary. For while Moses speaks of God’s dwelling place, at the same time the place where God has put the memory of his name he calls the “place of God’s name” [cf. Exodus 20:24]. He plainly teaches thereby that there can be no use of the place apart from the doctrine of godliness. Doubtless for the same reason David complains with great bitterness of spirit that he has been barred from the Tabernacle through the tyranny and cruelty of his enemies [Psalm 84:2-3]. To many this seems almost a childish complaint, for to be denied access to the Temple would be a very slight loss, and would destroy but little pleasure, provided other delights were still at hand. Nevertheless, he laments that he burns, is tormented and well-nigh consumed, with this single trouble, vexation, and sorrow. Surely, this is because believers have no greater help than public worship, for by it God raises his own folk upward step by step. (Calvin, Institutes, 4.1.5)

Consider these outstanding lemmas on liberty from Doug Wilson.

Is it you, you troubler of America? (everyone, including BigEva, to the church)

I watched this movie with the big kids this week. So good:

Some interpretive maximalist food for thought:

Peano arithmetic to own the commies! Also, I heartily affirm that leaves are green in summer:

I appreciated Relevant’s interview of Gladwell from a few years back.

The kids started back to home schooling this week. We now have three in high school! Since I’m working from home still, I’ve started up a daily Psalm chant. I’m fairly new to chanting and delighted with the raw shanty-like feel. We’re using the Concordia ESV Psalter. But the Theopolis Institute is also undertaking a fresh translation and composition of Psalm chants over the next couple years. Join me in support of them!

Written by Scott Moonen

August 7, 2020 at 9:07 pm

What a church is

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Written by Scott Moonen

August 2, 2020 at 7:45 am