About Toph

I'm a husband, father, pastor, and bookworm in northwestern PA. I started this site as a platform for creating and curating solid resources that make for solid men and women of wisdom, virtue, discipline, and faith. Become a patron to support my work at www.patreon.com/christopherpreston.

A Most Offensive Bible Verse

I recently came across what I think must be one of the most politically incorrect verses in Scripture:

“The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a youth left to himself brings shame to his mother.” — Prov. 29:15

Every element of this verse is offensive to modern sensibilities: 1) the rod of correction; 2) the need to impart wisdom (especially by painful correction); 3) the folly of letting a child do things his own way; 4) the reality of shame; 5) and—particularly—the idea of an unruly child bringing shame on a parent.

Totally offensive, right? And yet, remember, this is inspired Scripture.

3 Books on a Deserted Island

I recently shared what I consider to be a reasonable list of books to purchase in order to begin building your library. If you wish to grow in your understanding of Christianity, those would be the basics I recommend.

Today I thought it’d be fun to simply share the three books I would choose if I were stranded on the proverbial deserted island, and could only have three books. I exclude the Bible, because any respectable Christian knows that’s the correct first answer. I also will now cheat and tell you that one of my choices would be a Psalter, but I’ll not put that in my actual list since you may consider that also under the category of “the Bible.”

So then, my three choices would be:

Alright, I cheated again on that last one. It’s actually three volumes—all well-worth the read.

I choose these three because I believe we’ve greatly undervalued the importance of learning to properly express gratitude and praise to God through song, to approach God properly in prayer, and to interact properly with others within the household. If you supplement your pursuit of holiness with these three works, I know you’ll find it to be a great encouragement and blessing.

MGTOW Propaganda in Reformation Germany

I continue to be astounded by just how pervasive the truth is that there is nothing new under the sun. I discovered recently that the MGTOW (Men Going Their Own Way) movement is also nothing new. I’m reading “When Fathers Ruled: Family Life in Reformation Europe,” by Steven Ozment; and in the first chapter he writes:

Three years before his own marriage, Martin Luther wrote a treatise, Vom elelichen Laban (On the estate of marriage, 1522), his first lengthy discussion of the subject, in which he complained that “marriage has universally fallen into awful disrepute,” that peddlers everywhere are selling “pagan books which treat of nothing but the depravity of womankind and the unhappiness of the estate of marriage”—a reference to classical misogynist and antimarriage sentiments and to the bawdy antifeminist stories that were popular among Luther’s contemporaries.

A proverb by Jerome was also popularly used in Luther’s day: “If you find things going too well—take a wife.”

This disdain for marriage is nothing new. The divine institution has been under attack since the beginning. Our current culture’s confusion and contempt surrounding the matters of marriage are why the teaching and work of folks like Allan Carlson, C.R. Wiley, Doug Wilson, Foster and Tennant, and others is so important.

“When Fathers Ruled” is not only an interesting book regarding the historic protestant view of marriage; it’s an essential work for understanding the Reformation in its context, as seeking to restore the biblical view of marriage, family life, and the discipleship of the household. I encourage you to get a copy here and check it out for yourself. I think you’ll find it beneficial in various ways.

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In Praise of Manly Pastors

I recently had a post about some men—mainly pastors—I would recommend other men follow. That prompted the question: Why is masculinity important in a pastor?

Well, there’s a larger theological discussion to be had here. Masculinity is important because excellence is important, and virtue (moral excellence) in a man—of which elders are to be exemplary—is necessarily masculine. Masculinity is important in a pastor because pastoral ministry is, by nature, agonistic, combative, confrontational. It takes courage, grit, fortitude, perseverance.

(Note the header image e.g.—John Calvin barring the Libertines from the Lord’s Table.)

But the simple reason I wanted to point out a few men to be aware of is because, on the practical level, men want to find pastors whom they can follow into battle. It’s that simple. If you’re a wife reading this, you need to understand that while the children’s ministry may be the most important aspect to you for finding a good church, for your husband it will be having a pastor they would follow into battle. They may not consciously word it that way. Perhaps it’s not even the best way to word it. But wives, you should want to go to a church where your husband respects the pastor. The programs, fellowship, coffee, and “atmosphere” may be terrific; but if your husband does not respect your pastor as a man, he won’t last long.

I hope to explain that a little further soon.

The video below is a good example of the need for manly men in the pulpits of America. I don’t link to this video because I endorse Maxwell. I don’t. I disagree with much of his approach and his theological views (including, ironically, his take on masculinity). But he’s hitting a niche precisely because he is accurately pointing out the failing of modern evangelicalism when it comes to masculinity, engaging the world manfully, and, thus, retaining real men in the churches.

This is why we need men like Wilson, Baucham, Cunningham, Conn, Wiley, and others.

In this video, Voddie Baucham explains that one of the primary reasons men aren’t interested in church is because the pastor is not a man they respect and feel they can follow as their leader.

In this article, C.R. Wiley discusses how to get and keep masculine men in the church.

And when we talk about masculine pastors (or men in general), we don’t—or shouldn’t—mean the machismo and posturing that so often is presented as manhood. Alastair Roberts has some helpful thoughts on that in two articles here and here. I’ll leave you with a quote from Wilson’s Future Men. This is essential in our endeavor to not continue losing future men from the church.

Boys should be able to see masculine leadership throughout the life of the church. From the pulpit, to the session of elders, to the choir, boys should be able to see men they respect. They should not see what is too often the case—missing men or silent men just along for the ride. When men go to church simply to sit in the back, they are teaching their boys to do exactly the same thing, if that.

If you’ve benefited from resources like this one, would you be willing to support our research and help us deliver more regular content? Please consider giving a one-time donation through PayPal with this link, or become a regular supporter through Patreon with this link and get access to even more content each month!

Is Your Faith a Political Threat?

So it turns out that Christian convictions actually do matter in and affect the public square. The world rightly sees the church as dangerous. The Christian faith is a political threat. Not quite in the sense that an invading army is a threat to another country… but in the sense of a herald announcing the arrival of the king coming in judgment… in the sense of a community of citizens sojourning in a foreign land who are fiercely loyal to their king… in the sense of an embassy representing and proclaiming the rights of its coming king over all nations.

There are two groups of people who truly understand that threat of Christianity: those who are persecuted because of their Christian convictions, and those who do the persecuting.

Here is yet one more example of the world’s recognition of the truly dangerous nature of Christianity. Dutch authorities are investigating a number of pastors who signed the Nashville Statement on sexuality. They are threatening criminal charges against these pastors for signing an “anti-gay” Christian confession. (See the article here.)

Unfortunately, Denny Burk’s response and commentary on the subject appears a little soft. He seems to imply that the Dutch authorities shouldn’t feel so threatened by the Nashville Statement. He seems surprised that Dutch authorities care so much about “what is essentially a confessional statement.”

The problem, of course, is in the failure to recognize the public and political significance of Christian confessions. When those Dutch pastors signed their names to the Nashville Statement, they were declaring that their highest allegiance is to Christ, not to the Netherlands. Of course, the fact that they are baptized Christians ought to be enough to make that clear, but that’s not often the case anymore. The signing of a public statement articulating biblical morality (particularly one that has entered into the political eye to the degree that sexuality has) is simply another clear message to the nations that we serve a higher sovereign—we serve a king who demands the allegiance of all nations.

And as our allegiance to Christ increasingly comes into conflict with our ability to obey our earthly rulers, we need to be prepared to say with the apostles, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

To read more about the prophetic and political function of the church, I would recommend the book that shaped much of my thinking in this area: Political Church: The Local Assembly as Embassy of Christ’s Rule. In that work, Leeman writes this:

Churches do not need to take up arms against the state in order to pose a threat to the state; they only need to oppose the gods upon which a nation’s political and economic institutions depend.

And, while the Nashville Statement is commendable, I would rather recommend the Fortified Nashville Statement as an even more faithful and sound articulation of the biblical teaching on marriage and sexuality.

“Therefore, let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” — 1 Peter 4:19