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.

The Standard and Source for Wise Counsel

If counseling means “giving counsel,” then where else would we turn for the truth we need to impart to counselees than to the Word of God—the defining standard and source of truth?

I have heard many people argue strongly and passionately that we need to add the wisdom of men to the truths of Scripture in order to counsel effectively. But I believe the Bible, as the only authoritative source of absolute truth, is entirely sufficient for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

We are warned in Scripture not to trust human wisdom for principles for living, understanding human attitudes, motives, and behaviors, and finding a solution for man’s inner problems (Ps. 1:1–2; Pr. 28:26; Col. 2:8). We are warned not to trust our own wisdom because we can be easily deceived by it (Pr. 3:5–6; 14:12; 16:2, 25; 21:2; Jer. 17:9). In fact, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s wisdom is superior to man’s. Therefore, man’s wisdom must not supplant God’s wisdom as our solution to our problems (Isa. 8:19–20; 55:8–11; 1 Cor. 1:20, 25; 2:2–5; 3:20). We are also instructed in Scripture that God’s wisdom is sufficient to counsel the inner man—the soul (Ps. 19:7–11; 119:24, 99–100; Isa. 8:19–20; Heb. 4:12).

In order to convey this, I include this short statement on the sufficiency of Scripture in my doctrinal statement:

I believe that the Bible was designed for our practical instruction and is sufficient to equip and mature believers. It is to shape the Christian’s beliefs, morals, and affections. Being the defining authority for doctrine and discipleship, the Bible, in conjunction with the Holy Spirit and the caring body of Christ, is entirely sufficient for every spiritual, relational, or emotional problem.

Find out more about recommended biblical counseling resources here. Learn more about crafting a doctrinal statement here. And read more on the sufficiency of Scripture here.

Return of the Sons of God

Some time ago, I shared a series on the identity of the sons of God in Genesis 6. In it, I argue that the sons of God were, in fact, fallen angels. As bizarre as this sounds, this view is actually the one with the strongest support in exegesis, history, and coherence.

You can read the series online here, but I thought it may be helpful to share the whole thing as a PDF for download. Happy studying!

If you don’t mind, we’re suggesting a $1 donation for the PDF through this link. This is just a simple and small way to help us begin developing and delivering more regular content. Or, you can also become a regular supporter through Patreon with this link and get even more content each month!

Proximity, Sprawl, and Being Joyfully Inconvenienced by Your Church

In my posts on proximity and sprawl (here and here), I argued that living close to your church is important. In fact, I believe that, ordinarily, one of the most impactful ways to love your fellow church members, to “consider others higher than yourselves,” and to “look to the interests of others,” is by seeking to live geographically close to your church.

Of course, one of the dangers of being so close to your church is that convenience could breed complacency. For those who live close to their church and misuse that proximity, and for those who currently live a distance from the church, here’s an encouraging blog on why being inconvenienced for your church is actually an opportunity for your faithfulness and joy to shine.

…Those who are hungry for Christ consider it their joy to be inconvenienced for the sake of His church.

Unfortunately, this is in stark contrast to the way many people treat the church today. Countless multitudes attend church regularly, but view it as a commodity—a conveniently located provider of spiritual goods and services for which they make no real sacrifice…

Read the rest of the article here.

Who is the Scoffer?

The Bible talks quite a bit about scoffers. It warns against being a scoffer, taking advice from a scoffer, befriending a scoffer, and giving honor to a scoffer. But what does it mean to be a scoffer?

A scoffer is someone who, even though he himself may not laugh that much, nevertheless believes that pretty much everything is laughable. It’s someone who doesn’t take life seriously, and, in fact, thinks that it’s silly to do so.

The book of Proverbs explains that the scoffer doesn’t listen to rebuke (Pr. 13:1), doesn’t seek wise counsel (Pr. 15:12), doesn’t take justice seriously (Pr. 19:28), doesn’t take repentance seriously (Pr. 14:9), and brings conflict and insults (Pr. 22:10). Despite their irreverent and mocking attitude, God in fact scoffs at the scoffers—in other words, he sees the scoffer as someone not to take seriously (Pr. 3:34). And despite the scoffer’s flippant pride, God will eventually bring him to nothing (Isa. 29:20).

The scoffer acts with disrespectful, impudent, insolent presumption. He is someone who is dismissive, flippant, and derisive.

This recently quoted passage from Lewis’ Screwtape Letters is apropos:

“But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it.”

If you find yourself thinking that everyone around you takes life too seriously, or that everyone but you is too easily offended, or that others are consistently uncomfortable with how casually, cavalierly, or carelessly you approach life, you may need to examine your heart and ask God whether you may be in danger of the warnings directed toward the scoffer.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. — Proverbs 28:13

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. — Proverbs 13:20

On Ball Becoming Baal

In two previous posts, we discussed how parents are often teaching our children to have the wrong priorities. In fact, this is sometimes because many adult believers have confused priorities as well. One of the common culprits is the role of sports in the life of the family. I recently read this article from For the Church, and thought it was worth sharing as a follow-up to that discussion.

Like “athlete’s foot” on the hygienically-challenged teenager, sports has taken over more and more of the life of believers. Almost overnight we have awakened to the sad fact that, in many communities, sports has even usurped the hours believers meet on the Lord’s Day. All too often members are saying to church leaders, “We’ll be gone next Sunday because of the soccer tournament.” In turn, leaders are supposed to acquiesce humbly. After all, we can’t afford to appear “legalistic;” everyone knows that the greatest crime a church can commit is to demand something of someone.

The author concludes with three principles that are well-worth implementing in your own family life. Read the rest of the article here.

Learn About History from McClanahan Academy

I wanted to share that we recently became an affiliate for McClanahan Academy. What that means is that if you buy any of the history/politics courses on McClanahan Academy through our link, we’ll receive a small percentage of the proceeds—at no extra cost to you. As I mention here, utilizing the links I tag to recommend books and other resources like this is a really simple (but effective) way to help support our work, while also getting resources that will help you learn and grow as well!

I can’t recommend McClanahan Academy enough, and have done so even before I could share an affiliate link! Brion McClanahan is a fascinating historian with an excellent podcast as well—the Brion McClanahan Show. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of South Carolina, and according to his bio, he “had the privilege of being Clyde Wilson’s last doctoral student,” which is awesome.

Dr. McClanahan has written some fascinating books as well, such as the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers and The Founding Fathers’ Guide to the Constitution.

He has some great courses up already, and is developing more:

  • The Declaration of Independence: Why the Declaration Still Matters
  • American Constitutions
  • Secession
  • The War for Southern Independence
  • Reconstruction and Recreation, 1862–1975

To check out the courses, go to McClanahan Academy with this link (which you can also find on the sidebar and footer of my blog) and start learning!