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


Podles on Honor

In light of my recent posts on honor, here and here, discussing the nature of honor and the importance of seeking honor for and from God, you may be interested in the talk Lee Podles’ gave at the 2018 Touchstone conference. You have to be a subscriber to Touchstone to access the session right now. But that’s also well worth your while. Here it is: “Honorable Men & the Honor of God: The Centrality of Honor in Masculinity & Christianity.”

I’d also commend to you C.R. Wiley’s session on piety from the same conference.

And to learn even more about the honor culture of the New Testament, why it matters for reading our Bibles, and why it’s a shame we’ve lost so much of that culture and understanding, I highly recommend this fascinating work by David de Silva: Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity: Unlocking New Testament Culture.

Faking in Art and Life

Roger Scruton has an excellent piece here on the nature of modern art (it’s fake and kitsch), how to discern real art, why people fake it in both art and life, and the danger of the cult of originality and authenticity.

If you’re under the impression that the realm of aesthetics holds no objective beauty, truth, and goodness, and thus no real connection to the rest of life, then Scruton will make no sense to you here. If you think that beauty is merely, purely, solely in the eye of the beholder, this will sound strange… but it’s tremendously important that you consider what Scruton has to say.

The Thing About Thankfulness

Most of us look forward to this holiday—a day on which we eat good food, enjoy time with family and friends, and perhaps watch some football. And some of us will probably try to set aside at least a little time—perhaps a few seconds of thought dispersed throughout the day—to thank the Lord.

As we celebrate this beloved holiday, it may be helpful to be reminded of a couple of things about thankfulness.

First, that thankfulness—that is, not just the giving of thanks, but the affection of thankfulness itself: gratitude—is always a response of humble appreciation for grace. Gratitude is a response to grace. Not only is it a response, but it is the response; it’s the only appropriate response; it’s the proper response to grace. As such, gratitude is self-effacing. It requires humility to be grateful because it requires acknowledging the fact that I’ve received something that I didn’t deserve, and that the giver didn’t have to give—it was unmerited favor. It was grace.

There are three potential responses to grace: guilt, greed, or gratitude. And the proper response to grace is always gratitude.

The second thing to remember about gratitude is that it’s a humble appreciation of the gracious gift of a giver. You can’t actually be thankful with no gracious giver to whom to be thankful. You can’t have ambiguous feelings of gratitude toward no one in particular. Of course, we can be happy or satisfied with something we have; but without a recognition of the one who gave it, there is no true gratitude. Gratitude requires a personal object.

So gratitude then, in relation to God, is an affection of joy and appreciation directed toward God for who He is and what He’s done for us.

God says in Psalm 50:23, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” In fact, the affection most associated in Scripture with worship is actually something less flashy, less viscerally intense, and less directly connected to particular feelings, than we tend to think; the affection most associated in the Bible with worship is thanksgiving.

As the author of Hebrews says,

“Therefore, let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire.”

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Free Books and Furniture Burning

Doug Wilson is running a blog series this month, aptly titled “No Quarter November,” in which he is doling out rough-hewn, unfiltered, honest thoughts—with no qualifications, no apologies, no punches pulled, and the brake lines cut. As he puts it, he’s departing from his usual pattern of being “balanced and reasonable.” If you can abide his approach, it’s worth the read and thoughtful consideration.

In conjunction with this series, Canon Press is giving ebooks away for free. Today, it’s Wilson’s book, Federal Husband.

Federal Husband is one of the best books on being a husband and father I’ve ever read. It’s challenging, insightful, and convicting. If you have Amazon Kindle, you’d best get over there and grab Federal Husband while it’s free. Or, if you prefer the hard copy, it’s well-worth the price.

Also, enjoy this delightful video in which Wilson explains his series… I barely heard anything he said—I was watching the flames.

Compassion and Common Sense

In his characteristically winsome-though-tart manner, Doug Wilson blogged yesterday about a common issue at the intersection of politics, economics, and Christianity…

One of the central problems that people who are both thoughtless and compassionate have is their simplistic tendency to argue that what is an obvious duty for an individual is therefore an equally obvious duty for a nation.

Read the rest of the post here.

Then enjoy this talk from pastor Wilson on “Winsome Tartness.”