Presbyterian Borderlands

Thanks to an our Old Life Tennessee correspondent I came across a recent conversation about evangelicals in the Presbyterian world (including mainline and sideline denominations). First, the post about the state of so-called conservatives in the PCUSA:

I am in the ordination track for the Presbytery of Charlotte. And if that were not enough, I attend a PCUSA seminary, and I work at the seminary. Needless to say, I have an invested interest in the controversies plaguing the Presbyterian Church (USA). It pains me beyond words to see our denomination complete its long trajectory of cultural pandering and shameless accommodation.

A few weeks ago, the session (elders) of our church voted unanimously to be dismissed from the PCUSA. The Sunday after the vote, each elder gave his or her perspective on the decision, resulting in a remarkably diverse enumeration of grievances. I know from talking with the pastoral staff and some of the elders that this was not an easy decision. It was soaked in prayer, especially in the immediate weeks prior to the vote. There was no triumphalism in their statements, yet a confidence that God will continue to be faithful in the journey ahead. The elders were especially intent on making it clear that we are not morally superior to the PCUSA, for we are all equally dependent upon God’s grace. The congregation still needs to vote, but I expect wide support for the elders’ decision. Like most of the recent dismissals, we are planning to enter the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).

Naturally, I am in the middle of all this as a seminarian. I have told the session that where the church goes, I will go. Thus, I will likely transfer into the ordination process of ECO.

Numbers

In our area, the most significant dismissal to ECO has been First Presbyterian Church, Greenville (SC), which is about 3,100 members. I know that we are supposed to be pious and not focus on numbers, but it is a significant fact that the average ECO congregation is over 500 members, with FPC-Greenville and FPC-Colorado Springs as the largest. As well, there have been significant departures to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), notably First Presbyterian Church in Orlando, which is nearly 4,000 members. By contrast, the average PCUSA congregation is just shy of 100 members. I know, numbers aren’t everything, we shouldn’t focus on numbers, and so on. I understand the sentiment, but when you are looking at a demographic catastrophe in membership loss, numbers are actually pretty damn important. So, what are some of the denominational numbers?

Then an intervention from a PCA reader:

I am a member and officer in a PCA church, and have studied at Reformed Seminary in Charlotte, fwiw.

I would classify the PCA like this: a denomination that requires its officers to strictly subscribe to the Westminster Standards and largely rejects Neo Orthodoxy and most higher critical Biblical hermeneutics. It is largely aspiring to be an Old School Presbyterian denomination. In terms of practice, it is more New School than the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, though virtually identical to the Associate Reformed Presbyterian (ARP).

While someone like Tim Keller, for instance, may seem more moderate, I disagree that he is more Gordon than Westminster Philly, especially since he studied and has taught at Westminster Philly. He still strictly subscribes to the Westminster Confession, for instance. A Keller / Redeemer model is more of a majority of the PCA these days than older, Southern models. In many ways, what comes out of Redeemer New York is doctrinally more conservative than many, older Southern churches.

I’m confused by what you mean by the PCA being more fundamentalist. Do you mean in a Charles Hodge / Gresham Machen way? Or a cultural fundamentalism?

Honestly, I would say that many AMiA guys would be friendly to the PCA, especially since they have some of their students at Reformed Seminary.

Intinction was really a very minor thing. The big doctrinal discussion in PCA circles these days was over Federal Vision.

I remain very saddened over the mess going on in many PC USA circles, and am glad more congregations are leaving that denomination.

Then a couple of comments about Keller:

Keller is respected, indeed, and several of the guys like his model for ministry. At the same time, I’ve heard more than one complaint about his friendliness toward Francis Collins and other theistic evolutionists and his own progressive Creationism views. This is the huge debate, as you are likely aware, within evangelicalism and certainly on the Charlotte campus of RTS. A number of key faculty members were very hostile to any hint of evolutionary science and rather suspicious of progressive Creationism. The favored model on campus, by far, was/is Young Earth with a handful of Old Earth guys. The other complaint about Keller is his views on women deacons, including certain charges against him for being duplicitous in having women functioning in these roles.

Keller represents the prior generation of Reformed evangelicals, like Meredith Kline and Roger Nicole, who both taught at Gordon (and the latter also at RTS-Orlando). Roger Nicole would never even remotely have a shot today at RTS-Charlotte because of his views on women in ministry, and Kline’s framework hypothesis would be that “slippery slope” that everyone fears. These two issues — science and women in ministry — are by far the dominant ones at RTS and the like-minded young guys who follow Al Mohler, John Piper, and the same round of conference speakers. Federal Vision is still discussed, but with far less passion.

In general, the trend at conservative Reformed seminaries — like WTS and RTS, plus SBTS for the Baptists — has been an increasing shift toward the right (i.e., even further right!). When I tell people that the PCA and RTS is more conservative today than in the 70′s and 80′s, they say, “Oh, yeah, definitely.” I’m a pretty conservative guy, and in most settings I’m the most conservative guy in the room. At RTS, I was by far the most liberal guy!

I do hear you that in some PCA circles there is some fear that that some segments have doubled down, just to prove how conservative they are. And I have experienced it personally, and have seen what amounts to party splits over secondary issues, standing in proxy for major ones. For instance, you’ll see guys at places like a Greenville Seminary embrace a real scholasticism.

I think if you could take a poll among TE’s in the PCA, I still think the majority would be more like a Keller or Frame. I think the “we are conservative to prove a point about it” are loud though and probably seem more representative than what their real numbers might suggest.

I’m personally more a Kline / Framework guy, and I understand the history that in the PCA, a ministerial candidate holding something like Kline’s views were quite acceptable a generation ago – and are getting rejected in certain Presbyteries, and end up going to the EPC.

The take away seems to be that evangelical Presbyterians are caught between confessionalists and liberals — they want to be Reformed but moderately so. Because pietist evangelicals share more affinities with liberals (as in, we’re not going to be pains in the arses about doctrine or worship or polity), they wind up thinking more about size and influence (think neo-Calvinism) than about what their Reformed heritage might tell them (not to mention that old-fashioned idea that the Bible teaches Reformed doctrine, Presbyterian polity, and Reformed worship). Hence the appeal of Tim Keller.

That’s not to say that small is beautiful and that the entire mother load lode of Geneva, Amsterdam, or Edinburgh resides in the RPCNA, OPC, or URC. But the discussions in these small communions are different from the ones among conservatives in larger denominations like the PCA, where apparently size does matter, closer to the border of the mainline denomination. Indeed, it seems to me that TR’s in the PCA would never countenance the OPC or RPCNA because these are pea-sized denominations. Again, the appeal of Tim Keller.

Advertisements

109 thoughts on “Presbyterian Borderlands

  1. I believe the PCA TR reticence toward OPC is more cultural — the True Grits/Lost Cause brigrade vs. the Yankees. That, and some Norman Shepherd and creation jitters.

    Like

  2. I’ve been following the drama of the former PCUSA down the street from where I live, as the pastor posts his letters online about their shift to ECO. I’m still committed to the 35 mile drive to the OPC, for a multitude of reasons. Thanks for sharing your analysis of all things Presbyterian here, Darryl. Regards..

    Like

  3. Interesting to see in the comments of that post the ARP being seen as a more conservative place than the PCA. I don’t think that is true across the board, but the ARP is certainly moving in the opposite direction of the PCA on the spectrum at the moment.

    Like

  4. One of the problems we have in the PCA is that many of those who see themselves as confessionalists and strict subscriptionists could not live with Warfileld or Machen because the creation issue. Young earth, 24-6 creationism has co-opted conservativism in the PCA. That is a big change from what the TRs were at the founding of the PCA. In some presbyteries the yahoos come out anytime the young earth, 6-24 position is not robustly affirmed.

    Like

  5. BPG, one has to not mind being in a small denomination and a small church to sign up for ARP/URC/OPC.

    As well, a lot depends on the priorities and motives of the believer and what they will agree to have to put up with.

    Like

  6. “a lot depends on the priorities and motives of the believer and what they will agree to have to put up with.”

    In the PCA of the upper-left corner of the country the believer has to be willing to put up with not only theistic evolution but the Federal Vision, intinction and paedocommunion, women deacons, and a healthy dose of Keller’s urban justice church vision as well. Raise a question about any of that and you risk being considered narrow and unloving, and yes, even a yahoo, as a previous commenter called it.

    Some of those small congregations made up of confessional yahoos appear pretty inviting quite frankly. And if the men of the PCA who chafe at the WCF would spend as much time either rewriting their standards or abolishing them as they do coming up with conscience-salving “exceptions”, the whole church would be more peaceful, and the gospel of grace would be more clearly proclaimed.

    (History doesn’t make long odds on that happening though…)

    Like

  7. Well said, Horace.

    I’m on my own in life and have not regretted for one second the move to a small denomination.

    Like

  8. I just read that piece before coming here. Let the PCUSA death watch begin. I would like to be a real estate broker for them.

    I was intrigued by the name of one of the PCA churches that one of the commenters attends – St. Thomas the Doubter in Dallas.

    http://stthomasthedoubter.tumblr.com/

    Maybe that’s a way to win back some of the Callers — trick them into thinking our Presbyterian Churches are papist.

    Like

  9. Some of the choice between whether to join an OPC/URC or a PCA or other PCUSA conservative offshoot comes down to your temperment. In the former you are going to have to deal with some wingnuts. In the latter you are going to have to deal with some liberals. I am way more comfortable dealing with some wingnut members/attenders in the former because the ordained men are for the most part going to be really solid. In the latter I worry more about the ordained men.

    In short, I don’t want anybody to the left of me in any leadership position in a church I’m a member of. I’ll tolerate some congregants to the far right of me to get this.

    Like

  10. On the creation/evolution issue the only thing I am sure of is that I wasn’t there and neither was anyone else who is alive today. I’m suspicious of anyone who is overly dogmatic on the issue, whether it’s Ken Ham or Richard Dawkins. People need to have a little humility and embrace some mystery in life.

    Like

  11. Erik Charter
    Posted July 13, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink
    Speaking of things gone bad, I picked up a VHS copy of the Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus (1968). John Lennon performs with his fiancee Yoko Ono. Going from Paul McCartney to Yoko Ono has to be the single worst artistic trade in the artistic history of mankind.

    I saw that recently. Yoko’s improv shrieking/violin duet with Israeli Ivry Gitlis was…well, unique*.

    Tull was good, more folk than madrigal [Sabbath’s Tony iommi sat in on gtr]; The Who’s overly ambitious 4-part harmony was alternately great and not so good; the Stones ruled, but I thought The Dirty Mac–Lennon singing “Yer Blues,” with Eric Clapton on lead guitar, Keith Richards on bass, and Hendrix’s Mitch Mitchell on drums—was da bomb, altho that cliche hadn’t been invented yet.

    _____
    *Not as unique as my recent performance on bass with The Laundry Room Squelchers, but unique.

    Like

  12. Tom – I saw that recently. Yoko’s improv shrieking/violin duet with Israeli Ivry Gitlis was…well, unique*.

    Erik – It gets worse. That song is called “Whole Lotta Yoko”. Think for a minute about the concept of John Lennon, Keith Richards, and Eric Clapton backing up…Yoko Ono.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dirty_Mac

    This is like getting to heaven and finding The Apostle Paul, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas serving as janitors in a church pastored by Harry Emerson Fosdick.

    Re. Jethro Tull. One of my favorite pieces of rock trivia is the fact that two iconic albums, Tull’s “Aqualung” and “Led Zeppelin IV” were recorded at SARM West Studios in Notting Hill, London at the same time in 1970.

    Another interesting thing about that Stones Circus is that it was 363 days before Altamont. Could the Stones ever put on anything as care-free as “Circus” after that?

    Like

  13. The evangelical Presbyterians need to spend less time tuned into the new guys (Keller et al) and spend more time reading the old guys (fill in your favorites here). And yes, DGH qualifies as an old guy…

    Like

  14. Erik – It gets worse. That song is called “Whole Lotta Yoko”. Think for a minute about the concept of John Lennon, Keith Richards, and Eric Clapton backing up…Yoko Ono.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dirty_Mac

    This is like getting to heaven and finding The Apostle Paul, Augustine, and Thomas Aquinas serving as janitors in a church pastored by Harry Emerson Fosdick.

    A classic:

    Ringo Starr has died. He wakes up and finds himself on a stage on which a number of instruments are set up. A door offstage opens and in walk Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Brian Jones, John Lennon, Otis Redding, and Buddy Holly. Each musician picks up his favorite instrument and begins tuning up. All of the instruments are taken but, to Ringo’s immense pleasure, the drums. He walks up to Jimi and says, “Man, so this is what heaven is like.” Jimi looks at him and says, “Heaven? You think this is heaven?”

    At that moment, Karen Carpenter walks in, takes her seat behind the drums, and calls out, “Okay guys, ‘Close to You’. One, two, three, four…”

    Like

  15. BTW, Erik, Ibid.:

    And here’s a sort of odd quiz for prospective violists: YOU TOO CAN BE A VIOLA PLAYER WITH THE BBC SYMPATHY ORCHESTRA

    Look what we have found. While sifting through the BBC’s dustbins the other day we came across this. The pass mark is 10% but be careful, over 45% and you are overqualified.

    ENTRY EXAM FOR THE BBC SYMPATHY ORCHESTRA—VIOLA PLAYERS
    Who wrote the following:-
    a) Beethoven’s 6th Symphony
    b) Faure Requiem
    c) Wagner’s Ring Cycle

    Tchaikovsky wrote 6 symphonies including Symphony no. 4. Name the other five.

    Explain ‘Counterpoint’ or write your name on the reverse of the paper.

    Which of the following would *you* tuck under you chin?
    a) a timpani
    b)an organ
    c)a cello
    d)a viola

    Can you explain `Sonata Form’? Answer yes or no.

    Domenico Scarlatti wrote 555 harpsichord sonatas for which instrument?

    Arrange the following movements in order of speed, starting with the slowest first.
    a) Quickly
    b) Slowly
    c) Very Quickly
    d) At a Moderate Pace.

    Where would you normally expect to find the conductor during a performance?

    Arrange the following words into a well known Puccini opera.
    Boheme, La

    Within five minutes, how long is Chopin’s Minute Waltz?

    Spell the following musical terms: allegro, rallentando, crotchet, pizzicato, intermezzo

    Tosca is a character found in which Puccini opera?

    Arrange the following letters to form the name of a well known British broadcasting corporation: C, B, B.

    Like

  16. “The evangelical Presbyterians need to spend less time tuned into the new guys (Keller et al) and spend more time reading the old guys (fill in your favorites here). ”

    Jack – awhile back, during coffee with my pastor, I mentioned to him that he ought to read two dead guys for every new guy he reads… he laughed at me. Which is a shame. He didn’t realize I was being dead serious (sorry).

    Like

  17. Tom,

    Good Ringo joke. As a 70’s-phile I have to admit a little affinity for Karen, though. I remember when my cousin told me he liked to relax by listening to the Carpenters while driving to work. Outwardly I was mocking him, but inwardly I was like, “ah, yes”.

    My favorite song on which Ringo provides the lead vocals:

    Like

  18. Tom,

    Good BBC quiz, too. Reminds me of Monty Python.

    MM,

    They muted her mike on everything but the tambourine. Everyone appreciated Linda immensely once Paul married that second woman after she died.

    Like

  19. I can completely wrap my mind around a Beatle getting with Linda. But Yoko Ono? It’s like Tom Brady marrying Bjork instead of Giselle.

    O.K. Enough of this. I need to wake up ready for reverent worship. Hard for me under the best of circumstances.

    Like

  20. “They muted her mike on everything but the tambourine. Everyone appreciated Linda immensely once Paul married that second woman after she died.”

    Chivalry is not dead. Or perhaps you are a Charter member Legal of Defense for Ex-Beatle Wives. Whichever the case, Wings was a train wreck, as was Lennon’s post-Beatle career. They needed each other.

    What was McCartney thinking when he did “Wildlife” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JX_CdK2ipqw (with shots of Linda singing into a muted? mike)

    Like

  21. It’s pop music — not something important and rarely (if ever) art. We’re talking about the relative merits of chewing gum or potato chips here. And GET OUTTA MY YARD!!

    Love, Chortles

    Like

  22. And, showing admirable self restraint, I left out this phrase altogether: “made mostly by drug-addled millionaire Marxists.”

    Like

  23. Chortles Weakly chortles: “made mostly by drug-addled millionaire Marxists.”

    Uh, yeah like sort of stating the obvious – i.e. rock group musicians, by definition – addled… Hello? Still, let the good times roll… just don’t blame it on Yokie… 😉

    Like

  24. I’ll join kent and commend Horace’s comment @ the 13th, 3:41 pm. Living near Seattle, I have to say your description of the PCA in “the upper-left corner” is very apt. There’s more than just backlash for questioning revisionist agenda items like Keller’s transformationlism or paedocommunion. One PCA minister in the Seattle area took a controversy in his church over the FV as an opportunity to train his guns on Redemptive-Historical preaching. I was stunned when I heard a message at that church which started off something like this: “The FV may be controversial in Reformed circles today but I want to talk about a real danger to modern believers: Redemptive-Historical preaching.”

    Like

  25. Brandon, it is very true that Redemptive-Historical preaching is a real danger to modern believers.

    The ironies never cease with liberal/groovy preaching.

    My glum favourite is the time when a lib/groove spokesperson states that it doesn’t matter what one believes, just try to do one’s best and the people end up in the same place anyways.

    Like

  26. MM,

    George may have had the most dignified post-Beatles career (The Traveling Wilbury’s).

    I mildly enjoy some of Wings’ stuff. I’m partial to “Another Day” because my Japanese neighbor at Northwestern would always come into my dorm room and play it for me on his guitar. “Live and Let Die” is also my favorite Bond movie.

    “Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey” is the best evidence that Paul needed John to rein him in.

    Like

  27. Must try to resist the compulsion to have to admit that Live and Let Die is my favourite JBM as well..

    I was 8 and saw it at the drive-in, I think Showdown with Dean Martin and Rock Hudson was the first feature.

    Like

  28. Erik, Macca’s first solo album was far scarier and sadder than anything John could come up.

    All Things Must Pass is the best solo effort of the four (IMHO), fun to figure out the tracks that Ringo is a part of (should be easy for severe fans of the Fab Four.).

    Like

  29. “Some of the choice between whether to join an OPC/URC or a PCA or other PCUSA conservative offshoot comes down to your temperment.”

    Yeah, or that of your wife’s.

    Like

  30. SBD: fortunately/unfortunately my temperament practically guaranteed the lack of a wife and children influencing my decisions in life…

    Like

  31. On the creation/evolution issue the only thing I am sure of is that I wasn’t there and neither was anyone else who is alive today. I’m suspicious of anyone who is overly dogmatic on the issue, whether it’s Ken Ham or Richard Dawkins. People need to have a little humility and embrace some mystery in life.

    Yes and no. To say that we don’t know everything is not the same as claiming that we know nothing and it is all a mystery. The main problem I have with the obscurantism of some YEC advocates (such as the one who spoke at the GA a few weeks ago) is the intellectual dishonesty of their arguments. The other is the utter lack of charity – the only reason I could possibly be a theistic evolutionist is that I am yellow bellied compromiser or some such.

    On most church issues I am probably to the “right” of my fellow congregants. Creation is a big exception.

    Like

  32. Tons of issues seem to be very very very important to people, and I just can’t get into them to the point of popping blood vessels or holding Inquisitions:

    I tend to either:

    a) smile and nod; or

    b) stare at a stain on the floor/wall/ceiling and pretend I’ve just heard WW III has been declared, while nodding or shaking my head slowly in agreement.

    And I know I inflict this on others, I’m trying to cut down on inflicting this on others. Dutch Directness has a way of ending such conversations, but I’m too nice for that when I’m the victim.

    Thankfully we aren’t yet in that theonomic paradise where these people could force the electric chair on people who don’t dig an issue as much as they.

    Like

  33. sdb, have you seen this:

    http://theecclesialcalvinist.wordpress.com/2013/07/02/al-mohlers-literal-six-day-young-earth-creationism-and-the-state-of-the-question/

    Money quote:

    Having read Mohler’s lecture carefully several times, I’m driven to the conclusion that when all is said and done this debate is really not about exegesis or theology. He simply has not engaged the theological and exegetical state of the question. Rather, it is about the sociology of knowledge, and more specifically the cultural threat of Darwinism and the need that some conservative Christians feel to exclude it a priori via LSDYEC [literal six day young earth creation].

    Mohler is quick to accuse some evangelical scholars of capitulating to the spirit of the age in order to avoid marginalization, and that may well be a problem in some cases. Such pragmatism should have no place in believing scholarship. On the other hand, given the fact that Christians in the past have sometimes embarrassed themselves by their opposition to science, he would do well to heed these wise words of Herman Bavinck:

    It is nevertheless remarkable that not a single confession made a fixed pronouncement about the six-day continuum, and that in theology as well a variety of interpretations were allowed to exist side by side. Augustine already urged believers not too quickly to consider a theory to be in conflict with Scripture, to enter the discussion of these difficult subjects only after serious study, and not to make themselves ridiculous by their ignorance in the eyes of unbelieving science. This warning has not always been faithfully taken to heart by theologians. Geology, it must be said, may render excellent service to us in the interpretation of the creation story. Just as the Copernican worldview has pressed theology to give another and better interpretation of the sun’s “standing still” in Joshua 10, as Assyriology and Egyptology form precious sources of information for the interpretation of Scripture, and as history frequently finally enables us to understand a prophecy in its true significance—so also geological and paleontological investigations help us in this century to gain a better understanding of the creation story (Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 4 vols., trans. John Vriend (Baker, 2003-2008), II: 495-96).

    Like

  34. Erik, bingo on confessional wingnuttery and mainline (or in the case of the CRC, borderline) pulpits. And on Karen Carpenter.

    sdb, bingo on wives. You can take the girl out of evangelicalism, but you know the rest.

    Like

  35. “That’s not to say that small is beautiful and that the entire mother load lode of Geneva, Amsterdam, or Edinburgh resides in the RPCNA, OPC, or URC. But the discussions in these small communions are different from the ones among conservatives in larger denominations like the PCA, where apparently size does matter, closer to the border of the mainline denomination”

    This is a slightly disingenous argument. Whilst the conversation may differ the actual issues in these small communions remains the same. Whilst the ministers in the RPCNA/OPC etc may theoretically accept Warfield/Kline, the congregations would probably balk at a real person holding Warfield’s views in their congregation.

    So when pushed on YEC – as they often are – ministers may indeed make passing mention to ‘multiple confessionally acceptable views’ but they are far more likely to bang on about inerrancy in a way that leaves the interlocutor believing that they are their kind of literalist.

    Like

  36. Chris E. “slightly,” “may differ,” “may theoretically accept,” “probably balk,” “may indeed make,” “far more likely,” “kind of literalist.” Spit it out. What are you saying?

    What I’m saying is that these smaller communions don’t think they can save NYC or any city. That’s different — period.

    Like

  37. @Zrim
    Thanks for the link. I think the writer is correct in that Mohler’s argument is largely sociological and can be summed up as “If you given in on YEC, then acceptance of higher criticism and theological liberalism is sure to follow.” I remember reading Mohler make this point in the context of debates over inerrancy (vs. infallibility). There might be something to this argument – particularly in non-creedal traditions in which their relative orthodoxy is essentially a custom. In other words, I don’t know that the nuance of a Klein or Warfield could co-exist with orthodoxy in the SBC (or evangelicalism more generally). I think this says more about evangelicalism than theological nuance and orthodoxy.

    Like

  38. Erik: I have a hard time singing “My Sweet Lord” (as well as Lennon’s “Imagine”) as a Christian. Not that I listen to rock for devotional purposes.

    You can dance to it, shake a tambourine to it, sell flowers at the airport to it…

    If you skip that track it’s still a great double album, and a jam session for the third (some like it)

    Like

  39. I can’t listen to Imagine because it is the soppiest and most whipped piece of nonsense from a man that gave us Nowhere Man, Ticket to Ride, Tomorrow Never Knows, Dear Prudence, and Happiness is a Warm Gun.

    Like

  40. Reference Eric Charter/Zrim comments, I thought the article by Mohler pretty disappointing. The proponents of the 24 hr 6 day interpretation seem very anxious (is it fear?) to have their view bear the stamp of the only orthodoxy permitted. Incredibly intolerant, lacking in any humility, as R Scott Clark calls it, “the quest for illegitimate religious certainty”.

    Much is made by proponents of the 6/24 interpretation that up until a couple of centuries ago Christians believed the six days were 24 hour days. Leaving aside whether this is entirely true, it is worth pointing out that in the one place in Calvin’s Institutes (Institutes 1.14) where Calvin references God’s work of creation “in six days” and an age of the world extending back 6,000 years, he also states that God “could have made (the world) very many millenniums earlier”.

    Not only so, but Calvin offers a very positive view of human competence in art and science: “…if the Lord has willed that we be helped in physics, dialectics, mathematics, and other like disciplines, by the work and ministry of the ungodly, let us use this assistance. For if we neglect God’s gift freely offered in these arts, we ought to suffer just punishment for our sloths”. (Institutes 2.2.16)

    The very least we can say is that whilst Calvin affirmed creation in six days and 6,000 years for the age of the world during his lifetime (as we would mostly likely have done so had we lived then), we are not entitled to say that would be his view if he lived today. Much the same can be said of the authors of the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF). Consider the scope granted within the Confession and Larger Catechism to “the light of nature”.

    It seems to me that the insistence on a young earth is driven by an American anti-confessional fundamentalism which denies the reformation understanding of the two books, the book of Holy Scripture and the book of Nature. It seems to me that this denial goes back to the sixteenth century Anabaptist rejection of natural revelation and natural law rather than any Reformed trajectory.

    Like

  41. Kent: “SBD: fortunately/unfortunately my temperament practically guaranteed the lack of a wife and children influencing my decisions in life…”

    Sean: I hear ya, but the temperament seemed to consist of having an independent thought process and that was a big objection, my wife is trying to beat that out of me, I’m starting to wear down. She smells good and looks good, so, I’m losing. Darryl, put a Mencken quote up of something along the lines of capitulating to need or error so that they feel vindicated and reassured of your need of them. That Mencken wasn’t stupid and that’s the problem with the church leadership; they lack the requisite sensory appeal to garner the same acquiescence, which leaves us with hammering out confessional subscription and conformation or lack thereof and when you’re dealing with a bunch of boomers in leadership and their innate sense of entitlement and now going through their late in life 2nd mid-life crisis, well, I’m about down to hormone therapy and forced retirement. Of course that would just leave us with aging Gen Xers and their children who are, by and large, and to be charitable, lazy and more clever than wise.

    Like

  42. “the temperament seemed to consist of having an independent thought process”

    Fortunately the wife is no longer interested in my thought process. But, dang, it took a long time. To tie in another theme, maybe she’s just thinking “Live and Let Die.”

    Like

  43. DGH, pardon this interruption (as if such are not the norm), but I have a question for George or Bobby or any cyclist here: what is the best kind of biking shorts for long rides? I did 90 miles on Saturday and, during the last 45 every pedal stroke and every bump was sanding off or digging into my body’s protective layer known as skin. So back to the udder cream but I need shorts that are good for 70 + miles.

    Like

  44. “Chris E. “slightly,” “may differ,” “may theoretically accept,” “probably balk,” “may indeed make,” “far more likely,” “kind of literalist.” Spit it out. What are you saying?”

    That ministers in those communions end up playing to a choir of wingnuts.

    Like

  45. CW, I’m sure Intervarsity or Thomas Nelson or TKNY is perusing our comments and about to offer us a collaborative effort, multi-volume deal, on the ‘Christian Marriage’. With that in mind I move that Berke Breathed does all the illustrations and we get Darryl Hart and P.J. O’Rourke to contribute and edit.

    Like

  46. “… what is the best kind of biking shorts for long rides?…”

    Unfortunately, you ask a good question nowadays. Used to be that wool – later Spandex – came with real chamois padding in the crotch area. Then they shifted to an “artificial” chamois, whatever that was made from. And the last thing I bought had some altogether artificial, supposedly more breathable, moisture wicking material. I say all of this in reference to Pearl Izumi’s top-of-the-line items. Seems like the more they shifted away from the real McCoy the less comfortable they became.

    Also unfortunately, we’re entering into a real scorching part of the Summer now with temps in the low to mid-90’s with high humidities. That means less effective evaporation no matter what you’re wearing. I can’t offer much more advice; I haven’t worn anything other than regular Summer “street” apparel for biking over the past 5-8 years (short and regular under shorts, all cotton). But then my longest trek has only been 40-45 miles. I expect that if I were going to have to ride for longer distances I’d have to break out the Spandex stuff again. And woe to those riding in the RAGBRAI if this heat wave continues.

    OK, having said all of that, let the jokes about anything and everything in the above paragraphs begin.

    PS: I’ve never found any of that chamois butter or any other stuff to do much good. Just a good clean dry pair of cycling shorts. And, BTW, a good quality (such as Brooks), well broken-in, leather saddle can be a great improvement over some of these narrow…um, pardon the expression, it’s a technical term among cyclists…”ass hatchets” that the industry likes to push these days. I have an extra Brooks Team Pro if you want to try it – let me know and I’ll get the brown Santa to deliver it.

    Like

  47. Or, Sean, we all collaborate on a “Keeping it Real” series of pamphlets on institutions like church, family, and state. Someone has to keep it real so it may as well be us.

    Like

  48. I got a foot cramp watching Netflix the other day in the recliner. No chafing though. Feeling uncool.

    Like

  49. MM, I like it. As soon as we get those done, I’m clearing the book table at church and putting those out. Then I’m gonna double up on the offens….errr….effort and make sure all the greeters are handing ’em out at the door. We should have a copy of each pamphlet in electronic form so we can ‘target’ our own particular congregation. Illustrations always work better when everyone can put a familiar name and face to those being ‘highlighted’ in the examples. The child-rearing pamphlet would be a doozy.

    Like

  50. Thanks, George. I’m starting to think 1) real chamois and 2) bib-style. I’ll wear just the bib without a shirt and a put on fake cauliflower ear to give off a wrestler vibe.

    Like

  51. That conjures up a mental image I’m not sure I like. Never could understand bibs. They’re OK for doing #1, especially along side the road – you just pull the front down. But doing #2 requires removal of the jersey.

    Like

  52. George, I am told that bibs minimize shorts shfting, which minimizes friction ergo less chafing.
    In an attempt to tie this back into OL, the RPW also minimizes friction and chafing. Er, was that convincing?

    Like

  53. Sean, here is my contribution to the child rearing pamphlet, specifically under discipline: “You know how to behave, so just do it.” Not fetching enough for worldviewers who either think corporeal punishment is magic or want to baptize Spock. But I’ll be doggone if it doesn’t work most of the time.

    Like

  54. My experience has been that 90% of the discomfort with shorts has been from their “bunching up.” That is, the fabric riding up the thigh and bunching up into the groin area where the chafing begins – especially during very hot and humid weather. Periodically, as I ride along, I have to pull the legs down to even things out. Seems like bibs would only exacerbate that problem by pulling everything up. ‘Course, with my post-middle age beer gut maybe the bibs would prevent the rolling down issue I get with the shorts.

    Like

  55. Thanks Sean, I fully understand about losing the drive to maintain the independent thought process.

    Creeper closer to 50 shows me how energy levels are to be reserved for hills to die on.

    If the church is geared towards keeping youngsters entertained, and their parents are grateful for a few hours to veg while sitting in a pew, the reward will be provided here on earth.

    Like

  56. Alright George and MM, OL was already getting racy ad spams who knows what we’re about to be inundated with after today’s keyword search. Darryl, I said ‘we’. How you like them apples.

    Zrim, that works. We can get your contribution sponsored by Nike. I was thinking more along the lines of; ‘If you ain’t gonna fix that(child), I will’ or ‘The many faceted purposes of a ring turned upside down’. I don’t think I can pull a sponsorship.

    Like

  57. And here’s a maxim: “Kids tend to survive.” For child one we scrupulously controlled all her data input to produce a perfect little droid. On child four, eh, sometimes ducklings get eaten by snapping turtles – don’t sweat it.

    Like

  58. DGH – I prefer a cold Dortmunder lager.

    Sean – Well, I figure that with all of the booze, beer, and tobacco talk flying around on this blog we can’t be too far off track. Maybe it’s the Spandex that conjures up obscene images (not too far from reality, either).

    Like

  59. Zrim, true on the evangelicalism though I’m pretty sure Nike has the phrase trademarked. ‘If you ain’t first you’re last’ -Ricky Bobby Inc. And since when were children people?

    Like

  60. “… And since when were children people? …”

    I actually heard something like this once, almost verbatim, from a Plymouth Brethren type. Referring to pre-credo baptized kiddies he muttered something about “they’re just little sinners…”

    Like

  61. More sagacity: “Kids are vultures, vandals & thieves.” It’s vexing – to both parent and child – to expect any more from them. And if their technique in doing those things is especially deft, I’ll acknowledge it. At least competence is being developed.

    Like

  62. Yep, I can hear P&R and Tyndale house jockeying for position as we type. We’ll be on the clearance endcap on the front row in no time. Eat your heart out Dobson and Tripp. We got this.

    Like

  63. MM – “And if their technique in doing those things is especially deft, I’ll acknowledge it. At least competence is being developed” — hits far too close to home with my youngest. Around 7 he got the high schoolers operating operating a concession stand to CASH a check made out to the school meant to purchase Xmas presents for his family, then proceeded to blow the entire sum candy, drinks, and popcorn for the object of his affections. At college he uses a liberated traffic cone to secure parking places. Home school, pshaw!

    Like

  64. Sean, now you’re getting the lifers’ dander up. But I’ll nominate the theme song to be “You Can’t Always Get What You Want (but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need).” That’ll get the Christian radio people wound up.

    Like

  65. “Kids have more time to think about you than you have to think about them.” Adults are thinking about jobs, bills & blogs, occasionally alighting on the “oh yeah, we have children” vein of thought. But scamming adults is so central to childhood concerns there’s no way we can catch up with all their plans. So if you unjustly bust them for something, realize they get away with at least 6 family sphere misdemeanors for every one you catch. And they know it, so occasional unjust punishment ends up being just after all.

    Like

  66. There goes my 22 part sermon series on the family. Guess I’ll have to go back to preaching from the Bible

    Like

  67. M&M, you’re such an attorney. It’s true, but add to that saying no for its own sake (even when opportunity and ability line up, which can earn accusations of injustice), as in “just say no,” which will please the nostalgic Gen Xers among us.

    Like

  68. Sorry Todd, didn’t mean to take bread off your table like that, imagine how CCEF feels about now. However, as consolation, by showing up you did earn the right to not be named later.

    In Keeping with the MM, C dubs, and the Ricky Bobby family unconscionable consciousness stream of regarding insolence as competency; “I love how they’re talking to you, they’re winners they get to do what they want.”

    Like

  69. Sean – She smells good and looks good, so, I’m losing

    Erik – Indeed. With wives you lose the argument even when you win the argument. It’s not a fair fight.

    Like

  70. Re: Childrearing

    Me to my son last night: You should spend less time on You Tube and more time reading.

    Son (who has been mostly docile for his first 12 1/2 years): This from a guy who spends all day arguing with old men online

    I couldn’t even formulate a reasonable comeback.

    Like

  71. Comeback? Just come up with some random, meaningless task for them. Something unfair. Or make them do something they were supposed to do last week but didn’t. Think “Pick up that blood!”

    Like

  72. Erik, don’t you know that rather than coming back you’re supposed to affirm your child’s good-natured cheek and wit? That winds up the after school special crowd (more 80s nostalgia).

    Todd, the man may be the head but the woman is the neck that turns the head. (My Big Fat Greek Wedding) That winds up the Baylys and Muscovittes.

    Like

  73. Zrim, that’ll be enough balkanization out of you. You could use some unity noumenalism, it’s like spackle and touch up paint, what hole?

    Like

  74. Exactly, Chortles. Here’s the proper response:

    “Nice! [fist bump] Well done, buddy! [Smile evaporates from face] Go dig a 6 foot hole in the backyard. When you’re done, fill it back in. And I’m putting your Swiss Army Knife in the garage sale.”

    Like

  75. Sean, it can’t be helped–balkanization is in Yugoslavian DNA. You know, like the way drunken fist fighting is in Irish blood.

    Like

  76. Zrim, I hear ya.

    …………..Reading scripture like 19th century liberals? That’s what happens when you pontificate on what you’ve been a part of for a whole year(?) and missed out on all the Bultmann Vat II dinner conversations. I’m gonna need some credit for not going yard on that softball.

    Like

  77. Been married 26 years. When Christian men ask me how to have a good marriage, I say, try not being such an a..hole with your wife… works for me. When asked about the secret to raising children…try not to be such an a..hole with your children. Still not published.

    Like

  78. Todd, does it cut both ways, as in telling wives and kids not to personify body parts with their husbands and dads? Or do you sweeten it up for the weaker vessels?

    Like

  79. Another good son-rearing tip: When they get taller than you, work up a good nasty coffee breath and talk right up their nose. With a snarl. Scotch breath might work, too.

    Like

  80. Todd – Been married 26 years. When Christian men ask me how to have a good marriage, I say, try not being such an a..hole with your wife… works for me. When asked about the secret to raising children…try not to be such an a..hole with your children. Still not published

    Erik – That also works in church, in business, and on blogs.

    Like

  81. Son comes back from Summer camp. Father asks son how it went. Son tells a plausible happy story, father asks a couple questions but the story holds together. Father is satisfied. An hour later Mom mentions the camp to Son and looks at his face. From that look on Son’s face Mom knows Son punched a kid on Tuesday morning and had a potty mouth Thursday afternoon.

    This is why I am dubious about conventional reasoning.

    Like

  82. To summarize, women smell good: advantage women. Kids have unlimited time to scam parents: advantage kids. Dad wears a paper crown from Burger King while wife and kids say “hail to the king.” With a smirk.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.