Rod Dreher continues to acquire material for his next book — the one on the Benedict Option. (Make that Benedictine Option and I’m there — like yesterday.) And he posts this from a Protestant pastor who supports the notion of some kind of cultural resistance:

I just wanted to let you know that your writings about the Benedict Option have moved me deeply. Your thoughts, plus the guidance of the Spirit, led me to propose a youth discipleship class for the teenagers in our church to our Pastor — a proposal that he quickly endorsed.

A line that you had in a recent blog post “If they’ve heard anything from the Church, it’s something like, ‘Don’t do this because the Bible says not to’ — which is not enough in this time and place.” is exactly what we are trying to combat. It is almost word for word what a youngish (~25) member of our church told me a few weeks ago. She said that when she was growing up and would ask if she could do something that was verboten, her parents would tell her, “No, you can’t do that.” “Why?” “It’s against our religion.” No further explanation was given.

So we are putting together this class and starting it with hard questions. Why do you go to church? Would you go to church if your parents didn’t make you? Is God important to you? Why?

From there, it will lead into discussions about our doctrines, the importance of prayer, how to pray, how to read/study/meditate on the Bible, holiness, how to handle failures, etc. When we start discussing the things that the Lord hates, we aren’t just going to point at the Bible and say, “God says no, so don’t.” One of the questions we will keep bringing up is, “God said don’t do X or that he hates X. Why would God say that?” We want them to be able to put those admonitions into a larger framework.

Why did God say that? Wasn’t that the Serpent’s question to Eve (of course, in a figurative way, vd,t)? Why isn’t a thus saith the Lord sufficient for not doing something? Does this pastor really think he can go behind the curtain of God’s prescriptive will and come back alive?

Speaking from my own experience, parental instruction not to do something, backed up by serious consequences for the backside at younger stages and coping with parental disapproval at later ones, was an effective moral code. Did I observe it? Of course, not. Now that the parents are in the grave (and not eavesdropping on everything I say or think), I can admit that the first movie I saw in a theater was Straw Dogs. How did a 14-year old get pass the ticket taker? I looked old for my age. What did I tell my parents, who specified that their boys were not allowed to go to movies? I told them I went to the Mall, which was sort of true. But on the whole I broke at least 2 commandments that night — the fifth and the ninth — and if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.

But the lesson here is not how to fool fundamentalist parents. It is that a firm set of moral guidelines, even without elaborate moral reasoning apart from the appeal to authority, was as remarkably good way to grow up. I obtained a clear sense of living inside or outside that moral code and I couldn’t blame anyone but myself if I got caught and had to face the music.

It seems to me in a just sayin’ way that if you want a real Benedict option, it is not to turn adolescents into people who can compete with Benedict XVI or Alasdair MacIntyre on virtue ethics. It is rather to create a moral universe akin to Benedict’s monastery where those who belong to the community have a clear sense of what’s right and wrong on the inside and how that differs from the world outside. In other words, respecting authority is more important than explaining why authority is important.

Postscript: this was NOT my experience:

Sadly, in spite of my Christian upbringing, no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture. In fact, sex before marriage was encouraged by much of my Christian family and by the unanimous agreement of my Christian friends, who both mentioned preventing unwanted pregnancies, but never voiced the option of abstinence. What is worse, I never heard about the topic of sex in church. It was not until my involvement with a Christian campus ministry that I heard someone speak against premarital sex using biblical teaching.

This being my experience, I urge the Church, particularly parents raising children in the Church, to speak out on this issue and embrace the God’s intention for sex. Parents, do not make your child wait until he is a legal adult to hear about it from someone else. Talking about it may be awkward, but it could save your child from making a huge mistake and dealing with a lifetime of baggage for it.

Jay and Ellen Hart didn’t talk about the mechanics but Don and Darryl knew full well that sex outside marriage was verboten (inside marriage, well, okay, if you must).

96 thoughts on “Troubling

  1. ‘Don’t do this because the Bible says not to’ — which is not enough in this time and place.”

    When we start discussing the things that the Lord hates, we aren’t just going to point at the Bible and say, “God says no, so don’t.”

    Yes, get on that hamster wheel of works righteousness that is powered by the energy of pulling yourself up by your bootstraps.

    I guess a trip to a hospice for the final stages of AIDS patients might be a better lesson than being told by loving parents not to do things that the Bible clearly warns against if you want to avoid even a painful death and worse eternity?


  2. One of the nice things about the Reformed faith is it gives me a good answer for why some people just seemed to have an internal compass to non-stop do the worst of evil even in spite of loving and godly parents.

    With a few obvious reasons why they were dead set on that path by the age of 8 years old.


  3. “no one ever told me what was wrong with the hook up culture.”

    Notice how “we” are aren’t entirely responsible for our behavior but our parents are fully responsible for theirs? Grow up, sir, and quit blaming your parents for you running roughshod over your conscience.

    It’s Muddy Thunder this morning.


  4. Had a philosophy class called, Good and Evil, where the atheist professor utilized the existence of the human conscience to negate the need for God. See, you can do anything if you have a goal.


  5. Or subtitle it: “How I could have attended a Fundy Baptist church from age 8 to 24 and never once find a reason to be knowledgeable or convicted of….”

    I’d nominate Galatians 5:3-7:

    3 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. 4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. 5 For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person—such a person is an idolater—has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.[a] 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. 7 Therefore do not be partners with them.”

    That was a cold morning in my 40s when after converted to the Reformed faith read that with the correct spiritual prescription…

    The entire meaning of the book of Romans would be a close second, that never sunk in at all either.


  6. part of today’s reading… Deuteronomy 6 (NASB) titled…Obey God and Prosper….

    through much pain sometimes, we come to see this is still true, in the greatest sense; so we hope for our children that they believe it sooner


  7. So to borrow from Vos, obedience precedes understanding. The Bapterians (but even more so those who enable them) will not be amused.

    ps mothers seem more inclined to indulge questions and explanations. From over here in fatherville, it looks taxing and the more preferred method is natural lawish and Ron Swanson-esque; “You know how to behave, so do it.”


  8. Good piece DGH. It does seem to me that not only did Satan try and tempt Eve with “overlooking” for a why, but God did give Adam a reason too. “Thou shalt surely die.” Separation from God and other humans is the inevitable consequence of any sin.


  9. Hadn’t heard of this.

    Greg, if you haven’t read this post yet, DGH mentions you again. That’s twice, brother.

    Who’s next?


  10. My loss of innocence came more through the reading assignments in my high school, like this, but sure, I have my share of bad movies. Just saying, the written word can be worse than the pixels of a computer screen or projector of a cinemaplex. It’s wrong for us to focus on simply that which we see in the movie theater. 50 Shades, anyone?



  11. enough all about me, cliff notes of jilting, in case anyone clicked above:

    Plot summary[edit]

    This article’s plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. Please help improve it by removing unnecessary details and making it more concise. (April 2015)
    As the story opens, octogenarian Granny Weatherall is in bed, attended to by Dr. Harry and her grown daughter, Cornelia. Although Granny finds their concern officious, it becomes apparent that Granny is suffering from a serious illness, and that she is not fully aware of the gravity of her condition.

    As she “rummages around her mind”, she senses death lurking nearby, and she desires to stave it off, at least until she can tie up some loose ends. Her unfinished business primarily concerns a bundle of letters she has stored in the attic, some from her long-dead husband, John, but primarily those from a man named George who jilted Granny Weatherall sixty years ago. She wants to get rid of them tomorrow, lest her children discover them and find out how “silly” she had been.

    Granny’s mind continues to wander in and out of consciousness, and she becomes irritated because Cornelia seems to be whispering about her behind her back. Cornelia’s patronizing behavior causes Granny to fantasize about packing up and moving back into her own home, where nobody will continue to remind her that she is old. Her father lived to be 102, so she might just last to “plague Cornelia a little”.

    Granny reflects on the old days when her children were still young and there was still work to be done. She imagines being reunited with John. She muses that he will not recognize her, since he will be expecting a “young woman with the peaked Spanish comb in her hair and the painted fan”. Decades of hard work have taken a toll on her. “Digging post holes changed a woman,” she notes. Granny has weathered sickness, the death of a husband, the death of a baby, hard farm labor, tending to sick neighbors, yet she has kept everything together. She has “spread out the plan of life and tucked in the edges neat and orderly”.

    However, for Granny life has not always gone according to plan. Sixty years ago she was to marry George. “She put on the white veil and set out the white cake for him, but he didn’t come.” Granny has tried to forget the pain and shame of being jilted, yet on her deathbed, this memory keeps resurfacing.

    Once again, her thoughts shift. She imagines finding her dead child, Hapsy, after wandering through several rooms. Hapsy is standing with a baby on her arm, and suddenly Granny becomes Hapsy and Hapsy becomes the baby. Then the image fades away and Hapsy comes in close to say, “I thought you’d never come.”

    Granny’s thoughts wander back to George. She decides she would like to see him again, after all. She wants to make sure he understands that he did not ruin her life; she was able to pick up the pieces. She found a good husband and had children and a house “like any other woman”.

    Father Connolly arrives to administer the last rites. Granny feels she does not need the priest. She made her peace with God long ago. As she senses her time running out, she thinks of all the things she wants to tell her children, who have assembled to say their goodbyes. She thinks of Hapsy and wonders if she will see her again.

    Granny asks God for a sign of assurance that she is loved and accepted, but there is no sign. Feeling as if God has rejected her just as George once did, Granny feels immense grief and, with that, the candle blows out and she dies.


  12. Dreher quotes our friend Fr. Dwight in his piece:

    If Dreher is right, then the Benedict Option will not be imposed from the hierarchy. Instead, it will emerge from below. Such a movement would be strongly traditional, while at the same time living out many of the principles of the Second Vatican Council.

    A movement that emerges from below, leaving the hierarchy in the dust? But, of course, this movement will be traditional, and also deeply connected to the Second Vatican Council. This sounds like idealism to me. And kinda Utopian, even.

    How come Fr. Dwight is so convinced these congregations are going to exercise the Benedict Option, but really won’t fundamentally change their theology – maybe even go a little Sedevacantist? Fr. D is always talking about how the hierarchy of the Church gives it an advantage over Protestant church-bodies. Why is he so eager to suddenly divorce the hierarchy from this conversation? Does the Church need a hierarchical polity or not?

    I call shenanigans.


  13. The poet T.S. Eliot predicted that, after the disintegration of Western society, civilization would be conserved and restored by a new monastic movement. He was referring to the events at the end of the fifth century, when Benedict of Nursia abandoned the decaying Roman Empire and established small communities of men and women dedicated to prayer, work and study.
    In Benedict’s day, the once-great Roman Empire had collapsed into chaos. Through economic disaster, famine, plague, moral decadence and political corruption, the society was enervated and vulnerable. Barbarians invaded from the north and east, sensing lucrative spoils to be had.
    In the face of the moral and social disintegration,<Benedict established core communities of intentional disciples, and the seed of his life and work eventually blossomed into the strength and glory of Christian Europe.

    sounds like asimov:

    Called forth to stand trial on Trantor for allegations of treason (for foreshadowing the decline of the Galactic Empire), Seldon explains that his science of psychohistory foresees many alternatives, all of which result in the Galactic Empire eventually falling. If humanity follows its current path, the Empire will fall and 30 thousand years of turmoil will overcome humanity before a second Empire arises. However, an alternative path allows for the intervening years to be only one thousand, if Seldon is allowed to collect the most intelligent minds and create a compendium of all human knowledge, entitled Encyclopedia Galactica. The board is still wary but allows Seldon to assemble whomever he needs, provided he and the “Encyclopedists” be exiled to a remote planet, Terminus. Seldon agrees to set up his own collection of Encyclopedists, and also secretly implements a contingency plan—a second Foundation—at the “opposite end” of the galaxy.


  14. Seth, I’m with you. It’s poppycock.

    Stickin’ with my Institutes and scriptures over here, nothing new on the interweb under the sun, everyone just trying to get clicks

    and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,
    (1 Thessalonians 4:11 ESV)


  15. Seth, I’m not real familiar with what you guys are talking about. Just jumping in here. NIce to met you. Anyway, it seems like what you are talking about is what me responding to sdb over in “No It’s Not” the last couple of days dealt with. i was having an issue in my parish. I joined full communion with the Catholic Church in 2012. Anyway, have a look at the posts if you wish.
    Here was sdb’s inquiry:


  16. DG,

    I take your point, at least to a point. As a father of 4 simply defining the boundaries of right and wrong is a significant part of the battle. But if that is as far as a parent goes – and I see this all the time amongst our unbelieving and marginally believing friends – then you end up with a threadbare moralism. It’s a structure built on sand. But if paired with regular worship on the Lord’s Day, the means of grace, and proper catechesis children can mature in their faith. We want our children to have a high view of scripture, of the sovereignty of God, and all of the other Reformed distinctives.

    Family worship, reading and discussion of the WLC & WSC are simple, effective ways to communicate the “why” that Rod’s unnamed Protestant friend seeks. I don’t think it requires another youth program, it mostly requires the Church and parents to get the basics right.


  17. Family worship, reading and discussion of the WLC & WSC are simple, effective ways to communicate the “why” that Rod’s unnamed Protestant friend seeks. I don’t think it requires another youth program, it mostly requires the Church and parents to get the basics right.

    Greg sent me this today, a sermon on family worship. It’s baptist and not perfect, but this guy has a passion. It’s from 2005. I’ve listened to about half of it.

    Welcome to oldlife Publius.


  18. this sermon is soooooooo greg smith (aka greg the terrible aka tiribulus). it’s like i’m listening to greg give a sermon. At the 30 min mark now.


  19. AB is listening to the sermon like the joke punchline of “so the FBI drags a beaten up bear out of the words and it’s repeatedly saying OK OK I am a rabbit.”


  20. Cool AB, I enjoy sermons that start out telling today’s churches “you are all worthless and weak, now drop and give me 20!!!”


  21. Texas Mike,

    No, it wasn’t in reference to that conversation, nor is it particularly related. I tend to ignore threads on this blog once it expands past five pages of comments.

    My question has more to do with why Fr. Dwight says that the a papal polity is essential in order for a church to function when he’s talking about Protestants, but, suddenly, when talking about this supposedly traditionalist grass-roots Benedict Option movement, Fr. Dwight seems perfectly happy to jettison the hierarchy. So the Roman hierarchical polity is an advantage over Protestantism, but, hey, we can also live without it as long as this Benedict Option magic is still going.



  22. I tend to ignore threads on this blog once it expands past five pages of comments.

    why people comment on threads over 50 comments is beyond me. I know why I do it, and I’m not telling anyone :mrgreen:

    Kent, the reason I said it is this Phillip May guy reallly hates hollywood. I wouldn’t criticize this until you actually listen, just a word to the wise. It may be bad, but he’s very passionate about family worship. I think he makes some errors, but I don’t want to point that out in public. I already told greg where I see the shortcomings. I have issues with Greg, I tell him that publicly here on blog and privately over e-mail. I think cutting people we don’t know isn’t right, and at the end of the day, i do stick up for him. I think he’s working through some things, but we need to give grace to anyone who decides to stick their neck up up here at olts. it’s not easy. he’s got somethign to say as we all do. I appreciate your approach here always, and I apologize if posting it was off base. I’m really trying to stop. who’s next?


  23. @ Publius, DGH:

    So an interesting feature here is that Jesus tied all of the Law to the two great commands: Love God, love neighbor. That would seem to invite asking, “In what way does command X reflect love for God and neighbor?” In other words, there seems to be an internal theory to the Law.

    On the other hand, the only possible ultimate reason for “why is X good?” is “because God says that it is.” That’s what Dreher seems to miss.


  24. Seth,
    I can understand that position. To give a little background to myself… when I came into the Church I wanted to make sure I and my family was receiving faithful Catholic teaching. We visited not only every parish community within an hour or so from our home, but we also visited every Cathedral Church in all the dioceses around us(we are at the intersection of three). I looked liturgical practices and at the instructions and statements coming out from each diocese to see which one was bring the strongest clearest Catholic message forward. I then selected which Church in the strongest diocese we would come into the Church in. So I guess my point is I came into the Church practicing the “Benedict Option”. I was not ignoring or usurping the hierarchy. It was just not the time for me as a father and husband to make sure the priest or diocese I was coming into needed correction. It was just time for me and my family to be in communion with what we had come to believe is Christ one Church. Now I am in making the community I am in stronger by God’s grace. Oneness comes first, holiness comes next. It is like salvation… First justifying union with Christ then growing in holiness with His continual help comes next and continues until kingdom come.


  25. John Piper is not a baptist, because he wants to admit those who have never been watered as the NT teaches to communion. Nor is John Piper somebody who teaches that only the sins of the elect were imputed by God to Christ, and only those sins propitiated. Even though he does claim that Christ died to purchase something extra for the elect, John Piper claims to be “also Arminian” and to teach as gospel what Arminians teach as gospel.

    So maybe not “bapterian” (whatever that means) but somewhat closer to Baxter and the New England theory of governmental atonement. Despite his stress on hedonistic emotion, he does say that we should act before the emotion as if we had already had the emotion. And more to the point, like Norman Shepherd, Piper denies that salvation comes by faith alone in the promises of God but insists also that we must love God in order to be justified. How much and how often he never quite says….


  26. neo-puritan was my definition for JP a few years ago

    he was very instrumental in getting me onto the Reformed superhighway at the right moment


  27. Is that the one that cut out and then after he was brought back to earth, they start the tape up again with him talking like a human?

    That was a golden find, and he’s on sermonaudio…


  28. I couldn’t tell if they cut out or not, but he was pretty excited, is all I can say.

    Dr. Bavinck is still the best I’ve found on the matter of the Christian family. It’s dated, but amazingly relevant, given it was written in the 1910 timeframe. I do think everyone should read it.

    Grace and peace.


  29. But on the whole I broke at least 2 commandments that night — the fifth and the ninth — and if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.

    It sounds like you and Greg and are in agreement, here.


  30. “……………It’s baptist and not perfect” Amen.
    “……………It’s baptist and not perfect” Redundant
    “……………It’s baptist and not perfect” So sayeth the lord
    “……………It’s baptist and not perfect” Look over there
    “……………It’s baptist and not perfect” And they have a problem with Disney
    “……………It’s baptist and not perfect” Well, of course, how can it be perfect and not fermented?


  31. @Mark Mcculley – you said: “John Piper is not a baptist, because he wants to admit those who have never been watered as the NT teaches to communion.”

    That’s a very curious statement – would you please clarify it? How is it that JP is not a Baptist? Is there a purpose to your use of the non-biblical term called “watered”? (I presume you mean baptized?) What is your definition of “communion”, and exactly where does the NT teach that being baptized is essential to “communion”? In the article you linked, JP relies enormously on Charles Hodge – do you have a dim view of Hodge, and if so, why?


  32. Or, Publius, you are creating a setting in which the conscience is attuned to right and wrong. And, notwithstanding Piper-style emotional emphasis, emotions are as well.


  33. Dr. Hart says: “But on the whole I broke at least 2 commandments that night — the fifth and the ninth — and if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.”
    I wasn’t going to say a thing in this thread. However Andrew is DRILLIN me in my email about saying something here. If this is a sincere statement in agreement with the LC on the 7th, I will have yet another reason to praise God today. I would however also add the broken command to love your neighbor as yourself as well.
    The only reason God offers for our obedience is: “I am the Lord your God”. Giving children competing pragmatic reasons is idolatry. What happens when better more pragmatic reasons present themselves?

    If I may be so bold:
    WCF I:IV
    “IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”

    It may then be deduced by good and necessary consequence that: “the authority of the God’s commands, for which they ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore are to be obeyed, because they are the commands of God.”


  34. Greg’s right, I’m hammering him hard, just like I did with Erik about 3 or 4 weeks ago.

    You’re fault for giving me your e-mail address.

    I kid. Sort of..


  35. “Straw Dogs” is a rare instance where the original is actually more scandalous than the remake — and that’s by today’s standards, not the standards of when the original was released (1971). Sam Peckinpah was on a roll between “The Wild Bunch” and “The Getaway”.


  36. And Greg, I’m fine with your comment here, except don’t think the wesminster divines didn’t know what they were doing and just chose their words out of thin air. On the contrary, the language in those standards (indeed the very constitution of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) have history, and I’ve only begun to learn in my studies. You can’t use words like “good and necessary consequence” we can just change the words, as if now that the point you wish to make is now more powerful seeing that it is dressed up in language that sounds like Westminster. I hear what you are saying, and the point you are making. But the divines, to use your words, might be horrified to see how loose and fast we are with the language they literally bled to see put into those 17th century documents. They may be sad to know the TV shows that are regularly promoted in reformed webernets, but don’t think that’s the only thing that’s causing them to turn in their graves. I could keep going?


  37. Dr. Hart says: “But on the whole I broke at least 2 commandments that night — the fifth and the ninth — and if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.”
    I wasn’t going to say a thing in this thread. However Andrew is DRILLIN me in my email about saying something here. If this is a sincere statement in agreement with the LC on the 7th, I will have yet another reason to praise God today. I would however also add the broken command to love your neighbor as yourself as well.
    The only reason God offers for our obedience is: “I am the Lord your God”. Giving children competing pragmatic reasons is idolatry. What happens when better more pragmatic reasons present themselves?

    If I may be so bold:
    WCF I:IV
    “IV. The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God.”

    It may then be deduced by good and necessary consequence that: “the authority of God’s commands, for which they ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or Church, but wholly upon God (who is truth itself), the Author thereof; and therefore are to be obeyed, because they are the commands of God.”
    No disrespect to Andrew, but I am going to have to disagree and stand by what I said. God’s commands ARE His Word. The same principles apply.


  38. Greg,

    God’s commands ARE His Word.

    His blessings and his curses are His Word. You can not bifurcate his commands from the rest of His word. It’s call Law/Gospel, Greg.

    When you call something THE Word of God, know what you are doing, that’s my only point. Do you know what it means to call the Bible, for instance, The Word of God?

    Do you really think you can take WCF 1.4, perhaps one of, if not the, most wonderful statements in the history of Christendom, and just apply the language towards your own ends?

    I stand by my words – the divines turn in their grave when we make a wax nose of the standards. We can not make them say what they want to say. Deal with what the standards actually say, and use your own words to make your point.

    I stand by my words, too, and you can imagine an emoticon here if you like.

    Grace and peace.

    Your turn.


  39. *We can not make them say what we want them to say.

    It’s all covered in the Animus Imponentis lectures. Since I found the blogs, I repeat myself over and over people need to listen to this conference. I was there in 2009 and asked questions and am on tape doing so. I’ve not yet found anything as compelling as What I heard Drs Strange, Fesko, and Knight, and Mr. Muether say, in that conference. It’s like Prego, it’s in there. Comment on my blog when You ahve finished those lectures, it would take you about 5 hours, and then I couldn’t fight you anymore on this topic. You can disagree with me all you like. What you can’t disagree with is what the plain words of the confession, and more to the point, the Scriptures say, which is what WCF 1.4 is about. If you have listened to those 5+ hours of lecutres and Q&A, then I stand corrected, but you aren’t acting like you have, Greg. Thanks for the interaction, keep learning, please.


  40. Erik,

    First Dr. Strange, or you can skip this and get to why I bring it up, after the blockquote:

    Well, to get into the subject proper now, as noted just a moment ago, that Latin phrase, animus imponentis, and that’s kind of a mouthful, I realize that, is employed in constitutional law, according to Black’s Law Dictionary – animus – which is Latin for soul or mind, when used at law, particularly constitutional law, often indicates intention and is maybe best translated that way. So, the intention, we might say. And imponentis means the imposers, or in this case that imposing body. The animus imponentis, then, refers to the intention of the imposing body – and so we employ that term in church law, ecclesiastical law, and there is such a thing as that, as a way of highlighting that in church law as in civil law, attention must be paid not only to the actual words of the constitution itself, but also to the intention of the body that would interpret that constitution. Well, in ecclesiastical law as in all constitutional law, judicatories or courts that interpret the constitution should pay first of all the most careful attention to the words of the constitution itself. In other words, a presbytery when it is examining someone, for example for licensure or ordination, should pay the most careful attention in terms of what the examinee says – should pay most careful attention to what the words of the constitution themselves say – in terms of how to understand and correspond what that person being examined is saying with the constitution. So, the words of the standards themselves as a faithful putting together, we might say, and interpretation of the words of Scripture itself should always be the first concern of all presbyters and judicatories. The words “drafted and adopted by the framers” serve as the form of unity – we don’t so frequently refer to it as that, but you are familiar that the continental churches speak of the Belgic and the Heidelberg and Dordt as the Forms of Unity, Unity meaning saying the same thing together – that is what we are doing in a confession – we are saying the same thing together. We are going to the Word and we are saying, this is what the Word teaches on X and Y and Z, and we are confessing it, and this binds us together. This is expressive of the unity that we have in our Lord.

    I told Greg something privately which I’ll share here – as a man who subscribes to the confession as an officer of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, the words of the confession (and just trust me here) and indeed pregnant with meaning, just as the words of Holy Writ are (of an infinitely greater scale, of course, scripture being the very Word of God, after all). I have personally wrestled with individual clauses of the confession, come under fire for my interpretations, so I guarantee you, I don’t take these matters lightly. That’s why I bring up my final trump card, these AI issues here. THey are personal, in other words.

    I don’t want to take us any further afield from Darryl having written this fine piece point out the errors that he found in someone else’s writting the deftly pointing out the errors, so I’ll cut to the chase, and be blunt. My point in bringing it up: Greg has a pattern of dressing up his words with westminster language, and Erik, quite frankly, that is a gross and abhorrent tactic that is done by way of liberals of the PCUSA – read the auburn affirmation if you don’t believe me. You can use words and make them and twist them however you want. If Greg has a point to make, he should use his own language, not try some tactic to make what he’s saying sound 17th centurian or somehow more holy. We could do that with Scripture, and tell me every card carrying protestant worthy of the name wouldn’t be up in arms and be raising a pitchfork to bring down the heretic. I digress..

    Now, Greg has the right intentions, but I mean what I say – the divines would not take lightly the lifting of their text to use in our own means, no matter how good intentioned we may be, which ends up having the standards say what he wants them to say, instead of using what they actually say and teaching theological truth in that way. Greg is precisely 180 degrees backwards, and whatever, it’s the wild wild west of the internet, watch 😈 :mrgreen: 😆 silly, right? But this all bring su to animus imponentis, as Dr. Strange says: 1) The Words Themselves, 2) the church studying and giving heed to what the original intent of those who framed the confession or its amendement was; and 3) additional light that the church gathers as it goes forward confessing this faith together – addtional light from further Biblical theological work of the church.

    Now that’s enough, remember, all these blogological things are absurd:

    It is that the whole blog phenomenon is inherently ridiculous; that the more serious it tries to be, the more absurd and pompous it becomes; and that I believe that if you can’t beat the inevitable blogological deconstruction, you might as well join it, and that with relish. As the old Buddhist proverb says, `When faced with the inevitable, one must merely accept the inevitable.’

    So whatever, post away, comboxxes open at oldlife, anyone feel like talking golf instead of theolgy? Who has the driver, irons, and putting all working together all the time? NO one, right? So greg’s cool, we would have a good time at the chinese place. It’s just a blog people. Word.


  41. Mark Jones on how legalistic Christians are (Reformation 21) maybe is channeling PIper

    In The Future of Justification: A response to N.T. Wright, Piper credits Justin Taylor and Matt Perman for attention to “soft legalism”, but he seems to have now relapsed back to his mentor Dan Fuller, as he teaches that faith alone in the promises of the gospel is not enough….

    Piper–“The essence of legalism is the belief that our right standing with God is based on, comes by means of, or is sustained by our works — regardless of whether these works are self-produced (hard legalism) or whether they are completely produced by God’s grace in us (soft legalism). (p. 152, Footnote 14)…while legalism involves the view that ‘salvation consists of the observance of precepts,’ boasting and self-righteousness may BUT DO NOT ALWAYS accompany this motion. When they do not, we may speak of a ‘soft’ or ‘torah-centric’ form of legalism; when they do, we have a ‘hard’ or ‘anthropocentric’legalism. To this, we may add that soft legalists may not believe that they are thereby ‘earning’ their salvation, still less that they are ‘establishing a claim’ on God based on their own ‘merit’.

    Piper–Unfortunately, in most definitions of legalism by New Testament scholars, the possibility of ‘soft’ legalism is not even considered. The ‘legalist’, for Cranfield, is the one who tries to use the law ‘as a means to the establishment of a claim upon God, and so to the defense of his self-centeredness and the assertion of a measure of independence over against God. He imagines that he can put God under an obligation to himself, that he will be able so adequately to fulfill the law’s demands that he will earn for himself a righteous status before God.’ For Moule, legalism is ‘the intention to claim God’s favour by establishing one’s own rightness.’ For Hübner, those who see righteousness as based on works define their existence in terms of their own activities, leave God out of consideration, and, in effect, ‘see themselves as their own creator.’ For Daniel Fuller, legalism ‘presumes that the Lord, who is not ‘served by human hands, as though he needed anything’ (Acts 17:25), can nevertheless be bribed and obligated to bestow blessing by the way men distinguish themselves.’

    Piper—Such definitions would be innocent enough if they were accompanied by an awareness that ‘legalists’ of this kind represent only some of those who interpreted Deut. 30:16 as saying that obedience to God’s law was the way to life. But all too frequently there is no such awareness. The alternative to faith is not (as it is in Paul) simply ‘works’, — a statement which embraces both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ legalism — but rather the sinful, self-seeking, merit-claiming works of the (necessarily ‘hard’) legalist.

    Piper—Whereas Paul can contrast faith in Christ with ‘the works of the law’, and mean by the latter no more than the deeds commanded by the law, the very notion of ‘works’ is so inextricably in the minds of some scholars with self-righteousness and pride that the ‘works of the law’ can only be conceived as sinful.” end of the note in Piper’s Future of Justification


  42. Erik,

    And really, all Greg is doing is being a baptist, like they took the WCF and formed their London confession bases on the WCF.

    It’s flattering to us Presbyterians. I suppose its not that big of a deal, but we are talking religion here. What good is talking about this stuff without being a little bombastic now and again? Hope that helps.

    Grace and peace.


  43. I continue to disagree with Andrew and also do not wish to get too far afield here. Remember, I wasn’t even gong to comment in this thread at all. I must however offer the following clarifications.

    I was not rewriting the confession. I was quite properly utilizing the principle of the confession. I actually did do the same thing with Romans 2:14 in the other THREAD. I Stand by that too. God knows I am not changing His word. I would burn myself at the stake before doing such a thing.

    My respectful use of the principle of the confession was actually to agree with Dr. Hart in this instance.

    As much as I value and enjoy Andrew’s friendship, I must charitably contend that he has in my view elevated personal assertions as principled argumentation. Sorry brother, but it won’t do. I will not mention this again here unless somebody else seconds his accusation.


  44. Everything I wrote after here:

    Posted June 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Permalink
    And Greg, I’m fine with your comment here

    we can consider stricken and vacated from the record, and I won’t fuss.


  45. EC, good call.

    She has a wonderful rela­tionship with her husband. She is dedicated to whatever she does, whether it be church or her job or her marriage.


  46. Morning a.,

    From my reading:

    I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Rom. 16:17


  47. “Hart: a. huh?”

    Not sure what your huh is to, but probably the best way to answer is to say I appreciate your post ,yet the Lord is not only interested in external compliance to certain behaviors, He is interested in the heart, and He is really interested in His children knowing Him, so helping our children know Him might include some explanation of His character even while we teach them to obey this or that


  48. “AB: Morning a.,”

    Good chapter Andrew.. Romans 16 titled (in NASB) ..Greetings and Love Expressed.. apropro ..and listen to his tone all the way around too!

    1 I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea; 2 that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the]saints, and that you help her in whatever matter she may have need of you; for she herself has also been a helper of many, and of myself as well.3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; 5 also greet the church that is in their house. Greet Epaenetus, my beloved, who is the first convert to Christ from Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. 7 Greet Andronicus and Junias, my kinsmen and my fellow prisoners, who are outstanding among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. 8 Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. 10 Greet Apelles, the approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. 11 Greet Herodion, my kinsman. Greet those of the household of Narcissus, who are in the Lord. 12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, workers in the Lord. Greet Persis the beloved, who has worked hard in the Lord. 13 Greet Rufus, a choice man in the Lord, also his mother and mine. 14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the brethren with them. 15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the saints who are with them. 16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.17 Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. 19 For the report of your obedience has reached to all; therefore I am rejoicing over you, but I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil. 20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.
    The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.21 Timothy my fellow worker greets you, and so do Lucius and Jason and Sosipater, my kinsmen.22 I, Tertius, who write this letter, greet you in the Lord.23 Gaius, host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus, the city treasurer greets you, and Quartus, the brother. 24 [The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.]25 Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, 26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; ……

    27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever.


  49. AB, listened to that sermon.

    Plain old Baptist ranting with cliches and rhyming words and synonyms and minimal real Scripture exegesis. Quickly rambling out the same bible verses 25 times does not make a sermon for a Reformed Christian.

    That sermon is the kind of thing I had to get away from.


  50. Oh brother…

    I went through 9 months of sermons on ranting Hal Lindsay interpreted sermons on Revelation.

    With guarantees SCREAMED at us that we would have a complete nuclear holocaust by 1984 and that all believers would be rounded up and systematically murdered by the government.

    I fully believe all these people eventually went Reformed and now crusade against watching TV and thinking that just maybe Meredith Kline had a point there or that there is some sense of Republication. Seems the same kind of misapplied zeal..

    And they deny they ever said any garbage like the above for decades of their life.


  51. Hart,
    Fr. Dwight still thinks like a Reformer.
    In some ways you are right in some ways I would imagine you are wrong. Ecclesia Semper Reformanda is a principle of the Catholic heart too. It just depends on what is meant by reform. Fr. Dwight does not and will ,by God’s grace, ever take up personal interpretation and Sola Scriptura against traditional and magisterial authoritative interpretation of the faith, so in those ways he will never be Reformed. I would imagine in many ways though he respects the early reformers, as do I. I just don’t think Fr Dwight will ever throw the baby out with the bath water. Just this Texas boys opinion though.

    AB, you know how to get my attention if somebody is needing my “voice” or “ears”.

    Glad to meet a few new folks while I showed up the last few days. Until next time around, peace & prayers to everyone,


  52. @Kent – yowza, Bob Thieme here.

    @AB, thanks for the Bavinck recommendation, placing that on the list of to-read.


  53. CT, pastor was a Chafer-ite, I wonder what the “inner circle” really believed compared to what was actually taught each week.

    No complaints for most services, the Bible was preached verse by verse and I’m grateful for the good things I can look back on.

    I think I once heard that half the church were Calvinists but they refused to go to the Reformed churches in the city.


  54. @ DGH:

    In the Hebrew, when you add up the digits of “shrimp”, you get “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.”

    Seriously, the ceremonial laws pointed to the holiness of God, unattainable by man. The cleanliness laws in general carried a message that God’s people were not to be common as the Gentiles, which in turn pointed to the fact that the true Israel (Jesus) was truly holy.


  55. Walton, thanks, I should have included that. It’s a great listen, that podcast episode in particular.

    Grace and peace.


  56. Jeff, that must be from the Forrest Gump Study Bible, and I think if you divide that sum by 7 you get a box-a-chocolates.


  57. No wants to celebrate sin, but STRAW DOGS was a pretty great movie! When it comes to your thoughts on authority, I can agree Dr. Hart!


  58. if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.


    Ask Darryl what he means by this quote. And don’t stop asking until he answers. Use your three per day and do nothing but ask a question, in one sentence. It can be as simple as:

    Darryl, what do you mean that watching this movie violates the 7th commandment?

    Grace and peace.


  59. For you, Greg, for when you find the link I sent you, and if you want to chime in. This is the place IMHO:

    Question and Answer

    Should worldly entertainments be avoided?


    Is it a sin to listen to music, watch films and TV, play video games, watch plays, games, sports, use the internet, read books that aren’t about the Bible, etc.? I don’t want to sound legalistic, but none of these things are for the glory of God, so should they be avoided?


    What a great question! The Lord does exhort us to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16). And Paul follows that up in verse 18 with a warning against drunkenness. How is that relevant to your question? Simply, this way. It is no sin to drink alcohol, but it is a sin to get drunk. In other words, you may righteously enjoy a beer, a glass of wine or anything of your choice, so long as you maintain self-control in your use of strong drink. The same would go for eating: gluttony is a sin, but the moderate and controlled eating of the best of foods and rich desserts is fine. And you are able to see, then, I think, how every one of the activities you ask about fits in with this pattern.

    Books, for example, contain useful information, so long as they do not blaspheme or lead you into sinful areas of thought (lust and perversion, theological error or violent behavior, for example). They can be used to help in understanding the Bible or general revelation or for plain entertainment in leisure. The internet is a great research tool and can be used in a variety of ways that are proper and even godly. But it has its sinful applications. The same goes for each of the other activities you mention. The key point is edification. Don’t do things that do not edify you and those around you (1 Cor. 10:23).

    Start your day and end it in communion with your Lord, sanctify the day and all your activities by prayer and then let your Spirit informed conscience be your guide. Any other way, really, is legalism.


  60. I suppose I personally run into trouble – how does watching star trek edify? I’m sure it does, but I’m not ready to lay out a blog post on it. Let me think on it 🙂

    Who’s next?


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