To Forgive or Not?

Forgiveness is much on my mind today after another day of cross-country travel and listening to NPR’s coverage of the Greek financial crisis. Who could forgive the Greek bank’s debt? Could someone in the international financial sector step up to forgive Greece the way that the families of Dylann Roof’s victims did? Would that kind of granting forgiveness stand up to the scrutiny that the AME church members has?

Someone else who needs forgiveness is Tullian Tchvidjian. I am glad to see that so far the bloggers in Reformed circles have decided to refrain from commenting on his recent admission of marital infidelity. It was an easy target — to see the man whom critics accused of promoting cheap grace and disregarding the law disregard the law. So far, only David Robertson, who must not have had any opinion about Greece, has weighed in:

I had had an interesting exchange with Tullian and his ‘Liberate’ ministry last year. Without really being aware of who he was, I had written a review of his book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. It wasn’t entirely uncritical. Little did I know what it was like to step into the murky world of the American mega-church pastor. The congratulations from those who seemed to want to hang Tullian out to dry were matched only by the cries of those who saw me as some kind of right-wing legalist who had no idea of grace. To be fair, there were many who did not fit into either category but who were glad to get an outsider’s perspective. Sadly, the popularity of that article only served to indicate the truth of the truism that the best way to draw a crowd is to start a fight.

So you might expect a degree of schadenfreude from me. In that case you will be disappointed. I feel gutted and saddened at the whole situation. My critique of the book is not proved true by Tullian’s fall, any more than it would have been proven false by his continued ministry. Surely sorrow, discouragement and prayer can be the only appropriate responses for the Tchividjian family?

To his credit, Robbo refuses to score points except to take on the megachurch (which really should score points against the Wilt Chamberlain of Presbyterian megachurches — Redeemer TKNY):

The trouble with the corporate model of church is that it leaves the CEOs (otherwise known as ‘senior pastors’) as a combination of business manager, advertising guru and celebrity personality. And that is a very lonely and isolating position. Maybe a return to a more biblical pattern of church, with elders and preachers as ‘under shepherds’ and answerable to the wider church, rather than the stakeholders (shareholders?) of the local corporate church entity, might provide a better context for accountable ministry.

And why doesn’t that apply to TKNY?

But back to Tullian. What if someone like me decided publicly to forgive Tullian? Would that make sense? Mark Jones makes me think it might:

We are all aware, I trust, that all sins are committed against God. Therefore, no one can forgive sins in the way that God can. He has a peculiar authority that we do not have. All sins, whether mediately or immediately, are committed against God. Sometimes the neighbour is the medium, but the sin is still against God. Why is this important? Because if we forgive our neighbour, this does not relate to the guilt of his sin, but rather to the harm that has been done to us.

So when the family members of the killed “forgave” Dylan Roof, we are not forced to have to look at their forgiveness and then argue that they have no right to do so because there is no repentance from Mr. Roof. Rather, we are to understand their offering of forgiveness based on the harm that has been done to them because of the loss they have experienced.

In effect, they are not telling Mr. Roof that he is now justified before God. They are saying, you have harmed us and hurt us; and we forgive you for this harm.

Tullian has harmed the name of Christ and was a minister in a sister denomination. For that reason, I can conclude that he harmed fellow officers in NAPARC denominations. And by Jones’ logic, I can forgive Tullian.

So we have three cases of forgiveness: financial, legal, and ecclesiastical. Which ones are legitimate? Which ones deserve scrutiny?

97 thoughts on “To Forgive or Not?

  1. DGH, I appreciate the post. I have lots of thoughts about the whole concept of individuals granting forgiveness to those who have not asked it but I will refrain from that discussion here.

    One question: In the many communications Tullian has made in the past few weeks, has he acknowledged that he sinned against God?


  2. The Greeks look to be trying to forgive themselves of their debts while not forgiving their creditors for loaning them the money in the first place.


  3. For the Twitter ignorant or Twitter averse, the sum of his post-fall communications on that channel from first to most recent:

    June 21 – Welcome to the valley of the shadow of death…thank God grace reigns here.

    June 22 – No vertical condemnation does not mean no horizontal consequences. Surrender early.

    June 22 – So grateful that God is a bottom feeder.

    June 23 – I’m so so sorry. I love you all…fade to black.

    June 26 – “Grace abounds at the low places, where we are weak, broken and helpless….grace grows amidst the ruins of sin.” @mckaycaston

    June 30 – “Jesus turns the worst things ever and makes them the best things ever.” @PaulTripp

    June 30 – Thank you God for @PaulTripp!

    (CW reports, you decide)


  4. CW, for me, it’s not so much that he’s doing the self talk, I can imagine what my internal conversations might be, it’s that he shares them. The sharing with the general public is what throws me off. It cheapens the grief, self-doubt and makes me think there are other reasons motivating the confessions. It’s one thing to take solace in trusted friends and seek God in private, it’s something else to go fishing on twitter.


  5. Forgive me for finding the Greek matter more compelling – chalk it up to my mild obsession with the field of economics. Some highly respected economists have looked back into the pattern of periodic debt-forgiveness in the Ancient Near East generally and Jubilee Laws in OT Israel to see if such practices might have some benefit to large socio-economic structures, as it turns out they might. Far from the ironic libertarian Austrian school economics of theonomists like Gary North who want the Bible to arbitrate political and economic norms (economically through laissez faire markets), these secular scholars have gone back into the Ancient world to see if there might be some wisdom to be found there. Turns out forgiveness might have some economic utility.

    Here’s a link to some articles Michael Hudson has written on the topic of the The Economics of the Ancient Near East

    I’d probably recommend his blog post there “After the Ice Age” as a brief introduction to his research, and his scholarly article “The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations” (which is longer).


  6. Tullian’s session should probably urge him to shut down the twitter shenanigans until after he is no longer under discipline. Prudence would be to respect the privacy of his family and not tweet about it at all, it accomplishes nothing good. And Jones has a point, but whatever public forgiveness that is extended to Tullian is a relatively small matter compared to the chaos he just invited into his church, family, and friendships – forgiveness there will be a longer, harder process.


  7. @ Jed: I would imagine that the 50-yr reversion would tend towards economic leveling, yes?


  8. I’ve benefitted from Tripp’s work in the past, but I think he might have jumped the mustache.


  9. Jeff, no, not leveling so much as getting bad, unproductive debts off of the books so both creditor and debtor can move on and produce economically in the future with out the encumbrances of the debt. There are certain debts that are good for the economy, and help expand trade, and those should continue to be serviced, but when a debt goes toxic (for a variety of reasons) or it is pernicious, it kills economic activity, and it hurts both debtor and creditor and can metastasize into the broader economy.

    I’d argue that the problem in most global economies is not that we are carrying debt, it is that we are encumbered with too much bad, unproductive, and unrepayable debt. Economic forces, or the unseen hand has a way of resetting these debts, but there’s no guarantee that this won’t be chaotic (often takes place in the most kinetic form of economics – war). Regular, periodic debt cancellation would help keep the economic system running more smoothly over time.


  10. June 22 Surrender early.

    wasn’t that long ago, CRPC music director stated he’d come to believe “evangelicals should just eliminate the word ‘surrender’ from their worship vocabulary”


  11. Jed, you can’t make me read 84 page articles of interest. Jerk. Just give me the bullets; social equity as underlying premise, disallowing predatory loan practices, curbing foreign predatory opportunities by requiring payment in local currency thus encouraging reinvestment. But, who makes the creditor good who’s left holding the useless stack of paper? How do you encourage enough lending to maintain current levels or if you’re going to curb current levels, how do you stave off crashes-releveling?


  12. sean,

    I forgot that you aren’t much for book-learning down there in TX, but there are several shorter posts too. I’ll get to a summary after dinner.

    We’re already killing the economy – debt jubilees might stop that.


  13. Alright, but go turn off the water first. Remember, only two showers a week, the lawn dies, no baths, if it’s yellow it mellows, if it’s brown flush it down.


  14. Forgiveness is much on my mind today after another day of cross-country travel and listening to NPR’s coverage of the Greek financial crisis. Who could forgive the Greek bank’s debt? Could someone in the international financial sector step up to forgive Greece the way that the families of Dylann Roof’s victims did? Would that kind of granting forgiveness stand up to the scrutiny that the AME church members has?

    Someone else who needs forgiveness is Tullian Tchvidjian.

    An adulterous pastor to a fiscally irresponsible nation-state to a grieving church family that loves when it’s been given every excuse to hate is kind of bony, D? I see where you wanted to go with this; Tullian Tchvidjian and this poor mad Dylann Roof, no. Not in the same sentence, paragraph or even essay. There is no commonality, bro.

    Tullian has harmed the name of Christ and was a minister in a sister denomination. For that reason, I can conclude that he harmed fellow officers in NAPARC denominations. And by Jones’ logic, I can forgive Tullian.

    So we have three cases of forgiveness: financial, legal, and ecclesiastical. Which ones are legitimate? Which ones deserve scrutiny?

    Human forgiveness is for each of our own sakes, that we don’t destroy ourselves with our own anger and resentment; Divine forgiveness is up to Him, for his own purposes. You already knew that. 🙂


  15. Jed Paschall
    Posted July 1, 2015 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    I forgot that you aren’t much for book-learning down there in TX, but there are several shorter posts too.

    Oooooh, some major smack on the TX correspondent.

    To my brother Jed, brother of Nate, brother of me, [or none of the above] and even I can’t tell us all apart sometimes so I address you as Nate or is it Jake and I’m thinking we should all become the Ramones so call me Tom Van Paschall:


    Por favor don’t be smacking on the Texas correspondent, that he respectfully asks for more time to assimilate whatever links are being dumped in his lap, or on his poor head.

    Nobody’s getting his back, so it’s like Him vs.My Name is Legion. So I’m getting his back here, at least filing for a continuance, that his lack of reply is no more than he’s reached his human limits at this comment section of a blog that brags it won’t even take itself seriously.

    Mercy, Jeff. Jed. Nate. Nehemiah Perschall. 😉 I’m not going to join his army because he’s doing just fine 1 vs 10, but let’s at least give the poor man some air.


  16. Tom,

    Just a friendly jab at sean, the 80 pager is only exciting to nerds like me. The shorter posts are a better place to start.

    BTW, my closest friend lives in Texas, he gives me hell for being a Californian, I give him hell for being a Texan, it’s how we do. My experience with Texans is their skin is as thick as cowhide, it takes a lot (insulting a well cooked brisket) to get under their skin.

    Now to the summary.


  17. sean,

    Here’s the summary amigo –

    1) Certain debts are unproductive in society, and discourage appropriate risk and enterprise in an economy.

    2) If bad debts persist in a society, the debtor, unable to repay, is threatened with poverty which is a problem for the state, and the creditor is left expending energy trying to collect noncollectable debt.

    3) Debt forgiveness in high risk ventures (in the ANE) such as shipping, where 1 in 10 ships sunk with their cargo, or overland trade where hostile states and theft were a constant threat, actually encourages enterprising merchants to underwrite the expense of trade, knowing that in the event of disaster, they could be made whole.

    4) Debt forgiveness for land-owners and agricultural enterprises would encourage the selling of his debt to someone who has means of making it productive, and ensuring that the debtor can be made whole eventually, meanwhile the creditor has an opportunity to collect the debt from someone more likely to service it.

    5) Certain long-term debts (such as mortgages in the modern context) were undertaken when historical and economic circumstances were different (e.g. recession in the modern world; protracted famine in the ancient), and they cease to be productive, enabling debtors to attain their objectives in incurring the debt in the first place, placing collection of the debt in peril. These debts become toxic, and can crowd out the available supply of loanable funds in an economy, inducing economic contraction and killing growth.

    Think of debt forgiveness as cleaning out the grime and debris in an engine that has accumulated over time – its actually good for the economy. Current Bankruptcy laws try to address these matters, but in a clumsy way, and the ubiquity of credit in the modern economy makes the consequences of a BK quite high, especially to individuals. Some debt jubilee concepts transfer into a modern context, some don’t, but with the Western world drowning in debt, it’s an option worth taking a closer look at. Of course the banking interests in Wall Street and London especially would prefer to keep all debt as sacrosanct, even when they are levered up sometimes up to 50:1, and their derivative exposure can only be communicated in scientific notation. Fact of the matter is something’s gotta give, and Greece is only the first domino. The US in several ways is better off than the the EU, because we re-capitalized our banks in 2008, but the structural flaws in our economy – especially toxic debt is going to keep gumming up the gears until we do something about it… if not, the whole economy could seize up again, in which case an overhaul will be in order again.



    Mark Jones—“Of all the Reformed theologians I have surveyed on the matter of good works, the vast majority affirmed that good works are necessary for final salvation. ….Of course, good works are not necessary for receiving justification; otherwise, we could not be justified by faith alone. That is not the dispute.”

    John Gill—1. no such thing is ever to be found in the scriptures, namely, that good works are necessary to salvation. But if this was so principal a part of evangelic truth, as the adversaries plead, it should, be contained in express words in the scriptures
    2. The apostle treating of the causes of our salvation, removes good works, and entirely excludes them; and teaches, that he only has blessedness, to whom God imputes righteousness without works, Romans 4:6. Compare Ephesians 2:8, Titus 3:5. If therefore good works are entirely excluded from the causes of salvation, how will the same be necessary to salvation?
    3. That which is not necessary to our justification, that is not necessary to salvation; because there are no other causes of salvation than of justification: But good works are not necessary to justification.
    4. If we are saved by grace, then good works are not necessary to salvation; for the antithesis remains firm, If of grace, then not of works, otherwise grace is not grace, Romans 11:6. Romans 6:23. Ephesians 2:8, 9.
    5. If by the death of Christ we obtain justification of life and salvation, then we are not saved by our own obedience: Romans 5:17-19,
    6. What is ascribed to faith alone, as it is contradistinguished from works, that is not to be attributed to works: But salvation is ascribed to faith alone, John 3:16; Mark 16:16; Romans 1:17 and 4:6; Galatians 3:11;Ephesians 2:8; Titus 3:5. Heb 10:38. Ergo,
    7. What is necessary to salvation, that, as much as it is necessary, is prescribed and required in the evangelic doctrine, Romans 1:16. and 3:27. But good works, as necessary to salvation, are not prescribed in the gospel John 3:16 and 6:40; Romans 1:17 and 4:6, seeing the law is the doctrine of works, the gospel the doctrine of faith, Romans 3:27; Galatians 3:12.
    8. Add to this, that this assertion concerning the necessity of good works to salvation, has been already rejected as false, in the false apostles, Acts 15:5, where an opposition is formed to the sentiment of the apostles, that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ
    9. If good works were necessary to salvation, we should have whereof to glory; but the holy Spirit takes away all glorying from us, and for this very reason excludes good works from hence, Ephesians 2:8, 9. Romans 3:27 and 4:1, 2.
    10. Wherever the scripture produces reasons for which good works are necessary, it mentions quite others, than that they are necessary to salvation; namely, that we ought diligently to perform good works, because of God, because of Christ, because of the holy Spirit, because of the holy angels, because of our neighbour…

    But when I am obeying Jesus by forgiving a sinner (however imperfectly) more than you are, my progress in sanctification is the fruit of free justification and my progress in sanctification does contribute to my assurance, but if your lack of progress in sanctification contributes to your lack of assurance, remember not to make your progress in forgiving others the first thing but only something second or third in your assurance, because even if you have a little less dirt (and more gas in your tank than I do, you do have some dirt, and none of us have all gas (some dirt is mixed into all our progress) , and assurance is not all or nothing, which is why my progress in sanctification is not the first main thing but only one of the reasons that gives me assurance….But the more i forgive, the more sure I am, and there’s always room for more of both….



    Carl Truman, 2008—-the last few weeks have seen America become more of a socialist country than the UK has ever been. After a series of catastrophic crises on the financial markets, the federal government seems to be stepping in to bail out the banking system. …The irony is, I hope, not lost on those on the Christian Right who so closely identify biblical Christianity with the American way of free marketeering. I suppose that, in the US, it is perhaps a little difficult to do anything else, given the fact that both of the major political parties essentially agree on the virtues of capitalism, democracy etc.

    It is therefore perhaps not surprising that they have taken on the status of absolute,
    non-negotiable truths… Either way, the fundamentals of the free market will be unquestioned, since we stand at the end of a thirty year period where its principles have reached their apotheosis, with everything, from problems with healthcare to environmental pollution apparently susceptible to solution if only the markets can be freed-up to do their business.

    The current banking crisis indicates that the system is not infallible. Of course, we have seen tremors like this before: the number of airline companies that have been on the verge of bankruptcy
    and kept afloat by government intervention, just seems to keep on growing… If they are too big to fail, then for sure those companies that basically underwrite the country’s mortgage debt and determine the price of money are too big to fail. The markets have failed, and this should (I hope!) give those Christians with a blithe faith in the free market system at least some pause for thought. Why, we should ask, has this system that is supposed to be self-regulating been so badly shaken?

    Why did the markets not stop the problem? After all, according to some pundits, the markets are like the force of gravity – neutral, impersonal, scientific, perpetually moving towards an
    economic equilibrium that promotes freedom, prosperity and all-round good health – social, cultural and, above all, financial. The answer is that human beings, being as depraved and as blinded as they are, generate market forces which reflect that depravity.

    Now, the response will no doubt come from some is that the market actually provides a mechanism for mitigating this depravity by the fact that competition leads to a cancelling out of depravity. For example, those who argue that the free market will solve environmental problems will make the valid observation that it is in no-one’s best interest to so pollute the planet that we die of toxic fumes or global warming.

    The argument assumes that we know what is best for us and how to achieve it; and that, possessing that knowledge, we will abide by it. Both assumptions are woefully naïve and Pelagian. As a human being in rebellion against God, I automatically assume that I am the measure of all things, that I know best what is good for me and for everyone else, and that `it’ – whatever bad thing we care to think of – is not going to happen to me.

    “Indeed, at times, I might even take a perverse pleasure in running the risk of `it’ happening to me in order to prove that it cannot, and that I am special. “


  20. Jed – That’s interesting, but that’s what default and/or debt repudiation does for a sovereign debtor like bankruptcy does for an individual or corporation. It’s a good option that solves the problems you describe and probably one that Greece (and Portugal and possibly Spain) should take. That said, the Greek problem is more political than economic because the Euro establishment has staked everything on “Europe” and a Grexit undermines that narrative. Argentina defaulted and was briefly better off – though their Peronista overlords made sure the country never experienced and long term benefits.

    Also, how does Hudson handle the issue of moral hazard? And for that matter, how about just plain old self-interest, i.e., if I know a Jubilee is coming why would I lend?

    As for T-squared, well, let his session and his presbytery handle it. I’ll be interested to see how they handle discipline of a mini-celeb. And take away his access to social media. Please.


  21. “am glad to see that so far the bloggers in Reformed circles have decided to refrain from commenting on his recent admission of marital infidelity”

    Up to a point:

    Also referred to in the next article:

    “Satan is trying very hard to blunt the effectiveness of the witness of these godly people in Charleston. I do not think it is an accident that Tullian Tchividjian’s case broke at the time that it did. We need to pray that we can show the world that Charleston is what the gospel looks like in action, whereas Tullian’s case demonstrates what happens when the whole gospel is not taught.”

    There’s all sorts of head clutching potential in the above.


  22. D4 – I’ve benefitted from Tripp’s work in the past, but I think he might have jumped the mustache.

    Bravo. (agreed)

    Is it just me or is Tripp becoming a Mr. Kaplan (think NBC’s Blacklist) for celebrity pastors?


  23. “Forgiveness is much on my mind”

    ‘pietist’ alert… thinking if one interjects to pontificate about these things – first order of business is ‘all about me’ – do “I” need forgiveness for failing to 1 Tim 2:1-2; 1 Sam 12:23, including for recent Supreme Court decision; though if one has prayed, there can be settled peace that prayers were heard and answered perfectly

    Jed, and how about taxpayer forgiving for re-capitalizing our banks in 2008


  24. Jed, thanks. So, I’ve got another form of insurance-for the creditor and maybe something better than the bankruptcy alternative-the debtor. I don’t know enough about national default opportunities to evaluate the value of that opportunity for a nation. It still leaves you with some cyclical problems in selling the debt as it approaches it’s forgiveness date. I wonder if a company could use it like sports teams might use an expiring contract to create cap space but, instead, a company could exchange long term debt for short term(forgiveness date) to create favorable D/E ratios in a coming year. Yet another layer for investors to decipher, but we already have lots of mere financial plays in corporate finance. Well, if nothing else, it creates another market. They’ll be winners and losers. Not sure it provides any significant remedies or fail safes for our current model. You’d have to imagine the market would learn value that type of debt accordingly and merely add it to the other opportunities. The only value it would have, that I can see, is if you have an valuable(productive) operating company/nation saddled with unmovable debt that’s actually limiting their operating ability. It happens, but most of what I see are poor operating entities buried in debt( in large part because they are inefficient and unproductive-can’t service it). This model might give them a do over but doesn’t ensure the operating productivity and efficiency that would attract responsible lenders but instead unscrupulous ones. At some point I’ve got to lend based on operating metrics if you want to ensure an efficient and non predatory model.


  25. Jas, “of all the people in the world, and in lieu of the counsel of Presbyters, he wants ME!” That’s quite a siren call for Tripp.

    If they had kept it all hush hush it would be less concerning.


  26. Develop a plan to live relatively simply and have all your debt (including your house) paid off at a relatively young age. It changes your perspective on things and promotes a sense of peace in your life.

    A message from Dave Ramsey AND The Nightfly.


  27. Erik, barely anybody lives like that. Of thousands of tax returns and reviews of people’s financial pictures I came across maybe 3 that did it the way you suggest.


  28. After a dozen Anton Pillar Orders for searches invovling the lifestyles of the rich and famous I’m convinced about 98% of big houses are purchased solely on quickly squandered old money, fraud or leveraging to an unfathomable level.

    The record so far is 7 mortgages taking a $650,000 shack (for that neighbourhood) to $10,200,000 in leverage….


  29. Tullian’s sad case was less a situation of failing to preach the whole gospel than it was failure to teach law & gospel. The law is like our moms. We grow up and leave the house, but her influence over us never entirely goes away, and that’s a blessing.

    Never try to make the law/gospel tension go away, but instead embrace it. It is there for your protection.


  30. The ONLY person who lived like that and was a “good and nice person” had a medical specialty, worked his clinics for about 20 years, then retired at 45 to lecture at medical schools in 4 countries.

    He stayed single, lived in a one bedroom apartment and lived very spartanly.

    Some tyrants are able to starve and deprive their families in order to build a nest egg as well.


  31. Kent,

    I often wonder what people who have no character who pursue money think the money is going to do for them.

    “The Wolf of Wall Street” is a good study on this theme.


  32. My book on Humility written by Mahaney with a forward by J. Harris talks about their success due to being so humble in their leadership.

    Good book with some wise statements, and of course Jesus of Nazareth taught me to listen to the teachers and do what they say, but not what they do.


  33. Erik, most geeks who studied hard and worked hard to build their profession will have people come along like clockwork to help them spend around 4 times what they honestly earn.


  34. As the prophetess Sheryl Crow famously said, “it’s not getting what you want, it’s wanting what you’ve got.”


  35. MG – Jas, “of all the people in the world, and in lieu of the counsel of Presbyters, he wants ME!” That’s quite a siren call for Tripp.

    If they had kept it all hush hush it would be less concerning.

    He’s becoming the reformed-ish Al Sharpton. Where scandal may be brewing, his frequent-flyer miles be a booking.


  36. Erik, doing tax returns for the pillars of society showed me they give about $10 for every $100,000 earned to donations. Many of them taking bows for being so generous.

    Some denominations that take pride in tithing and social effort will audit their officers to ensure they are actually giving.


  37. CW,

    Don’t forget his EDM links on twitter. I’ve never read or listened to Tullian, but his recent twitter output makes him look immature and shallow. I suppose that is true of most twitter output, but it can be mitigated with some discernment and a healthy sense of decorum.


  38. Lots to make fun of re: EDM music aka the concerts where a person can just push “play.”

    And I do make fun of it, often.

    My church has been very gracious with me and pro wrestling, though. Such burden-bearing souls.


  39. DGH – Chopra doesn’t have the style points that Tripp has. It’s so much more than just a pair of thick rimmed spectacles to create such a…wait for it…spectacle.


  40. Caleb, as a 2ker I’m not going to condemn his pop music preferences, but he did let one of his staffers write an article elevating EDM to an almost spiritual dimension. I’d hate to see it supplant psalms and hymns in a worship context. Don’t think it ever did at CSPC.


  41. jasitek,

    Professional wrestling > EDM

    kent & fly,

    Your experiences are interesting to read. I aspire to a Dave Ramsey financial model and am naturally a saver, but it certainly cuts deeply against the grain of most people I know, including in my church.


  42. mboss, the wise person sets their limits and lives in them. But if you get sick or laid off without warning or some other horrible thing which is probably going to happen a few times in your life, your plans go down the drain.

    One version of the Ant and the Grasshopper ends with the Ant snivelling at the poor Grasshopper, so the Grasshopper pulls out his gun, shoots the Ant and takes over his house and nest egg without any problem whatsoever.


  43. To your point, I’m almost convinced my retirement nest egg will be raided by the U.S. gov’t a few decades from now when the harsh realities of Social Security and Medicare catch up with us.


  44. Put braces on the kid’s teeth if they need them.

    Don’t be the worst of Pharisees and angrily say you can’t afford it, counting one’s $15,000 in the bank like he’s Unca Scrooge skiing down his mountain of gold coins.


  45. Not.

    That is to say, when great sins take place in the church, we are not thinking as Christians if we do not mourn over sin primarily for the sake of Christ. We may, and should, mourn over sin because of what this means for those who are directly and indirectly involved. But there’s something more important than that: we must mourn because Christ’s honor has been impugned. His name has been profaned. As Christians, we are primarily concerned, in this world, about the glory of Christ, and so we pray to that end when we see or hear of anything that causes his name to be profaned.


  46. Forgiven: “As a Presbyterian who has baptized his children, I can tell my four year old that she is forgiven, and that she belongs to the ‘indicative’ of Pauline theology”


  47. mboss, as long as it pays for myIIIII social security and medicare, them’s the breaks in the greatest nation on God’s browning earth.


  48. Mark Jones does not think we can tell anybody what God’s law commands until after they are “in the covenant” and have been watered?

    And how long after Mark Jones has forgiven Tullian the harm done will Mark Jones wait to welcome Tullian back to the table? Is it longer than the time between Jones watered his infants and the time Jones welcomed those infants to the table?



    Just as it would be wrong to expect children to obey their parents unless they could be told that Jesus died for them, even so it would be wrong to command all sinners to believe the gospel unless you could (and would) say to them that God desired the salvation of all the non-elect. Only a “hyper-Calvinist” would make a distinction between God’s predestined decree and God’s command. Those who see human responsibility in contradiction to God’s sovereignty find a “balance” in telling those who are commanded to believe the gospel not only that they have the ability to do so but that God really really wants to save all sinners.


  50. Paul Tripp (Forever) — Since you wanted to live separate from God, now God is going to permit you to do that, even if God never originally intended that FOR YOU. You were born in the covenant, and received the seal of the promise that God was your God, and that is what God really wished for, but now God is going to give you what you want, even if you don’t know you want to be tortured.

    You didn’t want God to be your God, and now God is not, but in a way it will not even be God torturing you because you brought it on yourself. It will really be like you torturing yourself, because at any time you could open the doors come back to the covenant but you won’t do that.

    And people who don’t see it this way don’t see sin as seriously as they need to, they don’t face the reality of the evil of evil. They don’t take responsibility for the need for evil to overcome evil . They are deterministic fatalists, who think that children are influenced by their parents and who deny human responsibility.

    But you make the decisions that result in your character, and what you do matters, so if you run away from the covenant don’t think there won’t be consequences when you get back, when you come back the older brother is going to own you and you are going to depend on his capital to trickle down to give you an opportunity and a job


  51. Mark,

    Only a “hyper-Calvinist” would make a distinction between God’s predestined decree and God’s command.

    Then how does a regular Calvinist reconcile all the things that come to pass that contradict God’s moral law?


  52. sean,
    So, is the line of reasoning like…

    God ordains sin (as part of his eternal decree). This does not contradict his commands. The remaining things that come to pass he has “caused” but not “authored” in the same way he caused sin but did not author it. That makes sense.

    So no two wills? Seriously, this is the last conversation I thought I would be having today. But I have never heard a Calvinist deny the distinction in God’s wills. I had heard JP and RC talk about it when I was first becoming Reformed. I guess that just goes to show the perils of gradualism.


  53. You shouldn’t come across Calvinists denying two wills. at least with how that term is usually defined.


  54. kent,
    So is there then a distinction between “distinguishing between the predestined decree and God’s command” and “distinguishing between the decreed will of God and the commanded will of God”? The former makes you a hyper-Calvinist? I’m really confused now.


  55. That’s what I was talking about. I thought Mark was saying hyper-Calvinists distinguish between God’s wills. And that was new to me. I thought everybody did that.

    I guess I set us all up for confusion by asking a genuine question. All about me.


  56. Way to go, Walton. Bout as helpful as Jed’s eighty-four page articles of interest. Speaking of Jed, wait till you get to your Bus Policy capstone course, ‘Mr. Paschall, say less and say it better.’


  57. Walton, you can ask about it in a few different ways, each trying to make us sound confused, even if that isn’t your aim.


  58. “Then how does a regular Calvinist reconcile all the things that come to pass that contradict God’s moral law?”

    mcmark—I was being sarcastic. I was saying that it’s not “hyper” to make a distinction between God’s precept and God’s decree. Thanks very much for your “genuine question”. The problem is out definition of “two wills”. We live in a day when people like Mark Jones think the “two wills” means that God has a will to want to save the non-elect. Mark Jones takes this in the direction of saying that children can’t be commanded to do things without first being told that they are Christians (or at the least, that God wants them to be Christians if they meet the conditions for those “in the covenant”)

    But the problem of the “re-definition” of two wills is not unique to Mark Jones. And it’s not only found among the Barthians and the Torrances who insist that God’s creation is already” grace” for all humans, or that Christ’s incarnation is already “grace” for all humans. The problem is found among those who define the “two wills” as not simply the difference between God’s command and God’s providence, but about an imaginary distinction between what God wishes to have happened and what God actually planned to happen. It’s as if we suggested that God had already “ordained” the Supreme Court to uphold the death penalty…. Some folks think you are being “hyper” and “rationalists” if mention the fact that God determined the end from the beginning and all the evil in between.

    Amyraut—“Sin seems to have changed not only the whole face of the universe, but even the entire design of the first creation, and if one may speak this way, seems to have induced to adopt new counsels”

    William Young , in an OPC Minority Report—“In some Calvinistic circles there is an identification of the free offer of the gospel with an alleged desire that all who are called externally should be saved. Those who fail to find Scripture warrant for such a claim are sometimes regarded as denying the gospel offer and even the gospel itself. It should be pointed out that there are ambiguities in the claim itself. Some who are well-instructed Calvinists may use the word “desire” to mean nothing other than the revealed will of God in the commands, promises and invitations of the gospel. Others appear literally to suppose a frustrated desire as an emotion in God in tension with the decree to save the elect. This article seeks to show that the second of these understandings is unwarranted in the teaching of Scripture and contrary to the understanding of the revealed Word in the Westminster Confession.”


  59. Btw, I jwas ust kidding with Walton. Hope he took it that way. But, if you deserved it straight up, then take it that way. Jed, on the other hand……………….


  60. Offshores are getting a lot of scrutiny lately. Was able to help out in identifying and taking a few down.


  61. sean,

    Touché But I did provide a summary of what I saw as salient in Hudson’s paper for all of the mouth breathers here that refuse to read anything longer than a tweet.

    a tweet.


  62. Jed, I appreciate your summary. I’d have to engage it at the level you have to be very substantive in response, but , I did want to give a response to what you summarized. I don’t know enough to disagree, just drive by thoughts from what little I still remember and what I know from the day to day.


  63. TT’s wife also cheated on him; first, actually, if TT’s account is true (from what I’ve read, she hasn’t denied it, but also hasn’t confirmed it; at least TT has admitted his guilt and wrong-doing, unlike her).

    I want to know, will she also come under church discipline, as well?

    If not, why not?


  64. Let’s look at Greece’s need for forgiveness. Is it any greater than the need that any of us have for forgiveness? We might also want to look at what caused Greece to need such forgiveness. Is Greece trying to change? How much are we trying to change? Finally, what will be the result of not forgiving Greece’s debt? Do we want the people of Greece to go through that? Does God want us to suffer the results of not being forgiven?


  65. Curt, you ask good questions, ones that no Christian can be totally indifferent to. But the real game now is how to keep Greece from going further down the road to becoming a failed state. Not sure that is possible My brother was in Finland and Holand last year on business, then Greece for a vacation. Attitudes and expectations in the first two countries are totally different from those in Greece. I would imagine that the gap is wider now.


  66. Curt, did God want Christ to undergo the humiliation and horrific pain of the cross to forgive us?

    Does that mean someone is going to have to pay for Greece to be forgiven?

    You gotta pay som bah dee.


  67. Why not hand over another trillion to a country that is known for extreme corruption and tax evasion.

    The laws on their books are evasive enough, legendarily.

    Their last elections voted almost 50% in favour of (to paraphrase) a neo-Nazi party and others even more extreme.


  68. Using loaded terms like forgiveness doesn’t seem to be productive. From a source that is behind a paywall:

    ” Europe is already surrounded by a geopolitical ring of fire. Large parts of North Africa and the Middle East are in chaos, Ukraine is beset by civil war and economic collapse, and relations with Russia remain tense. The collapse of Greece would mean that Europe would have to worry about yet another quasi-failed state on its periphery.”


  69. D.G.,
    The kind of forgiveness does not have to be identical for us to relate to the need for forgiveness. The essential points of the too horrible a result of not having forgiveness with a debt too high for Greece to pay should spark enough continuity with the forgiveness we have in Christ.


  70. Curt, how do you feel about Bernie? I’m happy that so many Democrats are coming out as socialists. I’ve found that most Democrats pay lip service to capitalism, while actually advocating socialism. The growing support for Bernie will allow us to actually have a conversation about socialism. However, it seems like you wouldn’t be a top-down socialist. I remember David Graeber bemoaning top-down socialism, and it seems like what you talk about.


  71. Different Dan,
    My question is whether Greece was already a failed state and thus that was a significant reason for its current economic crisis.


  72. Joel,
    Why is it that socialist distance themselves from the Democrats? It is because the Democrats are far more similar to the Republicans than they are to the Socialists.

    The Repubs work on a oversimplified definition of socialism: big government. If that big government defined socialism, then socialism is much older than its founders and we would have to call what its founders proposed something else.

    Socialism is first about the redistribution of power rather than wealth. And that redistribution, unless you talk to a follower of lenin/stalin, is downward, not upwards. Marx explicitly stated who had to be inc control. And who had to be in control were the workers. The democrats aren’t in favor worker control especially since Clinton and his joining of the democratic party to big business.

    So now, examine Bernie in terms of favoring worker control of the workplace and the gov’t. Is Bernie advocating an increase of power for the proletariat?


  73. Curt, I think before the 2008 global financial crisis and the Greek debt crisis of 2010 that was a delayed consequence, most Greeks would have said the state had problems but they wouldn’t have put it in the “failed” category. Nor would their creditors. Easy to say otherwise in retrospect, signs were there, and certainly would be consistent with my own dystopian bent to have said everything now happening was inevitable. But my main point would be that the consequences of allowing Greece to become Venezuela are greater today than 5 years ago.


  74. “So now, examine Bernie in terms of favoring worker control of the workplace and the gov’t. Is Bernie advocating an increase of power for the proletariat?”

    It sounds to me as if he is. He’s proposing to break up the banks, which would diminish their power, for instance.


  75. Different Dan,
    The ‘failed state’ status does not necessarily depend on what people perceive, but on how different policies are from what serves the peoples interests and welfare. Some have labeled our own nation a failed state because the policies pursued by our leaders both do not represent what we want and threaten our future.

    BTW, a successful example of where most Greeks want their nation to end up can be seen in Iceland.


  76. Curt,

    Sure it does. The big banks lobby more than any other industry. Not only that, but Bernie is interested in nationalizing industry in order to give everyone control on the production of goods. Isn’t that socialism?


  77. Curt, big difference between Iceland and Greece is that Iceland has its own currency.

    The geopolitical implications of what I think is about to happen— Grexit– are staggering. From a writer who has generally been pro-relief for the Greeks :

    “It is hard to imagine what would remain of Franco-German condominium. Washington might start to turn its back on Nato in disgust, leaving Germany and the Baltic states to fend for themselves against Vladimir Putin’s Russia, a condign punishment for such loss of strategic vision in Greece.
    Mr Lapavitsas said Europe’s own survival as civilisational force in the world is what is really at stake. “Europe has not show much wisdom over the last century. It launched two world wars and had to be saved by the Americans,” he said
    “Now with the creation of monetary union it has acted with such foolishness, and created such a disaster, that it is putting the very union in doubt, and this time there will be no saviour. It is the last throw of the dice for Europe,” he said.”
    Read the whole thing.

    Things are going to get worse, first for the Greek people.

    BTW, I am not saying Credit is inevitable, even at this late hour somebody could find a hat with a rabbit in it, but under any scenario the people are in for a rough ride. The concerns and values you express are certainly laudable, but they are too abstract for the present situation. I would not be one to say that the US is a failed state, but any state can fail, and always with great human misery.


  78. Mark Jones explains to the unlearned— “A distinction may be made between sin committed out of weakness and sin committed out of full desire. Only those who are Christians can sin out of weakness.

    1. True believers sin more seriously than unbelievers.

    A) Because we have greater knowledge
    B) Because we have powers to resist.

    2. Unbelievers sin more seriously than believers.

    A) Because they rush into sin with great desire; but believers with a broken will.
    B) The faithful feel sadness (repentance) about their committed sins, but unbelievers do not (only the consequences).


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