Would You Let Your Wife Teach in Public Schools?

As one of our regulars here suggested off-line, Tim Challies should sound so nuanced about movies (or stop slandering actors and actresses):

However, if we were to begin again today, I am quite sure we would not enroll our children in public schools. What concerns me is that our decision would not be based on conviction but fear, fear generated by statements we have heard from others about public schools and, in particular, about public school teachers. Over the years we have encountered hundreds of statements about the dangers of such teachers. We have been assured that public schools are the breeding ground for every kind of social evil, that they are the lair of predatory teachers, that they are full of tenured and unionized employees who care nothing for children. We have heard that public school teachers care only for ideology, that they will allow no leeway for Christian beliefs, that they will do their utmost to undermine the hard training of parents who attempt to raise their children with biblical ideals. In many Christian circles, public school teachers are made out to be the enemies of the faith.

Our experience of public school teachers has been far different and far more positive. And I don’t think we are the exception, not from what I’ve heard when speaking to people in my church, in my city, in my family, and even as I’ve spoken to many of you at conferences or churches or events. Of course some have had bad experiences, but not all. Not nearly all.

So in some spheres, the antithesis doesn’t go all the way down. It does in movies that show skin, supposedly. But imagine if Challies could concede that some films and tv shows that reveal flesh are “far different” from merely being about lust and “far more positive” in their portrayals of characters and social contexts. What if my experience of movies has not been all bad? That despite all the skin-avoiders say about “dirty” movies, these films and shows are about far more than lust, sex, adultery?

In other words, if you can entertain shades of gray with public education — one of the great sins for a certain strand of Calvinism — why not with television and film production? Conflicted minds want to know.

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155 thoughts on “Would You Let Your Wife Teach in Public Schools?

  1. One thing at a time Zrim. I already took him to task for his inconsistent choice of company. it’s on my to do list and he ain’t the only one. Sending God’s children to a satanic indoctrination center for almost 12,000 hours during the most vulnerable and formative years of their lives is a crime of almost incomprehensible magnitude. Today for sure. No, mine did not go there. Before you ask.

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  2. In other words, if you can entertain shades of gray with public education — one of the great sins for a certain strand of Calvinism — why not with television and film production?

    Public education only uses like two or three shades of gray, once you get up to 10…

    And 50 is right out

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  3. I’ve tried to watch more than five minutes of Fifty shades, no can do, and not because of nudity or sex, it just sucks something awful. I guess they were going for sexual tension, but it came off as two people without any sexual charisma trying too hard to have some.

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  4. To take the logic of this questioning even further: Would you allow your wife to work in any secular, not-explicitly-Christian, job?

    Since, after all, there is no neutrality…

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  5. “Since, after all, there is no neutrality…”
    Not even bare mathematics and logic is ethically neutral at the epistemological level. For the Christian, 1+1=2 is an expression of the divine mind and order. To the pagan it just IS. However, at the level of the thing in itself, many areas of life are entirely neutral. There is no moral law or command of God that is violated or upheld if a man gets a math problem wrong.

    Baking cupcakes is such an area for example. A Christian will bake the best cupcakes they can because they want to do all that they do to the glory of the Lord and making honest pay is a righteous outcome. A pagan does the same activity for their own self interested reasons with no motivation to pleasing the God whose very existence they sinfully suppress in their own unrighteousness. One performs this vocation righteously and one sinfully though the thing in itself is formally neutral.

    There is not a righteous way to work in an abortion clinic for instance, because the thing itself is a violation of at least the 6th commandment. Working in a public school in 21st century America would have to be weighed on a case by case basis depending on the subject and requirements.

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  6. Dear Public School Teachers, please submit your application for approval directly to Greg for judgment. Likewise, you Christians who bake, submit samples to Greg so that he may render judgment and determine whether it was truly done to the glory of God.

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  7. Yes, I am rather simple. It takes tremendous mental ambition to pick my knuckles up off the floor and type a response to you. Oops, have to take a break now, the screen just fogged up from my mouth-breathing.

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  8. Greg, what happens when the unbeliever’s cupcakes are better than mine?

    What if I plow PP’s drive in the winter? Empty their trash at night? What if I just answers their phones?

    What if no neutrality is code for everything is black and white? How is confessional Christianity different from Christian fundamentalism then?

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  9. Zrim asks: “Greg, what happens when the unbeliever’s cupcakes are better than mine?”
    Please pay attention when people speak Zrim. I said the best cupcakes THEY can. THEY can. They may be the worst cupcakes in town, in which case, the market will have it’s way, but the point is that they give the Lord THEIR best. Because they want to honor HIM. Not just fulfill a personal dream or make money. If their best cupcakes, made to the glory of Jesus, are good enough to sustain a business, then that business not only provides a proper service to the community while earning honest pay, but gives opportunity to portray Christ to that community in various ways that have nothing to do with social justice as well.

    Zrim asks: “What if I plow PP’s drive in the winter? Empty their trash at night? What if I just answers their phones?”
    “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,”(2nd Corinthians 3:23)
    You do EVERYTHING, including all the things you name, as if it were Jesus face you’ll see when you’re done. Because IT IS! Look, this whacked out 2K extremism you guys got goin over here is killin you. Not 2K itself, but this version is not biblical all. If I’m wrong, it should be easy to prove and I’ll change. If I’m right, then you need to change. That”s it works ya know.

    Zrim asks: “What if no neutrality is code for everything is black and white? How is confessional Christianity different from Christian fundamentalism then?”
    Ya know what’s funny Zrim? My patience is not actually runnin out with you 🙂 Lemme try it again:

    If a thing is morally neutral in itself, then it is left by the Lord to the liberty of the Christian conscience. (ie. Cupcakes and meat sacrificed to idols)

    If a thing is not morally neutral in itself then there IS black and white universally binding biblical principal governing that thing. (i.e. the idols meat is sacrificed to and uncovenanted sexual performances and blasphemy in cinema)

    If you don’t like that and think it’s “fundamentalist,” that’s tough. It’s simple, it’s unassailably biblical and it owns you. Face it and repent. You will NOT be sorry.

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  10. Dr. Hart asks: “Greg, neutral emoticons?”
    Very good Darryl! 😀 One of you guys asked me this a couple years ago though. I’ll see if I can find it before the day is over. Gotta go for now. Good Friday service.

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  11. Greg, what happens when I don’t make the best cupcakes I CAN? You say it’s morally neutral and subject to liberty, but you also speak as if I’m obligated to make the best cupcakes I CAN. Which is it?

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  12. That’s a good question Zrim. I’ve already answered it, but it’s still a good question. Working right now though. Busy day. I promise you an answer when I can.

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  13. Greg, “I suppose it would be asking far too much to hope for a substantive biblical response then?”

    Correct, I readily admit I am a Bible reader, not a theologian. I also read the Confessions and am a member in good standing of an OPC. The regulars here are far more knowledgeable than I, and if they can’t persuade you why should I try? Possibly the issue you have when commenting here Greg is one of style versus substance. If you and I attended the same church and if you sounded live the way you sound on a blog, we wouldn’t talk much. It wouldn’t have anything to do with the substance of your argument.

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  14. mrbfree says: “…if you sounded live the way you sound on a blog,…”
    It depends on who I’m talking to and what about.

    I’ll leave the comparative analysis of style to others.

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  15. Zrim asks: “You say it’s morally neutral and subject to liberty, but you also speak as if I’m obligated to make the best cupcakes I CAN. Which is it?”
    I’m hoping there’s more to your questions Zrim than a futile campaign at discrediting me. There might actually be. All sarcasm aside now. You do not read carefully. At least you certainly don’t read me carefully at all. The two words: “in itself” are the key to your question.

    In itself, the baking and selling of cupcakes is a neutral activity. And product. There is no such think as an intrinsically holy or evil bakery or cupcake. What IS holy or evil, is the heart behind their production and sale. Therefore when a Christian heart bakes and sells cupcakes, the activity and the product are offered first to the Lord their God. Because they live in obedience to 2nd Cor. 3:23 above, and seek to do ALL that they do as unto the Lord. They also know that according to Rom. 14:23, all that is not out of faith is sin. (there’s a glorious and simple divine syllogism in that passage)

    An unbeliever will do the exact same thing with literally ANY motivation EXCEPT as unto the Lord and from faith in Him. Anything. Makes no difference the particulars. All that matters is that it is not done s unto the Lord, from faith in Him. Therefore that in itself neutral activity is an idol in the hands of a pagan.

    So, while the cupcakes and their production are neutral IN THEMSELVES, the motivation determines the sinfulness of righteousness of the whole enterprise. If this is genuinely still not clear, I will continue explaining until it is. Though I have a feeling the honcho might be getting weary with me.

    Zrim asks: “Greg, what happens when I don’t make the best cupcakes I CAN?””
    In light of the plain truths I have brought above, where it is in there power, the failure to do one’s reasonable best is the failure to perform that activity from faith as unto the Lord. (you may seize upon the word “reasonable,” at will. Go ahead)

    Yes of course, according to the standards, while in this flesh every attempt will include the admixture of at least some corruption. Before anybody tries that one. There is a defining difference between making the godly attempt in good faith and pretending that such an attempt is unnecessary or even foolish. Our loving Father condescends to us as children not yet grown until in His eternal presence free from any trace of sin forever.

    I usually hate these analogies, but this one fits here. A child may completely botch whatever it is they are attempting to do, but upon their determined honest effort, what godly father will not scoop them up in their arms and tell them how good they did and how they are improving? Much to the ecstatic delight of the child. Who is then motivated to swim the ocean if need be to relish more of Daddy’s precious pleasure in them.

    Is this “pietism” I’m talkin about here Steve? If it is then I enthusiastically own the label. I wouldn’t trade it for all the sick debased pagan entertainment… well… in the world.

    More work. TTYL

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  16. Oh how I don’t like being in a hurry. This line:

    “So, while the cupcakes and their production are neutral IN THEMSELVES, the motivation determines the sinfulness of righteousness of the whole enterprise….”

    Should read:

    “So, while the cupcakes and their production are neutral IN THEMSELVES, the motivation determines the sinfulness OR righteousness of the whole enterprise….”

    I apologize.

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  17. Speaking of Christian math, today at a mathematics seminar at one of them darn public universities, where I was the only native-born (not to mention white) person, the head professor wished us a happy Easter weekend. I think that actually is considered neutrality in the South.

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  18. Greg, you lack the purity of your motivations. You lack the consistency of your faith. You lack the alacrity of ambition for the Lord. The Jewish baker is more genuinely thankful than you and better reflects the imago dei in both the ambition and quality of his work. Oops.

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  19. Dr Hart asked above “Greg, neutral emoticons?”
    To which I then responded with the following:
    “Very good Darryl! 😀 One of you guys asked me this a couple years ago though. I’ll see if I can find it before the day is over. Gotta go for now. Good Friday service.”
    As promised. MAy 1st 2015 at 9:01 am: You’ll never believe this, but Sean was accusing me back then too. We were discussing, of all things, epistemology 😀 . AND, I was using my 1+1=2 example that time as well. (see, I told ya nobody listens) I couldn’t find THIS COMMENT on your site. Possibly still problems with the rollover, but I have almost everything I do saved for when somebody tries to lie about me. Not that you’re doing that here. I know you’re not.

    Here’s the part about emoticons:
    ================================
    “Emoticons are in themselves morally indifferent and therefore in form, common to both covenants. Their sinfulness or no, depends upon their use. if used to mock a person’s appearance or intelligence for instance, then the sinful intent of the user has put them to sinful use. In this particular case, the laughing smiley was intended as a sort of yes, constructive lighthearted jab as I was turning the thesis Dr. Hart (with a great degree of legitimacy) wields against “evangelicals back at himself”. I am confident that he understood that. If he took it how I’d hoped, he may have even gotten a begrudging chuckle out of it.

    I said all that to answer your question by saying that this emoticon was used in a dialog wherein the glory of our Lord through the proclamation of His truth is my intention. I self-conciously brought this morally indifferent instrument of expression into both formal and epistemological service of the last Adam and hence the new covenant. (2 Corinthians 10:3-6) ”
    ==================================
    Aren’t ya glad ya asked?

    Oh yeah. These partners I was talking about before? You don’t know them. They are not anybody who used to hang out here a lot. If not you, then somebody else was almost certainly suspecting that. Just thought I’d clear that up. Nobody here knows them.

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  20. One last thing for now. I do very much recognize and appreciate your exceedingly gracious indulgence of my activity here lately Darryl. Truly. I’m not sure why the long chain, but It is far more than I could have hoped for. I’m going to narrow that up going forward.

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  21. GTT: “For the Christian, 1+1=2 is an expression of the divine mind and order. To the pagan it just IS. However, at the level of the thing in itself, many areas of life are entirely neutral.”

    GW: Very true. You are correct that at the level of the ultimate and within the realm of revealed ethics there is no neutrality. God is sovereign over all, both the sacred and the secular. But all confessionally Reformed folk, including even old life 2kers, affirm this, for all confess the doctrine of God’s providence. Perhaps the difference is that 2kers are willing to admit that, by Divine design and under God’s ultimate providence, there is a proximate neutrality in this present pre-consummated age within the secular realm, a realm where God’s common grace and ordinary providence enables believers and unbelievers to cooperate together in common cultural activities, such as math, science, business, the arts, etc.

    Let’s take the realm of mathematics, which you bring up above. Of course we believers know that mathematical truth is an expression of the Divine mind and order. But knowing that theological truth doesn’t necessarily mean that we will be better at the actual practice of math than our unbelieving neighbors. In fact, when it comes to the actual practice of math one’s theological convictions make little if any impact on one’s mathematical competency, or lack thereof. (As one who flunked high school Algebra and who often has to rely on his fingers or a calculator for anything above basic mathematical calculations, I’m sure there are many unbelievers who would far outpace me in the actual practice of math. Thankfully mathematical competency is not a prerequisite for progressive sanctification!)

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  22. Geoff, with very little qualification, I agree with every single thing you just said. You just gave a concise exposition of Dr, Van Til’s classic teaching on the “continuity and discontinuity “ between the reformed Christian and what he called “autonomous man.” Here is what I said to Sean last May in response to his unfortunate and irresponsible dismissal of Dr. Van Til. It’s linked above. (I was repeating myself even then. That’s why the brackets indicating I was rephrasing this from a previous post)
    ======================================================
    [There is] a foundational difference between epistemological knowledge and formal knowledge. At the formal level 1+1=2 for absolutely everybody. The form and formal function are identical because of the image of God present in all men, through which God’s common grace operates. At the epistemological level, the level of first principle and heart commitment, is where there exists an eternally radical antithesis. To those raised from rebellion and death in the first Adam to the life and mind of Christ in the last, 1+1=2 because of the ordered mind of the creator God whose image they bear and thoughts they think after him on a finite derivative scale.

    To the mind still dead in sin, 1+1=2 for literally any reason at all other than the truth found for us now only in Christ. They will believe absolutely ANYthing else, not because that’s what they actually believe epistemologically, but to escape from believing what I believe epistemologically. Epistemologically, they KNOW where that knowledge comes from according to the first of Romans.

    So you see Sean, the unbeliever’s campaign of rebellion against his God, is financed with capital that has been borrowed, indeed stolen, from God’s own bank. What you call “confusion” on Van Til’s part is actually the very brilliance of his approach to fallen man, missed by a shallow and dismissive reading on your part. The saints have at once, fully everything and nothing in common with sinners.

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  23. Greg, I have no idea what you’re referring to but the antithesis that is highlighted in scripture is of a religious antithesis, particularly rom 1- they worship the creation instead of the creator. The attempt to push it out farther merely overstates the distinction between regenerate and unregenerate as they engage common endeavors( at least part of Geoff’s point and countless others who’ve commented on this squabble in the reformed community) and actually goes too far in that it entirely eclipses the Imago Dei of all adamic creatures-wafer thin common grace. “Borrowed capital” is just another overreach(arrogance) of neo-cals and by pushing the antithesis into the common realm they actually diminish the real biblical antithesis of cult or non cult, kingdom of light-kingdom of darkness, God your father or your father the devil, Christ or anti-Christ. It’s interesting the stuff your sure you think you know about scriptural concepts and constructs cuz you read a book once.

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  24. In my opinion Van Til is basically correct in his epistemology and his apologetics. But it seems to me some of his interpreters and disciples have pushed his emphases to an extreme. For example, Van Til’s teachings are often appealed to by theonomists and postmillenial reconstructionists. But it is my understanding that Van Til was neither theonomic in his understanding of political ethics, nor was he a postmillennialist. (Like most of Dutch Reformed background I believe he was amillenial.)

    Another example of how Van Tilianism is taken to an extreme: While Van Til’s writings are not officially part of the OPC’s confessional standards, they might as well be. Candidates for the gospel ministry who don’t affirm Van-Tilian presuppositional apologetics, but who instead favor a classical, evidentialist, or eclectic approach to apologetic methodology, would likely have a difficult time being approved for ordination in some OP Presbyteries. (I guess in the minds of some within my communion a B.B. Warfield, Charles Hodge, or J. Gresham Machen would not be apologetically-pure enough for the OPC.)

    Perhaps we would do well to avoid the attempt to out-Van-Til Van Til.

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  25. Geoff Willour says: “Perhaps we would do well to avoid the attempt to out-Van-Til Van Til.”
    Oh no! Not at all. I was agreeing with you and only intending to show that we hold very similar views. Or so it certainly does appear. I continue to agree with you. Pretty much down the line.

    I am neither a post millennialist nor a theonomist (NOR even a transformationalist). In the least. Nor a dispensationalist, though eschatology is admittedly my weakest area of study. I’m much more certain of what I can’t believe, than I am the particulars of what I do believe there.

    I find that most folks I talk to, claiming to either embrace or reject Van Til, really don’t understand him very well. Not because he’s so difficult to understand, but because his thought is so foreign to what we have inherited from father Adam and therefore presume by default. God is seen as, though certainly the largest, what amounts to just another object of our insolent investigation, rather than Himself the ground and standard by which any investigation whatsoever can even be conceived of, nevermind actually taking place.

    This is also what accounts for the ensnaring of otherwise good men in post modernism in the guise of a thoroughly anti-Christian “epistemic humility.” The surrender to unbelieving epistemological/metaphysical uncertainty, right in the face of the God who proclaims through His self authenticating scriptures that He, in the beginning created the heavens and the Earth. In other words, the God of WCF I, II and III. The WCF is quite Van Tillian quite by “accident.” They didn’t explicitly deal with epistemological concerns, but what would later be declared outright by Dr. Van Til is inescapably there in the standards, “by good and necessary consequence.” Sure won’t find any Thomism, from which the classical and evidential methods are spawned.

    The lesson I use to start children down the right path is a drawing of a big king on a big tall throne with a little person standing in front of it. See that king boys n girls? That’s how you see yourself before Jesus saves you. You are the king sitting on the throne of your life. Scowling down at God, deciding whether He’s really there and if He is, whether He gets to be king or not. After He saves you? You see that HE was the King all along. (at least that’s how it’s supposed to work)

    Non Van Tillain Calvinists try to drive a humanistic, atheistic, Thomistic (all at bottom the same thing) epistemology under a reformed house. I have severe trouble with that, but agree that while problematic, it’s probably not best to enforce a truly reformed epistemology upon candidates for ordination. Although to be honest, if I were the Presbyterian pope, I probably would LOL! Guys like Sproul absolutely mystify me. Hair raising inconsistency.

    Like I say. I was quite happily agreeing with you. Not trying to outdo you in any way, which I doubt I could if I wanted to. I know this because I also spent an hour last night diggin around. You and I sir, just may get along rather famously.

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  26. GTT: “Oh no! Not at all. I was agreeing with you and only intending to show that we hold very similar views. Or so it certainly does appear. I continue to agree with you. Pretty much down the line.”

    GW: Don’t worry, brother, I didn’t necessarily have you in mind when I wrote my comment above, nor was I trying to accuse you of being a theonomist or postmillenialist. (Actually, I’m a postmil of sorts, though some would want to classify me as an “optimistic amil”.) I was just commenting on the hyper-Vantilianism I have encountered at times in my past.

    I certainly think we agree on much in terms of substance. But there are a few concerns I have of your comments above:

    (1) Regarding your concern about epistemic humility: I agree that we ought to avoid the kind of postmodern, hence anti-Christian, “epistemic humility” which is just a false humility and a mask for rank agnosticism in the face of the clear teachings of God’s Word. At the same time, didn’t Van Til himself encourage a Christian version of what could be called “epistemic humility” by reminding us that, as creatures, our knowledge of God is always (and ever shall be) analogical and limited? Certainly we can know what God has revealed truly, but we cannot know it exhaustively or comprehensively. Furthermore, due to the ongoing presence of sin in our lives in this present age, even what we do know is often tainted and twisted by the remnants of sin, so that this side of glory we “see in a glass darkly”. And is this not one of the reasons why, when it comes to some of these societal issues where true believers who are equally committed to the authority of Scripture may come to different convictions, we would do well be exercise forbearance and patience toward our brethren and be careful not to bind the conscience where we don’t have a clear “thus saith the Lord!”?

    (2) Regarding your comment that Van Til’s epistemology (and thus, by implication, his apologetic methodology) is a “good and necessary consequence” of the teachings of the WCF: I certainly agree that Van Tilian presuppositionalism is wholly consistent with our confessional standards. Indeed, one can make the case that it is an apologetic methodology that best comports with the Reformed system of doctrine as that system is delineated in the Westminster Standards. But at the same time I think there is a real danger of anachronistically reading full-blown VanTilianism into the minds of the Westminster divines who wrote the standards. I’m not a church historian or an expert in the history of Christian Thought, but I would be careful about making statements to the effect that Van Tilianism is “inescapably there…by good and necessary consequence”, lest you be found to be guilty of historical anachronism.

    (3) You wrote: “Non Van Tillain Calvinists try to drive a humanistic, atheistic, Thomistic (all at bottom the same thing) epistemology under a reformed house.” One can make the case that non-Vantilian Calvinists are inconsistently Reformed in their apologetic methodology, but I think you go too far in using weighted, negative terms such as “humanistic” and “atheistic”, for I don’t think that is either fair or charitable. Was the great Princeton theologian, Dr. B.B. Warfied, the great defender of biblical inspiration and inerrancy and of Presbyterian orthodoxy, driven by a humanistic and atheistic epistemology? Was Charles Hodge or A.A. Hodge? Indeed, Dr. J. Gresham Machen, leading founder of the OPC, seemed to have leaned more in an evidentialist (or at least an eclectic) direction. Was Machen a secular humanist in his undergirding epistemology? I guess what I’m saying, dear brother in Christ, is that I think more people would take you seriously if you would curb your rhetoric a bit and express a more charitable and hopeful frame of mind toward your brethren, even those with whom you may strongly differ on these matters.

    By the way, while I don’t agree with it, if you want to understand Sproul’s apologetic better I’d encourage you to read “Classical Apologetics”, written by Sproul, Gerstner, and Lindsay. Also helpful in understanding the classical approach is the first several chapters in “Theology in Dialogue” by John H. Gerstner (Soli Deo Gloria Publications). (Although I must warn that Gerstner’s book leans heavily hyper-Calvinistic and hyper-Puritan, in my opinion. In hyper-Puritan fashion Gerstner’s book will likely have the effect of terrorizing the consciences of meek and hyper-sensitive believers, driving them further into their own subjectivity in morbid introspection instead of driving them outside of themselves to Christ.)

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  27. See now this is what I get when I get what I ask for. This is a great comment brimming with substance Geoff. Which means it both warrants and requires a worthy and thoughtful response. A matching range of thought will be needed to it justice. Which in turn means time.

    I have no idea how long or how extensively you’ve been watching here lately. For now, please allow me to ask you the question I’ve been asking several of these guys if you would.

    “Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted person in Christ, whose thoughts words and deeds, in other words their moral life, remains unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted person in Christ?”

    Thank you for your valuable time. Sincerely.

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  28. GTT: Thanks for your kind response.

    The brief answer to your question is: No, there is no such thing as a true believer whose moral life remains unchanged or unimpacted by the gospel.

    But one very important caveat: While the grace of regeneration implants the seed of holiness within the soul of a redeemed sinner, that seed often takes much time to grow, and often requires much watering from the Word to manifest any discernible growth. Which is to say, while true believers have a basic love for Christ and desire to follow and obey God’s Word, at the same time they remain simultaneously just (in Christ) and sinner (in their old Adam). The flesh continues to war against the Spirit. “Wretched man that I am” is more the norm than the exception. See Romans 7. In other words, we have to be careful when dealing with other professing believers to avoid being the “fruit police.” If the church has judged their profession of faith to be a credible one, uncontradicted by any scandalous sin or heresy, then in the judgment of charity we regard them as true believers, even if they are beset with many weaknesses and imperfections.

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  29. @Geoff
    “No, there is no such thing as a true believer whose moral life remains unchanged or unimpacted by the gospel.”
    I don’t disagree with anything you said, but I think there is an important addendum to your caveat. Sometimes we discover that as we age, we discover new sins that we wrestle with. For many, it seems as if are moving backward in their faith. Consider the child who makes a credible profession of faith at age 8. Such a child could certainly have been justified and being sanctified. But once puberty hits and he is first tempted by lust, what does it mean to say his moral life has been changed by the gospel? That part of his moral life didn’t exist (as far as he knew prior to his justification). Or one might consider the young professions tempted toward overwork, allure of prestige, etc… in a way he never had been before. To struggle with these sins as an adult after not having struggled with them as an unbeliever is not necessarily a sign that he is not truly regenerate. The reason I bring these cases up is that I find that doubt is most powerful when someone is going through a major life change and finds themselves beset by new temptations. I find the framing,

    Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted person in Christ, whose thoughts words and deeds, in other words their moral life, remains unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted person in Christ?

    really unhelpful even if there is some truth there. It leads many to a sort of “scruplosity” that can easily turn into legalism and despair. In other words, it isn’t just avoiding being the “fruit police” (I love the phrase by the way!) toward other believers that we need to worry about.

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  30. I don’t disagree with anything sdb said, except for his assertion against of the helpfulness of my question. An affirmative answer to that question IS fatally heretical antinomianism. You cannot point to one phrase I have uttered on this site which contradicts to the confession or catechisms as far as making me a legalist.

    Maybe the first impression I made here a couple years ago is still doggin me, which would be my fault, but there IS some reason you folks do not hear almost anything I say and it has nothing to do with my present demeanor, because you hear everybody else you can’t stand just fine. I have not said a single thing that disagrees what you said sdb.

    I joyously concur with WCF XXVII and XXVIII. Take a look at XXVIII:IV

    My problem is with people who rationalize and justify the clearest evil and call it good. I don’t know how many ways I can say this. Not with people who fight the Romans 7 war, even for the rest of their lives, which is what every Christian does. Though the details and intensity may ebb and flow through differing seasons of life.

    If anybody asks, I’ll copy and paste from previous comments

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  31. Geoff says: “(1) Regarding your concern about epistemic humility:…”
    I’m gonna stay here for now.

    Geoff says: “(I agree that we ought to avoid the kind of postmodern, hence anti-Christian, “epistemic humility” which is just a false humility and a mask for rank agnosticism in the face of the clear teachings of God’s Word.”
    Yes, this is what we have with at least some of the regulars here, I suspect including Dr. Hart, though I don’t recall explicit statements to that effect like I do from some of the others. Of course I intend to demonstrate this.

    Geoff says: “At the same time, didn’t Van Til himself encourage a Christian version of what could be called “epistemic humility” by reminding us that, as creatures, our knowledge of God is always (and ever shall be) analogical and limited? Certainly we can know what God has revealed truly, but we cannot know it exhaustively or comprehensively. Furthermore, due to the ongoing presence of sin in our lives in this present age, even what we do know is often tainted and twisted by the remnants of sin, so that this side of glory we “see in a glass darkly”
    Absolutely so and another point I have made myself on this very site numerous times. Not even the slightest particulate fragment of knowledge originates from the creation. Every fact, save only for the Godhead itself, is a created one. Therefore the creator alone is able or authorized to give definition and purpose to any fact.

    This means that everything man knows, saint or sinner, can only be known truly (at the epistemological level) if apprehended by faith in the creator. It is the inescapable function of both his necessary, but morally neutral finitude, AND the now aggravating addition of his fallen ethical corruption, that renders him by definition incapable of autonomous knowledge.

    All attempts at knowledge apart from his creator, ultimately terminate in vicious circularity, explaining nothing. Unable to live in an intellectual universe of vicious circles, faith is the only escape. Everybody has it. It’s only a matter of what in. The ontologically triune and meticulously deterministic God of the ancient Christian scriptures resolves all the circles. How He does that may be Dr. Van Til’s greatest contribution. Certainly among them.

    Only a non-contingent axiomatically certain God, without whose all governing decree not one atom in all the vast cosmos dare twitch, can provide this escape. (I think you know why) Thankfully when the divines scoured the scriptures of WCF !, that’s the God they found there, giving them WCF II and III.

    The “epistemic humility” that I reject utterly as a post modern counterfeit, is one that concedes to the man dead in sin, that his rejection of this God MIGHT be correct after all. We can be perty dern confident, but NOT unassailably certain, they say, that Christianity is true. At the end of the day, our unbelieving workmates just may be correct in their unbelief. Unlikely, but they may be. I say that is the very essence of the pagan post modern mind you reference above, smuggled into the church. I’d be keenly interested to know whether you agree.

    I am ready with citations, but would prefer if one or several of you guys who holds this post modern view of “epistemic humility” would just say so and save me the hassle of putting together the quotes.

    You have plenty more Geoff, but I’ll stop there for now.

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  32. An affirmative answer to that question IS fatally heretical antinomianism.

    Maybe, maybe not. But even so that doesn’t make the framing of your question helpful. For those of that have only the vaguest memory of the time prior to our profession, comparing our current struggles with sin to our childhood state isn’t helpful. Further as we pass through different stages of life, looking for linear progress is not so helpful.

    It was curious reflecting on Abraham’s struggle with unbelief…in ch 12 Abram passes off his wife because he didn’t trust God’s providential care. He is justified, the revelation of the covenant has unfolded further and he does exactly the same thing 7ch later.

    You cannot point to one phrase I have uttered on this site which contradicts to the confession or catechisms as far as making me a legalist.

    Could be, but I’m not interested in reviewing everything you write so we’ll never know.

    I have not said a single thing that disagrees what you said sdb.

    Well done my young apprentice. There is hope for you yet.

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  33. “I am ready with citations” sounds ominus.

    Postmodernism is a slippery word, but insofar as it refers to the rejection of enlightenment epistemology (the neo-kantian synthesis) and hegemony of “science” I see no reason to concede that postmodernism is anti-Christian. Further I think it is safe to say post-modernism is on life support at best. No one takes Feyerabend seriously these days, and i sofar as anti-realism is a form of postmodernism van Fraassen is the most compelling advocate. Yet his views have not gained traction (though I think he is more right than wrong).

    Most public advocates of nontheism these days are thoroughgoing modernists sharing more in common with Diderot, Voltaire, Hume, etc… than Foucalt, Derrida, or Rorty.

    Interesting that two of the most forceful critics of epistemic humility are Nietzche and Ayn Rand (Dennett doesn’t seem to be much of a fan either). This post on epistemic humility is worth reflecting on:

    http://piouseye.com/eyesite/2009/06/humble-presuppositionalism/

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  34. sdb says: “Further as we pass through different stages of life, looking for linear progress is not so helpful. “
    I stopped reading that comment right there. What is it with you folks here? I said the other day here:

    “Personal sanctification is the inevitable lifelong though usually uneven progress of this internal reality working itself outward in word, thought and deed. “

    I told you about the young guy in our church who struggles (mightily) with homosexuality and isn’t always as victorious as we hope he will be.

    Again. Please. I’m not even being sarcastic, but would you guys stop putting words in my mouth that I have never even once hinted at?

    I also said above on this very page:

    “I joyously concur with WCF XXVII and XXVIII. Take a look at XXVIII:IV”

    XXVII:III. Nevertheless they may, through the temptations of Satan and of the world, the prevalancy of corruption remaining in them, and the neglect of the means of their perseverance, fall into grievous sins; ad for a time continue therein: whereby they incur God’s displeasure, and grieve his Holy Spirit; come to be deprived of some measure of their graces and comforts; have their hearts hardened, and their consciences wounded; hurt and prevalancy others, and bring temporal judgments upon themselves.

    “XXVIII:IV. True believers may have the assurance of their salvation divers ways shaken, diminished, and intermitted; as, by negligence in preserving of it; by falling into some special sin, which woundeth the conscience, and grieveth the Spirit; by some sudden or vehement temptation; by God’s withdrawing the light of his countenance and suffering even such as fear him to walk in darkness and to have no light: yet are they never utterly destitute of that seed of God, and life of faith, that love of Christ and the brethren, that sincerity of heart and conscience of duty, out of which, by the operation of the Spirit, this assurance may in due time be revived, and by the which, in the meantime, they are supported from utter despair.

    Do you see “linear” sanctification anywhere cleverly hidden in those statements? I welcome disagreement and substantive rebuttal. In fact, I insist. Would it be too much to ask that you disagree with and rebut something I’ve actually said every so often? Honestly. I listen when you guys speak and address what you say accordingly or ask if I’m not sure what you mean.

    sdb says: “Postmodernism is a slippery word.”
    Your comment that follows is genuinely interesting, but doesn’t actually address my point.

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  35. “I stopped reading that comment right there. What is it with you folks here?”
    1) if you had kept reading you might have been able to piece the clues together. I don’t read most of what you type.
    2) I make only the most cursory effort to keep each person’s comment properlt attributed. I’m not interested in keeping score on folks extemporaneous typing in a commbox. I’m more interested in picking up interesting ideas and honing my own through conversation.
    3) I don’t care what you have written. I am engaging Geoff’s response to something you wrote here. The framing of your question is not helpful.
    4) What you *really* believe, whatever else you have written, etc… is irrelevant. Noting that a question you posed has some truth to it, but is not framed well is not an indictment of you, your theology, intelligence, or grooming habits. So let’s look at your question:

    Is there such a thing as a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted person in Christ,

    Ok. Let’s consider one of our fellow congregants,a covenant child, who made a credible profession at age 7 and has no memory of being other than a believer…not so uncommon now. Probably unheard of among those hearing Paul’s letters read for the first time.

    whose thoughts words and deeds, in other words their moral life, remains unchanged from before they were a truly regenerate, justified, sanctified and converted person in Christ?

    Well let’s see. Such a believer has sinned in ways he couldn’t have conceived of when he made his profession. In that sense he has changed, but not for the better! Yikes… perhaps this believer hears this question (and I think it is safe to assume she hasn’t read everythingyou’ve written), doubts her salvation, and takes from the implication of this question she needs to work harder to justify herself to you. Not so helpful as I said.

    Is that the only response one could have to your question? Of course not. But then unhelpful framing of a question does not entail that. Perhaps there are better ways of clarifying one’s understanding of sanctification and the implications of that view? I’d say so.

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  36. sdb, your example of a baptized covenant child is a helpful illustration in this discussion. It goes to show that sanctification will not look the same in every instance. For example, in the case of someone raised in a non-Christian or pagan background who is converted to Christ the “before-after” change between his pre-conversion and post-conversion days will generally be much more evident than the case of the covenant child who is raised in the faith and can never remember a time when he did not repent of his sin and believe in Christ as his Savior. One of the most harmful effects of pietistic revivalism is that it sows seeds of doubt in many a Christian child who don’t usually experience the same kind of radical emotional conversion experience that their parents perhaps experienced. (Even in OPC churches I’ve encountered parents who have expressed deep concern about the spiritual state of their covenant children because their children haven’t undergone the kind of crisis conversion experience they have. I can remember one instance where the young person in question was a young lady who was regular in attendance and, at least outwardly, appeared to have a credible profession of faith and to be living a Christian life. Her mother was sure she wasn’t yet “saved” because her daughter had not yet undergone the kind of radical conversion experience that her mother experienced.)

    I think Luther was spot on in his 95 Theses when he stated that the Christian life is one of ongoing repentance. J.I. Packer somewhere has written that it doesn’t matter whether or not you can remember the exact moment of your initial repentance and faith. The issue is, are you now repentant and believing? I.E., it’s not a conversion experience that matters, but convertedness. In the “normal Christian life” within the church the Christian, baptized into Christ and raised in the covenant community, will not remember a time when he/she did not believe and repent. And sanctification will not necessarily be a clear-cut “before-after” experience (as it is in the case of adult converts), but a life-long process of daily, ongoing conversion in light of the Divine pledge given in baptism, where the believer continues to mortify sin in daily repentance and daily receive the assurance of God’s forgiveness in Christ to all who believe, the forgiveness which is week-in and week-out proclaimed through the preaching of the gospel and signified and sealed to the believer in the Holy Supper.

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  37. “three kinds of action are found in Greek tenses: punctiliar or point action; linear, or action presented as continuous or repeated; and state of completion, or action presented as finally attained after effort ; the linear aspect of sanctification – “walking in newness of life.” -obtains genuine significance only as we give full meaning to the punctiliar aspects of repentance, faith, justification, regeneration, union with Christ, adoption, baptism with the Holy Spirit, and consecration”…”the way to holiness begins with considering ourselves alive to God, the counterpart to reckoning ourselves dead to sin.”

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  38. Is sdb a she?
    sdb said: “I am engaging Geoff…”
    Well, you didn’t say that and you were quoting me. Hopefully I can be forgiven for believing you were talking to me.

    The question is meant to reveal if a person is a proponent of the old fundamentalist baptist heresy of eternal security and the “carnal Christian.” As opposed to the reformed doctrine of the perseverance/preservation of the saints. The only similarity is that both state that once saved, salvation can’t be lost.

    While your experience is certainly true in some cases, most people can point to a time where they believe they made a conscious decision to trust Christ for their salvation. At least of the thousands I’ve personally talked to, that’s the by far majority testimony.

    The point is that a Christian is not someone who is only being kept from damnation. They are new creatures with foundational and radically different instincts, intuitions, sensibilities, loves and hates. If somebody is years into a claim upon Christ and none of this is true of them they very well BETTER doubt their salvation.

    Outward actions and speech, such as the lists in the catechism are only a gauge of the inward state of the heart. One’s life and attitude toward their remaining sin doesn’t have a thing to do with justifying them, but it does reveal whether their claim upon justification is credible. John (1st John 3) is referring to practitioners of sin. Those who are at settled peace with their sin. He warns us not to be deceived. Those people are children of the devil. The attempt to restrict that practice of sin to a self righteous claim upon justification, is laughably preposterous on it’s face. (not saying you’ve done that, but others certainly have)

    The point is, if the unbelievers close to you in your life would never guess that you’re a Christian, if you think, talk and act like they do in things that re not indifferent, and love the same sinful worldly culture they do, your profession is not credible. Period. I didn’t make this up myself. I don’t care who or what church tells me otherwise. Nothing could be clearer from the scriptures. This also has nothing to do with passing judgement on their election.

    It’s not that a person sins. EVERY Christian sins, in word thought and deed. Every day. It’s their attitude toward their sin that is telling. If they tell me “yes” there can be a Christian who remains forever indistinguishable from the pagans except they SAY they’re a Christian, that is a false antinomian gospel to be forsaken and repented of. It’s dissemination is very clearly imperiling the PCA right now and is making tragic inroads into the OPC as well.

    As I said a long while back here. The extreme version of 2K on this site is almost Valentinus for the 21st century. My bones hurt to see Dr. Hart abandon this terrible theology and make his oldlife mission truly OLDlife.

    I have no authority over anybody. Nobody is accountable to ME. All I care about is continually learning and being faithful with what I learn. Whether anybody listens or not is not up to me.

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  39. Again Geoff. I agree with everything you SAID.

    Not saying you’re saying this about me, but I have never once in 2 years around here called for a crisis conversion from anybody. That is no part of my point. Just to be clear.

    This…

    “…it doesn’t matter whether or not you can remember the exact moment of your initial repentance and faith. The issue is, are you now repentant and believing? I.E., it’s not a conversion experience that matters, but convertedness….”

    …is my point. A person proclaiming the Christian God’s favor upon their sodomite “marriage” is not the same as a person at war, and maybe even losing at the moment, with same sex attraction.

    Darryl, did you disable the bold tag? I’m not arguing, I’m just asking.

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  40. Greg, does attending church every sunday at a true church where you are a member(confessed, vowed and submitted) move the needle adequately for you on the ‘fruit meter’ to be distinguishable as Christian from my unbelieving neighbor, taking into account the rom 7 struggle? Simple yes or no will suffice.

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  41. They are new creatures with foundational and radically different instincts, intuitions, sensibilities, loves and hates. If somebody is years into a claim upon Christ and none of this is true of them they very well BETTER doubt their salvation.

    Greg, what about those converts who hitherto have led upright lives, perhaps even surpassing Christians? Worldviewers like yourself routinely like to talk about how Christendom created a Christian culture in which even unbelievers have been trained in Christian ethics and morality. “See something good in culture? Thanks a Christian.” Of course, 2kers would say that’s just natural law at work, not the alleged trickle-down sanctification voo-doo theory. But if worldviewers want to invoke the voo-doo theory about culture, then what gives with all this “radically different” stuff? Believers shouldn’t blaspheme or share their wives, but what if a convert never did in the first place? Should they doubt their salvation because they can’t claim any radical change?

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  42. D. G. Hart: Greg, I never change.

    !! immutable
    not one of the options I don’t think.
    It’s either:
    1) But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse deceiving and being deceived. Or 2) continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of… aka- we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord being transformed into the same image from glory to glory just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
    🙂

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  43. Zrim asks: “Believers shouldn’t blaspheme or share their wives, but what if a convert never did in the first place? Should they doubt their salvation because they can’t claim any radical change?”
    ==============================================
    Not bad Zrim. Seriously, thats like 4 or 5 excellent substantive questions in a row.

    The unbelieving middle class suburbanite shlub (for instance), who is honest, works hard, doesn’t cheat on his taxes, is faithful to his wife, a good neighbor and is a caring responsible father AND maybe even church goer who gives to charity. “What of him,” is the question.

    In his case, his testimony will be that all his supposed “goodness” is now viewed by him as filthy rags and that he now sees that the self righteous belief that that “goodness” was good enough for god, (if there was one,) was the most intolerable sin of all in the eyes of the one true God for whom the blood of Christ alone is acceptable for right standing. He will certainly tell those close to him right away.

    Even if he was the ultimate pharisee before and his outward behavior as such doesn’t change that radically, it will not remain a secret that he has a new master and savior. Not because he’s obnoxious and in anybody’s face, but God will see that the man is given opportunities to bring glory to Himself by his new life in Christ. There are no clandestine Christians in scripture, even when twisting 1 Thessalonians 4:11.

    His people exist in this earth to be a morally separate and holy people as representatives of His death defeating truth. This has been the case from Abraham forward. Just because there’s’ not a theocratic national covenant anymore doesn’t meant that this is no longer true. It functions from the inside out now. (Jeremiah 132:31 ff)

    Additionally, unlike Israel, we are granted the glorious honor and responsibility of being the instruments and means through which He calls His elect to Himself. This does not happen when they think they’re already like us. Either because of our worldliness OR self righteousness.

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  44. Greg, “testimony”? That’s the language of experientialism. More looking inward for assurance and turning it inside out for verification, which is different from confession.

    But the age-old test is whether one can, for example, now confess the Apostle’s Creed where he previously could not. Perhaps that’s “radical” insofar as going from denying the ascension to affirming it is quite a shift. In which case, being “years into a claim upon Christ and none of this is true of them” doesn’t make much sense–how can one be years into affirming the creed but not? It only makes sense if one is starting with the experientialist template of “instincts, intuitions, sensibilities, loves and hates” instead of the confessionalist template of doctrine and life.

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  45. Every so called “gay Christian” I know will unhesitatingly affirm the apostle’s creed Zrim. Rob Bell and Brian McClaren and every bible butchering emergent hack on the planet will affirm the apostle’s creed. Rachael Held Evans affirms the apostle’s creed. There’s a woman whose site I’m banned from who between articles on S&M threesomes explicitly affirms the apostle’s creed. Shoot, Mormon missionaries won’t reject the apostle’s creed.

    Come to think of it, the PCUSA still affirms the Westminster Standards.

    Are we to accept the word of these folks that they should be considered Christian because they say so? Does God? According to His word?

    I’m pretty sure, if it had existed then, the wicked man in 1st Cor. 5 with his father’s wife would have affirmed the apostle’s creed as Paul was delivering him to Satan until repentance for his flagrant unrepentant sin was forthcoming. I’m dern sure the judaizers in Galatia, upon whom Paul declared the anathema of God, saying they were fallen from grace, separated from Christ and he hoped they castrated themselves would have affirmed the apostle’s creed. It’s a whale of a good bet that the “children of the devil” in the 3rd chapter of John’s 1st epistle would have affirmed the apostle’s creed.

    Need I go on?

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  46. Greg, you missed the life part of the doctrine and life affirmation. Which is also included in membered up and submitted. Part of the broader point is your piety centers around your navel and culture warring(at least from your examples). Wittingly or unwittingly by placing the emphasis there you diminish a more churchly spirituality that thinks far more of your attendance and confession and compliance therein, than how you’re doing today as you navel gaze. Your culture warring-transformation outward proof, seems inconsistent with the admonition to live quiet lives praying for the peace of the city, working with your hands, avoiding quarrels, etc. I would say your personality is front and center not Christ’s reflection. Rejecting or resisting you doesn’t equate to resisting Christ. Separating primarily is engagement in the church/cult, which is why I asked the question of you earlier. We separate from a scandalous brother-1 cor 5 not a scandalous neighbor. That’s all tied up in membership, confession, vows and submission. Which you just don’t think really gets it done.

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  47. Not that you have any particular reason to care, but you disappoint me Sean. It won’t do any good to say why and I can only carry on effective conversations with so many people at once. You ARE a sharp guy too.

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  48. Greg, it was an an example to make a larger point, namely doctrine and life (confessionalism) as opposed to instincts and intuitions (experientialism and worldview). The “radical” stuff just doesn’t compute in the former the way it does the latter.

    But there you go again, resurrecting the dead to play your hand puppet.

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  49. Please tell me Zrim, what of the following two chapters of the confession, you either disagree with or discern that I have disagreed with:
    ======================================================
    CHAPTER XIII.
    Of Sanctification.

    I. They who are effectually called and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them, are further sanctified, really and personally, through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, by his Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened, in all saving graces, to the practice of true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.

    II. This sanctification is throughout in the whole man, yet imperfect in this life: there abideth still some remnants of corruption in every part, whence ariseth a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.

    III. In which war, although the remaining corruption for a time may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part doth overcome: and so the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    CHAPTER XVI.
    Of Good Works.

    I. Good works are only such as God hath commanded in his holy Word, and not such as, without the warrant thereof, are devised by men out of blind zeal, or upon any pretense of good intention.

    II. These good works, done in obedience to God’s commandments, are the fruits and evidences of a true and lively faith: and by them believers manifest their thankfulness, strengthen their assurance, edify their brethren, adorn the profession of the gospel, stop the mouths of the adversaries, and glorify God, whose workmanship they are, created in Christ Jesus thereunto, that, having their fruit unto holiness, they may have the end, eternal life.

    III. Their ability to do good works is not at all of themselves, but wholly from the Spirit of Christ. And that they may be enabled thereunto, besides the graces they have already received, there is required an actual influence of the same Holy Spirit to work in them to will and to do of his good pleasure; yet are they not hereupon to grow negligent, as if they were not bound to perform any duty unless upon a special motion of the Spirit; but they ought to be diligent in stirring up the grace of God that is in them.

    IV. They, who in their obedience, attain to the greatest height which is possible in this life, are so far from being able to supererogate and to do more than God requires, that they fall short of much which in duty they are bound to do.

    V. We can not, by our best works, merit pardon of sin, or eternal life, at the hand of God, because of the great disproportion that is between them and the glory to come, and the infinite distance that is between us and God, whom by them we can neither profit, nor satisfy for the debt of our former sins; but when we have done all we can, we have done but our duty, and are unprofitable servants: and because, as they are good, they proceed from his Spirit; and as they are wrought by us, they are defiled and mixed with so much weakness and imperfection that they can not endure the severity of God’s judgment.

    VI. Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in him, not as though they were in this life wholly unblamable and unreprovable in God’s sight; but that he, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.

    VII. Works done by unregenerate men, although for the matter of them they may be things which God commands, and of good use both to themselves and others; yet, because they proceed not from a heart purified by faith; nor are done in a right manner, according to the Word; nor to a right end, the glory of God; they are therefore sinful and can not please God, or make a man meet to receive grace from God. And yet their neglect of them is more sinful, and displeasing unto God.
    =================================================
    I’ll even help ya out. Every major comment of mine on oldlife for the past month can be found starting on this THIS page going forward. If computers aren’t necessarily your thing, which there’s nothing wrong with, I’ll show you how to search those pages so you can see if I have said anything in opposition to those chapters. That way you won’t have to dig around over here. All mine are in one place.

    OR, you can simply concede that my remarks have been the ones that are in line with them and yours, in opposition to mine, have not.

    Please read those 2 chapters carefully. I didn’t write them. I wouldn’t be born for 320 years. Despite Sean’s delusions of my delusions of grandeur, I am once again just the messenger. I stand ready and willing to thank you for exposing my error and making me a better man of God. I really do mean that.

    Gym time.

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  50. Greg, nothing about “new creatures with foundational and radically different instincts, intuitions, sensibilities, loves and hates.”

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  51. hey, just saw maybe the problem here –‘piety without exuberance’ ! (the category) ;might explain it all!

    Zrim says: Greg, “testimony”? That’s the language of experientialism.

    and?
    the ‘experience’ of victory that one would rather die than deny Jesus:
    And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Rev 12:11

    the ‘experience’ of the inner witness work of the Spirit Who indwells every believer to the truth of Jesus, to the truth one is a child of God,to the truth that one knows this because his heart has been changed by God to believe
    the one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself; 1 John 5:10

    please quit trying to blaspheme (lack respect for) the Spirit

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  52. Greg, you can join my mother and any number of priests in their disappointment of me. I’ll slot you somewhere around the priests and under suspicion.

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  53. Darryl, I very much apologize. I accidentally submitted the un-proofread and un- properly- edited version above. If you could delete that one, I sure would appreciate it. If not that’s ok too, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. I think you did this for me once before. Thanks.
    ————————————————
    Zrim says: “Greg, nothing about “new creatures with foundational and radically different instincts, intuitions, sensibilities, loves and hates.”
    ——————————————————–
    Zrim. Aside from simply copying and pasting those two chapters over again, I’m not sure there exists a way to adequately express the galactic blindness evident in this last statement of yours. It’s important to me that you believe, if possible, that I intend no insult when I say that. I have sat here for several minutes now staring at what you said and musing over what might constitute a useful response.

    How do you convince someone, who is standing in front you outside.Soaken wet, water running off their nose and spraying from their lips as they insist to you between lightning flashes and thunder claps that it is NOT raining out here?

    I confess my inadequacy. I don’t know what to say. Those two chapters encompass perfectly every single thing I’ve said on these and related topics since I’ve been around here. It’s not possible for me to help you see that if you don’t already.

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  54. Greg, I feel you. It’s like explaining red to someone who’s blind. Film and schooling are things indifferent and things indifferent are where most of life is actually lived. This is the part where you try to explain red back to me using all sorts of big words, fragment sentences, CAPS, exclamation points, and quotes but none of which convince me you know what red is.

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  55. GTT on the socially moral yet “unbelieving middle class suburbanite shlub”:: “In his case, his testimony will be that all his supposed “goodness” is now viewed by him as filthy rags and that he now sees that the self righteous belief that that “goodness” was good enough for god, (if there was one,) was the most intolerable sin of all in the eyes of the one true God for whom the blood of Christ alone is acceptable for right standing. He will certainly tell those close to him right away.”

    GW: Agreed. As believers we acknowledge freely, and openly, that “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” before the Lord, and that in Christ alone is our righteousness.

    In fact, in our OP church’s liturgy every week at the beginning of the Divine service (after having been summoned before our infinitely holy covenant God by His salutation and call to worship) we corporately confess together our sin and unworthiness and receive anew God’s declaration of pardon through the mouthpiece of the minister.

    The problem, brother Greg, is as follows: Let’s take a “middle class suburbanite shlub” like the one you describe above (honest, hard-working, faithful to his wife, doesn’t cheat on his taxes, etc.), but this time let’s say he is a professing believer in Christ who holds membership in a faithful church like the OPC where he too confesses his unworthiness and sin week in and week out in the corporate liturgy. From the perspective of the churchly faith of old lifers his profession of faith, active participation in the means of grace, and outwardly moral life are enough for his profession of faith to be accepted as credible, and thus for him to be regarded as a true believer in the judgment of charity. But for all manner of pietistic revivalists today this professedly Christian suburbanite shlub’s profession of faith may very well be called into question if his experiential piety does not measure up to the Puritanesque/Edwardsian degree of emotional intensity, or if he does not tow the line with the correct, right-leaning political and cultural-transformationalist agenda. To us “old lifers” who place cult (i.e., church, creed & worship) above culture, and who believe that the church corporate is of more ultimate importance than both the agendas of the world (even cultural & political agendas we might agree with) and our subjective religious experiences (or lack thereof) as individuals, such a judgmentalism on the part of pietistic revivalists strikes us as an unwarranted judgmentalism and binding of the conscience at best; a rank fundamentalistic phariseeism at worst.

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  56. Is sdb a she?

    Some mysteries will just have to remain thus…

    sdb said: “I am engaging Geoff…”
    Well, you didn’t say that and you were quoting me. Hopefully I can be forgiven for believing you were talking to me.

    Not at all. There are no private convos here. My point wasn’t that you shouldn’t butt in. Rather I wasn’t engaging your body of work. I found Geoff’s response interesting but thought I could add something. While your question has some truth to it, the framing is unhelpful.

    The question is meant to reveal if a person is a proponent of the old fundamentalist baptist heresy of eternal security and the “carnal Christian.” As opposed to the reformed doctrine of the perseverance/preservation of the saints. The only similarity is that both state that once saved, salvation can’t be lost.

    Like I said unhelpful framing.

    While your experience is certainly true in some cases, most people can point to a time where they believe they made a conscious decision to trust Christ for their salvation. At least of the thousands I’ve personally talked to, that’s the by far majority testimony.

    How sad. To have this covenant gift squandered on the altar of my decisional autonomy. I decide. It was up to me. I mustered up the will power to make a uturn on the highway to hell.

    The point is that a Christian is not someone who is only being kept from damnation. They are new creatures with foundational and radically different instincts, intuitions, sensibilities, loves and hates. If somebody is years into a claim upon Christ and none of this is true of them they very well BETTER doubt their salvation.

    Different from what? Their preconversion 7yr old self? Their fellow congregant…I’ve been a professing believer for like 6 years longer than Sally. Why can’t I be as holy as she? Or the unbelieving neighbor with a beautiful wife and 2 well behaved kids who get along? Why doesn’t my family life seem as good as theirs? Maybe I’m not really saved? Or maybe this whole faith is a crock.

    Outward actions and speech, such as the lists in the catechism are only a gauge of the inward state of the heart. One’s life and attitude toward their remaining sin doesn’t have a thing to do with justifying them, but it does reveal whether their claim upon justification is credible. John (1st John 3) is referring to practitioners of sin. Those who are at settled peace with their sin. He warns us not to be deceived. Those people are children of the devil. The attempt to restrict that practice of sin to a self righteous claim upon justification, is laughably preposterous on it’s face. (not saying you’ve done that, but others certainly have)

    The point is, if the unbelievers close to you in your life would never guess that you’re a Christian, if you think, talk and act like they do in things that re not indifferent, and love the same sinful worldly culture they do, your profession is not credible. Period. I didn’t make this up myself. I don’t care who or what church tells me otherwise. Nothing could be clearer from the scriptures. This also has nothing to do with passing judgement on their election.

    It’s not that a person sins. EVERY Christian sins, in word thought and deed. Every day. It’s their attitude toward their sin that is telling. If they tell me “yes” there can be a Christian who remains forever indistinguishable from the pagans except they SAY they’re a Christian, that is a false antinomian gospel to be forsaken and repented of. It’s dissemination is very clearly imperiling the PCA right now and is making tragic inroads into the OPC as well.

    As I said a long while back here. The extreme version of 2K on this site is almost Valentinus for the 21st century. My bones hurt to see Dr. Hart abandon this terrible theology and make his oldlife mission truly OLDlife.

    I have no authority over anybody. Nobody is accountable to ME. All I care about is continually learning and being faithful with what I learn. Whether anybody listens or not is not up to me.

    Very true.

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  57. GTT: “A person proclaiming the Christian God’s favor upon their sodomite “marriage” is not the same as a person at war, and maybe even losing at the moment, with same sex attraction.”

    GW: Agreed, Greg. Christians who know enough of their Bibles to know the biblical sexual ethic will certainly not believe that God favors sodomite marriage. Nor will biblically-informed believers ever celebrate same-sex marriage as an ethically good thing, or participate actively in a same-sex wedding ceremony (either as an officiant or attendee).

    But the problem that some Bible-believing, confessional Christians wrestle with is this — In a non-theocratic, common-grace, pre-consummation setting such as our own, how do we live together as a society in outward harmony and peace and strive together for the common good alongside our unbelieving neighbors, including those who do not share our biblical sexual ethic or our “sexual orientation”? See, it is possible for a Christian to reject same-sex marriage as ethically-right and valid marriage in the eyes of Almighty God, and yet at the same time to be willing to tolerate it as a legal reality in the civil realm, given that we live in a non-theocratic, pluralistic setting. I’m not saying this is my own personal position on the matter; just saying that it is possible for a Christian in principle to accept “gay marriage” or same-sex civil unions as a concession to human fallenness while at the same time rejecting it as a theological and ethically-acceptable reality. Just like it is possible to accept no-fault, unbiblical divorce as legal divorce within the civil sphere, even though such unbiblical divorces are sinful and disapproved in the eyes of God and a concession to human hardness of heart (Deut. 24:1-4; compare with Matt. 19:3-9; especially v. 8).

    In other words, a professing Christian’s position on civil same-sex marriage is not necessarily a reflection on the state of his or her soul before God. Sometimes true believers may hold nuanced views on such issues without compromising the biblical ethic, or without casting doubt upon the credibility of their profession of faith.

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  58. Geoff Willour:To us “old lifers” who place cult (i.e., church, creed & worship) above culture, and who believe that the church corporate is of more ultimate importance than both the agendas of the world (even cultural & political agendas we might agree with) and our subjective religious experiences (or lack thereof) as individuals, such a judgmentalism on the part of pietistic revivalists strikes us as an unwarranted judgmentalism and binding of the conscience at best; a rank fundamentalistic phariseeism at worst.

    Good point about pharisee-ism; Jesus- to all of us pharisees: “Woe” ..…which is why “when He left there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to be very hostile and to question Him closely on many subjects, plotting against Him to catch Him in something He might say” [today,from His own word ,that is, those things that we don’t like].

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  59. Oh goodness! Lotsa new stuff here. I’ll get to it as soon as I can. (Geoff, for whatever reason, I think I’m talking past you. I’ll take the blame)

    sdb, which part of that last long piece that you quote from me are you declaring “very true?” All of it?
    BBL

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  60. Oops! I managed to delete a bunch of my responses in there…the joys of being all thumbs on a cell phone. I’ll see if I can come back to it later when I get time.

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  61. Only have a minute right now. Geoff, neither emotional intensity, nor adherence to a particular political agenda are any part of my points on this site. If it is agreeable to you, I would like to get back to epistemology. However, I have no problem continuing on this topic if you like. Which is what amounts to the content of chapters XXIII and XVI (among others maybe not quite so directly) of the confession. You’ve been making a series of statements. I must say that very much of what you have in your last two comments are not my views. Feel free to simply ask my view on anything at all.

    Let me ask this. Feel free to to ignore it for the time being if you prefer to proceed somewhere else for now. I define “worldview” (though I’m not addicted to the term and would;d be just as happy with another), as a comprehensive system of theology, philosophy and ethics that subsumes and governs all areas of life. Please, I beg of thee, not to insert any aspect of any other definition you’ve heard out there into mine. Nothing I’ve been able to say to the regulars here has been successful in dissuading them from doing this. The “Kuyperians” of today for example, make no contribution to my thought.

    Do you believe such a comprehensive system of theology, philosophy and ethics that subsumes and governs all areas of life, in our case an explicitly Christian one, exists?

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  62. In the spirit of Unification I’d like to invite everyone to this May’s unofficial parachurch-unsanctioned Old Life River Cruise — “The Authentic Brokenness Experience”. I’m not saying Cap’n Hart will be there, but I’m not saying he won’t be. I am saying that if Greg shows up in a Speedo we will use the deck gun and/or plank. Same goes for any Cat’lick who shows up with a little statue of the BVM.

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  63. GTT: “Do you believe such a comprehensive system of theology, philosophy and ethics that subsumes and governs all areas of life, in our case an explicitly Christian one, exists?”

    GW: Brother Greg, thank you for your thought-provoking comments and questions. I enjoy the substantive interaction. I’ve got to wind things down for the day and don’t have much time right now, but I’ll try to give a brief answer to your question above.

    As a confessional Presbyterian Christian who adheres to the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Standards (and as generally understood by the “animus imponentis” — the “mind of the church” — within the OPC), I believe that the Scriptures do indeed teach a Divinely-revealed system of doctrine, and that this scriptural system of doctrine is faithfully expounded (and thus “contained”) in the Westminster Standards. While I have some basic understanding of Van Til’s views (insofar as Van Til is capable of being understood by ordinary mortals like myself), and would regard myself as basically Van Tillian; at the same time I profess no expertise on Van Til or on matters of philosophy and epistemology. In sum: Jesus is Lord of all, God’s Word is unchanging, infallible truth, and the Reformed Faith as expounded in the historic Reformed and Presbyterian Confessions is the most consistent expression of biblical Christianity.

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  64. Geoff says: “I enjoy the substantive interaction.”
    As do I very much. I don’t take the respect you’ve shown me for granted. I won’t be teaching Van Til’s apologetic at Westminster east any time soon, but I have put forth the effort to have a pretty decent understanding of his thought. Van Til’s method was nothing more (or less) than his doctrine of God expressed philosophically.

    Allow me please to ask you another question I’ve asked these guys. The following proposition:

    “n the beginning [the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, YHWH as later revealed to Moses] created the heavens and the earth”

    Is this proposition unquestionably certain and true? In other words, is there even the slightest possibility that it is UNtrue? I say, that to stand on the former is the only consistently Christian and certainly only consistently reformed possibility, and to concede the latter is the very essence of agnostic skepticism. What do you say?

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  65. GTT: ““n the beginning [the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, YHWH as later revealed to Moses] created the heavens and the earth””

    GW: Yes, of course this truth is “unquestionably certain and true” (to borrow your words). God as Creator is a revealed truth made clear in both general revelation and in Holy Scripture. However, Christians on both sides of the 2K debate and who take various positions on the kinds of issues debated on this site (for example, issues like public education, the arts, etc.) confess this foundational revealed truth.

    I think the more pressing question is not so much the Creator/creature distinction or the Lordship of Christ over all of life (which all biblically-Reformed believers of all stripes would confess), but the question of how does our sovereign Triune Creator God choose to govern a fallen, sin-cursed world in the context of an “already/not-yet”, pre-consummated state (such as we find ourselves in during this inter-advental stage of redemptive history), and how are believers to live out the implications of their discipleship to Christ in the context of a common grace setting where they have no choice but to rub elbows and cooperate in common secular endeavors with their unbelieving neighbors.

    A related issue would be the nature and extent of Christian liberty and liberty of conscience. And the issue of how do we deal with differences of opinion among professing believers when it comes to matters that are not directly addressed in Scripture with an authoritative “thus saith the Lord.” Also, the related matter of how to determine what is in fact “good” and “necessary” in the “good and necessary consequences” arising out of Scriptural teaching, and how to distinguish between validly “good and necessary consequence” from merely private and personal convictions about debated matters.

    The foundational doctrine of God the Creator does not, of itself, solve these kinds of issues; though it may help to provide a framework for understanding such questions and how to address them.

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  66. Geoff Willour: In sum: Jesus is Lord of all, God’s Word is unchanging, infallible truth…
    Geoff Willour: how do we deal with differences of opinion among professing believers…

    just again, probably not by calling others ‘pietistic revivalists’, as if an accusation, for we are all ‘pietistic reivalists’ of some sort,for something and ‘emotionally’ zealous for something… even the Lord…
    -zeal for Your house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me. Ps 69:9
    -There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. Isa 9:7
    -The Lord will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies. Isa 42:13
    -He put on righteousness like a breastplate, and a helmet of salvation on His head; and He put on garments of vengeance for clothing and wrapped Himself with zeal as a mantle. Isa 59:17

    but back to us people though, e.g. even Chortlesfweakly l ’Zealot, though claiming l’unificator, is a forceful, aggressive agitator for his own position… and Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good 1 Pet 3:13

    we ought at least unificate around this:: My zeal has consumed me, because my adversaries have forgotten Your words.Your word is very pure, therefore Your servant loves it. Revive us, Lord, according to Your word. Ps 119:139-140,25,50,107,154

    a concession: Chortlesfweakly: ‘Proud Mary’ : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hid10EgMXE

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  67. Geoff says: “Yes, of course this truth is “unquestionably certain and true” (to borrow your words). “
    You are the very first person on this site to affirm this truth to me and I’ve had several explicitly deny it.
    ———————————————————————-
    Geoff says: “[how certain one is about] The foundational doctrine of God the Creator does not, of itself, solve these kinds of issues;…”
    That’s true.

    Geoff says: “…though it may help to provide a framework for understanding such questions and how to address them…”
    That’s also true. Epistemological UNcertainty is very often coupled with an equally mushy and unbiblical notion of “liberty,” because the mindset of the former provides the framework for the latter.

    Clearly you have been tugging us in a certain direction Geoff. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling I’m going to be very bummed to learn what that direction is. What if you save us both some time and just take us there?

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  68. You [Geoff] are the very first person on this site to affirm this truth to me [in the beginning the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, YHWH as later revealed to Moses created the heavens and the earth] and I’ve had several explicitly deny it.

    Greg, ninth commandment alert. Where has anyone here ever denied the first article of the creed?

    But as you go forward you might consider the difference between worldview and faith. The latter is the biblical category and concerns eternal life, the former isn’t the biblical category and concerns provisional life. That isn’t to dismiss worldview per se (since we all live a provisional life), but rather to make the point that the Christian FAITH is an otherworldly FAITH, not a this-worldly worldview. The difference is important and one that is involved between something like Protestant liberalism and Protestant confessionalism, i.e. if you want to promote Christian worldview then you might end of giving some cover to an instance you normally like to rail, blast and blunder against.

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  69. Blunder? That’s not very neighborly after all we’ve been through together Zrim.

    A worldview, as I have defined it, covers the whole of both worlds and is built upon one’s epistemology. Even if they’ve never heard that term and have no idea what it is. There are two epistemologies. God’s and all the rest, which ultimately reduce to versions of the same thing.

    Yes, I have been told outright on this blog that one’s pagan unbelieving workmates may be correct in their unbelief. Unlikely though that may be. This is post modern uncertainty, built upon a contingent God who is capable of providing His covenant children with no mere than the skeptics “probability.” As well as leaving the heathen with a possible excuse He says they don’t have in Romans 1.

    You can jump up and down and rail and snarl and spit at me until Jesus comes back and that WILL still be the way it is.

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  70. Ali: “just again, probably not by calling others ‘pietistic revivalists’, as if an accusation, for we are all ‘pietistic reivalists’ of some sort,for something and ‘emotionally’ zealous for something… even the Lord…”

    GW: Sure, Ali, I understand that we are all “emotionally zealous” for something (even if that something is a commitment to anti-pietism and anti-revivalism). I also understand that Scripture commends zeal for the Lord as a good thing. By referring to “pietistic revivalists” I wasn’t trying to engage in unfair name-calling, nor did I even have any specific individual in mind (not even GTT, though his manner of expression in some ways resembles that of “pietistic revivalists”, in my opinion). But I think for most who frequent this blog site it is pretty clear the kind of Christian being referred to by the terminology of “pietistic revivalist”. Most of us who have encountered real flesh-and-blood “pietistic revivalists” (or who, like myself, in many ways used to fit this category) have a pretty clear idea of what is being referred to.

    In brief, “pietistic revivalism” is only the general “zeitgeist” of contemporary American evangelicalism, with strong roots in both the first and second “Great Awakenings”, and involving a good mixture of anti-clergy, anti-creed, anti-institutional-church, pro-cultural-warriorism and pro-parachurch emphases. It is the force which drives the contemporary evangelical subculture of Christian consumer goods, Christian celebrities, Christian political & social action, many parachurch “ministries”, and much that goes on in contemporary, non-descript, so-called “non-denominational” contemporary “this is not your grandfather’s church” churches. And, like it or not, most of us American Christians have been influenced to one degree or another by it.

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  71. GTT: “Clearly you have been tugging us in a certain direction Geoff. I may be wrong, but I have a feeling I’m going to be very bummed to learn what that direction is. What if you save us both some time and just take us there?”

    GW: Well, brother, I hope I don’t bum you out, but if I do it won’t be the first time I’ve disappointed others. But I guess you are wanting me to just “lay my cards on the table.”

    The problem is, I don’t think I’m trying to be coy or deceptive, nor do I think I’m trying to push some specific agenda. In other words, I don’t think I have any hidden cards to expose. If there is any “agenda” or “direction” I am trying to take us in, I guess my concern is to encourage civil dialogue among brethren on controversial issues. (Yes, I lean 2K and would tend to err in the direction of guarding Christian liberty and liberty of conscience when it comes to controversial cultural issues than I would of imposing new moral and cultural taboos that seem to have questionable biblical warrant.) Which, I guess in the eyes of some, would make me a squishy compromiser. (I recall a fellow former-presbyter in a previous Presbytery once describing me, behind my back I’m told, as “weak.”) Maybe I just need to snarl and growl a bit more, engage in some bombastic posturing, thump my chest a bit more in “me-Tarzan-you-Jane” fashion, and try harder to be the Trump version of a theologian. But, sorry, that’s just not my style. (And, btw, I’m not saying it’s your style either, so please don’t misread what I’m saying. Yes, when you’ve expressed yourself in what I believed to be unhelpful ways I’ve tried to confront you with that, hopefully in a brotherly manner. But I’ve also on occasion expressed disappointment and even concern to Dr. Hart about the manner in which he sometimes expresses himself. So I guess that would make me an equal-opportunity-confronter.)

    As with my comment in response to Ali above, I admit I do have a pet-peeve about pietistic revivalism, anti-churchism, and over-dogmatism in areas where true believers may differ. But other than that I’m just here to enjoy some brotherly give-and-take, and hopefully to contribute something of value to the conversation.

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  72. A worldview, as I have defined it, covers the whole of both worlds and is built upon one’s epistemology. Even if they’ve never heard that term and have no idea what it is. There are two epistemologies. God’s and all the rest, which ultimately reduce to versions of the same thing.

    That is non-sense. There is multiple models for understanding how we “know” something that are consistent with the reformed confessions. Montgomery, van Til, and Plantinga are (were) all fine Christians with very different epistemologies.

    Yes, I have been told outright on this blog that one’s pagan unbelieving workmates may be correct in their unbelief. Unlikely though that may be. This is post modern uncertainty, built upon a contingent God who is capable of providing His covenant children with no mere than the skeptics “probability.” As well as leaving the heathen with a possible excuse He says they don’t have in Romans 1.

    It is not impossible that my unbelieving colleagues are right and I am deluded. I don’t think they are, and I am very confident that they are wrong. But it isn’t a necessary truth. This is not postmodernism by the way. I’m not claiming that reality does not exist, nor am I claiming that it is not knowable. Only that I don’t have the ability to prove beyond any doubt whatsoever – I don’t get to put my hands in his wounds like Thomas did, I didn’t talk to a burning bush, and I’ve not had any visions. I have faith, hope, and love for God and my neighbor even as I struggle with sin and unbelief (not too unlike Abraham continued to reveal his doubts about God’s promise as he tried to “help” the promise along by fathering Ismael and passing Sarah off as his sister). But I am confident (which is not synonymous with absolutely certain) that some day I will be with him and faith and hope will fade away as unnecessary (who hopes for what he has?). But that means I will have knowledge of him in a way that I don’t have now. Don’t immanentize the eschaton. Your disparagement of epistemic humility as agnostic (and pagan and postmodern and whatever other incoherent string of invective you want to invoke) skepticism is very unwise. Perhaps recognize that your faith is a gift, and it isn’t the strength of one’s faith that justifies, but the strength of the object of that faith.

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  73. Regarding epistemology, it is the Holy Spirit’s internal witness with our spirit that the Word is of Divine origin and authority which gives us full persuasion and assurance of the infallible certainty of Holy Scripture. In the words of Westminster Confession of Faith 1.5, while there are many factors that may be pointed to as arguments whereby the Bible “doth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God”; “…yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.”

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  74. @gtt here is my reproduction of my once great prose that I managed to lose in that early comment. It is way to long, but I don’t have time to edit…hopefully it is clear enough!

    Outward actions and speech, such as the lists in the catechism are only a gauge of the inward state of the heart. One’s life and attitude toward their remaining sin doesn’t have a thing to do with justifying them, but it does reveal whether their claim upon justification is credible. John (1st John 3) is referring to practitioners of sin. Those who are at settled peace with their sin. He warns us not to be deceived. Those people are children of the devil. The attempt to restrict that practice of sin to a self righteous claim upon justification, is laughably preposterous on it’s face. (not saying you’ve done that, but others certainly have)

    Yes. Those who defy God’s law and refuse to repent of sins should have no assurance of their salvation no matter what they profess.

    The point is, if the unbelievers close to you in your life would never guess that you’re a Christian, if you think, talk and act like they do in things that are not indifferent, and love the same sinful worldly culture they do, your profession is not credible. Period. I didn’t make this up myself. I don’t care who or what church tells me otherwise. Nothing could be clearer from the scriptures. This also has nothing to do with passing judgement on their election.

    Except that the outward behavior of an unbeliever regarding things that are not indifferent can look just like the believer. The “righteous” muslim that Dreher noted, the observant jew, and the family friendly mormon, and the moralistic atheist may behave in ways that look really good to the people around them (compare the behavior of Peter, David, and Abraham – who all fell into pretty serious sin late in their justified life). Of course the difference is that the believer hates his sin and repents – but thats not the sort of thing your co-workers would notice (or necessarily even understand).

    It’s not that a person sins. EVERY Christian sins, in word thought and deed. Every day. It’s their attitude toward their sin that is telling. If they tell me “yes” there can be a Christian who remains forever indistinguishable from the pagans except they SAY they’re a Christian, that is a false antinomian gospel to be forsaken and repented of. It’s dissemination is very clearly imperiling the PCA right now and is making tragic inroads into the OPC as well.

    But wait a minute. You’ve moved the goal posts. Your questions wasn’t – “are you more righteous than your pagan neighbors?” or “Do you have a different attitude toward your sin than the unbelievers close to you?” You question was whether you are less sinful now than you were before you were a believer. That’s not a helpful framing as it many, many believers come to faith as covenant children and have no experience living as an unbeliever. Your question can sow the seeds of doubt in those who have no conversion “experience” to speak of. I’m not saying that never happens, but making this question a rule to separate the saints from those who are no better than agnostic – postmodern – pagan – worldly – antinomian skeptics is not helpful.

    As I said a long while back here. The extreme version of 2K on this site is almost Valentinus for the 21st century. My bones hurt to see Dr. Hart abandon this terrible theology and make his oldlife mission truly OLDlife.

    This is nonsense. 2K says nothing about sanctification. It addresses the proper role of the church viz a viz the state and other worldly matters. At some level we are all 2K – the church session is not opining on the building code manual for residential housing, safety equipment on airplanes, or sanitation standards for hospitals. They have neither the expertise nor the authority to opine on such matters. Nor do they have much to say about what the relative penalties should be for manslaughter, various degrees of homicide, etc… how the rules of evidence should be adjudicated, how much discretion prosecutors and judges should have, how to balance concern for privacy and safety, security and freedom, etc… So while the church is right to teach that it is wrong for mother to contract with someone to kill her unborn baby, the church does not have the expertise (or authority) to declare whether and how the state should act in light of this fact. One might conclude that simply outlawing abortions and putting the death penalty in place for committing them would drive the underground and not reduce the number of babies killed while keeping the state out of the process more women considering abortion could be swayed against it by counseling centers and support for raising their baby. Others might disagree and think that more moderate laws against abortion would save more lives. But the bible doesn’t tell us what role the state should have in this. Paul didn’t speak out about Rome’s tacit acceptance of infanticide and he was a citizen! He could have called down God’s curses on Rome following the example of OT prophets. He didn’t – instead he chose to focus on building the church.

    This has nothing to do with one’s understanding of sanctification, how one gains assurance of one’s salvation, or one’s epistemic model for how we know what we know. It has everything with keeping the Church’s mission central to her activities, avoiding the dangers of legalism, and respecting the liberty that Christ has won for her members.

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  75. Greg, take a breath, nobody’s railing or spitting at you. Project much?

    So no proof for that accusation (of denying the first article of the creed)? Just supposed to take your word for it? And now this: “I have been told outright on this blog that one’s pagan unbelieving workmates may be correct in their unbelief.” What blog are you reading? Not this one. But what sdb said.

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  76. Sdb,

    Except that the outward behavior of an unbeliever regarding things that are not indifferent can look just like the believer. The “righteous” muslim that Dreher noted, the observant jew, and the family friendly mormon, and the moralistic atheist may behave in ways that look really good to the people around them (compare the behavior of Peter, David, and Abraham – who all fell into pretty serious sin late in their justified life). Of course the difference is that the believer hates his sin and repents – but thats not the sort of thing your co-workers would notice (or necessarily even understand).

    I’ll see your point and raise another. Unbelievers have the capacity to hate their sin and repent, too, and thereby continue to look just like the believer. Where they part ways from believer is in the alone power of Christ to broker divine reconciliation and forgiveness. It’s to that which they are stone deaf, dumb, and blind.

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  77. Zrim: “Unbelievers have the capacity to hate their sin and repent, too, and thereby continue to look just like the believer.”

    GW: Umm…no, they don’t. At least not according to passages like Romans 3 or our Reformed Confessions. Sure, unbelievers may hate the uncomfortable negative effects of their sin (like Judas, who was distressed at the horror of what he had done in betraying innocent blood); but they don’t truly hate their sin because it offends their Creator. If they truly repented then they would be believers, not unbelievers.

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  78. Only Pelagianism and Semi-Pelagianism affirms that the unregenerate have the power of free will to hate their sin and repent. Augustinianism and Calvinism denies the ability of the unregenerate to freely decide to repent.

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  79. Geoff, you’ve never seen an unbeliever sorry for his actions and amend his ways? But when you say “truly hate their sin because it offends their Creator,” that seems parallel with “the alone power of Christ to broker divine reconciliation and forgiveness,” which is to say only regeneration yields both abilities. I’m not saying “truly,” I’m saying “outwardly.”

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  80. No mercy por tu, Greg. We’re all just ‘almost believers’ around here. No mercy or soup for you. Do better

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  81. I’m gonna do my best in the time I have right now to hit some highlights.

    Geoff says: “Yes, I lean 2K and would tend to err in the direction of guarding Christian liberty and liberty of conscience when it comes to controversial cultural issues than I would of imposing new moral and cultural taboos that seem to have questionable biblical warrant.”
    In other words you agree with these guys that blasphemous pornographic media is a Christian liberty?

    THIS is exactly right as far as it goes Geoff. Exactly.

    Dr. Van Til often said, and with which I wholeheartedly agree, “whatever can be “proven” to the human, especially fallen sinful human mind, is by definition not the God of the bible.” (paraphrase) That would once again reduce Him to an object or our autonomous investigation, rather than recognizing Him as the authority and standard by which alone, even a first grade math problem like 1+1=2 is intelligible.
    ===========================================
    Sdb, you have alotta material here. I appreciate that and certainly would never want you to feel like I wouldn’t be interested in your good faith dialog. I’m gonna need some time though.
    ===========================================
    Zrim, I have never spent one single moment that I can recall, angry or snarling at you. Frankly, I once considered you the most lightweight lowlife waste of time of all the regulars on this site. It is with sincere joy that I report that you have changed my mind. You still have a breathing conscience too. Praise God 🙂

    Listen guys, I know how this whole atmosphere must sound. Like I’m some kinda self appointed infallible demagogic schoolmaster who is standing above and quizzing everybody. I wish there were a way I could convince you that I really don’t mean it like that. I doubt there is and maybe I wouldn’t be convinced either.

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  82. Zrim: “Geoff, you’ve never seen an unbeliever sorry for his actions and amend his ways?”

    GW: Sure, unbelievers can be (and often are) sorry for their actions and can amend their ways. But this is not the same thing as hating their sins and repentance. Regret and outward amendment/reformation, yes. But true hatred of sin and repentance? No. Hating the painful effects my sin may have upon me and upon those I love is not the same thing as hating my sin because it is sin and because it offends my Creator. Just like seeking the benefits of knowing God (such as peace of conscience, joy, assurance, a sense of security and meaning, etc.) is not the same thing as seeking God Himself.

    I don’t mean to quibble over terminology, but when it comes to a biblical term like “repentance” and a biblical concept like “hating sin,” I think we need to be clear and get our terms right.

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  83. Greg, don’t beat around the bush–tell me what you really think (thought). But still no back up for your uncharitable accusations, noted.

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  84. Zrim sys :”Greg, don’t beat around the bush–tell me what you really think (thought). But still no back up for your uncharitable accusations, noted.”
    Trust me. I can only be in place at a time though bub. I’m juggling several things at once here and that’s when horrible typos happen. I’ll have be on and off the until later at least.

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  85. “Zrim, I have never spent one single moment that I can recall, angry or snarling at you. Frankly, I once considered you the most lightweight lowlife waste of time of all the regulars on this site.” YES!!!!!!!!! This is exactly what I tell everyone. Except, I’m always pissed at him too. Not sure how you work that disconnect Greg.

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  86. Steve, get down from there right now.
    No.
    Steve, I can’t have you drinking beer driving a scissor lift down the street.
    Call my boss, he said it was alright.
    Steve, we can do this the easy way or the hard way.
    You do what you gotta do, I’ll do what I gotta do.
    .
    .
    .
    .
    Damn, dude. it’s just a friggin scissor lift. Call my boss. Come on, dude.

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  87. In other words you agree with these guys that blasphemous pornographic media is a Christian liberty?

    Geoff, don’t forget to tell us when you stopped beating your wife either. We’re onto you.

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  88. GTT: “In other words you agree with these guys that blasphemous pornographic media is a Christian liberty?”

    GW: Not necessarily. To be honest, I haven’t yet taken the time to do more than skim over previous discussions on the subject of the film arts. Obviously it would depend upon various factors such as context, circumstances and intentions. Viewing such films in a media classroom setting for academic purposes, for example, would be quite different from viewing such films for the purpose of being titillated and indulging in personal lust. But, again, I don’t claim to have thought through these matters thoroughly, nor to have fully followed this discussion as you and others have.

    Of course, “blasphemous media” is not just of the film variety. Music, literature, print art and other media can also reflect a non-Christian worldview which is ultimately blasphemous. But is it always wrong for believers to indulge in such media? Again, I think it depends upon circumstances, settings and motives. For example, my personal library includes a number of books written by atheists and heretics (for example, Dawkins, Hitchens, Spong, Erhman, etc.), alongside of works of theology, apologetics and biblical studies that are sound and orthodox. Is the fact that I own and read such blasphemous books make me guilty of sin? Well, I don’t think so, because my intention in reading such books is to understand the unbelieving mind and to stay informed about ideas that are out there in our world today, not because I am looking for guidance from such works in my personal philosophy of life or for my ethical conduct.

    As another example, I am a devoted fan of the Canadian rock group Rush. I have most of their 40 year “canon” of music in my musical collection. (They just did what was probably their final tour, the “R40” tour, last year.) For a rock group they are musically sophisticated, being excellent and gifted musicians, and many of their lyrics are deep and thought-provoking. (They have a reputation as “the thinking man’s band”.) However, they clearly are not believers. While they don’t write lyrics celebrating drugs, sex and debauchery (i.e., for a rock band they are quite “family friendly” and tame), their unbelief and anti-Christian worldview comes out loud and clear in the lyrics of a number of their songs (for example, “Free Will”, “Faithless”, etc.). (Their drummer, Neil Peart, who wrote most of their lyrics, is a voracious reader who was influenced deeply by the anti-Christian philosophy of Ayn Rand.)

    Now, I don’t just listen to Rush as an academic interest. I actually enjoy listening to their music. In fact, last summer I even took my then-13 year old son to see them in concert. Am I sinning by listening to their music, and by taking my son to see them in concert? (He loved the concert, and has subsequently inherited my love for Rush’s music.) I certainly don’t expect you or others to share my musical tastes, but at the same time I don’t believe I have sinned in indulging in the enjoyment of such “blasphemous media”; in fact, some of their music has been the occasion for me to have some wonderful “teachable moment” type discussions with my son in helping to show him the contrast between the unbiblical worldview represented in Rush’s lyrics with the truth of God’s Word. To me this is a matter of Christian liberty and liberty of conscience.

    Of course, just to be clear: I would never endorse reading Dawkins or Spong in a public worship service, just as I would not want to see the lyrics of Rush introduced into the hymnody of the church. 🙂

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  89. @Z “I’ll see your point and raise another. Unbelievers have the capacity to hate their sin and repent, too, and thereby continue to look just like the believer. Where they part ways from believer is in the alone power of Christ to broker divine reconciliation and forgiveness. It’s to that which they are stone deaf, dumb, and blind.”
    Excellent point!

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  90. Geoff, I often listen to music to uncover underlying worldviews and then have teachable moments with my wife about how ‘Ma’ sucked but Hall and Oates were good before the 80’s. When the teachable moments don’t work I resort to the beatings.(I’m pretty sure Wilson and Jr. said that was the way to go). I’m now working on convincing some instructors that Soundgarden’s Down on the Upside is a better motivator than techno(that’s another compartment and yet another different worldview). I find women struggle with some musical teaching moments. When I go too far I get barraged with Sondheim and showtunes. This, of course, triggers more beatings and an odd resistance to teachable moments, what gives? I’m about to give up on teachable moments and just go with, “I like it”.

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  91. @Geoff, “they don’t truly hate their sin because it offends their Creator. If they truly repented then they would be believers, not unbelievers.” You aren’t saying the same thing. You can hate your sin because you think it is messing up your life, offending Allah, or otherwise causing you to do things you don’t like even if you aren’t concerned with the Creator of the universe. You can also repent in the sense of turning from your sin – lots of members of the nation of Islam have repented of their drug use and are living changed lives in the sense that they remain sober and devoted family members. That may look like good outward fruit (a whitewashed tomb?), but of course that has no benefit for their standing before God.

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  92. Geoff,

    My very first concert was seeing Rush live. 16 yrs. old. Neil Peart 10 minute solo elevated 30 feet in the air, quite the rush. Left stoned out of my mind – didn’t bring any weed. It was the 70’s.

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  93. Speaking of weed, are the PCA’s in weed legal states going to start putting on culture transformation conferences with workshops on how to incorporate the chronic in your spiritual disciplines? Seems like a logical tie in to the Jazz and Culture Transformation conferences that keep popping up at the local Redeemer Franchise.

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  94. @ Todd: Similar experience — air was opaque at half-time. But I don’t think I got anything beyond tinnitus.

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  95. This has been on my knuckles for the last 34 years Geoff.

    The thinking man’s band indeed. 2112 (which I still have involuntarily memorized) was new the first time I heard them. Unbelievably great musicians on every possible level. I could sing Freewill to you (and A Farewell To Kings, and the whole Hemispheres side of Hemispheres and Cygnus X-1, and Natural science, and The Camera Eye as well as hum every single note of every instrument of LA Villa Strangiato and YYZ (Exit Stage Left versions) and Where’s My Thing, Even the drums. ) I know most of the newer stuff up until Test For Echo too, but haven’t paid much attention in like the last 10 years. Those older albums are forever branded on my memory. I’ve seen them 11 times. I know at least as much about RUSH as you do, though I don’t to listen to very much music at all anymore really.

    “Of course, “blasphemous media” is not just of the film variety. Music, literature, print art and other media can also reflect a non-Christian worldview which is ultimately blasphemous. “

    “Non Christian worldview” is at the epistemological level where even 1+=2 is ultimately blasphemous from the mind of unbelief. That’s not the same as using the name’s of our God and His Christ as profanity. You have a grave confusion of categories going on here Geoff. Heresy, Freewill or Mystic Rhythms or Middletown Dreams or Analog Kid or Nobody’s Hero are non fiction literary paganism, like Paul’s quoting Aratus and Epimenides in Acts 17, set to music. They are in no possible way analogous to actual uncovenanted sexual contact performed publicly for money, or, as I said above, explicitly profaning the names of God and Christ. I would really like for you to tell me that you get this.

    I am VERY tied up still this evening. I’ll try to get to some more of all this later.

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  96. GTT: “This has been on my knuckles for the last 34 years Geoff.”

    GW: OK, I’ll cry uncle. Thou surpassest even me in the realm of Rush fan-dom. Good man, thou art. (Nice fist tattoo, btw; I just wouldn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of it.)

    GTT: “You have a grave confusion of categories going on here Geoff. Heresy, Freewill or Mystic Rhythms or Middletown Dreams or Analog Kid or Nobody’s Hero are non fiction literary paganism, like Paul’s quoting Aratus and Epimenides in Acts 17, set to music. They are in no possible way analogous to actual uncovenanted sexual contact performed publicly for money, or, as I said above, explicitly profaning the names of God and Christ.”

    GW: Hmm. Interesting perspective. I agree that the songs you mention are indeed “non fiction literary paganism”, but I don’t agree with your comparison of them to Paul’s quoting pagan authors in Acts 17. Paul quoted these pagan authors to establish common ground with the pagans he was preaching to, and ultimately for the purpose of gaining a hearing for the gospel. Rush’s literary paganism has no such intention. In fact, one could make the case that because some of their songs express a blatantly non-Christian philosophy of life with literary subtlety combined with catchy tunes, it actually makes the potential spiritual harm of such songs even more dangerous to the undiscerning than the potential spiritual harm of songs that are blatantly blasphemous and/or hedonistic. (Think, for example, of their songs “Roll the Bones” and “BU2B”. As the line in “Roll the Bones” states: “Why are we here? Because we’re here. Roll the bones.” Pretty clear rejection of a Creator God and affirmation of “lady luck,” if you ask me.)

    In addition, if even 1 + 1 = 2 is ultimately blasphemous from the mind of unbelief, would not the same be true of literary paganism; indeed, even more so? Is pagan artistic expression only sinful for the believer to imbibe if it involves “actual uncovenanted sexual contact performed publicly for money”; or is there other pagan artistic expression that would be inherently sinful for the believer to imbibe? And if so, how do we distinguish between “non fiction literary (or artistic, or musical) paganism” which is kosher for the believer to enjoy versus such pagan artistic expressions which it would be inherently sinful for believers to imbibe? Is it just the sexuality thing that would make it sinful, and perhaps also blatant, direct blasphemy; or are there other types of sinful content that would make certain pagan artistic expressions forbidden to the believer?

    Just trying to understand where you’re coming from.

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  97. Kool. While everyone’s sporting knuckle tattoos and pentagram days, let’s really get after it, burnt over district style
    Feel my authenticity. Rush are posers

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  98. Geoff, yes, it seems that it’s sex that gets Greg tied up in knots. So Greg can consume Rush but others can’t consume The Wire.

    Sean, but what about Steely Dan? Can a believer really consume them with a name like that? What Would Greg Say?

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  99. But Shteffffe, the sponsor on Sports radio said it was good for your marriage, so , that’s good, right?. I guess you just shouldn’t buy tickets to see them perform. Gross.

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  100. Jeff Quotes me as saying: “[Anthem, Something for Nothing and Roll the Bones] are non fiction literary paganism, like Paul’s quoting of Aratus and Epimenides in Acts 17, set to music.”

    …and then responds with…

    ” I agree that the songs you mention are indeed “non fiction literary paganism”, but I don’t agree with your comparison of them to Paul’s quoting pagan authors in Acts 17.”

    Hurried, poorly constructed phraseology on my part. I was comparing them to Aratus and Epimenedes. Not Paul’s use of them. Interestingly we never find Paul sending anybody to or citing his experiences with observing the temple prostitution or theater even though most of the major cities had at least one of each. He quotes who amounts to the Bill Nyes, Sam Harris’s and Bertrand Russel’s of his day. Finding substantial affinity with the eggheads at the Areopagus was not Paul’s point though I hear that all the time.

    If sin was committed at the level of the thing itself in the act of producing it, and especially if that sin is a feature of the product, then it is sin to pay our neighbors, whom we are commanded to love as ourselves to do it for us. (Am I gonna have to cover this all over again? 😦 ). That’s not the same as sinful man’s idolatrous refusal to acknowledge God in the structure of maths and logic. His general depravity and unbelief in other words.

    Maths and logic are not sinful in themselves and man is inescapably bound to them by the design of his creator. My discussion with Jeff Cagle on why meat sacrificed to idols is not the same thing as cinematic blasphemy and sexual contact, covered pretty much anything you can ask me next. Did you see that by any chance?

    I think I do believe you just want to understand. Either that or you’re trying to set me up.

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  101. GTT: “If sin was committed at the level of the thing itself in the act of producing it, and especially if that sin is a feature of the product, then it is sin to pay our neighbors, whom we are commanded to love as ourselves to do it for us.”

    GW: So, to continue with the Rush example, wasn’t sin committed by them at the level of the producing of their music, in that a number of their songs contain subtle yet real blasphemy in expressing a non-Christian worldview and their own personal apostasy against their Creator? And, thus, is it not sinful for us music consumers to buy their music and purchase tickets to see them in concert, since in such cases we are paying them for their blasphemous musical productions and performances and thus helping to confirm them in their rebellion against God by rewarding their lyrical blasphemy? And isn’t that not loving our neighbor as ourselves? (Sure, for the most part they avoid blatant sexual themes and overt blasphemy in their songs, and some of their lyrics are quite thought-provoking and even morally-uplifting; but their cynical, subtley blasphemous rejection of the Triune God of Scripture is definitely there in their music.)

    GTT: “I think I do believe you just want to understand. Either that or you’re trying to set me up.”

    GW: No, I’m not trying to set you up. Just trying to understand, and also trying to challenge all of us to think through the logical and ethical implications of our positions.

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  102. Zrim: “Geoff, fair enough, though there is such a thing as strict and loose use of language. I think we agree conceptually.”

    GW: I understand. And I agree that we appear to agree conceptually.

    Remember, I am a member of the OPC (the “Overly-Persnikety-Church”). So you’ll have to forgive my theological pickiness.

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  103. Geoff Willour says: “Overly-Persnikety-Church” So you’ll have to forgive my theological pickiness.

    I don’t think you likely think it is overly persnikety at all, to be as clear as possible, do you ?. Admirably, you seem to highly value it. And anyway, do you really see OPCers here overly picky giving a lot of attention to details of God’s word. Just asking. ‘Course, ‘persnickety’ means giving attention to details that are minor or not important, but none of God’s word is that.

    And anyway, Zrim saying: unbelievers have the capacity to hate their sin and repent, too, as you have argued is erroneous and misleading, not a minor point or just a matter of “ such a thing as strict and loose use of language” ;it is a major theme to speak clearly, no unbeliever hates their sin- the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Cor 7:10

    And as to clarity, if this were always ever clearly before us: Q. 1. What is the chief end of man? A. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever…. would there be long convoluted discussions about liberty this and that, it’s all about my liberty and all, and etc. in our opinions are about what we do with our body – eyes, ears, etc… for we agree we have been bought with a price and therefore desire to glorify God in our body, not becoming slaves of men (including oneself (sinful nature)); it also would calibrate disparaging discussions about ‘enjoying’ God.

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  104. Hey, Rush Knuckles, feel my angst. Or the hard streets of Seattle. Or what happens when you’re Vit D deficient.

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  105. Ali: “I don’t think you likely think it is overly persnikety at all, to be as clear as possible, do you ?. Admirably, you seem to highly value it. And anyway, do you really see OPCers here overly picky giving a lot of attention to details of God’s word.”

    GW: Ali, my comment to Zrim was tongue-in-cheek.

    Regarding OPCers giving lots of attention to the details of God’s Word, I suggest you try to attend an OPC Presbytery meeting sometime when a candidate for the gospel ministry undergoes his ordination exam on the floor of Presbytery (which is an important aspect of that process which is rightly called “ordination trials”).

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  106. Ali, so you don’t like the room made for loose and strict use of language? Not surprising, but I wonder if you understand that such room is what allows for confessional Prots to loosely refer to folks like evangies and Catholics as Christians, even if their formal affiliation is not with a true church (and so strictly speaking not Christians)? Sheep without, wolves within, wheat and tares and all that. IOW, you benefit from the category of loose and strict usage.

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  107. Geoff Willour says: Regarding OPCers giving lots of attention to the details of God’s Word, I suggest you try to attend an OPC Presbytery meeting sometime when a candidate for the gospel ministry undergoes his ordination exam on the floor of Presbytery (which is an important aspect of that process which is rightly called “ordination trials”).

    oh ok, thanks Geoff, though I was really talking about doctrine and life. (1 Tim 4:16)

    Zrim says: even if their formal affiliation is not with a true church (and so strictly speaking not Christians)?

    Interesting Zrim, or should I say sheesh
    brings to mind one of the reasons likely the Lord say the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord – ie. knowing how zealous He is for each of His own children

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  108. Zrim, can you clarify, or amplify, your statement “such room is what allows for confessional Prots to loosely refer to folks like evangies and Catholics as Christians, even if their formal affiliation is not with a true church (and so strictly speaking not Christians)?” What are you talking about? Thx.

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  109. So, more deep thoughts. Pay attention, fist tattoo. Now, we have current events, clash of cultures in the prophetic land, apocalyptic genre, sex(can you take fire into your bosom?-he said, bosom), ongoing nihilism, and a horn. Now, the horn is symbolic of one of the angel trumpets at the rapture and Jazz(but not that fusion crap). This also doubles as the only redeemable hipster contribution-the band. And unlike everyone else’s contribution, nobody got stoned, well, except maybe in the biblical sense, so, it’s ok-see clash in the prophetic land.

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  110. Geoff ASKS
    It’s not neutral in itself so maybe it is sinful to support and confirm such a career of overt unbelief. I haven’t bought anybody’s album in at least 20 years and the relatively few I did have, that I hadn’t touched in forever anyway, went in the dumpster when we lost the house (despite my best efforts). I never replaced any of them. No money to do that if I wanted to LOL!

    Rush is the only band I’ve seen since receiving Christ in 1984 and the last time was in the late 90’s. I just don’t care anymore. I do really pray for them though. They will have much to answer for if they face the Father without the blood of the Son. Especially Peart. Universally recognized as one of the greatest percussion instrumentalists of all time and true intellectual genius. Acclaimed the world over and enjoying massive financial prosperity. Despite tragically losing his wife and daughter quite close together, by the common grace of the God he denies he’s a VERY gifted man with a blessed life. All serving only to heighten his judgement. 😦

    Lyrical unbelief is the rough equivalent of literary unbelief. Like Aratus and Epimenedes (and others) whose thought appears in the New Testament. Or Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins for example in our day. Except the allure of their immense musical talent makes them even more dangerous.

    See, the mindset of the oldlife reformed was that, aside from being generally aware of the packaging of sin in their day, they just left worldly amusements alone. They weren’t trying to find ways to justify their love of the surrounding pagan culture with groovy nuance and teaching moments for the children. They just said, “see all this carnality and unbelief around us? That’s crap. We stay away from that.” Hence the exposition of the commandments in the catechism. They were real philistines those ol boys. I’m with them. Today’s abandonment of their attitude has had horrific consequences for the church, and in turn for the very culture she’s so in love with. This is not well rounded personal sophistication and “liberty”. It’s backsliding.

    Now, please tell me that you believe that the apostle who quoted non-fiction Greek literature would also recommend the overt verbal blasphemy and cinematic pornography of today’s media for the same purposes. And that he would include these in his thoughts on “liberty” we find in his epistles. Or not. Could you do that please?

    Darryl, I hope you’re paying some attention here. I really am trying to get to other topics and it is the other folks here who somehow keep drawing me back to this one. There’s a reason for that. It’s not very tough to figure out.

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  111. Petros, I have in mind something like the Belgic Confessions’s Article 28: That every one is bound to join himself to the true Church.

    We believe, since this holy congregation is an assembly of those who are saved, and that out of it there is no salvation, that no person of whatsoever state or condition he may be, ought to withdraw himself, to live in a separate state from it; but that all men are in duty bound to join and unite themselves with it; maintaining the unity of the Church; submitting themselves to the doctrine and discipline thereof; bowing their necks under the yoke of Jesus Christ; and as mutual members of the same body, serving to the edification of the brethren, according to the talents God has given them. And that this may be the more effectually observed, it is the duty of all believers, according to the word of God, to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church, and to join themselves to this congregation, wheresoever God hath established it, even though the magistrates and edicts of princes were against it, yea, though they should suffer death or any other corporal punishment. Therefore all those, who separate themselves from the same, or do not join themselves to it, act contrary to the ordinance of God.

    It’s hard to imagine that those who refuse to conjoin themselves to the church that the Christ they claim to love and obey can strictly speaking be called Christians. But that’s a confessional mind for you. It’s like your daughter’s boyfriend telling you he loves her but refuses to marry her. He may well love her but until he marries her, that profession is in great question. How’s that?

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  112. Darryl, Ink boy is blame shifting. I think that’s wrong. Here’s Johnny, bible verse, apocalyptic, futility of life(ecclesiastes), creaturely finitude, waiting on a different city, counter cultural-anti-materialism. Reminder of getting it done before the bowl breaks and the cord snaps.

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  113. I’ve talked about this before. The theologically sound denoms like the OPC look askance at broader evangelicalism as being doctrinally inept and preaching a bare bones shelled out gospel.. Crippled by bad shallow scholarship and experience driven religion. You guys are right. That IS the case

    Then, I have godly friends who I am REALLY trying to help see the glorious truths of the reformation. They tell me that these denominational Calvinists have no moral discernment or actual taste for the biblical holiness of their roots. All they care about is being “persnickety” and correct all the time and ya know what? They’re right too.

    Guess who was REALLY right? The Westminster assembly, that’s who. They got both sides of this right. That’s what I’m after.

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  114. But hepatitis C phalanges, as Zrim notes, your sincerity and resolution doesn’t result in a commitment. Makes us all question the resolve and credibility. Here, I’m a giver

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  115. Zrim, if you’re making an argument in favor of local church membership, that’s fine. I was more curious for you to clarify what your definition is of a “true church”, why eeee’s or Cats are not part of a ‘true church’, or why someone cannot be a Christian if they aren’t affiliated with a ‘true church’.

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  116. Petros, the Belgic anticipates your question on the true church:

    Article 29: Of the marks of the true Church, and wherein she differs from the false Church.

    We believe, that we ought diligently and circumspectly to discern from the Word of God which is the true Church, since all sects which are in the world assume to themselves the name of the Church. But we speak not here of hypocrites, who are mixed in the Church with the good, yet are not of the Church, though externally in it; but we say that the body and communion of the true Church must be distinguished from all sects, who call themselves the Church. The marks, by which the true Church is known, are these: if the pure doctrine of the gospel is preached therein; if she maintains the pure administration of the sacraments as instituted by Christ; if church discipline is exercised in punishing of sin: in short, if all things are managed according to the pure Word of God, all things contrary thereto rejected, and Jesus Christ acknowledged as the only Head of the Church. Hereby the true Church may certainly be known, from which no man has a right to separate himself. With respect to those, who are members of the Church, they may be known by the marks of Christians: namely, by faith; and when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior, they avoid sin, follow after righteousness, love the true God and their neighbor, neither turn aside to the right or left, and crucify the flesh with the works thereof. But this is not to be understood, as if there did not remain in them great infirmities; but they fight against them through the Spirit, all the days of their life, continually taking their refuge in the blood, death, passion and obedience of our Lord Jesus Christ, “in whom they have remission of sins, through faith in him.” As for the false Church, she ascribes more power and authority to herself and her ordinances than to the Word of God, and will not submit herself to the yoke of Christ. Neither does she administer the sacraments as appointed by Christ in his Word, but adds to and takes from them, as she thinks proper; she relieth more upon men than upon Christ; and persecutes those, who live holily according to the Word of God, and rebuke her for her errors, covetousness, and idolatry. These two Churches are easily known and distinguished from each other.

    To the extent that evangies and Catholics do not adhere to said church, how can they be said to Christians (strictly speaking)? To the extent that they make an informal claim, they can be said to be Christian (loosely speaking). It’s not passing judgment on that which we have no authority to judge. It’s simply to say that adhering to Christ’s church matters and outwardly indicates what is inwardly claimed.

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  117. Zrim, ok. I’ve no argument with your Belgic citation. It’s just curious that you singled out eeee’s and Cats. (Plenty of eeee-churches meet the Belgic criteria.) Presumably, the Belgic criteria would equally apply to confessional presby churches, and their membership, too.

    Btw, nice to see the Belgic use of eeee-terminology here “when they have received Jesus Christ the only Savior”. You must have bristled a bit on that phrase. 🙂

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  118. Petros, it’s actually eeeevangelicals who use confessional language, but I don’t want to get (ahem) persnickety (and no bristling at all). But since E’s and C’s frequent this place, seemed like a legit set of examples.

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  119. Zrim, would you view your local confessional PCUSA church to comport with the Belgic criteria? If so, why? If not, don’t forget to include those wayward folks in your legit set of examples.

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  120. Petros, my experience with the American mainline is limited; I’m not sure what is formally confessed there. I have more experience within the Dutch Reformed borderline, the CRC, which to my knowledge hasn’t transgressed the three marks. It has been bounced from NAPARC for ordaining the fairer sex and some NAPARCers are in the unfortunate habit of charging heresy, etc. But if exclusively male ordination is a mark of the true church that would give patriarchal Rome one giant step toward orthodoxy. But we don’t confess male ordination as a mark, so the barking seems to me to have more to do with culture than doctrine. I’d rather say that the CRC is a wayward denomination within the true church orbit.

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  121. Petros, I should amend that bit about the marks and the CRC. I believe the CRC recently approved of paedo-communion, which arguably transgresses the second mark. This might put them closer to Baptists and most eeeevangelicals.

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  122. Zrim, so “strictly” speaking, as you put it, you would believe the following:

    1. Churches that adhere to credo-baptism do not properly administer the sacraments, and thus they do not comply with the second mark of a “true church”

    2. Any individual who is a member of such a church, is really only a member of a “sect”, and not a “true church”, and therefore

    3. That individual is “strictly speaking” NOT a Christian.

    Have I properly re-stated your confessional Presby view there? Thanks.

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  123. Petros, the point was simply strict versus loose use of language. I’m not interested so much in wooden distillation of the point to render me passing judgment on persons. Yes, credo-baptism is an improper admin of sacraments and persons adhering to churches that teach and practice that impropriety should be called to repentance, but if you’re trying to bait me into over-turning inward stones and separating wheat from chaff, well, Jesus says not to so here’s me doing what I can to obey the Lord.

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  124. But Zrim, why are you afraid to affirm your allegiance to the clarity of the Belgic, to wit: “These two Churches are EASILY known and distinguished from each other.” It’s not passing inappropriate judgment if it’s so clear to distinguish, right? Further, isn’t it your solemn duty to “to separate themselves from all those who do not belong to the Church”?

    Either you go latitudinarian on me and are okay with acknowledging the legitimacy of the Baptists and eeee-V’s down the street, and thus violate your commitment to the Belgic code, or, you separate yourself from them and declare them to be sects, right?

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  125. Petros, to distinguish between churches, not a problem. To render judgment on particular persons and speak where only God can, pass. And every Lord’s Day when we attend the means of grace in Word and sacrament as members of a P&R church we separate ourselves accordingly.

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  126. GTT: “I have a feeling I have offended you Geoff. Don’t hesitate to tell me what’s on your mind. Not only am I sincerely interested, but I can take it whatever it may be.”

    GW: No worries, brother. I have not taken offense at anything you’ve said, not even when you have taken me to task, and not even when I might disagree with you. It’s OK, I can handle it. If I express disagreement with you it is not because I am offended at you, but because I respect you enough to appreciate the give-and-take interaction. (Right now, btw, I’ve got to focus on other things, so I don’t have time right now to offer a point-by-point response to your comments above.)

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  127. I’m glad as it was not my intent. Also this…

    ” This is not well rounded personal sophistication and “liberty”. It’s backsliding.”

    …was pointed at the now prevalent mindset of a group and not at you as an individual like it may appear.. While I confess to thinking I see tendencies, I don’t know enough about your views to reach that conclusion with you at this time. I AM interested in cutting to the chase on this so we can get back to worldview, certainty and epistemology.

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