United Statesist Christianity

We need a new name for Christianity in the United States. The contributors to this podcast at Christianity Today are still lamenting the turnout of white evangelicals for Donald Trump and so one of them called for more attention to what it means to be evangelical. Are you kidding? We’ve had almost four decades of scholarship on evangelicalism, and at least three of chanting the integration of faith and learning, and we still don’t know what evangelical is? Please.

Then comes the objection to calling Lee Stroebel, whose new film is drawing attention to the Bill Hybels-spawned apologist, a fundamentalist.

A note or two about Strobel, the legal-affairs journalist. He did his undergraduate degree at a top j-school, the University of Missouri, and then went to Yale University to get his law degree. That gives some clues as to his approach to research and writing.

Strobel converted to Christianity in 1981 and, after a few years, went into ministry – becoming a “teaching pastor” at the world famous Willow Creek Community Church in the Chicago suburbs.

Now, WIllow Creek – led by the Rev. Bill Hybels – has for decades been known as, literally, a globel hub for the “seeker friendly” school of mainstream (some would say somewhat “progressive”) evangelicalism. Hybels, of course, became a major news-media figure in the 1990s through his writings and his role as one of the “spiritual advisors” and private pastors to President Bill Clinton.

Willow Creek is not a fundamentalist church.

From there, Strobel went west and for several years served as a writer in residence and teaching pastor at Saddleback Community Church, founded and led by the Rev. Rick “The Purpose Driven Life” Warren. In addition to writing one of the bestselling books in the history of Planet Earth, Warren has also received quite a bit of news-media attention through his high-profile dialogues with President Barack Obama, both during Obama’s first White House campaign and in the years afterwards.

Saddleback is not a fundamentalist church.

Fair points. I don’t think Stroebel is a fundamentalist either. But evangelical is increasingly meaningless even among Protestants who haven’t read (hades!, heard of) Deconstructing Evangelicalism.

So why not simply identify Christianity in the United States according to the degree to which its adherents adapt their faith (or pick and choose) to national norms? (Do remember that in 1899 Leo XIII identified Americanism as a heresy.) Once upon a time, Protestants came to North American and tried to transmit the version of Protestantism (works for Roman Catholics and Jews also) they brought to a New World setting. Some confessional Protestants still do this and triangulate their ministry in the U.S. according to precedents set in Europe whether at the time of the Reformation or when specific episodes upset national churches (think Scotland, England, Netherlands, Germany). Presbyterians in NAPARC still live with a foot (or – ahem – toe nail) in Old World Protestantism even as they have repudiated (except for the Covenanters) the political structures that animated their European predecessors.

But then along came awakenings and parachurch associations and increasingly Protestantism in the U.S. was known less for the fingerprints of its European origins than for those innovators (Whitefield and Moody) or structures (American Bible Society or National Association of Evangelicals) who were as independent of Old World Protestantism as their nation was of the United Kingdom. Once freed from European constraints, American Christianity used markets, earnestness, activism, and relevance as the basis for Christian identity. Evangelicalism was the kinder gentler version of fundamentalism. But neither showed the slightest bit of deference to the churches that came out of the Reformation.

Now, even the labels fundamentalist and evangelical make little difference. The gatekeepers won’t stand at the gate and even if they did the gateway has no wall to make the gate functional. Anyone can be a Christian on their own terms, with celebrities and parachurch agencies gaining the most imitators. But those instances of fame collect no dues, make no demands, and provide no institutional support. It’s like belonging to Red Sox Nation. Wear your bumper sticker. Listen to your Tim Keller sermon (now on sale for $1,500). Got to the next Gospel Coalition conference. You have Jesus in your heart and United Statesist Christianity has lots of proprietors to make your heart burn.

The good thing about United Statesist Christianity is that it allows its adherents to revel in exceptionalism. If America is a great nation, United Statesist Christianity is no less exceptional. Instead of a Pretty Good Awakening, United Statesist Christianity puts the Great back in Great Awakening.

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143 thoughts on “United Statesist Christianity

  1. …..”Christianity Today is still lamenting the turnout of white evangelicals for Donald Trump and so one of them called for more attention to what it means to be evangelical.” Can some one say clueless!
    And Confessionalists get accused of living in a bubble. What world (holy huddle) are these people living in?

    “”The good thing about United Statesist Christianity is that it allows its adherents to revel in exceptionalism. If America is a great nation, United Statesist Christianity is no less exceptional.”” Ding ding ding!!

    The right wing evangelicals eat this stuff up. I give World Mag some kudos for front cover (right before election) consistency bolding stating evangelicals should not support Trump, same way they did to Clinton 20 years earlier.

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  2. Evangelicalism was the kinder gentler version of fundamentalism. But neither showed the slightest bit of deference to the churches that came out of the Reformation. “

    Very much like your embrace of the bloody, blasphemous pornographic American entertainment industry. Which also evinces not “the slightest bit of deference to the churches that came out of the Reformation.”

    Churches among which such moral compromise with the world would have been utterly anathema in 100% of their cases, 100% of the time. But you knew that already. Didn’t ya. Oh yes you did.

    You don’t get to pick and choose Darryl. This would not have been a minor point to them and you know that too, being a world class historian n all.

    Aside from this glaring inconsistency, I pretty much concur with the driving thesis of this post.

    (PS. You have a few typos in this piece boss. I sincerely would have told you in private, but ..well… you know 🙂 )

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  3. Dr. Hart asks: “Greg, what do you reject about Christian liberty?”
    Come on Darryl. You know this ain’t gonna work.

    I rejoice in and celebrate all liberty that is actually Christian. You know full well how we can know the difference too. I continue to pray that you will one day care. I mean that btw.

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  4. “”Christianity Today are still lamenting the turnout of….. (Fill in blank here) …..”

    Clearly Neonomian’s, pietist’s and those who fancy themselves fruit inspectors also eat this stuff up.

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  5. Dr. Hart asks: “Greg, if it’s not sinful to eat meat offered to idols, how are you going to show a tv show is sinful?”
    Are you actually trying to lure me into a long diatribe on why this is a fatally illegitimate false comparison? For at least the 10th time on this very blog?

    I believe you are.

    I’m not sure why.

    Maybe you’re bored,

    Or maybe it’s something more.

    Either way, it may be the perfect opportunity (and push) to get started on a project I committed to this year. Whatever your motivation, I appreciate the question. (again) It will take probably take at least a few days, but I’ll give you the answer.

    Make no mistake. It will be THE answer. Not one view among several possibly valid ones that men are free to accept or reject as they see fit. THE only biblical and reformed answer, disobedience to which is sin 100% of the time.

    Oh how the deconstructed postmodern Presbyterians of today will raise a wailing chorus of:

    LEEEEEEE – GALISM
    legalism
    legalism
    (Sung to the tune of Handell’s Hallelujah)

    Whether it’s the groovy culture transforming social justice wing over in Keller’s hood, or the dualistic overcooked 2K wing in this one, or anything in between. The one thing they all have in common is that, for one reason or another, we simply must embrace that bloody, blasphemous pornographic entertainment industry. The devil’s mother of all bombs. Works on everybody. Even on those claiming Westminster who are best equipped of anybody on earth to know better.

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  6. Greg – the Bible quotes contemporary extra-biblical literature (especially Paul with Greek poets). This was undoubtedly the “blasphemous pornographic entertainment industry” of its day (see Lysistrata, among numerous other examples). If Paul can quote a popular play by a pagan Greek poet to make a point about the Resurrection and our union with Christ in the inspired Word of God (1 Corinthians 15:33), then I’m pretty sure we can enjoy modern entertainment and glean spiritual truths – however unintentional – from that as well.

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  7. @GTT
    “For at least the 10th time on this very blog?”
    My recollection, as faulty as it is, is that I’ve challenged you a few times on your assertion here and your response has been to back track, qualify, and get too busy with other things to keep going (this isn’t a criticism!). I don’t recall ever getting THE answer. I do think that your characterization of the entertainment industry (convolving porn with everything else) is deeply problematic. Further you have repeatedly failed to distinguish between the indirect link supporting bad behavior by spending dollars that supports the entertainment industry and and supporting idolatry by buying their meat (this is a criticism). Your hyperbolic denunciation of things you don’t like is a textbook case of legalism masquerading as wisdom.

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  8. I have made no such failure sdb. Your oversimplified characterizations of my other arguments evinces a poor grasp of them overall.

    One’s refusal to concede a point is not the same as it’s failure either.

    Speaking of concessions, time management is not one of my strong points. I have gotten sidetracked from some discussions here, but not on that to the best of my recollection, which isn’t perfect either.

    It really is as simple as this as far as this blog is concerned. Darryl has a breathing conscience that plagues him with occasional moments of clarity wherein he does things like admit, not only to himself, but to everybody else as well, that participation in cinema with explicit sexual content is a violation of the confession’s definition of the seventh commandment. Which amounts to publicly confessing to being an unrepentant serial adulterer for decades He knows that. He needs a little reminder here and there, but he does. (Erik does too)

    To say nothing of the incessant flagrant violation of the third, winch makes him an unrepentant serial blasphemer as well.

    ———————————————————————
    See let’s try again. DARRYL, please type on this page the names of your historical heroes (that means they’ve been dead a good while) of the reformed faith who you feel would share your libertine views on modern true to life cinematic entertainment.
    ——————————————————————–
    See sdb, when we get either no response whatsoever, or anything BUT those names, that will be Darryl’s concession that his views come, not from the scriptures as understood in reformed history, but from unbelieving modern American culture. The world in other words, which we are commended not to love, and the love of which we are told demonstrates our lack of love of the Father.

    I understand that this will carry no weight with you whatsoever, along with most of the other folks who hang around here and that’s the point.

    I can’t get anything done if we keep bantering back and forth like this.

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  9. See let’s try yet again. DARRYL, please type on this page the names of your historical heroes (that means they’ve been dead a good while) of the reformed faith, who you feel would share your libertine views on [The Wire].

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  10. Because if there aren’t any (which we both know there aren’t), this view is new. Like gay Christianity and egalitarian gender roles, Such views on “art” and worldly amusements have been smuggled into the church by those with an agenda not driven by the glory of the thrice holy Lord our God like the reformed men from the 16th through the first half of the 20th century.

    You of all people are not going to try to say we haven’t been through this.

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  11. Your hyperbolic denunciation of things you don’t like is a textbook case of legalism masquerading as wisdom.

    Oof. Ouch. Ding.

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  12. Greg, can you stop watching porn so we don’t have to keep rehashing these issues every time you decide to ‘finally’ rid yourself of your monkey. Try gambling, smoking, drugs, just something to break the cycle. As a wise man says, ‘do something even if it’s wrong.’

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  13. Dr. says Calvin: “… read…”
    Type on this page please Darryl that you feel that Calvin would have equated this with VIEWING real people in today’s HBO shows for instance. Please type those words here.
    ===========================================
    Sean 🙂 I do this all the time. Just not always here. I told you that already.

    I’ll also tell you the reason why you make idiotic comments like this. It’s because the idea of loving what God loves and hating what God hates just because He loves and hates them, is so utterly foreign to you that you cannot conceive of it being true of ANYbody. Yes, that is the reason.

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  14. Greg, I know you do this ALL the time. You’re a one-trick(pun possibly intended) pony. I’m just hoping you’ll try a step down approach after all these years of cold turkey failures.

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  15. Greg, you’re more fundamentalist than my self-identifying fundamentalists. You talk about worldly amusements they way they talk about beer and tattoos. I know you consume the latter and so wonder what it might do to your sense of liberty on things indifferent were you to hear the pious cursings on beer and tattoos. But it takes wisdom and discernment to get there, and like the man said…

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  16. I learned today I can’t watch HBOs The Wire. Can I watch USA Network reruns of Law and Order SVU? Also, can I watch The Crown? I’ve watched it twice and wanted to watch a third time but I need to wait and see what yall think.

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  17. I have made no such failure sdb. Your oversimplified characterizations of my other arguments evinces a poor grasp of them overall.

    Or bad arguments…

    when we get either no response … that will be Darryl’s concession ….

    Or that your’s is a loaded question and he doesn’t accept the premise of your question (back to the whole when did you start beating your wife…). One could ask, which of the reformers would accept swimming with the opposite sex, and yet here you go to a gym where women and men mingle wearing little more than what virtually all reformers until about 40 years ago would have considered underwear. You might point out that standards of modesty have evolved and what counts as a lack of modesty isn’t quite what it was in 1660. The teaching of scripture hasn’t changed, but the context in which we apply them has. There is no absolute standard of modesty – it is a cultural thing that has varied widely among different societies and across time.

    I understand that this will carry no weight with you whatsoever, along with most of the other folks who hang around here and that’s the point.

    Let me see if I get this right. I disagree with you that the Wire is intrinsically evil because it is pornography. Therefore I love the world. Because it is impossible for a reformed Christian who really does believe all that scripture teaches and come down on the side of art expressed by Sidney in the 16th century (and endorsed by John Donne among others). Further, the fact that I suggest that viewing the Wire is not intrinsically evil means that I think everyone should evidently and that I myself consume such media (sorry to disappoint, but I don’t). In short, you dramatically over estimate how much you understand. If you want to carry on a productive conversation where we both might learn something, perhaps accusing a self professed believer with whom you have very limited interaction of loving the world.

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  18. Once again SEAN, Success is measured in obedience. Not by how much agreement I get from morally apostate lovers of the world and the things therein. I will also reiterate (yet again) that preaching against the Satanic compromise of Christ’s church with that spiritually decomposing entertainment industry is not even half of what I do. (true story)
    ====================================
    RC says: “I learned today I can’t watch HBOs The Wire. Can I watch USA Network reruns of Law and Order SVU? Also, can I watch The Crown? I’ve watched it twice and wanted to watch a third time but I need to wait and see what yall think.”

    You can do whatever you want friend. I ain’t your mama. This is not about making or keeping oneself just in the sight of the Lord. It’s about what a justified heart and conscience looks like. If you think it looks like HBO, you’re a pagan and you need Jesus.

    It’s a simple principle. Well, except for those who really go outta their way for it not to be. Worshipers of “art” and “culture” who recreate the God of the bible in their own image in order to rationalize and justify their unfaithfulness,.

    If it would be sin for you or your family members to “perform”, then it is sin for you to pay others the Lords’ money to do it for you. It’s simple, biblical, thoroughly in line with the larger catechism and universally binding on all consciences for all time. The God of the reformation does not baptize blasphemous, brain splattering nudity and sexual contact into art because it’s delivered in a skillfully crafted big budget story.

    Darryl is never EVER going to give us the names of anybody he actually believes would have shared his views in these areas were they alive today. I know, I’ve been trying for 3 years. I could run back and copy and paste where he just said they weren’t helpful today. While that’s a really bad answer, its’ not nearly as laughable as trying to say that any of the officers at Dort, or members of the Westminster assembly or the scholastics or puritans (except MAYBE John Milton) would have said that his views on today’s entertainment are godly.

    If they could be brought back to today’s America, they would fall to their knees and weep bitterly over the reprehensible backsliding that is being inflicted upon the honor of Christ in their name with they left us. Dr. DG Hart absolutely knows that. I say again. Watch. He is never going to challenge what I just said.

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  19. How bout t his Darryl? I’m starting a podcast. I’ve had like a half dozen people I take seriously suggest that I do that.

    How would you like to be my inaugural guest? Totally informal and you have my word in front of all these people that I will treat you with respect. We WILL be on opposite sides though obviously. We’ll do ti with Skype or google hangouts or something.

    You are an ordained OPC elder with 5 earned degrees, 23 published full length books, numerous articles and a long academic career.

    I am a tenth grade dropout with a disorganized blog and a Facebook page. It should be a yawn inducing triviality for you to kick my teeth in in any kind of a debate like dialog, especially where history is concerned. But I’m not planning anything that adversarial anyway. I mean it. I know you’re not so busy, you can’t find the time.

    It’s not even my goal to make you look bad. I mean that too. That’s Erik’s goal, but it’s not mine.

    Waddaya say? Will you at least think about it please?

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  20. SDB, I will say that you have been a consistently substantive and thoughtful interlocutor since I’ve known you. The amount of time and effort that you have put in to various conversations is not lost in me. I appreciate it and am honored sir.

    If you had any idea how bad a typist I am and how laborious and time consuming it is for me to compose these responses. You’re another one I’d love to actually talk to. One hour of conversation can accomplish what days of typing cannot for me.

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  21. Greg, it would be really weird if my family and I re created a tv drama where we kidnap our child and sell him or her to the highest bidder and then we get someone to play law enforcement to come rescue our children. Also, what tv do you watch?

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  22. Greg does not watch TV. When he is not busy being a professional fruit inspector here and elsewhere he spends his time collecting spores, molds and fungus. — just funnin with ya a bit , Greg! 😉

    I think a reality TV show where Greg and Dr. Hart have to share an apartment for two months would be off the charts awesome! Make the odd couple look like child’s play. Now that is a TV show I would not miss!

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  23. Greg, how can you be so naive and pietistic about piety in general but so Old Life about my piety? Turn on some of that John Piper earnest and hedonistically love me as a brother in Christ.

    Eww.

    Let me get back to you.

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  24. Greg, I actually don’t think it’s your goal to make me look bad. Which is one reason you’re still commenting here.

    But I don’t think you have any interest in respecting an opposing view. The person yes, their idea, no.

    And get this. I actually respect your view on The Wire. If you think the meat offered to idols is idolatrous, it is — for you. I don’t think you should watch The Wire given your powers of discernment.

    But — wait for this — I’m not you.

    All of these are reasons not to appear on your podcast, though I appreciate the offer.

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  25. Greg better not be watching ANY tv as it contains filth. How would Greg even know about these things if he wasn’t watching tv or using the internet? Greg, why are you watching tv and why are you on FB, with all the filth that’s on it? Sounds like you’re a morally apostate lover of the world. Get off the internet, this is only for un-pious, guilt by association heretics.

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  26. Dr. Hart says: “But I don’t think you have any interest in respecting an opposing view.”
    In areas like this, that is correct, I don’t.
    I have no respect for a list of modern mostly American innovations and impositions upon the gospel.

    I have no respect for any view of scripture lower than that of the reformed standards, especially Westminster.

    I have no respect for any view of origins that denies the Genesis account of a literal prototypical first couple created as reported from the direct hand of God, as well as the first temptation and fall into sin.

    I have no respect for any view that denies any of the supernatural events recorded in scripture in either testament.

    I have no respect for any view of the Godhead that diverges from WCF II

    I have no respect for NT Wright or any of his new perspective distinctives (though I know it didn’t start with him). Or any views that deny any of the five solas.

    I have no respect for Catholics and Evangelicals together or any other specie of compromise with the papists.

    I have no respect for any view of marriage sex and family that attempts to in any way legitimatize same sex sex.

    I have no respect for any view of the genders that denies properly defined male servant headship in the home and or church.

    I have no respect for Marxist liberationism in any of it’s flavors.

    I have no respect for any of this neo-emeregnt universalism floating around.

    I have zero respect for the smuggling of postmodern philosophy into the church in even once stalwart outposts of solid Calvinism.

    I also have no respect for this brand new innovative view of worldly culture that would call it righteousness for real people to blaspheme and defile the name/s of the living God, pervert and debase his glorious gift and design of language and call what even the world once recognized as pornography legitimate Christian liberty.

    I classify all these (and others) the same. My interest is in raising up the Lord’s holy historical standard against the especially American church’s apostasy in all these areas.

    I am very gratified that you can sense I really am not out to hang you and it really is just the opposite.

    That said, on my podcast, I also did plan on pulverizing your VIEWS on entertainment and still would if you ever change your mind.

    This is not a taunt at all, but I really believe that you don’t think you can win that debate. Not just because it’s me either. I think you know that reformed history sees your view as morally debauched worldliness and that any half competent opponent could demonstrate that. No sarcasm whatsoever in that statement Darryl.

    It’s different for these new “evangelical” (whatever that means anymore) frootloops who have no standards and the exegetical expositional skills of a turnip and aren’t interested in improving. They just say: “Whelp, everybody was wrong” and go about their day. Presbyterians and other generally conservative reformed communions can’t do that. They have that magnificent glorious history to contend with. I consider it a duty to remind them of that. (oh now that’ll really get summa these guys goin 😀 )

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  27. Greg, I read novels written by people who don’t believe in God. Is that blasphemy? Idolatry?

    You really would paint yourself in a corner if you tried to single out porn (which I don’t watch) as the central dogma of Protestant wickedness.

    Your opposition may say more than you intend.

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  28. Seriously Darryl?

    After all this time and 500 comments and you reduce everything I’ve said to this? Not even accidentally close on any level. I have to believe you know that.

    My invitation stands. I ain’t C-Span, (sorry) but I really do believe it would be a very interesting discussion. You would have to bring quite a bit more than this though.

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  29. @gtt
    Thanks. Drop in and out as you need of course. You did clarify things dramatically when you wrote,

    “If it would be sin for you or your family members to “perform”, then it is sin for you to pay others the Lords’ money to do it for you. It’s simple, biblical, thoroughly in line with the larger catechism and universally binding on all consciences for all time.”

    Here is where we fundamentally differ and why the example of meat sacrificed to idols is so problematic for your view. We agree that it is always wrong to sacrifice meat to idols. Your claim above would imply that it is wrong to pay money to the pagan to subsidize his idolatry. But Paul notes that food is an indifferent matter and the believer has no obligation to make sure the Lord’s money isn’t being used to support blasphemy. In the past you tried to draw a distinction that an actor is actively sinning and watching them do so is sinful. The first distinction isn’t a distinction – you can’t sacrifice to an idol without sinning. The second half is where your argument may have some force, but let’s set that aside for just a moment and see if we can agree that it is wrong to say that if x is wrong to do, then it is wrong to pay for x after the fact.

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  30. “Your claim above would imply that it is wrong to pay money to the pagan to subsidize his idolatry.”
    You would be paying him for a perfectly legitimate morally neutral product, which in itself is entirely indistinguishable from the same product obtained from any other source, including fellow believers. No sinner uses the money you give them in any business transaction for righteous God glorifying purposes by biblical standards.

    Such transactions are morally indifferent to you unless the product itself is sinful or sin was required for that type of product to exist. Meat is neither sinful in itself, nor is sin required in order to raise or process it as food for the nourishment of the body. A God designed necessity of life, without which we would die

    None of the above pertains in the case of cinematic entertainment featuring divine image bearing moral agents whose sin was both intrinsic to the production of the merchandise AND which sin persists in the merchandise itself.

    When someone buys meat from a man, they are paying him for meat. What he did with the meat beforehand has nothing inherently to do with the meat. When someone buys entertainment, they ARE directly paying their neighbor, whom they are commanded to love as themselves, to do and say what is sinful in itself, AND that sin goes with the merchandise wherever the merchandise goes, both of which because that sin is a feature OF the merchandise itself.

    Not to mention that the very notion of “entertainment,” especially on demand as it is today, Like indoor plumbing, does not even exist in the scriptures. It’s maybe PG rated theatrical ancestors were also universally shunned by historic reformed orthodoxy. It is a modern western and particularly American luxury indulged in by pampered shallow professors of Christ who would wet themselves if they had to face 10 minutes of actual hardship or persecution.

    Go to a man in the middle east whose wife is being gang raped and children beheaded in the name of Jesus and compare with him the spiritual truths gleaned from modern American secular entertainment. Ask him who he thinks will win the awards this year and see what he says. How pathetic and nauseating and thoroughly American. (I’m speaking generally sdb, not to you)

    ” let’s … see if we can agree that it is wrong to say that if x is wrong to do, then it is wrong to pay for x after the fact.”

    See all of the above please.

    Understand too please, that this is a principle drawn from the scriptures as understood in reformed history, but especially the Westminster larger catechism, for the bare bones discernment of what modern entertainment, if any, is acceptable for the disciple of Christ. I consider the untenable defense of liberal consumption by the invoking of Romans 14 and other similar passages to be a separate though related discussion.

    I have been through every last fathomable rationalization and justification from every last possible passage of scripture. I also have committed to writing either a book or an extensive series of blog posts dealing with every aspect of this family of topics all in one place. Starting with the perversion of “liberty of conscience” itself.

    The frustrating thing is that this is a spectacular waste of God’s time, just like entertainment itself. This would have been a non-starting no-brainer for the champions of the faith who went before us. Like homosexuality. “We don’t have to debate this, of course this bloody, blasphemous debauchery is wrong.” That’s what they would have said if confronted with today’s entertainment industry, and once again, Darryl absolutely knows that.

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  31. Greg, total depravity up.

    Meat is neither sinful in itself, nor is sin required in order to raise or process it as food for the nourishment of the body. A God designed necessity of life, without which we would die

    Ever heard of butchers? Ever heard that butchers sin?

    Everything we have it tainted by sin (if Calvinism is right about the fall). Are you serious that you’ve never considered this?

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  32. @GTT
    “Such transactions are morally indifferent to you unless the product itself is sinful or sin was required for that type of product to exist. Meat is neither sinful in itself, nor is sin required in order to raise or process it as food for the nourishment of the body. ”
    Here is where your analysis fails. Meat sacrificed to idols requires a sacrifice to an idol to be meat sacrificed to idols. In other words, it requires sin to produce. The subject here isn’t meat generally, but meat one knows was produced a blasphemous manner.

    “A God designed necessity of life, without which we would die”
    No one needs meat (cf. Daniel) and one could choose to only purchase meat not produced via idol sacrifice. Further, as Paul notes one shouldn’t eat such meat if one’s conscience accuses them. In other words, this meat is not necessary for life.

    “sin persists in the merchandise itself.”
    No. Sin is something we do/are, not something that clings to “things”.

    “Not to mention that the very notion of “entertainment,” especially on demand as it is today, Like indoor plumbing, does not even exist in the scriptures. It’s maybe PG rated theatrical ancestors were also universally shunned by historic reformed orthodoxy.”
    That is absolutely false. Shakespeare (much less Chaucer) is decidedly not PG. Going back to the NT era. Public displays of very realistic statues, paintings, and frescos of beastiality and other explicit sexual activity were on display for all to see. The excavation of Pompeii provides a glimpse into what one would have seen walking down the street. The Wire is nothing like what existed in their culture circa 79AD. If your conscience allows it, check out the wikipedia page on the art in Pompeii and Herculaneum (it is explicit). So no, the entertainment of the day in biblical times was not PG.

    “It is a modern western and particularly American luxury”
    As is going to the gym, reading books, listening to music, going to concerts, buying prepared food at grocery stores, sitting in air condition, writing on the internet, etc…

    “The frustrating thing is that this is a spectacular waste of God’s time”
    Greg the reason that this is worth spending time on is because it highlights a very dangerous tendency among many evangelical/conservative protestants that stands as a barrier to to the gospel. Legalism is more dangerous than antinomianism. The reason Paul spent so much time in the NT railing against legalism is because it is such a dangerous error. No one here is saying that anything goes or that pornography is OK. As Daryl pointed out, if your conscience accuses you, then it is sinful to watch the wire. But you insist on going beyond that. Way beyond that and condemn all entertainment in all forms because we don’t have it as bad as Christian being tortured in the Middle East. This is legalism. It has the appearance of wisdom but…

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  33. Dr. Hart asks: “Greg, answer the question. Why do you single out porn but not other sins?”

    I don’t single out porn Darryl. Going all the way back to my very fist day here 3 years ago, I was decrying the LANGUAGE. My meme above on this very page singles out the preposterous notion that God approves of the abuse of His names/s as long as it is in a movie or television show. Take a look. It’s right up there.

    One thing is for sure. I pay you far more respect than you pay me. I at least pay close attention when you speak.
    ——————————————————————————-
    Dr. Hart says: “Everything we have it tainted by sin (if Calvinism is right about the fall). Are you serious that you’ve never considered this?”

    You have to be just trolling me now. Did you even read the comment you appear to be responding to? It directly deals with this exact question. Could I prevail upon you to actually read it with a modicum of gravity this time? It would really tickle me to no end.

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  34. Greg, “sin was both intrinsic to the production of the merchandise AND which sin persists in the merchandise itself.”

    Now I see. So sin pervades everything. Did you get your computer from a saint?

    Speaking of which, you say the Bible does not recognize entertainment. Does it recognize electricity?

    Glad I declined the podcast — because the Bible doesn’t recognize lay people communicating their views to a mass audience (of three?).

    Like

  35. sdb says: “Here is where your analysis fails. Meat sacrificed to idols requires a sacrifice to an idol to be meat sacrificed to idols. In other words, it requires sin to produce. The subject here isn’t meat generally, but meat one knows was produced a blasphemous manner. “

    No sir, this is where your analysis fails. The subject IS meat generally and THAT is Paul’s point. Meat is neutral and “…we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 1 Cor. 8:4 (ESV)
    where he is discussing the exact same principle.

    Meat is just meat. There is no other kind in reality. What makes it different to some people is the immaturity of THEIR conscience. Not anything about the meat itself, which 100% of the time is simply meat.

    Not so with electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people. Which every Christian believes CAN be sinful in itself. Think kiddie porn. (I’ll have to go that far to actually get a call of sinful cinema with you people) There is no analogy to meat of any kind, unless some sort of physical poison is applied to the meat itself or something.
    ———————————————————————–
    “No one needs meat”

    Fair enough, but food was the point. Meat is nutritious and good for the body by God’s own design. I’ve heard all the arguments from moral degenerates who try to say that the world’s bloody, blasphemous pornographic entertainment is similarly food for the mind and heart LOL! 😀 You have to be 12 kinds of deceived to believe something as galactically unbiblical as that.
    ———————————————————————-
    sdb quotes me as saying: “sin persists in the merchandise itself.”
    …and then responds with:
    No. Sin is something we do/are, not something that clings to “things.”

    Yes, and see, in this technological age we can now record and PRESERVE our sin and take it with us to cherish and relive endlessly. What is DONE in front of those cameras IS sin. To intentionally pay the sinners in order to relive it with them, is also sin. Before the dawn of the modern era, we didn’t have this option.

    Now we do. Technologies that are also neutral in themselves and that are as good or evil as the use to which they are put. Recording sin for money is sin. Participation by those naming the name of Christ is especially sinful and grievous to the Lord our God. (I still can’t believe I’m actually having this conversation with Presbyterians)
    ——————————————————————–
    Shakespeare (much less Chaucer) is decidedly not PG.

    Then the performance of such things would be sinful and in any case, the reformed church repudiated this material.

    Going back to the NT era. Public displays of very realistic statues, paintings, and frescos of beastiality and other explicit sexual activity were on display for all to see.

    Yes and that was pagan and sinful. Being unavoidably yourself exposed to such non-true to life immorality is not the same as intentionally paying the pagan citizenry to actually perform it for you. It’s not about me and it’s effect on me. That’s YOUR guys hangup. For me it’s about THEM and my loving THEM or not in Jesus name. Nothing could to be more opposite to loving them as myself (OR loving God with any part of my heart) than deliberately and avoidably financing their damnation with God’s money.

    I love history and archeology. I am well aware of and have seen the art in Pompeii and Herculaneum as well as numerous other ancient pagan cities. PAGAN cities. Do we see such art in the Lord’s Jerusalem except when Israel was whoring after other Gods?

    So no, the entertainment of the day in biblical times was not PG..”

    I was referring to theater, but even so, the church rejected all of this. Can you imagine Paul telling timothy to go attend the theater at Ephesus because it is the same as meat sacrificed to idols and he would then be able to better evangelize them? Seriously? His knowledge of the “poets”, thinkers of the day (actually a couple hundred years earlier), which he probably learned during his education as a pharisee, is also not the same as theater. Then or now.
    —————————————————————–
    sdb quotes me as saying:“It is a modern western and particularly American luxury”
    …and then responds with:
    “As is going to the gym, reading books, listening to music, going to concerts, buying prepared food at grocery stores, sitting in air condition, writing on the internet, etc…”

    Quite so, but none of that is sinful in itself. Also, it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production. let’s try this:

    Everyone whose eyes fall upon this page who who spends more time on God’s word, prayer and fellowship with the saints than they do watching television, please raise your hand.

    THAT is an abomination and is made possible by American ease and comfort.

    sdb says: “Legalism is more dangerous than antinomianism.”

    I say they are both equally dangerous and the biblical data bears that out. Paul spent plenty of time and ink on both.
    ————————————————————–
    sdb says: “No one here is saying … that pornography is OK.”

    Yes you are. You just redefine “pornography.” Darryl even said himself that such entertainment is a violation of the 7th commandment. It depends on how lively his conscience is the day this comes up. Once again. read the LC from QUESTIONs 91 through the ten commandments and tell me how much “legalism” you see there by the standard you are here preaching to me.

    If they would have thought it was bloodthirsty, blasphemous pornography then so do I. In fact, like myself, they muight not have even have had televisions at all and certainly would never have went to a movie theater. (here it comes) If I’m a legalist, they far more so and you folks need to pick a different tradition. At bare minimum you need to stop the laughable pretense that you have any concern whatsoever for your own standards.

    sdb says: “As Daryl pointed out, if your conscience accuses you, then it is sinful to watch the wire. But you insist on going beyond that.”

    I have not gone beyond YOUR YOUR YOUR standards.

    sdb says: “[you] condemn all entertainment in all forms because we don’t have it as bad as Christian being tortured in the Middle East.”

    Not only have I not done this, (going all the way back to when I first got here) but certainly not simply for that reason. My view is supported by scripture as understood in your own standards. I’m just the messenger. Your argument is with every Presbyterian pretty much who lived before the last half of the 20th century.

    Even Kuyper, with his disastrous cultural engagement and transformationalism would have never seen today’s bloody, blasphemous pornographic entertainment as what he meant by “art.”

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  36. Dr Hart quotes me as saying:: ” “sin was both intrinsic to the production of the merchandise AND which sin persists in the merchandise itself.”
    And then responds with:
    Now I see. So sin pervades everything. Did you get your computer from a saint?

    Speaking of which, you say the Bible does not recognize entertainment. Does it recognize electricity? “

    These cannot possibly be serious questions Darryl. Unless I am the most incompetent communicator on this continent, there is no way you could have concluded this from what I said.

    Read CAREFULLY my latest to sdb and see if it helps please.
    ——————————————————————
    “Glad I declined the podcast — because the Bible doesn’t recognize lay people communicating their views to a mass audience..”

    That’s really why you declined? You would have said that at first if it were. ( Formal ordination is a different discussion).
    —————————————————————–
    (of three?)

    Aw now that was an unnecessary personal jab 😦

    I’ll be big about it and not return in kind.

    Like

  37. The subject IS meat generally and THAT is Paul’s point. Meat is neutral and “…we know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” 1 Cor. 8:4 (ESV)
    “ where he is discussing the exact same principle.

    Meat is just meat. There is no other kind in reality. What makes it different to some people is the immaturity of THEIR conscience. Not anything about the meat itself, which 100% of the time is simply meat.

    No. What made it different was that a believer’s hard earned money went to subsidize bad behavior. You wrote, “If it would be sin for you or your family members to “perform”, then it is sin for you to pay others the Lords’ money to do it for you.” Paying someone to sacrifice an animal to an idol so you can buy mean is sinful if what your wrote is true. Paul would disagree, therefore your statement is incorrect.

    Not so with electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people. Which every Christian believes CAN be sinful in itself. Think kiddie porn. (I’ll have to go that far to actually get a call of sinful cinema with you people) There is no analogy to meat of any kind, unless some sort of physical poison is applied to the meat itself or something.

    No one is saying that pornography is OK. We all agree there. You are the one who has repeatedly characterized all entertainment as follows,

    “We simply must embrace that bloody, blasphemous pornographic entertainment industry.”

    “[Entertainment] is a modern western and particularly American luxury indulged in by pampered shallow professors of Christ who would wet themselves if they had to face 10 minutes of actual hardship or persecution.

    Go to a man in the middle east whose wife is being gang raped and children beheaded in the name of Jesus and compare with him the spiritual truths gleaned from modern American secular entertainment. Ask him who he thinks will win the awards this year and see what he says. How pathetic and nauseating and thoroughly American.”

    And so forth… Perhaps you don’t mean to characterize all entertainment thusly. That means you need to use discernment to draw lines. Not everyone will draw the lines the same way. Just because they are different from yours, does not entail that they are libertine. That’s the point.

    …the reformed church repudiated [Shakespeare].

    Many puritans did, but the reformers did not universally. You’ve ID’d Milton. I gave you Sidney and Donne as two other examples from the same general era. You are overstating your case, and it is burying good points you do make.

    Nothing could to be more opposite to loving them as myself (OR loving God with any part of my heart) than deliberately and avoidably financing their damnation with God’s money.

    Now tell me again how this is different from paying for meat sacrificed to idols rather than being a vegetarian? When you buy meat sacrificed to an idol, you are using God’s money to finance their damnation. This isn’t a morally neutral butcher, this is someone who is able to finance their idolatry with a believer’s money. Surely you see why this line of reasoning is not valid when applied to idolators. It is no more valid when applied to any other industry.

    [Paul’s] knowledge of the “poets”, thinkers of the day (actually a couple hundred years earlier), which he probably learned during his education as a pharisee, is also not the same as theater. Then or now.

    And how do you know that? Where in the ancient world would one have come across such poets? Why is Sidney’s famous article called “In Defense of Posey?” I’m no expert on the classics, but what little I do know is that this literature that Paul knew and references was probably referenced in the context of the amphitheater. He also referenced the games – those were rather risqué events as well. It is curious that being a spectator to these things never gets condemned by Paul.

    To intentionally pay the sinners in order to relive it with them, is also sin. Before the dawn of the modern era, we didn’t have this option…. Also, it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.

    No. A thousand times no. Whether one must have sinned to produce something is irrelevant to whether it was sinful to purchase it or not (we are back to meat sacrificed to idols). The question is, is it an occasion to sin? If so, I need to stay away from it regardless of how it was produced. Zwingli needed to give up his organ because of his struggle with pride – it didn’t matter that the music was God honoring, the problem was his heart. The District attorney is not necessarily sinning by viewing kiddie porn in the course of her duties, but if it is tantalizing, then she needs to recuse herself from the case. The theater critic is not necessarily sinning by viewing a film that includes bad sequences, but he could be – wisdom and discernment matter.

    The problem is not whether one is subsidizing the bad behavior, the issue is one’s heart. Of course, there are some things that inherently sinful to view. Pornography would be one of those things to be sure. The Wire is most certainly not pornographic (even if it is something I myself wouldn’t watch). LC on the 7th commandment forbids, “lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays”. Surely you understand the difference between something produced to tantalize and something produced to create a different point? We have to use discernment and understand that just because I can’t watch things like the Wire does not entail that no one can. The same could be said for reading Shakespeare, looking at artifacts from Pompeii, or serving as investigator in child porn case.

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  38. So much angst, anger, pride, indulgence, hate, discord, coupled with the (social media version) of weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth over who best “knows” an imaginary supernatural fairy tale. Imagine if humanity put this much time, effort and thought into making our world a better place for humanity right here, right now, which is all that exists in reality. I’m sure you will find my comment worthless but that’s okay, I know you need to focus on the vitally important subject of how many angels dance on the head of a pin or What Porn Would Jesus Watch. Didn’t Jesus hang out with prostitutes as well? That gives him something in common with Trump but I doubt the Devil has a tape of Jesus engaging in Water Sports. Enjoy the day!

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  39. Greg the comment section for this article generated around porn. I had to go back and re read the article to remember that Dr Hart wasn’t talking about porn at all. I’m trying to figure out why you decided to make this about porn? Dr Harts article is actually interesting and the content is discussion worthy but instead we talked about porn. Why is this always on your mind?

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  40. @ Spacehistorian:

    Oddly, folk who reject the Christian account don’t seem to agree on “best.” Is it the rule of the proletariat, the absolute freedom of markets, the ascendency of the transhuman, or the post-work society?

    So I don’t see a pragmatic upside to your recommendation.

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  41. Greg, “think kiddie porn.”

    No.

    This is why discussion with you is impossible. Can’t you reserve the extremes for discussion once you arrive at some consensus or boundaries for consideration? Not you. You see The Wire in the same categories as kiddie porn.

    And you wonder why I think you have problem with Christian liberty.

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  42. sdb

    On June 2nd 2015 on this blog, Darryl said the following:

    The host of this blog called watching a movie with sexual content a violation of the 7th commandment. In his more lucid moments ,he knows that see?

    Let’s try yet again. DARRYL, please type on this page the names of your historical heroes (that means they’ve been dead a good while) of the reformed faith, who you feel would share your view that the wire (for instance) could be a righteous form of entertainment for Christians.

    Sdb is desperate, for some reason, and is working real hard to maintain his view of “liberty.” Which of your dead heroes agrees with him? Which of the Westminster divines (for instance) do you feel would share your view that the wire (for instance) could be a righteous form of entertainment for Christians? Sdb says they would agree wirth him. What do you say? (watch this folks).

    The fact that those names will never appear here establishes that his view, and yours,(sometimes, see screenshot above) are a modern American innovation drawn from culture and not the scriptures or reformed history.

    I simply cannot at the moment spend another hour and a half or 2 hours addressing your last comment sdb. This is no denigration of your intelligence, but it is a muddled mess of category errors and false analogies, most of which I have already addressed.

    Of course I’d always be open to a video chat with you as well. Or anybody else here.

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  43. @gtt You have made a major error in claiming that if someone must sin to produce X, it is a sin for a Christian to buy X. This is the syllogism you have repeated numerous times and it is incorrect. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

    No desperation on my part. You have the name of three reformed Christians who disagreed with the take of the puritans. Why do you ask for more?

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  44. sdb says: “@gtt You have made a major error in claiming that if someone must sin to produce X, it is a sin for a Christian to buy X. This is the syllogism you have repeated numerous times and it is incorrect.”

    From a biblical and reformed standpoint, when applied to the actions of human beings performing for the pubic, it is airtight. You can take Darryl’s silence for it.

    Milton was a morally and theologically questionable fringe dweller who was dimly viewed by the true reformed heavyweights in his own day.

    Philip Sidney isn’t even known for being a Christian, to say nothing of a reformed historical figure. He and Donne were poets who contributed nothing of substance to actually reformed tradition.

    I asked Darryl for heroes, theological captains of reformed history. Like from among the Westminster divines whose work his denomination requires adherence to for his ordination, for instance.

    Look, its like this. Everybody who is anybody in reformed history would have instantly, without a seconds hesitation, written off garbage like “The Wire” as sick, debased, violent blasphemous pornography. Yes they would have. They didn’t view rank worldly carnality as being legitimatized because it appears in a good story. If you took a TV back in time and let these men see one episode, they would denounce and anathematize you as a mortally degenerate pagan on the spot. They would have told you that if this satanic trash doesn’t qualify as a violation of our expositions of the 3rd and 7th commandments, then no specimens are possible.

    If you don’t like that that’s tough. That’s the way it is. I say yet one more time. We know that here because historian extraordinaire, Dr. DG Hart has himself made it abundantly clear. This filth is bloody, blasphemous pornography by the historical standards of Presbyterian tradition. Those who partake of it are bloody blasphemous pornographers.

    it’s not liberty, it’s an abomination. You’re not biblically broadminded and mature. You’re deceived and ensnared by the spirit of the age my friend.

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  45. Dr Hart quotes me as saying: “think kiddie porn.”
    And then responds with:
    No.

    This is why discussion with you is impossible. Can’t you reserve the extremes for discussion once you arrive at some consensus or boundaries for consideration? Not you. You see The Wire in the same categories as kiddie porn.

    And you wonder why I think you have problem with Christian liberty.”

    Darryl the reason discussion with you is impossible, at least in my case, is because you utterly refuse to pay attention when I speak. What I said was THIS:

    “[meat is not like] electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people. Which every Christian believes CAN be sinful in itself. Think kiddie porn.”

    My simple point was that unlike meat which can NEVER be sinful in itself, “electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people.” CAN be. An example every Christian can agree on is kiddie porn. Take a look. That’s what I said.

    Listen man, you of all people knew the truth about this a long time ago. You just haven’t had the good grace to break down and concede yet.

    The God I know always gets His way. Always.

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  46. Greg, why should I pay attention to you when you characterize The Wire as something that I do not recognize (and you’ve never seen an episode in its entirety).

    But you do seem to get a lot of mileage out of thinking you are so holy in relation to my depravity. Good for you.

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  47. Greg, I’m confused. Isn’t it the case that we sin daily in thought, word, and deed?

    So wouldn’t it be the case that all manner of things … cars, computers, math textbooks, statues, blog posts … are produced by people who are sinning as they produce them?

    Or are pride, maliciousness, avarice, and unbelief lesser sins than adultery?

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  48. Dr, Hart says: “Greg, why should I pay attention to you when you characterize The Wire as something that I do not recognize (and you’ve never seen an episode in its entirety).”

    God doesn’t care what you recognize and therefore neither do I. It is what it is. Your beef is not with me anyway. It’s with your own church history and you know it. That’s why in three years you never have and you never will deny it.

    Praise God, it’s the internet age Dr. Hart. THIS is all I need to see. The pagans tell me all I’ll ever need to know. THAT is bloody, blasphemous pornography and would have been recognized as such even by most the secular culture before a few decades ago. Put that on a television at the Westminster assembly or the Synod Dort (for instance) They wouldn’t let you near their children if you tried to tell them that that was godly Christian entertainment with a GREAT story and falls under the same principle as meat sacrificed to idols and is therefore an object of liberty of conscience.

    They would instantly recognize that for the rationalizing bible butchery that it is.
    =============================================
    But you do seem to get a lot of mileage out of thinking you are so holy in relation to my depravity. Good for you.

    I am jealous for His name and His truth Darryl, which alone sets captives free.. He loved me and hung onto me when I TRIED to get away.

    AFTER standing in the pulpit and (competently) teaching His word, there I was In backslidden drunken terror, flipping Him off and daring Him to kill me.(I actually really did that) Because it would have been a relief just to know that I was lost and reprobate rather than the torment of not knowing.

    11 years ago last March, He delivered me from a servile bondage to alcohol (again) when I wasn’t even asking (long story) He didn’t even wait for me to come home. He came to my far country and pulled my face outta that pigs trough and put his ring on my finger and robe on my back when I should have been cast forthwith and headlong into that lake of fire.

    I’ll be damned before I’ll stand by and watch a whoring morally apostate church smear the filth of this world on His face, and pervert and corrupt His word of truth with man centered innovations utterly unknown to His scriptures or His bride in history.

    I know that’s “pietism” to you, but that’s what motivates me. Whether anybody listens or not, is not up to me.

    You are in your far country Darryl. You know you ain’t where He wants you. It makes no difference how I know that. What matters is that YOU know it. My motivation with you personally is to see you get there. I WANT you to know the joy and peace that I know, in spite of life circumstances. That’s what I pray for. For yourself, your wife and all those you could righteously influence in your remaining time on this planet. With all my heart.

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  49. Greg, I’m confused. Isn’t it the case that we sin daily in thought, word, and deed?

    So wouldn’t it be the case that all manner of things … cars, computers, math textbooks, statues, blog posts … are produced by people who are sinning as they produce them?

    Or are pride, maliciousness, avarice, and unbelief lesser sins than adultery?

    Come oh Jeff . I went over this with Cletus Van Damme my first day here 3 Februarys ago.

    2 things.

    The question is not whether sinnERS produced it. The question is whether sin produced it. The question is not whether the employees are immoral blasphemers. The question is, is their immorality and blasphemy the means of production or the product itself.

    In the unique case of modern media entertainment, both are, or every often are true. Sin was committed in the very act of creating it AND that sin is precisely recorded and replayed countless times in the product itself.

    I know not everybody has seen all these discussions, but put yourself in my position. I must have put a 40 hour work week (at least) into my comments here over the last few years and I keep getting the same questions over and over again.

    Well, that’s my problem. People who don’t know can’t be expected to assume I’ve answered their question already and go looking for it.

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  50. Greg, have you considered a ministry with a website that indexes all of your comments at Old Life? By topic, time, and interlocutor. It could save us all a lot of headaches.

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  51. Dr. Hart says: and if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.”

    Dr Hart today says: “Greg, maybe I watch The Wire for the same reasons that you read Old Life”

    Will the real Darryl Hart please stand up?

    Deny my driving thesis here since you’ve known me please Darryl. Demonstrate for the people watching this conversation that according to reformed history the decades long flagrant violation of the 7th commandment has a righteous purpose.

    Please type on this page the names of your historical heroes (that means they’ve been dead a good while) of the reformed faith, who you feel would share your view that the wire (for instance) could EVER be a righteous form of entertainment for Christians.

    The fact that those names will never appear here establishes that your view, (sometimes, see quote and link above) are a modern American innovation drawn from the culture of unbelief and not the scriptures or reformed history.

    I’m just a man, but you cannot run from the Holy Spirit.

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  52. Greg, you may have been converted but you haven’t much shed the need for self-aggrandizing, rail-roading, judgmentalism and attention-seeking. Am I sinful to engage you with all that sin which still clings?

    PS why does it all hang on what “heroes” would agree with you? That’s pure speculation and question begging, no to mention the kind of fan-boyism that animates so much of religious celebrity these days.

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  53. Greg, you do realize that you varyingly speak as though your thoughts and God’s thoughts are the same(“God doesn’t care what you recognize and neither do I”). You regularly violate the creator-creature distinction and engage in a form of divination. I realize this is natural(fallen) and easy and the tendency of all false religion and aberrant theology and NPD, and not that I expect you to be self-aware, I just wanted to point it out to you. Helpful reminder(my ministry to you), you aren’t God or the Holy Spirit. You also tend to meet conciliation and charity in discussion with a doubling down with aggression, as if the conciliatory attitude was a sign of weakness, rather than graciousness, and your opportunity to strike a blow. You need to realize you create the very antagonism and disregard that so frustrates you. You act like a cartoon character, so, people start to engage you like one. Now, Jeff and sdb and others(just not me) are saintly enough to keep trying to regard you as a reasonable, imago dei, cartoon character but you more often than not repay their consideration with contempt. Anyway, I just like to keep you aware of the score. Now, cue bluster.-kiddie porn, apostate, whoring morally apostate, abomination, deceived and ensnared by the spirit of the age(Satan), The Wire as violent, blasphemous pornography…..

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  54. Make no mistake STEVE.. He knows exactly what I’m talking about. (had to turn that bracket around, oops.)
    ======================================
    Darryl knows exactly what’s going on here Sean.

    Someone like me would have been a largely unnoticed, pretty much average and unremarkable Christian before the dawn of postmodern American apostasy. It’s you guys who have gotten onboard the world’s train and left God’s station a long time ago. I’m still there and I refuse to leave. The virtual whole of prominent reformed history is my witness.

    Confessional churches are supposed to be bound by their standards Sean. That’s why it matters what was believed by the the men who wrote and supported those standards in history.

    Believe what you want fellas, but you don’t get to pretend that you’re being faithful to your own history in so doing. The men on whose shoulders you profess to be standing would cast you off and deliver you to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme like Hymenaeus and Alexander. But don’t take my word for it. Darryl knows full well that that’s the case. Ask him.

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  55. “You have made a major error in claiming that if someone must sin to produce X, it is a sin for a Christian to buy X. This is the syllogism you have repeated numerous times and it is incorrect.”

    From a biblical and reformed standpoint, when applied to the actions of human beings performing for the pubic, it is airtight.

    This is a qualification of your syllogism. If someone must sin to produce X and X is a public performance, it is a sin for a Christian to pay for X.

    You have also stated that it isn’t a sin for a Christian to pay for X merely for the reason that it may cause him to sin, but rather because it is not loving of one’s neighbor: you wrote, “it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”

    Let’s set aside for just a moment what you think my motivations are, what my spiritual state is, or what I really do. Let’s focus on the legitimacy of the assertion you’ve made. To wit,

    If someone must sin to produce [meat sacrificed to idols] {and [the sacrifice of meat to idols] is a public performance}, it is a sin for a Christian to pay for [meat sacrificed to idols]. It’s not even that [mean sacrificed to idols] is necessarily itself sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.

    So a few questions:
    1. Why is it not legitimate to put “meat sacrificed to idols” in this syllogism? Note that we qualify that the thing being produced needn’t be sinful itself – as you’ve noted meat is just meat. But according to what you’ve written, that doesn’t matter.

    2. Does the qualification in {}’s make the argument different? I don’t see how. If I buy a book that contains blasphemous passages – the author sinned to produce it. Perhaps I buy that novel by John Updike to put on my shelf to look smart and urbane, but never read it. I presume it is still sinful by the reasoning you’ve proposed to buy it. Right?

    3. Is there any other example of claiming that things that are not necessarily sinful in themselves are sinful to consume because sin was required in their production? If the only way to get a diamond or chocolate is to pay someone who used child slavery, I suppose by your reasoning it is sinful to buy the chocolate or diamond. The problem isn’t with the item, it is with the sinfulness in how it was produced. Am I following you correctly?

    Note that the fact that this syllogism is incorrect does not mean that watching TV shows like the Wire is necessarily licit. Getting our reasoning right is crucial to avoid the very real traps of legalism and antinomianism.

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  56. Dr. Hart says: “Letm, make no mistake, Greg doesn’t have a clue what’s going on here. (See what I did there?)”
    See what Darryl still didn’t do there? He didn’t attempt to make that case from reformed history.

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  57. Greg, whom do you take me for? A Roman Catholic? What’s history got to do with it? Bible up.”

    Bible up? An unordained rogue with no education? Who cares what I think? Aren’t you one of the guys here always telling me that I have no place telling anybody anything? I’m making an argument from authority and one that your ordination vows tell me you’re supposed to take seriously.

    In spite of all that, are you really going to accuse me of not bringing biblical arguments to this blog? I just know you ain’t gonna do that.
    —————————————————
    Allow me to throw a couple other things on the table. I do realize that I have hijacked threads sometimes. Like this one, which was unintentional. I also realize that I have no ecclesiastical authority over you or anybody who shows up here. I further realize that you owe me absolutely nothing AND that I have in the past given you what might be considered legitimate reasons never to speak to me again. I actually do think about such things.

    In that light, it matters to me that you understand that I consider any attention I get from you to be the grace of the Lord and an honor. I don’t think I ever actually made that clear.

    My mission in life is neither to exalt myself, nor to tear others down. It really isn’t.

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  58. @gtt I saw this comment :

    “My simple point was that unlike meat which can NEVER be sinful in itself, “electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people.” CAN be.”

    You do see the inconsistency with this other statement you made in this same thread:

    ” it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”

    So which is it? Are the products inherently sinful or sinful because of how they were produced? If they are inherently sinful regardless of the behavior behind their production (which I hope we can now agree on), the next question is what makes a particular play, artwork, book, movie, or song wrong to consume. I bet if we can move on from your insistence about the sin of the cook/author/performer, we may discover we aren’t as far apart as you might think.

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  59. sdb. Can kiddie porn ever be righteously consumed for the same reasons that somebody watches today’s mainstream media entertainment?

    Reasons given by somebody like…….. oh……. I don’t know… let’s try Dr. DG Hart for instance. THE FOLLOWING are his reasons.

    “What if I watch a movie simply because I like it,…. It is like acquiring a taste for a kind of food that some people might find objectionable — like sweetbreads…

    [Examining the issue much more deeply than that] “…is way more theology than I think is necessary to justify such mundane affairs as food and movies.”

    Is child pornography a lawful and righteous activity for the reasons given by Dr. Hart for his love of his preferred cinema?

    If not, why not?

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  60. Greg, who’s “he” and what does that mean?

    But it’s stuff like this that makes you hard to take seriously: “It’s you guys who have gotten onboard the world’s train and left God’s station a long time ago. I’m still there and I refuse to leave. The virtual whole of prominent reformed history is my witness.”

    I can see the tee shirt and tattoo now. Really, you don’t see the goofiness of this?

    And then this: “My mission in life is neither to exalt myself, nor to tear others down. It really isn’t.”

    Well, the former statement sure sounds self-exalty and down-with-othersish–you’re the one who’s left behind at God’s train station while others are truckin’ to hell. But you also sound like DJT, constantly exhorting everyone to believe him because that’s what liars and shysters do. It is, in fact, your mission to exalt yourself and demean others.

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  61. @gtt
    First things first. Let’s make sure we are reasoning about this correctly. Picking a gross-out case that induces outrage and working backwards to a general principle is a good way to get yourself twisted into knots and saying things along the lines of, “media may not be inherently sinful, but if it requires sinning to produce it, then it is a sin to buy it. This is different from meat sacrificed to idols because meat is not inherently bad, but the illicit media is.” Do you see the problem with this line of reasoning?

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  62. Zrim, you’re not gonna make it all eight years. Between all the Hollywood kvetching, Cooper squinting for effect and you and Maher hyperventilating I worry for y’all. Come to Texas where we hide the illegals on the ranches and mud camps(sanctuaries) and you can make pilgrimages to Austin where you can keep it weird, transplanty and blueish. SXSW brosef.

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  63. Someone ought at least say thanks for your heart, Greg. Per Jesus, we are to always be encouraging one another to be free – free, that is, to be slaves to righteousness; and to remind one another -it is all about me – all about me, that is, to love, including cause no one to stumble

    My dear Wormwood,….You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards of cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one- the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape

    Habakkuk 113a Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor.

    Philippians 1:9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; Philippians 2: 15 blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, 2 Peter 3:13 according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless 15a and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation

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  64. Sean, “hyperventilating”? If DJT is the prosperity peddler of politics (maybe that’s a big if for you), is that how you characterize any criticism of Hinn? Come on.

    But I’m kvetching about Greg. What, you don’t “believe me”?

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  65. Sorry. Link now is on my name. Darryl’s old wordpress site used to be more customizable. This is more canned but it works. You can find me at the twitter profile link. I hope you are able to slow down your internetting/social media, and maybe even stop being an anon. You don’t want to be calvinist batman or coulson or whatever, forever, do you?

    What are you afraid of?

    There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

    Last comment,
    Andrew Buckingham

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  66. sdb says: “Do you see the problem with this line of reasoning?”
    gtt says: “Help me out please.”

    You are saying that X = ~X. That’s impossible – therefore there is an error somewhere in your reasoning.

    Assertion #1. ” it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”

    Response: Sin is required to provide meat that was sacrificed to idols (one must make a sacrifice to an idol).

    Assertion #2. meat sacrificed to idols is different because meat is not itself sinful. TV and movies are.

    Response: You just said that TV and movies may not themselves be inherently sinful. Thus the contradiction.

    One way out is to recognize that a particular piece of media is not sinful because it required sinful behavior to produce the product. Another is to say that any product that required sin to produce is therefore itself sinful. That solves the logical problem, but it does put you in contradiction to Paul. I don’t think that is where you want to go.

    Saying that a given condition is not a legitimate reason for labeling an activity sinful is not the something as saying that activity is not sinful. Consider someone who says that stealing is sinful because it makes the thief look cheap. You might respond that stealing is not wrong because it makes someone look cheap. Indeed, following this line of reasoning may lead one to conclude that wearing clothes from Walmart is stealing because they make someone appear cheap. Obviously absurd. Perhaps a more subtle error is the person who concludes that leaving a 15% tip is stealing because it makes one look cheap. Responding to those who suggest that leaving a sub-20% tip are not stealing by accusing them of disregarding the 10 commandments, or asking them if they think it is OK to rob a bank isn’t going to get you very far.

    If we agree that asserting X and ~X is problematic, then we can move onto the question of what makes particular media problematic.

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  67. I’m not 100% certain I’m following all that, but if I am, the first part has been thoroughly dealt with at least twice in this discussion and the second part is really REALLY reaching. I’ll do my best to answer when I can.

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  68. @gtt
    My point is that the first part that you have dealt with previously in this discussion contains a contradiction. You are claiming X and not X. That’s a problem. The following statements cannot both be true and consistent with what Paul said:

    “My simple point was that unlike meat which can NEVER be sinful in itself, “electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people.” CAN be.”

    ” it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”

    If TV that is not necessarily itself sinful can be wrong to watch because it required sin its production (as you’ve claimed), then other things that are not themselves sinful can be wrong to consume because they required sin in their production. If you try to reconcile this with what Paul says about meat sacrificed to idols by saying that meat is not in itself sinful, you are have undermined your statement that TV that is not itself sinful is sinful to watch because sin was required in its production. One way to resolve the contradiction is to recognize that the condition that one sin to produce an item is not a sufficient condition for declaring the use of the item sinful. This is a narrow, but important point. Note that responding that eating meat isn’t sinful and watching porn is sinful is to beg the question. The question is what makes one OK and the other not. One of the reasons you give for why watching porn is wrong would make eating idolatrous meat wrong, thus it is not a good reason. Note that I am not arguing that porn is OK to watch. I’ve stated several times in these discussions that I don’t think that. My point in the second half of what I wrote above is to illustrate how one might come to the right conclusion (stealing is wrong) for the wrong reason (e.g., it is tacky). I presume we agree that one can come to the right conclusion about how to behave in some instance while having the wrong reasoning for doing so.

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  69. sdb:

    No sin is EVER required to produce and provide meat for food. EVER. The sin is entirely external and incidental to the product at every stage and level, which is the apostle’s point to the saints at Corinth.

    The electronic recording of true to life REAL PEOPLE ACTUALLY ENGAGING IN SIN, IS BOTH THE PRODUCTION PROCESS AND THE PRODUCT in the case of sinfully produced media. In order for those scenes to exist, real people really did blaspheme God and commit sexual immorality. The scenes could not exist without, and are in fact defined by that reality.

    There are no societal content ratings for meat because meat can only EVER just be meat. There are however content ratings for cinema, because by its very nature, a wide range of morally charged content is possible. We now live in an age where biblical morality must be wisely and faithfully applied to technologies that were not available in times past. That is fairly easy to do for somebody whose driving motivation is faithfulness to and the glory of the blindingly holy God of the universe. It’s especially easy for those who have the magnificent Westminster Standards as their biblical guide. It only really gets complicated when people really want it to be.

    Please reread my allegedly contradictory statements:

    “My simple point was that unlike meat which can NEVER be sinful in itself, “electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people.” CAN be.”

    ” it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”

    The word “never” is a universal negative, indicating the nonexistence of the thing it is referring to.

    The word “can” is a subjunctive term of potential or possibility, the actuality of which depends on what it is presently referring to.

    Meat, is by definition, necessarily indifferent. It CANNOT carry moral content.

    Cinema CAN, that is, it has the potential to, but does not in itself necessarily carry moral content. So (I hope you’re with me) cinema can either be a beautiful documentary of the natural wonders of Alaska, OR, kiddie porn. They ARE BOTH cinematic productions. The former required and is distributing no sin. The latter both required sin AND IS distributing it.

    NONE of the immediately above does, or even CAN apply to meat. The conversation can’t even legitimately take place. No sin is or can be ever required to produce and distribute meat, because meat is in a different category altogether from cinema for all the reasons I have given.

    I find it very tough to believe that nobody here is getting this.

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  70. Sean, ah, so less-sensitive-than-thou. Careful. But now you’re adjectivizing like DJT.

    Now simmer down, I’m trying to notice how many big words Greg has read and is trying to use.

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  71. @gtt
    You are jumping ahead to defend your conclusion without addressing the contradiction you have made.

    No sin is EVER required to produce and provide meat for food. EVER.

    But meat sacrificed to idols does require sin to produce. Always. Therefore, the issue is not whether sin is required to produce it. This is a red herring.

    The sin is entirely external and incidental to the product at every stage and level, which is the apostle’s point to the saints at Corinth.

    Agreed.

    The electronic recording of true to life REAL PEOPLE ACTUALLY ENGAGING IN SIN, IS BOTH THE PRODUCTION PROCESS AND THE PRODUCT in the case of sinfully produced media.

    Ah. Now I see. Why didn’t you use all caps in the first place. Ha! Kidding actually. I agree that, like sacrificing to an idol, someone had to sin to produce the product. If one can consume the meat without participating, then you can eat. The question is whether you can read the book without participating. But let’s not get aheadof ourselves. You made a different claim that I disagree with that I would like to clarify before dealing with this…

    In order for those scenes to exist, real people really did blaspheme God and commit sexual immorality. The scenes could not exist without, and are in fact defined by that reality.

    Well I don’t know what “defined by” means here, but otherwise I agree. Like meat sacrificed to idols (msti), it would not exist without someone sinning.

    There are no societal content ratings for meat because meat can only EVER just be meat.

    You don’t spend enough time at Wholefoods. Lucky you. Yes, meat gets labeled for being humanely raised, etc…

    There are however content ratings for cinema, because by its very nature, a wide range of morally charged content is possible.

    Is it true that certain Jews wouldn’t allow young men to read Song of Songs until they were married or something. Could it be that media can be age inappropriate without being immoral?

    We now live in an age …

    Perhaps, but it is irrelevant to the contradiction in your assertion.

    Please reread my allegedly contradictory statements:

    “My simple point was that unlike meat which can NEVER be sinful in itself, “electronically recorded moving pictures of actual people.” CAN be.”

    ” it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”

    So your claim is that meat cannot be inherently sinful unlike a video (quote 1). But even videos that are not inherently sinful (just like meat) it depends on if anyone’s sin was required in the production (quote 2).

    In other words, you have claimed that (now I am tempted to go all caps!) whether an item is inherently sinful is not a necessary condition. That a product requires one to sin to produce it is sufficient. This second statement undermines the significance of the distinction between msti and videos. My problem is with this second quote.

    cinema can either be a beautiful documentary of the natural wonders of Alaska, OR, kiddie porn. They ARE BOTH cinematic productions. The former required and is distributing no sin. The latter both required sin AND IS distributing it.

    That may be, but you wrote “it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.” So if the documentary required one to sin to produce it (say lying about trying to buy aborted babyparts), it is illicit because it doesn’t depend on the video being inherently sinful.

    “NONE of the immediately above does, or even CAN apply to meat. The conversation can’t even legitimately take place. No sin is or can be ever required to produce and distribute meat, because meat is in a different category altogether from cinema for all the reasons I have given.”
    Except that you asserted that the distinction doesn’t matter. ” it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either”.

    The correct resolution is that illicit media is not problematic because someone had to sin to produce it and loving one’s neighbors is irrelevant to the moral calculus of understanding why watching certain things is wrong and why the WLC is worded how it is.

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  72. I simply cannot at the moment spend another hour and a half or 2 hours addressing your last comment sdb. This is no denigration of your intelligence, but it is a muddled mess (more than last time) of category errors and false analogies, all of which I have already addressed.

    Of course I’d always be open to a video chat with you as well. Or anybody else here.
    —————————————————–
    I have no illusions that anybody here (or most places) will probably agree with me. Even among you who disagree though, can somebody please tell me honestly whether I am making myself clear?

    I’m not asking for agreement. Only affirmation or no that I am being understood. Please? I am going round and round and round and round and round and round and round with this man over the same territory. Am I really the only one seeing the massive holes in his campaign? I am being absolute honest and serious here.

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  73. @gtt
    I bet you could spend less time responding if you wrote less about your exasperation, what you already said, and trying to win the big argument rather than focus on the narrow point.

    Here is my summary of your argument:
    1. Meat sacrificed to idols is in not problematic b/c the meat is not corrupted by the sinful behavior of the preparer. I think we agree here.

    2. Illicit media is itself problematic. (we agree here, but let’s set aside why and what constitutes illicit media for now).

    3. However, even if the media is not itself illicit (i.e., it is as neutral as meat), if it took sin to produce it, then it is wrong to buy it. (“it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.”) I don’t disagree that there is a distinction between porn and meat. But your statement that I quoted here obliterates that distinction.

    Earlier you claimed that part of the reason that it is wrong to purchase illicit media is because it is unloving to subsidize your neighbor’s sinful activity. This is the argument you made that I dispute. Going on and on (IN ALL CAPS NO LESS) about how meat and porn are different is beside the point. I agree that they are.

    My point is narrow and I would really like to settle this. You made the assertion that it isn’t that the media is inherently sinful that is the problem, it is whether sin was required to produce it that makes it problematic. Why? Because one isn’t loving one’s neighbor.

    I see two resolutions:

    1. there is a distinction between “msti” and “media that is not inherently sinful” that I am missing. Note that we are not talking about media that is inherently sinful as you noted in the line I quoted.

    2. You goofed in what you wrote above. Neutral media is not problematic even if it required sin to produce. Loving one’s neighbors is not part of the moral calculus for determining whether viewing particular media is sinful or not.If it were you would be contradicting Paul.

    Let’s stay focused on this before moving on to why certain forms of entertainment are problematic. If you keep returning to the state of the producers, you will be led astray.

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  74. gtt says I have no illusions that anybody here (or most places) will probably agree with me. Even among you who disagree though, can somebody please tell me honestly whether I am making myself clear?

    Don’t know how much you can use complicated (to most) human reasoning to lead to righteousness, Greg.
    Not that the Lord doesn’t love us to reason, since we are made in His image, it’s just that it is wisdom from above that leads us there and all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Rom 8:14) ;for we know the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. (Gal 5:17)

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  75. I don’t have much time now.

    Modern electronic recording technologies are in themselves empty containers that can be filled with literally any kind of content and are therefore on a specimen by specimen basis, as good or evil as the content they contain. Further, because this content is, in the case of these technologies (unlike books for instance) uniquely recorded directly from real life, the content IS the production process and vice versa.

    None of the preceding does or can apply to food of any kind.

    1st Corinthians 8:
    4-Therefore concerning the eating of things sacrificed to idols, we know that there is no such thing as an idol in the world, and that there is no God but one. 5-For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords, 6-yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.

    7-However not all men have this knowledge; but some, being accustomed to the idol until now, eat food as if it were sacrificed to an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled. (that’s a “meaty” chapter. Pun intended)

    The problem with the meat has nothing whatever to do with the meat. Not so with cinema.

    When someone buys meat, they are paying them for meat. You could tell them it was from anywhere and they wouldn’t be able to tell you the difference for a million dollars.

    Not so with cinema. The actions required to produce it, ARE the product. You can’t convince somebody that Clockwork Orange is really The Sound of Music.

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  76. Unlike today’s world loving backslidden Presbyterians, the giants of reformed history would have never EVER EVER so much as entertained (pun?) the passing notion that some sort of profound artistic consideration could baptize today’s sinful content into the realm of “liberty of conscience” and therefore a righteous option for those naming the name of Christ.

    We know this once again because the venerable and most eminently qualified world class historian Dr. DG Hart has by his silence, made this crystal clear. Therefore, just like gay Christianity and gender egalitarianism (for instance), the views expressed on this blog are modern American innovations. And looky there!! They all came into vogue in the church at the same time 😀

    Believe what you want, but the burden is on YOU to overthrow that history.

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  77. @gtt

    Again, I don’t necessarily disagree with any of this. However, it is all irrelevant to the mistake you made. Stay focused.

    You claimed that a movie that is not necessarily sinful in itself is problematic if it required sin to produce it. Your point (if you have forgotten) is that when a believer buys such an item he is not loving his neighbor. I agree that bad movies and meat are different. Stating that over and over and over does not clarify your claim that a movie that is not sinful in and of itself is problematic if it required sin to produce it. This obliterates the distinction that we agree is important between illicit movies and meat.

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  78. @gtt
    “Believe what you want, but the burden is on YOU to overthrow that history.”
    I’m not looking to overthrow anything. I’m looking to correct a simple error you made. Viewing illicit movies is not problematic because you are subsidizing someone else’s sinful behavior. It is not problematic because it is not loving one’s neighbor. These are not the reasons that viewing illicit material is wrong, contra your assertions above. I am not saying that therefore viewing illicit material is OK. Getting the reason correct is crucial for making wise prudential decisions moving forward. If you are going to make public pronouncements about the behavior of others, you have the responsibility of getting this right. Currently, your arguments are incorrect.

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  79. You wrote,

    Quite so, but none of that is sinful in itself. Also, it’s not even that TV and movies are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required in it’s production.

    These are your words. The plain reading of these words is that, TV and movies that are not themselves sinful (just like meat) are problematic if anyone’s sin was required in it’s production (like say sacrificing to an idol). This was in the context of me challenging this statement,

    When someone buys entertainment, they ARE directly paying their neighbor, whom they are commanded to love as themselves, to do and say what is sinful in itself.

    So it isn’t that the entertainment is necessarily sinful itself, it is whether sin was required in its production because you are directly paying your neighbor to do what is sinful.

    My problem is not distinguishing meat and illicit material. My problem is distinguishing meat and material that is not illicit when both products may have required one to sin.

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  80. @gtt – one minor clarification. You wrote, “sdb quotes me as saying…” I wasn’t quoting you, I was paraphrasing (accurately I believe). Had I put the words in a block quote or quote marks you would be correct that I was quoting you. I know it is irritating when someone puts words in your mouth. I’m pretty sure I haven’t done that here or elsewhere, but I will happily correct it if I have.

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  81. sdg:
    Try this:

    Quite so, but none of that is sinful in itself. Also, it’s not even that TV and movie [technologies] are necessarily themselves sinful either, it depends on whether anyone’s sin was required [in a given work, because in the case of cinema, the production and the product are the same thing..]

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  82. You know what matters to me most on this blog? Darryl knows the truth about all this. I know it, he knows and most importantly of all, God knows it.

    Anything I say to anybody else, is ultimately to him first.

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  83. @ Greg:

    (1) It seems that you are arguing that certain objects can be sinful in essence. Can you give any Scriptural examples of objects that are inherently sinful or evil?

    (2) One way to test propositions is to consider them at the extremes.

    So. Let’s say I am a prosecutor in a child porn case. You said above, participation in cinema with explicit sexual content is a violation of the confession’s definition of the seventh commandment.

    My job requires me to view, and to show to juries, explicit sexual content that was made with a motive that is clearly sinful.

    According to your dictum, I am sinning in doing my job.

    Unless you want to argue that “viewing for the purpose of prosecution” is not “participation.” In which case we must ask the question, Are there other purposes for which we may view without participating?

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  84. @gtt
    I’m really not trying to be difficult. I don’t know what you are trying to communicate with your amended quote. If you didn’t mean to say that using something is sinful because you are supporting someone else’s sin, then just say so. Admitting your error doesn’t mean you are wrong about everything. It doesn’t mean Darryl is ok watching the wire. It doesn’t mean that everything I’ve said is correct. All I’m looking to establish is that watching illicit media (n.b., by calling it illicit I am cinceding that it is something one shouldn’t watch) is not sinful because your money is going to support someone doing something wrong. Once we agree with that, we can move forward on understanding why watching sone shows is wrong.

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  85. Jeff Cagle says: “Unless you want to argue that “viewing for the purpose of prosecution” is not “participation.”

    The purpose of prosecution is to stop both the production and the product. Not to participate in it. A lawful exception that bears no resemblance whatsoever to the REASONS Darryl (for instance) gives for his love of cinema above.

    “Are there other purposes for which we may view without participating?”

    Such as?

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  86. sdb:
    WLC:
    Question 99: What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?

    Last half of the answer:

    “…What God forbids, is at no time to be done;: What he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times. That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto. That: What is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.”

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  87. @gtt And? If you are trying to apply this in this context you end up with a theocracy. Puritans and reconstructionist go this route. I don’t think that is a good reading and you lose your distinction with msti.

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  88. So we see that the reason that it is wrong to view certain things is not because you are being unloving towards one’s neighbor. The problem is that it is a provocation to impurity. What counts as a provocation is going to vary culturally and personally. Going to a gym where women walk around in shorts and swimming in a coed pool would have been unthinkable prior to ww2. Now not so much. The artifacts from pompeii may have been provocative to ancient Romans. Not so much to us today. Shakespeare was considered bawdy in his day. Now not so much. It is not the thing, it is what it means to us.

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  89. JRC: Are there other purposes for which we may view without participating?”

    Gtt: Such as?

    (1) Viewing for the purpose of critique

    (2) Viewing for the purpose of understanding

    (3) Viewing so that you know what your co-workers are talking about.

    More come to mind.

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  90. Could you possibly give some biblical and historically reformed support for viewing blasphemous bloody pornography for each of those points Jeff? (Actually the topic was child pornography) What is your biblical and historically reformed support for THIS in relation to your points?

    Where would we find Jesus, the apostles or any prominent figures of reformed history your points as reasons for participation in what’s in that content report please?

    Be back later.

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  91. sdb, let’s try it this way:

    Larger catechism:
    —————————————————————————–
    Q. 99. What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?

    A. For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:

    That the law is perfect, and binds everyone to full conformity in the whole man unto the righteousness thereof, and unto entire obedience forever; so as to require the utmost perfection of every duty, and to forbid the least degree of every sin.

    That it is spiritual, and so reaches the understanding, will, affections, and all other powers of the soul; as well as words, works, and gestures. That one and the same thing, in divers respects, is required or forbidden in several commandments.

    That as, where a duty is commanded, the contrary sin is forbidden; and, where a sin is forbidden, the contrary duty is commanded: so, where a promise is annexed, the contrary threatening is included; and, where a threatening is annexed, the contrary promise is included.

    That what God forbids, is at no time to be done; what he commands, is always our duty; and yet every particular duty is not to be done at all times.

    That under one sin or duty, all of the same kind are forbidden or commanded; together with all the causes, means, occasions, and appearances thereof, and provocations thereunto.

    That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.
    That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.

    (emphases mine)
    ——————————————————————–

    Do you see that? The part I bolded at the end? I did not write that. I wouldn’t be born for over 300 years when that was published.

    I dare anybody to attempt to make the case that the men who wrote the above would regard THIS, or thousands of other such abominations as anything other than bloody blasphemous pornography of the sickest and most Satanic and debased variety imaginable in their day.

    No amount or kind of feeble shallow cultural, artistic OR research rationalization would have carried the slightest persuasion with them. Any of them. ESPECIALLY if they lived in a time like ours when in a few mouse clicks we have everything any disciple of Christ could ever care about provided to us by the godless pagans who love this vile blasphemous filth without our ever even having even to touch it.

    I’ll say it again. Our beloved host absolutely knows that what I’m saying is the inescapable truth. That’s why he will never ever deny it. Instead he’ll say things like.

    OOH OOH OOH, they didn’t like Shakespeare either!!
    Whew.
    Now I can get back to my bloody blasphemous pornography in peace.

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  92. Greg,

    What you’re looking for is this:

    Q. 139. What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?

    A. The sins forbidden in the seventh commandment, besides the neglect of the duties required, are … all corrupt or filthy communications … lascivious songs, books, pictures, dancings, stage plays; and all other provocations to, or acts of uncleanness, either in ourselves or others.

    This, and not your own rule, is the standard that you can hold Reformed people to. You don’t get to make up your own standards and hold others to those standards.

    This standard centers on provocations to uncleanness: Anything that tempts me to have sinful thoughts is something that I must avoid; anything that tempts another to have sinful thoughts is something that I must not share with that other person.

    If child porn is not tempting to me, and I am watching it in order to prosecute a criminal, or as a psychologist seeking to understand a client who needs counseling, then I am not sinning. End of story.

    Good grief, indeed.

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  93. Dr. Hart said on June 2nd 2015: and if you’re keeping score at home with Greg the Terrible, watching this movie likely broke the seventh as well.”

    What would be your analysis of what I just quoted and linked above Jeff? Sounds to me like Dr. Hart knows (at least in his better moments) that his movies and shows violate the 7th, by the standard of WLC 137-139. (Which I have quoted on this blog myself)

    Don’t you think so? After you answer the directly above question about the tragic sin of these lost performers please.

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  94. I don’t think their sin is directly relevant. Again I refer you to WLC, which makes no reference to the sins of those producing books, plays, or dances.

    The only relevant questions are

    (1) Does this tempt me? Then I shouldn’t.

    (2) Does this tempt someone else? Then I shouldn’t, with them.

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  95. Q. 99. What rules are to be observed for the right understanding of the ten commandments?
    ====================
    A. For the right understanding of the ten commandments, these rules are to be observed:…

    …That what is forbidden or commanded to ourselves, we are bound, according to our places, to endeavor that it may be avoided or performed by others, according to the duty of their places.

    That in what is commanded to others, we are bound, according to our places and callings, to be helpful to them; and to take heed of partaking with others in what is forbidden them.

    Do you believe Jeff that THESE real people, bearing the image and likeness of God, are committing real sin against that God in the production of this show? (for example)

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  96. Greg,

    In both cases, you are reading incorrectly.

    In the first case, WLC 99 has nothing to do with whether sin was committed in the past. I have no obligation to prevent people from having sinned (which would in any event require time travel).

    My obligations are clear: avoid sin; help others to avoid sin.

    So your question “Do you think that THESE real people are committing sin…” is moot. I didn’t click the link (thanks for the temptation, buddy), but let’s say Yes, they committed sin in producing the movie.

    My watching or refraining from watching theor movie will not undo their sin.

    WLC 99 does not support your point.

    In the second case, you failed to use context clues. The clear reading is that “according to Greg, this is a violation of the 7th commandment.” He is poking at you, not confessing to sin.

    It is highly unlikely that DGH would knowingly break a commandment, then announce that fact in a flippant manner in a public forum.

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  97. Looking at your second link, I could read it as a confession of a past sin. So let’s do that.

    StIpulated: DGH is saying that watching Straw Dogs was for him a violation of the seventh commandment.

    Did you ask why? I’ll bet it has more to do with his state of mind at the time than the sin of the actors.

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  98. For the record? The link I provided was only to a text based parent’s guide on IMDB (internet movie database). Not any video clips or anything.

    Darryl, is Jeff right? On on June 2nd 2015 when you declared a movie with a fraction of the sinful content of something like the wire a violation of the 7th commandment according to WLC 137-139, were you poking fun at me? Or was that a serious statement, at least at the time?

    Regardless of anything else I’ve taken you to task for, I have never thought you were a liar. I mean that.

    Is Jeff right?

    I won’t even ask you about his preposterous explanation for WLC 99. That doesn’t require anything further. I’m waiting on sdb’s take now.

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  99. “Did you ask why? I’ll bet it has more to do with his state of mind at the time than the sin of the actors.”
    2 separate points Jeff.

    I never concentrate on the temptation to sin on the part of the consumer because nobody is more self deceived than a junkie. These pitiful media addicts are every bit as enslaved as any drunk or dope fiend I’ve ever dealt with. That is pretty much the focus of 137-139.

    Question 99, which prefaces the whole upcoming section on the 10 commandments clearly declares that financing somebody’s career of sin is itself sinful.

    If you actually can’t see that, then I have been vastly overestimating you.

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  100. Greg: Question 99, which prefaces the whole upcoming section on the 10 commandments clearly declares that financing somebody’s career of sin is itself sinful.

    I would agree with that. Certainly, if I am deliberately enabling (financially or otherwise) someone to sin, then I am failing to love that person. So for example, if it turned out that SDB was invested in a porn company, my advice would be to drop it.

    But that’s not the case here. You’re not suggesting that DGH has a controlling interest in HBO, are you? That would be an intriguing plot twist!

    So when it comes down to it, your accusation of sin rests on the ground that because DGH is paying to watch The Wire, he is enabling someone else to sin.

    I haven’t quizzed him on his cable plan, but let’s assume it’s typical: He pays $X / mo for access to N channels, probably including Showtime and HBO in the basic package. Whether he watches The Wire or not, he would be paying the exact same amount of money, doing the exact amount of “enabling”, because that’s the way cable is structured.

    Neither the modern world nor the ancient allows us to cleanly eliminate all financial enabling. Going back to meat sacrificed to idols, purchasing that meat would supply the butcher, who would then continue to purchase from the temples.

    That did not seem to bother Paul.

    Likewise, if I subscribe to cable (about to start this summer — only way to get Internet), then some of my money will go towards supporting shows that I definitely should not watch. That happens because I pay a flat rate for access to everything the cable company offers.

    Likewise, your tax dollars support, among other things, foreign adventures leading to the death of innocent civilians; Title X money supporting Planned Parenthood (not abortion directly, but government support frees up money elsewhere that is then used for abortion); government support for … pick your villain: welfare recipients, oil companies, defense contractors, corporations that suppress minorities.

    Buying bananas or coffee arguably furthers colonial oppression in Central America.

    Living in this world involves financial entanglement with sin. Every purchase you make can *potentially* micro-enable someone else to sin. Therefore, we must all walk in wisdom, deciding which entanglement is to be avoided for conscience’ sake. But I don’t get to be your conscience, and you don’t get to be someone else’s.

    So I don’t agree that it is a significant or deliberate enabling to pay for cable, and then watch a show that is on cable. If The Wire were pay-per-view, you might have a *slightly* stronger case. Then, the money paid to watch goes directly to the cable company in exchange for the content. STILL, that’s a matter of conscience. If, for example, The Wire contains a lot of good social commentary along with some trashy scenes that I can skip with my remote, then my money is kind of like taxes: It goes to the good and the bad.

    Again, that’s a matter of conscience.

    In all of this dialog, Greg, I am not trying to diminish your view of sin, but enhance it. I get the sense that you don’t fully grasp how thoroughly humans are capable of trangressing God’s commandments. You are laser-focused on sexual sins, but there are sins of pride (hello, Oscars?), sins of unbelief, sins of hatred and murder, all of which can easily be depicted in G-rated shows.

    I’m not trying to argue you into watching anything, but instead to consider that whatever we read or watch, regardless of rating, needs to be read or watched thoughtfully.

    And the corollary is that we cannot stand in judgment over someone else for what they watch.

    Now, if I were SDB’s elder and his wife came to us complaining that he was watching porn — and yes, that comes up in churches — then we would need to talk about WLC 137.

    But this is not that.

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  101. You have some awfully mobile and awfully flimsy goalposts Jeff. (I’m not certain why) Textbook TGC rationalizations.

    ” I get the sense that you don’t fully grasp how thoroughly humans are capable of transgressing God’s commandments.”

    Your sense is woefully unreliable..

    ” You are laser-focused on sexual sins,”

    Darryl tried THAT ONE too. (again)

    “…but there are sins of pride (hello, Oscars?), sins of unbelief, sins of hatred and murder, all of which can easily be depicted in G-rated shows….”

    Depicting is not the same as actually COMITTING it in the depiction.

    These latest efforts of yours are pretty bad Jeff. Not because you’re an idiot. (I definitely know better) but because you’re attempting to defend the indefensible.

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  102. @gtt
    Your reading of the WLC 99 has a major flaw. It would put the 1st amendment on a collision course with the WLC. This doesn’t simply apply to the second table. By your reading I have a duty to work to see the first and second commandment enforced too. So much for supporting the freedom of religion.

    To be sure there is a (minority) vein in the reformed world, but happily the reconstructiinists are not influential. Indeed, the wcf was revised explicitly to seperare church and magistrate.

    Happily there is a better way to understand the WLC99. Here is a moden translation that you may find clarifying:

    99.7 Since the provisions of the law apply not only to us but to everyone else, we must try to help others keep those provisions, in the context of our own position in life and theirs.

    99.8 Similarly, we must support others in keeping what the law commands them to do or not to do and particularly by not joining them in doing what is forbidden to them.

    We should not encourage others to sin to support our appetite (whether entertainment, food, or anything else). Furthermore, we should not participate in the sin ourselves. Buying meat sacrificed to idols rather than going vegetarian is one thing. Opening a temple to facilitate the sacrifices or throwing the steaks on the altar is something else.

    You have attempted to distinguish between meat provided by a sacrifice to an idol and an r-rated movie based on the purported neutrality of the meat and intrinsic evil of the movie. But of course, a believer from a pagan past may find thatthe meat carries with it the temptation to worship an idol. You’ve already conceded that there are limited examples where even something as awful child porn could be view legitimately in the case of a jury or prosecution. In other words it depends on the heart of the viewer. Further, an innocent pic of your toddler’s bare bum, in the wrong hands, could be put to evil purposes. So you are left with a condition that is neither necessary or sufficient. That means some other principle should guide our thinking here.

    What makes a movie illicit is not what the actors or cgi artists did. It is what is in my heart and my motives for viewing the program.

    I can’t even begin to come up with all the reasons some guy I have never met, but whose blog I enjoy, may or may not be justified in watching something I know would be a bad idea for me to watch. But whether it is a provocation to sin isn’t something I can determine by virtue of knowing the show is rated r or whatever. There are media that exist to titillate, but I gather the Wire is in a different category than say Porky’s. I would worry about a fellow believer who watched something designed to titillate as a form of entertainment.

    You seem fixated on what 17th century reformers would approve of and are dismissive of their contemporary reaction to theater. This is an odd approach to history. What counts as provocative is socially located. Going to a gym to exercise with women, swimming in a pool with a woman, etc… would have been unspeakably scandalous. Even men and women in modest workout apparal are far from wearing what a westminster divine would think was modest. What counts as a provocation to sin depends on culture.

    I gave you two names you dismissed who played a huge role in how reformed Christians engaged secular literature. Donne had a huge influence on hymnody and Sidney won the debate in such decisive fashion that no one today can imagine that Shakespeare was once censored. Whether a pagan Greek play (or any thing else) is an provocation to sin should determine whether we view it.

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  103. Greg the Terrible says:Thank you guys. This blog is about as good as it gets. (That’s actually a compliment)

    Kind of an abrupt end, but thanks for encouraging us Greg; ought we not at least admit the pervasiveness of the problem within the family of God.
    As Dr, Phil says, you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge

    Psalm 101:2b-3a I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes

    this am at a favorite blog of OL:https://www.challies.com/articles/8-sins-you-commit-whenever-you-look-at-porn
    Here are 8 sins you commit when you look at porn.
    You have allowed it to replace God as essential to your happiness.
    You commit the sin of idolatry.
    You commit the sin of adultery.
    You commit the sin of deceit.
    You commit the sin of theft.
    You commit the sin of greed.
    You commit the sin of sloth.
    You commit the sin of sexual assault.
    You commit the sin of ignoring the Holy Spirit.

    Like

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