Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

Yet More Wilson

As I'm sure my faithful minions of reader (yes, singular) know, reading Wilson's blog generally accounts for over half of my posts. The rest are occupied with mocking those ridiculous humans who have the tremendous misfortune of being someone "other than me" (or worse yet, someone not "other than me"). Though I particularly delight in gullible evangelicals. After all, I am one.

Anyway, enjoy yet more Wilson.

The Jitney Gods of Washington
Topic: Obama Nation Building
As the Obama saga gets weirder and weirder, Christians shouldn't forget to interpret all the news in the fundamental terms of who we want to be our god, and who wants to be the embodiment of that god. Worship is always the key to everything. And it is not the "key to everything" because we keep repeating that mindlessly like a mantra. It is the key to everything because it explains why so many people, otherwise intelligent, are doing such foolish things.

One of the central reasons why it is so important to insist on the absolute sovereignty of the triune God of Scripture (and for those just joining us, that would be the true God) is because if we dial that sovereignty back (not in reality, but in our fevered dreams) something bad always happens to us. We (also in our fevered dreams) think to step into the void that our imaginations created, the vacant spot recently relinquished by the Maker of heaven and earth. Denial of the true God is the first step of two. It is not that we want no God; it is that we want to replace Him. So the first step is to deny Him. The second step is a necessary one (meaning that it cannot be avoided once the first is taken), and it involves volunteering to pick up the slack created by the divine absence.

Of course, there is not actually a divine absence but rather a divine laughter, as the Lord mocks them to scorn. They do not want Messiah's chains, and so they declare their intention to scatter those chains, as it says in the second psalm from the front (Ps. 2:3). And at the conclusion of the psalter, second from the back, what does God in His kindness give as an honor to all His saints? He enables us through the power of our praise, to bind unbelieving kings with chains (Ps. 149:8).

As it turns out, sovereignty over all things is an inescapable concept. It is not whether someone will foreordain all things, but rather who will foreordain all things. When we cease trusting the God who actually is God, our sinful hearts and minds create a job vacancy. When we deny the God who was God before Calvin or Augustine were born, we wind up with the jitney gods of washington d.c. That sovereignty is claimed, on the one hand, by the God who numbers the hairs on every head, and, on the other hand, the god who doesn't know that you can't refill the pool by taking buckets of water from one end and dumping them in the other.

So whenever you see an outrageous attempt at overreach on the part of our elected solons, ask yourself what divine attribute they are attempting to duplicate. They are doing crazy things, but not because they are unintelligent. Most of them got where they are because they are industrious, intelligent, crafty, and a few other things, perhaps a bit less savory. But when in power they do really foolish things because they are not anywhere near competent to be claiming what they do, and the only alternative is repentance, which would require worshipping the God who created them. Since that is obviously intolerable, they continue on in their folly. And as they continue on, there is an inexorable pressure to fill the divine void. There is no alternative. To paraphrase the great Francis Schaeffer, if there is no God above the state, the state becomes god.

Two quick examples. Proposals to regulate something as complicated as the human economy of any society is clearly an attempt to duplicate the omnis -- omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. But government officials cannot do this. They cannot even approach thinking about what it might be like to be able to do this. As much as they want to be Lord, they cannot be. They are not competent. And when I say they are not competent, I do not mean that they are almost-but-not-quite competent. I do not mean incompetent, but within shouting distance. I mean something like the earthworm you turned up with your spade being annoyed because you interupted his reverie about taking up the violin and wowing sold-out crowds at Carnagie Hall. And even that illustration is giving away too much.

The regulatory state wants to be Lord, and with no veto power hanging over them from above. But the bad news for them is what we Christians call the good news. Christ is Lord. There is no other. And we serve a Lord who was crucified for us, not a lord who wants to crucify others for himself.

Another example of straining towards the divine attributes can be seen in the recent attempts by Obama through the U.S. Treasury to create wealth ex nihilo. But only God can create wealth that way. God spoke the word, and mind-boggling resources were instantly there. And God formed our first parents, and gave them the responsibility for stewarding those resources. That is the authority of the divine -- He speaks, and it is. And blinkered statists want to be able to do that. They should be able to speak, and it is "there." And so they speak, and what was there begins to vanish away. Jezebel brings in the fertility Baal to make Israel lush and green, and the first thing that happens is that Israel turns brown and crispy.

If they could whistle up wealth by fiat, they could save us from us from our poverty. But as much as they want to be Savior, they cannot be. They are not competent. The earthworm keeps dropping the bow. And the violin. And after a few exasperating practices, the earthworm decides that his dreams of glory aren't working because they are being subverted by right-wing extremists who harbor hatred for diversity in their hearts.

In short, Obama is proposing the policies he is because of a religious impulse, pure and simple. He wants the state to be Lord and Savior. We as Christians oppose this, but not because it would be bad if it succeeded. There is no possibility of it succeeding. We oppose it because our Lord and Savior has given us songs of praise with which to bind their dreams of glory.

And You Thought Facebook Was Worthless...

"I Appreciate Christian Pick-up Lines." Wow.

a collection of the best:

1. "nice bible."

2. "is this pew taken?"

3. "i just don't feel called to celibacy."

4. "for you i would slay two Goliaths"

5. "i would go through more than Job for you"

6. "you are perfect, except with all the sin."

8. "you are so unblemished that i would sacrifice you."

9. "what, this here? oh.. thats my study bible - it's a little bigger but i can handle the extra spiritual and physical weight."

10. "shall we tithe?"

11. "at points in my life i have been referred to as Samson"

12. "the word says 'Give drink to those who are thirsty, and feed the hungry'; how about dinner?"

13. "i didnt believe in predestination until tonight."

14. "im not like those other Christ Church guys."

15. "i believe one of my ribs belongs to you."

16. "i know Lachlan Payne."

17. (if no.16 gains no response) "Lachlan Payne knows me"

19. "i can be your Boaz."

20. "my spiritual gift is my good looks... it lifts peoples spirits"

21. "i sacrifice my sunday mornings to look after the creche group. its tough... but i love children."

24. "mark driscoll takes up 35% of my ipod memory."

25. "hey.. i would work 7 years for your sister.. but i would work 7 more years for you."

26. "im kind of a big deal at Koorong"

29. "bible-gateway happens to be my homepage."

47. "how many times do I have to walk around you to make you fall for me?"

49. "if you say no, i will rip out my hair and my beard"

54. "let me remove my sandals before I come any closer.."

55. "lets say, hypothetically, you were married. I would send your husband to the front line against the Amorites"

56. "its obvious to me that you sprouted from the good kinda soil..."

57. "feel free to meet me at the threshing floor."

70. "i arrange the substantial christian section of my bookshelf into alphabetical order. coffee?"

71. "i sit with my mum at church"

72. "let me sell you an indulgence because it's a sin to look as good as you do."

73. "not a big fan of your last name, but thats cool, i can change that."

92. "have you died before? because that looks like a resurrection body to me.."

93. 'all im looking for is a Godly woman. i don't care that you're not attractive.'

98. "i will never give you reason to hammer a tent peg through my skull."

99. "i predicted David over Goliath... now I'm betting on you and me."

100. "if you were staying for the tribulation, i would consider staying too.. but then i would probably leave."

101. "if you were a leper, i would still hold your hand.. even if it wasnt attached."

102. "i would have asked you out to dinner, but i just put all my money in the offetory basket."

103. "Hi, I'm Calvin. You were meant to choose me."

104. "Unlike the Israelites, who forgot the Lord, I will remember your name most of the time."

109. "the perseverance of the saints is well illustrated by the amount of time I spend talking to you."

******************* NEW ********************

111. "If you were my wife, I would never make you pretend to be my sister. That would be too damaging to my reputation."

112. "I would bring your father twelve-hundred Philistine foreskins for just one date with you."

With Great Sorrow...

But with continuing astonishment at the grace and maturity in my new community, I received the news that Doug Jones has resigned his position as an elder of Christ Church, and that after long deliberation, they have accepted.

The reason behind this move? Nothing like the usual sexual infidelity, drunkenness, or secret sins: rather, a difference in opinion upon the central focus of the Lord's Service that would have led to greater division in the future, as "it affects everything from budgets to buildings, and everything in between."

To cap it off? I'll continue to see him in church each week.

This, brothers, is why I'm still in Idaho, still at Christ Church, still so far from home.

For those interested, here is their report and his statement:

On Doug Jones’s Resignation

From: Doug Wilson

The elders of Christ Church recently accepted the offered resignation of Doug Jones from the session of Christ Church, and we did so with grief and great reluctance. The resignation will be effective as of June 1, 2009, and includes Doug’s service on various committees and related ministries. Although this may appear abrupt to many in the congregation, it was actually the end result of years of discussion, debate, reading and study. Scripture says that two cannot walk together unless they are agreed (Amos 3:3), and while we all continue to treasure our fellowship in Christ, and certainly continue to agree in that sense, we nevertheless have come to a foundational disagreement that would disrupt any attempts at coherent leadership together.

As a congregation, and as elders of the church, we all owe a great deal to Doug, and to his family. We continue to be extremely grateful for all the contributions he has brought to our church and community, and we intend to continue to build on those gifts to us. In Doug’s statement about this resignation, he framed it as his new conviction that the Church should be organized and structured around the centrality of the poor and the outcast. We continue to believe that our central priority is worship of the triune God, that being the kind of worship that will flow out into the rest of our lives—including of course ministry to the poor and outcast. To anticipate the objection that this is a trivial difference, it really isn’t—it affects everything from budgets to buildings, and everything in between. So given the fact of these differences, which appear to us to be intractable, we can honestly say that we have conscientiously sought for other ways of resolving this, and have b!
een unable to do so.

We are very grateful that Doug and Paula will be remaining as members of Christ Church, and we ask all of you to fully accept and receive them in that capacity. Please pray for them, and for us, and that God would use this disagreement as much as He used the differences between Paul and Barnabas (Act 15:39).

Cordially in Christ,
Douglas Wilson

Resignation Statement from Doug Jones

On April 30, 2009, the session of Christ Church, Moscow, Idaho reviewed a letter of resignation from me as an associate pastor, and, after a time of discussion, they accepted it. Though this might come as a surprise for some, it is actually the result of several years of turnings and discussions. Over a decade ago, I began meditating on the life of Father, Son, and Spirit, and since that time I’ve written numerous articles, given lectures, and counseled church members in terms of the richness and joy I’ve discovered within the Trinity. When the U.S. government invaded two countries after 9-11, I sought to understand these developments, as well, in light of a Trinitarian framework. This rethinking of politics and economics in light of Trinitarian life pushed me in unexpected directions over the ensuing years.

My attempt to understand the Trinity led me to rethink Jesus’ mission and his themes, “Blessed are you poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Lk. 6:20) and “I desire mercy and not sacrifice” (Hos. 6:6; Is. 1:11ff; 58:3ff; Mt. 9:13; 12:7). To me and others in this tradition, this places the poor and outcast at the very center of the kingdom, around which the church is to be shaped and prioritized. Defenders of this view can be found in every Christian tradition over the centuries, and in our own Reformed tradition we find it among such folks as Andre Trocme, Jean Lassere, and Jacques Ellul. I have also found myself very sympathetic to such perspectives as found in the work of Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas.

This shift, though, has proven deeper than anticipated. It has turned all my practical priorities upside down. With the result that this shift has backed me into deep and wide divergence with the Christ Church vision. The fault for this is mine, not the session’s. Throughout this time, the elders have been very kind, caring, generous, and thoughtful as I sought to understand where I was. The person I’ve been closest to during this time, Doug Wilson, has been a stellar pastor and kind opponent from the start. In our conversations over the past three years, he has been a gentleman, friend, and brother without fault in my view. I gladly affirm this against his detractors.

Nonetheless, it has become clear that my shift in theological vision produced practical, day-to-day obstacles for me serving as a minister at Christ Church. The majority of elders politely and thoughtfully made it clear that they did not wish to go toward the vision I espoused, and they were understandably obligated to defend the current Christ Church vision. They even repeatedly sought ways for me to continue, but in the end, I determined to resign from the session as well as from my leadership roles at Canon Press, Credenda/Agenda, Sabbath House, and New St. Andrews College (though my ministerial credentials remain in the CREC). In such circumstances, it became a question of how all of us could better redeem the time.

My family and I will continue to attend Christ Church and participate in life and learning at Logos School. I am forever grateful to the elders and members for my time in leadership at Christ Church. It has been a wonderful gift, and I am eternally changed for it. May the Lord continue to bless Christ Church’s work for the kingdom.

Douglas M. Jones

Wodehousian Fun