Volume 11, Issue 3: Sharpening Iron
Although not wanting to boast as one taking off his armor while we're still putting ours on, we can't help but point out that it looks like we are on track to put out six issues in 1999. Of course we are promising nothing, but it's nice to notice you're ahead at half time. Responses continue to flood in regarding our last issue. To best summarize the reaction we got, one would need to steal from Dickens. Its noisiest critics could refer to it, for bad or for good, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Now the topic of this current issue may appear mild mannered, tame, and the sort of thing you could spring on your frail Great Aunt Eunice without being cut out of the will. However, we are convinced that this issue addresses one of the church's greatest compromises. We hope it pokes as many eyes as the last issue.
ONE-OARED CHARISMATICS AT SEA
Your comments on Charismatics embracing reformed theology was most humorous and accurate when you used the analogy of their going out to sea with one oar and returning to shore for the other oar....Let me suggest a general analogy concerning Presbyterianism of the last 175 years. Not only do the Presbyterians have both oars, but they have the most seaworthy ship of all the ports in Christendom. The magnificence of their ships is due to the preciseness and accuracy of the thorough study of the manual. The manual, though difficult to understand by other shipbuilders, has been mastered by many generations of ship building Presbyterians. Their understanding and development of the manual is unparalleled in the history of ship building.
One small problem however, the good ship Presbyterian is still in dry dock. There is anticipation that one day it may finally be perfected through further study of the manual and set out to sea. However, it's builders cannot be rushed and are willing to hand down the final stages of construction to future generations. So, till that day, the dominion of the sea will be attempted by the multitude of substandard vessels from all the other ports of Christendom. But there is hope, if possibly some of the other ship builders could get ahold of that Presbyterian manual.
WILSON OVER THE LINE
....In your last edition of Credenda / Agenda, I was surprised to not find any letters regarding the article you wrote on men in the military (ref. Husbandry column in the "Heaven and Earth Proclaim" edition). I believe that you stepped over the line when you made a blanket recommendation for all Christian men to leave the military. When the soldiers asked what they should do now that they were believers, John the Baptist made no mention of leaving the Roman Legion (Luke 3:14). Nor did Christ mention it to the centurian in their encounter. Instead of abandoning them, we are called to be patient and persevering in our positions under ungodly masters (ref. Eccl. 8:3, Proverbs 25:15). A good example is Obadiah —a man who greatly feared God and yet managed the house of Ahaz, one of Israel's most wicked kings (1 Kings 18:3,4). In short, the Bible does not support your conclusion.
LEARNED AND GODLY
I am compelled to respond to the recent "Femina" entitled `Mid-wifery'....The second main point I gleaned from the article is that "we should pray that God will raise up godly men and women to be physicians in our communities." To that, I humbly offer learned and godly disagreement. My objection is two pronged, experiential and Biblical. Of lesser importance is the experience gleaned from my years in the medical community. Medicine is a very demanding career and to state otherwise admits ignorance of the facts....Medicine could, perhaps, be a part-time dabbling for a godly wife and mother, but my experience has shown such not to be true, even amongst most Christian women. The siren call of the workplace tends to pull with a daunting force, and the inexorable result is the abdication of the primacy of the role of wife and mother in favor of the role of physician.
Now, if experience alone taught that which Scripture did not, I should dismiss as blasphemous beliefs based thereupon. But, does not God's Word support like conclusions? Throughout His Word, God emphasizes the blessed role of wife and mother, and teaches that a higher calling is found in obedience to this role. From the beginning, God has made man and woman different, different in motivation, different in essential calling, yet equal in value, and in status before the Lord....
I am surprised that your letter is signed "cordially in Christ." I can't understand most of what's in your magazine, but I have understood enough to easily detect your extreme rudeness and high-browed, snooty poking fun at whatever you decide to disagree with. I suppose you believe your mysterious complication of every issue you discuss makes you seem intelligent and on a higher plane than us "normal people." Don't think so. Send your nudge, hint, prod, wise cracks if you will, but please pass by my house in the future. You weren't smart enough to spell my name right.
PARTY BALL OR SIX PACK
In regard to your article in Volume 11, Number 2 entitled "Beer," I think it's not so much the beer we women object to, but the "beer bellies"! I've learned so many new symbols of Christian masculinity from reading Credenda; is the beer belly a new one, or just an old one you wish to restore to the church?
WE SPREAD SUNSHINE
With a smirk, a friend handed me a copy of your recent publication regarding women in ministry. I think he knew I always enjoy a good laugh. He didn't disappoint me. Authoritative voices of The Kinks and Aerosmith alongside John Calvin and C.S. Lewis! Women doing the abhorrent act of robbing spiritually minded men of their dark beer (thank you for clearing up the false notion I had been living under that the prohibition had to do with some silly myth called alcoholism—by the way, we've scheduled a kegger for our next church softball game). Upon the first reading, my initial sense was that such thoughtless meanderings don't deserve a thoughtful response. But I couldn't resist thanking you for the light chuckle. It was a vivid reminder of why most people, even Christians, don't take people such as yourselves seriously. I would be embarrassed to give this publication to anyone I knew and admit that we're in the same spiritual family. It was also a very frightening reminder that for those who find security in rigid authoritarian legalism, there will always be huge, very convenient loopholes in which to enjoy personal pleasures. I must say, if a group of insecure men had the desire to sit in a dark room sipping beer, smoking Carl Barth pipes, reading C.S. Lewis, and wringing their hands over the terrible mess women have caused in our nation, you hardly needed to justify it through a periodical.
A LITTLE NOTE
What the Westminster Confession of Faith (XVIII) says about assurance (testimony of the Spirit) amounts to confessing that God "without extraordinary revelation"—without enlarging the canon—tells some people "in the right use of ordinary means," but "by the operation of the Spirit," that they are really Christians. God Himself—not just ordinary means—communicates a message to Westminster confessors.
In ordinary human life, some collections of words outweigh others. Your marriage ceremony is definitive for you (I hope), but you did not stop talking with your wife once the ceremony was over (I hope). Some of the—communications—claimed by charismatics would hardly need to be added to Scripture....Maybe I oughtta cancel Credenda/Agenda. But maybe not. Like Gary North, you're a lot of fun when I'm not in your line of fire.
Lookout Mtn., GA
PITCH BLACKY GETS A KUDO
Kudos to Patch Blakey for taking the devil down a rung or two. That bad boy has always gotten more press than God, and he just doesn't deserve it. Besides, I've never liked him since he made me write crib notes on my arm before my ordination exam. Oops....The fact that Satan is under the ultimate control of God doesn't mean that he is altogether bound and without God-permitted influence in "this present evil age" (historic premill roots showing through?). What then does Peter mean when he says that "the devil prowls about like a roaring lion?" Must be a real long chain.