Volume 13, Issue 2: Sharpening Iron
For those of you just joining us, this is our second issue in our new system, and the first issue in our newly revised new system. Yes, for the first time in quite a while, those of you who give to support this habit of ours will now get something in return. Yes, it is a revolutionary idea. If you give to us you will receive six hard copies per year. If you do not give, you will receive as many hardcopies as we can afford to give away. If you are reading this in white lettering on a brown background, then you probably do not give to us, and are simply making do with a virtual substitute online. But if this is actually stamped onto a former tree substance, then you are doomed to see us six times a year. Something that has been quite rare in the past. If this does not strike you as an official enough announcement, we have provided another just for you. See the next column. Walk on.
SEX BY FAITH
Sex: Great subject for this latest edition of C/A! It brought to mind the first time that it occurred to me the works that Abraham and Sarah had to add to their faith to bring to fruition Godís promise of a son, Isaac. Faith without works is dead; faith with works can even be enjoyable.
Sterling Hts, MI
In Volume 10 number 3, in your article entitled "Conquering Love," I don't understand where Satan was overthrown at the cross. 1 Peter 5:8 says that our adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.
If Satan has been overthrown, then how does he walk about? If we wrestle not against flesh and blood but against angels, principalities, etc., then Satan is definitely at work in this world. It may possibly be said that his head was bruised and he is in the process of bleeding to death, but where does that come from Scripture? Like your article says, we should not take things backwards and look at our experience to make a judgment about Godís living Word. However, we instantly make a judgment when we look at the world around us to measure the "Satanic" activity of our day. There is clear Satanic activity after the cross. I donít understand how that fits in with Satan being overthrown. Also in Hebrews 2:8 we see that not everything is subject to Him (Christ). In Revelation 20:6 we see that Christ will reign for a thousand years and it appears that even believers reign with him. If we are in the Thousand Years right now, then what believer is reigning with Christ? Are we to assume that Christ has only a partial or half-hearted reign for his thousand years? Has that been fulfilled?
If Revelation 20 has been fulfilled and Satan has been thrown into the abyss, then why does he have power from the abyss? If it has been fulfilled, what believer was reigning with Christ? The pope? Also, many people try to take the thousand years reign as figurative and not literal. How can this be justified? . . .
Editorís Reply: Long topic, but yes, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, thoroughly. In short, Scripture says that Satan was bound from deceiving the nations any more (Rev. 20:3). He can no longer keep them blinded to the gospel. You may want to take a look at back issues of Eschaton for more details.
A SHORT ONE
Keep up the crazy, yet cutting edge, no-holds-barred mantra.
Christianity today is better served by your magazine than the one that bears this name.
A sometimes aggravated, sometimes amused, but an always attentive reader.
Sierra San Pedro
STRYPER AND NEIL YOUNG
Iíve just finished reading my third issue of C/A and while I donít agree with everything in the rag (you canít always be right after all) you do always give me much to chew on. Doug Wilsonís Thema ("Got to Be Good Looking") in issue 12.3 was the particular synapse stirrer in me this time. Thema was applicable outside and inside the church walls. As an aging rock and roll afficionado, I am aware of the limitations of rock in the corporate worship environment. The problem with most discussions of this controversy is that the decible levels of the combatants exceed that of the devilís music itself. But Doug makes several critical points in his essay: "Culture entails a direction, a tendency." Although it wonít register with your local contemporary worship-team swooner: to wallow in the ditties (or the big beat) is to limit intellectual involvement in worshiping God. . . . Itís a "refusal to grow up". . . Even Larry Norman says slapping a verse of Scripture on a melody line doesnít legitimize the song. (Who knew?) The rub is: What is the meaning? And here again Doug is helpful when he points out many folks donít have a clue or simply donít care about the meaning of what they do. Stryperís intentions, I believe, were pure: to share the gospel through hard rock concerts. But they hamstring the message by the presentation: latex and chains in stadiums.
On another point: I do believe Doug paints a touch too broadly when he says rock virtuosity consists solely of blowing over the the listener. There are a number of individuals and groups out there which offer engaging musical sophistication and/or worthwhile lyrical content. They are not substandard simply because they are not on the level of Bach. . . .
Truly, the earth is the Lordís and the fullness thereof. So in between my Rutter, my Handel, my Part, my Kingís College choir, my Midori, Shaw and Tallis, I will critically enjoy my Dire Straits, my Beatles and my Clapton. And you can have my Neil Young discs only when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers. The deal is: Kum Ba Ya (or, however itís spelled) and Back Street Boys can, I suppose, have a place in the Christianís world, just keep it a minor place. . . . The lesser things are garnish, not an entree. To confuse the two is the sin.
Glen Mills, PA
WE LIKE HARD COPIES
We enjoy your publication very much! While your new policy of occasional publishing on the web is a good one insofar as it will mean more frequent and regular issues, (and after all we did discover you via the web), we have to say there is nothing like having a tangible print copy in your hands! It makes for convenient portability and availability for sharing as well. . .
Ernesto and Jean Larrea
PLEASE BEHAVE YOURSELVES
As I was reading the Credenda, "From Rome to Geneva: With Few Apologies," I came across the section titled Mutterings on the Regnant Follies containing the statement: "And, of course, amillennialism comes from taking grape juice, quarterly, for communion." I was sickened. For that the holy Sacrament of the Lordís Supper should be trivialized and made into an object of jest and satire shows little heed for the nature of this act. In the Westminster it is written: "Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and his benefits, and to confirm our interest in him: as also to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to his Word" (Chapter 27, Article 1). Surely, then, it does not befit the Lordís Supper to be made the object of spiteful jest, whose nature is to draw blood and schisms? Such trivialization goes well with the current climate of our age, one which views the Church and her institutions as laughable, holding little authority and only good for amusement and mockery. . . . that the Lordís Supper should be treated in the same manner of the pagan would disheartens anyone with respect for this holy act of rememberance of what our Savior did. The act is also uniting, in that we are all joined to the body of Christ, whether we are Lutheran, premillennial, Reformed, or otherwise, a body you and I share by the sign of this sacrament. There is also much to be said for the logical fallacies and theological non sequitor embodied in your statement, however, such concerns detract from the main objection: that the Lordís Supper, "to be a bond and a pledge of their communion with him, and with each other, as members of his mystical body," (WCF, Chapter 29) is a manís tool in spiteful jest. I ask for a retraction of this statement, for it does not fit with a journal such as yours.
Duff Austin Neill
Sierra San Pedro
Editorís Reply: We remain unrepentant, not feeling that we have in any way made light of the Supper. We have, however, repeatedly made light of amillennialism. We will now take the opportunity to do so again: amillennialism has no chest hair, and it plays with dolls.
HOW ĎBOUT THEM RACISTS
I have just begun to get your magazine. Love it very much but would like to know what your stand on Christians (white ones) who donít seem to be very fond of blacks or other races is. I have friends who are white and they seem to be "oblivious" of the race problems we have in North America. If there is not a problem, then why do we (nonwhites) have so many roadblocks even in church ministries? And what about these TV evangelists who claim America was founded on Christian principles when black men were being "lynched" during those days? I do not remember hearing of any church who stood against that (I could be wrong). . .
What would you have to say?
Sierra San Pedro
Editorís Reply: Racism is the foolís violation of the command to "esteem others better than himself" (Phil. 2:3). The Church is supposed to be a community redeemed out of "every tribe and tongue and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9), and apparently God gave us racial differences to test whether we could judge beyond surfaces alone (1 Sam. 16:7). To complicate things, though, some of the enemies of the faith use accusations of racism not because they genuinely love people but because they want people to be enslaved by guilt before the brutally simple god "humanity" who herniates whenever he hears any whisper of differences between people.
NOT TO BE PUBLISHED
Someday I hope there will be yearly Christian prizes for all the arts, including writing. If there were such awards already, I have a nominee in the category of "Most Humorous Heading to a Letter Appearing in a Magazine": "Bring it Punks" in Credenda/Agenda, Volume 12/ Number 3, p. 7. I continue to giggle about that intermittently.
I always think I have to start off letters like this with the "good news" first. The good news is my wife and I enjoy your magazine, we find it to be biblically solid, thought provoking, and entertaining. Generally speaking, your contributing authors provide effective writing, well-argued points, and all in less than a couple of pages per argument. Having recently read Ken Myerís book All Godís Children and Something or Another, your subject matter [12.3] was particularly timely, and I thank you for it. The "bad news" is there is, again in this issue, one glaring exception.
In your last issue [12.2], Mr. Wilson, the younger, wrote an Echoes-of-the-Covenanters diatribe against voting for other than the perfect candidate. I thought it necessary to both respond and to vote (my state voted overwhelmingly for GWB, but filled all of our highest state offices with Democrats. . . weíll see,) and I feel compelled to write once again.
In his article entitled "Burning Oil" Nathan Wilson weakly defends himself against the charge of cynicism. Not at all, that was last issueís article. No, this time he begins with an EchoesofTomWolfeand-the-Electric-Kool-Aid-Acid-Candy-Colored-Tangerine-Flake-Streamlined-wink-wink-if-you-get-the-inside-joke stream of consciousness, that maddeningly prods around two very good points, before taking everything in a whole different direction.
Whew! His two good points, apparently, are, we as Christians are commanded to be good stewards of the Earth and all its fullness, and that we should not use our opponents paradigm, but instead rely on arguments crafted from our biblical foundations.
Fair enough, I agree with both points, and would only add that sometimes using our opponents paradigm gets us in the door, but certainly amongst our fellow Christians we should always strive for the "more foundational level."
On a more foundational level, how is it that the beauty and grandeur of the Grand Canyon doesnít still demonstrate that God is God, and even in its sin ravaged state, it is beautiful. What of the Grand Tetons, the Rockies, or Yellowstone? What of the human body, and the mind and the soul. All devastated by sin, but still bearing the indelible mark of the Creator, and in which we can rejoice and give thanks to Him who is above all worthy to be praised and honored and worshipped? And as Christians we use dead stuff all the time, including on our tables. We have historically heated with coal, wood, and even nuclear power is the result of a breaking down and harnessing of the natural order. Do we go back to whale oil? Or perhaps, to keep it biblical, olive oil? Sure we need to be careful, but the article really doesnít give us anywhere to go. And what about those SUVs, how else do we get our broods of covenant children from here to the Grand Scar? Finally, and I say this emphatically, SHE IS NOT MY SISTER, and to suggest that Ďwe have deposited huge amounts of death in our sisterís skiní is to not only hone the point to the ridiculous, but comes dangerously close to language that illustrates more of a far eastern influence than one solidly biblical. I am not sure we are prepared to own that kind of thinking as ours. . .
In North Carolina
Thank you for publishing good, subversive script. It gives me some hope that anyone from the church is going to Heaven. I many times donít agree with the writings of Credenda, but that is a good thing and I donít complain about it. We need more people who are willing to expand Christian thought in a respectful manner (not from an anti-christ position). Whether you are wrong or right is not the issue. It is pure debate and food for thought. And thought is good in a world that does not wish to think. Two ways to know if you are succumbing to popular thought is a majority agreement of your readers and a behemoth circulation. I hope neither is true. Keep the faith.