Volume 14, Issue 5: Sharpening Iron
We are out of order. Christmas was supposed to come sixth. Here it is,
fifth. What madness is this?
Nobility will come sixth. It was supposed to be fifth.
This is Christmas. It is here before Christmas. We sent it early because
we wanted to. We sent it early because we love you. You are our goal. We want
you to celebrate. We want you to cut down a tree and bring it inside. We want you
to wrap things up in paper. We want your year to have rhythm. Not the rhythm
of a metronome or a heartbeat, but the rhythm of a wave that rises from the
sea, towers, cannot stand, and topples. A rhythm of crashing, of tension
and explosion. The rhythm of Christmas. The anticipation, the foam, the
noise. The day the whole year hits the beach, and the next swell begins.
Please. We love you. Eat more fudge.
In the company's computer room one night, I surfed over to
C/A to read the latest. I assumed, without really thinking about it, that I was
the lone sentient being in that room. But as I began reading one of the articles,
I couldn't help but notice that a computer across the room came
on and on its screen was a large tawny owl fluttering in circles around an
old man with a staff as he, the old man, strutted across the screen from
right to left and then from left to right, and so on.
Editor's reply: We've been looking for him. If you see him again, would
you mind telling him to phone?
I want to thank you for your desire to minister the Gospel of
Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world. Yours is a difficult task: to speak
the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), without compromising the truth of the
Gospel, keeping "hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear
conscience" (1Tim. 3:9), seeking to cause no
sin (Lk. 17:1-ff), confronting other's sin (17:3b), and forgiving all sin
(17:3c-4). My prayer for you has been a faithful presentation of the
Gospel, unfolding the implications for a life lived by Grace. . . before our Lord
and Savior. Thank you for endeavoring to do this.
I am concerned in one regard. It seems, as I have read your
publication these last few years, that the issues
are becoming more and more sarcastic in their tone. When studying literature,
I learned that using expletives in a written mediumwhen used
too frequentlysimply distracted from the message of the text. Likewise,
I feel that much of the truth of your writings, along with your
heartfelt intentions, are shrouded by the (sometimes) biting tone of
your articles and responses to letters. Instead of winning a listening
ear through establishing respect, this seems more to offend. No, it is
not the message that offends, so much as the tonality of it. The calling
of Christians is to be different from the world, and yet the sarcastic tones
of your writing seems more in line with the world than the Word.
Simply putand humbly I hopeinstead of edifying those who read, it
often engrains a cynical response to the lost and dying people of the world. For,
as Paul wrote, we must "make every effort to do what leads to peace and
to mutual edification" (Rom. 14:19).
I would also ask you to consider
this: that while you intend to write to believers, unbelievers may be
among those who read your articles. Instead of being drawn with the sweet
honey of the Gospel, such unbelievers may be further hardened in their resistance
to the Gospel. It is possible to direct your articles, comments and
encouragements towards those who already believe while simultaneously
ministering to those who do not believe, without compromising the truth.
Even Jesus did this in the Sermon on the Mount, which was initially directed
at His disciples (Mt. 5:1), but was finally an invitation to all who
would hear and obey (Mt. 7:24-25).
My prayer for you is that you would encourage, build up,
and motivate obedience through the knowledge of the grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ. . . . I welcome any response, particularly if I have
been unfair in my assessment.
Saint Louis, MO
Douglas Wilson replies: Thanks for the inquiry and admonition. I
appreciate the tone and attitude exhibited throughout your letter, as well as
your obvious concern for the health of our ministry.
I think it would be safe to say that your concern has been voiced in
many ways by many othersit has to rank as our runaway best-seller FAQ.
While many who raise the question don't want an answer, still less a
scriptural one, it is clear that your letter is not
in that category. I'll try to answer in two ways.
The first is that this is such a common question that I have written
a short book on it that is due out early next year. It is called
The Serrated Edge and is a defense of biblical satire. It is clear from your letter that you rejoice in biblical authority, and this book seeks to defend a godly use of satire through a text-by-text appeal to that same authority.
Secondly since the book is not out yet, and your question is out, here is
a short preview of the kind of argumentation the book contains. In Galatians, Paul vehemently wishes that his Judaizing opponents who insisted on circumcision would somehow overachieve, cutting the whole thing off (Gal. 5:12). This is difficult enough for modern
Christians to handle, given the texts you rightly cited in your letter. But it is
more complicated than this. In that same passage, in the next breath, Paul
says that the Galatians should serve one another in love (v. 13). In the
next verse after that, he says to love your neighbor as yourself (v. 14). In
the next verse, he warns them not to bite and devour one another (v. 15). I
can only conclude, since there is no hypocritical contradiction between
v. 12 and v. 15, that we have some Bible study to do.
Having one's speech gracious, seasoned with salt, is not what
many modern Christians have assumed it to be.
What is it like then? The answer, of course, is found in the same source where we find the answers to all our questionsthe Bible.
SEX IN HEAVEN
Regarding C/A, 14.3 [Husbandry, Poetics]. And whose partner shall she
be since she lawfully did the happy dance with all seven? And what of
heavenly procreation? A young enough infertile married couple is dealing with a
curse in at least some sense, true? Is there a blessed meta-barrenness to
heavenly sex? Or maybe the offspring will populate New Edens on
various planets. No, I'm not building a bridge to Mormonism. No polytheist
or polygamist here.
K. Dale Collison
Central Lake, MI