Volume 7, Issue 4: Sharpening Iron
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One of our
pet peeves concerns has to do with how
judgmental readers always sometimes conclude that we at Credenda are arrogant simply because we seek to write, teach, and publish
with confidence. Well, all we have to say to them is . . .
This concerns us. As brothers in Christ we should always assume
the best about others even if they are being meatheads.
We can’t remember all the times Sometimes readers have popped off
expressed their conviction that it seems like we "always think
we’re right." And we suppose they suggested this to us because
they thought they were wrong, hey? But of course, we would like
to suggest, everyone is in this position. We are created in such
a way that no one says things because they believe them to be false.
At least not anyone we know.
We really are being humble, and we wish everybody would just
lay off, see? We really appreciate your insights and comments
except for the really dumb ones. We invite readers to differ,
and we expect them to express their differences with confidence.
They’re just wrong, that’s all.
The Lord told me to write this to you after reading "Prison House of
Images" [Vol. 7, No. 3]. Romans 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing, and
hearing by the word of God." Paul's use of "word" here does not refer to
Scripture, rather the literal hearing of God's voice.
God's words to us through the Holy Spirit give us the faith to do His
will. Ask God if this is true--don't ask a man or consult a commentary, go
to the throne of grace and honor God by asking Him.
Thank you very much for pursuing excellence in dealing with biblical matters. However, could you please expand the sports section?
Ft. Collins, CO
I believe that brother Dickison has inhaled a little too much
wild libertarian atmosphere in his "Magistralis" (Vol. 7, No. 3, p. 8)
assertion that "pornography is not a problem which the civil government can
deal with." Although I agree with the general thesis that there are
governments of various levels--the state, the church, and the family--it
hardly follows from this notion that any are exempt from repressing evil
where they have power to do so. In fact, "naked square" activities--
especially when they are naked--require political solutions.
Pornography is a big business in America. It is, in our imagistic
society, a live sex show in which we can vicariously participate without
the need for a prophylactic.
Not 700 yards in three directions from my house are video stores which
rent relatively mindless PG films upfront, and house triple XXX hard core
videos in side rooms. Mr. Dickison seems to be suggesting that the
proliferation in one's neighborhood of visual whore-houses in every house
with a VCR are no concern of Christians or their government. I'm sure the
patriarch Lot thought the same. Public sins have public consequences.
Mr. Dickison's statement that "Neither the state nor the church will be
able to protect people from smut. That must be done in the home if it will
be done at all," is off the mark on two counts. First, the repression of
evil is never to banish it--Christians believe in original sin, after all.
Rather, it is to repress it; to make it less pervasive, to drive it out of
the city and into the jungle. Second, though I agree that the family is
clearly the place where morals are taught, the laissez faire
visual evil will result in a society in which a noose is being drawn
tighter and tighter around the neck. God's law extends to the society, as
well as the family and church.
Editors: Let it be known that here at Credenda/Agenda we
I don't know how you got my name, but I am glad that you did!. . . I
really appreciated your examination and challenge to Eastern Orthodoxy. I
especially like "Non Est," which is the heart of the matter I believe.
Although I would caution you in that, regardless of philosophical baggage
and theological errors, the descriptions I have read of their understanding
of the process of sanctification (deification) in the EO are very similar
to John Wesley's description of res-piration: breathing in and out of the
Holy Spirit. In other words, growing like Christ by intimate fellowship
with him: John 15's "abiding." And there are many within the fellowship who
know that Christ alone is righteous, that any good in them comes only
through the Holy Spirit within them, and that they trust Christ for their
salvation, hoping only to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. This is very
similar to Paul's "yielding your members" to the Holy Spirit for
sanctification. The confusion reigns in that sanctification becomes so
focused on their own attempts to cooperate with the Holy Spirit, that in
practice, the reliance on the Holy Spirit by many of the members is absent. . .
Jefferis Kent Peterson
I was pleasantly surprised that peacemaking was the theme of your
recent issue. Considering that you usually focus on severely criticizing
the views of others, an issue devoted to peace seems to signal a major
change of direction. Even more surprising, given your usual fierce devotion
to minutae, was the assertion that all doctrines are not equally important
(Presbyterion, Douglas Wilson) and that squabbling over the less important
ones is a mistake (I can't help but think you lost half your readers with
that article). Only Wes Callihan (p. 12) seemed not to fully catch the new
spirit, contributing poetic diatribe against women who choose not to have
children (they are selfish and blind, have sacrificed the only thing that
could have given their life meaning, and have cursed themselves eternally).
Apparently whether or not we have children is not one of the lesser
doctrines but ranks right up there with the Deity of Christ and
justification by faith. Oh well, I suppose we cannot expect too much change
with just one issue. No doubt your core readers will accuse you of
abandoning the "true faith" with your move towards a "kinder, gentler"
Credenda/Agenda, but I, for one, wish to voice my support for your
increased emphasis on peace and love.
Sapelo Island, GA
I really appreciate your magazine and would like to continue getting
it. (My wife hates it--please pray for her.)
I think that Wes Callihan woefully misgauges the weight of poetry in
music ("A Requiem for Poetry," Vol. 7, No. 2). Lyrical music is pure
poetry simply dancing to a beat, and music is absolutely a primary force
portraying and even defining contemporary culture.
To say that poetry is dead or irrelevant is similar to saying that
writing is dead or irrelevant because one refuses to read anything on a
computer. Mr. Callihan skips over the subject of poetry in music, briefly
mentioning the extreme poles: inane pop music and culturally superfluous
hymns. In fact, there is an immense amount of complex, intriguing,
intellectually and spiritually satisfying poetry available on CD or
cassette if one looks deeper than the Wal-Mart music rack. Granted, a
person must wade through hip deep garbage with well-honed discriminatory
skills to find the poetic pearl, but was this ever any different?
. . . . Credenda/Agenda is amazing. It would not have occurred to me
that something so highbrow (I mean that as a compliment) could be so
practical. Every issue hits me between the eyes. Before I read in Volume 7,
Number 2, "Making Peace by Exposing Sin," I assumed the bad-news media was
just bad news for Christians. I admit my error. When I read the last line
of "True Companions" and finally understood what Phillippians 4:3 must have
meant to Eudia, Syntyche, and Clement, I cried.
Thanks for a publication that is always wonderful. My wife home schools
our three boys and finds a lot of help and reassurance in every issue. So
I wanted to drop a note to attempt to encourage [Jack Van Deventer's] "eschatological" labors. I thoroughly enjoy "Eschaton." [His] article on Dispensationalism/Premillennialism was great. Having formerly been one, as many others, I really appreciated it even more. If I might, I'd like to
suggest some topics for future publication: (1) Pessimism and Dispensational Premillennialism (truly a poison in our day) and hand in hand from the opposite side (2) Historic revivals and optimism for future things. Press on, brother, bringing glory to Him who reigns, even now, supreme.
Okay, first it was Frank(y) Schaeffer, now it's David Chilton! Who's
next, Chuck Colson, Bill Bright, or one of the other "Evangelicals and
Catholics Together" signatories? How disillusioning that Schaeffer, who to
myself and tens of thousands of other thirty-something Evangelicals who
matriculated in the late seventies and early eighties by cutting our
theological teeth on the writings of Schaeffer, pere and fils, has
apparently abandoned sola scriptura. How disappointing that Chilton, whose
writings are closely followed by Reformed families everywhere . . . is
feeling the same pull to Eastern Orthodoxy. What is it? The growing
vapidity of contemporary evangelical worship, cut to fit the
Nashville/contemporary Christian music mold? The supposed ministry of the
Word through dance, drama, painting, basketweaving, etc. at the expense of
expository preaching? The absence of "evangelical tradition" (described
ably in the works of David Wells), for which the seekers substitute the
mysticism and magic of the status quo ante, replete with icons and co-
mediatrices? Our only consolation as Reformed believers is, of course, the
providential plan of our Lord, who after deciding not to come last
September, will undoubtedly purify His church through the whole
experience--a purification that, like a "refiner's fire," may prove a bit unpleasant,
not only to the "Church of the User-Friendly Savior and Best Buddy," but to
the whole of Evan-gelicaldom. . . .
Two statements in "Historia" (Vol. 7, No. 3) caught my heart: "Contrary
to popular misconception, the Puritans advocated and practiced an
institutional separation of church and state. Clergymen carried their
influence through preaching and writing in personal counsel when possible,"
and "the godly virtue of submission to authority even when criticizing it."
Nineteen innocent people died while the Puritan clergy took no action but
persuasion. How does this apply to our modern conflict over abortion? Is
our opposition limited merely to sermons? Is Operation Rescue ungodly in
its confrontational civil disobedience? Do we submit to the authority
represented by the Clinton administration or the authority that our
interpretation of the Constitution provides?
. . . . "Priorities and Peace" (Vol. 7, No. 2) contains a couple of
technical errors in the last paragraph of the first column.
First, you move from speaking about "relative importance"
to stating that some things are simply not important. (I assume you mean, "not
important, relatively speaking.")
Second, you mention doctrines both explicit and deduced. In the second
clauses of three of your four pairs of issues, you deal with doctrines not
specifically explained in Scripture: drinking beer, immersion baptism, and
"wrangles over paedocommunion."
Women's head coverings, however are specifically dealt with in
Scripture. While they may not seem as important as Christ's deity, sola
fide, sola scriptura, or election,
they are important enough to God for Him
to inspire St. Paul to write simply and clearly about them. Comparing the
teaching on head coverings to beer, baptism by immersion, and
paedocommunion, is illogical. Paul is quite clear and open about the issue
of both women's and men's head coverings. And again, "though Christ's deity
is more important than head coverings for women, any
biblical doctrine is important. . . .
My compliments on Wes Struble's scientific review of Fingerprints of Creation. Frankly, I was pleasantly surprised that Credenda did not swallow it hook, line, and sinker considering the dogmatic six 24-hour day stand by much of your staff. . . .
Reviewing the geological and astronomical data, one must wonder why
young earth theorists and universal flood proponents attempt to verify
their beliefs using science at all. Since they claim that the earth and
universe were made to appear old, what hope have they of proving them to be
young? Did God simply forget to age define radiohalos? . . . Why would God
purposely create a universe and an earth that are old in appearance, and
then leave dicey and difficult to obtain proof for a young earth?. . .
It is time Christians woke up and smelled the rotten fowl they are
being sold in the temple by radical and miotic "creationists." For it is
just as lame as the dogmatic rationalism we were getting outside of the
temple, though the former is obtained in a more beautiful location and is
sold and purchased with good intention.
I'm perplexed at your position on cable and network T.V.
in the current "Disputatio." Here I sit, a mind-numbed robot with a hole in my drum--a
staunch disciple, crushed at the sight of your lifeless body at the feet of
a sneering Charles Church! Or was your "devil's advocacy" only for the
sake of a rousing column, you sly dog?
If not, why the defense of this medium before the relentless cannonade
of Mr. Church? Earlier in this issue (in the "Thema") you decry the
vacuum-cleaneresque discernment of today's Christians regarding popular
culture. I agree, three garden slugs would spoil a salad; but if network
and cable television is the salad, it's infested with creatures far more
numerous and revolting. If everything is to be brought into submission to
Christ, then there is no justification for cable or network T.V. in my
Nonetheless, I can't be dogmatic, nor should Mr. Church; television
can't be proven malum in se. I suppose he is saying (in a heavy-handed
way) that Scripture is silent on today's technologies, but not on sin. I
agree with him. In fact, you agree with him; your "Thema" suggests that
the malevolent elements of video media today outweigh their redeeming
qualities. In fact, I propose to Mr. Church that even the selective use of
videos is indefensible, if it involves frequenting video stores, for it's
impossible to do so without being sensually assaulted. So I am perplexed;
where do I go from there, to your comparing television with leaving smut
books on your shelf (I take liberties here...) for the sake of modeling
If a position must be taken, mark me down grudgingly in Mr. Church's
camp. But, in the first place, his book analogy was not valid. It's one
thing to wade through chapters of gratuitous filth in print (too much work
for most modern Christians) but another thing to simply flip a switch and
dive in! Please don't drag my beloved books into the fray, Mr. Church; at
least books are more difficult to employ in today's gutter than movies!
In the second place, we need not limit our discussion to television; the
ethical dilemma of engaging popular culture is not new for Christians.
Still, the worst offenses can be avoided by refusing to go "pearl diving in
the cesspool," and perhaps a disengagement is called for today. . . .
I wanted to thank you [and Charles Church] for your enlightening
exchange of views in the "Disputatio" of the last issue of C/A. Christians
of all outlooks do well to consider your arguments in light of their
perspective on contemporary media and the Scriptures.
Reading over the "Disputatio," I noticed that [Mr. Church] was
misconstruing Mr. Wilson's argument. You say that "we've both admitted
that `context' can establish something as `evil in itself.'" Yet Wilson
never conceded this, nor should he. If something, i.e., TV, depends on a
context, then it is, by definition, not a malum in se,
because without the context, viz. by itself, it is not necessarily an evil in itself. [Does Mr. Church] see the logical contradiction of [his] argument? It's much like an
oxymoron ("military intelligence"). Imputing evil to the fundamental nature
of TV is the equivalent of saying that the electric circuitry is evil. . .
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