Volume 7, Issue 6: Sharpening Iron
Welcome to the last issue of this year. Sorry it's a few weeks late, but we thought this was a leap year.
Some stray reader with a dangerously tidy memory might notice the theme of this issue isn't the one we had predicted. Earlier in the year, we predicted we would be writing on Islam at this time, but when we opened the fridge and printed this issue's columns, they had switched themes entirely. Computers are such odd otters
sometimes. Maybe it was a virus.
In this issue, we welcome John Grauke, M.D., to our dog pile of contributing editors. He'll be writing the column titled Medicus (p.32), which will focus on issues in the
medical arts, such as fingerpainting with blood samples and why swallowing Q-Tips whole is un-wise. Given today's abrasive medical climate in parts of the evangelical
community, we've promised him that he will now get the bulk of the angry, cranky letters usually garnered by Jack Van Deventer's Eschaton column.
In Volume 7, Number 1, we published a Similitudes which contained a character in the first person, in the process of conversion. During that process, he violated the third
commandment in the moments before he called on the name of the Lord in saving faith. Some of our readers were distressed by this fictional profane use of our Lord's
name, and, after extensive correspondence, we have been unable to come to agreement over the lawfulness or wisdom of this kind of use. Nevertheless, we do want
publicly to acknowledge our distress that something we published was an occasion of this kind of offense, as well as to state clearly our conviction that the Lord's name
should always and in every way be hallowed and reverenced.
I must confess that I was quite taken with Braveheart. It is one of the few movies that I have ever seen twice (of the few movies that I have even seen once).
Braveheart does take a number of historical liberties. But, since very little is actually known of Wallace, the movie does an excellent job of telling a story around what few facts and legends have come down to us. Your reviewers were correct that Wallace did not father a child by the Princess of Wales, but I did find a lex talionis irony in that Wallace has first night privileges with England's future after the English had tried to use it to "breed out" the Scots'. The only weakness that I saw in the film was one that I did not hear. The closing credits should have had the song "Scots wha hae" playing in the background.
I am a South African studying for a Ph.D. in physics at the University of Alberta, Canada. The article "Magaliesburg Men" really struck a chord, and I enjoyed it greatly.
Please remove my name from the mailing list. Once pleased with your contribution, I have become much less enthusiastic. What is it that so discontents my heart? Something in the tone is wrong I think. Is there a desire for prominence, for influence, for power? I can't really put my finger on it, but I'll just do without you for now.
Please be advised that I found your latest "Thema" totally politically incorrect. You will no doubt get an abundance of irate responses from those of the feminist persuasion and their allies. But know this: what you say, methinks, has the ring of truthand I agreed with your pointsin fact, I was saddened by the realization that our nation and the Church have fallen so far. The Lord has used you to challenge me , and I am going to have to think about how I live my life as a man before his God and Creator. Thank you for your courage and forthrightness. I know speaking the truth in this day and age cannot be easymay the Lord give you strength and peace above all trials you may encounter.
I hear last issue of Credenda was hot, I wouldn't know. First, I grabbed it from the mail stack and put it in an obscure location for later that evening. Not obscure
enough. I saw our sons reading it, they passed it off to Dad who remembers leaving it on the night stand. I want that Credenda! Are they hiding something? How can I
hold them accountable, I'm certain I saw "Masculinity" on the cover . . .
Hey, you guys need to lay off the homosexuals. We have a lot of homosexuals in my church and a lot of other churches. They're not all perverted and you guys need to look at it as a lot of the denominations and churches are. You condemn them only when their wanton sexual activity is the same as the wanton sexual activity of a heterosexual. You need to be thankful there are Christians that are homosexual that are in the church trying to be the best Christians possible.
Several months ago you published an issue on Eastern Orthodoxy, Vol. 6, No. 5. I must give you a large thank you. I was sent the issue while I was in Sevastopol, Ukraine teaching English to high school and adult students. The issue came to me in the fall of '94 which was toward the beginning of my year overseas. Since I was also involved with discipling an Orthodox believer, who was one of my students, the issues raised, i.e. deification, idol worship, honoring of Mary, etc. provided me with a foundational understanding of what the Orthodox believe and what Biblical truths I should give more attention to our discipleship. Most Westerners have very little understanding of what the Eastern Orthodox beliefs essentially are. The issue equipped me in some basic understanding of this branch of Christianity and helped me minister much more effectively in that part of the world.
I've been reading your magazine with great anticipation for the last ten years and I want you to know that I was completely flabbergasted to read in your last issue that the items and articles do not represent the views of your pets and writers (p. 6). I mean if you can't read and enjoy a magazine that stands for something, what can you read?
And what's this about having to buy glasses (p. 9) to send an E-mail? Why should I have to spend money to send you guys a letter? This is getting way out of hand. Whatever happened to the good oldfashioned mailman and his route and stamps that you can see and lick? I'm so upset, I don't know what to do with myself. I'm thinking of asking for my money back and discontinuing my subscription. Keep up the good work.
A bit heavy on the spinach this month, eh, Popeye? You'll be glad to know that when my one-year-old skidded face-first on the driveway today I punished him for crying by breaking both his legs, which will have the added bonus of insuring a godly marriage!
And you should have seen the expression on the trash collector's face when he dumped a can full of edifying books into the compactor! I saw him fish one outwhat a sissy!!
The crying sensitive male thing makes me want to spit, too. It's getting hard to even read the Bibleit's so chock full o' cry babies. David and Jonathan, Jeremiah, Paul,
even Jesus. Paul actually commanded us to weep with those who weep! Why it's enough to make a fella reach for his baseball bat. But it's good to know there's an
island of hairy biblical manliness in Idaho. Here's what I learned from your last issue:
1. Unless women repent of the sin of voting, faithful Christian husbandry and discipleship of children will be judged to be a matter of no spiritual consequence.
2. The Sovereign Lord is especially irritated by churches which are not governed by majority rule.
3. The sarcasm cannon is fun to fire at your own team!
4. It's a good idea to short circuit potentially uncomfortable response to a teaching by forewarning readers that if they don't like the content or tone it proves theireffeminacy. (Clever!)
5. Describing the subtle distinction between biblical and unbiblical sensitivity requires too much darn sensitivity! Better to blast the ninnies, all of 'em. Rambo-style!
Thanks for the cold slap of doctrinal Aqua-Velva, I needed that.
P.S. This represents the view of my entire household.
Now that's a letter to the editor.
In his recent debate with Thomas Ice over the identity and meaning of the Olive Tree of Romans 11 [Vol. 7, No. 4], Douglas Wilson makes an error common to Covenant Theology, which is practically unavoidable, given the Replacement theory (i.e., that the Lord has replaced national Israel with the church as his chosen people, hence the church is now Israel) central to Covenant Theological doctrine. Apparently the Gentiles Paul addresses in this chapter made a similar, if not identical error, requiring Paul to make this brief exposition, distinguishing and clarifying (for some of us, anyway) the relationship of Israel and the relationship of the church, as two
separate entities/i, with God.
In Chapter 10, Paul speaks of his earnest desire for Israel to be saved (now this Israel cannot be the church, as those in the church are already saved), and then continues to describe how Israel rejected the gospel (did the church reject the gospel?) Clearly, Paul has identified just who he is speaking of when he refers to Israel: it is the nation of Israel, the physical seed of the promise of Abraham. Therefore, when Paul plainly states that God has not cast away His people in v.1, and once again identifies His people as national Israel in several verses following, we should take him at his word.
Paul then asks, "have they stumbled that they should fall?" and answers emphatically "Certainly not!" Who are the "they" who have stumbled, but not fallen beyond recovery? It is the Israel of v. 7, set apart from the elect and the remnant of v. 5. It is evident Paul viewed this stumbling as only temporary, as he testifies in v. 12,
where he declares that if their failure and fall is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will those riches and blessings be when God restores national Israel, and that their future acceptance and restoration will be "life from the dead."
Paul's metaphor of the branches is a graphic illustration of this temporary condition. The removal of some of the branches (the rest of hardened
Israel of v.7; the believing remnant is not removed) and the grafting in of the wild branches (the Gentiles to whom Paul is speaking) is not only a representation of the Lord's chastening of Israel for their unbelief, but his creation of a new institution separate and distinct from Israel, the mystery of Eph. 3: 6 being fulfilled through the church.
I also believe it a bit disingenous for Wilson to criticize Ice for "looking at branches on the ground " instead of "looking at the tree" when it is Wilson who dwells on the root (important to the illustration, no doubt) but the distinction critical to the entire argument is the identity and future restoration of those branches removed to make room for the Gentiles. Ice properly looks forward to that time Paul promises. As for Wilson's illustration of Ice's position, it might be an accurate portrayal of his perception of Ice's postition, but does not do justice to Ice's contra-argumentum . . . .
Other than these few minor objections you have a great magazine. I am looking forward to the next issue.
Serving under the Cross of the King, I remain, dispensationally yours,
Richard Joseph Monfrini
Douglas Wilson replies:
An assumption you make early in your letter reveals that this entire debate really is a matter of paradigms. You say, "this Israel cannot be the church, for those in the church are already saved" and you go on to ask, "did the church reject the gospel?"
But what happens to your case if I deny this assumption, and give the answer yes to your question? The New Testament is very clear that not every one in the church is saved, and equally clear that the church of Israel denied the gospel. Moreover, Paul warns the engrafted Gentiles against committing this very same sin, that of denying the gospel. We want to paint contrasts where the apostles draw parallels.
If you start by assuming a distinction between Israel and the church, then that distinction will certainly show up in the conclusion of the argument.
It should be noted that my criticisms of an otherwise excellent periodical are designed to keep you in "business," not destroy you. Your Covenant Masculinity issue was exemplary, as is typical; however, your wrongheaded stand against radical (full) preterists or "hyperpreterists" is about as easily defended biblically or covenantally as is the antipae-docommunion stand of some paedobaptists. One thing must be kept in mind in this debate, which is also true in all others: all appeals to creeds, councils, confessions or commentators taken together cannot compare to appeals to Canon . . .
Mount Holly, NJ
I appreciate Doug Wilson's article in Thema entitled "Recovering the Masculine Mind" very much . .. . I would like to add a couple of very important points which need to be addressed. First, as covenant heads we are agreed with our Lord that we will raise our families in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. However . . . we submit this to the scrutiny of the heathen when we register our children to be schooled. I believe this conflicts and that our Lord is displeased. Secondly, heads of covenant families have joined together in their churches to apply to the State for permission to exist as a legal fiction by incorporating themselves . . . . Sober reflection on these
issues brings me to the same conclusion as Neh. 9:37b which says, "also they have dominion over our bodies, and over our cattle, at their pleasure, and we are in great distress." I do not see how we can ever renew our masculinity without tackling these issues and the best way to start is to humble ourselves, fast, pray, confess our sins and reestablish our covenant as was done in the very next verse in Neh. 9:38.
Rev. Paul Armes