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Volume 8, Issue 1: Sharpening Iron


From Us:

We're so excited about the coming year we made a very special New Year's resolution: over the next few months, we will visit every single subscriber across the nation. We know where you live; we have those little sticky address thingies. So listen for our bicycles skidding to a stop at your front door. If for some reason we miss you, we'll cut the price of your subscription in half. That's how seriously we take our commitment to you.

In this issue, we are pleased to announce yet another addition to our collection of regular columnists. Csaba (pronounced Csaba ) Leidenfrost is our man in Africa (pronounced Africa ). He is an elder from Community Evangelical Fellowship and {Sorry folks, but the uptight editor-types around here insisted on deleting the remainder of our description of what Csaba does. Actually, Csaba won't tell us. It's hard to find good help these days . . .
In each issue, we normally include a "Disputatio" debate on some topic or other. But this time the other side apparently found our deadlines too confining and legalistic. So instead, we've inserted pages and pages of our favorite recipes.


 

From You:

Dear Editors,
I've just had the opportunity to get a loaner copy of your magazine which I had never seen or heard of before . . . it has helped tremendously to have someone help order the thoughts I've already begun ruminating on!

Please place my name on your subscription mailing list. I was amazed to see your subscriptions are free. Thanks.

Barbara Long
Augusta, GA

Dear Editors,
Some of your "Letters to the Editor" are tongue in cheek aren't they? My husband says no, people really do say such things!

Rita Flanigan
Strathroy, Ontario

Editors' Response: Of course we don't fake letters. At least not usually.

Dear Editors,
You guys are about over the line! If you come out with one more stupid article I'm gonna hafta start bustin' caps!

C.S. Lewis
Oxford, England

Dear Editors,
Your title "Covenant Masculinity" was right on the point. I have recently been exposed to some of the Promise Keepers' material. Your points were well made. I think Promise Keepers has recognized the problem as men have failed to obey their responsibilities. However, their solutions reflect a noncovenantal theology which will not provide a solution. Their mandates and promises incorporate modern psychology, dispensationalism, and emotionalism. What is missing is an understanding of the covenantal relationship and responsibilities of men as covenant heads of families. Without an understanding of the covenantal relationship, it is not possible to fully lead men to fulfill their covenantal responsibilities. At best, only symptoms can be treated without ever getting to the root of the problem. I am looking forward to the forthcoming book by Doug Wilson and Dave Hagopian.

A.T. Stoddard
Internet

Dear Editors,
I've read your magazine off and on over the past couple of years, but recently picked up a copy of your The Meaning of Headship issue and read it cover to cover, impressed with the variety of voices and the Biblical perspective brought to bear on each page.

I particularly enjoyed Doug Jones' story, "Magaliesburg", and Chris Schlect's "Small Children's Catechism". . . Schlect's version contains a directness of language that I like. His questions 30 & 45 were a special encouragement to me. . . .

Chris Campbell
Almont, ND Dear Editors,
. . . Gene Edwards in How to Meet Under the Headship of Jesus Christ critiques modern churches, analyzes St. Paul's church methods, offers his own ideas for a 20th century church (each for several chapters) and throws in one chapter against Calvin. None of this context made it into your attack on Edwards for attacking Calvin.

In other books Edwards shows great pastoral concern against church splits and for Christians tempted to bitterness by the conduct of other Christians. In other books he shows a very great love for the presence of Jesus. I've met Edwards, and I believe he and God love each other and love the saints, despite Edwards' sins. None of this context showed up either, but maybe your writer didn't know these things. . . .

Andrew Lohr
Lookout Mtn., GA

Dear Editors,
Re: Doug Wilson "The Nose Under Joe Camel's Tent." I'm afraid the ATF is more likely to take your vitamins away than to make you take them!

Barbara Needham
Internet

Dear Editors,
Your recent comments about the Promise Keepers organization and books reminded me of a recent Bible study I did on the subject of judging others.

From that study, I was impressed that once I judge that the subject persons are saved, my reactions to them and interactions with them are fixed by Scripture. These actions and reactions are to be loving and edifying. I am to be discerning, but not judgmental. I am to consider the weaker brother and pray for them without ceasing, encourage them when they are right, and gently and lovingly confront them (in hope of correcting them) if I believed them to be wrong in some way. However, I am to be longsuffering in my gentleness and kindness. Only if they reject reproof, am I required to take further steps. In any case, my motive must always be to lovingly bring about their sanctification and God's glory.
You are all magnificent in your intellectual power, and are therefore a delight to read, challenging your readers to think deeply about eternal truths, and yet totally practical. However, if your obviously superior intellect, a gift of God and not of yourselves, causes you to become proud and unloving, you will become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal and lose God's grace.
Consider that the Promise Keepers are dealing predominately with men who are either new converts or pygmy Christians. Their approach is (wisely?) to feed them milk at first, leaving to ones such as you the challenge of discipleship on the graduate level.
If you think the leaders of the Promise Keepers are Christians, offer them your services as writers of materials. They might really appreciate it. In the beginning they were careless in letting a Mr. Hicks insist on writing something for them which they still have not lived down. That reminds me that I read something about forgiveness while I was doing that Bible study.
God in his sovereignty and mercy seems to be using Promise Keepers to act as an alarm clock for the men of our nation. This is a reasonable first step that should not be resented or resisted, and I thank Him for doing that. Things have gotten pretty bad out here, as you know, and we need all the help we can get. I am reluctant to fling any of God's gifts back at him, especially at times like these. Later, men like you can feed these young Christians spiritual steak and potatoes.
Thank you for your own efforts to advance the cause of Christ. You are workmen who, from my perspective, will probably not need to be ashamed. Keep up the excellent work, but lighten up on the baser parts of the body of Christ as they are also necessary to proper functioning of the whole, and in this case need your help, not your condemnation.

Terry George
Internet

Dear Editors,
Thank you for the effort you put in to Credenda Agenda. I find your publication refreshing. I enjoy the mental and spiritual challenges you provide. There are issues in which we disagree. Hang on to your hats, I am not canceling my subscription. Rather, I am compelled to search the scriptures to see if I adhere to the truth.

To that end I have some questions from volume 7, number 6. In "Presbyterion."I did not find the 3 basic arguments for Presbyterian government to be anything more than 3 weak links. Covenantal certainty was not indisputably demonstrated in James 2:2; 5:14. "Synagogue" was a commonly accepted designation frequently restricted to the building itself ( See Kittel vol. 7, page 829). Nor do I find continuity in the argument from silence that "Nothing in the New Testament indicates a disruption of the system of church government." How do you handle the future sense of Matthew 16:18 and the contrast in Hebrews 12:18-24?
Regarding the second point: How does breaking bread from house to house in Acts 2:47 demonstrate separate church congregations? Couldn't it just as well demonstrate separate Church families? Again, how does the statement that the "word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed" in Acts 19:20 demonstrate multiple congregations?
As for unity, many independent and Episcopal churches do transcend their differences and fellowship together. How does it stand to reason that an individual congregation cannot transcend corporate sin without an ecclesiastical superstructure? Didn't God demonstrate corporate accountability to him through warning and chastening in Rev. 2? I would like to read some better scriptural arguments for Presbyterian church government.
I have a separate unrelated question from the same issue. I am not charismatic and would like to know how to explain what causes the phenomenon that one sees in tongues speaking. A Christian cannot be possessed by a demon, so what is the explanation of the babble that comes forth from some who claim to speak in tongues? Once again, thank you for encouraging my spiritual vitality through the use of wit and insight.

Dan Krodel
Millersburg, PA

Douglas Wilson replies: Of course synagogue can be used to refer to the synagogue building, in just the same way that church can be used of the people or of the building. The reason this is so is because of the close connection between the two. Synagogue is not used of any building, but rather a particular kind of gathering place for God's saints. And the fact remains that Christian churches (James 5:14) called their gathering places synagogues (Jas. 2:2). Why? Because among Christian Jews, their churches were synagogues.

Acts 4:4 clearly shows us the multitude of believers in the church at Jerusalem (over 5,000 men ) necessitated different congregations. And yet the church at Jerusalem was one church (Acts 8:1; 11:22; 15:4).

And lastly, I am not arguing for a bureaucratic superstructure. But I am saying that lack of unity is a sin in every area of responsibility given to the church. Because government is one such area, lack of unity there is a sin. This sin is manifested in our inability to acknowledge acts of government by sister Christian churches, whether baptism, administration of the Lord's Supper, ordination, or discipline.

Dear Editors,
This letter is in response to the article entitled Beating Wife Beaters written by Doug Jones in the Anvil section of your Vol. 7 No. 6 magazine . . . . Perhaps, however, you meant that your Bible Study group would be lawfully deputized by the civil authorities so that you could monitor and patrol the neighborhood and tell me, a non-Christian, what I should and should not be doing based on your particular set of rules (cf. the Bible and more importantly your particular interpretation of it). In this case . . . I would have hated you and the Christianity you stood for, and would have fought against you and what you stood for with my whole being . . . . You meanwhile . . . fail to see historically that when Christianity has attempted to force itself on people, it has failed miserably. Unless you consider Calvin's Geneva a success.

Chris Welborn
A Fax Somewhere in Utah

Dear Editors,
I share Doug Wilson's concerns about Promise Keepers as a movement. That being said, I would like to appeal for more care in your critique. Your criticism of the movement may not serve as a corrective for those who identify with it, and may put off from being involved those who could be of great assistance to the movement . . . . Historically moves of God have often been messay -- they aren't cleaned up until later. As a close observer of the movement, I know there's a mixture in it of flesh and spirit. But the three key distinctives of the movement are clearly emanating from the heart of our Father: the call for men to be in small groups where genuine fellowship can take place; the call for men to be servant leaders in their homes, and the call for race reconcilliation. These are all godly answers to crises in the church. . . . We appreciate your work and teaching so much; we trust you can accept these criticisms as an effort to get you to be rigorous in applying your own presuppositions in your criticism. . . .

David Warnick
Kansas City, MO

Dear Editors,
The Enlightenments "debunking" of the pagan gods was not an innovation developed from its own limited resources; rather, it was a poor imitation of the Reformation's courageous application of the cold knife of sola Scriptura to the centuries of accumulated pagan tumors infecting Christian orthodoxy. The Reformation took a hard nosed approach towards divinities not found in Scripture and in so doing were the spoilers of many a theological tea-party enlivened by the delights of tradition and superstition.

Shakespeare did not have much sympathy for those Protestant debunkers who wanted to deprive him and his RC cronies from relishing in the "richness" of the old pagan polytheism. Hamlet's main difficulty in approaching his father's ghost was that fact that he had no category in which to fit it. "Be thou a spirit of health of goblin damned, Bring with thee airs from heaven or blasts from hell." It had to be either an angel or a demon.
For Hamlet's Protestant mind (remember where he was going to school) there were simply no other alternatives, but after a lesson in theology from his purgatorial father, Hamlet knows better than his know-nothing Protestantism and proclaims to Horatio (also from UW), "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
In his "Exhortation to the Heathen," Clement of Alexandria courageously calls the pagan gods what they weresimply demonic manifestations or mere imaginings. He bluntly rebukes those who make the error of "regarding those who exist not, as existing and calling those gods that have no real existence, or rather no existence at all, who have nothing but a name." No half-way houses for reluctant converts desiring a little more liberal approach to pagan de-tox. The gods were history! Clement's treatise is a delightful Christian repackaging of the stock criticisms on the pantheon that had been circulating since Plato had kicked off the veritable tradition of gods bashing.
The cold winds of Orthodoxy can put quite a damper on the warm and fuzzy world of pre-Christian classicism. Yet, when we give the gods an existence other than that of fallen angels (as Lewis does with his invention of Tash, for example) we are simply dulling the hard edge of uncompromised monotheism. Sola Scriptura is a cold sharp knife, but it cuts true!
From a reluctant, but recovering, ex-pagan,

Fritz Hinrichs
Escondido, CA

P.S. The Scriptures you used have not been addressed as I assume they were quickly submitted to a rather vicious dog-pile.

Dear Editors,
In Doug Wilson's "Husbandry" column in the latest Credenda, he referenced a view which he called "masculinist." He defined masculinism as the view that all women generally are subject to all men generally, as opposed to the biblical view that women are subject only to their God-given authorities (husbands, fathers, church elders, judges).

A distinct philosophy also exists called "masculism" (as in Warren Farrell's The Myth of Male Power ). Masculists hold that now that women have abandoned their traditional roles, men need to do likewise and refuse to be soldiers or protectors of women and children. The masculist sees "women and children first" as sexist; likewise, the prejudice in favor of women (by the divorce courts, popular sentiment, and inconvenient biology) as primary caretakers of infants and small children is hindering "gender-redefinition." Masculists hold that patriarchy is a myth, by which society lulls men into a false sense of power while demanding that they be "disposable" via the draft.

The masculist is differentiated from the male feminist, who simply "me-toos" the feminist movement and is characterized by extreme self-loathing and constant apologies for patriarchal abuses and his residual chauvinism. We also have a female masculist on the Supreme Court, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who believes that pregnant women must be crammed into the cockpits of F-15 fighters by law, if that's what it takes to even the score.
Now that all this has been cleared up, I'd like to thank Doug for supplying a label for the guy on a Christian e-mail list who said that to entertain any arguments of mine would be admitting that women can teach men. I also now have a rejoinder to his, "Who do you think you are?": "I'm a noblewoman , chump!"

Jill Barrett
Internetville

Dear Editors,
Thank you for proclaiming "The Word." It is not what you write that is brutal. It is the reality and depth of sin that is brutal. And all people need to hear it.

Cindy Weimer
Free-floating,
post-it note

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