Volume 9, Issue 1: Sharpening Iron
This issue begins volume nine for us, and so we're just pink to see another of our dear babies fly throughout the nations in the soft, caressing hands of the USPS.
Our next issue, Lord willing, is our long-promised bridal issue. It should hit the newstands right before the Federal wedding season. But we need to enter a disclaimer early. Few will believe it, but we didn't plan that issue just because Doug Wilson's daughter, Bekah Wilson--our cover designer--is now engaged to be married to Benjamin Merkle. We're very excited about that future union and pray for many blessings upon them. But, really, we've been thinking about our bridal issue for almost a year--really. On the other hand, we won't hesitate to milk Bekah's new wedding interests to obtain a great bridal cover for Credenda--maybe a screaming bride!
FROM THE DITTOHEADS
Your issue, Mother Kirk, is the best yet. Refreshing to read something spiritually equivalent to bungee jumping! God bless your ministry for Christ, the head of the Church.
We really enjoy and appreciate Credenda. It's very thought provoking. Thanks for your effort in bringing the Gospel to a lost world, and encouraging and equipping us to do the same. May Credenda/Agenda continue to be a Vox Clamantis in Deserto.
It is always an exciting moment in my home when a new Credenda/Agenda arrives. Such happened yesterday and I wanted to make a few comments. First, the Anvil column was outstanding, and brave. You asked the question I have been asking myself for some time. And your reasoning was impeccable. I know this because it followed my own. When I came to discover that children are a blessing, and came to a deeper understanding of God's covenant faithfulness, and came to a post-mil eschatology, I took to saying only partly in jest, "We'll breed those pagans to death." I didn't really go through the sacredness of life part of your argument though. It provided still more weight for the argument. As such I'm ready to come out of the closet on this issue. Of course I will fail to present it with the grace and tact you and young Mr. Jones showed, so get ready for the heat. . . .
R.C. Sproul, Jr.
WARNING: HUMOR MAY BE HARMFUL
First of all, let me say how much I appreciate Credenda/Agenda. I look forward to every issue. You help me to think through issues closely and from a biblical worldview. I enjoy your sly humor (although it seems you must have to pry your tongue out of your cheek after some of your writing sessions); we Reformed people can be a little stuffy sometines, and it is good to loosen up from time to time. My only word of caution would be this: upon occasion you seem to be a tad smug in some of your observations (a weakness of us Reformed folks). When I get on my high horse my dear wife will remind me that it is a long fall from my lofty perch, and so I gently remind you as well to remember from whence you came. We need to speak the truth boldly, and from the very housetops, but we must also remember, when we proclaim the truth to those who do not seem to understand, "there but for the Grace of God, go I." (However, I must admit in my fallenness, I get some good laughs from your more pointed observations!)
Concerning "Moving Beyond `Pro-Life'" (vol. 8, no. 5, page 10), can you explain more fully how you moved to the position of implying that the babies of unbelievers are foul and unclean, and further, that those who dash them against the rock (Psalm 137:9) would be blessed?
I think it might be your use of a problematic verse in 1 Cor. 7. This passage is concerned with the legitimacy of marriage to an unbeliever. I am not sure it is the best section of Scripture to prove an important point such as that all the children of unbelievers are "foul" or "unclean."
My hunch is that the explosive response to "The Dole-Kemp" thing, found you and Doug Jones looking at each other and in stereo saying: "They don't get it." Hence the essay, "Moving Beyond `Pro-Life'." Thanks for the exhaustive Christian Worldview on abortion. We needed it. Now, all that being said, and in light of Rom. 1:28-29, what are we to do with birth control? (Just kidding--sort of) . . . .
I would like to respond to the article, "Moving Beyond Pro-Life.". . .
Listen Brothers, have you forgotten about the Love of Christ? You're taking Biblical license by stating that Paul teaches us to refer to the lost as God-haters and their children as foul or unclean.
These God-haters and their unclean children are precious people for whom Jesus died. Paul did teach us that "henceforth, we are to regard no man after the flesh" (2 Cor. 5:16), and that as Ambassadors for Christ, we are to bring these God-haters the message of reconciliation. . . . The Gospel of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 5:20 and Mark 16:15).
I'm touched by your interpretive tenderness, as you would bless the one who would take the unclean children of these God-haters and dash them against the stones (Ps. 137:9). While Jesus says, "Allow the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not" (Mk. 10:14). The Lord also told Peter three times in a trance, "What God has cleansed, you must not consider unclean" (Acts 10:15). . . .
Lighten up Brothers, your smoking pens need to be dipped in the Love of Jesus Christ.
PRO-LIFE AND PRINCIPLED
The recent issue of Credenda/Agenda on the subject of "Mother Kirk," was interesting and informative. . . .
Except for Douglas Wilson's review of Worship in Spirit and Truth by John Frame, that is. Writing that "the regulative principle, biblically understood, is a Person" and that Jesus is "our regulative Principle" sounds good; but what does this mean? Despite his protestations to the contrary, Wilson seems to be advocating either mysticism or a kind of antinomianism in worship. And unless we adopt some sort of dispensationalism, Steve Schlissel's position that the regulative principle is confined to the Temple (if that is indeed his position), falls to the ground--especially since the regulative principle is restated in the New Testament. . . .
Jeffrey P. Yelton
I just finished reading your masterful statement of what is needed if we are to move beyond the contemporary mind-set in the "pro-life" movement. I tried to say something like this in Ordained Servant (vol. 4, #1), but gladly acknowledge that you have said it ever so much better. Why don't you make article available as a tract--it's exactly what is needed. My hearty thanks to you both.
Sorry that I can't give equal praise to your treatment of the regulative principle (i.e. the review of John Frame's book). I particularly regret your approval of Steve Schlissel's attempt to confine "the strict regulative principle" to the O.T. temple. (By the way it is this strict principle alone which is recognized by the Westminster Confession of Faith. Why not honestly admit this--as I believe is required by ordination vows--and then talk (within ecclesiastical courts) about how far we should depart from it?) I see this as but another of justifying the status quo. But it does not hold water for the simple reason that the church, the body of Christ, is not synagogue but temple. True, part of it is in heaven but the other part is on earth. And every Lord's Day the earthly part--in worship conducted in accordance with the strict principles set forth in the WCF--joins with the heavenly in worship (see Heb. 12:18-29; 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 2 Cor. 6:16, 17; etc.). The [regulative principle] has become little more than a wax nose in most Presbyterian and Refomed Churches today--and the urgent need today is to either admit this and remove it from the Reformed Confessions or return to it "strictly." I think you know which I would prefer. . . .
I intend the first paragraph to weigh more than the second despite its brevity.
Douglas Wilson replies:
I appreciate Mr. Williamsonís gracious response and agree with him that churches ought not to confess something they refuse to do. We reiterate that all Protestants need to be regulativists of some stripe and promise to address this issue in more detail in future issues.
Did Mr. Nance really mean to say that any image in a place of worship is forbidden by the Second Commandment ("Stauron--The Image of the Cross," vol. 8, num. 5)?
How could the pomegranates be used in the priest's robe? What of the Ark of the Covenant and its Cherubim, the elaborate column heads at the entrance to the temple, the grape clusters and other artisan images in the temple itself and the courtyard?
I may have misunderstood him (or the Pentateuch, I supppose), but it does not seem that Moses interpreted the commandment so strictly as this article did. Perhaps, in a different sort of way, the quote from Galatians was more apropos than he wanted it to be.
By the way, I should add that I enjoy your magazine, even when I disagree with it, which is not all the time. Thanks for all the work.
Michael F. Kelly
I commend your publication for its honest search for biblical application in a confusing world of compromise. I also wish to confront an article written by Jim Nance entitled "The Image of the Cross."
Mr. Nance's attempt to save us from idolatry should normally be commended if he was not guilty of swinging the reactionary pendulum too far the other way. The use of icons in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches should be condemned. Nance goes beyond condemnation of icons, however, and attacks all symbolism. His qualifying end note saying the opposite is like being ridiculed by a bully and as the tongue lashing ends we are told, "just kidding."
A real tragedy has occurred in Protestantism. We have allowed the charismatics to steal any expression of joy in our worship and the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches to steal the rich use of symbolism. We do not have to be worshipping the cross to use it effectively. God was well aware of how effective symbolism could be used in worship as He commanded specific furnishings to be placed in the temple (Ex. 25-30). Each of these furnishings and the manner in which they were placed preached theological truths in regard to how God is to be approached, without using words. . . .
Eric W. Jorgensen
Thank you for the Mother Kirk issue. Many Christians are seeking a deeper historical identity in the traditions of "The Church" without recognizing the spiritual and doctrinal potholes and ruts that should be avoided in the way. The short article on "The Image of the Cross" by Jim Nance was packed with thought-provoking material. As a member of a church that is in pursuit of what we are calling an Anglican identity, I have been pressed to ask myself three questions about one of our new liturgical actions.
1. What is the basis for our confidence that our bowing before a metal or wooden cross in our worship service is pleasing to God?
2. If our service was transported back to the time of Moses or the prophets, or even to the time of the Apostles, what would their response be to our reverencing the cross?
3. If God made one negative rule concerning our worship of Him, and He made the rule normative in the Old Testament and the New Testament, would we be willing to honor him by keeping it?
These questions may seem rhetorical; yet grasping clear answers to them would be helpful for Protestants, Catholics, and all those who think of themselves as somewhere in between. Again, thank you for encouraging us to take heed.
We are overwhelmed by the information and wisdom provided in your magazine and after 3 months of reading the neighbor's mail have decided to send in our request for subscription to "Credenda/Agenda." Having read a number of articles by Douglas Wilson in World magazine and his book "Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning" my husband and I have gained quite a respect for Mr. Wilson and particularly the return to classical Christian education which he promotes.
I am writing particularly in reference to the article about Mr. Wilson's parents, "Jim and Bessie" which was an incredible source of joy to me. I was not raised in a Covenant family but, Lord willing, my husband and I long to raise a "Godly seed." The example of Jim and Bessie Wilson, explained in the two page tribute with obvious love and respect, is one which I will remember, and if the Lord grants us children, will by the grace of God emulate. It is a challenge my husband and I will treasure. If Christian families implement Biblical wisdom in the training of children and obey Christ in all areas we can expect victory in one generation. Thank you for encouragement.
Thank you Nancy Wilson for your above referenced article ["Respect When It's Hard," vol. 8, no. 5]. I have struggled with this point from both a couselor and a counselee perspective.
When I saw the title, my first reaction was to avoid it--because I wasn't sure I wanted to read what it said. Praise God my love for His Word superseded my love for my own!
I always read the Femina article first (right after I read your masthead to see what silly things you've included) each month. You are providing a worthwhile service to married couples each time you print the Husbandry and Femina articles side by side--it gives each of us relief and strong stuff to ponder.
San Jose, CA
In your latest issue you write: "Many excuses are offered up in our greedy and discontented age ("It takes two paychecks nowadays.") which will enable us to send the wives off to help provide for a wife. If a man is not capable of providing his wife with food and clothing, then he is scripturally disqualified as a husband. "
I applaud your condemnation of greed and laziness on the husband's part, but we need to be careful not to condemn something that the Bible exults: the woman having a paycheck. Now this is not to say that a woman should "go out" and get a job, but that she should work towards building what has been called a "cottage industry." This does much more than provide food and shelter for herself (and of course that should never be her motive) it provides service for her house. The Proverbs have much to say about this woman who had not 1 but 3 jobs. For her husband's sake, mind you, and she was a blessing to him. A cottage industry, whatever that may look like in a particular home, can provide training for the daughters that they may do the same for their husbands, and even provide training for the sons in a trade. This is responsible parenting. Now the husband is responsible for this "industry" as much as he is another job he may have.
It seemed to me as if merely having a "paycheck" was being condemned in your article, sir. I know you know the Scriptures better than that, and that this passage is not new to you. Please try to be careful so as not to offend anyone more than the Scriptures do.
Douglas Wilson replies:
I'm not sure we differ. A godly wife should be industrious and the Bible says that industry provides an economic blessing. So Amen.
My criticism was directed at men who pressure their wives to help them do their own job--and who consequently hinder their wives in their assigned responsibilities.
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