Tapering Off in Sin

At the prayer meeting, not many people ask for prayer so that they might taper off in their adulteries, or their thefts, or all the lies they are spreading around town. But [bitterness, envy, anger, and pride] are respectable—we have a delicate way of acknowledging them without really dealing with them. And one of the reasons we get away with touching on them lightly is that the main problem is clearly … the other guy’s.

—Doug Wilson, Getting Your Eyes Off the Other Guy

Fantastic but Subordinate

A Really Fantastic End, but Still Subordinate

Doug Wilson responded to Derek Thomas’ recent article in Tabletalk regarding where evangelism rates on the ladder of importance.

One of the glories of the Reformation was that it restored the glory of God as the foundation of all things. It is infinitely more important that God be glorified than that I be saved. Fortunately for us, He is glorified in the salvation of sinners, but for us to put evangelism front and center is one of the best and surest ways to dilute the gospel itself. We have seen this precise trajectory in the evangelical world over the last half century. To make the salvation of sinners “the most basic question of all” is a good way to lose the right answer to that very important question. This is the way to pragmatic evangelism. This is how we got all the technique-meisters. Very important question? Amen. The most basic question of all? Not at all. (Wilson, Eck Rises to Defend the Reformation)

Wilson is right. That said, there’s no way Thomas believes that the salvation of a sinner is more important than God’s glory. But the gospel-first rather than God’s-glory-first way of speaking has seeped into the church’s collective communication and some other really good subordinate ends have been smothered because of it. Glory-first:

  1. explains suffering and the Christian pilgrimage better.
  2. encourages vocations other than vocational ministry alone.
  3. emboldens evangelism more.

Salvation is a subordinate end. It’s a fantastic end, but still subordinate to the ultimate end of God’s glory.

Not an Automatic Friend

In this world, time is not an automatic friend…. Time deepens wisdom, but it also hardens folly. Time is given so that we might have time to repent, but it also given so that we might be without excuse. Time allows the grain to ripen, and it allows the weeds to grow. Time allows the meat to roast in the oven, and is also what causes it to burn.

—Doug Wilson, State of the Church 2009

Something Has to Die

Something Has to Die

When we are not getting along with others, the pressing temptation is always to believe that you are just as you have always been, and that they have somehow changed. This is often not true at all, but even if it were true, that does not put you in the right. Perhaps they have changed in that they have decided to stop putting up with your rudeness.

The Holy Spirit does not just come along and fill you with benevolent thoughts. He is a Person, not a shot of joy juice. And the Holy Spirit is the one who applies the death of Jesus to the areas of your life that need mortifying.

It turns out that in order for you get along with others, something has to die.

Industrial Grade Sandpaper

[L]iving in believing community is one of the central instruments that a loving God has given to us to prepare us for that great day. Living among fellow sinners, learning how to deal with it properly, is the principal form of industrial grade sandpaper that the Holy Spirit uses on us. But many pietists, including many educational perfectionists, withdraw from that treatment, shrinking from it, and all in the name of maintaining their smooth surfaces. But hiding the rough cut lumber in an unlit shed is not the same thing as sanding.

—Doug Wilson, [Holy Ghost Industrial Grade Sandpaper][]

Equipped by the Word

The “man of God”…does not give fresh revelation himself, but rather is the man who has the compilation of that completed revelation in his hands. While he is not a prophet himself, he is the heir of the prophets. In other words, he is not limited by the cessation of the prophetic gift because, as it says here, he is “competent” or equipped for every good work. There is no task the minister will be called upon to perform that he is not equipped to perform through the Scriptures.

—Doug Wilson, A Ministerial Tool Chest, commenting on 2 Timothy 3:16

fan•tod

noun — [fan-tod]

definition: usually, fantods. a state or attack of uneasiness or unreasonableness, extreme nervousness or restlessness.

synonyms: the willies; the fidgets

example usage:

In my previous post on this, I got a little into the theological weirdness that is pervasive in this Twilight business. This time, I would like to explain why this whole phenomenon gives me the pastoral fantods.

Doug Wilson, Twilight Review #6

moun•te•bank

noun — [moun-tuh-bangk]

definition: a person who deceives others, especially in order to trick them out of their money; a person who sells quack medicines, as from a platform in public places, attracting and influencing an audience by tricks, storytelling, etc.

history: Italian montambanco, a contraction from the phrase monta im banco, meaning “one gets up onto the bench” (so as to attract attention to sell things).

synonyms: swindler, charlatan, trickster, snail oil salesman.

Quack refers to any fraudulent practitioner of medicine or law. Mountebank may imply some quackery, but more often it refers to a self-promoting person who resorts to cheap tricks or undignified efforts to win attention.

example usage:

The United States is only a nation, and we are experiencing no temptations except those that are common to man. And there is a way of escape. Stop voting for mountebanks.

Doug Wilson, more Obama nation building