Fantastic. A lot of gems, and even more guts in this collection of various articles and addresses from Kuyper over his long career of loving, defending, starting schools, and supporting Christian education.
Month: July 2020
There have always been controversies around the Lord’s Table.
As early as the second century one of misunderstandings, or misrepresentations, was that Christians were cannibals, or at least that’s how CNN reported it. Eating flesh and drinking blood sounds more like Scythian warriors. Of course when Jesus instituted the Supper He was using an analogy about faith, but that doesn’t stop the slander.
In the days of the Reformers there were fights over how Christ is present in the elements. Amidst the Great Awakenings there were debates about who was allowed to participate; many were baptized into membership but not allowed to partake, which played a part in Jonathan Edwards being fired.
And in our day there is a marketing campaign of fear that would be applied to us: we are spreading germs and a deadly virus by handling food and by encouraging so many people to be so close. If you attending a “birthday party could be a death sentence” for someone else, which is what our governor said recently, then certainly our little religious ritual would be called anti-science, and selfish.
We aren’t oblivious to risks. We also aren’t oblivious to our possible selfishness. But not a single local or national or international expert, whether politician or physician or statistician, has given us reason to trust them. They certainly cannot be trusted to unite us, and they offer no salvation through safety or by sacrifice.
Our fellowship is in Christ. He is completely trustworthy, and true. We are at His table again to share all that we have in Him.
Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. (John 6:54–56)
Church, let us pray.
Two Sundays ago I talked about praying, in particular, the case of praying for common grace in our culture. One of the passages that I think commends that idea is the beginning of 1 Timothy 2.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior (verses 1-3)
The start of the next paragraph continues beating the same prayer drum.
I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling. (verse 8)
These sorts of prayers should always be made. Consistently our elders include prayers for our government in their corporate supplication. I always pray for our nation and unbelieving neighbors in my corporate prayer of confession for similar reasons. We believe that it is an appropriate time, a more desperate time, for the whole body to be called to prayer, even fasting.
Next Sunday evening (August 2) we have a scheduled service. Though we haven’t finished our series on Kuyperian spheres due to canceled services over the last few months, we plan to continue and extend those messages in the fall. But the elders desire to call the whole church to pray this week and then all together next Sunday night.
It will be different than our previous corporate prayer nights. We will concentrate prayers on our nation, our state, on the executive and legislative and judicial branches, on the upcoming election for various offices and laws. We will pray for grace, for them, for us.
I plan to fast for breakfast and lunch Thursday through Sunday. I would encourage you to join me in making devoted effort to prayer. May God help us.
For reminders about fasting in particular, here are two messages I preached about The New Wine of Fasting – Part 1 and Part 2.
The Princess and Curdie
by George MacDonald
Do you need a magical story about cultural corruption and decay confronted by a thirteen year-old boy with a mattock and courage? If yes, then this is it. Having finished the Wingfeather Saga last summer, I have to believe that MacDonald lit some of Peterson’s creative sparks. I’m glad I read it, highly recommend it, even without reading The Princess and the Goblin. My biggest disappointment was not finding out more about the Uglies, which Peterson’s whole plot actually aims to redeem.
To the Foot of the Cross
Many pastors are not good for very many things. I would definitely include myself among them. One of my favorite things to do in the world, and I think I’m fairly good at it, is line diagramming the Bible in Greek. I’m not around a lot of people who could tell me I did it wrong (ha!), and I’m not around a lot of people who could care less.
One way that many pastors justify their limited skills is by elevating their skills as the ones that please God the most, the best. Studying the Bible is not just part of their vocation, it is part of their virtue, and if you were really spiritual you would go to seminary so that you could study like that, too, or at least feel bad that you haven’t. It’s a Protestant version of sacred/secular, it’s also just a version of pride. It’s particularly ugly pride, though, because it is pride in Jesus’ name, when pride is a reason He came, a reason He came to be killed so that our pride could be buried with Him.
I’m throwing my sort to the foot of the cross because I want to remind you to do the same thing. When we commune with Christ and commune together, we do not have communion because we all care about or have skills for or devote time to the same things equally.
Spurgeon once said that if a man would harbor a lot of ships, he had to have a broad shore, meaning to care for a lot of people he must widen his heart. There is always a temptation for our hearts to become more narrow, and for our fellowship to become more exclusive. There are lines, doors, irreconcilable differences, and even cases of church discipline, sure. But as a body we don’t just patronize others because they have different responsibilities, gifts, windows for their work. We depend on them.
We need one another as much as ever, and thank God He has given us one another in Christ, “that there may be no division in the body” (1 Corinthians 12:25).
One of the hazards of exhorting a church-full of believers to confess their sin every week is that I usually don’t give an exhortation about every possible sin and I know that not everyone has committed the particular sin receiving attention. If the net is too loose, nothing is caught, and if the net is too tight, it might just be dragging up junk.
I’ve been especially mindful about this recently because calling other people sinners, or at least calling them evil, is popular. There are numerous assumptions slung out in our society that others are wicked, and numerous calls for others to confess their wrongs, and those calls are manipulative lies. The exhortations themselves are sin.
Here’s one example, followed by an admonition to the flock.
You can’t open up the Kindle app these days without seeing ads for books related to racism and Black Lives Matter. One of the books I’ve seen promoted the most is called White Fragility; it’s good business and a lot of businesses are apparently using it for employee training. Here’s one review of the book by Samuel Sey, White Fragility Is Pro-Racism, with a variety of quotes from the book, and wow. The author says that you do not need to have hatred in your heart to be a racist, in fact, failure to think about how racist you are is itself damning evidence. You must be anti racist, meaning that you must acknowledge your indifference to how oppressive you are, by definition.
But remember that God defines sin, that while it is possible to sin without knowing it, it most certainly is not appropriate for me to call something sin that you don’t realize if God hasn’t said it.
So in the church, be careful calling other people liars when you don’t know if they are lying. Be careful calling other people cowards because they don’t stand at your spot on the wall. Be careful calling other people proud because they have chosen a time and place/person to fight. Be careful calling other people indifferent because they aren’t as cautious. There are choices, such as eating or not eating meat, that aren’t the kingdom (Romans 14:17). Paul both rebuked Peter for a crucial time when he didn’t eat (Galatians 2:11-14) and rebuked the whole Roman church for judging each other both ways (Romans 14:3).
There are no commands in the Bible about masks or political parties or locations for worship. There are many principles, and we want to be wise and bold and loving and do what is best, fully convinced in our own mind (Romans 14:5). But while you seek to be provocative, seek to do it in a way that does not falsely accuse your brothers.
Why “Comeford” College?
I don’t remember the first time I thought about the possibility of starting a college in Marysville, but as the years passed and conversations happened and then a committee was formed, the question of what to name a college became more pressing. I mean, how could we have a Facebook page without a name?
We talked a lot about it at home. I didn’t doodle a bunch of names on the back of a notebook, but I do have a text file with over a dozen options. Once the committee was called to decide if we should start something, and that decision was affirmed, we spent a few months brainstorming and collecting and criticizing our ideas.
Something with “Kuyper” certainly seemed appropriate. The work of Abraham Kuyper has been especially helpful in knocking down dualism for our church and K-12 school community. Christ claims every college course just as much as every square inch in the universe. But, there’s already a Kuyper College.
We thought about something like the (New) Free College, since Kuyper started the Free University of Amsterdam. But in our day “free” refers to cost, not free from State control as it meant to Kuyper. How about a synonym for free, without the socialistic baggage? What about Liberty? Ah, right, I already went there.
We also love Marysville. We’re devoted to our city and want it to be a destination of sorts, which is part of the reason for starting a college. But, Marysville College or, The College of Marysville seemed like just about the least creative effort we could make. So then what about things Marysville is known for? Other than the homely fact of not having anything our own, the only historical highpoint is our water tower, and geographically we are near Mt. Pilchuck. “Water Tower College” was a dry run, and how many Pilchucks do we need? I suppose there is always “Premium Outlets College.”
Then one of our board members did some digging into Marysville’s origin story. The founder of our city arrived in 1872, established the first hotel, the first store, the first post office, and started the first school. The best accounts say that he named the city after his wife, Maria. And his name was James P. Comeford.
That was it: Comeford College. We do have a local park called Comeford, and the water tower stands next to the park. But the name connects us to the city, to the city’s start, and to a man who started a number of things in the city.
Thus far we haven’t found any reason not to name the college after him; he apparently didn’t start the first brothel, or vape store, or casino. But again, we’re loving on where we’re from, and praying that this new institution will make Marysville even more lovely, more Kuyperian, and more educated.
The Man in the Dark
by Doug Wilson
Just finished reading my first romance novel. It had lies, envy, manipulation, murder, fornication, suspense, guilt, and gospel.
Sometimes it’s the little things that stick out. I don’t mean face masks, but I am thinking about faces.
As we’ve asked for feedback regarding our return to worship indoors, I’ve heard from multiple people that an unscripted comment I made on our first Sunday back caught their attention. We had finished singing (the second song because getting through the line took so long) and I encouraged you all to look around at one another; these are your people. I’ve mentioned before that I try to make eye contact with many of you all around the room while we eat and drink, but I should clarify that it’s not because I think there’s special grace channeled through a minister’s sight. I am often the presiding minister at the Lord’s Table, but I am also a member of the body.
Communion is personal, yes, because we are saved one-by-one by Jesus into fellowship with Him. And yet there is a way to look around and see some more of what He bought for You. He bought you forgiveness, He bought you a clean conscience, He bought you eternity, and He bought you friends, co-laborers, brothers and sisters, fellow-members who encourage and challenge and serve and speak all in one body.
You may remember Jesus’ death with your head bowed and eyes closed, and great. You may find it awkward to look around in a formal, liturgical setting. Maybe one day we’ll assemble in a configuration that puts more persons in your periphery. But in the meantime, you’re not more spiritual because you avoid thinking about the body that Christ knit you into by His body and blood.
Praying for Common Grace
I’ve been thinking a lot about common grace the last couple months. Common grace includes undeserved good gifts from God to those who won’t worship Him. He makes the sun and rain fall on the unjust (Matthew 5:45), and gives them spouses and kids (Psalm 17:14) and paychecks and a glorious variety of imperial IPAs. He also gifts them with a level of restraint on their own sin, at least to some degree and for some time.
While looking around at what appears to be a decreasing amount of common grace in our culture, at least in terms of morals and values and reason/logic, I’ve wondered if we as Christians should pray that God would give more common grace? Or should we pray for redeeming grace, for saving grace, that deals with their greatest need, not just for what makes a stable society?
Why not both? Only a rocks-for-brains hyper-Calvinist wouldn’t pray for spiritual revival. Of course we pray for God to grant repentance and faith in His Son. But we are also instructed to pray “what we may lead a peaceful and quiet life” (1 Timothy 2:2). The prayers are actually for sake of “kings and all who are in high positions,” that they wouldn’t be stupid, capricious, little bossy-pants waiting to blow.
Our country’s common grace has been quite chunky in our short history, bringing blessing to many who weren’t believing in Jesus. And we can pray for more as it makes men more accountable to God. Asking for common grace for our neighbors isn’t asking for their comfortable ride to eternal hell, it’s remembering that “God’s kindness is meant to lead…to repentance” (Romans 2:4).
So Christians always have a word for unbelievers. Is your life heavy with judgment? See God’s holiness and repent from your transgressions. Is your life filled with good? See God’s generosity and repent from your ingratitude.