Has Ken Ham Earned our Respect?

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Am I embarrassed that I learned extensively from creationist apologist Ken Ham in my younger years? To be sure, he does not have a PhD, he is widely ridiculed by the evolutionary establishment, and it seems that there is a growing contempt for his work in Reformed circles. Maybe I should claim just a little more enlightenment in my views. I have read Darwin, studied natural history at a college/university level, and have a thorough knowledge of Hebrew and am able to read Genesis 1 in the original language. I mean, who would want to promote Ken Ham’s work after he made such a fool out of himself in that debate with Bill Nye the science guy? I’m too smart and enlightened to identify with the likes of him…

I remember following the Twitter and Facebook accounts of Reformed scientists and scholars during the Nye-Ham debate of 2014. I thought that would be more interesting than the debate itself. It was. The amount of comments throwing Ken Ham under the bus was both surprising and not surprising too me. As the argument goes: Ken Ham treats the Bible like a science textbook and he is a fundamentalist. For all that being said, Ken Ham claims that this debate helped heavily in raising funds for the Ark Encounter, a massive ark built in the middle of Kentucky. In response, Bill Nye said that he is “heartbroken and sickened for the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

So who is this highly contentious Ken Ham guy? He seems to be the key creationist to crap on in spite of the existence of a number of more highly educated scientists who hold to creationist views. Apparently he holds a Bachelor of Applied Science with an emphasis in environmental biology at Queensland Institute of Technology and a Diploma in Education from the University of Queensland. After teaching in high schools for a number of years, it seems that he was moved to see the destructive influence of evolutionary thinking and turned to the daunting task of publicizing a Christian perspective on creationism. This was in the framework of an academy that was fiercely opposed to his viewpoints, holding to highly critical views of Scripture and creationist views.

I would characterize Ken Ham as a Christian apologist with a grounding in both the Word of God and science. But what has always captured me about his thought is that he does not divorce his scientific studies from understanding the disciplines of history and philosophy and most importantly, the authority of the Word of God. Ken Ham is a popular speaker because he does not operate out of ivory tower academia, and I strongly believe, because the Spirit has used him powerfully to uphold the authority of the Scriptures in an age where academia is seeking too destroy Christian foundations. He has stood firm on authority when many of the challenges to young earth creationism are built on highly skeptical assumptions that focus on the appearances and what is observable. In response to this, Ken Ham has asked disturbing questions to evolutionists such as “were you there?” It is a simple question, but is not easily dismissed.

Ken Ham has not only written on 6 day creation, but also the veracity of the Biblical account. He has written on dinosaurs and the ark and the garden of Eden. He has even written a book on the problem of evil. Not being a university professor, I believe it is more than appropriate that many of his books have been directed too children and young people. As an intelligent man and a deep thinker, his books should not be dismissed by academia. His archnemesis, Bill Nye, has a similar approach. And nobody mocks Nye for this in particular. Also none of the “Christian thought leaders” who were mocking Ken Ham for the debate turned to mock Bill Nye when it came out that he promotes transgenderism, calling sexuality “a kaleidoscope.”

Ken Ham’s ideas have encouraged 10s of 1000s of people and have been developed on a higher level of academics and argumentation in other resources. Thomas Purifoy along with the narrator Del Tackett developed a historical and philosophical argument in the documentary “Is Genesis History?” asking questions about time and change. Dr. Gordon Wilson recently put out a documentary entitled “The Riot and the Dance,” revelling in the goodness of God in all the diversity of His created order. Both of these projects have begun independently of the work of AIG and CMI, the two often ridiculed organizations of creationism. Theological defenses of creationism have ranged from “Creation in Six Days” by James Jordan, “In Six Days God Created” by Paulin Bedard, and “Creation Without Compromise” from a missionary, a journalist, a professor, and a pastor. I’m sure you can find many more reasonable defenses of creationism out on the web and in publication.

So now that my ego has inflated in the halls of academia am I ready to throw Ken Ham under the bus? Absolutely not. His contribution to the defense of the authority of Scripture has been invaluable. His scientific work in light of that is even more valuable.

Christian academics around the world have been shipwrecking their faith and the faith of young intellectuals by promoting hypotheses that don’t even claim to have the answers about origins. If they only discussed evolutionary hypotheses, there might be some damage control. But then they claim that Scripture might just have to be reinterpreted, or Christians will sound dumb and unintellectual. They settle for the phenomenological evidence, when we can read history in the Word of God. Rather than relying on the veracity of the Word, many would rather go back and piece together history based on observable evidence in the present.

In light of this, kudos to Ken Ham.

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More Reflections on Cardus: Why Free Men Will Stand up to Government Intervention

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A short time ago I blogged on Cardus and their approach to government funding and what they refer to as independent schools (Their article can be found here). One of the critiques was that I took it easy on the assumption of economic intervention from the government over at Cardus. This is true. Let us turn to the main ideology behind the promotion of government intervention. I will look at socialism, its definition, and the impact it has had on society.

Socialism needs a definition. Google defines socialism as: “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” Merriam-Webster ties it into the government: “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” Socialism isn’t necessarily Marxist, but it has connections to Marxist theory. Marxism centers identity in social class, and socialism assumes many of the categories of Marxism. Marxism is more closely connected to communism which is defined by Encyclopaedia Britannica as: “Political and economic doctrine that aims to replace capitalism with public ownership of the means of production.” In Canada, socialism is inherently tied up in government control. In Canada, socialism is at best at odds with capitalism and independent ownership of many public services. We are not communist, but we are communist lite. I define socialism by the government ownership or regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange.

The way that socialism works in Canada is that social organization of production, distribution, and exchange is heavily regulated and at least partially owned by the government. You could argue that the community has a social contract with the government to do this, since we claim to be a democratic nation. Recently, the Ford Government in Ontario asked parents to come forward with their thoughts on parental rights so that the Ford Government can write up a Bill of rights. This is essentially a manoever with socialist assumptions. Why? Because it assumes that the Government has the right to regulate the school system. Just because good ideas are coming forward doesn’t make the modus operandi or the foundational principles any less flawed. I am happy that Christians brought ideas forward, but we should be careful to reflect on the nature of the system we are in.

A number of socialists I know defend the concept of and right to private property. This is because many who might refer to themselves as socialist might better be referred to as distributist. Tom Woods responds to this concept over on Mises Institute. It is good that these individuals argue for private property, because the very existence of the 8th commandment in the Bible demands private property. But having accepted principles of government intervention (which is a socialist principle), what if the collective body of our democratic society demands that this too should be owned by the government, or some other independent body? The government already owns the hospitals, the public schools, the railroads, the roads, etc. The government already claims the rights to regulate our wages, so that some pay higher taxes and some pay less.

Technically, in a free society, a group of people have the right to be socialists. They have the right to pool together resources in some sort of collective ownership and administration, but they don’t have the right to coerce obedience. An “independent school” could potentially be said to be a group of people who collectively own and administrate a school so that they can educate according to conscience, but even this operates on other principles than the socialism being promoted in Canada.

The very presence of a contract, shows that two people have bound themselves together to produce, distribute or exchange a product. The police would come after a business owner who tried to coerce me to sign a contract with him. Meanwhile, the socialism in Canadian society, coerces those who have decided to educate their children independently to pay for public education. As Tom Woods responds to the distributist in the article I have linked above: “Say what you will about Home Depot, but it is not responsible for confiscating 40 percent of my income for purposes I find morally repugnant…

I would propose that the promotion of government intervention (I’m careful to throw around labels of socialism or even distributism partly because such terminology detracts from the issue at stake which is government intervention) argued for in the Hamilton Spectator by Cardus, is fundamentally flawed. It is fundamentally flawed, because it promotes the regulation of education by the government. Again, just because we have a good government, doesn’t mean that we should hand control over to them. Look at where this thinking has gone in Alberta. We are reaching a point in Canada where the paradigm of socialism is so ingrained in our psyche that we cannot even imagine a society where production, distribution, and exchange is not at least regulated by the government. We have bought into a paradigm not only of heavy government regulation of finances but also ideas (ie the Ford government writing up a bill of parental rights). We have all but given up on challenging government ownership of schools, infrastructure and hospitals.

My argument is that a free gospel creates free men and free men create free markets. Douglas Wilson writes in his book Father Hunger (page 97):

If fathers are to be liberated from their confinement cells in corporate America, then they must pray and labor for free markets. They must also vote for them. Men who want to be providing fathers in a way that does not sever them from meaningful contact with their families must pray and work for a free society characterized by free markets. But this is only possible if the gospel has already created free men. Men who are enslaved to their lusts and petty envy will always be chumps enough to be easily manipulated by the rising plutocrats. But men who earn their own living and who refuse to take money that was extorted from others at the point of the tax collector’s gun are men who are the only basis of any free society worth the name.

I would argue that we should promote free markets where the government simply has the negative task to punish offenders who break the law. As such, the government doesn’t regulate, but operates primarily as a court system. In such a system, schools would operate independent of government control, but where the law is broken, the courts would step in. This would be a society that is free from government control, but still has the threat of punishment for evil that is necessary maintain this freedom.

Some food for thought…

Against Evangelism: Evangelism and the Evangelical

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I’m tossing around an idea: the idea of being against evangelism. Evangelism is a project, an enterprise, disconnected from the Church. Evangelism is segregation: us vs. the world. Evangelism puts Jesus in words but isn’t a lifestyle. Evangelism is something we talk about but not something we do. Evangelism is inherently parachurch.

Yes, the church is inherently and forever evangelical. Reformed or not, the Church had better be evangelical. Christ told His disciples to go into all the world to speak the good news, the evangelion. And then He told His Church that they are His witnesses. He went further to tell the Church that we would be His witnesses in Jerusalem and to the ends of the earth.

We tend to limit witness to evangelism, but to be evangelical is to let our witness be a fire. As a fire, our witness will consume our heart, soul, mind and strength. Witness is anti-evangelism (as a program), because witness is evangelical: the gospel, as Paul says, does not come in talk, but in power. The gospel must give us freedom in everything we do.

Some like to emphasize that we are in the world, but not of the world. But so many have a gnostic take on this: we drive a wedge between enjoyment of God and enjoyment of this world. We take a verse and beat that drum until we forget the whole counsel of God. To be evangelical is not simply to be counter-cultural, but to take every thought captive for the glory of God. We are not of the world because the gospel is a fire: the world must become of God. For God so loved the world…

Evangelism is reductionistic, because it focuses on a cerebral knowledge over the integrity of our relationships. But these things are one: if we are living for God, people will be bound to ask for the hope that is in us. If we are living for God, then we will also be quick to share that hope. If our life speaks the gospel and people challenge this lifestyle, our response should be: how can I ever leave my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ?

To be evangelical means to sanctify, to make holy, the Lord Jesus in our hearts and always be prepared to give an answer. And that requires a lot of work: that requires a focus on the cross, and the way of the cross. Evangelism focuses on the talk, but to be evangelical requires discipline and discipleship in every area of life. Evangelism is relegated to the Bible Study, but evangelical Christianity spills out into art, architecture, landscaping, film-making, farming, scholarship. Evangelical Christianity does not plaster Bible verses over everything, but it does use the Bible as a blueprint for everything else.

Evangelism is glorious, because I look like I am starting a new Reformation, changing the world. But to be evangelical means to be faithful in the little things: respecting parents, loving siblings, and doing the crappy work with a joyful heart on the job site. To be involved in evangelism looks great, but to be evangelical is to get our hands bloody and dirty, shouldering our cross with a joyful heart and a glint in the eye.

The evangelical will transform the Christian aesthetic, because the gospel begins to transform us in the little things. The Christian life is often cruciform, it takes on the shape of the cross, because it seeks to build up others. God’s beauty transforms reality by taking on reality. Jesus’ story begins in a feed trough in Bethlehem. Evangelism claims the mind, but the evangelical claims everything.

– This is something else I wrote in 2014, in my senior year at New Saint Andrews College. I made a sad attempt to imitate the writing style of my theology professor, Dr. Peter Leithart, in his book Against Christianity. This book was quite transformative for me in the way that I think about the connection between intellect and life in Christianity, and challenged me not to segregate my faith to only a corner of my life. It is a must read.

Roe v. Wade and the Cross

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Roe v. Wade comes back to an abuse of leadership; it comes back to a deep cowardice; it comes back to a failure of leadership in the church.

Roe v. Wade comes back to men who are self-serving. Cowards who are willing to hide their sin behind a pair of scissors and a white doctor’s gown. Cowards who don’t understand the meaning of love. Cowards who don’t understand that beauty is a gift. Cowards who don’t understand that self-sacrifice is the path of forgiveness.

We have blood on our hands. The blood of infants washes through the public square, because the blood of Christ has not washed our lives. Until the blood of Christ washes us clean, the public square will continue to flow with the blood of the innocent.

The blood of infants cries out to God. Am I my brother’s keeper? Until I give up images of glory and self-service, and cheerfully declare that Jesus is Lord, I am lost. Until I give up my rebellion, until I stop shaking my fist against God, moping in my apathy, I am responsible for the blood of infants.

Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. He came as a tiny baby to wash our sin away. He came to give us new life; He came to give us a new start. He is the God of new beginnings.

Until the cross dominates the public square, until the cross dominates the hearts of the leadership in our world: we are lost. Without the cross, there is no resurrection. Without the cross, we are a society that remains in the grave.

He took up His cross so that we can take up our cross. And follow Him. Where are we willing to go? I can be a teacher, a businessman, an economist, a pastor. But where am I willing to go to declare His life in this world? Where am I afraid to go? 

If I am a guy who worries about labels – the names that people will call me – there is no way I can go where He wants me to go. But I’ve been baptized. And yes, there are a horde of baptized men who don’t know what it means to be baptized.

Baptism is where abortion ends. More importantly, Christ’s blood is where abortion ends. We have died as men and women who are found in Jesus Christ, and we have risen dripping with the waters of grace and glory. Our message to the world is that there is new life. There is an end to the killing, to the streams of blood in the public square. Christ’s blood flowed from the cross: and that is where abortion ends and new life begins.

– I wrote these thoughts back in 2013-2014, in my Senior Year of College while attending New Saint Andrews in Moscow, Idaho. I see more than ever why it is so important for Christian men to take leadership on issues like these and speak up for the unborn.

Photo by Stefie Zawa on Unsplash

At the Turn of the Year: Irrelevant from 2018 to 2019

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It is time for a round-up of 2018 and a beginning thought for 2019. The blog found its inception in the closing days of 2016, when Ashley (who was then my fiancee before we married in July 2017) and myself decided that I should start a blog while going through seminary and call it Irrelevant mag as a spin off of Relevant Magazine. This was partly in good fun to take a crack at the elusive search for relevance.

Some stats. Irrelevant has had a 623 view increase from 2017, going from 1789 views in a year to 2412 views in a year. The number of visitors went from 1171 to 1716. Posts were viewed from a number of countries, including Canada, America, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, and Poland. Not too shabby.

Top three posts of 2018. 1) Why the Fuss over Tats and Debts: here; 2) How Our Culture Grooms us for Sexual Abuse: here; 3) We Should Stop Loving Evangelism: here. The third blog post made it in an edited format into the Christian Renewal, and another article made it into the Sunday Times (How is Christianity Spread?). A number of independent posts were posted in the Reformed Perspective.

I blogged on a number of issues that I was either reflecting on in a class setting, or other important cultural, political, and church issues that I thought I should study and reflect on more: Roman Catholicism, creationism, pornography, movies, revolution, reformation, pastors & wives, infant baptism, LGBTQ and Church, Ruth, Hosea, evangelism, marijuana, social justice and gospel, socialism, education. I don’t pretend to know everything about these things, but my aim is to show how Christians stand under the Word of God in seeking to understand them and in applying His Word to our lives. Of course, the main goal is to stimulate discussion, thought and personal reformation through this blog.

Im still a bit too scattered to stick to a theme, nevertheless, the general theme of 2017 was simply to be irrelevant. The general theme of 2018 was intended to be authority.

I hope to focus a little more on the theme of personal responsibility in the year of 2019. I mentioned a couple points on this matter in an article on revolution. RJ Rushdoony makes this point clear: “The hypocrite is against sin in other people. The godly man is against sin anywhere but, first and foremost, against sin in himself.” So our aim is to pursue reformation/revival in society by beginning with the household of God (I Peter 4:17). And in order to begin reformation/revival in the household of God we must pray for the work of His Spirit in transforming our own hearts first. To God alone be the glory!

Edge of a Revolution

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What do we want? We want the change
And how’re we gonna get there? Revolution
What do we want? We want the change
Standing on the edge of a revolution

I must confess that I quoted Nickelback there. Sadly, these lyrics are godless and reflect the mass confusion of our age. In spite of all the mockery of Nickelback I have heard, this song published in 2014, and has now received 14 million views on its most viewed video. In short, Christians are not part of a Nickelback Revolution. 

I have been considering the confusion in Paris, France. These riots are part of the Yellow Vests Movement that began with an online petition in 2018. Wikipedia states the motivation of this movement: “Motivated by rising fuel prices, the high cost of living and claims that a disproportionate burden of the government’s tax reforms were falling on the working and middle classes, especially in rural and peri-urban areas, protesters have called for lower fuel taxes, the reintroduction of the solidarity tax on wealth, the raising o the minimum wage, and the resignation of Emmanuel Macron as President of France.” Apparently the yellow vests began with a law imposed on French motorists for high visibility.

The Yellow Vests Movement stands in a long tradition of revolution in France. You can Google search the Paris riots of 2018, 2005, 1968. The great French Revolution began in 1789. Some Yellow Vest protestors have even set up at least one mock guillotine with the party name of the current French President. Yay for these symbols of the great sins of the revolutionary spirit.

“What do we want? We want the change.” Can we blame them? Not really. Most of us want change of some form. But the question is: what is this change and how will we go about achieving it? In his 2008 campaign for Presidency, Barack Obama used the slogan “Change We Need” as his operating motto. I have heard many people question what kind of change this is. I have heard people calling for change in churches, but for some people it is hard to articulate, partly because it takes a lot of thought and patience and study to bring about positive change, and partly because much of it is motivated by sinful discontentment and skepticism of norms and above all, the Word of God. Of course, change in conformation to the Word of God is good change…

So is all revolution evil? Francis Schaeffer once wrote: “One of the greatest injustices we do to our young people is to ask them to be conservative. Christianity is not conservative, but revolutionary.” One of the first definitions of revolution that Merriam-Webster give is: “a sudden, radical, or complete change.” The second definition focuses on a change in a political organization. The third focuses on a movement to change socio-economic policies. The fourth focuses on the shifting of paradigms. I believe that Francis Schaeffer was referring primarily to the first and fourth meanings, without necessarily excluding the 2nd and 3d meanings. My only question: why pit conservative against revolution? 

GK Chesterton responds to the self-defeating skepticism among modern revolutionaries: “In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.” In other words, the skepticism of modern revolution shoots itself in the foot. Modern men use double principles, that are in conflict and contradict each other.

Referring primarily to all meanings of revolution, RJ Rushdoony writes: “Godly men are not revolutionists: the Lord’s way is regeneration, not revolution.” Rushdoony focuses on personal responsibility: cleaning out your own house before cleaning house on a political or social or ecclesiastical level. Personal responsibility starts from above. Regeneration is the work of the Lord in the heart of a man or woman. He also writes in his book A Word in Season, Vol. 2: “The hypocrite is against sin in other people. The godly man is against sin anywhere but, first and foremost, against sin in himself.”

There is more to say about a distinction between revolution and reformation, but for the sake of the post will go with Schaeffer, followed by qualifications from Chesterton and Rushdoony. My thesis is that the Christian “revolution”, or maybe better termed “reformation”, is a revolt first against our sinful nature, and then we bring the gospel that radically transforms us into the world around us. A Christian “revolution” begins when the young man ditches all of his pornographic thought patterns and all of it’s encompassing whininess, marries a wife, loves her, protects her, works hard for her, raises children with her. A Christian “revolution” begins when a young Christian man reads his Bible as the lamp that lights his feet and opens up the path ahead of him. A Christian “revolution” begins when a young Christian man goes to Church, submits to authority, and bends the knee before Jesus Christ. It begins when he takes these principles from Scripture, and after rigorously applying them to himself first, also applies them to politics and the church and society. As for those in whom this “revolution” of the regenerating Spirit of God has already begun, we must pray that the Spirit would move ahead of us, as we bring a gospel-centered “revolution” to a dying world.

Should Independent Schools Receive Public Funding? A Response to Cardus

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In a recent op-ed in the Hamilton Spectator, there was an article, “Independent schools should be encouraged, and Ontario should fund them.” This article was a follow up on some more academic research that the think-tank Cardus has done into independent education. Here, they look at the value of independent schools and how they contribute to the culture of Ontario. In this research, Dr. Beth Green, Doug Sikkema, and David Sikkink have done some good work to promote independent and Christian education. Their research is invaluable in promoting a better understanding of the value of independent education for public life.

I do have a concern with their opinion piece in the Hamilton Spectator. Dr. Green and Doug Sikkema write:

There’s no funding in Ontario for independent schools even though they are proving to provide a very public good by equipping young men and women to trust, to know and to take care of their neighbours. They often do all of this to a higher degree than the public schools that receive every last dime of our public funds.

They have a legitimate concern for how independent schools are treated in this article: “They often do all of this to a higher degree than the public schools that receive every last dime of our public funds.” The fact is, parents do have to make sacrifices to send their children to private and independent schools, while their taxes are funneled off into public education. As Dr. Green and Doug Sikkema comment, for the value that independent schools bring to the public sphere, money could be handled differently.

But is the answer to promote public funding for independent schools? I know I am just one opinion among many, but I am sure that many would argue no. Many sacrifices have been made for independent education, for the very reason that families want to be the primary educators. It is not just fear-mongering to point to the current situation in Alberta, because after all, we see exactly what is happening in Alberta. Independent schools are no longer independent, because the government is able to leverage their control by threatening to pull public funding to schools that have learned to rely on their hand-outs. As such, I would argue that promoting public funding threatens the very existence of the independent or Christian school. If we believe in the principles of parental control, then we would not want to hand that control over to a centralized body. In fact, more controversially, I would suggest that we could encourage independent accreditation bodies to step up to the plate.

But for all these ideals, our taxes for public education are still being funnelled away from independent schools and into the public sphere. Independent schools, according to the Cardus survey, contribute heavily to the public sphere. And so we still have a problem on our hands.

For that reason I would argue that we should promote tax breaks for families who send their children to independent schools. It would be easy enough for families to put their tuition payments on their tax forms for an extra break. This would promote individual responsibility, rather than passing off responsibility to the government. This would put money back into our hands, so that we can run our schools together. I would argue that independent funding encourages independent education, and then also promotes innovation through de-centralization.

The thinkers over at Cardus are allies in this discussion over education. I appreciate their arguments, and the excitement to promote independent education, but I would propose different solutions. I would be happy to hear arguments from different angles, but I would encourage any responses to engage with the principles at stake. I think it would be excellent if more people were to interact with Cardus and the Ford-government. Above all, I would love to see people promote individual responsibility and the privatization of school funds in Ontario.

– Nathan Zekveld

A Child Kingdom: How Babies and Infants Teach us to Mature in Faith

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Youth or young people don’t hold prominent mention in the New Testament. Rather, it seems that Jesus and His apostles raised children and babies to a high level of importance in the church. On the other hand, one of the few “young people” that Jesus has an interaction with was the rich young ruler whom he rebuked for his love for wealth (Matt. 19:16-22).

I was reflecting on this after the other night when I had the opportunity to hold my newest niece who is about a week old. She trusted me when she was passed on to sleep on me. Then when she went to her dad she woke up a little bit and made small contented grunts.

I’m not denying that she has a sinful nature and will need discipline, or even trying to romanticize baby-hood. But for some reason, Jesus used such a child such as this one as an example for faith: “And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.” (Mark 10:13-16) When the chief priests and scribes were indignant at the praises of the young children (Matt. 21:14-17), Jesus was indignant with them and quotes Psalm 8:2 “Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

Like the chief priests and scribes, I find that we are quick to doubt the testimony of the little ones. We might zone in exclusively on the metaphorical value in these passages, which doesn’t make any sense, because Jesus is using real examples as the basis for the metaphors. We might put twenty 5-year-old or 6-year-old kids on stage and giggle about how they are so cute when in fact, they are singing the praises of the King of Kings. Or we might just teach them rote prayers and skip connecting the daily events of life to a knowledge of Jesus, because we think they are too young to really understand that Jesus is their Lord and Saviour. But how do we learn more about the kingdom of Christ and its advance/victory from them? Jesus actually did teach us that the two are connected. It really is a humbling thought that I have to be born again to enter the kingdom of heaven (John 3:3), that I have to be like one of these (Matt. 18:3) to enter the kingdom of heaven.

I want to push back against a potential paradigm. Who says that a young adult is more capable of knowing the glories of Jesus Christ than a little baby or a child? I’m not presuming the regeneration of little children, that is an intense theological debate for theologians to butt heads over, and which I could debate against ad nauseum. I’m not saying that sin does not have to be methodically and diligently uprooted from the heart of a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying that a child does not have to be warned of the dangers of Hell because they are refusing to walk with God and talk with God in knowing Jesus Christ. Sometimes children are just being silly and should be taught holy reverence, but that thought should not be our default position when we hear their praises, or when we think about their relationship to Jesus Christ.

In fact, we should consider how the little child is a rebuke in the midst of our own bickering and pomposity. Jesus is dealing with bickering and boasting among His disciples in Mark 9: “And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, ‘If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.’ And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.’” (Mark 9:35-37) In other words, when I am disillusioned by politicking or need to be rebuked for my own politicking, remember to invite me to a baby-baptism or to hear a child singing a Psalm when they don’t realize anyone is around.

Childlike faith is different from childish faith. We are growing in knowledge and love, because we only look in a mirror but dimly (I Cor. 13). In other words, youth ministry encourages youth to pursue maturity, but there is something paradoxical about faith. I’m sure that even elderly people would find something important to learn in the faith of the little ones. It all makes sense when you see Jesus teaching His disciples and also the manner in which He teaches His disciples. Every baptism of a baby teaches me that there is something deeper to the kingdom of heaven than the intellectual aspect of faith.

In Psalm 8, we hear a promise of the coming Messiah who would come as a baby, born in Bethlehem. He humbled Himself so that He would be exalted. In worldly terms, it truly was a laughable matter. But when the 3 Magi came from the East, they knew that what was humble was glorious. This birth of a baby stopped the mouth of the Devil when he raged against that birth with all his might. But the Devil lost. And after the victory on a cross, the Son of Man was crowned with glory and honour and all things were placed under His feet.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Queer Theology, Revoice 2019, and Some Resources

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Revoice is creating a space/home for itself in the PCA with another conference planned for 2019. Revoice is planning another conference for 2019, and many PCA voices remain silent. One of the primary voices at Revoice 2018, is a speaker/writer at the Center for Faith, Sexuality & Gender found here.

There have already been a number of responses. Pastor Steven Wedgeworth of the PCA in Surrey wrote a book review of Nate Collins’ book All But Invisible: Exploring Identity Questions at the Intersection of Faith, Gender, and Sexuality. In this post, Wedgeworth analyzes the orthodoxy of Collins’ language and observes that it is a departure from the language of Calvin and Augustine. Douglas Wilson questions why the PCA doesn’t respond to Revoice with the same concern and vehemence as they responded to Federal Vision here. To listen too Pastor Joe Boot and Ryan Eras discuss revoice with an attendee of the 2018 conference, listen to The Ezra Institute podcast here and here.

As Joe Boot points out in another podcast, many young men are drawn to the conversations over cultural engagement moreso than doctrinal orthodoxy. This doesn’t mean that doctrinal orthodoxy doesn’t matter, but the question is, how will we cast a vision for the Lordship of Christ over sexuality and questions of gender identity? I believe that orthodox Christians have the answers since many of us are grounded in exegesis and at least a certain scope of historical theology. The question for us is: will we allow Revoice to capture the imagination of the next generation of cultural thinkers?

When it comes down to it, the souls of many confused people who are drowning in the shame and guilt of their sin are drawn by the lies of the LGBTQ community. These souls are at stake. A Queer Theology is a queer theology, and we must draw those who are drawn by the fleeting presence of sin to the holiness of a life that has been delivered from the power of the Devil by our Lord and glorious Saviour Jesus Christ. To continually turn to him as they are harassed by the lies of the Devil as they walk the walk of the Christian life.

I would love to write a more thorough critique of the Revoice movement, but all the exams at seminary hinder me at this point from doing justice at this point to the debates. Jude wrote to his community eager to write about their common salvation, but then he realized that he had to change his approach to call on them to contend for the faith (Jude 3). For now, I want to express my love for these words of Jude in Jude 20-23, which not only express orthodox theology, but theology written in the inspiration of the Holy Spirit: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”

And the battle cry of the Reformation: to God alone be the glory! “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)

 

Kindness with a Backbone

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There is a big difference between a nice man and a kind man.

Here at the seminary, we have been listening to a number of students preaching sermons on Ruth and we have now gone through Ruth 1 and Ruth 2. One thing that struck me again today as I was listening to the two sermons on Ruth 2, was Boaz as a role model for Christian men. We have many role models: a dad, a brother, a pastor, a leader. Hebrews 11 talks about the men of the Old Testament as examples of faith. In fact, we are called to be imitators of men like Boaz who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6:12).

What stands out to me from the life of Boaz is his kindness as a godly man. We do not often speak of kindness when we speak of masculine characteristics, and yet, it is just another aspect of living as a godly man in a sinful world. But here we see a man whose kindness shines through and is a human picture of the kindness of God and more particularly the kindness of God in Jesus Christ.

I want to briefly lay out 5 actions of kindness from the example of Boaz. But you should also read this article on Desiring God from Douglas Wilson laying out 5 principles for kind husbands from the example of Boaz.

1. Kindness protects weakness

When Boaz sees Ruth gleaning out in the fields in Ruth 2, he commands the young men not to touch her.

2. Kindness notices the foreigner

As a Moabitess, Ruth does not come from the most glorious background. She is also a foreigner among God’s people. And yet, Boaz takes notice of her to protect.

3. Kindness promotes true value

Boaz could have made a number of insulting comments, that would have been true, but unkind. Instead he focuses on that amazing quality that God worked in Ruth when she took refuge under His wings. This was not flattery. He really honors her.

4. Kindness pursues righteousness

When Ruth lays down at his feet, he is respectful of her as a woman. A man who lacked self-control would have taken advantage of her. When he sees that he must “redeem” her, he goes out and does his task, regardless of what people might say about him.

5. Kindness points to Jesus

Boaz was a small picture of Jesus. But he couldn’t die for his bride and rise from the dead for her, whereas Jesus could. In His massive kindness to humankind, God sent His only Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. This kindness ought to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4), including repentance for sins like lack of kindness.

Boaz is a fine picture of kindness with a backbone, kindness with a goal, kindness that does not seek its own, but the best of the servant of God. In a time when there is no king in the land, his kindness and righteousness is like dew in the morning, like the sun rising after a long dark night (II Sam. 23). Much more could be said about his courage, boldness, etc. I will suffice it to say for now that the 21st century man who looks to Jesus Christ, ruling justly, with the kindness characterized by a backbone, is like the morning dew and the sunrise.