21 July 2019

“What weak creatures we are!"

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Golden Alphabet, pages 150-151, Pilgrim Publications.  


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Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word. Psalm 119:67 

Often our trials act as a thorn-hedge to keep us in the good pasture; but our prosperity is a gap through which we go astray. If any of us remember a time in which we had no trouble, we also probably recollect that then grace was low, and temptation was strong.

It may be that some believer cries, “Oh that it were with me as in those summer days before I was afflicted!” Such a sigh is most unwise, and arises from a carnal love of ease: the spiritual man who prizes growth in grace will bless God that those dangerous days are over, and that if the weather be more stormy it is also more healthy.

It is well when the mind is open and candid, as in this instance: perhaps David would never have known and confessed his own strayings if he had not smarted under the rod. Let us join in his
humble acknowledgments, for doubtless we have imitated him in his strayings.

Why is it that a little ease works in us so much disease? Can we never rest without rusting? Never be filled without waxing fat? Never rise as to one world without going down as to another?

What weak creatures we are to be unable to bear a little pleasure! What base hearts are those which turn the abundance of God’s goodness into an occasion for sin!

14 July 2019

Home spun wisdom


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from John Ploughman's Talk, pages 92-94, Pilgrim Publications.  


"Husbands should try to make home happy and holy."

It is an ill bird that fouls its own nest, a bad man who makes his home wretched. Our house ought to be a little church, with holiness to the Lord over the door, but it ought never to be a prison where there is plenty of rule and order, but little love and no pleasure. Married life is not all sugar, but grace in the heart will keep away most of the sours.

Godliness and love can make a man, like a bird in a hedge, sing among thorns and briers, and set others a singing, too. It should be the husband’s pleasure to please his wife, and the wife’s care to care for her husband. He is kind to himself who is kind to his wife. I am afraid some men live by the rule of self, and when that is the case, home happiness is a mere sham.

When husbands and wives are well yoked, how light their load becomes! It is not every couple that is a pair, and the more's the pity. In a true home all the strife is which can do the most to make the family happy. A home should be a Bethel, not a Babel.

The husband should be the houseband, binding all together like a corner stone, but not crushing everything like a mill-stone. Unkind and domineering husbands ought not to pretend to be Christians, for they act clean contrary to Christ’s commands. Yet a home must be well ordered, or it will become a Bedlam and be a scandal to the parish.

If the father drops the reins, the family-coach will soon be in the ditch. A wise mixture of love and firmness will do it; but neither harshness nor softness alone will keep home in happy order. Home is no home where the children are not in obedience, it is rather a pain than a pleasure to be in it. Happy is he who is happy in his children, and happy are the children who are happy in their father.

All fathers are not wise. Some are like Eli, and spoil their children. Not to cross our children is the way to make a cross of them. Those who never give their children the rod, must not wonder if their children become a rod to them. Solomon says, “Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight to thy soul.” I am not clear that anybody wiser than Solomon lives in our time, though some think they are.

Young colts must be broken in, or they will make wild horses. Some fathers are all fire and fury, filled with passion at the smallest fault; this is worse than the other, and makes home a little hell instead of a heaven. No wind makes the miller idle, but too much upsets the mill altogether. Men who strike in their anger generally miss their mark. When God helps us to hold the reins firmly, but not to hurt the horses’ mouths, all goes well.

When home is ruled according to God’s Word, angels might be asked to stay a night with us, and they would not find themselves out of their element.

07 July 2019

Turn away



Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Golden Alphabet, page 96, Pilgrim Publications.  


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“Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.” Psalm 119:37

Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity.  He had prayed about his heart, and one would have thought that the eyes would so surely have been influenced by the heart that there was no need to make them the objects of a special petition; but our author is resolved to make assurance doubly sure.

If the eyes do not see, perhaps the heart may not desire: at any rate, one door of temptation is closed when we do not even look at the painted bauble. Sin first entered man’s mind by the eye, and it is still a favourite gate for the incoming of Satan’s allurements; hence the need of a double watch upon that portal.

The prayer is not so much that the eyes may be shut as “turned away”; for we need to have them open, but directed to right objects. Perhaps we are now gazing upon folly, we need to have our eyes turned away; and if we are beholding heavenly things, we shall be wise to beg that our eyes may be kept away from vanity.

Why should we look on vanity?—it melts away as a vapour. Why not look upon things eternal? Sin is vanity, unjust gain is vanity, self-conceit is vanity, and, indeed, all that is not of God comes under the same head. From all this we must turn away.

It is a proof of the sense of weakness felt by the Psalmist and of his entire dependence upon God, that he even asks to have his eyes turned for him; he meant not to make himself passive, but he intended to set forth his own utter helplessness apart from the grace of God.

For fear he should forget himself and gaze with a lingering longing upon forbidden object, he entreats the Lord speedily to make him turn away his eyes, hurrying him off from so dangerous a parley with iniquity. If we are kept from looking on vanity we shall be preserved from loving iniquity.

30 June 2019

Did you set out but not hold out?


Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the MTP, volume 14, sermon number 843, "Effectual calling."  


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"Brethren, it is no child's play to be a Christian." 

Many have I known who have had a call of a certain sort, who have tried to go to Canaan and yet to stop at Haran. They would fain serve God and yet live as they used to live. They think it possible to be a Christian and yet to be a servant of the world. They attempt the huge impossibility of yoking the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the lion of the pit in the same chariot, and driving through the streets of life therewith.

Ah, sirs! the call which comes from God brings a man right out, while the call which only comes to your fleshly nature leaves us with the rest of mankind, and will leave us there to be bound up in the same bundle with sinners, and cast into the same fire. Many come out of Egypt but never arrive at Canaan, like the children of Israel who left their carcasses in the wilderness, their hearts are not sound towards the Lord.

They start fairly, but the taste of the garlic and the onions lingers in their mouth, and holds their minds by Egypt’s fleshpots still. Like the planets, they are affected by two impulses: one would draw them to heaven, but another would drive them off at a tangent to the world; and so they revolve, like the mill-horse, without making progress; continuing still nominally to fear the Lord, and yet to serve other gods practically and in their hearts.

Beware, dear friends, of the call which makes you set out, but does not lead you to hold out. Pray that this text may be true to you, “They went forth to go into the land of Canaan, and to the land of Canaan they came.” Do not be content with praying to be saved, never be satisfied until you are saved.

Do not be content with trying to believe and trying to repent; come to Christ, and both repent and believe, and give no slumber to your eyelids till you are a penitent believer. Make a full and complete work of your believing. Strive not to reach the strait gate, but to enter it. For this you must have a call from the Lord of heaven.

I can call you as I have called many of you scores of times, and you have gone a little way, and you have bidden fair to go the whole way; but when your goodness has been as a morning cloud and as the early dew, it soon has been scattered and has gone. God grant you yet to receive the call of his eternal Spirit, that you may be saved.

24 June 2019

The Complementarian Responsibility Toward Women

by Hohn Cho

fter 13 years of ministry alongside college-and-career-aged single folks, I've witnessed and counseled and comforted more than my share, perhaps, of dear people who have suffered from the tragedy of sexual and physical abuse. And in a culture that is seemingly degrading by the day, especially sexually, it should not surprise us that we are seeing more and more reports of it, even within the church, sadly. I laid out numerous examples in paragraph 12 of a previous blog post, and since that time we've seen more and more and more examples, including one from earlier this week at Matt Chandler's Village Church.[*] Interestingly, that last article appeared to validate certain concerns that I and others have raised previously about the "Ministry Safe" organization, particularly the dangers associated with possible conflicts of interest and institutional bias.

On a brighter note, also earlier this week, the SBC sexual abuse advisory group released its "Caring Well" report. Although I don't agree with everything and continue to be concerned that terms such as "abuse" and "spiritual abuse" are too vague to be helpful, the report has many helpful points, and appears to represent some positive movement. In particular, I appreciated large portions of pages 17-22, which included this sobering view from Rachael Denhollander, "Predators often target faith communities because our mishandling of sexual assault means that churches are one of the safest places for predators to flourish", as well as some reasons why that could be, explained under subheadings such as:

  • Failure to Recognize and Value God's Image in Every Person
  • Failure in Understanding the Doctrine of Sin
  • Misapplication of Confession, Repentance, and Forgiveness of Sin
  • Confusion Over Doctrine of the Church
  • Misunderstanding that Sexual Abuse is Not Only Sin—But a Crime
  • Misunderstanding of Church Autonomy
And while of course not every church in the SBC or the United States might be guilty of these theological failures, one needs only to consider the average state of biblical literacy and understanding across American evangelicalism as a whole to realize that the list is probably pretty spot-on. Indeed, having read many dozens if not hundreds of articles and stories on the topic, themes such as "I was pressured to keep this within the church" with little thought to the protection of the governing authorities in Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2, and "my pastor told me I had to forgive" with no regard for genuine repentance in 2 Corinthians 7, are so common as to be nigh-constant.

Meanwhile, all of this is happening against the backdrop of a parallel conversation in evangelicalism, specifically the issue of complementarianism vs. egalitarianism relating to women in leadership roles within the church. The secular Washington Post has summarized the recent discussion in a way that links the two issues, and speaking as a staunch complementarian, I agree with that linkage in one important way.

Complementarian Churches Ought to be the Safest Places for Women
Whenever we look at human authority structures in the Bible, we see a dynamic between the one in authority and the ones under authority. The ones under authority are to submit to the one in authority—but the one in authority should be trembling under the weight and responsibility that the Word of God places upon those in authority. Some patriarchal Christians might be quick to point out the three verses dealing with the wife's submission to her own husband in Ephesians 5:22-24, but then downplay the next six verses in Ephesians 5:25-30 dealing with the husband's sacrificial (even unto death itself) obligations to his own wife. Parents might be eager for their children to memorize Colossians 3:20, and yet conveniently forget that Colossians 3:21 commands parents not to provoke their children. Bosses might be thrilled that servants are to be subject even to unjust managers with all respect as it says in 1 Peter 2:18, but nevertheless the masters are commanded to treat their servants justly and fairly in Colossians 4:1. Governing authorities might shout "obey" to its citizens per Romans 13:1-2, but woe to those authorities if they fail to approve the good and avenge God's wrath upon the wrongdoers per Romans 13:3-4.

And when it comes to the church, the language is arguably the strongest of all. Jesus in Matthew 20:25-28 clearly told the disciples that followers of Christ must not lord it over others the way the rulers of the Gentiles did, but rather that they must be servants, and the one desiring to be first among them must be a slave, following in the example of Jesus Himself, who came not to be served, but to serve. This archetypical example of servant leadership is a radical departure from both the authoritarian leadership styles of the Romans, as well as most concepts of leadership today, whether in the United States generally or even in much of the evangelical church, sadly.

One needs only to consider the example of certain high-profile Christian leaders—and in many cases, their sad falls—to see this borne out time and time again. Whether it's the heavy-handed leadership of Mark Driscoll, who charmingly referred to wives as homes for penises, or Doug Phillips, who was disgraced and then sued for the sadly all-too-banal story of grooming and seducing his family's nanny, or Paige Patterson, who in a sermon approved of a 16-year-old girl being referred to as "built" and in another incident told his head of security that he wanted to meet with a rape victim alone so that he could "break her down" (presumably an aggressive cross-examination of her testimony), or James MacDonald, who set up photos of some of his fellow elders' wives to use as target practice, with the ones most troublesome to him apparently designated for higher point values. Based on many reports, in all of these men's organizations, they appeared to demonstrate all of the authority and none of the servanthood—and it showed in their attitudes toward women.


The Scriptures on the nature of leadership in the church don't end there, of course. Elders are to rule well over the local church, as it says in 1 Timothy 5:17, and their very name is essentially interchangeable with the word overseer. And from Hebrews 13:17, we see that congregants are indeed to obey and submit to their elders. But the nature of the rule and oversight that congregants are to follow is the very servant leadership described by Jesus in Matthew 20:25-28 and Mark 10:42-45, and the weight of that is further established by the very same Hebrews 13:17 that talks about submission to the elders—because those elders are going to give an account before God Himself for how they kept watch over the souls God placed under the elders' care.

Reinforcing this point, 1 Peter 5:1-4 commands elders to shepherd the flock of God, willingly and not under compulsion or for shameful gain, and explicitly not domineering but as an example, once again bringing to mind Jesus and the servant leader. Indeed, as we search through Scripture for what elders are to do, it sounds like a whole lot of service and precisely the opposite of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Elders are to preach and teach and even rebuke those who contradict sound doctrine, a necessary task, but one that is often arduous and hardly enjoyable, except perhaps for the pugnacious and quarrelsome (who ought to be disqualified from eldership in any event). Elders are to pray, and tend to the sick, and care for the church of God, and shepherd the flock for whom they are accountable before the Lord.

Speaking from my own experience as a lay elder, it is a blessed and joyful task, and a deeply fulfilling one, but it is also an enormous amount of work, and I'm truly grateful for treasure laid up in Heaven, because it certainly isn't a source of material profit. On some levels, I believe complementarian leadership in the church would be quite a bit less controversial if the focus were more on the endurance and perseverance needed for the often inconspicuous and sometimes thankless tasks of shepherding and caring for the flock and the least of these, and not at all on the (mostly) American phenomenon of the glamorous and successful "celebrity" Christian preacher.

Opening Your Mouth for the Mute
And as we do shepherd and care for the flock and the least of these, complementarians should remember that yes, 1 Corinthians 14:34 says what it says, and yes, 1 Timothy 2:12 means what it means, and although these might be controversial topics today, the Scriptural words and concepts are not hard to understand—even if they are hard for some to bear. But as we consider the weighty Scriptural call for men to lead the church, we must also remember what that means with respect to the women. I have previously questioned the helpfulness of frequent attempts to apply Proverbs 31:8-9 to the larger "social justice" debate in the US, especially in light of the fact that in our age of social media, just about anyone can have a voice, and in our society of casual wealth that would be unimaginable in the Ancient Near East, just about no one is truly destitute. One obvious example of where Proverbs 31:8-9 would indeed apply are the untold millions of murdered unborn, who truly lack a voice (although they have a heartbeat) and are truly destitute (not only of material wealth, but also of basic human rights).

But another example would be right here, where women as a matter of biblical structure are necessarily absent from the plurality of elders, and indeed, they are explicitly called to be silent. In these cases, should we not be vigilant to apply Proverbs 31:8-9, and speak up for their rights and defend their interests? This could of course take many different forms, but in a (largely) peaceful and wealthy society where neither murder nor death are lurking around every corner, should we not be especially watchful and protective, then, in the area of physical and sexual abuse, which sadly runs rampant throughout our society?

In a previous article, I mentioned how in 2016, actually reported cases of rapes and sexual assaults numbered nearly 300,000, while domestic violence incidents were over 1,000,000. Underlying those horrifying statistics is the sad reality that only a fraction of each type of crime is reported, and that when one considers the terrible human cost of this suffering as it ripples outward, sometimes compounded down through the third and fourth generation, the direct and indirect impacts of these grievous and sinful crimes are far, far worse than the sterile numbers indicate. So often, Christian men say they would defend Christian women from any physical threat, even with their own lives. I honestly trust this is usually a genuine sentiment, and not mere lip service. And so here is an area that presents a perfect opportunity to live this out.

Are you, complementarian man, approachable if someone that you care about has a secret to disclose that she deems to be sensitive, shameful, or even sinful? And what will your response be if she recounts an event of physical or sexual abuse? Remember, complementarian pastor, in our dealings with women, 1 Timothy 5:2 would have us treat older women as mothers and younger women as sisters. So if your own biological mother or sister came to you with such a recounting, what would your first reaction be? I know mine would likely be to strive to mortify my immediate outrage and thirst for vengeance, before offering as much comfort and tangible assistance as I could, including reporting the matter to the governing authorities (which might even be a legal requirement, depending on your jurisdiction) and helping her to seek justice, regardless of who the alleged perpetrator was.

Speaking as a lawyer, this does not mean we throw out the idea of due process, of course, nor does it necessarily even mean #BelieveAllWomen in the ideological or political sense of that hashtag. What I'm talking about is more along the lines of bearing your fellow Christian's burden, mourning with those who mourn, and remembering that pastors and elders are neither the governing authorities with respect to crimes, nor the investigating detective, nor the cross-examining lawyer on the case. Proverbs 18:13, 17 would indeed tell us that the accused has his own story to tell, and he should absolutely have the opportunity to tell it. It may be, however, that you, complementarian leader, will not be the one to hear or adjudicate that story.

As men, we are sometimes inclined to put ourselves in the shoes of the accused and sympathize with him, even as specific false accusations from the past spring to our mind in a type of confirmation bias. But the reality is that the most credible studies have shown a range of only 2-10% of rape accusations being demonstrated later to be false. If you think without any supporting evidence that those statistics are fake news, well, go ahead and triple that range, sheerly for the sake of argument, and the reality would still be that the great majority of rape accusations are at least somewhat plausible.

It grieves me, then, when I hear of cases where the churchman immediately springs to protect the accused rather than the accuser, or pushes cheap grace upon the tangibly wronged, or even worse, tries to cover the crime up via pressure for silence—especially when the accused is a man of influence within the church. But simply because a man is successful or respected in the community, that does not mean he is incapable of horrific sins or crimes. Deep down, I think many of us really do know that, because whenever fathers have daughters, we're typically going to warn them against the ulterior or even dark motives of guys in general, since back when we were single, quite a few of us were those guys.

Distinguishing Ourselves from the World
I hope all of this has been relatively straightforward, because at the risk of sounding naïve, I really don't think it should be especially controversial to us as Bible-believing Christians. I also believe that a proper complementarianism that cherishes and treasures and looks out for the rights and interests of women can be an amazing way to distinguish ourselves from the secular world. Part of this will be in the area of attitude. It would be perverse, after all, for a man's heart attitude toward the biblical structure of complementarianism to be, "Yeah, we get to keep those wimminfolk down!" And may I humbly submit that in light of our fallen, sinful nature and the inevitable stumbling blocks relating to pride for those in leadership, perhaps we could even use a bit less, "Now let's go forth boldly as MEN and go do a bunch of manlike leader-man things," and a bit more time in earnest on-our-knees prayer for the weight of this responsibility and what it might truly mean for those under our spiritual care.

By the way, I am indeed aware that we live in a gender-confused society, and yes, I still stand by what I just said, because first, it should not require a macho caricature of biblical masculinity to show a contrast with the world, and second, no matter what the world might look like, biblically we are all still called to humility and servanthood and sacrifice all through Scripture (Philippians 2:3-4 being one of the most obvious and clear, and one of my absolute favorites). In the face of a Roman Empire full of sexual immorality and confusion, Christian men led, and the Gospel spread, by standing for the truth via a willingness to suffer and even die under persecution, and not by becoming political culture warriors. And on that note, I'd much rather see one tangible and sacrificial act of biblical manhood, than a hundred tweets full of empty words or even worse, chest-pounding bravado about it.

In the secular world, we see an increasingly pornified culture where women are objectified and commodified and degraded and pressured to indulge in every form of perversion, existing right alongside fourth-wave feminism and the #MeToo movement and all of their supposed attempts to empower women and eliminate gender differences. The contradictions and confusion inherent in these worldviews that lack an ultimate purpose like pursuing Jesus Christ and an objective anchor like the Word of God are patently obvious, especially when we see so much subjectivity that half of the feminists seem to glorify porn while the other half seem to reject it.

Meanwhile, as I've said in prior comments, everywhere we look, women seem to lose out whenever they're stacked against any other identity or interest group, such as ethnicity, national origin and immigration, Islam, or more recently transgenderism. Even in an area that would seem like a slam-dunk such as female genital mutilation, a barbaric and cruel practice with zero medical and health benefits, this society simply is not standing up for women like it could and should.

It must not be this way in Christianity. What an opportunity we have to demonstrate a church culture that cherishes, values, and protects women, because the Bible commands us to cherish, value, and protect women. That is my prayer for the church universal, and that is how I would strive to serve any church where I might have the immense and weighty privilege to help as a servant leader, including my own beloved local church. And that is my prayer for your church as well, dear reader.

Hohn's signature


[*] In 2015, Chandler and his elders at the Village Church also received criticism for their treatment of another woman, Karen Hinkley, a former missionary whose then-husband had admitted to possession of child pornography as part of a long-standing indulgence in pedophilic desires. The Village Church's church discipline of Hinkley and subsequent apology to her have been widely reported, including here (with paywall) and here (without paywall, although from a secular publisher that has been hostile previously to biblical Christianity, so read with discernment).

23 June 2019

Spurgeon on women preaching


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpts are from the original sources cited therewith.  


When Boswell told Johnson one day that he had heard a woman preach that morning at a Quaker's meeting, Johnson replied, "Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog's walking on its hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all." We will add that our surprise is all the greater when women of piety mount the pulpit, for they are acting in plain defiance of the command of the Holy Spirit, written by the pen of the Apostle Paul.
Feathers for Arrows, page 260, Pilgrim Publications.



Peter’s wife’s mother did not get out of bed and go down the street and deliver an address to an assembled multitude. Women are best when they are quiet. I share the apostle Paul’s feelings when he bade women be silent in the assembly.

Yet there is work for holy women, and we read of Peter’s wife’s mother that she arose and ministered to Christ. She did what she could and what she should. She arose and ministered to him. Some people can do nothing that they are allowed to do, but waste their energies in lamenting that they are not called on to do other people’s work.

Blessed are they who do what they should do. It is better to be a good housewife, or nurse, or domestic servant, than to be a powerless preacher or a graceless talker. She did not arise and prepare a lecture, nor preach a sermon, but she arose and prepared a supper, and that was what she was fitted to do. Was she not a housewife? As a housewife let her serve the Lord.

I do not say that if you were converted a week ago you are at once to preach. No: but you are to minister to the Lord in the way for which you are best qualified, and that may happen to be by a living testimony to his grace in your daily calling.

We greatly err when we dream that only a preacher can minister to the Lord—for Jesus has work of all sorts for all sorts of followers. Paul speaks of women who helped him much, and, assuredly, as there is no idle angel there ought to be no idle Christian. We are not saved for our own sakes, but that we may be of service to the Lord and to his people; let us not miss our calling.
MTP, volume 31, sermon number 1,836, "First healing, and then service."



In like manner, you Christian people who cannot talk,—the women especially,—I mean that you cannot preach, you are not allowed to preach,—I want you to shine. Some people seem to think that there is no shining without talking, whereas the very best shining is that of Christian women, who, if they have little to say, have a great deal to do.

They make the house so bright with heavenly grace, and decorate it so sweetly with the flowers of their cheerful piety, that those round about them are won to Christ by them. Therefore, shine, dear brothers and sisters, by your gracious godliness, for so you will bring glory to God.
MTP, volume 45, sermon number 2,617, "Shining Christians."

16 June 2019

Tall talk


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from John Ploughman's Talk, pages 155-156, Pilgrim Publications.  

"I've known men who opened their mouths like barn doors in boasting what they would do if they were in someone else's shoes."

We must try to state the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we begin calling eleven inches a foot, we shall go on till we call one inch four-and-twenty. If we call a heifer a cow, we may one day call a dormouse a bullock. Once go in for exaggeration, and you may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb; you have left the road of truth, and there is no telling where the crooked lane may lead you to.

He who tells little lies will soon think nothing of great ones, for the principle is the same. Where there is a mouse-hole, there will soon be a rat-hole; and if the kitten comes, the cat will follow. It seldom rains but it pours; a little untruth leads on to a perfect shower of lying.

Self-praise is no recommendation. A man’s praise smells sweet when it comes out of other men’s mouths, but in his own it stinks. Grow your own cherries, but don’t sing your own praises. Boasters are never worth a button with the shank off. Long tongue, short hand. Great talkers, little doers. Dogs that bark much run away when it is time to bite. The leanest pig squeaks most. It is not the hen which cackles most, that lays most eggs.

Saying and doing are two different things. It is the barren cow that bellows. There may be great noise of threshing where there is no wheat. Great boast, little roast. Much froth, little beer. Drums sound loud because there is nothing in them. Good men know themselves too well to chant their own praises. Barges without cargoes float high on the canal; but the fuller they are, the lower they sink. Good cheese sells itself without puffery. Good wine needs no bush; and when men are really excellent, people find it out without telling.

Bounce is the sign of folly. Loud braying reveals an ass. If a man is ignorant and holds his tongue, no one will despise him; but if he rattles on with an empty pate, and a tongue that brags like forty, he will write out his own name in capital letters, and they will be these—F, O, O, L.

As "by the ears the ass is  known"— 
A truth as sure as parsons preach, 
"The man," as proverbs long have shown, 
"Is seen most plainly through his speech."

09 June 2019

The way of acceptance

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon

The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the MTP, volume 35, sermon number 2,100, "Faith essential to pleasing God."  

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"To attempt a difficulty may be laudable, but to rush upon an impossibility is madness."

The way of acceptance described in Scripture is, first, the man is accepted, and then what that man does is accepted. It is written: “And he shall purify the sons of Levi, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.”

First, God is pleased with the person, and then with the gift, or the work. The unaccepted person offers of necessity an unacceptable sacrifice. If a man be your enemy, you will not value a present which he sends you. If you know that he has no confidence in you, but counts you a liar, his praises are lost upon you; they are empty, deceptive things which cannot possibly please you.

O my hearers, in your natural state you are so sinful that God cannot look upon you with complacency! Concerning our race it is written: “It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” Concerning many God has said, “My soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.” Is this true of us?

“Ye must be born again,” or ye cannot be pleasing to the Lord. Ye must believe in Jesus; for only to as many as receive him does he give power to become the sons of God. When we believe in the Lord Jesus, the Lord God accepts us for his Beloved’s sake, and in him we are made kings and priests, and permitted to bring an offering which pleases God. As the man is, such is his work.

The stream is of the nature of the spring from which it flows. He who is a rebel, outlawed and proclaimed, cannot gratify his prince by any fashion of service; he must first submit himself to the law. All the actions of rebels are acts done in rebellion. We must first be reconciled to God, or it is a mockery to bring an offering to his altar.

Reconciliation can only be effected through the death of the Lord Jesus, and if we have no faith in that way of reconciliation we cannot please God. Faith in Christ makes a total change in our position
towards God—we who were enemies are reconciled; and from this comes towards God a distinct change in the nature of all our actions: imperfect though they be, they spring from a loyal heart, and they are pleasing to God.

02 June 2019

The history of fools


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the MTP, volume 45, sermon number 2,604, "Open praise and public confession."  

"Those gentlemen who want to mend the Bible, really need mending themselves: that is where the mischief lies in most cases." 

They say that we ought to alter Scripture because scientists have found out something or other. Yes, I know all about that kind of talk; scientists found out many things years ago, and within ten years somebody else rose up, and found out that they were all wrong.

The history of so-called philosophy is the history of fools; and the philosophers of this day are no more right than those of fifty years ago.

The men are coming to the front who will confute the positive assertions of the present; and, when they have made their own assertions, and made their bow, another set of wise men will be coming after them to confound them.

They are all as the grass that withereth, but “the Word of the Lord endureth for ever.” It has been tried in the furnace of earth, purified seven times; and here it remains, the pure refined metal still, and in
this will we glory, and not be ashamed.

26 May 2019

A very loving Comforter


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Words of Cheer, pages 36-37, Pilgrim Publications. 

"God the Holy Ghost is a very loving Comforter."

 I am in distress, and want consolation. Some passer-by hears of my sorrow, and he steps within, sits down and essays to cheer me; he speaks soothing words; but he loves me not, he is a stranger, he knows me not at all, he has only come in to try his skill; and what is the consequence? His words run o’er me like oil upon a slab of marble—they are like the pattering rain upon the rock; they do not break my grief; it stands unmoved as adamant, because he has no love for me.

But let some one who loves me dearly as his own life come and plead with me, then truly his words are music; they taste like honey; he knows the password of the doors of my heart, and my ear is attentive to every word; I catch the intonation of each syllable as it falls, for it is like the harmony of the harps of heaven.

Oh, there is a voice in love, it speaks a language which is its own, it is an idiom and an accent which none can mimic; wisdom cannot imitate it; oratory cannot attain unto it; it is love alone which can reach the mourning heart; love is the only handkerchief which can wipe the mourner’s tears away.

And is not the Holy Ghost a loving Comforter? Dost thou know, O saint, how much the Holy Spirit loves thee? Canst thou measure the love of the Spirit? Dost thou know how great is the affection of His soul towards thee? Go, measure heaven with thy span; go, weigh the mountains in the scales; go, take the ocean’s water, and tell each drop; go, count the sand upon the sea’s wide shore; and when thou hast accomplished this, thou canst tell how much He loveth thee.

He has loved thee long; He has loved thee well; He loved thee ever; and He still shall love thee. Surely He is the person to comfort thee, because He loves. Admit Him, then, to your heart, O Christian that He may comfort you in your distress.

19 May 2019

“...it is so just because it is there"





Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The MTP, volume 49, sermon number 2,862, "The way of wisdom." 


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"I am not responsible for what is in the Book, I am only responsible for telling out what I find there, as it is taught to me by the Holy Spirit."

Let us never arraign God before our bar. It is a horrible thing for any man ever to say, “Well, if God acts like that, I do not see the justice of it.” How dare you even hint that the Judge of all the earth is not just?

He hath said, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion;” so do not you say, “It cannot be so.” Is it so written in God’s Word? Then it is so just because it is there. If God has said anything, it is not right for you to ask for an explantion of his reason for saying it, or to summon him to your judgment-seat.

What impertinence is this! He must always do right; he cannot do wrong. Some have staggered over the doctrine of eternal punishment, because they could not see how that could be consistent with God’s goodness. I have only one question to ask concerning that or any other doctrine,—Does God reveal it in the Scriptures? Then, I believe it, and leave to him the vindication of his own consistency.

I am sure that he will not inflict a pain upon any creature which that creature does not deserve, that he will never cause any sorrow or misery which is not absolutely necessary, and that he will glorify himself by doing the right, the loving, the kind thing, in the end.

If we do not see it to be so, it will be none the less so because we are blind. The finger on the lip is the right attitude for us in the presence of things revealed by God, or wrought by God, as David said, “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth because thou didst it.”

If thou didst it, O Lord, there is no question about the rightness of it, for thou art supreme, and thou oughtest to be supreme! There is none like thee for goodness, for love, for wisdom. Thy will ought to be—so let it be—done on earth, as it is heaven, let it be done everywhere, for what thou doest is ever best.

12 May 2019

Prophet, Priest and King

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon


The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The MTP, volume 33, sermon number 1,978, "Trust." 
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"A saving trust leads us to accept Christ in all his offices." 

He is to us not only Priest to put away our sin, but Prophet to remove our ignorance, and King to subdue our rebellions.

If as Priest he purges the conscience, as Prophet he must direct the intellect, and as King he must rule the life. We must yield our will to Christ’s will, that henceforth every thought may be brought into captivity to his holy sway.

There is no whole-hearted trust in Christ unless Christ is taken as a whole. You cannot have half a Christ and be saved, for half Christ is no Christ.

You must take him as he is revealed in Scripture, Jesus Christ the Son of God, the Saviour of men, very God of very God, the faithful and true Witness, your Guide, your Lord, your Husband, your everything.

Do you trust him so? If not, you have not trusted him at all. This is the trust which brings salvation with it—an entire reliance upon an entire Saviour so far as you know him.

06 May 2019

How to Build a Whitewashed Tomb

by Colin Eakin



Matt. 23:27: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness."

In 1942, Englishman C.S. Lewis published a book entitled The Screwtape Letters. In it, a senior devil named Screwtape details to his nephew and underling Wormwood methods for waylaying and ultimately damning his intended victim. The book is a clever and revealing look at how the actual devil, Satan, goes about perpetrating his odious work in the world. One overarching theme behind Screwtape's instruction to Wormwood is how the subtle provocation away from truth is usually more helpful in bringing souls to hell than blatant exposures to deplorable sins. Writes Screwtape to his young apprentice, "Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts . . . ."

One glance across the landscape of professing Christianity since the book's publication shows how Satan has capitalized mightily on Screwtape's insight, using incremental apostasy to poison the well of doctrinal truth and undermine the Church's message. Incremental nudges away from biblical fidelity are the hallmark of the false church, and the chief exponents Satan has employed for this task have been the contemporary equivalents of the "scribes and Pharisees" of Jesus' day, those tasked with overseeing Scriptural instruction. Christ's no-holds-barred denunciation of such false teachers was designed to expose these counterfeit religious leaders for who they really are—walking sepulchers housing spiritual cadavers.



Why "whitewashed"? Because Jesus knew what His Spirit would later inspire the Apostle Paul to write (2 Cor. 11:13-15): "For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." The "wolf in sheep's clothing" (cf. Matt. 7:13-14; Acts 20:28) has been Satan's chief ploy for deceiving the unsuspecting since the early days of the Church. Christ's diatribe in Matt. 23:27 is meant to warn of the spiritual leader housed in a sincere, winsome, wholesome-appearing, religiously adorned exterior, all the while concealing a spiritual corpse. And what was true then holds true today: nothing infuriates God more than a theologian or spiritual teacher whose noxious instruction is hidden by a veneer of respectability and charm, with just enough feints towards orthodoxy to beguile the naive. Moreover, knowing that students ultimately become like their masters (cf. Luke 6:40), Christ wanted all to know what was at stake given continued exposure to such impostors and their fetid deceit.

But despite the myriad of Scriptural warnings to be on guard against such impostors, the sad reality is that the Church has never been so awash in falsehood as it is today. It is as if Satan has hit upon the "whitewashed tomb" as the principal means for furthering his deception and is doubling down on their production. So if a new edition of The Screwtape Letters were to be published today, we might imagine it would contain an addendum entitled, "How to Build a Whitewashed Tomb." If artifice and apostasy is to continue infiltrating the Church, then Wormwood must be updated on the furtherance of this chief armament of Satan. With this in mind, let us imagine how Screwtape might write to Wormwood today:

My Dear Wormwood,

It being some time since our last correspondence, with developments both favorable and troubling, I feel compelled to write and bring you up to date on the latest directives from our Ruler. You will recall in prior posts I emphasized to you the value of incremental apostasy in undermining our Enemy's work. And no factor over the last two millennia has been more integral to this stratagem than the ongoing reproduction of (to use our Enemy's censorious term) "whitewashed tombs." As you know, these clandestine operatives appear to be working for Him, when in reality they are working for us.

That such a strategy has succeeded through the years, and even works today, is quite remarkable. For when our Enemy walked the earth, He plainly exposed our agents then for what they are—"whitewashed tombs"—and warned in great detail how they were to be identified (Matt. 7:13-14; 23:1-36; John 10:7-13). Not only that, His inspired scribes revealed us—the instigators and motivators behind these agents—in our true form, as "servants of righteousness" (2 Cor. 11:13-15). Such disclosures might have spelled disaster, as the impact of our counterfeit work lies in its spiritual camouflage, and here the Holy One of Israel was drawing back the curtain for all to see. Fortunately, time, vanity and spiritual lethargy have combined to dull the discernment of mankind to His warnings, to a degree that never before have our agents been so ubiquitous, and are finding greener pastures with every passing decade.
But we cannot become complacent. Remember how five centuries ago, the tide turned against us most dramatically and severely, and many souls were lost to the Enemy forever. It is uncertain we will ever fully recover from this calamity, as even now vestiges of that so-called "Reformation" continue to befuddle and undermine our labors. Therefore, you must understand our Ruler's prioritization of false teaching as our foremost task at hand, which in turn is predicated upon the replication of our prized "whitewashed tombs," that the unsuspecting might be permanently waylaid from the Truth. So without further ado, I pass along to you our Ruler's formula for how to build a "whitewashed tomb." If you can deceive the would-be teacher of the Word with these three simple measures, you will ensure their continued reproduction for the foreseeable future:

  1. The "whitewashed tomb" will downplay the biblical description of spiritual death.

    The first task in creating a whitewashed tomb is to obscure the biblical description of all mankind as being spiritually dead. As you know, the Enemy's Word is not ambiguous in declaring this as the true spiritual condition of all people prior to conversion. Fortunately, the world finds this doctrine especially scandalous, so we must naturally exploit their sense of insult. You will find your "tombs" will readily stray from teaching truth when it is offensive to their listeners. They will be loath to inform them that all humans are born into this world as spiritually deceased "children of wrath" (Eph. 2:1-3), that they live under the contemporaneous judgment of God (John 3:18; 36), and that—apart from salvation via repentance and faith—they are headed to eternal torment in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46). Let your would-be instructor teach that humans are broken, hurt, needful, insufficient, helpless, or any other distressed condition, but never spiritually deceased. If your tomb or his audience were to learn this truth of their condition (Ps. 51:5; Mt. 8:21-22; Luke 15:24; Eph. 2:1, 5), they would then be far likelier to yearn for the new life the Enemy offers through repentance and faith. Biblical terms and phrases we have sought to quash—such as "born again"—might reemerge and wreak havoc with our plans.

    Critical to this, of course, is that our Enemy's Word must remain unopened, or if opened, then ignored. Have your minions quote mystics and spiritual sages in lieu of the Truth. And when the Word must be quoted (as you will find at times is necessary to satisfy some), the text must serve the doctrinal presuppositions of our teachers, and not vice-versa. Your tombs should offer competing understandings of straightforward but culturally unpopular passages, and disdain polemical and apologetic use of the Word as illegitimate "proof-texting." Whenever possible, have your tombs offer solace to those who find it hard to spend time in the Word, as though such activity is incidental for the "Jesus-follower" (a nice substitute for "Christian"). Favor small groups simply gathering to share their lives and offer each other support over any formal "Bible study." Above all, our subjects must remain ignorant of the Enemy's clear tactic, which He openly declared in John 5:25: "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." We must do all we can to thwart such a development, and the key is to mislead the masses away our Enemy's Word and its unambiguous truth—that all humanity is spiritually dead until some hear His voice and become alive.

  2. The "whitewashed tomb" will invert the biblical order of spiritual regeneration
    Unfortunately, my dear Nephew, it is inevitable that the sinner's need for rebirth by our Enemy will surface. Sooner or later, the guilt and shame of sin will weigh on some, and they will long for spiritual regeneration which only our Enemy can provide. When that happens, it is imperative for you to invert the order of spiritual transformation. What do I mean? Simply this: humans must be encouraged to believe what they do for God makes them acceptable before God. They must be taught that one's performance for God determines their position with God, that they can belong to Him before they believe in Him.

    This is, of course, baldly refuted throughout Scripture. You know, dear Wormwood, that the prayers and other acts of service done by those who have not yet been redeemed by our Enemy through repentance and faith are an abomination to Him (Prov. 15:8; 28:9; Isa. 64:6). In fact, this is nothing other than legalism, that old tried and true tactic perfected by the Pharisees, yet still a compelling vice all these years later. This falsehood remains enticing because sinners warm to the idea that they might offer works to be approved by our Enemy, and recoil at being told they can do nothing to merit His acceptance. The endurance and flourishing of legalism explains how much of the professing Church today is bursting with spiritual activity and service rendered to our Enemy with absolutely no clue how to be truly reconciled to Him (2 Cor. 5:18-21).

    You might think the biblical evidence opposing this legalistic heresy is too overwhelming for our ploy to work, but think again. Just last month, a well-known megachurch pastor and popular author bemoaned to his congregation that, ". . . people are drawn to Buddhism rather than Christianity because they understand Buddhism to be a religion of practice, but Christianity to be a religion of beliefs. I don't know who defined Christianity that way, but it was not Jesus." (As you know, dear Wormwood, it certainly was. The Gospel of John is a veritable treasure trove of quotes by our Enemy refuting this teacher's statement and proving that salvation comes not from doing, but from believing; this is, again, why we must do everything possible to distract people from the Word). As you know, the world of religions that we have spawned and even now sustain are all based upon the pretense that human effort can win the Almighty's approval. As long as sinners can be deceived away from the truth that right belief must precede right practice, we will ensure their spiritual confusion and, ultimately, their damnation.

  3. The "whitewashed tomb" will ignore the biblical gospel of spiritual substitution
    Once your teacher ignores or, better yet, denies spiritual death as the default condition of all, then inverts the biblical order of spiritual regeneration by placing right practice ahead of right belief, your task is almost complete. The final nail in your whitewashed coffin is this: corruption of the true gospel through denial of penal substitutionary atonement. As you know, the Enemy has clearly stated that salvation comes from believing the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 15:2-3), and that the gospel basics—involving the death and resurrection of His Son—must be accepted according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:2-4). This means that those who would be saved through repentance and belief in the gospel (Mark 1:15) must understand that gospel as the Bible has described it: a gospel borne out of sacrifice by One Man to save the many through His satisfaction of His Father's just wrath against sin (Isa. 53:4-12; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). By bearing the punishment of those who would ever believe, the Son has forever redeemed them from the penalty their sin deserved.

    Because faith in this reality is what permanently severs our link with the vulnerable soul, we must obscure with full exertion the truth spelled out above. Jesus' death must be presented in nebulous terms, as the ultimate example of self-sacrifice, or as some vague and complicated form of victory over evil. Once sinners realize every sin must be punished by death, either through their own suffering for eternity or by Christ upon the cross, then the floodgates to salvation will be plain for all to see and our cause will be doomed. Fortunately, our Ruler's rebranding of the gospel around "social justice" has been a most propitious development, as it reverses the sinner's orientation from abject petitioner for mercy from God into entitled protester for recompense from man. A large swath of professing believers is now so centered on earthly indemnification that they have complete ignorance of, and (even better) disinterest in, spiritual rebirth. May such a damning perspective checkmate indefinitely the Enemy's desire to bring sons and daughters to His glory (cf. Heb. 2:10).
There you have it, dear Nephew. Use this letter to redouble your efforts in perpetuating falsehood via the development of respectable crypts. Through denial of the sinner's default condition as spiritually dead, reversal of the manner of spiritual regeneration, and repudiation of the need for spiritual substitution, you will become a master craftsman in your bid to transform today's spiritual teachers in "whitewashed tombs."

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Dr. Colin L. Eakin
PyroManiac

Dr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopædic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church's Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God's Glorious Story.

04 May 2019

Pastor: Stick to Praying and Preaching

Your weekly dose of Spurgeon



The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from The Spurgeon Archive. This week's selection is from sermon 2189, "A Call to Prayer and Testimony," originally preached in February 1891, about a year before Spurgeon went to heaven.

t. Augustine desired to be always found aut precantem, aut predicantem; that is, either praying or preaching; either speaking to God for men in prayer, or speaking for God to men in his ministry. Ministers of Christ especially should give themselves, not to the serving of tables, but to the ministry of the word and to prayer. For us to give ourselves to getting up entertainments, to become competitors with theatres and music-halls, is a great degradation of our holy office. If I heard of a minister becoming a chimney-sweep to earn his living, I would honour him in both his callings; but for God's watchmen to become the world's showmen is a miserable business. God keep all of us who are ministers of Christ from entangling ourselves with the things of this life! The proverb says, "Stick to your last, cobbler"; and I would say—Stick to your pulpit, minister! Keep to your one work, and you will find quite enough for all the strength you have, and even more.

C. H. Spurgeon

03 May 2019

The Legalistic Pragmatism of Certain Social Justicians

by Hohn Cho



s someone who is not on Twitter but keeps abreast of it, let me point out that it has been a pretty crazy week for the Christian social justicians. For this blogpost, we'll be discussing a particular tirade by one Bradly Mason. Now, as someone who does his best to avoid responding to mere "someone is WRONG on the Internet" situations, since Mason appears to have relatively limited influence—just like me, I'd add, before anyone falsely accuses me of looking down on him—normally I'd be inclined to just let it pass. But given that portions of and references to his tweetstorm have been enthusiastically liked or retweeted with approval by many more prominent figures, including Thabiti Anyabwile, Anthony Bradley, Jemar Tisby, and Ekemini Uwan, and as of this writing has almost 200 retweets and over 1,300 likes, I think it's fair to say that he has struck a nerve.

That fact alone exposes the Proverbs 29:11 emotionalism and James 1:20 unrighteous anger which all too often drive so many of the social justicians' arguments, sadly. Certainly they don't appear to be driven by biblical or logical considerations, given that Mason cites zero Scripture despite 23 tweets, and quickly retreats from a slanderous bailey (naming many honorable men and groups[*] in response to the specific question, "Who is defending white supremacy using the Gospel?") to a still-indefensible motte (merely relegating those men and groups to a place of "making conservative evangelicalism a pretty safe place to harbor [white supremacist] views" and claiming they "defend White Supremacy") within the very same tweetstorm, incredibly. And during the course of his unsupported and unsupportable accusations (because none of the people or groups he names are "defending white supremacy" as they, in fact, overtly oppose white supremacy, and have said as much, and thus the claim is false), he also manages to airily dismiss many legitimate concerns raised by faithful saints, and set up and knock down over a dozen straw men, all while engaging in some of the most egregiously uncharitable heart-reading that I've seen in a long time.

Rather than get into a point-by-point rebuttal, I'm opting to highlight two overarching themes that I see in many social justicians' arguments. First, their claims and calls to action are often legalistic in nature, specifically the type of pharisaic legalism that elevates the heavy burden of man-made rules and lays them on people's shoulders per Matthew 23:4.

I find this to be an ironic phenomenon, given that social justicians often accuse their critics of being fundamentalists characterized by legalism, among other things, but the reality is that far too often, they themselves are the ones attempting to bootstrap generalized scriptural principles which do not speak to the time, place, or manner of how they ought to be applied, into extremely specific extra-biblical requirements. One example would be Anyabwile writing in the Washington Post last year about evangelicals' supposed "complicit silence" regarding President Trump (whom I did not support in 2016, by the way, but he is in fact the President, and thus for American Christians, Titus 3:1-2 applies), a terribly-reasoned piece which I previously critiqued here.

In that light, let's consider Mason's "motte" argument, specifically that the brothers and groups he accused are "making conservative evangelicalism a pretty safe place to harbor [white supremacist] views" and elsewhere that they "defend White Supremacy". This is a serious charge, and as is often the case with "social justice" rhetoric, its main support appears to be the author's opinion, specifically that the accused here too often dare to express concerns about the faulty or at times even non-existent Scriptural rationales of the social justicians, as well as the naturally dangerous fruit likely to result from such unbiblical trees.

In other words, if one disagrees with certain social justicians, or even declines to speak out on the specific topics they want with the specific frequency and strength they want, one is coddling white supremacists and defending white supremacy. Somehow. I guess. Even if some of the accused are not even white. Even if most (all?) of the accused have overtly preached and written against the evils of the sin of partiality pertaining to ethnicity and otherwise, and are supportive of things like interethnic marriage to such an extent that they are abhorred by the execrable kinists.

Look, that isn't "defending white supremacy" by any rational standard. The reality is that the accused attack white supremacy and are flatly opposed to it. Their "crime" is simply that they don't make opposing it the absolute center of their ministry, and are unwilling to just shut up and let the social justicians say whatever they want, unchallenged, as they unbiblically bind others' consciences with legalistic appeals, or even worse, confuse the Gospel with a Galatian addition of "wokeness" as a fundamentally required work. And in the exact same way, I believe all of the accused are pro-life and anti-abortion, but vehemently oppose anti-abortion extremists such as Abolish Human Abortion when they go overboard with their legalistic appeals and anti-biblical ecclesiology. Indeed, there are many similarities between the AHA zealots and the social justicians, and the comparison does not reflect well on either group.

Mason's argument is completely irrational and illogical, and again, it's absolutely legalistic. Because each of the accused, in his own stewardship, is ultimately accountable to the Lord—as well as his elders or fellow elders—for how he chooses to prioritize his public and private words and actions, and if Mason's (or Anyabwile's, or Bradley's, or Tisby's, or Uwan's, who all supported and aligned with Mason in some fashion) measuring stick for "woke" holiness is counting public comments opposed to or supportive of the social justicians' poor theology, well, they might as well break out their hemline-rulers and book bonfires.

At the end of the day, I'm aware of no biblical command to preach or speak out publicly (or tweet, for that matter) on any specific topic with any specific frequency, with the exception of course being the Gospel per 2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 9:16, Acts 10:42, Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 1:16, as the accused have so often pointed out and emphasized in their ministries. This is true even for whatever major current event might be happening in any given week. Whether and to what extent a pastor decides to talk about 9/11, or an abortion bill, or a tragic mass shooting, or whoever the perpetrator of that mass shooting might be, is a matter for that pastor's own stewardship, and he will have a greater accountability for it per James 3:1. But when another person makes sweeping and censorious accusations about an entire swath of faithful men and ministries based sheerly on that person's perception of that stewardship and prioritization, well, James 2:13 gives me genuine concern for that person.

Meanwhile, for all of us as we decide if and when and how to speak, genuine care should be taken to avoid the real danger of virtue signaling to an outside secular world that is increasingly hostile to Christians...except of course those Christians eager to promote the latest worldly styles and fads, especially if they're willing to bash other groups of faithful Christians as they do. As Matthew 6:5 states, those virtue signalers already have their treasure, in the form of book deals, conference speaker gigs, Washington Post articles, and perhaps most commonly, the praise, admiration, and Twitter likes and retweets of countless social justicians, liberals, academics, celebrities, media figures, and cool hipsters whose only reactions to biblically faithful positions such as young earth creationism, traditional marriage, penal substitutionary atonement, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ are the ridicule and revulsion reserved for uncouth, unwashed, unenlightened fundamentalists guilty of unspeakable thought crimes unfit for public discourse.

Before you call me an alarmist, this is already happening to Christian business owners, professors, and students. And it will continue happening, and will only get worse. And although it's unsurprising to see the faithful remnant besieged by torch- and pitchfork-carrying secularists, the saddest part to me is wondering who among my currently faithful professing brethren will end up offering them aid and comfort, or even joining their ranks.

This brings me to my second overarching theme, which is the pragmatic nature of so much of the social justician discourse. Again and again, I see concerns raised by people like Mason about the pragmatic ends of this or that action, rather than the biblical means on how to get to a particular end. I perceive over and over such a great concern for the temporal, that the spiritual is often neglected or treated as an afterthought. But as we know from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, we do not wage war according to the flesh, and in fact there is great importance in casting down arguments and opinions that are raised against the knowledge of God. This passage would seem to emphasize the importance of making sure that our means are indeed in accordance with what God has revealed in His Word, before rushing off to try to achieve some end. I would think one way to do this would be having a civil discourse.

Instead, sadly, we have pieces like Mason's, and a general lack of interest in having a substantive discussion. Everyone I know on "my side" of the argument, including the accused, is eager to have a discussion about what the Bible says on this or that "social justice" topic, but the usual response I've seen from social justicians is crickets. And while I fully acknowledge the possibility of confirmation bias, based on my own personal experience in the church on this "social justice" issue, I believe I'm north of a dozen times recently when my attempts to engage in (highly civil) discussions have been met with silence, unfulfilled promises to respond later, in two cases a decisively dismissive attitude, and in only one case an actual conversation over lunch that turned out to be both profitable and enjoyable. And I've observed from afar a similar ratio in the tireless efforts of Neil Shenvi.[**]

When I compare this track record to some higher-profile spats in the secular world, rife with declarations that look like, "go educate yourself, I'm not going to do your homework for you" (a seemingly curious response, if one is truly interested in advancing one's preferred position within the marketplace of ideas), or "I'm sick and tired of repeating myself all the time" (a more understandable sentiment in the secular world, perhaps, but less so for Christians called not to weary of doing good in Galatians 6:9), I'm grieved by the similarity of the responses.



More and more, my impression is that many Christian social justicians are simply not interested in having a discussion (much less a debate) with the brothers and sisters who respectfully disagree with them. Instead, it seems as though the desire is simply to proselytize to build their coalition and then declare victory, with any opposition either ignored, or smashed down with a sledgehammer of presumptuously misappropriated moral authority. And when this happens, honest disagreement is often recast as hatred or slander, sadly, and people who earnestly hold differing biblical convictions are dismissed, or even worse, cast out, as adherents of a truncated or incomplete Gospel...or even as defenders of white supremacy. Because apparently, it is not good enough for many social justicians to simply separate and do ministry in different ways, as Paul and Barnabas did, but precisely because the social justicians are seeking pragmatic or even political goals, the movement must grow. And suddenly, personal convictions become "Gospel issues" and individual Christian liberty is turned into the legalistic requirements I described in my first theme, above.

Instead of such political pragmatism, what the church truly needs is more godly, Gospel-proclaiming Christians concerned for the individual souls of the lost, and not more armchair politicians. And this is true regardless of whether their arms might sit on the right or left armrest. Indeed, some of the social justicians go on and on (and on and on) wondering how any professing Christian could ever support certain policies supported by the Republican Party or even worse, President Trump, displaying an astonishing lack of self-awareness as they do so. Because the reality is that they're doing the exact same thing as the people they decry, merely from the opposing political viewpoint.



I'll leave it to each individual Christian to decide whether or not one party or the other is more supportive of his or her most important biblical principles and convictions. Speaking only for myself, however, I can't bring myself to vote for any party that would continue to maintain the horror of abortion as a fundamental right. This is my own personal bright line litmus test, my speaking up for the most voiceless and oppressed of all, as nearly a million babies a year are still being murdered in the US alone. It is every bit as shocking and immoral, if not more so, than the evils of hereditary slavery based on the color of one's skin with origins in man-stealing. Thankfully, that evil was abolished over 150 years ago...and yet our modern tragedy of abortion continues. The social justicians often speak about the importance of moral clarity on certain societal issues. I agree, and that's precisely why I personally believe all other societal issues—even some good ones, some important ones—pale in comparison to the very lives of countless unborn children.

Once again, however, the differences in temporal priorities that individual Christians might have are precisely why I and so many other like-minded brothers (like the accused) and sisters emphasize the importance of Gospel proclamation, over any other social or political matter. Because the eternal state of each individual unsaved man or woman is something we all ought to be able to unite on, and of far greater importance than any temporal issue, however dire. I'm glad to be confident in that stance from so many of the accused. Indeed, I know the majority of these men and leaders in three of the groups personally, and they abhor and clearly teach against the sin of partiality both generally as well as specifically pertaining to ethnicity. So just as Mason's "motte" charge is completely baseless legalism, his "bailey" charge is simply outrageous calumny. And he and the people cheering him on ought to repent of it and retract it.

Hohn's signature



* Mason specifically accuses the brethren Justin Peters, John MacArthur, James White, Phil Johnson, Doug Wilson, JD Hall, Josh Buice, Tom Ascol, R. Scott Clark, Darrell Harrison, Burk Parsons, and in a follow-up tweet Samuel Sey and Voddie Baucham, as well as the groups Sovereign Nations, Alpha & Omega Ministries, Grace To You, Pulpit & Pen, Reformation Charlotte, Aquila Report, American Vision, and Ligonier Ministries.

** If you're not familiar with Neil, you really ought to consider checking him out, and his research partner Pat Sawyer as well. Neil's website is chock-full of excellent, biblical takes on a wide variety of topics (including perhaps most notably, these days, critical theory), and his Twitter feed is the type of graciously edifying, Christ-honoring engagement that I would aspire to, were I ever to take the plunge onto that medium.