Two Perspectives on Adversity

Here is quote from David Wells’ book The Courage to be Protestant explaining how our forefathers approached adversity and how we currently approach it.

In the older world we left behind, people thought of adversity as inevitable. Adversity was a consequence of the fall for those of a Christian outlook. But even for non-Christians it was never seen as an unexpected intruder on life. It was never thought that life should be without pain. Pain, disease, setbacks, disappointments, and wrong done to us were all seen as part of our life in this world, part of its texture, a thread woven with all the other threads through the fabric of our daily experience. Adversity was seen, even, as a necessary component in life.

Today we resent adversity as an interruption in our pleasure seeking, a rude disruption of our opportunities and our sense of calm. It is a gross injustice. Why should bad things happen to good people? Where is the justice in that? We are entitled to better. Indeed, we are demanding better! Adversity of any kind is unacceptable.

Book Review: People to Be Loved

People to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an IssuePeople to Be Loved: Why Homosexuality Is Not Just an Issue by Preston Sprinkle

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Sprinkle is one of those folks who thinks himself conservative, but is really a half step away from being a full-blown liberal. This mindset skews his entire approach. He thinks he is holding the line. The reality he is part of a rear-guard action that has retreated into the keep in hopes that the enemy will finally go away. But they won’t and surrender is inevitable. If the best you can say about a book is that at least he doesn’t think men should sleep with men, it isn’t a conservative book. He qualifies everything to death. He makes sure conservative Christians understand they are usually a much bigger problem than gays are. He isn’t even sure about excommunicating practicing homosexuals. Maybe, possibly, in a few select circumstances we could go this far. Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing to say to us about sodomy. Greedy, rich, coveting Christians are really the problem here, not gays. On and on it goes. The feeling one gets reading the book is that homosexual Christians have his sympathy while those who think sodomy and the desire for same-sex relationships are sin are more likely than not homophobic.

There are a few interesting sections in the book, including his part about mixed-orientation marriages. He gets some exegesis correct over and against some pro-homosexual folks. I did not disagree with him on everything. But on the whole the book is so condescending to the average, conservative Christian, contains so many qualifications, and gives up so much ground to the pro-homosexual groups that isn’t that helpful.

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Courage to Be Protestant

The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern WorldThe Courage to Be Protestant: Truth-lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David F. Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I began at the end of Wells’ five volume set on American evangelicals. The book was superb, though dated in a few places. I expected to read this book and find a critique of all those folks “out there.” But instead I was convicted of how many areas I have bought into postmodern thinking. My desire for comfort, ease, the enthronement of self, and my too low view of sin all became clearer as I read the book. As the Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want but if you try sometimes well you might find you get what you need.” The book wasn’t necessarily what I wanted or expected, but it was what I needed. For me it was more mirror of my thought than microscope to examine the culture.

View all my reviews

A Distraction

I just finished reading Preston Sprinkle’s book  People to be Loved.  There were numerous flaws with the book. It reminded me of a man throwing a cup of water on a burning a house and claiming he is fighting the fire. If the best you can say about a book on this subject is at least he doesn’t believe men should have sex with men then it is not going to help fight the battle. My goal is to review various sections of the book. I want to begin with one of the more persistent lines you see from the gay Christian movement: same sex attraction is not just about sex.  Here is Sprinkle:

Being gay doesn’t mean you walk around want to have lots of gay sex any more than being straight means that you walk around wanting to have lots of straight sex. Have a same-sex orientation includes a wealth of other virtuous emotions and desires towards members of the same sex; it cannot be narrowly reduced to a volcanic hunger for sex. Same-sex orientation includes the desire for conversational intimacy, same-sex physical touch, emotional bonds, companionship, doing life together, and expressing mutual affection toward members of the same sex.  And if all of this sounds “gay” to you then David and Jonathan really were gay, since I am alluding to 1-2 Samuel.

He goes on to quote with approval lesbian Julie Rodgers

[same-sex attraction is] an overall draw toward someone of the same sex, which is usually a desire for a deeper level intimacy with those of the same sex. Just like a heterosexual orientation can’t be reduced to a desire for straight sex, a gay orientation can’t be reduced to a desire for gay sex. This longing for intimacy is usually experienced as a desire for nearness, for partnership, for close friendship, rich conversation, and an overall appreciation of beauty.

Again Sprinkle:

Most gay Christians I know say the same thing. Same-sex attraction is much broader than just a drooling desire for gay sex. Such attraction includes a virtuous desire to be intimate-in the David and Jonathan or Jesus and John sense of the phrase-with people of the same sex.

I would love to see quotes from Christians who think people who struggle with SSA walk around with a “drooling desire for gay sex.”  Sprinkle does this a lot in the book where he puts words in the mouths of conservative Christians (with no citations) that I have never heard a conservative Christian in the pew, from the pulpit, in an article, or in a book say. Perhaps he is thinking of Westboro and folks like that.  But conservative Christians distance themselves from groups like this over and over.

But besides the condescension towards conservative Christians, he repeats the mistake I often see in gay Christian literature: It isn’t about sex. We can see the problem with this proposition by asking a simple question: What separates SSA from the desire for close, intimate friendship with someone of the same sex? Right. Sex. If there is no sexual component then it isn’t SSA. A man can have a close intimate friendship with another man without it being sexual. Men have done this for thousands of years and Christian men have done this for just as long. They have kissed each other, embraced each other, wept with each other, spent nights together talking, slept in the same bed, swam naked, showered together, etc. without there being a sexual component. The desire for male physical affection and emotional intimacy does not make it same-sex attraction.

Same-sex attraction does not simply mean you have or desire close friendships with people of the same sex. It means the desire for closeness with a member of the same sex that includes a romantic/sexual component. Without that it is just a close friendship between people of the same sex, which all Christians should have and should work for. This is the reason why the sexual/erotic aspect of SSA should be front and center. It is what makes SSA, SSA. The friendship angle pushed by gay-Christian groups is a distraction.  Friendship is part of SSA, just as friendship is part of marriage. But that is not its central or defining trait. Without the sexual/romantic component it isn’t same-sex attraction.

Favorite Books of 2016

Stack Of Books

I love this time of year because I love books and all these folks are releasing their favorite books list. Here is mine. These are not books published in 2016, but rather books I read in 2016.  These are not in any particular order.

Unchanging Witness by Fortson and Grahams

If you want to be prepared to combat revisionist history about how the church has dealt with homosexuality this is the book. The authors carefully show that the church has spoken with a unanimous voice that homosexual practice is sinful. The authors also show how several denominations ended up compromising on this issue. These things alongside exegesis of key Biblical passages make the book an important contribution to the ongoing fight against the homosexual agenda.  Continue reading

Book Review: Infant Baptism by Pierre Marcel

The Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism: Sacrament of the Covenant of GraceThe Biblical Doctrine of Infant Baptism: Sacrament of the Covenant of Grace by Pierre-Charles Marcel

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I give this book five stars for several reasons. First, it is a very thorough treatment of the covenant, sacraments, and infant baptism. In fact, my copy has 256 pages and the author did not get to infant baptism proper until p. 187. Before that he spent significant time on what the sacraments are, how the OT sacraments worked, and what the covenant is.

Second, he makes you think. I did not always agree with Marcel and there were places he was not as clear as I could wish. But he forces the reader to think carefully about the relationship between the covenant, salvation, our children, the church, faith, and the preaching of the Word.

Third, he is solidly reformed. He carefully explains why we baptize our children, what that means for them, what that does not mean, and how baptism can be a means of grace in the life of our children and the life of the church.

Finally, as the book progresses he emphasizes the corporate nature of baptism both when the child is baptized and throughout the life of the child and other members of the church.

This is not an easy read and while I did not agree with all, it is worth your time. It will help you think more carefully about infant baptism. It made me more confident of my paedo position and that the reason we baptize is because children of at least one believing parent are born in the covenant.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it or could just be so poorly written/researched that it is not worth reading. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. This does not mean I agree with everything in it. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is pretty far from 4.5.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

View all my reviews

Book Review: The Inerrant Word

The Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral PerspectivesThe Inerrant Word: Biblical, Historical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspectives by John F. MacArthur Jr.

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am beginning a long term study of the doctrine of Scripture. I wanted to prime the pump a bit and chose this book to do so. It was an excellent choice. None of the articles discuss an issue comprehensively. Each chapter could have been a book. But what the book does do is give you a good orientation to the major issues, such as the character of God, textual criticism, the Spirit’s work, inspiration, illumination, apparent contradictions, pastoral implications of inerrancy, and numerous footnotes directing you to other sources.

This book is not an all in one comprehensive guide to the doctrine of Scripture or even to inerrancy. But it does give a good lay of the land from high up that will allow a student or pastor to explore other areas more in depth.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it or could just be so poorly written/researched that it is not worth reading. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. This does not mean I agree with everything in it. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 3.6 is pretty far from 4.5.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

View all my reviews