Results tagged “Nacho Libre” from Reformation21 Blog

Sex, Power, and Money: Be Careful Who Owns You

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"If you want to know who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize" - Voltaire

If the three sisters of grace are faith, hope, and love, we may also say the three sisters of the flesh are sex, power, and money. 

Years ago, I was warned about these sisters of the flesh. 

We are all constituted differently in body and soul. And our natural constitutions fuel particular lusts, since the soul and body bear an organic relation to each another. Moreover, the social standing of a person also has implications for the types of sins he commits: those who are wealthy are prone to certain sins; those who are poor are prone to other sins. Those with great intellects are also prone to pride. Parents should be careful before they dub their child the next Einstein. 

Certain sins are more prevalent at different stages of life. A child possesses a heart that will be prone to certain sins only later in life. Moreover, the lusts of individuals are drawn out according to their various callings. Judas stole because he was a sinner, but also because as treasurer he was presented with an easy opportunity to steal. 

To answer the objection that certain sins are contrary to each other and so men are not given to all types of covetousness, Thomas Goodwin explains that people are inclined to different sins at different stages in their lives. So the prodigal youth may become covetous in his old age. It is also true that some people have an antipathy to certain sins, but this antipathy is not moral but physical, "either because their bodies will not bear it, or for some other incommodity they find in it" (Goodwin). A hypochondriac may not visit a prostitute for fear of disease, instead of fear of God.

The temptation for David to have Bathsheba was heightened by the fact that he could have Bathsheba. That temptation for lust was obviously different for David when he was old and dying. If we could have any woman we wanted, we would probably struggle a lot more with sexual temptation than we do. The good-looking quarterback at University usually has greater temptations with women than the assistant captain of the chess team. 

Perhaps we should thank God right now that we aren't particularly handsome or beautiful; we might thank God that we haven't enjoyed too many successes; we may find out one day that he kept us poor (or relatively average-looking) in order to save us and keep us from many sins.

We may not think money is a temptation until the door to money opens just a little bit. Soon, like a lion tasting blood for the first time, the door has swung wide open, our pockets begin to be filled by those who want to control us, and we are helpless to stop the rot that has taken place. All of this is to say, we don't know how much we love money until it actually becomes a real temptation. Be warned: those who give you money are likely also to control you in some way. And then you are quickly unable to criticize them in any way, shape, or form. You become increasingly blind, like the idols you serve (Ps. 115). I am glad that my employer is the local church and that no organization has control over me because they pay me a lot of money. 

We may not think we love power until we get a taste of power. Everything I've seen so far in Reformed circles has only convinced me that not only does money corrupt, but power corrupts even more. Indeed, the more money the more power. Those in power can quickly cultivate a culture of fear. As Voltaire said, "if you want to know who rules over you, find out who you are not allowed to criticize." I think some of us might find that a very uncomfortable examination. 

M'Cheyne once said well: "The seeds of all sins are in my heart, and perhaps all the more dangerously that I do not see them." Imagine having friends who will actually challenge you and tell you that you're being stupid! 

It's been a while since I've quoted Nacho Libre, but I think the honor in this clip goes to Esqueleto. 

You had me at Nacho Libre

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I'm not quite sure what I'm doing here. I've stayed away from blogging for all the normal reasons: I'm not certain that I have anything to say in 500 words, much less anything to say in an interesting way. Moreover, the internet seems to have a way of drawing out the worst sort of writing: over-earnest soliloquies, bitter tirades, etc.

What has changed? Let's just say that when cornered in a dark alley by everyone's favorite Welsh theologian, one has few options but to cooperate...

Truth be told, though, fear of Welsh giants isn't the only reason I'm here. There's also the promise of a place where sturdy defenses of divine simplicity sit comfortably alongside intelligent references to Nacho Libre. Now that's the kind of intersection between theology and culture I can get excited about!

So here I am. I shall endeavor to avoid being over-earnest and bitter. And if I become too boring, I have a backup plan already in place that involves re-posting Carl's old blogs and paying Fred Sanders to be my ghostwriter.

Was Jonathan Edwards a Puritan?

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Just who were the Puritans? Was Jonathan Edwards a Puritan? Was Matthew Henry a Puritan? Is Nacho Libre a Puritan? The answers to these questions are not uniform, but I think that once we answer the first question the following questions answer themselves. 

Around 1564 the term "Puritan" emerged, primarily as a pejorative term aimed at clergymen in the Elizabethan church who wanted further reformation to take place. They objected to wearing those things that look like dog collars, and wanted to cleanse the church of other "Romish" elements. This movement was peculiar to the Church of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These so-called "Puritans" experienced various successes and setbacks, with the major setback - probably a defeat - taking place in the early 1660s. Their glory years were the 1640s (Westminster Confession) and 1650s (Savoy). 

By the eighteenth century Puritanism was effectively dead. In fact, I think the movement died - though (thankfully) not the Puritans themselves - with the Act of Uniformity on St. Barholomew's Day (1662). John Bunyan even reminisces about "the Puritans": "the man was a godly old Puritan, for so the godly were called in times past." 

Puritanism moves to Dissent in 1660. But even if we allow for Puritanism to remain as a historical phenomenon after 1660, then surely the end date comes in 1689 with the Act of Toleration. After 1689 we have what has been called "Protestant Nonconformity."

In New England the context is obviously a little different, and the so-called Puritans were becoming "Yankees" by the early eighteenth century. "Puritanism" was displaced by "Evangelicalism." A state-supported church in New England was possible in the early eighteenth century, but even by the 1670s the church leaders could see the writing on the wall: that is, they could not depend on the civil leaders to take their concerns seriously (certainly not by the 1720s).   

Theologically, Puritanism was not quite as monolithic as we might think or as some might like to think. Sure, most were "Calvinists"; but there were Puritans who were Antinomians; others, such as John Goodwin, were Arminians, though John Goodwin enjoyed the great affection of his Calvinist friend, Thomas Goodwin. There were ecclesiological disagreements between the Puritans (even the Presbyterians disagreed with one another), but also some intense soteriological debates among them, too. 

The Puritan national church during the Cromwellian era (1650s) incorporated Baptists. In fact, as far as I am able to tell, paedobaptist attitudes towards the antipaedobaptists softened as the century wore on, especially after the Great Ejection! 

Thus the term "Puritan" to describe one's theology can pose all sorts of problems. Put together in a room a bunch of Johns, such as John Owen, John Bunyan, John Howe, John Milton, John Goodwin, John Cotton, and John Eaton (all "Puritans"), and you've got an almighty amount of disagreement between them. Add Baxter, who might just have "won" by poisoning them all with his medical home remedies - unless he decided to swallow another bullet for its good medicinal effects - and you don't just have disagreement, but theological carnage.

Politically speaking they are also at odds with each other. Oliver Cromwell and John Milton had much stronger radical sympathies than other Puritans. 

There are also major eschatological (remember: don't use that word in the pulpit) issues among the Puritans that require us to limit the term "Puritanism" to a specific historical context. The millennial glory that many of them hope would take place around 1660 proved to be a source of great embarrassment for those (Thomas Goodwin) who lived long enough to experience the 1660s-1670s.

So, was Jonathan Edwards a Puritan? No, he was not a Puritan. That may be a disappointment for some and a relief for others. But my admiration for the man doesn't depend on whether he was a Puritan or not. Edwards may have had the "spirit" of Puritanism in him, for he read them with profit. But he can't be described as a Puritan if the term is to have any historical meaning. There is also the fact that Edwards had a theology that was in some ways "innovative." But I don't think I want to get into that right now...

(BTW, Matthew Henry was also not a Puritan, even though his father was. Regarding Nacho Libre, I am inclined to believe he is the exception that proves the rule).

All of this is to say, I love most of the Puritans, but not all of them. Some of their theology disgusts me; some of their theology delights me. But if there is one label that ought to stand the test of the centuries it is "Confessional." 

Pastor Mark Jones is off to sing, "I am, I am, a real [Confessional] man."