While civil disobedience may sometimes be acceptable in the socio-political sphere, ecclesial disobedience (especially on the part of church officers) is only justified in the most extreme cases. If defying or ignoring church law makes a sort of sense in congregationalism (where the majority/mob rules) or in an episcopal structure (where unjust and arbitrary rule may easily flourish), it makes no sense in a well-ordered, biblically-faithful presbyterian church.
Presbyterianism is pretty simple. As the name suggests, presbyters (elders) are essential to the church. Congregations elect qualified men to ensure that the means of grace (word, prayer, and sacraments) and discipline are maintained. These men—one or more of whom is an elder qualified and approved to preach—constitute the local session, and are accountable to higher courts that have the oversight of larger geographical areas (regional presbyteries and synods or general assemblies).
The Archetype of the Dying and Rising God in World Mythology
By Paul R. Rovang
Lexington Books, 2023
224 pages, hardcover, $100.00
Although many of the great Christian apologists of the twentieth century—Lee Strobel, Josh McDowell, Chuck Colson—converted directly from atheism to Christianity, C. S. Lewis’s journey to faith was a two-step process. When, at the age of thirty, he fell to his knees and confessed that God is God, he was only a theist. It would take him more than a year before he could accept that Jesus Christ was the Son of God.
Shao Kai Tseng’s Karl Barth is to date the most recent contribution to P&R’s “Great Thinkers” Series. Under the general editorship of Nathan Shannon, Tseng has previously written the entries in this series on Hegel and Kant. With impressive credentials, he is uniquely learned in the area of continental philosophy and theology. Mastering such complex material is not for the fainthearted.
Tseng's book consists of three chapters along with a glossary, bibliography, and index (the glossary and bibliography are together worth the price of the book).
I woke up this morning to David French’s New York Times Opinion article. To be honest, it left a bad after taste. It wasn’t that everything he said was either wrong or inflammatory, it wasn’t.
There’s a great deal of confusion about the nature of temptation and same-sex attraction. Many Christians, even pastors and theologians, some of whom are ostensibly Reformed, believe that same-sex temptation is not a sin. For them, sin only occurs when the act itself takes place. Others affirm that original sin makes us guilty before God, but original sin produces something that is not culpable unless the will agrees with that desire. So, they argue, a thought can emerge that is unclean but if we wrestle with that unclean thought then we have not sinned.
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world" (Jam. 1:27).
"Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God" (Heb. 13:16)
"... that which is pleasing in his sight" (Heb. 13:21)
Note: The following is adapted from a letter sent in response to a gracious correspondent who was concerned about Dr. Trueman’s representation of the words of Rev. Greg Johnson. It is published here rather than First Things due to the intramural nature of the matter involved.
Some years ago, I took a Nazirite vow never to write on race in America. Yet, persuaded by the editorial team at First Things, I broke that vow. Now it is time to offer a brief reflection on some of the responses.
Carl is flying solo as host for today's podcast and—after a few moments of linguistic snobbery—finds time in his "shed-jule" to interview Abigail Favale. She's a professor at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Genesis of Gender: A Christian Theory. Dr. Favale explains that current "gender theory" finds its roots in feminist and postmodern thought, and is now reshaping language, law—perhaps even our own self-perceptions.
After reminding listeners of the great public service they provide through this podcast, the beneficent Messrs. Pruitt and Trueman welcome a special guest. Mark Jones is a PCA pastor serving in British Columbia, CA, and the author of numerous books. His most recent work is a two-volume set updating and explaining Stephen Charnock’s classic Discourses upon the Existence and Attributes of God.
Calvin's sensitivity to the different circumstances in which people live lead him to flip-flop, or at least to be somewhat ambivalent in his attitude to the magistrate. Citing the case of Nebuchadnezzar (Jer. 27), Scripture requires obedience to bad kings, and even to pray for the well being of the country of exile (Jer.29). No doubt Calvin has his own city of exile, Geneva, in mind. But should not rulers, who also have responsibilities, be kept on track? Yes, but not by ourselves, but by Almighty God. This leads to discussion of the vexed question of civil disobedience.
No doubt having the Anabaptists in mind, and having already defended the right to litigate, Calvin proceeds to defend the entire judicial process. He discourages using the law for the taking of revenge, but upholds the use of due process, 'through which God may work for our good'. (It is interesting that in his teaching Calvin primarily seems to have mind not Geneva, which by this time in his career he believed was governed along right lines, but countries where the law may remain hostile to evangelical Christianity).