A guest post from a PCA Teaching Elder

The Damp Introductions of Mr. Scott and Mr. Inman

I hate fighting and I hate controversy. Truly. I much prefer peace and harmony. Peace is easier than fighting and I sleep better at night. More importantly, peace between brothers in Christ honors the Lord and adorns the gospel. But sometimes controversy comes to you and you find no other option but to enter the fray. Such has been my experience in the last several weeks with the release of 8 years of emails between the leadership of the National Partnership. Like so many, I was grieved by the political maneuvering and “us versus them” language found throughout.

iii. As Christ would have us to be certainly persuaded that there shall be a day of judgment, both to deter all men from sin; and for the greater consolation of the godly in their adversity: (2 Pet. 3:11, 14, 2 Cor. 5:10-11, 2 Thess. 1:5-7, Luke 21:27-28, Rom. 8:23-25) so will He have that day unknown to men, that they may shake off all carnal security, and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come; and may be ever prepared to say, Come Lord Jesus, come quickly. Amen. (Matt. 24:36, 42-44, Mark 13:35-37, Luke 12:35-36, Rev. 22:20).
ii. The end of God's appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect; and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate, who are wicked and disobedient. For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fullness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord: but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power.

Now at a companion packet to The Shepherd Leader!

In this packet, you will find three sample tools to consider as you implement your shepherding plan. Click here to download your free resources.

When you set up your shepherding plan you could not have imagined that your entire congregation would be hunkered-down attempting to stay clear of Covid-19.

These are times in which the flock needs to hear from their shepherds for comfort and assurance. I have urged our elders to put a priority on reaching out to their sheep, especially to those who are especially vulnerable.

I recently received this encouraging email from my friend Ken Jones, Shepherding Pastor at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama:

The Deep Places: A Memoir Of Illness And Discovery. Ross Douthat. Convergent Books, 2021. 224 pp. Hardcover. $26.00

Before You Lose Your Faith: Deconstructing Doubt in the Church. Edited by Ivan Mesa. The Gospel Coalition, 2021. 139 pp. Paperback. $16.99

Have you ever spread Marmite on toast? It's a British condiment made from yeast left over from beer brewing. It is dark, thick, and sticky, like a savory molasses. Marmite is hailed as the superhero of sandwich spreads because it’s bursting with vitamin B. Over the past century, it has come to the rescue of soldiers in the trenches of WWI, anemic mill workers in India, and malaria sufferers in Sri Lanka. But Marmite's flavor is so powerful that it is polarizing, winning as many friends as foes. This little jar of food paste has inspired some strong opinions.

“Honor your father and mother... that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

Few things seem more American than rebelling against authority. After all, that’s how we started as a country, right?

"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.

Dear Friend,

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.

Now that we’ve adjusted to the new biweekly schedule for Mortification of Spin, we present one final encore of Theology on the Go. Carl and Todd return with a new episode next week, and then every other week thereafter. Thanks for listening!

Jonathan and James welcome a very special guest today. J. V. Fesko is the Harriet Barbour Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS. The Need for Creeds Today is one of Fesko’s most recent works and the topic of today’s conversation. 

The Blessings of the Faith series recently published by P&R is a valuable resource highlighting the distinctives of the Presbyterian and Reformed faith. The series, written for Church laity as an introduction to Presbyterian ecclesiology and polity, is particularly helpful for Christians with backgrounds in other traditions.

Born in 1576 in a town 70 miles northeast of London, William Ames grew up in a Puritan household.  After his parents died before he was fully grown, his uncle looked after him and helped him gain entrance into Cambridge which at that time was a Puritan stronghold. Cambridge was allowed to choose twelve preachers per year ungoverned by the bishop. Non-conformists were mainly chosen; hence, at Cambridge, Ames was exposed to many of the great Puritan preachers and teachers.

On June 3rd, 1981 William Thomas pitched a ramshackle tent outside the gates of the White House with a large sign that read, "Live by the bomb, die by the bomb." He was so gripped by the threat posed by nuclear weapons he held a vigil protesting the atomic arms race at the heart of the Cold War. Days became weeks, then months, then years. Rain or shine, Thomas manned his post until his death in 2009. Since then, the vigil has been maintained by a chain of activists. After 40 years, it is widely believed to be history's longest-running protest.

But it's not.

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).