The Least of The Reasons I Believe In Six Day Creation

Why would I write about the least of the reasons I believe in creation in six days?

Not because it’s that important to how I approach that particular question, but because of how important it is to how I view my life, and all of life.

The least of the reasons I believe in six day creation is that I am not ashamed. Or better, I do not want to be ashamed.

Let us not speak of creation. Let’s talk about Jericho, as in Joshua fit de battle of Jericho and the walls come tumbling down. God tells the people of God to march around the city walls for seven days, playing music and making a clamor. On the seventh day the city walls tumble down strictly through the power of trumpet blats and voice projection. Mirabile visu!

To an unbelieving mind, it’s easy to see what happened. Joshua had sappers and miners working to undermine the wall. These were most likely Egyptian or Hittite mercenaries, since the traveling former slaves that were the Israelite people would have lacked the expertise. But how were the miners to get under the walls without being detected, since such work is noisy? Simple. Work under the cover provided by the Israelites, who were already surrounding the city and could disguise the work through tumult and clangor.

You might raise an objection. Such a work could not be completed in seven days, you say! No problem, Biblical exegetes to the rescue.  You’re reading the story too literally. Six and seven are very significant numbers in Scripture. This was simply the Hebrew way of telling the story post facto. Certain historical events happened, and then were chronicled in the poetic Hebrew way.

So you say to yourself, well, no one’s denying the legitimacy of the story here. God said he would bring the walls down, and if he did it by using agents expert in seige warfare instead of miracling them down, it’s not really a big deal, is it? He still gets all the glory. No one’s denying the truth of Scripture, or that God is active in history. That is probably what happened after all.

Besides, you don’t want to be the one ridiculous guy who keeps insisting the God miracled the whole thing, as if you were a six-year-old in Sunday school. You’re smart and sophisticated like the historian, the anthropologist, and the exegete.

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This process started several paragraphs back, you might recall, with an unbelieving mind. Then shame and embarrassment made us afraid to disagree with this spirit of unbelief. You heard that some crazy fundamentalists think the Devil took the time to walk around this green globe planting fossils to confound mankind, and you didn’t want to be associated with that.

But it’s important as a Christian to stand with God, not explain him away to the world. Which is why it’s good practice to believe in miracles. It’s good for your soul to believe in fantasy.

I believe that God stopped the sun, and that it’s written in the book of Jasher, a book that we have no trace of but that Madeleine L’Engle has probably seen in a vision.

I believe that God stopped the sun, but I have no interest or patience for online articles explaining how scientists have lost track of a day, “proving” that God really did it.

It probably looked exactly like this.

And although I have very little to say about dinosaurs, I believe in dragons. Not as a way to explain dinosaurs away, but because dragons make sense.

It is good spiritual discipline to say out loud that you believe in dragons. That you believe in fairy tales. Let the mockers mock. It will help you stand close to God your Father. This world is a story. In many ways, it’s a fairy story. Which means that if you don’t believe in fairies, you’re not seeing the world as it really is. You will think that suns are flaming balls of gas. You will think that the Earth is a ball of rock in space. And you might not feel silly now, but you will feel silly later, when all is put right.

Be willing to be silly now.

Denying evolution and espousing six day creation is, at the least, good spiritual discipline. Humble yourself.

Here endeth the post. Below please find a footnote.

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From G. K. Chesterton:

It seemed to me that he did not follow me with sufficient delicacy,
so I moderated my tone. “Can you not see,” I said, “that fairy
tales in their essence are quite solid and straightforward;
but that this everlasting fiction about modern life is in its
nature essentially incredible? Folk-lore means that the soul
is sane, but that the universe is wild and full of marvels.
Realism means that the world is dull and full of routine, but that
the soul is sick and screaming. The problem of the fairy tale is–
what will a healthy man do with a fantastic world? The problem
of the modern novel is–what will a madman do with a dull world?
In the fairy tales the cosmos goes mad; but the hero does not go mad.
In the modern novels the hero is mad before the book begins,
and suffers from the harsh steadiness and cruel sanity of the cosmos.
In the excellent tale of ‘The Dragon’s Grandmother,’ in all the other
tales of Grimm, it is assumed that the young man setting out on his
travels will have all substantial truths in him; that he will be brave,
full of faith, reasonable, that he will respect his parents,
keep his word, rescue one kind of people, defy another kind,
‘parcere subjectis et debellare,’ etc. Then, having assumed
this centre of sanity, the writer entertains himself by fancying
what would happen if the whole world went mad all round it,
if the sun turned green and the moon blue, if horses had six legs
and giants had two heads. But your modern literature takes insanity
as its centre. Therefore, it loses the interest even of insanity.
A lunatic is not startling to himself, because he is quite serious;
that is what makes him a lunatic. A man who thinks he is
a piece of glass is to himself as dull as a piece of glass.
A man who thinks he is a chicken is to himself as common as a chicken.
It is only sanity that can see even a wild poetry in insanity.
Therefore, these wise old tales made the hero ordinary and
the tale extraordinary. But you have made the hero extraordinary
and the tale ordinary–so ordinary–oh, so very ordinary.”

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Missouri Linemen Demonstrate Christian Responsibility on Field

About a year ago I wrote a brief post on how modesty and, of all things, violence fit together nicely in the Christian world. In it I stated that Christian men must become “modest avengers”.

The bizarre culture of manhood America displays is not the product of too much or too little violence. It is the product of a false choice. Men are told that they must put violence aside at all costs or become monsters. Most men choose the first. A few choose the second, and prey on the first.Christian men must pick violence up. They have no choice. Although violence is a fruit of evil doing, it is not in itself evil. Satan was violently thrown down from Heaven when he tried to violently overthrow the Right Throne. Evil violence is the imposition of the will of the stronger over the will of the weak, to the detriment of the weak. Good violence, proper violence, is the preservation of the will of the weak against the will of the strong, to the benefit of the weak.* This is why judges must be vindicators and avengers. That sounds more personal and violent than Americans would like, but that is their calling. They are there to save the widow from the ruthless man.

Good, evil, and violence are complicated things. Any ethic of violence is bound to be complicated, and bound to dwell in gray areas where questions of authority haunt every decision. But the Christian man must be willing to use violence…he has his wife, his children, and his neighbors to consider. Every Christian man is in some small, limited way, an avenger and a vindicator. He must be a modest avenger.

When I teach my kids about fighting and violence, I try to be as clear as possible. You may not use violence to defend yourself or your own dignity. But you may use violence to defend others, and that not just from physical threats. If some boys are insulting your sister, have at ’em.

Some Christians have difficulty with that concept. Vengeance is mine, sayeth the Lord, etcetera. But they forget a few things. Like the preliminary to that command, which is “avenge not yourselves”. And when the Almighty says “to me belongeth vengeance and recompence”, he then goes on to describe the vengeance that will fall on the enemies of God’s people “in due time”: that vengeance involves his “swords” and “arrows”, with which he’ll draw blood and take captives. As the rest of Moses’ books show, and as a search for the word “avenge” will also show, it is the armies of God’s people which he uses to avenge God’s people.

The books of Moses deal with vengeance. Vengeance is said to be the Lord’s. Sanctuary cities are set up where manslayers can hide from bloodguilt, clans, and vendettas. Personal vengeance leads only to a cycle of violence. But sometimes, it’s just your job as a Christian to be an avenger. A ruler is to be an avenger. A judge is to be an avenger. One of the reasons the fatherless and widows are so vulnerable is that they have no one to protect them, to avenge them.

The crisis comes when the Christian lives in a land where there is no justice, where rulers are not avengers of the innocent.

What is a Christian to do then? Some say, we simply suffer and wait. Others say, we’ll become Knights Templar.

Often Christians are called to suffer and wait; often they are powerless, dragged away in chains. Christians remember that part of Israel’s history. What they forget are the mighty men who fought against the enemies of God’s people.

As long as there is a mighty man around to do the protecting and avenging when God’s enemies are around, that is what they must do.

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Which brings me, at long last, to SEC football.

This past Saturday we saw an episode in which some football players had to take justice into their own hands. Some would object to it, saying that it amounts to a sports version of vigilante-ism. But I believe that it was their job. It only ended up falling to them because there was no just king in the land, but there it is. That’s how it happens for Christians all the time.

Alabama linebacker LaMichael Fanning picked up Missouri running back Russell Hansbrough and suplexed him WWE style, throwing him on his head. When you see the video you will see how brutal and vicious a play it was.

15 yard penalty. What?!

Yes, Fanning will probably be suspended. After the game. The refs didn’t expel Fanning from the game. And Nick Saban, Alabama’s head coach, lacked the class to sub him out for the next play and chew him out. Most coaches would have done exactly that, dressing the player down on national TV to send the message that this is the sort of thing their football program won’t allow. Unfortunately, Saban is a bully. Fanning was left in for the next two plays, and did not come off the field until fourth down/his helmet had come off.

Why did Fanning’s helmet come off? Because Hansbrough’s linemen were reduced to having to take vengeance into their own hands. And it was the right thing to do. First, the job had fallen to the judges; alas that the refs declined to expel Fanning. Then the job had fallen to the king; alas the Saban is an unjust king. The job of those linemen is to protect the running back.

So they went after Fanning. They, I would contend, were delivering the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor. Keeping it from happening again.

Did it work? Maybe. The fool only rages and laughs. Fanning kind of grins at his sideline as he runs back, full of arrogance. See the video below.

But that doesn’t matter. Those linemen had to show that they stood between their guy and wicked violence. And that’s how it ought to be in sports; it’s one of the ways you can tell good teams. Even when there’s just a scuffle, not an all-out bit of thuggery like Fannings, you can tell the good teams. Those are the ones where the offended party turns his back and walks away while three teammates step in to the gap.

By the way, don’t email me defending Saban. I don’t know what Saban did or said post-facto, and I don’t care. He sent all the message he needed to by leaving Fanning in the game.

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Am I overreacting? Probably. I hope the Gators get to the SEC championship game, and that Alabama’s there waiting for us.

Eat Your Sausage & Make Love To Your Wife

“Luther’s faith was simple enough to trust that after a conscientious day’s labor, a Christian father could come home and eat his sausage, drink his beer, play his flute, sing with his children, and make love to his wife — all to the glory of God!”

William Lazareth, Luther on the Christian Home: An Application of the Social Ethics of the Reformation

hat tip This Guy.

My Christian Brothers: Having No Beard Make You Weird

“The beard is a masculine ornament, given to us by God not for any practical purpose, but for our dignity.” – St. Augustine

(Roman Catholic brothers, consider skipping this post. I pick on you in it. And if you do not skip it, bear with me in love.)

This past Sunday I experienced something that made me realize, or at least form a theory for, why so few Roman Catholics have beards.

Think about it. This doesn’t prove anything, of course, but think about the Roman Catholics you know. Do any of them have beards? I can think of one or two of my own acquaintance, but overwhelmingly, they are clean-shaven.

Some of this, I believe, is connected with the roman-ness of the Roman Catholic church. Scipio Africanus, the man who defeated Hannibal, and scion of the mid-Republic, is said to have been the first Roman to shave. After him, the Roman fashion was always to be clean shaven, except for brief periods when imitating the Greeks might have been seen to have been fashionable. Shaving was a symbol of being Roman, usually over against being Greek, but also in comparison to the barbarian races.

Shaving was a rite of passage of religious significance for the pagan Romans, and a sign of manhood. Having a long beard meant slovenliness and squalor. The propensity of early Christians to grow a beard signaled two things: the eastern origins of their faith, and their willingness to be seen as other than Roman.

As Europe moved further into the Christian era, the barbarian Christians brought the beard back in. Men had beards. Warriors had beards. Knights had beards. Beardlessness was a sign of extreme youth, or of femininity.

Priests of the Western church began to shave. It became a symbol of celibacy. It became a symbol of control over the flesh and sin. Men have their appetites to kill and rut and grow beards, but the Roman priests overcame that through shavery.

According to a very interesting post at the Catholic Encyclopedia (the complexity of which will allow you to poke holes in this wee little post if you care to, although it will still hold water after you’re done):

The legislation requiring the beard to be shaved seems to have remained in force throughout the Middle Ages. Thus an ordinance of the Council of Toulouse, in 1119, threatened with excommunication the clerics who “like a layman allowed hair and beard to grow”, and Pope Alexander III ordained that clerics who nourished their hair and beard were to be shorn by their archdeacon, by force if necessary. This last decree was incorporated in the text of the canon law (Decretals of Gregory IX, III, tit. i, cap. vii). Durandus, finding mystical reasons for everything, according to his wont, tells us that “length of hair is symbolical of the multitude of sins. Hence clerics are directed to shave their beards; for the cutting of the hair of the beard, which is said to be nourished by the superfluous humours of the stomach, denotes that we ought to cut away the vices and sins which are a superfluous growth in us. Hence we shave our beards that we may seem purified by innocence and humility and that we may be like the angels who remain always in the bloom of youth.” (Rationale, II, lib. XXXII.)

This body is a body of sin; the beard is an unleashing of the body. Therefore mortify the beard.

Thus the scholars of the West, inspired to shave by their connection to a cultural Rome that Frankish kings and Saxon peasants knew nothing of, and driven to shave by their desire to overcome concupiscence, became the clean-cheeked representatives of our faith.

But none of this, I propose, is the reason Roman Catholics today are still shaven.

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You may have heard that I have an awesome beard. A beard perhaps worthy even of El Cid, defender of Christians before the Moorish hordes, que en buenhora nació. His wife called him “the perfect beard”. His beard has a facebook page. Of his beard El Mio Cid himself hath said, “Thanks be to almighty God, it is long because it has had much loving care lavished on it. What reproach can you cast on my beard? All my life it has been my chief delight. No woman’s son has ever plucked it and no one… ever tore it.” Truly here, and not in the tonsured scriptoriums, was a paragon of Christian manliness in the Middle Ages.

But could El Mio Cid de Bivar, champion of Christendom, have taken the Lord’s Supper?

“Only if we practice intinction. That will permit the host to pass my mustache unmolested.”

My mustache runs over my lip, as I’m sure the mustache of El Cid Campeador did. This past Sunday, as one of the elders at my church handed me the chalice and I dragged deep and full of the wine, I got to enjoy a second sip courtesy of all the wine still caught in my mustache.

Think that’s gross? It’s just being human. Any dude with a mustache runs his lower lip over his mustache after taking a quaff of any drink, be it beer or water. But you couldn’t do that with transubstantiated wine.

So this is not a theological argument. Well, it is, but barely. It’s an anthropological one. My point is this: only dudes who shaved could have come up with a doctrine like the Roman Catholic one of transubstantiation. It is a doctrine that tries to drag earth, kicking and screaming, all the way up to heaven. But isn’t it our belief that the Kingdom of Heaven comes down to earth? This very real wine very really is Christ’s blood right here and right now. It has come down to you, and you may drink it and feast with it. Also, this very real man very really is God right here and right now. He has come down to you, and you may drink and feast with him. And while you’re at it, grow a beard with him, as he surely did.

Hence we shave our beards that we may seem purified by innocence and humility and that we may be like the angels who remain always in the bloom of youth. Here’s a question of sacramental theology for you. Do you want to be like the angels, or do you want to be like our Lord Jesus?

We are meant to be glorified humans. If we begin to reject our humanity, we will twist our glory and come up with all sorts of weird ideas.

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.

Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.

When we mortify the flesh, we are to mortify our members, our arms and legs. These arms and legs are things like fornication and covetousness. We pluck those eyes out. This is very physical.

The new man is also very physical. Your new man may or may not be circumcised, but he certainly has bowels. And these are bowels of mercy.

We are not to cast aside all that is physical. We are to save it. We are to save men and their beards and their appetites. And if our priests tell us that it is best to not mate, we’ll be all weird when it comes to sex. If our priests tell us that this bread and wine is not so base as real bread and wine, we will become either aesthetes or drunkards.

And if our priests act like it’s best no to have a beard, we’ll go beardless.

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“I’m going there to see my Father. And finally get a decent shave.”

It is perilous to despise that which Jesus glorified. And we all do it. This has been a history of one weird scorn that developed in one corner of Christendom, and how it becomes part of a complex of ridicule for that which God has chosen to glorify. Ridiculing and despising that which God has glorified is what the world does. In this way the church is like the world.

If we despise wine, we will hate fellowship. If we despise sex, we will hate women. If we despise beards, we will hate brotherhood and masculinity. If we despise feasting, we will hate weddings and life together.

Don’t be like the angels. Figure out what sort of human Christians are supposed to be, and do that. Do I write you a new commandment, that all men must have beards? I do not write a new commandment, but an old commandment I write you. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

So I urge you, but do not command you: Grow out your beard, you son of a King! When he appears, we shall be like him! And if there’s beer at the right hand of God, my brother, I’ll buy the first hundred rounds if Jesus is clean-cheeked.

So Many Ways To Make Bread

A picture of my preacher with the one loaf in hand.

Our church does some things with the Lord’s Supper that I really like. For one, we use real wine (obviously! that’s the only option, right? I mean, right?). For another, we all share from one loaf. We’re still small enough to eat from one loaf, even at eighty strong. The loaf is torn in half, then each person tears of a piece for himself. To tell the truth, with an only sightly bigger loaf we could continue to tear off the healthy pieces that we do and still give bread to two hundred; it’s suprising how far the loaf stretches.

Another cool thing we do is the provision each Sunday by different families of the loaf. There’s a sign-up sheet, then an elder or a deacon makes a list and sends it out to the wives.

The bread tastes different every time. I never know which family brings what bread and what recipes, unless it’s our week to bring it. I think I know which family puts honey in their loaves, but I still have no idea who the crazy person who’s always putting herbs in the bread is.

And this is awesome, and only serves to bring us closer together as one body. For what is eating and drinking unworthily but despising brothers over issues of food and table? How easy and sanitary it is for churches to go out and buy bread made in a factory somewhere. Every Sunday I take the Lord’s body and blood, and it comes to me not only through the hands of the fallible men at the table, but through the hands of women who don’t do things the way I’d choose to do them. Somehow, whether it’s the way I’d choose or not, their work feeds me. Pastors and bakers alike.

This morning some silly thoughts reminded me of this. I ripped off my piece of bread and popped it in my mouth. Immediately I thought to myself, “Oh, this is the woman who never puts in enough salt.” But as I chewed I had a doubt. “Is it? I can’t quite tell. Not as much salt as it needs, for sure. Kimberly doesn’t like as much salt as I do either. I wonder why. Ooh! Is that oil?” Right as I was about to swallow I’d suddenly noticed that the bread had much more oil than my family normally uses, and it was really nice. In fact, more salt might have messed up the smoothing effect the oil had on ol’ bite n’ swallow.

There is only one loaf, and that is all there ever will be. And yet there are so many ways to make bread.

Ron Swanson on Exclusive Psalmody

I’m not an exclusive psalmody type (what is exclusive psalmody?). But I had to put together a little Ron Swanson inspiration for all Christians after reading a friend’s tweet:

This evening I ate like Ron Swanson and sang Psalms like a warrior. #manlyevening

Psalms are warrior-like. Psalms are manly. I imagine that Ron prefers to sing psalms. Next someone will have to ask him his opinion of the regulative principle.

The Greatest Disaster of the 19th Century

“The greatest disaster of the nineteenth century was this: that men began to use the word ‘spiritual’ as the same as the word ‘good.’ They thought that to grow in refinement and uncorporeality was to grow in virtue. When scientific evolution was announced, some feared that it would encourage mere animality. It did worse: it encouraged mere spirituality. It taught men to think that so long as they were passing from the ape they were going to the angel. But you can pass from the ape and go to the devil.”

G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy