As many of you may know, the blog was hacked and we lost most of the material due to corrupted files. As you can see, we have restored the blog up to a year ago, but as of right now, all the blogs for the last year are in the deep abyss.

If you happen to have any of the blog post from the last year, it would be great if you could post them here in the comments section. It really stinks to lose so much.

Stay tuned as we continue to try to recover.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    26 replies to "Blog Problems"

    • Greg

      Do Husbands Submit to their Wives Too?
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      Concerning my gender issues posts, the issue of submission has shown up and asked for time. The discussion has moved to Eph. 5:21ff.

      21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

      Speaking to this, one commenter gives a good summary of the egalitarian side (mutual submission):

      “. . . Verse 22 is INSEPARABLY connected to verse 21. So, in my own personal paraphrase it would come out to something like this:

      Submit to one another in brotherly love; wives to your husbands as to the Lord, etc. etc. etc.

      So my argument here is that you can’t simply leave that out of the statement as “in general.” It’s a commandment we need to follow, and we need to deal with Scripture in its context! It’s not good practice to slice and dice it.

      So our choices are:

      1. The husband needs to submit to every Christian other than his wife. Wife needs to submit to every Christian including her husband.

      2. Husband and wife both need to submit, but wife should somehow submit more. (This provides a challenge in ambiguity) OR

      3. Husband and wife submitting to each other is the timeless principle and the specific contexts relate to their position in that day’s culture (just like slaves serving their masters as though they were working “for the Lord” and masters being kind to their slaves — not establishing a hierarchy, just reflecting it).

      I feel that option 3 is the most consistent interpretation because it doesn’t gloss over either verse 21 OR verse 22.”

      To this a more complementarian answer comes by another:

      “I agree that 5:21 ties in with what follows. But it also ties in with what precedes it. The question I ask is this: what does Paul mean when he says “one another”? Is he saying this specifically of every Christian? Submission implies obedience. It means that I will obey your will, even if it disagrees with what I want or think is best.

      In this sense, we all submit to Christ because we all agree that his will is best (even if we disagree with it at times in our sin). But mutual submission of every believer in EVERY instance is impossible. What should my wife do if I say one thing and another Christian man says something else? Who should she submit to? It makes most sense of this passage to believe that Paul is saying “submit to one another” in a GENERAL sense. In other words, based on your relationships in the body of Christ, be willing to submit to each other when the relationship requires it. In this sense, it is not saying that husbands should submit to their wives, parents should obey their children, and masters should obey their slaves. Paul chooses these three relationships as typical illustrations of how Christians should continue to submit to one another, based on their relationship with another believer. Christianity does not do away with these relationships, it changes the motivation for submission (and also note that Paul has alot to say to those in the more “powerful” side of the relationship as well).

      What is Paul saying in Ephesians 5:21? He is concluding a series of commands that positively show what Spirit-filled community looks like (as opposed to worldly living). In 5:21, he concludes and transitions into specific examples of what this looks like in different relationships. He selects three typical, hierarchical relationships in the ancient world: marriage, children, and slave-master. In each relationship he first addresses the side that is asked to submit or obey (wives, children, slaves), affirming that they obey as to the Lord, or in the Lord, or just as you would obey Christ. Paul affirms that a person can fully live for Christ in these relationships (which are typically seen as less worthy or less important because they have no power or authority). Submission (which is usually done out of fear or threats) is now done willingly–out of reverence for Christ.

      After addressing how a person submits in these typical relationships, he turns to the other side. In each of these relationships, the side with “power” typically resorted to physical punishment or the threat of punishment to exert authority. But Paul replaces that with a loving authority, done out of reverence for Christ (who will judge us all). Husbands are to love their wives as they love themselves (with reminders of truth, continual provision and care). Fathers are to avoid pushing their children too far (exasperating them), and have the responsibility to teach them and train them to know Christ. Masters are to avoid threats, recognizing that they both serve the same master–who does not show favoritism.

      Anyway, all of this is to say that you cannot take 5:21 as a universal call to every Christian to practice mutual submission. Paul illustrates what he means in 5:21 with three concrete examples. The examples define his meaning. If you disagree, tell me how we can all submit to each other (in a real sense of obeying the will of another) without unavoidable conflicts? If a parent is disciplining their child and the child doesn’t want to be disciplined, who submits to who?

      As an added note, Peter does the same thing as Paul in 1 Peter 2 and 3. Peter reverses the order a bit there. Again, he is talking about living a Spirit-filled life that shows the glory of God to the world (as opposed to a worldly life).

      Peter is even harder than Paul for our modern sensibilities of what is right. He has the nerve to call for submission, even in cases when the person in power is NOT kind and loving and nice. Peter first addresses submission to government authorities (again, we all submit to government for the Lords sake–not out of fear). Keep in mind that the government he is referring to killed thousands of Christians a few years after he wrote this letter (Nero). He moves on to address slaves, and specifically asks for submission even when the master is harsh and the suffering is unjust. Finally, he addresses wives, and is clear that they should submit (he uses submit and obey as synonyms in verses 5 and 6), even when their husbands isn’t a Christian.

      Note that while Peter doesn’t specifically address the need for government to be merciful and kind, or for masters to be fair and just, he does address husbands–not calling them to submit (which would make no sense), but to be considerate and respectful, recognizing that even though they are in the position of authority and power, they are seen as equal to their wives in the sight of God and there are consequences to abusing power (hindrance of prayer, v.7).

      Neither Paul nor Peter teach that husbands should submit to their wives. “Submitting to one another means out of reverence for Christ” is not emphasizing “one another” in the sense of every single Christian regardless of position or relationship. It is emphasizing “out of reverence for Christ”. The point in both Paul and Peter is that our submission is done not out of fear, but out of a desire to honor God.”

      What do you all think?

      Are husbands commanded to submit to their wives in the same way as wives are commanded to submit to their husbands?

      Are parents to submit to their children in the same way that children are commanded to submit to their parents? (Eph. 6:1)

      Or do you think this is all cultural with no eternal principles for either husbands and wives or children and parents?

      Or do you think that the “husbands and wives” part is cultural and the “children and parents” part is eternal?

    • Greg

      Expelled: Evolution vs. Intelligent Design – A Review
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is the highly anticipated Ben Stein documentary concerning the Intelligent Design (ID) movement. The ID movement describes a belief among many scientists that the supposition and/or conclusion of an Intelligent Designer makes more sense out of science than the alternatives. IDers have had a strong and rising presence in the Christian community over the last ten years, and this movie hopes to give their arguments exposure and validity within scientific academia.

      The best word that I can use to describe the movie is this: Effective.

      I don’t really like propaganda. I don’t like spins. I don’t like misrepresentation. Even though I am all for the ID movement, I highly expected this movie to make my face red. It did not. In fact, I think that the producers and writers proposed a humble agenda and accomplished this, giving people a educational video that should well outlast its Hollywood light.

      There were a few things that stood out to me most:

      The ability of the movie to illustrate the importance of educational freedom and the valid place that the ID movement has within the university setting (or at least the market-place of ideas). More than this, they illustrated how suppression of this freedom is not only fear mongering, but it is dangerous to the well-being of society.

      Their ability to link the outcome of naturalistic evolution to the Holocaust. Some most certainly will see this as propaganda, but I felt that it was needed and well placed. Their argument was that if there is no God and naturalistic evolution is indeed true, why would ethnic cleansing be wrong? What arguments could one possibly have against it?

      I found the minor implicit questioning of evolution in general surprising and fascinating. They did not spend long on this, but their basic argument was that the theory of evolution has a lot of holes. It is “smoke in a room.” I have said this for years. While I could possibly fit the theory of evolution into my Christian worldview, as many great Christians have often done, I have never found any good arguments to do so. I always think I must be missing something. I was glad to see that I am not the only one who has nothing to lose saying “Say what? It just doesn’t add up.”

      I loved the simplicity of this movie. I always desire that people just get back to the beginning and at least offer some plausibility of why there is something rather than nothing. In this case, they did so with regards to the genesis of life. Interviewing many atheistic evolutionist such as Richard Dawkins, we find that the belief in a God or any sort of intelligent creator is likened to the tooth fairy, hobgoblins, and many other fantasies that belong in children’s books, not science books. This ridicule went on for quit some time. Once Stein pressed these guys for an alternative for the origins of the first life, they responded by giving some of their own theories. One said that life might have first began as the first single celled organism “piggy-backing” on the backs of crystals. Stein’s reaction to this is classic Stein. He just stared at him with this “You cannot be serious” look.

      The best part of the movie came in this vein when Richard Dawkins suggested that aliens came and seeded the earth with life. He said that he believe this is a very good theory. Stein responded by saying (and I quote loosely from memory) ”So, you will allow intelligent design from and alien to be taught, but you won’t allow intelligent design if we call the intelligence a transcendent ’God’?” He made his point. It was effective.

      In the end, the argument was that Intelligent Design be allowed to be believed and taught as a possible explanation for the origin of all things. It was humble and effective.

      I suggest everyone go see this.

      I will be curious as to your thoughts.

    • Greg

      R.C. Sproul Turns: He is Now a Six-Day Creationist
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      It was brought to my attention recently that R.C. Sproul is a six-day creationist. I found this very . . . well . . . interesting. I certianly have nothing against moderate six-day creationism (the type that does not want to tear your tongue out when you suggest other possibilities), but, I have to admit, I did not know this about Sproul.

      Push my back up against a wall, put a gun to my head, threaten to take away my Justice League collection, and I would say I lean in the same direction—for purely exegetical reasons. It just fits better. Even if there are other possibilities, we should not be too quick to turn these into probabilities. I just don’t think that the possible accommodation hermeneutic (saying that God accommodated to the myths and beliefs of the day) does justice to the text the way the plain reading does. I find few, if any, hermeneutical signs that Gen 1-3 were not meant to be taken at face value.

      If one does go the accommodation route, it is very difficult to know where to draw the line. When does accomidating myth translate into history? Gen 4? Gen 11? Ex 20? One begins to walk a fine line here, often unable to separate myth from reality.

      I don’t get bent out of shape when people don’t take Gen 1-3 at face value, but I have never heard a hermeneutical explanation that answers these questions. There are also quit a few theological questions such as How does the Christ’s representation of the human race as the “second Adam” fit if the first Adam was a mythical character? (Please note, I know that not all those who deny a literal six-day creation would deny a literal Adam.)

      Anyway, on to Sproul.

      From R.C. (Sproul, R.C., Truths We Confess: A layman’s guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, Volume I: The Triune God (Chapters 1–8 of the Confession), P&R Publishing, Phillipsburg, NJ, 2006.)

      In our time a considerable number of theories have arisen denying that the creation, as we know it, took place in six twenty-four-hour days. Common to these theories is the acceptance of the dominant scientific view that the earth and life on it are very old. Many consider the biblical account to be primitive, mythological, and untenable in light of modern scientific knowledge. (p. 120)

      However, Scripture nowhere explicitly teaches that the original creation was marred and then after many years, reconstituted. The broader context of the whole of Scripture militates against the gap theory. (p. 123)

      However, the day-age theory, like the gap theory, ignores the immediate context, as well as the larger biblical context. … From a literary, exegetical, and linguistic perspective, the day-age theory is weak. As a Christian apologist, I would not want to defend it. (p. 123)

      [T]he framework hypothesis allows one to step into a Big Bang cosmology while maintaining the credibility and inspiration of Gen 1-2. This is not history, but drama. The days are simply artistic literary devices to create a framework for a lengthy period of development. (p. 127)

      For most of my teaching career, I considered the framework hypothesis to be a possibility. But I have now changed my mind. I now hold to a literal six-day creation, the fourth alternative and the traditional one. Genesis says that God created the universe and everything in it in six twenty-four–hour periods. According to the Reformation hermeneutic, the first option is to follow the plain sense of the text. One must do a great deal of hermeneutical gymnastics to escape the plain meaning of Gen 1-2. The confession makes it a point of faith that God created the world in the space of six days. [emphasis in original, indicating these words are part of the Confession] (pp. 127–128)

    • Greg

      Case Study in Church Discipline: What Does it Mean to Treat Someone as a “Gentile or Tax-Gatherer”?
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      Expand your thinking. Subscribe to the new Theological Word of the Day blog and get a new word in your inbox everyday!

      Julie, a long standing member of your church (non-denominational) and a good friend, asks to meet with you. She has always been a rather quiet and unhappy person, but this day she seemed more upbeat. You meet her for lunch as she has told you that wants to share with you some news. The news, however, comes as a shock and produces quite a dilemma.

      You see, Julie has been in a very bad marriage. Her husband does not attend church and is very antagonistic to the her faith. He often ridicules her for her beliefs. Not only this, but he goes out drinking three to four times a week, sometimes not coming home until the next morning. He neglects her and the kids always telling her that if she is so unhappy she needs to find some “preacher boy.” While he has never been physically abusive to her or the kids, Julie feels abused emotionally. Even when her husband it home, he only watches TV. Julie cries often, wanting to find love—real love.

      Her news? She is finally happy. She has met someone at work. Another man. She is glowing with excitement telling you, “I have never felt so alive, so needed, and worth so much. He spends time with me, makes me feel like a lady again, and is such a gentleman. I am the center of his world. It is like a dream.”

      “You have met someone?” you respond. “What do you mean? What are you talking about? You are married!”

      “Yes,” she replied, “But you know how bad it is. You have heard all the stories. You know how weak and depressed I have been. Now I am finally happy.”

      “Are you sleeping with him?” You ask.

      “Yes,” she says. “But you must understand, I have not slept with my husband in months. He probably has a girlfriend.”

      “What are you going to do?” you respond in disbelief at Julies excitement over something that is so tragic in your eyes.

      “I don’t know. Divorce maybe. I don’t know. I don’t want to talk about what I am going to do, I just wanted to confide in you. I don’t expect you to say this is right, but can’t you see how happy I am? Can’t you be happy for that?”

      You respond by telling her that adultery is a sin and so is divorce. “No matter how unhappy you are,” you tell her, ”life and marriage is not about ‘happiness,’ but about doing what is right and what you are doing is wrong.”

      She does not respond well. After some time she gets up and leaves saying, “I though you of all people would understand, not judge! Can’t you see what a difference this has made in my life?”

      All the next day you thought about what to do. You see, not only is Julie a long time member of the church, she is also part of the choir. She even does the name tags for Sunday fellowship. She is also one of your best friends.

      After spending some time in prayer and in the Scriptures, you decide that according to Matt. 18:15-17 you should get some others and privately confront Julie.

      Matthew 18:15-17 5 “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault when the two of you are alone. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others with you, so that at the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter may be established. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. If he refuses to listen to the church, treat him like a Gentile or a tax collector.

      You ask Julie to go to come over for dinner. You have two other members of your church waiting nervously with you. When Julie arrives, you and the others confront her. You tell her not to get mad, but you wanted to help her see what a big mistake she was making. You wanted her to change her mind and repent of her attitude and actions. You asked her to explain the situation once again to the others. She refused saying it was none of their business and stormed out of the place.

      Not knowing what to do, you visit the pastor of the church and explained the situation. He calls Julie while you are there and confronts her. She explains the situation. She tells the pastor about what a terrible marriage she has. She asks if divorce is forgivable. The pastor says that it is, but this does not justify what she is doing. “You don’t act upon the supposition of preemptive forgiveness.” She tells him she knows that it is sin, but she can’t help it; she is a sinner. “Isn’t that what you say in all your sermons? We are all sinners? We all need grace? Well, I need grace. I don’t have the strength to stay in this marriage any longer! I don’t have the strength to be unhappy any longer. I pray and pray for it, but God does not answer.”

      The pastor hangs up the phone tells you that he was unable to change her thinking.

      “What should I do?” you ask the pastor.

      “I don’t know,” he responds ”Let me pray about it and get back with you.”

      He never does.

      That Sunday morning, Julie calls you. She says that her husband found out about the affair and has left her. He took the only car they had and she is at home alone with her four kids.

      “We are ready to go to church, but we don’t have a ride,” she says, “Can you come pick us up?”

      How do you respond?

      You followed the principles of Matt. 18 and she did not repent. You have read D.A. Caron on Matthew 18:17 and he points out that the “treat that person as a gentile and tax-gatherer” is in the second person singular, meaning that each individual is to follow this command, not simply the church as a whole. What does that mean, then, to treat someone as a “gentile or tax-gatherer”?

      Here are some options:

      1. You say that you understand why she did what she did and that you don’t really blame her. “Who am I to judge?” You tell her.

      2. You go and get her without hesitation. You know that both the culture and church are much different today than they were then. You know that if you “discipline” her by ostracizing her from the church she will just go to the church down the street. Therefore, Matt. 18 should not be applied in the same way in this context.

      3. You go and get her without hesitation. You believe that treating her like a gentile or tax-gatherer means she is to be treated like an unbeliever. Wouldn’t you pick up an unbeliever who wanted to go to church? On the way, you give her the Gospel.

      4. You tell her that you will pick her up and take her to church. You believe that it is the responsibility of the church leadership to remove her from any leadership position and service within the church, but not from attending. Gentiles and tax-gatherers were always allowed to attend the service, just not allowed to be in any recognized position or responsibility.

      5. You tell her that you will take her kids to church, but not her. You say that you will still be friends with her, but she cannot come to church until she repents.

      6. You tell her that until she repents, you don’t want to have any contact to her at all. While this might not be the popular approach, you know that this is what God’s word says. You hope that this will help her see the seriousness of her sin. But even if it does not, it will help keep the church of God pure.

      7. Other. You fill in.

    • Greg

      The Bent of a Woman
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      I have no delusions that issues of gender equality has a simple solution. “Read your Bible. Whatever it says, do.” Yes, this is a nice way to go in a world where things are not so complicated, where sinners are all trying their darnedest to not sin, where repentance and change is the norm. But things are not always so simple. Yet the Bible does speak and sometimes what it says we don’t really like. Give us time and we will find a “better” answer. If it makes you feel bad about yourself, your gender, or your gifts, let’s fix it. We don’t want anyone to feel bad.

      “Wives submit to your husband” (Eph. 5:22). ”I don’t allow a woman to teach” (1 Tim 2:12). ”The husband is the head of the wife” (Eph. 5:23). Don’t these represent the problem? Advancements and new discoveries nuance these passages taking away some of the sting, but in the end, you have to refresh your brain each time the issue is brought up to remind yourself how it does not mean what it seems to mean. Believe me, I have gone there. I am one who loves to take away stings. I still go there. I don’t want anyone to feel bad. I like happy people. Shinny happy people holding hands.

      Yet, this issue does create quite a sting, doesn’t it? “What about when my husband is abusive, do I submit?” “What if a women is particularly gifted, does she not have equal opportunity?” “What about when no men will lead, do we just have no leaders?” “What about when my husband is leading the children away from God, do I not tell them to follow me instead?” These are all questions to which I don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. In fact, when I have tried to make the matter a simple issue of following what the Bible says, I have regretted it. What the Bible says is not always that simple.

      But I do believe that there is a biblical direction that we fail to take as a society. Value. What do we value?

      Roles. What are the best roles? What is the best kind of job? What is the most dignified way to serve?

      “Dignified” and “serve.” Do those two words even belong together?

      Men, I am going to say something to you that has the potential to offend you, but it probably won’t. I don’t always trust you with certain things. I think that men have problems and deficiencies that are unique to males. In fact, I think that men are grossly deficient in many areas. Primarily, I don’t think men are very sensitive. I don’t think men value emotion and relationships as we should. I don’t think men are always very tender. I think we have a one track mind that can be neglectful. Oftentimes, we just miss the boat. We are bent in other directions. Because of this, there are many things that I don’t think men are suited for in the same way as women.

      Men are not nurturers by nature. Sure, some might have this giftedness, but the gender as a whole fights against it. No, I am not limiting this to babies and cute clothes and fixing the hair of the children before church (although I don’t want to neglect such either), but men don’t have the ability to nurture society in general. Yes, they can lead, focus, and problem solve, but they cannot nurture. They don’t provide the beauty to life the way that women do. They cannot decorate the world with care and emotion the way that women can. The scent of a woman cannot be found in the male species. Yes we care, yes we express emotion, but we simply don’t do so in the same way that women do.

      Can you put a price on the scent of women? Can you pay for what they bring to the table of life?

      My children are the most valuable things on this earth. They are more valuable to me than my job, my ministry, or any of my lofty plans to win the world to Christ. They, along with my wife, are my primary responsibility. I lead them, I teach them, I play with them. It is all good. But that which my wife does for them is much different. Dare I say that it rivals my importance? The emotional stability that she gives, I cannot. Why? Because I am not gifted in this area. Because I am a man. I don’t have the natural reactions that she has. I don’t sense the needs of my children the way she does. Yes, I can hug, kiss, say “I’m so sorry” when they fall down, but I can’t do it the way that Kristie does. This nuance of care that she brings makes a world of difference. It complements mine without competing. It is a different type of gift.

      What price do you pay for this? How much does emotional stability cost? What is the worth of the thoughts of a woman?

      Men and women are different, there is no doubt. The only time that people act as if they are not different is when issues of superiority come up. “Women can do everything a man can do!” I agree. Women can do everything a man can do. The question is why would they want to? Where is the pride in being a women? Why don’t women see their value?

      When asked what women like most about being a woman, they gave a list that revealed their passions the way God created them. Emotions, nurturing, femininity, child bearing, compassion. Can a man do these things? Sure. But can is not the issue. The issue is are men bent to do these things? I would answer no. In the same way, I would suggest that women can do things that men are able to do, but it is not their bent.

      But men and women alike seem to devalue the bent of a woman. When this occurs, their is a fight for the more prized bent—”greater seat.”

      The worst thing that men can do is to dignify their own bent or seat by saying to women, ”We will make room for you in our seat. You have just as much right to sit here as we do.” This is another way of saying, “Yes, well, our seat is really the best. Thanks for noticing. Here, you can sit in the best seat as well.” In doing so, I believe we are communicating something very unbiblical. We are saying that God may have placed this bent within you, but it is not very good or necessary, at least not as good or necessary as ours.

      “Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you.”

      Fundamentally, I believe that the curse caused both sexes to undervalue the bent of a women. Because of the fall, men and women both inherit a new bent—a sinful bent that says, “Women, your bent is not valuable.”

      Being redeemed in Christ gives us equality in purpose, design, and dignity—not sameness. Of all people, Christians should be able to recognize the mutual value of the sexes, understanding that they are complementary by God’s design. I believe that anything less is a sinful result of the fall.

    • Greg

      When Do You Draw the Line
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      I think we have a great audience on Parchment and Pen. It is varied and representative of a diversity of Christian thought. I appreciate this. I need this. Thank you all for being a part of the serious thought.

      I have a question for you. I am sitting here thinking through a class I am teaching tonight on essentials and non-essentials. It is very windy. There is a large oak tree outside that is catching the wind. Its strength amazes me. How does it withstand so much wind? It brought to mind a very familiar passage of Scripture:

      Ephesians 4:14-15 “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; 15 but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.”

      I wonder. I question. I ponder in thoughts of fear. What is the wind? How do we identify the waves? More importantly, are we moving to a point where we just politely talk about the waves and wind. Irenic dialogue is necessary and biblically mandated. This is not part of the question. But have we denied the reality of the wind and the waves?

      Wind. Waves. Tossed. Carried about.

      Does this even exist in a postmodern world? Obviously those of us who are Christians would should say yes! But those of us who are Christians in a postmodern world often lack courage. Not courage in the Lord, but courage in ourselves to identify the wind and waves. We fail to draw lines because we see the fading of previous lines that were drawn unnecessarily. Wind misidentified. Waves that were not.

      These are the questions: Where do you draw the line? When is the line crossed? Is there a line in your theology? Is there such a thing as wind and waves? If so, how do you identify them? What are they?

      Let me ask the same thing in a different way:

      Are there people in your estimation who have indeed crossed the line? If not, why? Do you not think that today’s world has any wind or waves? Have we advanced beyond false teaching that leads people astray? If so, what are the characteristics that they possess that have caused you to say “That has gone too far.”

      If you are hesitant to draw any lines, why? Do you think this is biblical? How so?

      I will check back later.

    • Greg

      Women, Slaves, and Homosexuals
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      William Webb’s Women, Slaves, and Homosexuals is one of the most outstanding books that I have read in the last 10 years—one of the most outstanding books that I disagree with. My disagreement is by no means wholesale, but limited to his conclusions concerning the great gender debate.

      Is there a proper and biblical role which men and women are limited to by God’s design? That is the essence of the debate.

      If you are a complementarian you believe that the roles of men and women are complementary, yet distinct by God’s design. Therefore, women honor God more by functioning within these roles. As well, men honor God more by functioning within their roles.

      If you are an egalitarian (meaning “equal”) you believe that people’s roles are not based upon inherent functionality of gender identification, but by individual giftedness. Therefore, women and men honor God by functioning within their giftedness, not gender role.

      A good friend of mine and former professor at Dallas Theological Seminary says that this issue will be looked at in embarrassment by those who insist on the conservative, traditional distinctions between men and woman (complementarians). So much so, he says that it will be likened to the issues of slavery in the 19th century. Christians, he says, do not want to be on the wrong side.

      I disagree.

      Has God created men and women in such a way that one sex, generally speaking, is actually better or more functional than another in certain areas. I have always found this debate fascinating. Not simply because it is so incredibly heated, but because, to me, the answers are so incredibly obvious. In fact, I think the wrong side of this issue is that of failing to recognize these real and important distinctions. If we don’t, we cripple society and depress the family.

      YES! There are things that man can do that women cannot. Sorry women! YES! There are things that women can do that men are not. Sorry men! Do you really want to argue against such a proposition? Really? Imagine a world where all distinctions were alleviated? Is that really freedom for anyone? Is that what we want?


      Well, right now is not the time for me to take this one on (I will soon), and I know it is not so simple, but I wanted to draw your attention to this important and wonderful work (that actually disagrees with me). I think Webb gets so much right and has provided the church with an invaluable hermeneutical resource, the value of which extends far beyond the gender debate.

      Tom Schreiner reviews the book at Resugence, but this book needs to be read. (However, I would warn that it is an intermediate-advanced work—I wish he would write a lay version).

      Read the review.

    • Greg

      I hope these can help! If you want more than the text here, like all the comments, I’ve got those too. Just email me for them.

    • Ron

      Hello Michael
      I have saved 6 as PDF files from the period of May 20, 2008 to June 18, 2008. I could email the files to you if that would be helpful.

    • Anja

      My Definite Stance on Inerrancy

      By C Michael Patton on C. Michael Patton

      For my upcoming Bibliology and Hermeneutics students, here is a rework of my stance on inerrancy.

      Do I believe in inerrancy? I guess, these days, it depends on who you ask and how you define it. My initial answer is “yes”. But it may not reflect how you define it. I am not trying to redefine anything, but the fact is that when it comes to this issue there is a spectrum of belief in those who confess the doctrine. I am sure—no absolutely sure—that there would be those out there would would see my view of inerrancy as a liberal compromise. But I don’t see it in such a way.

      I remember when I first began to read the Gospels I was rather confused about the repetition of the story of Christ. I was further confused that there seemed to be many places where the same event was told in different ways, using different words, and sometimes with different people involved. Whether it was Christ’s encounter with the demoniacs (Luke 18:27ff; Matthew 8:28ff) or the words written above the cross (Mark 15:26; Mark 19:19), there were differences. I noticed that differences of this type were the primary criticism to which skeptics would refer when attacking the reliability of Scripture and the truth of Christianity. This disturbed me. If the Bible was inspired, these differences should not be there. Isn’t the Bible inerrant? If it is, it cannot have discrepancies. How could God have gotten it wrong? How could inspired Gospel A say something different than inspired Gospel B?

      As I sought answers, I found initial comfort in those who would explain these “discrepancies” in some (very) creative ways. Some would say that the parallel accounts that I was having problems with were not really parallel at all. They were different encounters all-together.

      These types of explanations satisfied me at the time. I thus, unknowingly adopted what I believe now to be an unnatural and naively strict view of inerrancy I call “technically precise inerrancy.” This means that all the writers of Scripture, by virtue of their ultimate source of information (God), recorded everything precisely as it occurred.

      I later came to realize that this methodology was not only unnecessary but was actually birthed, I believe, out of a very Gnostic view of Scripture. I was so emphasizing God’s role in the writing of Scripture that the role of man could not be found. Yet if God used man in writing Scripture, and Scripture was intended for man, then would not have God used a common means of communication that did not require technical precision in communicating events.

      To make a long story short, I slowly began to adjust my view. I now adopt a view that I call “reasoned inerrancy.” “Reasoned inerrancy” is a definition of inerrancy that recognizes the vital role that one’s hermeneutic (method of interpreting Scripture) has in defining what we mean by “inerrancy.” It takes into account that the Scriptures must be interpreted according to the rules of interpretation governed by genre, historical accommodations, context, argument, and purpose. Only then can inerrancy be understood properly.

      The modernistic need for things to be technically precise with regards to Scripture, ironically held by both ultra-conservatives and skeptics who seek to pick apart the Bible, is just that—a modern need that produces a warped apologetic and is birthed from a faulty hermeneutic.

      Faulty presupposition of “Technically Precise Inerrancy”

      Let me further define the faulty presupposition of the “technically precise view of inerrancy.” The presupposition is this: All writers of Scripture, by virtue of divine inspiration and inerrancy, must have recorded everything in a technically precise way. This means that everything that is recorded represents the events exactly as they occurred. Any deviation from the technically precise account, according to advocates of this view, amount to a complete undermining of the accuracy and authority of Scripture.

      I take issue with this view. I do not believe that inspiration and inerrancy require technical precision. What I ask myself it this: Why would it be so difficult to believe that the authors of Scripture would take liberties in their recording of the Gospel narrative? Ouch! . . . Right? But think about it. Does taking liberties in the way someone recounts an event mean that they are producing fabrications or lies? Does it mean that they are untrustworthy accounts? Can’t people tell the same story different ways and even nuance that story according to their purposes and still be accurate?

      We would never place these types of restraints upon people today. The Gospel writers were simply telling the story of Christ as enthusiastic reporters of good news who were emotionally committed to the truths upon which they were reporting. This happens every day in our own news reporting system and we don’t hold their feet to the fire of technical precision.

      An Illustrated Test

      Let’s do a test using one of my favorite illustrations. Let’s have two reporters report the news. We will take two reporters accounts of the president’s recent warning to Iran concerning its nuclear program and see how they fare.

      Original statement from the president (not actual):
      “We are winning the war on terror. The terrorists are on the run. We are dealing with each new threat in a decisive yet unique way. We have warned those regimes that seek to produce weapons of mass destruction that their time is short and they better comply with the will of the coalition or face serious consequences.”

      Reporter #1: Bill O’Reilly
      Context: Debate concerning whether or not we should turn our attention from Iraq to Iran.
      Nuance: O’Reilly is defending the president to a leftist who believes that Bush is not focusing on the right war.
      Statement: “You are not being fair. The president said today that we are dealing with each situation individually and that serious consequences will befall all the defiant even if this is in a different manner.”

      Notice, O’Reilly represents the president’s speech truly, but in a particular nuanced fashion that is expedient to the moment. O’Reilly chooses to focus on the fact that the president says the threat will be dealt with in different ways. There is no untruth in the O’Reilly comment although it, technically speaking, is not exactly what the president said and it is nuanced according to the intent of O’Reilly.

      Reporter #2: Sean Hannity
      Context: Arguing with Allen Colmes concerning the president’s involvement of other nations in what Colmes believes to be American maverick tendencies to arrogantly make threats without the backing of other nations.
      Nuance: Hannity is disagreeing with Colmes and is an avid Bush supporter.
      Statement: “You don’t even listen to the president himself. He said today that there is a coalition of forces that are going to bring swift destruction upon the enemy.”

      Once again, we do not have a technically precise statement from the president, but it is true nonetheless. Hannity, in this case, like O’Reilly, only focuses in on the issues that are expedient to his cause and then nuances the statement to his own purpose. Yet his purpose, while more focused than the president’s, could not be said to have strayed from the president’s original intent. Notice particularly that Hannity changes “serious consequences” to “swift destruction.”

      Some may say that you cannot turn the ambiguous “serious consequences” to a more definite “swift destruction.” In some cases this may be uncalled for, but (and listen to this carefully) what if Hannity had recently heard the president say in other contexts that all in this coalition were prepared to do whatever is necessary in a timely fashion? What if in other speeches he had heard the president say that all those who seek weapons of mass destruction will share the same fate as Iraq? You see, Hannity may know the president well enough to read into his statements the fuller intent. He is at liberty to do so as long as it is accurately representing the president’s intent, to which he has particular insights.

      This is the same when it comes to Scripture. We must allow the biblical authors this right. We must allow them to have a particular purpose in writing. We must allow for this type of freehanded, yet all-together accurate (inerrant), nuanced method of recounting the events. This liberty is part of inspiration, whether it be of the Gospels writers or any other author of Scripture. We believe that the Bible is a product that involves 100% man’s input and 100% God’s, don’t we? If we don’t, then we might as well take man out of the picture all together and admit we hold to mechanical dictation (that God simply used the human authors hands in writing the Scripture, not their head—sometimes called “biblical docetism”). If mechanical dictation is true, then we should not care who the authors were writing to and we certainly should not care why they are writing since their motives do not influence the interpretation.

      Some may accuse me of uncritically adopting “redaction criticism.” Redaction criticism is the critical method of study that assumes the Gospel writers changed the events surrounding the life of Christ to fit their purpose. I do understand that people have taken this type of redaction criticism too far. Some have gone to the point of denying the truthfulness of the event based upon the expediency of the moment. But this is not what I am doing. I am just giving the authors liberty to write an accurate account of the events, while not having to be technically precise with the wording or structure. Therefore I do believe in a limited use of redaction criticism (although I would be careful who I said this around!). I would just not go so far as to say that the writers of Scripture ever produced fabrications, even if they did choose what to include due to the perceived needs of their audience.

      One last thing: ipsissima verba vs. ipsissima vox

      Scholars refer to these issues by referring to the difference between ipsissima verba (the very words) and ipsissima vox (the very voice). Did the writers record the very words of Christ or the spirit of truth that his words represent? I would say any inductive approach to arriving at a hermeneutical method demands the latter. Only if we deductively deduce that our theology of inspiration demands a strict level of preciseness within Scripture in order to be true, will we adopt the former. I believe that I have demonstrated that this is not only all-together unnecessary and naive, but misleading and dangerous.

      Now, having said all of this, it is important for me to allow the same fairness that I hope to receive from others. There are good scholars who disagree with me and are well able to defend their position. I encourage you to wrestle with their views as they have important representation within evangelicalism.

      Do I believe in inerrancy? If you mean “technically precise inerrancy,” the answer is no. But if you mean “reasoned inerrancy” that holds to an authorial intent hermeneutical method which includes ipsissima vox, then the answer is yes.

    • Anja

      What Do You Mean by “Free Will”?
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      There are many words and concepts in theology that suffer from misunderstanding, mis-characterization, and misinformation. “Predestination,” “Calvinism,” “Total Depravity,” “Inerrancy,” and “Complementarianism”, just to name a few that I personally have to deal with. Proponents are more often than not on the defensive, having to explain again and again why it is they don’t mean what people think they mean.

      The concept of “free will” suffers no less with regard to this misunderstanding. Does a person have free will? Well, what do you mean by “free will”? This must always be asked.

      Do you mean:

      1. That a person is not forced from the outside to make a choice?
      2. That a person is responsible for his or her choices?
      3. That a person is the active agent in a choice made?
      4. That a person is free to do whatever they desire?
      5. That a person has the ability to choose contrary to their nature (who they are)?

      Calvinists, such as myself, do believe in free will and we don’t believe in free will. It just depends on what you mean.

      When it comes to the first four options, most Calvinist would agree that a person is not forced to make a choice, is responsible for their choices, and is the active agent behind those choices. They would reject the forth believing that a person is not free to do whatever they desire. In fact, no matter what theological persuasion you adhere to, historic Christianity agrees on the first four. This is very important to realize.

      It is with the fifth option there is disagreement.

      Does a person have the ability to choose against their nature?

      This question gets to the heart of the issue. Here we introduce a new and more defined term: “Libertarian Free will” or “Libertarian Freedom.” Libertarian freedom can be defined briefly as “the power of contrary choice.”

      If you ask whether a person can choose against their nature (i.e. libertarian freedom) the answer, I believe, must be “no.” A person’s nature makes up who they are. Who they are determines their choice. If there choice is determined, then the freedom is self-limited. Therefore, there is no “power” of contrary choice for we cannot identify what or who this “power” might be. I know, I know . . . slow down. Let me explain.

      First, it is important to get this out of the way. To associate this denial of libertarian freedom exclusively with Calvinism would be misleading. St. Augustine was the first to deal with this issue in a comprehensive manner. Until the forth century, it was simply assumed that people were free and responsible, but they had yet to flesh out what this meant. Augustine argued that people choose according to who they are. If they are good, they make good choices. If they are bad, they make bad choices. These choices are free, they just lack liberty. In other words, a person does not become a sinner because they sin, they sin because they are a sinner. It is an issue of nature first. If people are identified with the fallen nature of Adam, then they will make choices similar to that of Adam because it is who they are. Yes, they are making a free choice, but this choice does not include the liberty of contrary choice.

      What you have to ask is this: If “free will” means that we can choose against our nature (the power of contrary choice), if “free will” means that we can choose against who we are, what does this mean? What does this look like? How does a free person make a choice that is contrary to who they are? Who is making the choice? What is “free will” in this paradigm?

      If one can choose according to who they are not, then they are not making the choice and this is not really freedom at all, no? Therefore, there is, at the very least, a self-determinism at work here. This is a limit on free will and, therefore, a necessary denial of libertarian freedom.

      Think about all that goes into making “who you are.” We are born in the fallen line of Adam. Spiritually speaking we have an inbred inclination toward sin. All of our being is infected with sin. This is called “total depravity.” Every aspect of our being is infected with sin, even if we don’t act it out to a maximal degree.

      But even if this were not the case,—even if total depravity were a false doctrine—libertarian freedom would still be untenable. Not only are you who you are because of your identification with a fallen human race, but notice all these factors that you did not choose that go into the set up for any given “free will” decision made:

      * You did not choose when you were to be born.
      * You did not choose where you were to be born.
      * You did not choose you parents.
      * You did not choose your influences early in your life.
      * You did not choose whether you were to be male of female.
      * You did not choose your genetics.
      * You did not choose your temperament.
      * You did not choose your looks.
      * You did not choose your body type.
      * You did not choose your physical abilities.

      All of these factor play a influencing role in who you are at the time of any given decision. Yes, your choice is free, but it has you behind them. Therefore, you are free to choose according to you from whom you are not able to free yourself.

      Now, I must reveal something here once again that might surprise many of you. This view is held by both Calvinists and Arminians alike. Neither position believes that a person can choose against their nature. Arminians, however, differ from Calvinists in that they believe in the doctrine of prevenient grace, which essentially neutralizes the will so that the inclination toward sin—the antagonism toward God—is relieved so that the person can make a true “free will” decision.

      However, we still have some massive difficulties. Here are a few:

      A neutralized will amounts to your absence from the choice itself. Changing the nature of a person so that their predispositions are neutral does not really help. We are back to the question What does a neutralized will look like? Does it erase all of the you behind the choice? If you are neutralized and liberated from you, then who is making the choice? How can you be held responsible for a choice that you did not really make, whether good or bad?

      A neutralized will amounts to perpetual indecision. Think about this, if a person had true libertarian freedom, where there were no coercive forces, personal or divine, that influenced the decision, would a choice ever be made? If you have no reason to choose A or B, then neither would ever be chosen. Ronald Nash illustrates this by presenting a dog who has true libertarian freedom trying to decide between two bowls of dog food. He says that the dog would end up dying of starvation. Why? Because he would never have any reason to choose one over the other. It is like a balanced scale, it will never tilt to the right or the left unless the weights (influence) on one side is greater than the other. Then, no matter how little weight (influence) is added to a balanced scale, it will always choose accordingly.

      A neutralized will amounts to arbitrary decisions, which one cannot be held responsible for. For the sake of argument, let’s say that libertarian choice could be made. Let’s say that the dog did choose one food bowl over the other. In a truly libertarian sense, this decision cannot have influences of any kind. An decision without influences is arbitrary. It would be like flipping a coin. I chose A rather than B, not because of who I am, but for no reason at all. It just turned out that way. But this option is clearly outside a biblical worldview of responsibility and judgment.

      Therefore, while I believe in free will, I don’t believe in libertarian free will. We make the choices we make because of who we are. We are responsible for these choices. God will judge each person accordingly with a righteous judgment.

      Is there tension? Absolutely. We hold in tension our belief in God’s sovereignty, determining who we are, where we will live, who our parents will be, etc. and human responsibility. While this might seem uncomfortable, I believe that it is not only the best biblical option, but the only philosophical option outside outside of fatalism, and we don’t want to go there.

      “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. 27 God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.'” Acts 17:26

      I encourage you to read J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig in their book Philosophical Foundations for a Biblical Worldview. They disagree with my thesis here, but they present a strong case for the other side.

      Thoughts? Do you believe in free will?

    • Anja

      Sex in the Church
      ~ C Michael Patton ~

      From Daniel Eaton at Theologica:

      I know this is a touchy subject (no pun intended), but are Christians, as a whole, sexually oppressed? Recently, I came across this article on an Apologetics news feed that I watch and most of what is in this blog post is from some posts on the topic that I made on another forum.

      Is a more conservative lifestyle in the area of “marital relations” “more Christian”? Or are Christians free to do anything consenting partners want without guilt and a lot (most?) of our limitations in this area more cultural? Is it a sin to go against our cultural/traditional beliefs about these things when we have no real Biblical basis for it or against it? Can we feel guilt or shame over something when it isn’t the Holy Spirit inducing it, but our culture? And if it is just from our culture, should we follow it or are we free to overcome it? The news story I linked to above prompted me to think about these questions.

      Here are my thoughts. Something tells me that if an accurate interpretation and translation of Song Of Solomon were to be published under another name, the average church would protest its inclusion in the local library. It would be called porn or, at the very least, seen as “dirty” erotica. We generally don’t like to think of those kind of passages in the Bible. The Bible is purity, and we *know* that that “dirty stuff” can’t be pure. But upon closer reflection, I believe that most of our taboos related to the marriage bed are cultural, not Biblical.

      This is a topic that the Bible spends a lot more talking about than the average pastor. I think we’ve gone so far into the direction of limited pleasures that are never discussed and only partaken of in the dark that it is one of the reasons why Christian marriages are in just as much trouble as non-Christian ones. At one end of the spectrum, we have a liberalism and “alternative lifestyles” that is unhealthy and unbiblical in many ways. Yet when we go so far in the opposite direction that it, in effect, limits intimacy, we have become just as legalistic and oppressed as any Muslim in a Hijab.

      A good Christian marriage should promote intimacy on many different levels, physical and otherwise. When Churches don’t discuss it, it suggests that it is wrong and “dirty”. It propagates bad cultural ideas of what a good marriage is. If the “S” word is mentioned at all in church, it is done in a negative connotation. We preach strongly against sex before marriage. Bold youth pastors may even get into what acts that it may or may not include (because of some of the things kids are now thinking isn’t sex). But more often than not, they would be criticized for doing so by parents that just want someone to babysit their kids. We preach strongly and frequently against adultery and lust and porn. But when marriage is discussed at all, it is in generalities about “relationship” and “communication”. But if we actually followed the Bible’s example, wouldn’t we NOT skip from Ecclesiastes to Isaiah in our Bible study and teaching. If the Bible is going to devote one entire book on the subject of the love that a person can have for their spouse and the desires it produces, why is a sermon on sex viewed with a motivation of doing it “because it draws people” when done occasionally in a very circumspect manner? If discussing physical attraction was so was “dirty” or “worldly”, and only for “drawing people”, why is there an inspired book of the Bible that focuses so much on it?

      Ultimately, in my opinion, I believe Christians have drawn boundaries as to what is “dirty and sinful” versus what is allowed and even encouraged in the confines of a Christian marriage that it is hurting our marriages. We are too Puritanical in our zeal *not* to be seen as worldly. When we are *so* conservative that *ANY* movement at all from that position is considered becoming more worldly, I have to wonder the Biblical basis for that kind of extreme position that still keeps Song of Solomon in the Bible.

      I’m not saying that we should have sex-ed from the pulpit for all the kids to hear. That would be gratuitous. My point is that it isn’t talked about at all. Even on weekend Marriage Retreats that I have been on, they were announced at church, but sponsored by other organizations. And they didn’t get into anything that would even slightly resemble gazing on your spouse with desire, much less what the Biblical limits are to physically expressing that side of our humanity. It was all “romance” and “communication” and “parenting” and personality types and so forth. Nothing wrong with that. It is needed as well. But not even in the frank single-gender break-out sessions did they ever get anywhere near as open as what is talked about in other, less-Christian venues. Every guy in the room would, I’m sure, have loved a frank discussion on the topic. But it is guidance that Christian couples seem forced to get somewhere else.

      By totally avoiding the information, it leads to a “missionary mentality” (if you get my drift) and the only source of information is the “world” and we know that it has to be “dirty” if it is from the world and not something that cannot even be discussed in an adult Sunday School class. Most youth groups are open enough to talk about what the limits are for the unmarried, why is it that when we get married there isn’t something equivalent? It’s a beautiful thing. Why turn it into a taboo subject? When the church is ashamed to even broach the subject, again in a circumspect manner, it makes the whole subject appear shameful. In a way, it is almost Gnostic – the physical becomes bad. We *say* it is OK, but heaven forbid anyone finds out Christians do something for fun and not merely for procreation. And heaven forbid someone finds out that you did some reading somewhere to find out how much of “it” it OK and what crosses Biblical lines!

      A lot of people go to the marriage bed with all kinds of hangups because of guilt that they have over things that they should have no guilt over. For example, my wife went to a Christian college. One of the dorm matrons there taught the female students that all nudity was a dirty thing. They were told that, even after marriage, they should always stay covered and modest. Being unclothed was OK if you absolutely had to be, but you better make sure the lights are off! The idea was that if you didn’t stay modest at all times that it was being “loose” and a “temptress” and that if it caused your husband to have impure thoughts that you’ve led him into sin as well. But aren’t husbands supposed to think thoughts like that about their wife? Needless to say, I/we take that as an unhealthy approach to the subject. It causes guilt and shame where there should be none. It puts up barriers to intimacy that shouldn’t be there. In effect, I believe that a lot of Christians have been actively taught (as in this example) or been led to believe by what they haven’t been taught that in the spectrum of marital activities that the line between right and wrong is way over on one end of the spectrum. To even think of adding something different into a rigid routine becomes something “kinky” and “worldly”. I believe the inference (mostly from silence on the topic) that marriages can’t be fun and adventurous (within Biblical limits) leads a lot of men into getting hooked on porn instead of addicted to their wife.

      But, I’m from the land that brought us Southern Belles and petticoats. I could be wrong. There is a certain level of modesty and propriety that is still deep in the cultural psychy of the South. And the more the culture changes away from that, the more the “good” people cling to the propriety of yesteryear. It may not be the same in other places. Here in the Bible Belt though, most Christian ladies that I know would die of shame if one of their friends from church found out that they had purchased a revealing piece of lingerie from somewhere. And the activity on the church grapevine “prayer chain” would be enough to light up Vegas for a night if someone actually saw the head deacon’s wife in Victoria’s Secret! I think if the church was a bit more open to discussing the subject, you wouldn’t find so many Christian men addicted to porn and so many unhappy Christian marriages. It’s great to say that married couples should satisfy each other, but typically you end up with different interpretations of what all that can/should entail and it becomes a source of stress instead of pleasure.

      People need to know the physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological dangers and limits to certain behavior. We get it drilled into our heads a “don’t do NOTHING!” mantra prior to Marriage. *Everything* is seen as wrong. It’s all “dirty”. But once you get married, *some* stuff is OK. But “some” is a relative term, and the church, which hasn’t been bashful in preaching “all is bad” to the unsaved youth student, is totally absent when it comes to telling them what part of “some” is good or evil in a committed Christian marriage. As such, it all remains “shady” and left as one huge gray area. One spouse may think one thing is OK and the other has been taught something different. There is so much “gray area” that good Christian couples are afraid to venture into anything “adventurous” or different for fear of being in sin, and have guilt over even thinking about it.

      The bottom line is that we spend a great deal of time in parenting discussing the need for boundaries. Where the boundaries are clear, there is more freedom. Kids in a fenced yard take advantage of the whole area. Kids who are told not to cross the property line, but don’t really know or can’t agree where it is, stay close to the house. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be fences. I’m saying that the church is great at building fences and yet, in this area, tell married couples that the “gate” is now open but “don’t stray too far”. Not knowing what “far” is, we stay close enough to the old fence to touch it. That isn’t freedom. The church owes it to the marriages of its members to do better than that. They should not be embarrassed or shamed for seeing the green grass on the other side of the fence and wanting to take a stroll in it, but being afraid because they don’t know where the boundaries are. And considering the dangers of even thinking certain thing in this area, there is a lot of guilt and shame that people have for even bringing these subjects up in case they were thinking sinfully. It’s a huge gray area that the church doesn’t really shine a light on.

      Why is it that the church seems to have no problem with all the “thou shalt not’s” and fences before and outside marriage, but is eerily silent about what is and is not permissible within the confines of the Christian marriage bed? Is that a good thing? Or, do you agree with me that the church needs to supply some information on this topic before people go to the world for it? Is it a sin to go against your conscience about something that is only based on cultural norms (do we even still have those?) when there is no Biblical reason for it? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them…

    • C Michael Patton

      You guys are tremendous!

      Ron, please do send them to me at michaelp at reclaimingthemind dot org.

    • Anja

      Grudem: Predestination Based on Foreknowledge Still Does Not Give People Free Choice

      By C Michael Patton

      From Grudem’s Systematic Theology, Wayne Grudem gives one of the “Misconceptions Concerning Calvinism.”

      Predestination Based on Foreknowledge Still Does Not Give People Free Choice:

      “The idea that God’s predestination of some to believe is based on foreknowledge of their faith encounters still another problems: upon reflection, this system turns out to give no real freedom to man either. For if God can look into the future and see that person A will come to faith in Christ, and that person B will not come to faith in Christ, then those facts are already fixed, they are already determined. If we assume that God’s knowledge of the future is true (which it must be), then it is absolutely certain that person A will believe and person B will not. There is no way that their lives could turn out any differently than this. Therefore it is fair to say that their destinies are still determined, for they could not be otherwise. But by what are these destinies determined? If they are determined by God himself, then we no longer have election based ultimately on foreknowledge of faith, but rather on God’s sovereign will. But if these destinies are not determined by God, then who or what determines them? Certainly no Christian would say that there is some powerful being other than God controlling people’s destinies. Therefore it seems that the only other possible solution is to say they are determined by some impersonal force, some kind of fate, operative in the universe, making things turn out as they do. But what kind of benefit is this? We have then sacrificed election in love by a personal God for a kind of determinism by an impersonal force and God is no longer to be given the ultimate credit for our salvation.”

      HT: Rhett’s Rants

      What do you think?

    • Anja

      –This one is not complete, don’t know if this helps —

      How Do I Fit Rewards into My Grace Centered Theology? A Theology of Rewards

      By C Michael Patton on Eschatology

      Rewards in heaven. I hope to have some, but the idea of rewards in heaven is difficult to fit into my theology. My mother used to say, “As long as I make it, I don’t care if I am riding a tricycle.”

      Christ taught that there will be rewards in heaven. Each person will receive a certain “bonus” according to his deeds. Listen to this:

      “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:19-21 19)

      What do we do with this? If I was in the hearing of Christ at this time, I would have asked him some questions:

      1. “Jesus, how do we get these rewards?”

      2. “Jesus, I thought that redemption—everlasting life—was our reward. Are you saying that we are going to have rewards on top of this reward? A ‘heavenly bonus’?”

      3. “Jesus, does everyone receive the same rewards?”

      Finally, assuming that I know the answer to these first two (which I think I do), I would ask one final question:

      4. “Jesus, what is the decisive cause of these rewards, our works or your grace?”

      If it is of grace then it is not of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace (Rom. 11:6). Therefore the answer to the first question would have to be “good deeds.” The context to this statement in Matt. 6 is not seeking the rewards of men by pridefully praying or putting on a long face while fasting in public to be seen as holy. Do all things in secret “and your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (v. 18). This implies that there will be rewards in addition to eternal life. That takes care of question two.

      In answer to question three is easy. That everyone does not get the same amount of rewards is evident. Not only does the passage above necessarily imply this, Luke 19 and the parable of the minas teaches us as much also. As well, Paul instructs us telling the Corinthians that there will be a time of reckoning for our rewards. At this time, some people’s rewards works will be tested and found wanting. Though their salvation is secure, some people’s rewards will be lost. (i.e. They will not get much of a bonus).

      “Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Cor. 3:12-15)

      This would include those people who fast and pray for the praise of men. Their heavenly reward will be burned up, though their life is secure in God.

      How do I fit this into my theology? (more…)

    • Jugulum

      I just found all the data! (I think)

      I tried checking the Internet Archive (at, but they only archived up to the middle of 2007. However, Google still seems to have your stuff in the archive. I just saved the most recent snapshot of your front page, which has some data. (Though not the complete posts.) But the following link seems to have all of your entries, including comments. Click on the “cached” links.

      Warning: This data might disappear as soon as Google scans your website again.

      You could click on each link and save the page, but there’s got to be a more systematic way of doing it. Someone could probably write a script that would do it all automatically. I lack the web-savvy, but I’m pretty sure it would be very easy to do.

      As a community effort, if anyone out there has a favorite entry/entries, you could go find them on Google and save a copy.

    • Jugulum


      On second thought, the following two links are more helpful. They seem to narrow the search down to just 2007 or 2008 entries.

      2007 entries
      2008 entries

    • Hugh

      You can go to Google reader’s feed for the blog and get history going back a long way… maybe all the way.

    • Jugulum

      Beautiful! I’ve got it!

      Go grab the DownThemAll extension for Firefox.

      Go to one of the results pages. Right-click anywhere in the page and hit the “DownThemAll” command. Enter “/search?q=cache” (no quotes) in Fast Filtering textbox. Then hit “Start”.

      The first time, it will ask you what to do when it tries to download a file with the same name–all the pages have the name “search.htm”. Tell it to rename, and select the option that will do it for the rest of the current session.

      After you do it once, you can go to each Google results page, and right-click anywhere in the page, and hit the dTa One Click command. Fast and easy!

      It won’t be easy to get all the data back into the site, but at least you’ll still have it.

      Right now, I’m grabbing 2008. If anyone else wants to help, try 2007. Or 2008, but start at the last results page. 🙂

    • Jugulum

      Small snag. I got the first 200 posts (out of ~280) from 2008, but then Google detected my automatic downloading of the entries, so it temporarily disable access. It might just be on my computer. I’m going to try from another computer. One of y’all might have more luck. Start from results page #20 on the 2008 link, and go forward. Or go for 2007 entries.

    • C Michael Patton

      Jug, once you get them, how do you get them to me?

      Thanks so much!!!

    • Jugulum

      I can email them to you. It’s just a bunch of .HTM files.

      No luck, BTW. I tried from another computer in my office, and it still gives me the “Sorry” page with the message that my computer might have a virus. That may be because the two computers are on the same network. Someone else should give it a try.

      Hmm. And here’s some better links for the 2007 data. Michael, you have everything up to sometime in September, right? Here’s the links, broken down by month.

      Sept 2007
      Oct 2007
      Nov 2007
      Dec 2007

      That way, you can avoid downloading the pages that aren’t missing.

    • Jugulum

      OK, I’ve got confirmation from someone in the AOMin chatroom that the Cached links are still working for them. If someone reading this can take a few minutes to follow my directions above, you can get the rest of 2007 and the 2008 entries from the results page #20 and forward.

      (Note: There might actually not be any more pages after #20. The first 19 pages of results say that there are 284 results. But then when you hit page #20, it says, “Results 191 – 197 of 197”. I’ve noticed that happen before.)

      Michael, I just emailed you a ZIP file of all the pages that I grabbed. They’re all from 2008.

    • Jugulum

      Booyah. The timer at Google ended, and I was able to get the rest. I just emailed them to Michael, too.

      If anyone else would like them, you can email me at my name at

    • Ed Trefzger

      I was able to save a file with all your posts back to Sept. 2007 using Google Reader. If you need it … please email me at my first name and last name at

    • Susan

      Wow Jugulum, impressive!

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