Hey, it’s Bnonn.
This week we’re doing something a little different. Michael and I have been putting most of our time into book content – which is code for 20% writing and 80% research.
With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the most useful content I’ve come across in the past couple of weeks. It’s a fair range in terms of length, content type, topic, and erudition – what they all have in common is I found them helpful, edifying, and thought-provoking:
Feminism in the Reformed Churches
Our brother Michael Spangler has written a blog series, detailing the leaders and tactics of the feminist movement in the Reformed churches. The whole series is excellent and eye-opening – but in my opinion the last post is the best; a convicting and encouraging call to arms. Praise the Lord, and pass the ammunition.
The Bible is Art
This YouTube channel has far too few views and subscriptions considering how good the content is. Short, but usually deeply insightful pieces – always under 10 minutes – that will help you to better understand and discover the patterns that God wrote into Scripture.
The Fear of God
Toby Sumpter drops the hammer in this sermon. If you can, listen to it rather than reading his notes; it is expanded in important places, and also carries a greater punch in the delivery. Here’s an excerpt:
There is no fear of God in American evangelical worship. It is light and casual and friendly and silly and obnoxious, but it is not fearful. It does not tremble, and it does not cause anyone to tremble. It does not teach anyone to fear the Lord. And we love to have it so. We insist that it not cause anyone to fear. Come as you are. Our worship is informal, casual – anyone will feel comfortable here. Which just goes to tell you that whoever is there, God is certainly not. If God were there in His goodness, His people would tremble.
The Male Genius
You want something long? You want something insightful? You want something that will challenge and deepen your understanding of masculine and feminine psychology, and why the world is the way it is? OK, this essay from Anthony Esolen of The Agonist is for you.
A Crisis of Discourse: A Problem of Gender
You want something longer? Something more insightful? Something that will draw it all together for you? OK, this essay from Alastair Roberts is where it’s at. One of many money quotes:
The gendered relational logic that undergirds the practice of the sorts of male and female discourse I have been describing differs in crucial respects. On the male side, the manly practice of agonistic discourse upholds a standard of honour within a rule-bound exchange. The goal of the exchange is to gain honour and one gains honour by winning by the rules. Men must put themselves on the line and win by playing by the rules of discourse if they are to gain honour. Honour is lost by breaking the rules, taking unfair advantages, avoiding direct engagement, failing to present a defence for your position, and other such behaviours. One gains honour through engaging in the rule-bound encounter. If the rules are well-defined and the encounter is well ordered and refereed (ensuring that wrath or ego do not take over), the manly drive for honour can be powerfully harnessed for the service of truth.
The primary gendered virtues of typical female social interaction don’t, however, so readily lend themselves to agonistic engagements over truth. Male social values tend to affix themselves chiefly to agency (strength, mastery, honour, etc.), which can more easily be abstracted from the immediacy of persons and must be proved through struggle. Female social values (care, empathy, equality, inclusion, etc.), by contrast, tend to focus chiefly upon persons. Agonistic engagement can often be perceived as an immediate contravention of these values and truth itself can be perceived as threatening. When this occurs, all rules of engagement can be abandoned and it is the person, rather than the argument, that is attacked.
It is important that we recognize how certain prevailing forms of feminism have exploited male (protection and concern for women’s opinion) and female codes of behaviour (care, equality, empathy, etc.) to establish a context of discourse that is resistant to the operations of challenging truth. Threatening claims can be dealt with by denying the speaker a platform, by appealing to third parties for assistance in removing them, by attacking reputations and poisoning the well, by demonizing or encouraging extreme suspicion of people outside of the group, by attacking a person’s presumed tone, by characterizing all rhetorical actions as veiled and illegitimate power ploys, by getting patron parties to police the discourse so that threatening positions can’t be voiced, by using the threat of social ostracization to get people to self-censor, etc. All of these are classic feminine modes of handling social conflict.
Feminism, gender, and race theory have also become human shields that prevent us from challenging key persons, agencies, social realities, and ideas directly. These theories serve to elevate and mobilize unhelpful instincts and to close down the discourse. The ad hominem character of much feminist argumentation is a result of the failure to manage and effectively to direct or restrict natural feminine social instincts for the purpose of effective discourse. When natural instincts have not been harnessed in the service of truth, not only have they been unbroken, they have also trampled over all of the rules of reasonable discourse.
Finally, a couple of pieces from us:
A Biblical Theology of Attraction
We now have a couple of our more popular podcasts up on YouTube. This one, many people tell us, is perhaps the most helpful for understanding just how much information Genesis really does give us about our natures and duties as men and women – and how practical this information is. If you haven’t listened to this before (or you want a refresher), it’s worth the 57 minutes – and if you disagree, just write in for a full and prompt refund on the purchase price.
Episode 6 in Michael’s podcast series. He exposes how vicious men and women manipulate weak men into doing their bidding by framing it as “manning up.” I started listening for Michael’s insights on intersexual psychology, but I’ll be honest – I stayed for the hilariously un-PC Chinese impression comedy.
If this all doesn’t keep you going for a while, I’m not sure what will. But I’ll leave you with one last quote for encouragement:
Ye youths, ye young men, the flower of the army of the Lord of Hosts! I have a hold on you also. You I summon, “for ye have overcome the wicked one” ( 1 John 2:13); “ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one” ( 1 John 2:14). As good soldiers of Christ, I would remind you of your high vocation; of what is committed to you; of what is expected of you. Your sphere is the field of battle. The quiet of contemplative study may best suit aged saints, advanced disciples, “fathers;” who may best serve the cause by enlarging, under the Spirit’s teaching, their own and the Church’s knowledge of the Eternal Word; elevating their own and the Church’s views of the Son in the bosom of the Father. But the vigour of spiritual youth points to the never-ending conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, as your special department. For you are called to wage war with the wicked one. And you have every encouragement to do so. You have overcome him already in Christ, for he has overcome him. You have but to follow up and follow out the conquest. You are strong, and the word of God abideth in you. And through that word which testifies of Christ’s victory abiding in you, the foe is already vanquished. You have overcome the wicked one. (Candlish)
Bnonn & Michael