Nine times out of ten it is the coarse word that condemns an evil, and the refined word that excuses it. —G.K. Chesterton
We’ve talked about the 11th commandment before, but it’s easy for people to think we’re building strawmen. So here is a great example of an 11th commandment rebuke from the horse’s mouth. We won’t name the commenter since what we have to say about this is not aimed at him specifically; this is just an example of a pattern we see repeatedly. Maybe it’s a false positive, just like there were a few people in Israel who had broken down walls and overgrown vineyards for good reasons—but Scripture still tells us that this is how to spot a sluggard. Similarly, here is how to spot a chump. Wisdom is pattern recognition:
As a believer who is not part of the SBC I would just like to say. You guys need to air your dirty laundry somewhere other than in public. If you have issues work them out among yourselves. If you want to speak out against CRT do so but don’t drag your conf. through the mud. Use Matthew 18 principles. You are not honoring the Lord and your contention is harming your Christian testimony. I’m not saying to brush your problems under the rug. You definitely have things to take issue with. But [social media] is not the platform to do it on.
Compare with the eleventh commandment (Bnonn Standard Translation):
Thou shalt not discomfort thy neighbor by speaking frankly with him, thou shalt not discomfort thy neighbor by naming his sin, nor by resisting his worldliness, nor by questioning his probity, nor by doubting his fidelity, nor by confessing truths obnoxious to him, nor by any way that is unmannerly in thy neighbor’s eyes. Thou shalt be nice before his face continually; for by thy neighbor’s feelings shalt thou be judged, by his chagrin shalt thou be convicted, and by his umbrage shalt thou be condemned." (Exodus 20:17.5)
This is surely the dumbest kind of response to theological conflict possible. Imagine someone telling Paul that he was harming his Christian testimony with his contention in Acts 22-23, dragging the Jewish council through the mud. This exact standard would condemn basically every prophetic ministry that Scripture models for us. It amounts to a “might makes right” attitude, where religious elites must be allowed to get away with anything, provided they use the right bureaucratic channels and put on the right public face (which, needless to say, false teachers excel at). It rebukes overthrowing error and putting down heresy (so as to show the world that judgment begins in the house of God), in favor of capitulating and playing nice (to show the world that God’s law is spineless and toothless).
Only simpletons or quislings think this way: people who are so worried about doing anything they think the world will find odious, that they become willing to do what they know God finds odious. And then they add insult to injury by being complete dupes, allowing the world to manipulate them with crybullying, so what they think the world wants to see doesn’t even remotely resemble reality.
If you are tempted toward the 11th commandment, here is some straight advice:
Stop believing when people act shocked or offended. Stop tripping over yourself. Stop being simple. Stop being callow. Stop being suckered. Learn what it means that the Christian life is spiritual warfare, and spend some time learning the principles necessary for victory. Instead of being tossed about by every wave of chagrin, instead of being the private second class calling captains and generals to peace when there is no peace (that’s actually called surrender), start studying their tactics instead.
If you’re not sure which captains and generals are worth studying, look for those the world hates and tries to silence…especially within the church.
Doug Wilson would be a good example, and he has providentially written an insightful piece that dovetails with what we have already said. Here’s the main point:
Whenever a striking collision happens, whenever a polemical exchange occurs, there is a natural human tendency to glance at a hypothetical audience to see how they took it. How are they reacting to all this? But because the audience is hypothetical, those seats in the hypothetical auditorium have to be filled by the one doing the glancing. And those seats will be filled, almost of necessity, by imagined people who will reinforce the assumptions of the one doing the glancing…
Not only so, but the current zeitgeist has trained all of us to fill up those auditoriums with critics from our left, such that we are pressed, and we are constantly pressed, to do something to be a little more more winsome to them. Do something to satisfy them. Surprise them. Ingratiate them. There is therefore a constant and unrelenting pressure to cater to the left. This is why there is pressure to mollify and persuade the evangelical moderate who voted for Biden, and never any pressure to reassure the Christian nationalists. You need to reassure the former that you do have a heart, and you never need to reassure the latter that you are not going soft.
Here’s another example. There is a truism in conservative politics about the media that can be applied to this. When a Republican is caught in a scandal, the scandal is the story. When a Democrat is caught in a scandal, the Republican reaction to the scandal is the story… In other words, the auditorium will be filled up with critics of Republican misdeeds in the first instance, and critics of Republican overreactions in the second instance. You see how this works? This is why Robert Conquest’s second law—”any organization not explicitly right-wing sooner or later becomes left wing”—has such fine predictive value.
Now the hypothetical audience is an inescapable reality, an inescapable concept. It is not whether we will have such an audience in our minds, but rather what the composition of that audience will be, and why. Christians in the public sphere therefore have to decide which audience they are playing to. Are they seeking the applause of NPR-listeners? Or the applause of a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1)? This is your reminder that they are not the same.
There are theological liberals deeply entrenched in reformed churches and denominations. They’re nearly impossible to get out because they are deceptive about what they believe. Smoking them out therefore requires intense ecclesiastical guerrilla warfare. “Moderates” have very little stomach for such warfare—they want to be seen as nice, and they will always side with the most convincing victim. This means that anyone with the guts to take on the two-faced liberals will eventually be fed to the hounds by the moderates.
Worst yet, those good men are often embittered by the betrayal, and made less useful to the kingdom of God. We have seen a lot of these men in small denominations.
So while we commend fighting, and seldom recommend simply leaving (that has been the conservative strategy for decades and it doesn’t work), it is important to count the cost. Ask:
- “Can I win this battle?”
- “What will it cost me? Will it cost me my joy in the Lord?”
- “What will it cost my family? Will it wound my wife or my children?”
These are good questions to ask.
New content this week: #
Smash the Patriarchy - A Father’s Day Sermon. This is episode is a sermon Michael preached on Father’s Day at East River Church. The sound is a little rough but we hope it will still encourage you.
Next week we will be launching a new website for Tyrannus Hall, and opening the doors for new intake. In the meantime, you can find out more about the Hall at our temporary page, including what you get and what the costs are. You can also add your name to the wait list:
To whet your appetite, here is the noble Baron Goring von Thrüsthoven, who features on the coat of arms for our new site:
- Playing for Keeps - YouTube. Aaron Renn riffs on Darren Badey’s remark that, “There is a profound psychological gulf between those playing for scraps, and those playing for keeps.”
- Four Woke Church Tactics - YouTube. A simple rundown by Jon Harris on leftists taking over churches like viruses by inserting their DNA, and getting the cell to replicate it.
- What is Biblical Patriarchy? • Eric Conn. Eric Conn provides a concise but comprehensive breakdown of the differences between complementarianism and patiarchy/gendered piety.
Bnonn is looking for a freelance Christian animator and illustrator to sometimes work with him on web projects:
- Short marketing & informational videos
- Custom icons & graphics
- Vector hero images
If you are such a person, or know someone who is, just reply back to this email and Bnonn will pick it up.
Talk again next week,
Bnonn & Michael