Friday, 27 September 2013

Martha and the Vandellas & the Regulative Principle: My Annual Misery on the Jewish Night of Joy

      I went to Shul tonight. I’m happy I did. Since I’m a Calvinist, I suppose it’s incumbent upon me to deliver three reasons for that happiness. OK.
      On second thought, let me give three reasons for the joy while taking a stab at explaining how so much misery made its way into the mix. It’s still three, and three is just right for a Wilhelmina Mint.

ARIDI_FONTS_WOW_266irst: I was happy for seeing the oh-so-appropriate and effusive joy of the ancient covenanted people as they were infected with the spirit which had animated David Hamelech to dance on even in the face of a jeering cohort—make that jeering consort. For this evening, you see, was Simchas Torah in the Jewish Calendar—”Rejoicing in the Law”—which marks the last day of the final and greatest of the three Pilgrim Feasts which God commanded Israel to keep as a record and witness of His great deeds on behalf of His beloved people. I must defer to already recorded material if you wish to know more about this Feast, or about Israel’s calendar in general (contact, tell him what you’d like to learn, and tell him where the green is). Though Christians are too often quick to condemn Israel for ignorance of the true meaning of the Feasts, how many Christians (beside G.I. Williamson) could tell you that Succoth (the third of the major Feasts) has yet to find historical fulfillment. Passover? You know. Pentecost? You know. Tabernacles? You don’t know. That is a pretty pregnant fact for a Bible-believer, especially one who reads Paul’s breathless anticipation of that fulfillment to come in the 11th of Romans. But greater pathos came for recognizing that, say what you will about my people’s Divinely-placed blinders which prevent their seeing the One about Whom all the Feasts speak, at least they know how to respond to a complete disclosure from God instructing post-fall humans in how they ought to live. They BOOGIED, baby, and so rightly so! But my other people, the newcomers, get the heebie jeebies at just the mention of law—even though it is God’s Law for us. Behold those whose zeal is unaccompanied by real knowledge! Go figure. I’ve been ciphering that insanity for 37 years and it still won’t add up.

ARIDI_FONTS_WOW_279econd, how many Regulativists have I heard reduced to spurting out inanities like, “Well, without a Regulative Principle of Worship, how can you prevent dance from being introduced in the worship service?” But why would I want to? Tonight, as each Torah scroll was lovingly and carefully removed from the Ark, then held up for all to behold what love God had shown to Israel through an invitation-only Self-disclosure, then, as each scroll was paraded around the synagogue, flaunting the great Distinction the Lord had given to a people, every person present was permitted to make appropriate and reverent gestures of devotion to the Words of God, and as any sensitive soul would anticipate, the dancing began. In many synagogues, the dancing spills out into the streets with exuberant revelers following the Leader (the Torah).

Dance: the God-placed impulse for expressing total emotion bodily (the only way humans can express anything at all, by the way). Dance: the one “area” which those who talk about the redemption of every area—the one area these dudes silently hope will never be mentioned. For then we’d be talking about BODIES. OOOH! Well, if you want to see what bodies may lawfully do in public service to God—beside sit and stand (and davan)—go to a Simchas Torah service. The rising, the movement, the excitement, the joy, the SINGING, the dancing continued—in the parade around the synagogue. It became increasingly fervent, electric, but always genuine, not to mention dignified. The synagogue, of course, was partitioned, so there is no “do-si-do and swing your partner” jazz. Egalitarians have somewhere else to go—and it can’t be soon enough.

I LOVE Simchas Torah. Talk about covenant renewal worship? The worship in synagogues on this evening is like an annual, worldwide covenant reproof, a testimony to the Gentile church (no offense) that too much of her Chalcedonian treasures remain stuck in the bottle in which she stores them. Yet they were not delivered to be penuriously shelved, but applied, spilled out on a parched earth for its only hope of renewal. Failure to apply them—in the real world for real life—has left said church in an overall clueless condition: instead of cultivating transcendent norms, rising above petty border wars, and spreading answers—particularly concerning worship and liturgical matters—the Gentile church struggles to discover just which questions stand in need of an answer.

We should add, the church must learn where to place her ear if she hopes to actually hear whatever answers God might graciously provide. So, again, happy/sad.

ARIDI_FONTS_WOW_280hird, and Wilhelmina is fast melting, I witnessed something I don’t believe I’ve ever seen in a church—any church—and I’ve been in more than I can count. This year, like every year, this local synagogue was beneficiary of a sizable number of orthodox Jewish visitors—non-members, as we Christians might say, but unusual visitors by any reckoning. For they were not spec-ing out the joint, not considering a transfer of membership, not members of the same “denomination,” not there to pass judgment on the ignorance or inadequacies of the small group this shul is able to assemble. No. These visitors—I figure there were about 20 or 25—making them about half of the attenders or a bit more than 50% if just the men are counted—these visitors were there for a single purpose: to do all within their power AS FELLOW JEWS to insure that that synagogue on this hallowed evening would be a place sanctified by infectious joy, derived from being of that number called by the only God for a purpose. THIS IS LIVING COVENANT, and while I’ve seen abounding evidences of true and holy love in any number of wonderful churches, I’ve never seen such institutional indifference as was tonight exhibited (just as it was last year and the year before and…).

The visitors ranged in age from about 12 to (I’d say) 40, but the majority were just into theirs. These young people trailed the leading, bobbing, circling Torah scrolls, while reaching out their hands into every pew, taking both hands of this most senior member, then that quite advanced attender, and any others who needed help or encouragement to do what is for many not easy to do. A boy who appeared to be the youngest of the visiting Chasidim tried to coax/drag me and my buddy out of the pew on one of the circuits. So I punched him in the face. Just kidding! I mention it only to show that individuality may survive even in such settings, for I did lovingly decline the urging of this young man—initially (Jews have lots of practice saying no to other Jews—and it happened that I was then trying to understand something about the service and needed another minute). These kindly joy-mongers would help men gently to their feet, while virtually forcing smiles by contagion and example, then lead or just join seniors and juniors and youngsters into grand and fitting activity—at customized and sensitive paces—all natural, as they say—in celebration of having in their possession the actual and real will of God Almighty. Would that they did! But if this is how those with blinders can rejoice, albeit once each year, but still—is it never meet for us so to do? Balderdash! But as I hinted a moment ago, what really twists me is how—with the church charged with the task of provoking Israel to jealousy, it is Israel who keeps coming up to the plate and hitting ’em out of the park. These people—vilified by Christians as the incarnation of blind provincialism—leave their comfort zones with no greater agenda, no gain in view beside enabling a fellow Jew to be joyful before God. Where is anything close to this among those upon whom has come the Fulfillment of all these things? Just who is provincial?

I do love this festal day, you know? O, how I hate it! Know what I mean? Fischtay?

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Intro Thoughts on Dods

The men who have deeply influenced my thinking have been several, and I’d gladly list them if asked, telling particular ways each has contributed to my understanding of Scripture and life. Those who influenced my preaching, however, are fewer (which may partly account for its deficiencies). Few or many, the influence of Marcus Dods upon this minister and his ministry (34 years in May, D.V.) have been disproportionate.

At the risk of sounding like I’ve drunk too deeply at the well of charismania, I would put it this way: many have taught me much about the history, inspiration, contents, organization and place of the Bible in the life of the Church and its members, enabling me to apprehend that which, had it been promised before the lessons, would have seemed an exaggerated claim. In short, I was taught to look and see. But Dods (I’m not drunk, as you suppose) showed me how to listen and feel.

In preparing for my sermons through the Gospel of John, I’d typically consult many volumes of commentaries and studies, but I’d save Dods for last. Why? Because after reading his casting of the events, I’d be so deeply touched by the overwhelming humanity, universality, personalness, pathos—by the people God was moving, drawing, changing—I’d end up sobbing uncontrollably, drenching the pages, leaving me with splattered notes and one exhausted Jewish body. I had known before picking up a commentary that the Bible was the Word of God. It was by means of the eye and words of Marcus Dods that I came to see for whom the Word was given.

Now, I realize what I’ve just said is posted at the head of a transcribed sermon which will doubtless be read as, if not dry, then at least unsaturated, even by a favorable reviewer. But I am here only trying to explain how I’ve come upon this piece and a bit about why we are featuring it here.

Marcus Dods was born in Northumberland on April 11, 1834, the youngest son of Rev. Marcus Dods, minister of the Scottish Kirk there. Marcus would eventually have a son named…but you guessed. Our hero was licensed in 1858, ordained in ’64, and served as minister in the Free Church of Scotland kirk in Renfield for a quarter-century, i.e., until he was appointed, in 1889, Professor of New Testament Exegesis at Edinburgh’s New College. In 1907 he was made Principal of the school. This last position he occupied briefly for in April of 1909 he was permanently transferred to the number of Those Who Truly Know.

If my experience speaking to others about Dods holds true, you probably never heard of him. Those who (vaguely) recall his name generally associate it with heresy. It is a sad propensity of our race to look for the worst in others, and an even sadder one which allows an instance of actual evil to become the only handle which can retrieve a name from their memory. In Dods’ case it is more the pity since the accusation of heresy serves the memory as if a verdict. If this is common to human nature, it ought to be rare among those with natures made new. The 1878 charge was dropped by a large majority of the General Assembly delegates to whom he gave account. A dozen years afterward he was made an honorary Doctor of Divinity by Edinburgh University, not the sort of gesture made to heretics at that time. Yet, from where I sit, whether the initial charge had much merit or none, it is altogether beside the point at which his life touched mine.

Of his significant writings, the most important were done for editor W. Robertson Nicoll. His expositions of Genesis, John and 1 Corinthians can be found in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, published in the last years of the nineteenth century (an identical American edition, hard to get, was published in Connecticut, 1911). Dods’ notes on John, however, can usually be found on good used book sites. Although I dug up a one-volume edition, it is easier to find in a two volume format. If you feel a need to feel some of the emotional power packed into the holy Word, I don’t know a better bet.

A favorite Dods saying: It isn’t that God needs our sin to accomplish His purposes –but we offer Him so little else.

As to the piece here virtually reproduced, it’s a killer in its own right. Read it. I had seen it referenced in another book—I think by MacGregor—about 30 years ago and eagerly desired to read it. But it had to wait years and years, until a friend from Waco—a Mr. Davenport, now Dr. D. Davenport—had mercy and gumption and managed to get and send a reprint to me. I kvelled. I remain grateful. The original of what you find here was taken from another source, however. I’ll tell you more about it if you read this, then contact us. And send money, wouldja?



(The entire piece is in-line below, but if you’d prefer to read it via pdf-viewer, just click this link: Presbyterianism Older than Christianity)

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Lenten Meditation for Ambassadors in Training

by Rev. Steve Schlissel

In a moral universe, offenders grant power to the offended. The ineradicable, relentless presence of equity takes right from the wrongdoer and puts it into the account of the victim. It is for this, among many other reasons, that it is not only blasphemous, it is nonsense to speak of forgiving oneself. The only One who was ever counted wrongdoer and offended party, and thus was in a position where such a thing might make sense, knew nothing, sought nothing, gained nothing which could properly—or even remotely—be called self-forgiveness. It is thus best to banish the bologna concept post haste.

Besides reducing the greatest transaction in human history into a maudlin, oozing banality, the notion of self-forgiveness is an eyeless mask, a shield obscuring from our sight the overwhelming vision of just what it was our God did in the Messiah. Self-forgiveness, it turns out, is just another ten-cent trick of the devil to enlist man in the theft of glory belonging to the true God alone. Soli deo Gloria will not be spotted on Self-forgiveness Boulevard.

So we return. The offender empowers the offended. What then happens in the transaction of forgiveness? Forgiveness, in the nature of the case, is the giving up, the relinquishing of the forfeited power and the return of it by the offended one to the offender. To forgive is to return the offender to his pre-offense status. This necessarily, then, involves a lowering (or effective lessening) of one who returns his justly accumulated power to the one who lost it by his offense. It’s a return of the chips. And in that equitable universe we mentioned, the chip giveback is always a matter of grace and always a lowering or lessening of the justly held power in possession of the offended one.

If you understand this, you will see that from the very first instance of forgiveness extended by God to fallen, sinful man, Jesus Christ became absolutely inevitable. The Lamb slain from the foundation. If you will have forgiveness, you must accept that you will have God coming down next to you, among you, to return to you what was forfeited. The incarnation was carved in stone the moment God, instead of killing Adam and Eve, clothed them with skin and promises.

Forgiveness, in a word, is a humiliation, a lowering. It is a stooping down, a restoring—and more. But if you take one thought away from this meditation, make it this: God sealed his own fate, guaranteeing His own humiliation, in time and in history, the moment He forgave a sinner. How could it be otherwise than we find it on the Day of Atonement: a blood is coming that will effect reconciliation, that will bring forgiveness. It must needs be, in the end of it all, the blood of God. Life of life for life.

In light of this, “Come down from the cross and save thyself,” is the greatest possible perversion and mockery the devil could throw at our Suffering Savior. He had come down to the cross. How could He then come down from it? To come down from it would have been to rise above it, as was fitting—but without the bounty He sought. For it was not and could not have been to save Himself that we see Him on the cross. It is to save us and secure for us forgiveness. The extent of the forgiveness won and granted corresponds precisely with the depths of humiliation involved in its delivery. Our forgiven estate can be no greater than the humiliation endured by the Lamb. He humbled Himself, emptied Himself of all rightful, just claims to use the cards in His ontological and economic deck, He disavowed all intrinsic and acquired power in order to bring power back to the offender and his progeny. It was in this service that He became obedient to death, even death on a cross.

Forgiveness is always humiliating. That is exactly why we sinners are so loathe to extend it. When we forgive someone, we relinquish real power that had been handed to us. It is not only humiliating, but speaking as a man, it is risky. For we are giving the power back to someone with a track record, someone who has already hurt us.

Seeing how powerful forgiveness is, it is not something that should be spoken or practiced thoughtlessly or carelessly. Doesn’t nuclear power demand stringent controls and guards? If we recognize the force resident in forgiveness we will never be cavalier in dispensing it. We will not deliver it into places unprepared to receive it. (I speak not of trivialities, toe-stepping or petty annoyances.) We will never pretend to deliver it to places we are not convinced it belongs. But neither will we ever withhold it from those whose folly has empowered us while weakening them, as long as they show themselves ready to use it aright. But we will never have certainty; it’s always risky. If we err, if we err on the side of mercy and grace, we fret not. We need only remember, the offense repeated against us simply multiplies the power placed in our hands. Like a hot potato, we really want to give it back.

If we see the transaction of offense/forgiveness as it was carried out in the humiliation of God in Christ, we have taken an important step in our training as ambassadors of Messiah. This is what we read in 2 Corinthians:

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Messiah’s ambassadors, as though God were making His appeal through us. We implore you on Messiah’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Ben Lowdown

Some have asked for guidance in their thinking and reaction to the killing of Ben Lowdown. Okay, some quick ones. But first let me assure you that these comments are NOT personal and have no one in view.

That said, I mourn over our unreaction to this unqualifiedly wonderful news and regard our confusion as evidence that we have taken another huge step toward perfect judgment. The outpouring of conflicting opinion is grievously revelatory. What do I mean?

Let us start with the foundation: the norm according to Scripture (see end notes) and all rational historical precedent is this: when a people have been victimized by a bloodthirsty evil low-life scuzz, and when the perpetrator uses all means and opportunities at his disposal to demonstrate his unfitness to live on God’s earth—for, rather than repenting or exhibiting remorse, or even hesitation or second thoughts, he instead TAUNTED, and further threatened those he has assaulted—then NORMAL PEOPLE will have a single, SHARED reaction at news of his demise—especially if by the honored hands of their own military. The ONLY sane response is, “Hallelujah!”

But we have been enduring a range of responses that deviates greatly from the norm, including drunken impiety, boisterous ignorance, guilt-loaded women moaning and castrated men looking for something they’ve lost. We are subjected to blathering attorneys who cannot grasp that the rights of American citizens do not inherently belong to foreign ENEMIES; and we’re reading reports of prating bozos who struggle with the concept that righteousness and wickedness are not the same. We are under a deluge of OPINIONS aplenty because we have lost all covenant cohesion.

So understand this: When the news America hears is that “he’s a harmer bum low-down” (dog) has been executed by God via the hand of one of our Navy soldiers, we are in a setting which fully justifies the expectation of a single, predictable response: the rendering of deep thanks for such a great kindness from the Lord. The only mental reservation we provide for deviation is the one we typically allow for the small number of deviants and defectives among us on any given day. Thus, the sane expectation is for a SINGLE response, which is essentially “Hallelujah.” Therefore, the most significant feature of America’s reaction is its multiformity. We do not HAVE A reaction at all. Instead we have a pouring forth of a plethora of purposeless opinions. The totality testifies that we are suffering from egalitarian tumors on our brain.

This whole exercise of moronic soul-searching, the public second-guessing from the most cowardly of all armchair quarterbacks, and the gushing ignorance drenching the papers and screens—all this desperate “concern” and posturing in the wake of what ought to have been the occasion for our united rendering of gratitude—all of it serves to guarantee one thing: our flailing tongues will effectually tie our hands and arms and cause us to become a target most irresistible to the next evil-minded morons driven by pure envy in the guise of caring about “justice.” Maniacs in waiting abound. We’ve admitted them to our shores, given them welfare and other funding. Our multiple-personality reaction is just a begging of Muslims for more attacks.

It should have been, “Okay, look closely: that’s what happens when you do what he did. Anybody else with similar ideas will meet a similar end, God helping us. Now let’s see, where were we?” Instead we’ve just advertised ourselves as a target most attractive and deserving. If the message of impotence now carried by our media was not stemming from our real national guilt for our very real sins (abortion, perversion, etc.), I’d suggest that the outlets ought to be tried for treason. But we have LOST the ability to understand even what a united, national expectation would look like. We are permanently and pathetically fractured, crippled, lying in wait for the vultures. How painful it is to be that when limitless strength and vigor is but a sincere repentance away.

If we cannot REJOICE together at the destruction of a SWORN AND KNOWN ENEMY, it is because we have broken our covenant beyond repair. We now share NO presuppositions (subscribe to presupp series for more), we have NO unity, we have NO collective values or beliefs, and we are therefore, nothing. There is no United States of America. We have been at war with our Christian history for more than 100 years and have offered no single narrative in its place (how could we when there is none?).

In the meantime, we swelled our shore-to-shore with scores of millions of foreign-born who, unlike all who preceded them, were told implicitly and explicitly that there is nothing for them to adapt to: they don’t even need to speak English. Why? Because NOTHING unites us—nothing whatsoever; not language, not faith, not the past, nor our hopes for the future (that is, anchored, grounded hopes, as opposed to graphic-novel-wishful-thinking). Even the pandering which comprises the whole of political campaigns is fragmented, self-contradictory, hypocritical, focus-group-generated, ephemeral and impossible. (Of course, the unspoken point of commonality is avarice, covetousness and greed. They come for money, period.) I have worked with thousands of immigrants in these last 32 years and I can’t think of one who was aflame with passion for the great principles which came together as the flame in Lady Liberty’s torch. We teach them enough of the Constitution to pass a citizenship test, but they learn from what they daily read that the Constitution, like the Bible in liberal churches, has run out of Viagra and become a flaccid, malleable blob of nothing in particular. One retired Egyptian doctor I recently met told me of his hopes to become a citizen. He had left a one-million-pound luxury apartment on the Mediterranean Sea to join a daughter here in the States. He arrived five years ago but spent nearly one full year of the five in visits back home. He and his wife are supported by various “entitlements” taken from the skin of American-born workers. What happened to the money from the sale of his luxury apartment? When I asked him why it is he wants to become a citizen, he told me unabashedly, “Because I will get about $500 more per month in my check.” There can be NO FUTURE for such a self-hating nation.

The fractured response to the victory of our Navy Seals reveals us to be salt without flavor, fit for you know what. That Americans do not KNOW how to respond to the death of an enemy makes us more pitiful than a vegetarian who is handed a pastrami sandwich from the Carnegie Deli. Useless, futile affairs, both. We have become, in the loss of our national character, of all people, the most to be pitied. Instead of the blood of the Passover Lamb upon the doorposts of our house, we may now see only these words, written though they be, in red: EE CHAVOD. Ichabod!! The glory has departed. We are spiritually dead and psychologically twisted. We have soldiers willing to die in service to us, yet we are unsure if we may be enthused when they are granted triumphs on our behalf. I tell you most solemnly, we have become a people with very few triumphs left in the pipeline. Woe is me—woe to my people. It is over. Ichabod! Ichabod indeed!

I close with two texts for you. The first is from Psalm 58:

The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”

One of the errant notions of unbelief which had somehow worked its way in to become a presupposition supporting this week’s grievous display, is this: Because Muslims make false claims about, and have erroneous expectations of their deity, therefore Christians may not make any claims about or have any expectations of the True God. If we did, so the brain-dead reason, we’d be just like them. But sooner or later, I suspect, they will learn that Mt. Carmel cuts through all human history. It isn’t a question of claims per se, but of which God can and will back them up. It was certainly our sins that caused a ten-year delay of justice. But if justice is unrecognized when it finally arrives, if a token of justice is granted by God yet is not met with immediate, profound and sincere gratitude from those to whom it was granted, I fear that it can only mean our hardest lessons are still ahead of us. If you are too sinful to trust God for victory, put away your sin. But if you won’t trust in God for victory, what will you trust? The bad boys ain’t going away, my friends. Whatever we believe it is that will grant us victory, that is our deity. Is it undressing our womenfolk at airports that will give safety and peace? Can we call anything safety and peace that includes undressing our womenfolk at airports? It is in our hesitation to trust and lift up God’s name—the God of Scripture—that we are becoming like the Muslim terrorists. For they are placing their trust in the wrong place and for wrong reasons. Why follow them in their error? Trust in the Lord with all our heart, then watch all enemies flee.

Second text: Proverbs 24:15 says,

“Do not gloat when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles.”

Some silly souls think this militates against all we’ve said above. It does not. First, we are here warned about having a bad attitude. But is the bad attitude warned against an appreciation of the enemy’s downfall? That is quite impossible. Why? Because the text is not finished. It goes on to say:

“lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.”

This text is a warning: if you do “x,” then God will not finish off your enemy. If the enemy’s termination is not to be sought, is not valued, then the passage is gibberish. The passage serves as a warning so that kings who read it wouldn’t miss out on the sweet end of an unrepentant enemy’s demise. Clearly then, the bad attitude in question is SELF-SATISFACTION, a smug and smarmy notion that our power and the strength of our hands have done this. Now that happens to be the very attitude of no small number of Americans who see the whole complex of events occurring under the hand of sovereign man alone. In that light, I ask: how confident are you that we have passed the attitude test?

No. The righteous response to the eye-popping of He Swam a Spoon Ladling is HALLELUJAH! Not more, perhaps, but certainly not less.


Friday, 29 April 2011

Covenant Thinking 101

Beloved People of God,

Certain teachings hold the promise of opening vistas of understanding, enabling us to truly make awful sense even out of what we see today. So I thought it might be well to give a brief treatment of something which ought to be as familiar to thinking Christians as rice is to hungry Asians. I realize, however, that many in Christ are situated where teachers major in minors. Thus, through no fault of their own, children of the King are deprived of essential instruction. This piece is sent in the hope of providing a small corrective, prayerfully equipping a few not to be overwhelmed for want of an interpretive key to today’s events and perhaps equipping others to be more like the the sons of Issachar who can understand the times. On to it, then.

The first and most direct way to grasp the centrality and the character of presuppositions to all human thinking, acting and covenant keeping-or-breaking, is to think of a presupposition as a tuchas. That’s right–a tooshie. Why? Well, because it is behind and under everything a man does, and is with him wherever he goes. He’ll spare no effort to protect it and will develop a number of habits and manners designed to keep it hidden.

Again, a man is just as disposed to offer his presuppositions for scrutiny as he is to submit to a rectal exam on first base at Yankee Stadium during the 7th-inning-stretch. Not likely! Fact is, people prefer the company of those who honor the “no mention of tooshie” rule– not even a casual muttering.

Despite all the obsessive guardedness, healthy men (note: we must specify men because the fairer gender, we are told, has no need for tooshies) often disclose their concern for their tooshies when making their daily food choices—though they may use the euphemism, “stomach.” A man’s public habits and private disciplines, then, coalesce and together testify to concern for and commitment to something he will ordinarily deny exists. In fact, men live their lives as if adumbrated by a cartoon bubble e’er above their heads with the silver-foiled words: “A happy tuchas means a happy man.”

Bringing this metaphorical romp to “an end” (ahem), let me make plainer what I before just hinted at: people are as anxious to change their presuppositions as they are to post their interview with their newest proctologist candidate on YouTube. All this concern, wouldn’t you say?, suggests that men regard the tuchas and the presupposition as matters of the greatest moment.

But with your leave I’ll leave tuchas-talk behind (oy!), in order to call your attention to something a man’s posterior does not share with his presuppositions: Planned or unplanned, like it or not, sooner or later every breathing human exchanges his presuppositions for others. That clearly differs from the one-man/one-tuchas policy. And speaking of “one,” there’s another difference: humans operate with a great number of presuppositions, each tending to operate in assigned spheres of thought and life. Perhaps by practicing the deceit of not having a toosh while actually devoted to it, most folks have become adept at tenaciously holding certain presuppositions which are flatly contradicted by others they cherish. Sometimes the warring presupps live in neighboring apartment!

Also, not all presuppositions function at the same level. Their varying depths can be measured by how much grief and effort will be required should the presupp need to be exchanged. Those which surface when a man is converted by God to Christ are usually the most pervasive, deep and unsettling. I think of one young woman who had swallowed the feminist agenda pretty much as it was dished out, but when Christ claimed her as His own, she entered upon a clearing out of notions and a relearning process which she found dizzying, utterly liberating, and exhausting.

When a supposition has comfortably wedged itself into your worldview to become a “pre,” it morphs into an 800-pound gorilla in your mind’s apartment. Every other piece of information that enters is compelled to find a place in the apartment based upon the arrangement which had accommodated its biggest and baddest occupant. The privilege that goes with adding the “pre” to supposition is fixedness and honor: from the coronation on, each applicant for entry– every thought, idea, belief– is granted admission only on The Xerxes Basis: it must be invited. Intruders are executed, treated as presumptions (presumptions are low-class pretenders to the throne).

Think of how a bricklayer might greet your opinion that the first row of bricks he laid in that wall of 700 rows was crooked, not plum. Of course, if it was the last row laid, no problem! But the first? Then EVERYTHING has to be removed to get at it. That is exactly how presuppositions function in relation to subsequent (and prior) learning. It is easy to see, then, why people are loathe to question the fitness of those first rows. Let sleeping dogs lie!

You might well ask, “if that’s how it is with presuppositions, how would they ever change?” And that question, along with, “How do they change?,” is the $64,000 question, especially for Christian thinkers.

Why? Because Christian thinkers want to live in the fullest possible self-consciousness under God. They realize that is only when they are self-consciously conformed to the image of God they have been designed to be, it is only when thinking God’s thoughts AFTER Him that they can experience the gratification and joy of being a created, redeemed human being.