J. Gresham Machen

He was worth a hundred of his fellows who, as princes of the church, occupy easy places and play their church politics and trim their sails to every wind, who in their smug observance of the convictions of life and religion offend all honest and searching spirits. No forthright mind can live among them, neither the honest skeptic nor the honest dogmatist.
Pearl S. Buck

I do not know Machen as many of my brothers in the BPC do, but the merest encounter with his work reveals a man whose heart was absolutely animated by the convictions he held concerning the truth of the Word of God. As a man seeking to enter the ministry I fear often that my lack of vitality and passion reveals that my heart frequently still loves the praise of men and the ease of conformity. The beauty of the above quote is that it reveals that, when we confront our opponents with honesty and conviction, we may earn their respect, even if we do not earn their agreement. The approval of those who give it only to their reflections is not worth having. His vitality and honesty is a thing to which we should aspire.

The Normalcy of Porn

96% of young adults are either encouraging, accepting, or neutral in their view toward pornography.

This post is largely a deluge of numbers, but it is absolutely chilling how pervasive the crisis of pornography is. Please, when you are preaching to your congregations, realize that the minds of your congregations, especially your young men, are saturated by society’s attitudes toward pornography. As the above quote indicates, ambivalence is the most we can expect from most individuals toward pornography. Pornography has become normal, which is a much more dangerous situation than its mere ubiquity. When the vast majority of society accepts a certain status as normal, deviation from such becomes abnormal. Normalcy is a great salve to guilt, and this is not a sin to which we should allow our people to become calloused. It twists the way people the see the world and the way they approach relationships on an absolutely fundamental level.

A Second-Century Church Service

Included mainly because I just think it’s interesting how much we take certain things like the order of worship for granted. The two-part composition is genuinely interesting, where the first part is for all and the second part is for members. In our fear of excluding people, I think we tacitly undermine the degree to which we really are set apart. Also, please note how much scripture there is in this service, as well as the expanded and more congregationally focused orientation toward prayer.

Love Missions – Love the Church

The unintended consequence of this dichotomy is that the people willing to move their lives overseas for the sake of the gospel are often the least convinced of the importance of the local church.
Caleb Greggsen

This is a really usefully nuanced article on the tension between ministry in the local church and foreign missions. If the motivating force of people going out of the church and into foreign missions is disillusionment with the local church and a general restlessness in a particular body, we’re not doing foreign missions out of a love from Christ’s body. Similarly, if our attachment to our local body is merely an attachment to the local elements of that body, – the particular people, the particular songs, the particular preaching style – we are not really committed to Christ’s body and the actual mission of the church. It’s absolutely vital that we see missions (foreign and local) as the work of the church, wherever that works takes place. Missions must call people into the church – into a particular, local church – or it is not missions. A church – any local church – must call people into the greater mission of the kingdom of God, or it is merely a club.

Trump and Peale

Peale’s ministry offers modern evangelicals a cautionary tale given our embrace of a deeply flawed president on the grounds of political expediency. If we define our Christianity pragmatically as the key to unlocking national success and security, we may end up with a prosperous yet empty shell of a religion—a faith in faith’s effects.
Paul Matzko

I won’t comment on this extensively, but I found this an incredibly illuminating analysis of the effect and agenda of Peale’s work, as well as its legacy in Trump (as well as the evangelical church’s embrace of Trump). The motivating fear of communism in Peale’s approach is actually an extremely compelling analogy for evangelicalism’s fear of liberalism at the moment.

The True Legacy of Darwin

The Western nations of Europe . . . now so immeasurably surpass their former savage progenitors [that they] stand at the summit of civilization. . . . The civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace the savage races through the world.
Charles Darwin

The relation of racism and Darwinian theory is clearly in the very blood of the theory. When evangelicals bang on the terrible presumptions of individuals like Darwin or Sanger, we aren’t merely picking on some little outliers in their thought. We are pointing out that there is poison in the very blood. You can’t strain it out and retain the kernel of the idea.

America Hates Families

The only thing that seems certain is that we are again in one of those periods of family decay in which civilization is suffering internally from the lack of a basic belief in the forces which make it work.
Carle C. Zimmerman

Apologies for the click-bait title, but it’s actually true. The primary defining virtues of young people these days are entirely about autonomy and independence. The necessary involvement which family requires is absolutely antithetical to these values. While I believe fervently that one can absolutely be a mature adult without being married and bearing children, when we avoid such experiences because we are allergic to the attachment they imply, we have failed to reach adulthood. I know people who have not gotten married or have not had children, but in space they are given in absence of those relationships, they have been willing to pour into others in a dedicated, committed, sustaining way. That is absolutely to be commended. But it is toxic when we avoid the trappings of family because we want relationships that we choose rather than that we are given. Chosen relationships can be broken and reformed as often as suits us. Families are stubbornly persistent – blood is blood, and vows are vows (even when we give them as little weight as we frequently do today).

Please don’t hear this admonition as a condemnation of singleness or childlessness, but please, if you have chosen to be single or childless, I would just ask you to consider the reasons why. There are scores of good, compelling, righteous reasons to make that choice, but there are also scores of destructive reasons. It is worth considering why we are what we are.

Jason Waeber

Jason Waeber is an elder at Grace Bible Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, OH, where he worships with his wife and three children. He is also a seminary student, under care with the Great Lakes Presbytery. As GBPC is looking forward to planting a church with him in the next few years, he felt called to develop the online presence of the denomination, both for outreach and the doctrinal maturity of the denomination. The Manna and the Stone is his attempt to pursue this. Currently, Jason is serving as the general editor for the site.

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