HC Q. 27 — God’s Providence; The Belief That Makes Men, Men

As we return to the Heidelberg Catechism in Lord’s Day 10 we are taking up the the meaning of the Apostles Creed when it says, “I believe in the God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” In systematic theology when God the Father’s work as Creator is examined what is included also is God’s work as Sustainer (Preserver) and Governor. God as Father is Creator, Sustainer, and Governor of all things. When we consider God as Sustainer and Governor we often speak of God’s Providence.  The Heidelberg takes question and answer 27 to explain simply the meaning of God’s Providence.

Before getting into the question itself we should notice that the HC’s bold affirmation of God’s Providence removes all Deistic conceptions of the God of the Bible where God creates the world but then wanders off uninvolved with His world allowing it to run on its own mechanism and power. The character of God that the HC teaches is one where God, the Father continues to be intimately involved in His creation. In the words of Francis Schaeffer, “God is there and He is not silent.”

We see this in Lord’s Day 10 as it discusses the meaning of the Apostle Creed’s phrase, “I believe in God the Father, Creator of Heaven & Earth.”

Question 27 picks up the them begun in the previous Question & Answer.

Question 27: What dost thou mean by the providence of God?

With this question we learn, as mentioned earlier, that underneath the category of God as Creator, is the sub-category of God’s Providential control of all reality, from the blowing of a gentle breeze across a picturesque meadow, to the movement of great armies across vast plains. The totality of that control is seen in the answer provided by the Catechizers;

Answer: The almighty and everywhere present power of God;1 whereby, as it were by His hand, He upholds and governs heaven, earth, and all creatures;2 so that herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.7

Note here, following Scripture, that the Reformed faith embraces the nearness of God

23
“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord,

“And not a God afar off?
24 Can anyone hide himself in secret places,
So I shall not see him?” says the Lord;
“Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord. — Jeremiah 23

Following Scripture, the HC affirms both the transcendence of God as well as the immanence of God. Because of God’s providence there is no where that we can escape the almighty and everywhere present power of God. God is closer to us than our next breath.

St. Paul likewise affirms this every present power of God;

Acts 17:25–28, Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though He needed any thing, seeing He giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after Him, and find Him, though He be not far from every one of us: for in Him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

The totality of God’s providence is exhaustive. This confidence in God’s providence goes a long way toward explaining the absolute fearlessness in the Reformed throughout the centuries. People who believe that God controls all are a people who have no fear and so are a people who will wage all on doing the right thing before God’s eyes. People who believe in God’s exhaustive providence don’t consider what other people might be able to do to them. Those who believe in God’s providence are a dangerous people.

Note, the phrase in the answer to question 27, “He upholds and governs.” Therein is contained the idea of God as sustainer of all and God as governor of all. Not only did God create all, but He is the one who sustains (preserves/upholds) all so that all continues. God is the reason why life continues. It may be that some might account that there is a self-subsisting power in our life and being, yet life is of such a nature to make it clear that any putative self-subsisting power is contingent upon many factors. Clearly, were we not upheld and nursed by the power of God’s providence any self-subsisting power would be extinguished immediately and to dust we would soon return. Surely, it is in Him we live and move and have our being.

And that upholding and governing of God that is the Creator God’s providence is applicable to  “heaven, earth, and all creatures.”

Heb. 1:3, Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.

Nothing is outside the providence of God. Indeed, outside the providence of God — outside the sustaining and governing power of the God of the Bible — man would slip into nothingness.

Men who do not acknowledge this exhaustive providence of God are blasphemers. They are, in their existence, being kept by God all the while denying the reality of the God who keeps them. Anyone who denies this lofty and Biblical notion of God’s providence, at best, are Christians not yet matured. Such people certainly should not be allowed anywhere near a pulpit, nor should any esteem be given them.

This must be said because many “Christians” do deny this HC answer and do deny this Reformed doctrine of God’s exhaustive providence. How many Christians are ready to affirm that;

 that herbs and grass, rain and drought,3 fruitful and barren years, meat and drink,4 health and sickness,5 riches and poverty,6 yea, and all things come, not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.7

This doctrine of God’s providence teaches that all things come into our lives by the hand of a Sovereign God who loves us for the sake of the finished work of Jesus Christ. What a source of comfort this is to the Christian who is conversant troubles, and yet how difficult to bury this truth in the marrow of our beings. This doctrine of God’s providence is easily forgotten when God’s people are going through the fire of trials, persecutions, or sorrows.

The whole book of Job teaches the providence of God. Job never gets an answer to his why questions in the book of Job. What Job does eventually get at the end of Job is a series of questions put to him by God that bespeak God’s providence and that God being God is in control of all.

The Scriptures teach and the HC follows by teaching God’s people to trust God at every turn, including the turns that include adversity. This entrusting ourselves to God does not mean that we do not flee adversity if possible, nor that we should not resist wickedness if possible. It merely means that what men intend for evil, God intends for God. It may be that God providentially orders hardships in order to providentially order our response that will seek to escape or put down the mediate cause of that hardship when possible.

So, this doctrine of God’s providence does not teach a kind of pagan fatalism. We do not know that all God might be doing in His providential arrangement. We do know that when adversity comes to us in God’s providence we should repair to the Scripture to see what our response might be for any given ordained providential circumstance.

Note, how the HC goes out of its way to teach that things do not come to us “by chance.” Chance has no reality. It is a word that we use in order to explain something that otherwise cannot be explained. Even when we talk about the chances of a coin flipped coming up heads or tails, it is not chance that is making the coin come up one way or the other. Chance may be predictive but it is never causative. (But even in being predictive chance has to presuppose the God who alone provides the order wherein chance as predictive can exist.) Chance causes nothing. Neither does “luck,” — another word that is mistakenly used by people to explain causation.

No, for the Calvinist/Reformed, following his HC catechism, all things come to us by God’s Fatherly hand.

Christians use to affirm this every time they attended a funeral — often the most difficult of all of God’s hard providences — when they would hear the minister say, “The Lord Giveth, the Lord Taketh, Blessed Be the Name of the Lord (Job 1:21).” The Lord gives herbs, grass, rain and drought and He takes it away;

Jer. 5:24, Neither say they in their heart, Let us now fear the Lord our God, that giveth rain, both the former and the latter, in His season: He reserveth unto us the appointed weeks of the harvest.

The Lord gives fruitful and barren years, meat and drink and the Lord takes them away;

Acts 14:17, Nevertheless He left not Himself without witness, in that He did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.

The Lord gives health and sickness, and He takes them away;

John 9:3, Jesus answered, Neither hath this (blind) man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

The gives riches and poverty, and He takes them away;

Prov. 22:2, The rich and poor meet together: the Lord is the maker of them all.

Job 1:21, And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

When that scripture is heard as echoed by the HC and believed it is a affirmation of the HC’s teaching on God’s providence. In all things the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh, blessed be the name of the Lord who, in His providence worketh all things after the counsel of His will,

Eph. 1:11, In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will.

God’s providence is so exhaustive that even the falling of birds from the sky are ordered by the God of all providence who upholds and sustains all things according to His glorious will;

Matt. 10:29–30, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

It is only because of God’s providence we can humbly nod and silently say “Amen” at the funeral committal service when we hear;

“The Lord Giveth And the Lord Taketh. Blessed Be The Name Of The Lord.”

Contra Mundum Journal Reviews “Saved To Be Warriors”

http://contra-mundum.org/index_htm_files/McAtte_R2kT.pdf?fbclid=IwAR2sBNBmFnRMagy00IlKH4J8NGe1gW2pAZCMq1G2YyyxH8rx7uHM_7O2kl4

Honestly, whoever wrote this review should write a book criticizing Radical Two Kingdom theology. The author of this piece is masterful at connecting the dots in the faults of Radical Two Kingdom theology. I suspect that this review of the book was written only as a platform to provide the reviewers convictions on the dangers of R2K. I am not opposed to that and am more than glad that the book I wrote could be used as a platform to put yet more lances through R2K.

I wish I know who the author was. Whoever it is, it is obvious that while I may have read my thousands of books so as to assault R2K, the reviewer has read his tens of thousands. The author of this review is informed and erudite and frankly in some instances it is clear that I should be learning from him and not y’all from me. Whoever this reviewer is, it is he who should be writing books attacking R2K. It really is a masterful piece of analysis on his part. I’d like to think whoever this is, he is 75 y/o Professor of theology who is retired humoring himself by reading the lesser lights out there.

He critiques me at several points, and at a couple of those points I might quibble, but the important point is that in the end he is attesting that R2K sucks wind as a theological model.

I might come back to this again with a few of my quibbles but I encourage all of you to read this review to get a even fuller understanding why R2K is heresy.

McAtee Takes On The Editor of the Babylon Bee

“Unpopular take: mass immigration could save this country. They are hard-working mostly Christian/Catholic people coming in. The Democrats want to immediately hook them on welfare and turn them into a permanent underclass voting bloc. We could prevent that by assimilating them.

It’s a fact that first-generation Americans are more hard-working, more appreciative of America’s blessings, and more likely to have traditional families. The democrats want to bring these people in, keep them poor, and destroy their culture, just like they did to black Americans.

They’re doing that anyway right now. Maybe it’s time for Conservatives to start thinking about a realistic plan for amnesty, assimilation, and welcoming these folks as American citizens before the Democrats can destroy these people.

These people coming in are culturally conservative. Who knows–they just might save our culture.”

Joel Berry
The Babylon Bee — Managing editor

Now, before we dissect this we have to keep in mind that “The Babylon Bee” is a publication dedicated to satire. As such it may be that Joel was being satirical here on his twitter account. If he was he outdid himself in terms of the use of sarcasm’s caustic wit in the service of attacking and exposing human foolishness. The fact that anybody could seriously believe the above quote might be the epitome of human foolishness.

However, we are going to treat this vapid and jejune quote as Joel being serious. In doing so, we would say that the first thing this torpid sentiment establishes is that conservatism is dead. Berry and the Babylon Bee sells itself as a conservative publication but this tidbit of wisdom (that’s satire) proves that conservatives means only slightly less liberal and even sometimes slightly more liberal. When someone tells me “I am conservative” my response any more is, “I am sorry to hear that. There are remedies for that you know.” We are far from the conservatism of Burke or de Maistre or even the later conservatism of Hamilton Fish III, John T. Flynn, or Lindbergh. Indeed being genuinely conservative today is like being a genuine unicorn. So, again, I would say Berry’s quote is one more piece of evidence that claiming to be conservative today means only that if Walter Mondale were running for President today the modern conservative would vote for him. Berry is conservative the way that Stalin was a moderate.

In terms of the text itself, first, Berry offers that he is going to give a “unpopular take.” Unpopular take? Is that why we are gathering record numbers of “undocumented workers” at the border? Is it because immigrants are unpopular that some put the number of illegals here at 30 million? Is Berry’s view being unpopular seen by the disappearance of any notion of border? Is Berry’s view being unpopular seen by the constant idiot cant coming from pulpits across America on the virtues of untrammeled immigration? Saying that his view is unpopular is like a teenager saying that the Homecoming Queen is hated by everybody.

Next Berry offers that “mass immigration could save this country.” I can only offer that if mass immigration saves this country then the country that is saved is not the one that needed saving before the mass immigration began. Is Berry thinking that the third world immigration is going to save us the same way the immigration of the Goths, Visigoths, and Ostrogoths saved Rome? This is just ignorance on stilts. If the immigrants had the capacity to save this country would they not have been the grist by which the countries they are fleeing from would have been saved? Their home countries they could not save but America the can save?

Next the genius from the “Bee” writes of this immigrant horde descending upon us that, “they are hard-working mostly Christian/Catholic people coming in.” I would encourage Mr. Berry to read Ann Coulter’s “Adios America” for another opinion on this matter. Secondly, how can Mr. Berry possibly know this? Do he take a poll of the people coming in? Did he talk to the MS-13 gang members slipping in? Thirdly, since when did Protestants (Mr. Berry is Baptist) equate Roman Catholic with being Christian?  Fourthly, I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Berry has even examined Central American Christianity/Catholicism, mixed as it typically is with syncretism and expressive more often than not of some form of Liberation Theology? Now, this might not be a problem since America is no longer a Christian nation in any significant sense. I would go so far as to say that if these immigrants were indeed Christian or even faithful Catholics that there is no way in Hades that our elite would be allowing them to pour in like water through ever possible crevice. Mr. Berry perhaps reaches the very apex of his ignorance with this sentiment.

Berry actually gets it right with his next pearl of wisdom. The Democrats do want the immigrants in, in order to hook them on welfare so as to be a permanent underclass. However, Berry (who I would guess is Republican) fails to tell us is that Republicans also desire the immigrants to pour in, so that there is a ready pool of cheap labor to work in Mega-Corporate organizations. Also, were these people as hard-working as Mr. Berry asserted would not these hard-working people eschew welfare? Secondly, on this score, does Mr. Berry recognize that all these immigrants he wants to allow in are already ripping asunder the welfare safety net? There will be no welfare to get hooked on should the immigrants keep coming. Actually, that might be good news because once the hammock is torn asunder the immigration will cease.

The last phrase of Berry’s first paragraph above is perhaps the grandest knee-slapper of them all. Berry proposes assimilating these foreigners, strangers, and aliens. Has Berry never heard of Putnam’s “Bowling Alone?” Putnam decidedly demonstrates that foreigners don’t assimilate but instead when people of different ethnicities are thrown, cheek by jowl, next to each other the result is balkanization and a refusal to interact. There will be very little assimilating and what assimilation that happens will result in heartache for both cultures/ethnicities that end up assimilating.

Under the banner of conservatism, Berry has proposed every New World Order aficionado’s  wet dream. Keep in mind that the cry of “assimilation” is merely the cry for the white man being replaced. Berry’s conservatism is in support of the replacement theory which intends to breed the white man into numerical diminution.

In the second paragraph of the quote above, Berry presses on to reveal his abject stupidity. Berry talks about “it’s a fact.” How does Berry know this? Has Berry investigated the track record of the “South of the Border” influx to determine that immigrants “are more hard-working, more appreciative of America’s blessings, and more likely to have traditional families.” That might have been true once upon a time with earlier European immigrations, but so far as I know there are no statistical analysis of the first generation third worlders that have come since Ronald Reagan’s first amnesty program. Having said this, I quite agree that Americans, generally speaking, do not know what it means to work hard, are not appreciative of America’s blessings, and no longer have traditional families. Indeed, I would even contend that Mr. Berry is an example of that. If the man was more appreciative of America’s blessings he would not be advocating third-worldizing America by means of bringing in the third world to populate America.

Now we turn briefly to Berry’s third paragraph above. Maybe it is time for Mr. Berry to realize that these people have already been destroyed as seen by the countries they are coming from and that the only end for amnesty and assimilation is the destruction of what little is left of traditional America. Now, just to cover myself, I have no doubt that there are third-worlders who could be fine upstanding Americans. However, generally speaking I agree with former President Trump who wondered  why America would want immigrants from “all these shithole countries” and that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway.

Mark my word, the immigrants will eventually be given amnesty — either in a dejure or the current defacto sense and the result will be the morphing of this country into a “shithole country.” We are already seeing this transformation in our major cities in America. The damage has already set in and the fact that “thought leaders” like Berry can’t see it is the stuff upon with satire feasts.

Reason For Recent Low Volume Entries On Iron Ink

On 23 December 2022, I had a heart event. I did not have a heart attack. I did not have myocarditis. I had and have pericarditis. Now, the cardiologists tell me that in their field this is not uncommon to see. I suppose that piece of information was intended to make me feel better. You know … a case of bad news, good news. The good news is you don’t have this really really bad thing (Heart Attack). The bad news is you have this kind of bad thing (pericarditis). And one has to admit there is good news found in not having the really really bad thing.

However, this kind of bad thing is bad thing enough by itself but when combined with a  heart condition they reckon I was born with (aortic stenosis) it can begin to get disconcerting. Not to worry though because they also tell me that this is not that uncommon for Cardiologists to see as far as weird things being present in a human being.

On top of that one gets the random cardiologist who thinks that everything that has gone wrong with you means everything will go wrong with you and begins to tell you of the prevalence of aortic aneurysms with this condition as well the glories of open heart surgery and how easy the recovery from open heart surgery can be. My eyes were glazed over after that consultation.

It’s been quite a recovery ride and I suspect it may well continue to be quite a ride. They pretty consistently tell me that it will take at least 3 months to recover from this pericarditis. Some have even said 6 months. As I look back over the last month I would say that there is undeniable improvement from day one but I am impatient. I keep trying to push myself to do more than I should be, in order to prove to myself that I am getting better. (At least I have the excuse of one Cardiologist telling me to push through my exercise limits — a piece advice we learned later that is not shared by all Cardiologists.) As such, the last couple days finds me dialing my walking routine back from the 4.50 miles I was doing up to that point.

I have learned all over again about Doctors and Doctors offices and PA’s and NP’s and hospitals and how the WOKE agenda is affecting all that to the point of making me contemplate whether it is worse to deal with all the WOKENESS in the medical field or whether it is worse to have pericarditis. I can salute the cardiologists at the hospital as they refused the temptation to stick a needle in my chest to drain off the water from the heart that arises from pericarditis. They raised that as an option but counseled against it, believing that the water would subside on its own. I’d throw back a shot of whiskey in your honor guys except that pericarditis doesn’t like whiskey.

All of this, of course, has brought me to the place of being very intimate with my own mortality. When this condition was at high tide I was definitely beginning to contemplate my end. Now, I’ve had a couple close calls with death in my life and I’ve spent my share of time in hospitals in years past but not as from anything that was quite like this. This one brought me up short and shook me good — and I’m not easily shake-able.

The only way that I have been able to navigate the embrace of my own looming death (whether next week or in 20 years yet) has been to remind myself that my times are in God’s hands.

Psalm 31:15 My times are in Your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. 16Make Your face shine on Your servant; save me by Your loving devotion.

I have had to remind myself constantly that;

That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (who of nothing made heaven and earth, with all that is in them;1 who likewise upholds and governs the same by His eternal counsel and providence)2 is for the sake of Christ His Son, my God and my Father; on whom I rely so entirely, that I have no doubt but He will provide me with all things necessary for soul and body;3 and further, that He will make whatever evils He sends upon me, in this valley of tears, turn out to my advantage;4 for He is able to do it, being Almighty God,5 and willing, being a faithful Father.6

Heidelberg Catechism 
Question/Answer 26

I have also learned that it is acceptable to be sad about and so mourn these kinds of events. Of course, very few people — even saints — want to die.  Most people desire to continue on with kith and kin. Some people want more life even if only to continue to being a thorn in the side of the enemies of Jesus Christ. As such, being sad at the possibility or likelihood of death is not necessarily sinful;

“It is not sinful to be sad . Blessed be God for that! Jesus wept. Tears have often been the food and drink of God’s people day and night. Sorrow is natural to men. It may become sinful, but it is not necessarily sinful. In fact, it is often a blessing, and does more good than gladness itself. Hear the wise man: “Sorrow is better than laughter; for by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning; but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.” The day of desperate sorrow seems to be reserved to the wicked (Isa. 17: 11). To saints, no night is without its morning. Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Blessed is he who has the hope of salvation to cheer him along!

William S Plumer 1802-1880

I have also learned again how selfish I am. When being ill my selfishness becomes easier and easier to identify. Everything is about me. My health. My comfort. My recovery. My desires. And this despite the fact that I know of many cases around me where people are in desperate life situations who desperately need prayer and support. Yet, despite that, all I want to do is think about me. Even this blog post testifies to that. Here I am writing about me. Irony much Bret? 

It has been the greatest of comforts during this time to remind myself constantly that I am owned by Jesus Christ. It certainly is the case that the Devil does not (and has not) relented at times like this. He seeks to advance to plant doubts about the Father’s care. He does all he can to make me doubt Christ’s faithfulness and then my faith. He reminds me of my sin and all my various failures. (And there is plenty to be reminded of.) He is good at throwing us into any slough of despond he can find.

But at the end of it all I return to the Scriptures and the faithful exposition of my catechism;

Question 1: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer: That I with body and soul, both in life and death,1 am not my own,2 but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ;3 who, with His precious blood,4 hath fully satisfied for all my sins,5 and delivered me from all the power of the devil;6 and so preserves me7 that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head;8 yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation,9 and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life,10 and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him.11

I want to live to be a Joshua/Caleb type of old man. However, there are a good number of things in life I have wanted that, in retrospect, would have been disastrous for me to have gained. Long life could be another one of those things. I don’t know. However, the Lord Christ knows, and whatever He gives to me as my Captain and Redeemer — as my great Liege Lord and great High Priest, whether long life or abbreviated, faith requires me to say;

“It is well with my soul.”

I would ask for prayers for Jane, who is on this ride with me. And of course I would ask for prayers for recovery. I am thankful to God for the leadership at the Church I serve as well as God’s faithfulness in providing Rev. Sam Perry in filling the pulpit here while I have been out. My heart could not take being out of the pulpit if I knew some typical hack clergy was in the pulpit mucking up the thinking of God’s people here. Rev. Perry has been a godsend and all of us here thank God upon every remembrance of him.

The Lord Christ has been faithful and for that I praise God.