Standing By Aslan Even If Aslan Isn’t True

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things – trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia”

C. S. Lewis
The Silver Chair

I love Lewis. The Silver Chair is my favorite book in the Narnia Series. Having said all that this quote has forever driven me nuts because it strikes me as something more an existentialist would say when contemplating the meaninglessness of life then something a Christian would say. A true blue existentialist believes that life has no meaning except the meaning he gives it and even though he knows it has no meaning it is an act of existential courage to act as if it does have meaning. Lewis seems quite neo-orthodox with this quote.

First, I have never been able to understand how made up things could ever seem more important than real things. Now made up things might be more comforting than real things but only an insane person would say a made up thing seems more important than a real thing. Standing by a play world that is known as a play world over against the real world is something that you find frequently from people in a nut house, and I don’t think it does any favors to Christianity to suggest to people that a Christianity that isn’t true would be preferred over a world without Christ that is true. If Christianity and Jesus isn’t true then let us join Nietzsche’s ubermensch and be done with it. If only in this life we have hope in Christ we are of all men to be pitied.

Second being on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan is likewise just plain stupid. If there isn’t any Aslan then there isn’t a Aslan’s side to be on.

The reason this quote came to mind again is because recently I was in a setting where somebody was suggesting that it didn’t matter whether the miracles of the Bible were true since all that really mattered is that, historically, people have believed them to be true. The suggestion was that, as ministers, we shouldn’t worry about the truth or not truth of the miracle accounts, since to do so would be indicative of enlightenment thinking. Rather we should lose the enlightenment category hangups and just emphasize that these stories were the myths that guided the people in Scriptures and they should be the myths that guide us.

Please accept my apologies but I can’t do this. It makes no more sense to say I am going to stand by Aslan even if there is no Aslan to stand by then it does to say that I am going to believe (and act as if) the miracles are true even if the miracles aren’t true. Further, it is quite important whether or not they actually happened or not, because if they didn’t happen then we would be people following cleverly devised tales. I can make up and follow my own tales just as easily as I can follow somebody else’s tales.

Everything hangs on the objective truth of the Scriptures. If the Miracle accounts aren’t true then the whole thing unravels and if the whole thing unravels, I’m warning you now, you don’t want to be around me because I promise you that I will be consistent with what it all means if those Miracles aren’t true.

The CRC & Future Fraternal Relations

I have some CRC people who read this site. Which stands to reasons since I am an ordained minister in the CRC. I have cross posted (something I very seldom do) a post here from another CRC pastor who was a delegate to the CRC Synod this year. The reason I cross posted it is that I wanted this news to come from somebody else, since I suspect that sometimes this chicken little isn’t heard because he screams so much. I have put in bold relief some points that I think need to be emphasized.

Since I reported late last night I’m reporting early today. The big topic of the day (all day in fact) has been our relationship to the Protestant Churches of the Netherlands. For many out there you may say, “Why would that be a big deal??” Well, there is a huge historical connection between the CRC and the PCN (which was formerly the GKN, our “mother” denomination, so to speak). Anyway, the Inter-church Relations Committee was asking that we establish full ecclesiastical fellowship with the PCN. When it was the GKN (which merged with two other denominations to form the PCN) we restricted our relationship because they began ordaining practicing homosexuals and there are some questions on how they view Christ. Now, under the CRC’s new ecumenical charter which promotes broader and less restricted relationships, the IRC would like those restrictions removed.

With underlying practices such as those, you can imagine there was a ton of debate. That began in the Advisory Committee as they ended up with both a majority and minority report basically as follows:

* Majority Report: enter into full ecclesiastical fellowship with the PCN
* Minority Report: enter into a relationship of dialogue with the PCN

Full ecclesiastical fellowship is a deeper relationship which allows for fellowship at the Lord’s Supper together and exchange of pulpits. Dialogue means just that – a talking relationship. So do we overlook these differences in the spirit of Christian unity or do we continue to send the message we’ve been sending them that their practice is sinful – but we’re willing to maintain contact in the hopes that God’s Word will prevail in the future.

Over the course of the debate, it came out from a poll done in the Netherlands that 14% of the pastors in the PCN consider themselves atheist or agnostic. Yes, you read that right. (Further,)39% of PCN pastors cannot deny the statement that God is a figment of human thought… eek!

But it was also reported that the percentage of atheist pastors is going down and the number of orthodox pastors is rising – so God is bringing some hope there… Praise the Lord!

Procedurally, there were a couple of recommendations. The first was to declare the restricted relationship with the GKN moot in respect to the PCN because it was in effect a new denomination. That passed – so we didn’t have any officially relationship with the PCN. Next the majority report to establish full fellowship was tabled almost immediately and the minority report taken up. That was debated for a long time but then defeated by less that 10 votes. The majority report was taken off the table and discussed for quite a while again, but that was also defeated, but by a little more than 10 votes. So back to the drawing board – and for a few hours today we have no relationship with the PCN – the committee is meeting to come up with a third option – however, our new ecumenical charter doesn’t have a third option… so what’ll they come up with next???

More than the specific relationship to this church is what does this mean for the CRC. Does hopping in bed with the PCN give defacto credence to homosexual practice and loose Christology?? Or is it our opportunity to be a witness to them? I guess if we look back on the 20 or 30 years of strained relationship we’ve had – trying to be a witness to them – have we had more effect on them for orthodoxy or they on us for liberalism? An unrestricted relationship would only give us more of the same.

On top of that, what does our relationship with them convey to our local congregations?? To other denominations (the fraternal delegates from the CRC in Nigeria were fairly vocal about this in the gallery)… to our communities?? Lots of implications.

I won’t go through all the debates, but the parallel I drew was to I Corinthians 5:9-13.

“I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner—not even to eat with such a person. For what have I to do with judging those also who are outside? Do you not judge those who are inside? But those who are outside God judges. Therefore “put away from yourselves the evil person.”

If that doesn’t speak here, it doesn’t speak anywhere. Of course, we speak the truth in love… but we still speak the truth. But does God’s Word mean that much to these kind of debates?? By now you know my answer to that question… maybe I should make that a motion on the floor to see what Synod thinks. More later….

A few comments from Bret

1.) One must keep in mind that the three denominations in the Netherlands that merged to form the new denomination (PCN) each individually before the merger affirmed homosexuality in one way or another. Does a new denomination that is comprised from three denominations that affirmed homosexuality in one way or another end up not affirming it, itself?

2.) One wonders if the putative increase of ‘orthodox’ ministers in the PCN is anecdotal. Is there hard evidence that shows this?

3.) Note it was the bureaucracy of the CRC (inter-church relations) that asked for fraternal relations with the PCN. What does that tell us?

4.)Note also it was the majority report from the bureaucrats (advisory committee) that recommended full ecclesiastic fellowship with the PCN.

postscript — The 2008 Synod dealt with this issue by asking their bureaucratic structure (the one that gave the majority report recommendation to restore full ecclesiastical fellowship) to see if it could come up with a relationship that is not full ecclesiastical fellowship but is more than what is referred to as “churches in dialogue.”

The motion that passed on Thursday afternoon comes out of a desire of the CRC “to develop and maintain a relationship with the PCN that … does not obscure the seriousness of the issues that led to restrictions being placed on the GKN prior to formation of the PCN – issues that appear to continue today in the PCN,” says the IRC’s recommendation.

The Sin Of To Much Knowledge

Below is an exchange with a chap I’ve known for quite some time who lives in the Mid-Michigan area. He is pentecostal and ana-baptist. There are a great number of these kinds of people in Mid-Michigan. The two of us, for a few weeks, tried to do a Bible study together along with other men from Mid-Michigan but they didn’t like the Reformed faith while others of us, though trying, weren’t to hip on their pentecostal, ana-baptist explanations of texts. I have kicked myself and prayed often about my failure to get through to this group. The Lord Christ caused our paths to cross again so perhaps the Lord Christ intends to keep the conversation going, though it still doesn’t look like it is going to go anywhere.


Thanks for the link to your web-site, unfortunately it’s far too intellectual for a simple man like me.


Well, the simple can at least aspire to be more intellectual and work to that end. As a simple man myself that is what I have always tried to practice and it is what I’ve tried to teach my simple children to practice.




I don’t aspire to be more intellectual, but rather less. I aspire to have the Lord impart Godly wisdom which is easily entreated. Knowledge and intellectualism are dangerously seductive, and lead many astray, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

My Lord and Master was criticized for not being learned and yet exemplified Love, Truth and Wisdom such that no “learned” man could answer anything. My pursuit is the Love of Truth, and Jesus said that He is the Truth. So if I pick up knowledge and understanding along the way to the knowledge of the Truth, so be it, but they will never be the things I seek after nor love.


* The god you make is the god you must defend;
* the God that made you needs no defense.


Let’s see… we agree that each of us consider ourselves simple men.

We each agree that we need to pursue truth.

Now, mind telling me how we simple men pursue truth apart from the intellect? Does truth come in through our pores? Does the Holy Spirit give us knowledge, understanding, and wisdom apart from the faculty of the mind that God created to absorb those things? Does the Holy Spirit just kind of pour knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in us the way I pour gravy over my mashed potatoes?

The Holy Scriptures teach, ‘above all, get understanding.’ Now I freely concede that is not the exact same thing as ‘be intellectual’ but one can not get understanding, or gain wisdom apart from the intellect. Also, I fully agree that intellectual men can be worthless pagans but it is not their intelligence, nor the amount of what they know that render them pagan but rather because they seek to keep their knowledge in defiance of the God of the Bible and His Christ. This is where their intelligence really reveals its ignorance since nothing can be truly known without presupposing the God of the Bible.

Also, Pete, you might want to be careful about drawing to many parallels between you and ‘your master.’ He had the advantage of being Divine. You don’t.

Scripture teaches we are to ‘be transformed according to the renewing of our minds.’ We are to have ‘this mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus.’ We are to ‘take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ.’ That is every thought Pete, not excluding the intellectual thoughts. We are to Love God with all our MIND.

Frankly you are inhibiting your sanctification by seeking to place a false dichotomy between love of Jesus and love of knowledge. Jesus is King over all knowledge. If and when I learn anything it is because it comes from Him and it is His knowledge because He is Lord over it. It is precisely because of my Love for Jesus and my conviction that He is Lord over all knowledge that I seek to KNOW Him and make him known.

Quit with your pursuit of experience and come to know Jesus and love God with all your mind. God gives no extra brownie points of holiness to anyone for purposely being stupid just as he gives no extra brownie points for holiness to anyone for thinking that God will love them more if they are smarter.

Pete, the church is in desperate need for people who will once again love God with all their minds. That doesn’t mean that everyone needs to be a Rocket scientist but it does mean that from the pew to the pulpit all must seek to know what they believe and why they believe it and what they don’t believe and why they don’t believe it, as it applies to every area of life that they traverse. The church needs, perhaps more then any other time, intellects that approach the intellect of the Apostle Paul. Instead to many of our churches play to the lowest common denominator of base experience and reasonless emotion.

Finally, I fully agree that the intellect can become an idol. Perhaps this is what you mean by ‘intellectualism.’ Do you fully admit that the emotions or experience can become an idol so we end up with ‘experientialism’?

Well, I’m sure I’ve just confirmed, in your mind, my alleged arrogance. So be it. I am content to be considered a fool because I insist that people should be smart for Jesus.

I pray God that neither of us will fall to idols.



Packing Them In

Recently, I wrote about some unique ways that Churches were seeking to draw people to their services. If you will recall I drew attention to local services that included a ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ sing-along Good Friday service as well as Lottery Easter Sunday at a local Pentecostal Church. This week I learned that another Church in another State did a ‘U2’ Good Friday sing-along service, and our local pentecostal Church once again held its Easter Raffle.

However, the big news about how to build a Church comes from the Lutheran Missouri Synod denomination this morning. It seems that some bureaucratic Lutheran got the idea of giving 25,000.00 to a program where billboards were used to help grow an area Lutheran Missouri Synod Church. These billboards were hot red in color (you know… the color of the devil) and all were signed by Satan himself. They had messages like (I’m not making this up) ‘JeffersonHills Church Sucks,’ and ‘Boycott JeffersonHills Church,’ and other witty, ‘that will cause them to flock to the Church’ maxims.

Now, as anybody recalls these are just a play off the earlier billboard signs that had the signature of God affixed to them with other brilliant statements coming from God like, ‘Loved the Wedding, Invite me to the marriage,’ and ‘As my apprentice you’re never fired.’

What I want to know is if we are going to make billboards quoting these beings why don’t we make billboards with actual quotes?

We could have God saying on a billboard

“I hate workers of iniquity” — God


“I made Him who knew no sin to be sin for sinners.” — God

There is plenty of room on a billboard for those quotes.

All of these cutesy billboards, all of these Holy services dressed in unholy sing-along garb, and all of this church growth stuff is geared for people who will never be disciples via the means offered by Church growth gurus. Even the Grand Guru of Church Growth finally admitted that,

“Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much.” Bill Hybels

Further, these church growth ideas are produced by people who never have been nor ever likely will be disciples of Christ. Disciples of Christ don’t come up with humanistic sociological techniques to grow Christ’s Church.

Ever since Seminary when I was first exposed to this bilge, I’ve been asking one question that has never been answered.

How is it that a set of techniques that could as equally grow the 1st Church of Satan as it does the 1st Church of Christ be theologically neutral in what it does?

Is the only difference that we Christians have good intentions while those people at the 1st church of Satan don’t?

Let’s face it, when using humanistic church growth methods succeed in ‘growing’ a Church and are pursued in conjunction with an emasculating of the Gospel message (and the two usually go together) the result is not a Church but a ‘hangout’ where people can go to find dates and get some occasional good advice from the relevant talk.

This Church growth stuff lowered my GPA in Seminary because I wouldn’t buy into it then and it still makes me ill today.

Wilson’s War

Those who follow the Reformed world will well know the battle royal that continues to be waged among those putatively Reformed. I have stated my conviction more than once that it may be a case where two sides are arguing over what it means to be Reformed with the interesting insight that neither side may indeed be Reformed. If this is accurate it may be a pity if either side wins.

One of the protagonists in this battle is the Bishop from Moscow, Doug Wilson. Now one could fill pages with the recounting of all the good that Wilson has done for Christianity. But even the guys in White Hats can fire blanks now and then, and on the issue of Federal Vision in relation to justification Wilson is just plain wrong.

Below I have culled a quote from Wilson that he recently wrote on his own always active and energetic blog.

The Mablog one writes,

The real issue that is confounding the Reformed world is the relationship of Christ to the individual believer and the relationship of Christ to His corporate body, and then the relationship of the individual believer to that corporate body. Put this question another way — this recapitulation of Israel’s history, this active obedience of Christ — is it imputed to the reprobate covenant member? If we say that Christ’s active obedience is imputed to each elect covenant member only, one at a time, thus building up the body of the elect (as an abstracted roster), then we are disparaging the role of the organic Church. But if we say that the imputation of Christ’s obedience is “for the new Israel,” and I am a covenant member of that new Israel, then His obedience is mine, right? Q.E.D. But this leaves us to puzzle over the differences between the elect covenant member and the reprobate covenant member, and leaves the classic TR (rightly) suspicious. The imputation of the active obedience of Christ cannot be taken as simple handwaving over the entire visible Church. In my appeal to the recapitulation of Israel’s history in the life of Christ, that is not what I am trying to do.

Part of the struggle in the whole Federal Vision debate is how to understand the relationship of the Church as a whole to Christ vs. the more commonly pursued understanding of the individual’s personal relationship to Christ. A great deal of time is spent examining how the individual comes into relation with Christ (ordo salutis) without spending as much time examining the question of how the Church as a whole (both elect and un-elect members) is in relation to Christ. When we make this kind of emphasis the inevitable consequence is that the historical concrete Church takes it on the chin in terms of importance over against the Church invisible. The problem crops up when we insist that all who belong to the visible Church (whether elect or non-elect) belong to the justified community. Certainly we don’t mean that non-elect covenant members of the justified community are justified, do we?

This is how I understand the difference between the elect and reprobate covenant member in their enjoyment of the benefits of that covenant. By “benefits of that covenant” let us use the imputation of the active obedience of Christ, but I believe the same thing applies to all the blessings of the covenant. The elect enjoys them with the result of ultimate salvation at the last day. The reprobate enjoys them temporarily as the common operations of the Spirit, to use the language of Westminster.

Wilson’s attempt to resolve this dilemma immediately crashes on the shore of Scripture and reason.

Wilson appeals to the reality that the non-elect covenant member enjoys all the ‘benefits of the covenant’ but only temporarily. The problem with this reasoning is that one of the ‘benefits of the covenant’ that Wilson says that non-elect covenant members (henceforth NECM) share temporarily is the final perseverance and preservation of the saints. So we have Wilson saying on one hand that NECM get all the ‘benefits of the covenant’ while on the other hand we get Wilson saying that the NECM get all the benefits of the covenant except for the one they don’t get. This kind of reasoning by contradiction shows up frequently in Federal Vision doublespeak when it comes to the issue of justification.

It seems that the only distinction that Mr. Wilson is making between ECM and NECM is that one perseveres and the other doesn’t. But if this is accurate this would be to say that NECM are genuinely temporarily saved up until the time that they quit persevering and being preserved. It seems that Wilson is saying that both the ECM and the NECM have the essence of the covenant, which is Christ, until they commit soteriological treason. Is it the case that according to Wilson both NECM and ECM share the same ontological regenerated nature until the NECM goes apostate? Now, this could be squared with Arminian Theology, and probably most non-Reformed Theology but it can not be squared with Reformed Theology unless we redefine what it means to be Reformed.

It is difficult to see how this can be squared with Reformed Theology.

But what of the ‘common operations of the Spirit’ language (from the WCF) that Wilson appeals to? Instead of insisting that it means that the NECM have genuinely and truly the all the saving benefits of Christ, if only temporarily, it would be better and more Biblical to say that the NECM are like the dogs who get the crumbs that fall of the children’s table that Jesus refers to in his conversation with the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7:24f. The dogs are getting part of the feast (hence ‘common operations’) but nobody suggests that the dogs are equal to or are the same as the children.

Doug continues,

If this following illustration helps, great. If not, then maybe we can find a better one later. We are all in the car of salvation, barreling along at a high rate of speed, headed toward the eucatastrophic wall that bars the road at the end of history, and which we will all hit at that high rate of speed. We are all in the car, we all have a seat, we all have equal access to the drinks and snacks in the cooler, and we are all buckled up, except for some sons of Belial in the way back. We have all been expressly told to buckle up, and we have mostly done so. Some of those buckled have just shoved the thing in thoughtlessly, but the converted covenant members hear the click. That click makes all the difference, for everyone and in everything.

Rev. Wilson is famous (or infamous depending on whom you ask) for his illustrations. I have, over the years, found many of them to be quite good. This isn’t one of them.

First, note that for Wilson both the ECM and the NECM who are together members of the covenant are all together in the ‘car of salvation.’ Now in the sense that all are in the place where salvation is to be enjoyed and lived out this is true, but in the sense that all are headed to the same destination this is not true. The NECM are never on their way to salvation and for them that wall is not eucatastrophic but rather dys-catastrophic. The fact that Wilson puts them all headed towards a eucatastrophic wall belies Wilson’s failure to realize that the NECM have always been, in Brian Adam’s phrase, ‘on the Highway to Hell’ and not on the highway to a eucatastrophic end.

Pressed to its logical conclusion Wilson’s analogy teaches salvation by works. If the differentiation between ECM and NECM is found in who buckles up and who becomes a ‘test crash dummy’ then owning salvation really isn’t equated to being in the car but rather it must be equated to buckling up. And further, in Wilson’s analogy, why can’t I boast in my contribution towards salvation since what I did (buckling up) is what makes me differ from the poor NECM slob who didn’t buckle up?

Second, this illustration could be read to be teaching that all the members in the vehicle get in by grace but they must stay in by works. (The difference between ECM and NECM according to Wilson’s analogy is that the former perform a necessary work while the latter doesn’t.) In Michigan language the NECM don’t ‘click it so they get a ticket.’It seems that Wilson could easily be accused of teaching, by analogy, that believers keep their salvation by works. Now, certainly, all Reformed Pastors worth their salt teach that work (clicking) happens in the Covenant of Grace but no Reformed Pastor worth his salt would ever teach that we keep our covenant status by our works. How can we work to keep something that is irreversibly given? When Christ put me in the covenant of Grace He did it all including clicking the seat belt.

Finally the Moscow maven offers,

So the qualitative difference between the elect and reprobate extends to their enjoyment of every blessing. It affects every blessing, and it affects it totally. Is the obedience of Christ given to the reprobate car-rider? Yes, but no click. Is the obedience of Christ rendered to every elect covenant member? Absolutely . . . and click. In this respect, the reprobate covenant member’s enjoyment of the common operations of the Spirit is exactly like the reprobate non-covenant member’s enjoyment of rain and sunshine. The greater the enjoyment, the more we should have a sense of gathering tragedy and doom. As C.S. Lewis points out somewhere, damnation works backwards.

This really looks to be obfuscation on the part or Rev. Wilson. On one hand the NECM has the obedience of Christ imputed to them while on the other hand it is not imputed to them because they didn’t click. Which is it? Imputed or not imputed? It seems what Wilson has introduced is another step in the ordo salutis. Wilson now offers, ‘justification, click, regeneration, sanctification, etc…. Apparently some can be justified (and let’s keep in mind what justification means) but because there is no sweet sound of the click then their’s is just a non-click version of justification.

Anybody want to bet that we are now going to divide in to the ‘Click Reformed Church vis a vis the No Click Reformed Church?

Anyway in the end Rev. Wilson’s attempt to continue to bridge Federal Vision with classic expressions of the Reformed Faith fails. Doug ought to just give up this attempt to bridge these expressions and go join his Federal Vision compatriots and diligently pray that God will raise some other movement up to defeat the Reformed derangements of many of his radical two Kingdomists Luthernaized opponents.