Quill and writing

Looking for older blog posts? Try the Blog Archive.


A Catechism for Children – PPT

A Musical Catechism PowerPoint

It’s big so it might take a moment to download!

A few summers ago I crafted a Musical Catechism for Children.  I’ve had no reaction nor response.  But there is an urgent need for children to learn a ‘reformed’ catechism in order for them to comprehend the general outline of covenant theology & the crucial framework it provides in the cultivation of a Christian worldview.  I’ll complete the task of putting the project into PowerPoint and pray that God might see fit to make fuller use of it in growing new soldiers who properly understand what it is they’re fighting for as faithful soldiers of Jesus Christ.

“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Matthew 18:6,7)

Tough Questions for Evangelicals – the Answers!

For those who were bold enough to read my recent post concerning ‘Tough Questions for Evangelicals’, I offer here my own quickly drafted answers to the same questions.  I’m of course keen to hear from anyone who thinks my answers are naive or simplistic.  I don’t wish to arouse any unnecessary alarm nor disquiet, but these issues are not going to go away.  Alas, most contemporary Christians are like the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand.  To borrow another metaphor, these matters are somewhat like an elephant in the sitting room.  How long must you tip-toe around the subject before you fall down on your knees and beg God for His mercy & grace?

See here.

Summertime Musings

As for My people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err, and destroy the way of your paths.” [Isaiah 3:12]

“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”  [Matt 7:26,27]

I listened this morning to Al Mohler deliver his ‘Briefing’ from Thursday 5th September (part 1).  It’s available here.  His analysis of the current crisis erupting in the UK over Brexit – like a slow deadly volcano – was accurate enough.  He articulated well the problem we face here with a political legacy of constitutional ambivalence – it seems we don’t have a written constitution.  Therefore, defending a position of integrity & honour by an historical appeal to the past cuts no ice!  We are quite literally at the mercy of the whims & discretion of our political class.

Yesterday I received an email from a good friend who this last year became employed by one of our leading ‘Christian’ lobbying groups and think-tanks – The Christian Institute.  He had just completed (excellent) production on this piece – on behalf of the ‘Coalition for Marriage’ (CfM) – concerning the further erosion of traditional ‘Marriage’ and the increasing ease of its dissolution through lawful divorce.

My friend instinctively imagined I’d like the video and presumed that I would heartily endorse its message.  I couldn’t – for much the same reasons I could not get altogether on-side with Al Mohler despite my membership of the UK Brexit Party.  I’d like to explain why.  Alas, it is typically at this point that the argument becomes a little arduous and most Christians simply give up.

The trouble with Al Mohler & the Coalition for Marriage are typical ‘troubles’ confronting 99% of Christian ministries seeking to engage the Christian Church with cultural trends.  I worked for several years (as a Director) within a similar ‘Christian’ organisation – Truth in Science a decade or so ago.  All of these organisations believe that they must operate in a marketplace of ideas in which Christianity represents one further voice clamouring for a place at the table.  They marshal arguments that rest upon (i) personal opinion, (ii) historical precedent, (iii) popular democratic preference, (iv) sociological theory, (v) medical expertise, (vi) legal convention and even (vii) common sense pragmatism.  In doing so they are like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand.

What they have collectively failed to do is BUILD A COMPREHENSIVE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW founded upon the truth revealed by God in His Word – holy Scripture.  The NT informs us that ‘All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.’ [2Tim 3:16 ,17].  Alas, these various groups have actually abandoned the Word of God and sought, in its stead, to establish a different authority for the way they think and proceed.

If Jesus is Lord, and His law-Word is truly our foundation and guide through life everything we affirm must be traceable back to that final authority.  We are admonished by St Paul to ‘not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But set apart Christ as Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.’ [1Pet 3:15]

At this point, you my reader will probably be getting a bit annoyed.  You genuinely don’t think that the various ‘Christian’ ministries and individuals are abandoning Scripture at all!  You will want to remind me that they are long-standing Christians of good repute and excellent character with commendable attachments to local Churches possessing a very high view of Scripture etc.  I hear your response and I do not doubt your sincerity nor theirs!

But familiarity with the work of Cornelius Van Til (professor of Apologetics at Westminster Seminary USA) and several of his proteges convince me that we have gone profoundly astray.  A helpful range of academic articles surveying Van Til’s crucial contribution to Apologetics may be found here.

The thing to do is to listen again to Al Mohler; then watch and listen again to the video from the Coalition for Marriage.  Are they REFERENCING the word of God?  Are they supplying BIBLICAL reasons for their assertions?  Are they supplying a warrant for their arguments from Scripture?  Listen again carefully!

The reason why they don’t is FEAR.  They are subtly, and perhaps even unwittingly, afraid that their audience might shrink back from taking them seriously if they were to sound ‘RELIGIOUS’.  When I worked for Truth in Science, the team was especially keen to avoid presenting a ‘religious’ argument.  They passionately believed that the ‘scientific facts’ were on their side.  They imagined that referencing the Bible would muddy the water and introduce unnecessary bias/hostility into the arena.  The fear of man brings a snare; but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe [Prov 29:25].  They have forgotten that they are Christ’s ambassadors.  They have appealed for a place at the table of public discussion.  They ought rather to have pointed out that Jesus Christ owns the table!

God will in due course remove the present ‘Christian establishment’ from their seats of power (Is 3).  In their place He will install a more honourable & faithful remnant who will enjoy providentially His blessing and protection.

In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. And it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem. When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and purged the blood of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and by the spirit of burning, then the LORD will create above every dwelling place of Mount Zion, and above her assemblies, a cloud and smoke by day and the shining of a flaming fire by night. For over all the glory there will be a covering. And there will be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain. [Is 4:2-6]

Calvin’s Geneva

Many contemporary Christians claim to be followers of John Calvin.  These two lectures

https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=520483827

https://www.sermonaudio.com/saplayer/playpopup.asp?SID=5160435859

by Nick Needham demonstrate that Calvin identified strongly as a Christian Reconstructionist notwithstanding a number of odd quotes possibly drawn out of context.  The notion that Calvin and the Reformers were concerned exclusively with the reformation of the Church is demonstrably false.  Rather, their goal was to reform EVERYTHING – Church, family & state.  They were thus busy redeeming the culture for Jesus Christ!  Needham is a reformed baptist and no great friend of Christian Reconstruction.  But the historical facts overwhelmingly demonstrate – as Needham perhaps reluctantly acknowledges – that the Reformation mindset was essentially identical with that of modern theonomy.

 

A Short Commentary on the Book of Revelation

I’ve penned this document intermittently over the past couple of years.

Revelation Scribblings

It is by no means an attempt at an authoritative interpretation; rather it represents the fruit of my own thinking & reflections at this stage in my life & the history of redemption.  I am a committed ‘Postmillenialist.’  Doug Wilson has just released his own preteristic (partial at least) interpretation of Revelation.  See here.  He identifies the kernel of its meaning & signification with the Fall of Jerusalem in AD70.  I have a lot of time for that view but dare to believe that God has so ordered history that the same existential threats and troubles which beset the kingdom of God in the first century prevail down through time & merely metamorphose into alternative ‘equivalent’ manifestations.

What is most striking to me at this stage of earth history is the imminent prospect of Christ raising up a vast army of woken-up Christians while simultaneously the formal visible ‘Christian churches’ fall deeper and deeper into pietistic retreatism & apostasy, etc.  This warning is clear enough in the of the closing chapters!  May God spare us from succumbing to the temptation to receive the ‘mark of the beast!’

Steve Layfield – August 2019

Marriage under Fire

I was prompted to write this piece about the status of marriage and why it is under attack today after reading various comments from senior figures in Christian lobbying groups.  These were the questions they raised in my mind for which I sought rigorous Biblical answers:

  • Is marriage a Christian ordinance?
  • What is the State government’s right of involvement in marriage?
  • Does the State have an interest in the welfare of a formal marriage contract?  If so, why?
  • What is the interest of the Church in marriage?
  • Is the family properly constituted apart from marriage?
  • Is divorce a biblical procedure?
  • Is divorce a sin?
  • How seriously does God treat the violation of the marriage vow?
  • What legitimate sanctions can (i) the family, (ii) the Church and (iii) the state bring to bear on its violation?
  • How ought the Church to respond to the attempt by the state to ‘redefine’ marriage?

 

My inquiry may well be riddled with faulty premises and/or fallacious reasoning.  Please let me know if you think so – pointing out, of course, where!

Marriage Under Fire

Tough Questions for Evangelicals

“Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer me.

“Would you discredit my justice?
Would you condemn me to justify yourself?  [Job 40:7&8]

I read a number of years ago that it was John Wesley’s frequent practice to visit a new town and publish the Ten Commandments.  Whether he did this orally or in writing I cannot recall.  Probably he did both.  He then would leave the village for a few weeks, (often pelted with wood and stones) and pray that God’s Spirit would do a deep work of conviction.  So, after a few weeks had passed, he would re-visit the town and proclaim publicly with much rigor the good news of the gospel, etc.  The folks were now duly prepared to hear about God’s mercy and grace in Christ.

I drafted he following questions to try to engage fellow Christians whose outlook is suffocatingly ‘pietistic’.  Let me know how you get on with them!  I may post my own answers in due course.  But, for the time being, here’s just the questions!

Why is the evangelical church so marginalised? Who cares what evangelicals think?

Why are so many evangelicals unable to talk intelligently about politics?

Why are so many evangelicals indifferent about ‘Christian education?’

Does the Bible address Politics?

Does the Bible have anything to say about Science?

Is theistic evolution a principled position to take on cosmic origins?

Is crime the same as sin? What’s the difference?

Did Jesus die for our crimes?

Does the Bible identify crimes? Give examples.

Does the Bible tell us what the penalties are (should be) for different crimes?

Do you agree with capital punishment?

Is capital punishment Biblical?

Does God sanction capital punishment?

What crimes do you consider worthy of a capital sentence?

What crimes does God say are worthy of a capital sentence?

Is God wrong to attach capital sanctions to certain crimes?

Does your Christianity allow you to disagree with God? Is Jesus Lord?

How do most Christians avoid these sorts of questions?

Have you ever heard a sermon recommending God’s capital sanctions for the civil State?

Does the Bible tell us unequivocally what’s right and wrong?

Do you know what true justice looks like? How would you measure/calibrate it?

Why are evangelicals disinterested in Biblical justice?

Do you think God cares about our indifference to Biblical standards of justice?

What, according to Scripture, is God’s response to a people/society that disregards true justice and pursues its own preferred version of justice?

What name is given to the absence of justice?

What does the Bible say about societies that suffer injustice?

What responsibility do you have to inform fellow believers about justice/injustice?

Does the Bible indicate that the second coming of Jesus is imminent?

How have Christians historically sought to transform the culture?

A Plea for Authentic Christianity

This is the first of two pieces I have written recommending Christian Reconstruction as the authentic heir of Christendom.  I am aware of some of the in-house debates prevailing within the movement and reckon that some, perhaps not all, represent honourable contests for biblical Truth.  However, those skirmishes ought not to deter genuine Christian pilgrims from surveying the literature of its chief pioneers.  Bahnsen, Rushdoony and North were prolific in what they produced over a few short decades at the close of the 20th century.  Much of their output is available for free on line.  My own booklet is merely an introduction to what they collectively stood for.  I trust that it represents a faithful summary of what it was they sought to recover from our great evangelical and reformed heritage. May God bless its readership!  As ever, let me know where you perceive any faulty understanding.  The spirit of Berea (Acts 17:11) surely prevails today as it did in 1st century Macedonia!

Steve Layfield – June 2019

A Plea for Authentic Christianity (A5 booklet) PDF

The T-R-U-E Church of Jesus Christ – are you part of it?

It’s never quite ready.  Perhaps there are several typos and other incidental errors in this blog-piece.  But I must publish what I’ve been wrestling with now for the past month or so.

What is the True Church of Jesus Christ?

Sadly, I have felt constrained to withdraw temporarily from the evangelical Church scene.  However, providentially I am not bereft of friendship nor fellowship.  The Lord has kindly supplied that more abundantly than I could ever have thought or imagined.  Happily, after a few difficult months, I am back to meeting most Sundays with a few faithful saints with whom we open God’s word and together worship our Creator and Redeemer – Jesus Christ.  May the Lord use what I have written here to arouse the great giant of His True Church from her slumber.  My piece is an humble exhortation for the true followers of Christ to reflect carefully and truthfully on their own present Church experiences.  Click on the link above to download it.

Steve Layfield – June 2019

Do you Know the Lord?

“Woe to him who builds his house by unrighteousness and his chambers by injustice, who uses his neighbour’s service without wages and gives him nothing for his work, who says, ‘I will build myself a wide house with spacious chambers, and cut out windows for it, panelling it with cedar and painting it with vermilion.’ “Shall you reign because you enclose yourself in cedar? Did not your father eat and drink, and do justice and righteousness? Then it was well with him. He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well.

Was not this knowing Me?” says the LORD.

“Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence.”      [Jeremiah 22:13-17]

These words were spoken by Jeremiah to the sons of Josiah and in particular, Shallum and Jehoiakim, who we are told reigned instead of Josiah and who was carried away to Babylon in captivity where he died.  (see Jer 22: 11-12,18).

They are most striking!  Notice first that they are addressed to the civil authority.  The king of Judah was especially to implement the Law of God in his exercise of jurisprudence in the community.  That community was, of course, the commonwealth of Israel/Judah, redeemed by God under Moses & led by Joshua into Canaan to establish a kingdom of light to the surrounding gentile nations.  (See Deut 4).

Alas, the politics of man had slowly but surely overtaken the politics of God in Judah.  Equity & justice were in short supply.  Houses were being built by slave labourers; bricks & equipment were being stolen; dubious (unprincipled mortgages?) were being legered; selfishness and pride were the underlying motivations of property owners; complacency towards God – and especially His providential protection of the country – was commonplace.

They were reminded (see v15) of David’s manner of life; in particular they were challenged to reflect on the fact that David enjoyed the pleasures of life (see 1Tim 6:17) whilst retaining his concern for the Law of God to be honoured in the public square.

What did David discover during that season of his life?  Was there a cause/effect relationship that we are to notice?  See v 15b…. ‘Then it was well with him’!!  Wow!  David’s disposition inclined him to practice the application of God’s Law as it pertained to social justice; i.e. the politics of his own day.  As David consistently sought to apply God’s Law in the civic realm he was blessed and prospered in his soul.  In v16 we read the same thing again: ‘He judged the cause of the poor and the needy’.  And we are told AGAIN what happened as a result, ‘Then it was well’!

Now, the simple repetition of this identification ought to suffice as a basis of instructing us to push and press for God’s Law to be implemented by our own civil authorities today.  It is about as plain as the proverbial pike-staff that God attaches providential blessings to those persons who lobby for the implementation of God’s Law.  But notice, moreover, what God through Jeremiah says next: “Was not this knowing Me, says the Lord?”.  Huh?  Just a minute; I/we thought that ‘knowing God’ was an existential matter.  We have been taught persistently and expressly that ‘knowing God’ is essentially about “experiencing the love of Jesus in our hearts as the after-effects of the ‘Four Steps to Life’”.  Aren’t those the true saints of God who meet week in week out at Church to raise their voices in songs of worship, who read Christian books, who attend missionary prayer-meetings and who pass out tracts on the bus?  [Yes, of course I approve of all such activity!]

But notice how God evaluates the politics of man: ‘Yet your eyes and your heart are for nothing but your covetousness, for shedding innocent blood, and practicing oppression and violence.’ (v17)

Now, this indictment must have seemed a bit extreme to Jehoiakim & Shallum.  “What?” I can hear them asking.  “Huh?!”  What did we do?  God tells them, notwithstanding the ferocity of their appeal, they were each guilty of oppression and violence.  How so?  Because the failure to prosecute justice in the courts APART FROM GOD’S LAW is tantamount to the prosecution of INJUSTICE.  Such is the nature of justice.  As Van Til laboured over a lifetime to demonstrate, there really is NO NEUTRALITY!  There is no such thing as ‘natural law’ or ‘natural justice’.  There is only God’s (i.e. TRUE) justice and man’s (i.e. FALSE) justice – i.e. injustice!

Now it takes a moment of thought to see the antithetical nature of justice, but it stems ultimately from the character of God who is light and in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

And so, we are inevitably left with this stark choice for ourselves today: ‘Theonomy or Autonomy?’ There is no third way; there is no conceivable alternative.

Alas, the contemporary Christian Church is swamped with voices pushing ‘natural law’ theory just as Jehoiakim and Shallum promoted it five centuries BC.  Will they begin to wake up & heed the call of Jeremiah?  Will they have the courage to abandon the legacy of 19th century rationalism & 20th century humanism?  Will they repent of their antinomian principles and discover afresh – like Josiah the child! – the rich treasures of God’s Law right under their noses (in the OT)?

In a word, will they learn truly, existentially & practically what it really means to ‘KNOW THE LORD’?

 


Looking for older blog posts? Try the Blog Archive.