Thoughts on Dying: RIP Rush

Thoughts on Dying: RIP Rush

I was going to write something on the dying of conservative radio icon Rush Limbaugh, and before I got to that I listened to this interview from the Dallas Theological Seminary’s The Table podcast about embracing our mortality. That’s quite the counter intuitive notion, especially in our secular age, so I had to check it out. Given I think about death a lot, my own, but also death in general, I found the discussion right down my alley. Dr. J. Todd Billings, the interviewee, wrote a book called The End of the Christian Life: How Embracing Our Mortality Frees Us to Truly Live. He should know about the topic. He was diagnosed with incurable cancer in 2012, so immanent death is something he can’t help thinking, and writing, about. The reality for all of us is that our death’s are immanent as well. It may happen in five minutes, or in 50 years, but it will happen before we know it and are ready for it.


A Response to The Misunderstanding of My Critics, Part 3

This will be my final word in writing about the issues introduced on my book page, and discussed on Take 1, and Take 2. I’m kind of proud that I’ve been able to get Calvinists and Arminians to agree about something regarding salvation. In my experience discussing these issues, everyone regardless of their theology agrees with my current critic:

Only the Lord’s work prevails. . . . The Holy Spirit is God.  He alone can regenerate hearts. . . . The means of grace are the means of grace, but the Spirit works through them when and where he pleases.

Good Calvinist that I am, I absolutely agree with this. The problem is the implication of the author’s assertion: when and where he pleases. If these words, all of them, were said outside of the current discussion, I wouldn’t even bother commenting on them because I believe they are biblical truth. The problem stems from what came previously, the assertion that nothing we can do in the raising of our children really matters, not ultimately anyway. I dealt with that as the straw man it is, playing God’s sovereignty off of human responsibility as if they are somehow, some way mutually exclusive. They are not, as even a cursory read through the Bible makes clear. (more…)

A Response to The Misunderstanding of My Critics, Part 2

In my first post I addressed part of this misunderstanding, that “there is absolutely no correlation between faithful (or reasonably faithful) work in this with the outcome of personal faith.” The “work” is a reference to raising our children in the faith. The concern of my critic, and I think this is true for others who agree with him, is that I believe, “If you do X, then Y should result.” And I replied, You’re darn right I do! I want to be perfectly clear in this post as to why I think having a reasonable expectation of results is the biblical position, that whenever you do X, no matter what X is, it is reasonable to expect certain results. It could be raising children in the faith, it could be tending a garden, building a house, practicing to hone your art or craft, building a business, getting a degree, anything X human beings do. Can we be absolutely certain of or Guarantee results, or that we are in control of the results? Of course not! But to say that because of this it follows that we can’t then have a reasonable expectation of the results, or be confident that we can produce results is, well, unreasonable. And unbiblical. (more…)

A Response to The Misunderstanding of My Critics, Part 1

I’ve given an overview of the misunderstanding, so I wont’ repeat it. I’ve taken what I think are the main points of disagreement by one critic who does a great job of distilling concerns some Christians have with what they think I’m arguing in the book:

As parents who have done everything we can to catechize, take our kids to church morning and evening, do evening devotions, etc., I can say: Only the Lord’s work prevails.  Yes, hiding the Word in their hearts is key.  But there is absolutely no correlation between faithful (or reasonably faithful) work in this with the outcome of personal faith.  I fear that your approach, makes parental guilt a more oppressive burden.  The Holy Spirit is God.  He alone can regenerate hearts.  I know that you say this.  The means of grace are the means of grace, but the Spirit works through them when and where he pleases.  I just worry that your approach is more, “If you do X, then Y should result.”  I fear that’s more harm than help—for parents and children.

There is error here mixed with truth, and I want to be careful how I unpack it, but first I will address a criticism I’ve received that bears on my credibility. I was told in so many words that I believe what I believe because it just so happens that we’ve raised three children who have grown into adulthood and have not abandoned the faith. If any of them had, so the argument goes, I would not think the way I do. I can’t refute a hypothetical, but since I’ve affirmed that we can’t guarantee anything and are in control of nothing, the point is moot, an excuse not to engage my arguments. I will address exactly what I mean by these two affirmations of denial in due course. (more…)

Persuasive Christian Parenting: A Q&A with Mike D’Virgilio

When we lived in Illinois we had gone to a church for a number of years that was large and typically Evangelical, but not Reformed. That was frustrating for me, a couple years before we left for Florida I started looking for a church that preached the doctrines of grace, as they’re called, and embraced Calvinism. I found such a church, New Covenant Church, and it so happened that the pastor is a fellow Italian-American, Chris Castaldo, who takes great pride in his Italian heritage. We hit it off when he learned of my last name, and he was a good friend while we were there. I was writing the book at the time, and he said he’d love to read it when it was published. It took forever, it seems, but he got the book and read it in only a couple days, and was very kind in his praise. He said he’d like to ask me a few questions, and post that at the church’s blog, and you can find that here.