Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Identity Crisis: I've Got News For You

A preliminary note: First, ***spoilers ahead***if you've never read The Wingfeather Saga or Harry Potter. Second, speaking of Harry Potter:
We are one of those families, the ones who do not let their children read Harry Potter until a certain age. But that is a recent development. Until I finished the series myself this past spring, we were one of the families who never let their children read Harry Potter. I have no regrets. And if you are one of those families, you have my deepest regard. If you are not one of those families, I respect your house rules, too. But may I ask you to wrestle with your children over what the scriptures say about witchcraft? The Bible takes it seriously, and we should, too.
I've got news for you.
This is not a game.
I've got news for you.
Are you listenin'?
I've got news for you.
We are all to blame.
And when that's understood, we can start to live again.*

We've got an identity crisis on our hands. And I'm not talking about the 'gender/sexuality' shenanigans, either. I'm talking about something much more subtle, much more pervasive, and, therefore, much more dangerous.

I'm almost fifty years old, and I am still impacted by a discussion I had in eighth grade. The headmaster and we students were sitting around a conference table discussing the Iran hostages, who had just been released after 444 days in captivity. Mr. Smith asked us one question.
Are they heroes?
We were incredulous. Of course they were heroes.
What heroic thing did they do? he pressed.
Uhhh... Splutter, splutter. Well, they, uh....
So are they heroes? repeated Mr. Smith.

He had us. There was no way around this. No, the Iran hostages were not heroes. They were victims, but they were not heroes. It was a lesson in both linguistic precision and labels that I have never forgotten.

In the many years since, I have observed that sloppiness in regard to linguistic precision and labels is so common, it's practically part of what it means to be human.
We're really good at filing the people we love, including ourselves, into either of the first two categories. And we're really good at piling the people who hurt us into the last one. Truly, our whole system would be laughable if eternity didn't hang in the balance.

Enter Harry Potter. I thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series. It's a jolly good tale, full of great characters and plot twists. Granted, I wasn't all in until Book 5, which still remains my favorite of the set. And I don't think I'm giving anything away by saying that Harry Potter is the hero. But as a commentary on the human condition, I found it lacking. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he's the Christ Figure. He's the ideal Victim, a lucky escapee from an attempted murder, an orphan despised and rejected by his adoptive family, who also happens to be the chosen one to do the right thing at the right time.
Victim, victim, victim.
Turned hero, hero, hero.
He also doesn't have a particularly strong moral compass. Like I told my older kids after they read it (after I read it), there's lots of World in Harry Potter. There's lots of Devil, too. But there is no Flesh. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Oh, there was lots of evidence of Flesh. He's smart-alecky with authority; he lies; he's passive-aggressive. But there was no internal battle with the Flesh, no sanctification. Rowling gives him a pass, I guess because, poor thing, he's had such a tough go of it. I didn't particularly like the boy Harry Potter because I couldn't particularly relate to him.

Yet victims or heroes are how we tend to plot ourselves in our own stories, aren't they? We see ourselves as victims in the way we give a pass to sin, in us and in others. "Sure, what I (or s/he) did was bad," we practically shrug. "But I (or s/he) was lost and hurting and felt like life offered me (or him/her) no other choice." And we find a certain self-righteous smugness in our compassion (which is no compassion at all). We see ourselves as heroes when we get ourselves past our wounds or establish solidarity: hashtagmetoo. Sadly we even see it in really bad Christian songs:
No matter the bumps, no matter the bruises, no matter the scars, still the truth is the Cross has made you flawless. 
Where do the scriptures teach us that our flaws come from outside of us? What gospel is that?

Now step with me into Aerwiar, (because...'ere we are...) a place where the World and the Devil are as threatening as they are at Hogwarts.  But, unlike Hogwarts, in Aerwiar, our Flesh is our own worst enemy. Follow the heartbreaking/heartwarming story of the Wingfeather family (Artham might be my favorite literary character OF ALL TIME). Take an honest look at just how much harm your Flesh can do. (Hint: so much more than the World or the Devil can do)

Unlike Harry Potter, The Wingfeather Saga is profoundly gospel because it tells the truth about our condition, about consequences, about the Maker. There are no victims in Aerwiar. There are no heroes. There are monsters. And that is as it should be. That is the gospel.

I've got news for you. You may at some point have been someone's victim. You may at some point have been someone's hero. But your victimization is not your problem. And your heroism is not your salvation. As a friend once said, 'When we pray that the Lord will deliver us from evil, we should be thinking about the evil we do to others much more than the evil others do to us.'

So let's apply our own linguistic precision with labels.
Our identity is not Victim.
Our identity is not Hero.
Our identity is Monster.

When that's understood, our identity crisis is over.
And when that's understood, we can start to live again.
*I've Got News For You, Randy Stonehill, 1976

Please, I beg of you not to see the new Wingfeather movie. I adore the Saga, and I refuse to watch. Do you remember that awful animated version of The Lord of the Rings all those years ago? Did that do anything for the story? No. You simply must read The Wingfeather Saga, all four books, to understand the riches of this tale. It is profoundly gospel. But if Peter Jackson ever agreed to make the movie...

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

For My Savior Loves Me So

A while back, we got a frantic call from a very concerned friend. Someone we all knew and loved was thinking of converting to Catholicism, and could Brett and I intervene? Of course we would, I told the caller. But the following twenty-four hours were awful. First, I was in shock. Then anger. Then weeping. By nighttime, I fell into bed in a catatonic slump. In short, I went through all the stages of grief in one terrible day.

My faith in the Lord was not rocked. I was, and still am, confident of His absolute sovereignty over salvation. If this dear one was elect, then this dear one would be saved. But if this dear one chose Catholicism, make no mistake. We would have no choice but to regard this person as apostate.

The conversation got very intense before it ended. "You're not being very respectful," the person said to me.
I nearly shot vertically out of my chair. "I'm not here to respect you; I'm here to warn you!" I retorted.
I am happy to say that it was the Holy Spirit, not Brett and I, who intervened. But that was a close call. And I will never understand why someone would willingly choose the heavy torment of Catholicism for the light, easy yoke of Jesus.

I will also never understand gospel Christians who are grateful for their salvation but dismiss the Reformation as a minor quibble, a thing of the past, and shrug at the Christian gospel of grace and the Catholic gospel of terror as the same gospel.

How can the same gospel rest on:
faith alone and not faith alone
grace alone and not grace alone
Christ alone and not Christ alone?
I'll answer that. It can't.

Gospel Christian, your ecumenical kumbayah has got to stop. You're certainly not representing the gospel well with your mushy imprecision. And if you think you're doing anyone any favors, think again. Gospel Christian, this one's for you.
I love Reformation Day. I love it as much as I love Christmas. And if you were tormented for the first thirty years of your life before you understood the doctrines of grace brought back by the Reformation, you'd probably be the same Reformation geek as I am.

I am the collateral damage of Catholicism. My parents were saved when I was almost three and promptly left Catholicism. They shared the gospel with me and took me to church. We did family devotions, and both my parents model a vibrant, serious walk with the Lord. I stand on their faithful shoulders. Still, I walked in the shadow of Catholicism. My parents often spoke of the constant, pervasive guilt and were careful to guard against that in our home. But the horrific fact is that I was taught that, although I was saved, I could lose my salvation. And I was taught that because they were taught that. (You can take the Catholic out of Catholicism, but it is very difficult to take Catholicism out of the ex-Catholic.)

But mine is not the only story of torment. Here are three more examples. All of them are true; all of them are either friends of mine or of my children. They are merely representative of millions of other stories.

Example One:
An adult daughter of mine is speaking with a friend about how much she is looking forward to heaven. The friend, who is a serious, well-catechized Catholic, responds, "It must be nice to be sure where you are going." Imagine that terror. Imagine going to sleep every night without the confidence of heaven. You want to be there, but you aren't sure you've done enough to actually get there.

Example Two:
A Catholic young lady's father is abandoned by her mother after years of the mother's adulterous relationships. As an officially divorced man, her father is barred from Holy Communion. But according to Catholic doctrine, to remain in right standing with God, one must participate in the Mass. Add to that the additional horror and heartbreak when the young lady is married in a Catholic wedding, and he is not able to fully participate. Imagine the terror. Imagine your understanding is that you must jump through the Mass hoop, and now, through no fault of your own, you are prevented.

Example Three:
A Catholic friend asks for prayers of repose for a deceased loved one. What is a prayer of repose? It is offered in hopes of getting that person to heaven. Sometimes, says the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the prayer must be said many times. Well, which times must they be said many times? And how many times is many times? And when do we know that many times is enough? What does it mean that we do not grieve as others grieve if it does not mean that we have a great amount of assurance about that loved one's salvation? What kind of gospel doesn't take the sting out of death?

If you read these true stories and your heart doesn't hurt, check for a pulse. What ISIS is to the Middle East, Catholicism is to the human soul.  How dare we gospel Christians defend, legitimize, or validate this gospel of terror?

The gospel of Jesus tells me: We stand on Scripture alone, not man's wisdom.
The gospel of terror tells me: Scripture is not enough; I need a sanctioned interpreter.

The gospel of Jesus tells me: We stand through Faith alone, nothing we earn.
The gospel of terror tells me: Faith is not enough; I must add penance.

The gospel of Jesus tells me: We stand by Grace alone, nothing we accomplish.
The gospel of terror tells me: Grace is not enough; I must add my own merit.

The gospel of Jesus tells me: We stand in Christ alone, no other mediator.
The gospel of terror tells me: Christ's righteousness is not enough; I must add my own infused righteousness.

The gospel of Jesus tells me: We stand for God's glory alone, not for our praise.*
The gospel of terror is accessorized with pride. Well, yeah. After I'm done adding my penance, my merit, and my infused righteousness, what do I need a savior for?

The Reformation demonstrates that God is still writing the history of His people, long after the canon of scripture closed.

The Reformation demonstrates Remnant. God has always had and will always have a Remnant of gospel Christians. And He is in the business of preserving us. The Reformation demonstrates Return. When we are faithless, He is faithful. He will always return His covenant people to His Truth. And--my favorite--the Reformation means Rest. He did the work of salvation, and then He pursued me and brought me to repentance. I rest in the finished work of Christ.

When I fear my faith will fail...
When the tempter would prevail...
I could never keep my hold...
For my love is often cold...
Those He saves are His delight...
Precious in His holy sight...
He'll not let my soul be lost...
Bought by Him at such a cost...
He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast,
For my Savior loves me so.
He will hold me fast.**

Why will Jesus keep me when my love is cold, when I give in to tempation, when I am faithless?
Because He loves me. And He will finish what He started.

If you are living under a heavy yoke and are terrorized about your standing with God, if you keep asking, how much merit is enough merit? or how can I rest in my salvation? let's talk.
If you are resting in the Truths of the Reformation and the glorious gospel of grace, then on this 500th anniversary, may you have a wonderful, joyous Reformation Day!

He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:21
For I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

*Thanks to Together for the Gospel, 2016 for the 'alone' wording.
**He Will Hold Me Fast, Ada Habershon, Matthew Merker, 2013.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Rock On With Your Bad Self

We had a day this past month.
A day when the Accused (progeny) were brought up before the Tribunal (parents) for Crimes Against Humanity (sibling).
"Rock on with your bad self."

True story. Ten years ago. I got into it with a friend. Admittedly, I didn't open the discussion with the best wisdom. Flinging accusation, even when you are sure you are right, is never a good strategy. Badly done, Noel; badly done. But when I wanted to meet and reconcile, that was the response. Rock on with your bad self. I read it the first thirty-seven times with my chin on my desk. I guess if an offended brother is harder to scale than a city wall...this is what it looks like. Eventually, the shock wore off, and I resumed life sadly without my old friend. Today, almost a decade later, Brett and I are able to see the humor. We treat it like a farewell. As in, "Hey," (point your finger, wink your eye, and click your tongue) "Rock on with your bad self." Or as in the other night when we were drifting off to sleep, and Brett whispered, 'Hey. Rock on with your bad self.' I snorted. 'If she only knew the mileage we've gotten out of that.'

But the experience begged a question. How do you get to be old enough to produce little critters in your own image, and yet you're not able to have functional adult relationships???????

Back to the the day...
Brett and I sat there on the day this past month talking with Progeny A and Progeny B about how they had demolished Progeny C, and I was mad as a hornet. But here was the kicker. When I explained how hurt Progeny C was, Progeny B said, 'Well, that's not what I meant.'
'Well, that's what Progeny C heard,' I said.
'Well, that's not what I meant,' was the repeated reply.

Me: Position noted. But now that you know how it was received, it would be a good idea to go back and have a conversation and clarify that.
B: No.
Me, barely keeping a lid on it: Why would you NOT seek to clarify, especially since this relationship is now damaged?
B: Because C won't listen.
Me, wobbly, wobbly lid: How do you know that?
B, responding with the sagely wisdom of all progeny: 'Cuz.
Me: Your relationship hangs in the balance here. Progeny C is worth the conversation.

My point is this. As I sat there listening to Progeny B rationalize, I had the 'aha!' moment. This was it. This is the place where some people get stunted in their growth, and their ability to have relationships never progress beyond this. This is the moment when they learn to quit. And no parent is telling them to persevere. Well, my progeny, that's not going to happen in my house. Get back in the game, and have this relationship. This is how you adult.

What's more, in a weird little coincidence--or was it Providence?--Brett told them after we were done talking that he had to leave to handle a relationship where there had been offense.
Practicing what he preaches.
Heading into (not running away from) the breaches.
Adulting in relationships. Like a boss.

Ten years ago, I got this follow-up email after the now infamous 'Rock On' one: We've decided this relationship is no longer worth pursuing, but I want to take communion, so I forgive you.
Ah, she was always refreshingly honest, that one.
Me: Why don't you want to get this right?
Her: 'Cuz.

It's like we are genuinely surprised by misunderstandings or conflict, and we think not reconciling is a valid Christian option. And yet...given the fact that God tells us to be ministers of reconciliation, to go to the brother who has offended us, to forgive one another, I rather doubt He is of the same mind. It's almost like God knew that reconciliation would be part and parcel of the Christian life. Hmm.

I am reminded of what a home schooling mentor told me twenty years ago about teaching a child to read. 'Relax. Is it more important for your child to read when they are 4 years old or when they are 24 years old?'

When it comes to relationships, I think the same reasoning applies. We must teach our children the art of reconciliation now, not so much because we want them to have healthy relationships at age 4, but because we want them to have healthy adult relationships when they are 24. And 34. And 44.

Back to the Tribunal. The discussion continued for about an hour. It was not a fun day. But reconciliation is happening. It still smarts a little bit, and it is requiring an investment of time and effort and heart-attitude checks, but the sting is going away. And my Mom-heart is so proud of my kiddos.

Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will raise up the age-old foundations. And you will be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of the streets in which to dwell. Isaiah 58:12

Repair the breaches.
Either that or (point, click, wink) rock on with your bad self.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Are you thinking correctly about your statement of faith?

It's that time of year when not only is school starting but also all the extra-curriculars. Some of them will be purely secular, like city leagues and music lessons. Some of them will be explicitly Christian, either for community outreach or for the equipping of young saints. More specifically, those that are intended to equip the saints will generally require a statement of faith for the purpose of demonstrating a unity among its members and for holding them generally accountable to the same standard.

And this is where things, in recent years, have gone very wrong. I've been involved in enough activities through the years to notice a disturbing trend which has abandoned a traditional statement of faith in favor of a creed. And other parents are starting to get concerned, as well.

Now let's talk about creeds. Let's talk about the Nicene Creed. The Council of Nicea met in 325 to combat the Arian heresy that erroneously taught that Jesus was a created being, rather than an eternal, co-equal member of the Trinity. And the Nicene Creed is good; it is very, very good.

But what it is not is a statement of faith.

Elevating the Nicene Creed to a statement of faith, which it was never intended to be, dilutes and reduces the gospel that unifies all true Christians. An organization which unifies only on the Nicene Creed tells its member families, "Welcome. We have all agreed here that we are not Arians."

Well, yippee.

Standing on a creed as the sum unifying total of our faith is like standing on air. We are not to unify on nothing; we are to unify on the Truth.

What about the nature of God? What about the nature of man? salvation? the authority of the Bible? These are the non-negotiables of the gospel. These define which gospel we believe. The gospel is simple. But the gospel is precise. And if you and I can't agree on these non-negotiables, it's safe to say that at least one of us is not a true believer.

Leaders, you need to decide what kind of group you are leading.
If you are leading a group whose goal is to equip young saints, be that with sports skills, speaking skills, artistic skills, etc...or...
If you are leading a group that has "Christian" in its title or subtitle...
you better have a statement of faith which reflects the Christian gospel and all of its non-negotiables. Gospel parents will expect that of you.

Parents, you need to decide what kind of group you want to join. If your expectation is that you will be with like-minded parents who are also raising gospel kids, you need to spend more than a nanosecond reading that group's statement of faith. It will help you avoid unpleasant discoveries among the membership after you've already invested money and time--and your children.

And if the group you lead or join can't come up with anything better than the Nicene Creed, don't be surprised when your membership isn't anything more than non-Arians.

Hold the line, saints. Hold the line.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017


He (the ungodly) does not despise evil. Psalm 36:4

It finally hit me about a year ago. We are a 'better late than early' family. When I compare what we set before our children when, whether that be facts or books or entertainment, we expose our children much later than most of our peers. We're rather cautious about foundations.

It's why we don't talk about mythology until we've first hammered Old-Testament-as-history (not allegory).
Because in the beginning, God.
In the beginning, Greece.

It's why Brett intervened when someone tried to hand our twelve year old a Michael Crichton book.
'But Mr. A, it's a good book.'
'No, Eddie.'
'But Mr. A...'
'No, Eddie.'
It's why we don't let them read (insert blockbuster youth fiction of your choice here) until we see a certain level of spiritual maturity.
It's why certain shows we only watch the two of us, some with the older kids, and some shows we don't watch at all.

In short, there are topics/books/entertainment they aren't equipped to handle until we see them cultivate a distaste, an enmity, for things that set themselves up in opposition to God.

About a week ago, I was enjoying a quiet time in my back yard. But I did a vertical jump when a snake slithered onto the scene. Admittedly, I had a momentary, 'Oh maybe I should just let it pass.' But it was quickly countered. 'Hey, this is my yard. I am lord and master of this plot of land; you are a usurper. And at over five feet long, you are taller than two of the imago dei's who play out here.'  Add to that the fact that one of my children was actually bitten by a snake in my own yard, and I have an unapologetic malice toward snakes. Ciao, baby.

That's what a good, old fashioned Garden of Eden enmity does: You've brought harm here before. There will be no second chances.

And that's what I was thinking about when a conversation arose about entertainment. We don't seem to be cultivating enough enmity in our homes. We seem to do pretty well at seeking to love what God loves. But I don't think we are doing quite as well at hating what God hates.

I was a huge fan of 24. But I remember the episode in which hero Jack Bauer is instructed to kill one of his superiors to prevent the bad guy from doing much greater harm. I remember watching in amazement as Jack hauled this guy to an abandoned rail yard and shot him point blank in the back of the head. And I remember sitting there thinking, "This better not be what it appears. This hero better not have just taken life in cold blood for the greater good. There better be a twist in this story." There wasn't. But here's the greater issue. God hates utilitarianism. God hates murder. Do I hate it with the same hatred? The bad news: I didn't stop watching immediately. The good news: I stopped seeing Jack as good, and I eventually stopped watching.

Let's face it. We can get pretty good at waxing intellectual about our entertainment choices. Dr. Michael Wittmer, writing for last month's edition of Table Talk, scoffs at the notion that Christians
may view movies filled with violence, profanity, and sexual immorality as long as they watch 'with discernment'--which is often code for 'watch whatever you want as long as you spot the Christ figure or the tortured soul yearning for redemption.'
I laughed out loud. Wittmer nailed it! File it under 'literary criticism,' and anything goes.

I know I'm in dangerous territory here, talking about Christians and entertainment. I have an acquaintance whose default, when two Christians disagree, is:
Hey, they're both Christians. Therefore, this must be an issue of liberty.
Contrast that with my own default when two Christians disagree:
Hey, they disagree. Therefore, this must be an issue of sin.

I'm not writing a new law. I happily acknowledge that our rules are house rules, and that other houses have other rules. Both my acquaintance and I need to rely less on our own defaults and more on our daily, hourly need for wisdom. Sometimes entertainment is an issue of liberty. But if there's a Snake in your home, you need to cut off its head.

The ungodly does not despise evil. He has not cultivated any enmity for evil. He does not hate what God hates. Unfortunately, similar statements can too often be made of the godly. The godly often treats entertainment the way I was momentarily tempted to treat the snake. 'Oh, maybe I'll just let it be.' So I will leave us all with a question to ponder.

Should I, who have been purchased by the precious blood of Jesus, I, the slave of righteousness, have an appetite for entertainment that is substantially different from the appetite of the reprobate?
Yes or no?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

I've Finally Decided My Future Lies...

I realize that some of my readers, like some of my loved ones, are concrete and prefer that I spell things out. So...

I will not be devoting another jot of space on this blog to politics. And that is because I will not be devoting another moment of my life to it, either.

I am done with politics. When I say I'm done, I mean that in the way an addict is done with heroine. It's not that I don't care; it's that I care way too much. I am done with it dominating my life. I realize that government was God's idea and that makes government inherently good. But politics was man's idea. It is at once above me and beneath me. It is at once wonderful and terrible.

In the immortal words of Elton John:
Maybe you'll get a replacement.
There's plenty like me to be found.

Like a heroine addict,  I will be filling the void with better things. Rather than work for temporal things that pass away--like nations--I will be working for eternal things.

But I've finally decided my future lies here: wife, mom, friend, sheologian, member of my church and The Church, reader of books, observer of culture.

And those are the kinds of things you will see on this blog. Actually, I've already had requests from people in different places for specific topics.

Now. Where was I?

Friday, July 7, 2017

Fear Not, Little Flock (or Galadriel's Choice, Pt. 2)

But Christianity has never depended on the success or failure of the empires that wax and wane. The 'crisis of Western civilization' is not the same as the 'crisis of Christianity.' Reformed theology, as we have seen, has long been a critic of the idolatries of the former and can continue to guide our response to the current situation. ( Michael Horton, Revelation and Reason, 148)
Sometimes, I wish I lived in Middle Earth.
I want to be a hobbit. I want my chair by the fire, my elevensies, and my books.
I want to be a dwarf. I want to be unbudging, fierce, and loyal.
I want to be an ent. I want to live quietly, speak slowly, and act consciously.

But if I can't live in Middle Earth, I at least want to bring as much of it here as I can. Tolkien, writing after his experience in the Great War, fairly explodes with wisdom about good and evil. How could he not after what he witnessed in World War I? We are still in a war--and his wisdom is still explosive.

It would be silly for me to base any belief, no matter how sincerely held, on a work of fiction--and a fantasy work, moreover.  But all things work together, including unrelated books, it seems, for our good.(I know; that was bad. But let's go with it, for now.) And just as I was coming to the end of my adventure in Middle Earth, I was beginning my adventure in Covenantal (or 'presuppositional') Apologetics.

Enter Revelation and Reason: New Essays in Reformed Apologetics, edited by K. Scott Oliphint and Lane G. Tipton, which turned out to be one amazing, mind-blowing ride.

Netted out, covenantal apologetics correctly explains that every human is in covenant with God (Genesis 1-2). Then the Fall happened, which meant a total fall in heart-mind-soul-strength (Genesis 3). The result, then, is that all humans are now knowing-but-suppressing (Romans 1), unless and until there is such a time when they are saved and restored to a right covenant relationship with God.

Bottom line: there are exactly two kinds of humans on this earth, covenant-breakers and covenant-keepers. There is no such thing as a middle category of people who are 'seekers.' There is no such thing as a man whose will and affections are fallen, but whose reason is intact. All men--ALL OF US--are either covenant-keepers who love God or covenant-breakers who hate God. That would not just include the terrorist or the criminal. That would also include the dear little old lady down the street, the milkman, and the guy running for political office.

Covenant-keepers are friends of God.
Covenant-breakers are weapons of the Enemy.
Yes, Virginia, it really is that simple.

Therefore, what justification can a covenant-keeper possibly offer for using a weapon of the Enemy? Michael Horton offers some wisdom here:
"Fear not, little flock, for it your Father's good will to give you the kingdom." (Luke 12:32) They had less trouble believing they were a little flock than we do. We're still fairly invested in the vanishing legacy of Christendom. Many of us can remember when the Church had considerable cultural and political clout. Now our solemn political pronouncements and moral sentiments are largely ignored. Yet once we are convicted that Jesus Christ has already secured our victory over Satan, death, and hell, we can take a deep breath and be the little flock that He has already redeemed, doing what He has called us to do. It is marvelously liberating no longer to imagine that we have to build or preserve a kingdom that Christ is not building in the first place. (Horton, Ordinary, 120)
We in the West can be deceived into thinking that the survival God's Kingdom and God's people is directly tied to the survival of civilization. That is a big, fat lie. And that is to forget the history of our people. Civilization has not preserved the Remnant; God has. He has preserved His people under Pharaohs, Emperors, Kings, and Czars. He has preserved us from popes and imams and ideological despots. And when every last civilization (and cult and ideology and philosophy and pretension and argument) crumbles into oblivion, the Bride will still be standing. Why? Because it is our Father's good will to give us the kingdom.

Decades before Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, verbalized it, Galadriel, Elf-Lady of Lothlorien, Middle Earth and Keeper of One of the Three Elven Rings, already knew it: it is marvelously liberating no longer to imagine that we have to build or preserve a kingdom that Christ is not building in the first place.

And because she knew it, she acted on it. She refused to use the Weapon of the Enemy.
And suddenly, she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken and a slender elf-woman clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. "I pass the test," she said. "I will diminish and go into the West and remain Galadriel."

So, yeah, I want to be Bilbo or Gimli or Treebeard.
But I would really love to be Galadriel.

Here ends the tale of Galadriel and covenantal apologetics.