Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Review: At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry

One of the more intractable problems the biblical counselor faces is helping men conquer sexual sin.

Gallagher's book At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry is a great resource, for both the counselor and the addict. He casts the problem as it should be presented: a matter of idolatry, and offers excellent practical solutions and directions. His use of Scripture is for the most part very solid, and Gallagher does a good job at digging down to the roots of the problem, rather than simply giving instructions for moralistic fruit-clipping.

The book is sufficiently graphic in its description of the spiral of degradation that a man can read it and identify with it, but not so graphic that it becomes a problem for a man already wrestling with sexual fantasy. Some reviewers have felt otherwise, so you'll want to read the book before you use it and form your own opinion.

I recommend working through this book chapter by chapter with a counselee. Don't be in a hurry--they need to digest what is being said. In my counseling I have them reading through this and Jerry Bridges' Pursuit of Holiness at the same time, to provide a more complete "put-off put-on" emphasis.

There's also a workbook available that my counselees have found useful.

I highly recommend this book.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Test Post

Test Post

Trying to force Facebook to show the proper picture with this post.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Federalist Papers: A Sad Irony

In 1777 the Second Continental Congress circulated among the thirteen states a constitution by which the several states in loose union would be governed. It was called the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, often referred to as the Articles of Confederation. The states ratified the compact by 1781.
It was a document created during our war of independence and, quite naturally, among its chief concerns were to provide a central government possessing the authority to wage war, conclude treaties, and provide for international trade.
Article one formally gave to our new nation its name, The United States of America. The second article addressed a fear near to the heart of every eighteenth century patriot: having just broken away from a monarch they did not want to permit the establishment of a central government possessing absolute authority. Consequently the Articles granted to the confederation government only such powers as expressly delegated in the document, all other powers being explicitly reserved to the sovereign states.
The Articles granted Congress the exclusive authority to wage war, exchange ambassadors, enter into treaties, set the terms for commerce with other nations, establish weights and measures, including coinage, as well as several other powers. However, no enforcement mechanisms were provided.
By 1783 the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation were becoming obvious. For instance, the Treaty of Paris ending the war with Britain was drafted in November of 1782 and signed in September a year later. However it was not ratified by Congress until January of 1784. Part of the delay was caused by members of Congress failing to show up—and the confederation government had been given no tools to enforce attendance. Similar problems were experienced as the young nation tried to pay its large war debt. When the states failed to cough up their allotted portion, the central government had no means to force them to do so.
It was apparent that the Articles were inadequate to the task of governing the nation, so a constitutional convention was convened. By late 1787 the new constitution was submitted to the states for ratification. It was vigorously opposed by some who feared that the creation of a strong federal government would overwhelm the sovereignty of the states and eventually lead to tyranny.
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay thus wrote a series of articles published in New York under the pseudonym Publius that sought to counter the arguments of the anti-federalists. The collection of eighty-five essays is now known as The Federalist Papers and set forth the benefits of a strong federal government.
The shocking and sad irony we find at this moment in our nation’s history is this: the modern federal government has become so intrusive and has so egregiously usurped the powers reserved to the states that the arguments in The Federalist Papers can now be used to contend for a large-scale dismantling of the federal leviathan.
In Federalist #27, Hamilton argues that: “It merits particular attention in this place, that the laws of the Confederacy, as to the ENUMERATED and LEGITIMATE objects of its jurisdiction, will become the SUPREME LAW of the land; . . . Thus the legislatures, courts, and magistrates, of the respective [states], will be incorporated into the operations of the national government AS FAR AS ITS JUST AND CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY EXTENDS; and will be rendered auxiliary to the enforcement of its laws.” The all-caps emphasis, my friends, was original, it was his. Notice that he limited the national government to “the enumerated and legitimate objects of its jurisdiction” and “its just and constitutional authority.” He’s limiting the Feds to what the constitution specifically enumerates as federal powers—all else is reserved to the states. 
There is nothing wrong with our federalist constitution. The problem is that neither the courts nor the legislature nor the executive have restrained the reach of the federal government to those powers granted it by the constitution.
Citing examples of federal tyranny is all too easy. For a simple project, research the amount of land in the western states owned by or controlled by the federal government. Find in the constitution a provision allowing the federal government the power of determining whether West Virginia shall burn coal to produce electricity, or Alaska drill for oil, or how many miles per gallon an automobile must attain to be manufactured in Detroit, or how much corn a farmer in Iowa is allowed to plant. Study how the commerce clause (Article I, Section 8) has been wholly twisted by the courts and legislature to give the Feds unprecedented power over the economy.
If we are to reclaim our nation, we must restore sovereignty to the states and wholly eliminate—not improve, but eliminate—entire departments of the federal government.