Gov. Pritzker Backs Down on Church Closures


The  Governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, has unceremoniously backed down on his order closing all churches to any gathering greater than 10 people.

Gov. JB Pritzker has lifted all restrictions on churches in the state after challenge by the U.S. Supreme Court, and has issued a set of guidelines instead.

The surrender was ignominious and complete.

“Per the Governor’s announcement today, religious organizations are no longer subject to any of the gathering restrictions in any phase,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul and Solicitor General Jane Notz wrote in the state’s submission to the Supreme Court on Thursday night.

Context for this stunning development is provided in this article.

(The Center Square) – Just hours before his administration was to respond to a challenge to his authority in the U.S. Supreme Court, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office has announced guidance for places of worship to reopen, signaling he’s lifting his restrictions.

Pritzker has been under fire from churches that filed a handful of lawsuits, including one before the U.S. Supreme Court that his administration had to respond to before 8 p.m. Thursday.

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver, representing the two Chicago churches said, “The unilateral actions of Gov. J.B. Pritzker is the classic example of tyranny. He knew he did not have authority to trample on the First Amendment rights of churches and houses of worship, but he did anyway and continued to do so until his case reached the U.S. Supreme Court. He cannot be trusted to obey the Constitution. The fact that he recently said that churches would never get above 50 people for at least 12 to 18 months, and now a few hours before he had to file with the Supreme Court he removes all restrictions, illustrates that he had no basis for the orders in the first place. The only thing that changed was he was dragged to the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Let’s be absolutely clear.  Gov. Pritzker did not collapse under the weight of a broad uprising of churches and their leaders.  No, it was only “a handful of lawsuits” by a few churches that brought down this man’s arbitrary and capricious (and unConstitutional) restrictions on our religious freedom.

The fact that so many churches passively accepted these orders is a scandal that will not soon be forgotten.  It will not be forgotten by the parishioners who watched their leaders submit without complaint and sometimes with enthusiasm to this illegitimate use of state power.  Nor will it be forgotten by those politicians and organizations who seek to destroy the Christian Church in the United States (for example, see herehere and here for attacks on our tax-exempt status and  here  here and here on the general situation).

No church is forced to reopen.  Nor are the policies of any church controlled.  Rather, the leadership of each church now has the reestablished right to make decisions unhindered by the state.

Random Theological Thoughts (2)


Jesus Wept

Why did Jesus weep?  Perhaps it was because he was confronted by the brokenness, lostness and helplessness of fallen humanity.  And, perhaps in that dark night of the soul in Gethsemane He remembered this encounter as he sought the strength to pay the price for our sin.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God,who is to come into the world.”

32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

John 11:20-27, 32-35 (NIV)

The Kumbaya Christians (1)


One of the many distressing revelations during this COVID-19 crisis is the exposure of what I’ll call the “Kumbaya Christians.”  My use of this term is not intended to denigrate the song Kumbaya My Lord, which is a sweet, lovely expression of Christian faith.  But it is an expression of only one dimension of the faith.  If we examine God’s Word with an open mind and seeking soul we will find many other dimensions to the expression of our faith, including righteous anger and forceful action.

My first clue of something amiss occurred when Christian leaders in states where religious services were deemed to be “nonessential” accepted this secular governmental pronouncement with utter passivity.  One can understand how, under what then looked like the threat of mass death a church would accept temporary limitations on its operations.  But when the lockdowns extended from a “couple of weeks” to open ended months one might expect some sort of pushback.  For some denominations this has indeed occurred, (e.g., the Catholics and Lutherans).  But for others the craven, passive acceptance of their status has been on full public display, (e.g., the Presbytery of Chicago).

The pathetic nature of this passivity is magnified by observation of those institutions which the state has deemed to be “essential.”  In my state of Illinois churches were deemed to be “nonessential” until May 1 when Governor Pritzker, under legal pressure, changed that designation to “essential.”  But the change was completely cosmetic.

But any religious gathering must be limited to a maximum of 10 people

So, what organizations have been operating as “essential” in Illinois?  Here are some of them.

I regularly go to grocery and other stores where there are dozens of customers milling about without enforced social distancing restrictions.  But for our churches the limit is still 10 people, which prevents even small religious gatherings.  One would also think that a Christian church would burn with anger at the thought that their operations had been deemed to be “nonessential” while those of abortion clinics and pot dispensaries are “essential.”

This pitiful position is papered over by the claim that to meet in person for virtually any Christian purpose could cause “even one person” to catch COVID-19.  Apparently there are no real countervailing goods provided by Christian worship and fellowship that balance this risk.  Apparently there are no practical precautions that could address this risk while also allowing in person Christian worship and fellowship.  There certainly apparently are countervailing goods for sustenance of our bodies, upkeep of our homes, killing of our unborn (or unwanted born) children and getting high on pot.  But sustenance of our souls through proclamation of the Gospel, sharing of the Sacraments and Christian fellowship, well no.

And so we have retreated into Facebook church services and Zoom fellowship, with no end in sight.  Some Churches will passively submit to the arbitrary and capricious orders of our Governors for any length of time that these secular rulers deem fit.  Even when other Churches rise up in opposition or when the Department of Justice begins to oppose religious discrimination in lockdown orders some will remain defiantly submissive.

Welcome to the world of Kumbaya Christianity.

Memorial Day 2020


What  we are experiencing this Memorial Day is an insubstantial mist compared to the cataclysmic hurricane that was our Civil War.  But the issue at stake is shockingly unaltered by time.  What may have changed is our willingness to sacrifice and suffer to maintain that which our forebears have given us.

Yes, we have faltered.  But my hope is that it’s because we haven’t recognized the seriousness of the challenge.  Perhaps some perspective can be obtained by recalling that our predecessors were similarly unmindful of the situation in 1861.

On July 21, 1861, Washingtonians trekked to the countryside near Manassas, Virginia, to watch Union and Confederate forces clash in the first major battle of the American Civil War. Known in the North as the First Battle of Bull Run and in the South as the Battle of First Manassas, the military engagement also earned the nickname the “picnic battle” because spectators showed up with sandwiches and opera glasses. These onlookers, who included a number of U.S. congressmen, expected a victory for the Union and a swift end to the war that had begun three months before.

President Lincoln confirmed this failure of understanding in his magisterial Second Inaugural  Address.

Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained.

constitutionThe freedom for which so many have sacrificed now hangs in the balance not due to war, but because we doubt our ability to live as a free people.  The siren song of those who would rule us sounds so tempting from  a distance.  But make no mistake, their enchanting songs will lead to the to the shipwreck of tyranny.

On this Memorial Day let’s rededicate ourselves to upholding that for which our ancestors fought and died.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

Cain and Abel (4)


Closing Thoughts

One striking and sometimes dominant theme of modern Biblical scholarship, particularly on the Old Testament, is the similarity of the key stories to this or that other ancient Near Eastern religious myth. It is most assuredly true that there are similar, sometimes strikingly so, stories in the myths of other cultures and scholarship must take this information into account. However, would it not be of greater value to seek out that which has made this LORD God so stunningly distinct?

Why is it, for example, that this LORD God continues to be worshiped by two great and related religions while the other gods of the ancient Near East have disappeared into the mists of time? Does the fact that this LORD God deals with humanity within the context of a relationship that combines moral responsibility and mercy affirm the value of human life in a unique and unmistakable way? And finally, we note that this LORD God has already demonstrated the capacity to suffer for the sins of His creatures, even to the point of overlooking direct insult in order to show mercy. Is this not a stunning departure of character for a God who would demand loyalty and worship? Clearly He does not intend to base this demand on a foundation of fear. On what foundation then does He base it?

To seek answers to these questions is to begin the journey in earnest into “the chief end of man.” For this end is tied up in a valued relationship with the Almighty. Thus the answers will be found within the context of these relationships as captured in Holy Scripture. As we move through the Biblical record will we find a disjointed jumble of unrelated encounters or a sustained, purposeful pattern? We will only be able to answer by taking the journey in prayerful hope, open to the leading of the Holy Spirit and seeking Christ as our only goal.

Cain and Abel (3)


The First Mourning (Adam and Eve mourn the death of Abel); oil on canvas 1888 painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau

Exposition (continued)

Genesis 4:8-16

8 Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.

9 Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Consider the magnitude of contempt for the LORD that is packed inside of Cain’s response. Cain has just assumed the right to destroy Abel, a being of the highest value to the LORD. Is not this the ultimate position of responsibility that one human can assume over another? And yet, Cain not only lies about Abel’s disposition, but also throws this defiant challenge back at the LORD, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” What possible madness could possess a man to address the LORD God so? How could the LORD God allow a mortal to so address Him and not be made such an example that none would ever dare to do so again?

10 The LORD said, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground. 11 Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground, which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand. 12 When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you. You will be a restless wanderer on the earth.”

Listen deeply to the LORD’s words, “”What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” Is there not the sense of a grieving parent in these anguished words? It is as if the LORD is looking past Cain’s contempt and into the abyss of sin that has just been opened wider and sunk deeper by Cain’s act.

13 Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is more than I can bear. 14 Today you are driving me from the land, and I will be hidden from your presence; I will be a restless wanderer on the earth, and whoever finds me will kill me.”
15 But the LORD said to him, “Not so; if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the LORD put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. 16 So Cain went out from the LORD’s presence and lived in the land of Nod, east of Eden.

So, we have our answer. In response to Cain’s acts of murder and contempt the LORD renders a punishment that has within it the provision of mercy. This is far short of a grisly example that would have echoed down the ages of man. To understand why this is so is to begin to understand what sets this LORD God apart from the multitude of gods who have competed, and still compete, for man’s allegiance.


Cain and Abel (2)


Exposition (continued)

Genesis 4:6, 7

6Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

Is this not a crucial statement by the LORD? This is the first time in the NIV translation that the word “sin” occurs; and the LORD utters it. Note the tenderness with which He addresses Cain, but also note the uncompromising standard that is being set. Even though sin has entered the world through the disobedience of Cain’s parents, Cain is under the obligation to “master it.”

What goes for Cain also goes for us. How much better off would we be if, rather than imagining “sin” to be a far off concept of primitive peoples, we realized that it is crouching at our doors, desiring to have us, but we are called on by the LORD God to master it?

To ask such a question brings up imaginings of dour, drab Puritan lives and Salem which trials. But are our lives truly the better for having banished sin to the periphery of our concerns? We certainly are made available to a massively increased set of options for distraction and entertainment. Have we asked ourselves, though, distraction from what, entertainment to what end? To seriously explore these questions is to discover not truth and hope, but rather emptiness and despair.

The small victories that I have allowed Christ to win in me against sin have been freeing experiences. They confirm by actual experience that sin is bondage and to throw it off through Christ’s power is to taste true freedom. What astounds is that my flesh still desperately fights to hold onto its pathetic, hopeless autonomy in spite of my spirit’s delight upon being freed from sin’s hold. How are we to account for such a conflict except by the doctrine of original sin?

Q. 25. Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A. The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consisteth in the guilt of Adam’s first sin, the want of that righteousness wherein he was created, and the corruption of his nature, whereby he is utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite unto all that is spiritually good, and wholly inclined to all evil, and that continually; which is commonly called original sin, and from which do proceed all actual transgressions.

The language of the Larger Catechism may be out of date, but I submit that the content is timeless to the extent that it is in harmony with Scripture. On this point I cannot find fault.

But, you may well ask, what of Christ’s power in the redeemed lives? Why is it not immediately victorious? That is a question that must be answered over the span of the entire Bible as we seek to understand the chief end of man.

Cain and Abel (1)

Giovanni Domenico Ferretti, Cain and Abel, 1740

Giovanni Domenico Ferretti, Cain and Abel, 1740

Opening Thoughts

The story of Cain and Abel proceeds on two dimensions – horizontal between the brothers and vertical between the brothers and the LORD. The horizontal dimension is all tragedy. That is, it tells of the victory of anger and violence over righteousness. The vertical dimension is tragedy redeemed by an unexpected mercy that foreshadows future depths of humility and suffering by the LORD God that will break wide-open humanity’s heart of stone.


Genesis 4:1-5

1 Adam lay with his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.” 2 Later she gave birth to his brother Abel.

Eve gives glory to God for blessing her with this awesome gift of procreation. Note though that Adam is entirely out of the picture. At the Fall Adam blamed Eve for his failure. Is this a continuation of the estrangement between the sexes that exists to this day?

Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil. 3 In the course of time Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil as an offering to the LORD. 4 But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favor on Abel and his offering, 5 but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor.

We see here the beginnings of worship and immediately with it the concept of right and wrong worship. We would do well to consider the implications of this passage with the greatest of seriousness.

So Cain was very angry, and his face was downcast.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has taught that this is the point at which Cain first murdered his brother.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.” Matthew 5:21

We should not be surprised that the prototypical act of murder in humanity’s misty beginnings falls exactly into the teaching of humanity’s perfect Redeemer.

For my part, this passage makes me fear to drive. Why is the temptation to say, “You fool!” (and  worse) so magnified when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle? May I, may we, be so captivated by Christ’s spirit that to utter such words, even on the roads, is not in our hearts.


The Janus Award for Projection and Hypocrisy (3)

janus-awardWinner: The Democrat Party

The Democrat Party has lived under the protection of the mainstream media for so long that they have lost all self-awareness.  Thus they apparently believe that there is no depth of hypocrisy that is beyond the pale.  The fact that they have rallied behind Vice President Biden in spite of his clearly apparent disqualifying deficiencies is easily sufficient to earn a Janus Award.

This coveted award’s description is as follows.

This award is bestowed upon an individual, group or organization that demonstrates such blazingly obvious public projection and/or hypocrisy in their behavior and/or beliefs that they become a role-model to which other moral frauds can aspire!

You go Democrats!


Late arriving bonus material!

Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 2.09.04 PM

Joe Biden claimed “millions” of Americans have died of the coronavirus and 85,000 jobs have been lost as a result of the pandemic.

Vetting Our Elite Masters (3)


Dr. Neil Ferguson and Mrs. Antonia Staats.  Two elites at the pinnacle of power living in the depths of intellectual and moral impoverishment.

Dr. Neil Ferguson (2)

In a stunning, unexpected development, we find that Dr. Neil (Icarus) Ferguson has been unmasked as a pathetic hypocrite and intellectual poseur.  While it’s a difficult task to properly plumb the depths of this man’s depraved dishonesty, there are a few correspondents who are giving it a good try, such as Toby Young of the Spectator USA.

I originally had Neil Ferguson down as a kind of Henry Kissinger figure. The professor of mathematical biology at Imperial College London seemed to have bewitched successive prime ministers, blinding them with his brilliance. Whenever a health emergency broke out, whether it was mad cow disease or avian flu, there he was, PowerPoint in hand, telling the leaders of the United Kingdom what to do. And they invariably fell into line. In 2001, after the outbreak of foot and mouth, his team at Imperial advised Tony Blair’s government to adopt a strategy of pre-emptive culling, leading to the slaughter of more than six million animals. Gordon Brown consulted him about swine flu in 2009 and two months ago Boris Johnson was persuaded to put the country under lockdown after the 51-year-old boffin bamboozled him with one of his computer models.

But it turns out to be less a case of Dr Strangelove than Carry On Doctor. On Tuesday night, we discovered that the furrowed-browed scientist, who has been at the Prime Minister’s side throughout this crisis, is in fact Austin Powers in a lab coat. He’s been having an affair with a 38-year-old married woman who travels regularly across the capital from her home in south London to spend time with him. This revelation, which has to be the scoop of the year, was brought to us by the Telegraph and is the epitome of what newspapers call a ‘marmalade dropper’ — a story so astonishing it causes the typical reader to drop his toast mid-mouthful.

A good deal of the coverage has focused on Ferguson’s hypocrisy. After all, this is the man who has told 66 million Britons they must remain in their homes to protect the NHS and save lives. Under the draconian new rules imposed by the Coronavirus Act, we’re allowed to venture out only if we have a ‘reasonable excuse’ such as a medical emergency, daily exercise, essential food shopping or certain types of work. Hard to imagine an extra-marital affair falling under one of those headings. How can Professor Lockdown encourage the authorities to enforce these rules when he’s flagrantly breaking them himself?

And, John Daniel Davidson of The Federalist adds important detail to this appalling picture.

“On at least two occasions, Antonia Staats, 38, traveled across London from her home in the south of the capital to spend time with the government scientist, nicknamed Professor Lockdown,” reported the Telegraph.

Staats, we later learn, lives with her husband and two children in a £1.9 million home in south London. She’s a “left-wing campaigner” who is reportedly in an open marriage. According to the Telegraph, “She has told friends about her relationship with Prof Ferguson, but does not believe their actions to be hypocritical because she considers the households to be one.”

Ah yes, the old our-households-are-one-because-I’m-in-an-open-marriage argument. Never mind that a week before Ferguson and Staats’ first meeting, Britain’s Health Secretary had said even couples not living together must stay apart during the lockdown.

Wow, now that is indeed elite behavior!  But who is the Mrs. Antonia Staats?  The Power Line Blog answers this very question.

She is identified as a “senior campaigner at,” much of whose work appears to be dedicated to climate change activism.

Finally, in an exception that proves the rule, the dear Dr. (Western Civilization Destructor) Ferguson has received a small measure of accountability for his hypocrisy and incompetence, as described in The Guardian.

Prof Neil Ferguson, the epidemiologist whose modelling helped shape Britain’s coronavirus lockdown strategy, has quit as a government adviser after flouting the rules by receiving visits from his lover at his home.

Ferguson runs the group of scientists at Imperial College London whose projections helped persuade ministers of the need to impose stringent physical distancing rules, or risk the NHS being overwhelmed.

In a statement on Tuesday, he said he was resigning his post on the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), over an “error of judgment”.

Although we can never know, it takes but a small effort to imagine these two elite do-gooders cackling together over their virtuous fraud by which Western Civilization has been shut down thus saving us from climate change!