Tuesday, December 31, 2002

New Year's...

May God grant that we would walk more closely with Him in this year ahead. May we not forget the mercies and blessings of the year that is past.

Wayne is back to blogging. Yeah!

Thursday, December 26, 2002

A Christmas Sour Puss

The other day I was in a store and ran into an elderly lady that I used to know when I attended a Baptist Church. She was behind a counter passing out samples of food. We said hello and she went on to ask if I had everything ready for Christmas. I replied, "As ready as I am gonna get." Which is to say, not at all, since we don't observe this day. This is my polite way of deflecting discussion when I am in a hurry or don't want to get into a protracted discussion.

My daughter Bethany, who was with me, was a lot more forthcoming. "We don't do Christmas," she bellowed across the crowd to the lady. This brought raised eyebrows and an incredulous look. "You don't do Christmas???"

"No," I replied, sighing inwardly.

"Whyever not? You aren't a JW now, are you?"

"No, Mary, we aren't JW.s"

"So why don't you celebrate Christmas?"

"Because we believe it is a violation of the second commandment."

Mary looks puzzled. "Second commandment? Which one is that?" [Cheryl thinks to herself, "What DO they teach them in the Baptist churches?"]

"That is the commandment that tells us not to worship God in ways that He hasn't commanded."

Mary looks at me in disgust and gives the Christian equivalent of the one finger salute and then turns her back to me.

Hmmm... Nice example of the "Christmas spirit," I think.

Sunday, December 22, 2002

Why Bother to Catechize?

I was going over some questions and answers to the Smaller Catechism the other day with the children and we happened to be studying one of the questions that deals with the Lord's Table. It reminded me that one of the points of catechizing was to prepare people for the Lord's Table. The job of elders is to fence the Table to keep out the scandalous AND the ignorant. Why? So that they don't eat or drink judgement unto themselves. Communion has a serious negative sanction attached to it. Catechisms were then formulated as a way of instructing people so that they would be able to discern the Lord's Body before they partake of it.

A Heroic Mother

The following came from a medical newsletter I get each week.


What We Discovered Changed Everything For Me And My Father…

By Marilyn Holasek Lloyd

My family understands how much Christmas means to me because I am reminded every year of the greatest gift I have ever received.

I was born in 1946 and was therefore a post-war baby boomer. I learned from my father many years later that when I was about two months old, he and my mother were watching me sleep, and my mother had said, "When Marilyn smiles at me, she repays me for everything a mother goes through." With that, she turned to my father and said, "I don’t feel well." He told her to lie down and rest, but she began foaming at the mouth and she died. For most of his life, my father felt that he perhaps could have done something that might have helped to save her. He lived with this heavy burden.

I was always told my mother died of a heart attack. And that perhaps my mother’s rheumatic fever that she had contracted in her childhood had hastened her death. But those facts never computed when I became a nurse because, for one thing, heart attack victims do not foam at the mouth.

Some medical history backtracking and conversations with medical personnel led to a series of discoveries and what we found out changed everything for me and my father: Apparently, after my mother died, the doctor said that my mother’s rheumatic fever in childhood had greatly affected her heart. And the doctor said he was so concerned about my mother while she was pregnant that he sent her to a cardiologist. My mother didn’t want to worry my father and never told him. Her doctor believed that she died from very sudden heart failure. In other words, her heart just gave out, and it couldn’t pump and she died.

I couldn’t wait to tell my father the facts, because he had to know that there wasn’t anything anyone probably could have done to save my mother. I was just so thankful my father found this out before he died.

And in the following years, I also pieced together more medical facts. My mother could have also died of a blown mitral valve. In any case, her heart was so damaged that in this day and age she would have likely needed either a valve replacement or a heart transplant.

The stunning part of the story is that she lived through the pregnancy and delivery. My husband, a doctor, always has said that the biggest strain on the heart occurs at seven months of pregnancy and at the delivery. Furthermore, my mother continued to work in the family grocery store right up to the time she went into the hospital.

After finding out the facts surrounding my mother’s death, I was never the same. I knew that my mother sacrificed herself so I could be born. She knew the risks and yet wanted a child. I have therefore felt a tremendous responsibility to live my life so that my mother’s gift would not be in vain. And I wanted children to pass her gift on to them.

As I contemplate these things at Christmas time, I am very thankful for my mother’s gift. I give thanks for her and my father everyday. And when my children were little, I glanced down on their cribs as they slept just as my parents watched me, and now I just glance up at their grown-up faces and say to myself, "They have the most beautiful smiles."

Wednesday, December 18, 2002



If I were a character in The Lord of the Rings, I would be Elrond, Elf, ruler of Rivendell and father of Arwen.

In the movie, I am played by Hugo Weaving.

Who would you be?
Zovakware Lord of the Rings Test with Perseus Web Survey Software


I have made Sora's blood boil by posting the anti-paedocommunion poem by the Insane Calvinist Poppy. I am going to post some of my own reasons about why I am against it in a few days, but in the meantime, here is some stuff by Calvin and McKnight to chew over.

"We only contend for the true and legitimate constitution of the
Church, which requires not only a communion in the sacraments, which
are the signs of a Christian profession, but above all, an agreement
in doctrine (John Calvin, Institutes Bk.4, ch. 2, sec. 12).

"For everyone to be admitted to the Lord's Supper, without
distinction or selection, is a sign of contempt that the Lord cannot
endure. The Lord himself distributed the supper to his disciples
only. Therefore anyone not instructed in the doctrine of the gospel
ought not to approach what the Lord has instituted. No one should be
distressed when his Christianity is examined even down to the finest
point when he is to be admitted to the Lord's Supper. It should be
established as part of the total state and system of discipline that
ought to flourish in the church that those who are judged unworthy
should not be admitted." (John Calvin, "Letter on Various Subjects"
from Calvin's Ecclesiastical Advice).

"How often have I heard, how often have I read, some such language as
this: —"Who can forbid a child of God to come to his Father's table?
Who dare stand between the child and the Father's table?" All this
seems, I have no doubt, to those who utter it, very conclusive, and,
often to others, very devout and very charitable; yet it is in
reality very shallow and deceptive. It is, however, so often and so
confidently uttered, and is withal so plausible, that good men and
good minds are carried away. We do not always think; the
sensibilities obtain the mastery, and in very simplicity we are
deceived. The doctrine of open communion is popular, and if our sole
object were to add to our numbers, we would of course adopt it.

"To our own table we have a right to invite whom we please, but not
to a friend's. In that case we do not consult our own feelings, but
what may be agreeable to the host. When we invite to the table of the
Lord we are to be regulated by what may be acceptable to Him. This is
triumphantly met by —'We invite a child of the Lord.'

"1. Friend, how do you know this? The Lord alone searches the heart.
Open communion, at the very outset, invades God's province. We may
believe a man to be a Christian, but we do not know it, so as to make
that knowledge the ground of action in the Church. Hypocrisy is often
more flashy and imposing than humble piety. Jehu is ostentatious
of 'zeal for the Lord,' and Judas of care for the poor.

"There is no Presbyterian, who knows his own principles, who ever
thinks of making regeneration the condition of membership in the
Church. He accepts him who witnesses a good confession, sustained by
a corresponding practice, and treats him as a child of God, till by
transgression he falls from his place.

"2. If we know a man to be a child of God, it does not follow that he
is to be admitted to fellowship in the Church. Paul instructs the
Thessalonians, 'If any man obey not our word by this epistle, note
that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet
count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.' Here is
one whom Paul will own as a brother, and will have the Church to own,
and yet his present conduct, his refusal to submit to inspired
counsels, excludes him from fellowship. The open communionist, to be
consistent with himself, would stand up before Paul, and demand, 'How
dare you forbid God's child access to his Father's table!'

"Close communion, in excluding from fellowship in the Church and in
breaking of bread, does not deny a spiritual relationship to Christ;
but open communion, in making regeneration the condition of
fellowship, pronounces a very unwarrantable and uncharitable sentence
on such as are excluded. God's strokes are safer than man's kisses."
(William Sommerville, Reformed Presbyterians and Open Communion).

"There are those who feel that by the practice of Close Communion we
are claiming to be better than other Christians. Such a view is based
on a total misconception of the entire subject. As we have already
seen, the question of character is not at issue. Christ takes care of
that. We have nothing at all to do with this aspect of the case,
except perhaps indirectly by implication. That matter is handled in
the Supreme Court, to which reference has been made, and in no other.
As to whether those whom we exclude from the Lord's table are better
or worse at heart than we are, we have no means of forming a final
judgment. God alone knows that. As Christians they may be far
superior to us who are sitting in judgment on their public profession
and their conduct; oftentimes, no doubt, they are; at all events, let
us hope that they are never worse. But that question, as we have said
repeatedly, is not in the balance. What we have to do with is the
profession the communicant makes, and the way he lives. Christ does
His part by looking into the heart; He expects us to do ours, and He
tells us that the way to do it is by taking account of faith and
conduct. What He entrusts to our care we ought to do. We ought to do
it in the spirit of meekness and humility, but we ought to do it. For
having done, or not done, what we ought to have done, the King, when
He comes in to view His guests, will hold us responsible. The work of
the Lower Court will be reviewed in the Court of last appeal, where
the test is, and always has been, that a man 'be found faithful'
(1 Cor. 4:2)." (W.J. McKnight, Concerning Close Communion).

PS. If you read Emeth's blog, you may have already seen this.

Monday, December 16, 2002

From an Email I wrote to a friend....

There is much that we don't know and much still to discover. But I believe that we are living in the times prophecied of by Daniel when knowledge would increase. The explosion of knowledge about things in our universe is occurring at a rapid pace. I truly believe that it is God who reveals these things even to unregenerate man. "Oh the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the LORD? Or who has become His counselor? Or who has first given to Him and it shall be repaid to him? For of Him and through Him and to Him are ALL THINGS, to whom be glory forever, Amen." Romans 11:33-36. Man can discover nothing unless God reveals it to him.

I know this-- I am finding it impossible to look into these things without becoming more and more amazed at the wonder of God. It is inconceivable to me how the LORD of the universe who orchestrates and keeps all things together (and if you want to blow your mind, think of the quantum physics implications of Col.1:15-17 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist."). When this first began to sink down into my soul, I realized several things: the great and awful majesty of God, the utter humility and unsearchable depths of love that would cause Him to take on human flesh and die in our stead, and how all things work together for His ultimate glory. Who is a God like ours? Is salvation of man the chief end of God? NO! But we often act like it is.

I used to fear the judgement seat of Christ where our works will be tried by fire. But I don't fear it any more. I have developed a new perspective on it. I will see all my wood, hay, and stubble burn up before the Lord. And any gold or silver that comes out will be because it was CHRIST working through me, and sanctifying what He ordained I would do (Eph.2:10). We will all declare ourselves to be unprofitable servants and gladly cast our crowns at the feet of the One who is worthy to receive all glory and honor, and power, and we will do so in awe of the mercy and love of God for such worms.

No, the chief end of God is not man's salvation. Salvation is the means to glorifying God and we will be glad to have it so! I am seeing through the glass darkly, but even these glimpses of future glory blow me away at times. It has transformed my life and worship. I am overcome by such mercy, by such love, by such sacrifice.
My Bad

I must confess that I posted that poem by an anonymous friend to see what kind of comments it would bring.

Friday, December 13, 2002

Infants and idiots

They both profane
The meaning of his table
When they take His Name in vain.
In covert of their minds
Wherein is no reflecting
Their hearts are truly blind
To the G-d they're not respecting.
How often do His children
Without a searching thought
Trample underneath their feet
The redemption He has bought?
And so, should faithful ministers
Partake of such great sin
Or should they guard the sacrament
E'en from those who are within?
A blessing there is surely there
For those who use it rightly
But those that cast aside His rule
He shall not dismiss lightly.

by Insane Calvinist Poppy

The other night we watched Amadeus. Very interesting movie but rather uneven in the quality of acting. The guy who played Mozart looked and laughed like he was still acting on the Animal House set. The fellow who played Salnieri (sp?) was excellent and deserved the award he got for that movie. The actress who played Mozart's wife was atrocious. It sounded ridiculous to have a Vienniese woman speaking with very definite, almost Bronx-like accents. The music, of course, was wonderful.

Speaking of music, I found my lost tape of Poiema by Michael Card. Card remains one of my most favorite Christian artists.

Son Nathanael brought home an interesting CD from the library the other day. Guy who goes by the moniker "Moby." Some interesting sounds on it. Maybe I am not as much of a fuddy duddy as I thought.

More Dreams...

I also often dream that I am in high school again. Only my kids are with me. One of the things that typically happens in these dreams is that we are catching the school bus home and inevitably one of my kids is missing off the bus and I have to (frantically) track them down before the bus leaves.

I wonder what I would have dreamed if I had been homeschooled.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Frustration Dreams

Speaking of dreams... Anyone besides me have what I have come to call "frustration dreams?" My frustration dreams are where I am trying to look something up in a phone book, but I can never find the entry because things are not in the right order, or the name is no where to be found or some other glitch in the phone book.

I also remember, as a child, having dreams where I was trying to run away from something that was coming after me, and I couldn't move my feet, or else was moving in a painfully slow way. I don't have those dreams any more. I wonder why.

Monday, December 09, 2002

Sabotaged by my Sub-Conscious Self
They say that dreams are a way of sorting out the events of the day. I wonder what in the world to make of last night's dream. It was a fairly happy dream where I was in a strange place doing various things. But then I walked into a bathroom where I heard water running. I remember thinking, "Strange. I don't remember running a bath." There in the bathtub was three year old son, Garnet, playing in the bathwater. Behind him, under the water, was Elodie, who had drowned and was laying there with her lifeless eyes gazing ahead of her. I started crying, "God! oh God!" as I grabbed her out of the water and attempted to get her to breathe. Then I woke up.

I hate dreams like that.

Monday, December 02, 2002

Rabbits and The Fall

I am thinking of posting a "Beware of Rabbit" sign at the end of my driveway.

Three of my children now own rabbits. Two bucks and one doe. Somehow, despite the fact that they were in segregated units, and despite the fact that I had sternly warned them NOT to put them together, the doe is pregnant. Hmmm...

I was accustomed to think of rabbits as shy, meek, and voiceless creatures. No longer. I now understand the Monty Python sketch in the Holy Grail movie where they were attacked by a man-eating rabbit. The doe is positively vicious. If you put your hand any where near her, you risk losing a finger. I didn't know that rabbits could growl or that those pink eyes of theirs could hold such hatred.

Once she has her litter, great care must be taken not to disturb her lest she devour her children. Now what kind of scheme for survival is that? "Sorry son. I am feeling stressed and threatened Pass the salt, please." I often feel stressed, but have yet to develop a desire to consume my children when this happens. Shoot them, maybe. But not eat them.

Hey that reminds me of a little ditty I learned many years ago at Disney World in Florida:

Mama don't whomp little Buford
Mama don't stomp on his head
Mama don't whomp little Buford
I think we should shoot him instead.

Tuesday, November 26, 2002

It Ain't Fair!

It just isn't fair the way all the babies have said, "Da da da da da!" after all the time I put in with them. In all decency they should be saying, "Ma ma ma ma ma!"

Monday, November 25, 2002

I'm Fed Up...

...with the amount of time that I am tied to this stupid computer. And it doesn't appear that the load is going to lessen any time soon.

Saturday, November 23, 2002

True Beauty

The most beautiful thing in the world is sound doctrine married to warm affection for God and man.

Love has been on my mind a lot lately. Namely the love of God for His children. It blows my mind.

I am becoming convinced more and more that when we really and truly grasp the love of God in Christ for us, that contentment, no matter what life throws at us, will be the result. Sad and tragic providences are merely reminders that our happiness in life is not to be found in anything but Christ. They are also the means that God uses to wean us from this world and to set our affections above.

Thursday, November 21, 2002


I finished my annual "Christmass -- Bah Humbug" post ala RPW stuff on one of my lists. I am also getting the now typical response of, "Have you read Steve Schlissel's article on the topic?" Yes I have. Several times. And remained unconvinced that Rev. Schlissel has stumbled upon a new, improved one over what the Westminster Divines believed. I have reached the point with most lists I am on of just letting stuff like this go by. But since I happen to own this particular list, I feel somewhat obligated not to let the pervading Christmass spirit go unchallenged in the name of truth. And that sounds rather pretentious I am sure.

I get tired of the dissension. Tired of the schism and lack of like-mindedness that can quickly degenerates to small-mindedness and sniping. I am a postmillenialist and that means that I believe the time will come when God's glory will fill the earth and all nations will serve the Lord. But I am absolutely sure that when it happens, it will be a sovereign act of God that causes such unity. This period of disharmony in the Church is, I think, God allowing us to try and argue, compromise, tolerate, and debate our way into unity with the dismal results we see. In the end, the glory will all be the Lord's when it happens.

Wednesday, November 20, 2002

There's No Place Like Home, Toto

I just got back the day before yesterday from visiting friends in Alabama and Georgia.

You know something? Despite the fact that there is virtually a church on every corner in the South, it appears to me that many people have actually been inoculated against Christianity and that college football is a bigger draw than Christ. I spoke to some Christians who were willing to miss church on Sunday because they had been up late the night before at a football game and post game party. They were part of a very large group of people who do this. Of course, I didn't meet everyone in Alabama, so maybe I am being unfair.

Some other observations -- it doesn't appear that 9/11 did much to humble Americans and cause them to repent. There was a definite arrogant and swaggering tone to the newscasts that dealt with an impending war with Iraq. Some people whom I questioned about this responded, "We trust President Bush." I'm with Frank on this one (I think) -- war with Iraq would be nothing less than corporate murder by the US.

I was totally shocked at the food prices! In Canada, I can buy a fresh bunch of radishes for 39 cents CANADIAN. The same bunch cost 99 cents in the US! A single lemon was 99 cents compared to the 32 cents I pay. How in the world do you folks manage to feed your families? And without gardens no less! Those in Alabama could easily grow food year round but I didn't see anyone doing any significant gardening, at least not in Montgomery. Most of our fresh produce in the winter comes from California, so when you factor in transport, and exchange rate, I am really and truly puzzled why you folks have to pay so much when you are so close to the source of the food.

On a more positive note -- southern hospitality is not an empty phrase. Everywhere I went I was greeted with smiles and friendliness, from complete strangers. One fast food joint I went into, the staff kept smiling at me, even after I had made my purchase and was moving away from them. And when I looked back, they smiled again when I caught their eye.

I also found the brick homes and buildings to be very charming and comfortable looking. The little subdivisions of brick homes were so attractive, especially when compared to what we have in our subdivisions in Canada. Canadians just don't have the knack of building attractive and cute homes like the Americans do.

Overall, I had a wonderful time while there, but there is no place like home, Toto.

Friday, November 08, 2002

Fashionable Mama

On Monday, Elodie and I fly down to Alabama, leaving dh in charge of the household of 9 children. I am both looking forward to and dreading this. Will Garnet be okay with mama gone? Will the house be standing when I return? Will Marc have any hair left?

One consideration when travelling is finding something suitable to wear on the airplane. I have settled on nylon track pants. The kind that cost about $70 on sale. The kind I found BRAND SPANKING NEW at a second hand shop in my size for only $7! Yipee! I even found a jacket to match. On top I am Adidas, and on the bottom a Nike swhoosh and a white t shirt underneath. Reason for this ensemble? You need something that baby barf wipes off easily.

Wednesday, November 06, 2002


I did the grocery shopping today and didn't buy anything extravagant. Just basic foodstuff like meat and veggies. I can't even bring myself to type what the total was when I added all the bills together. And I will count myself blessed if we manage to make it all the way through to next week without having to buy anything additional.It is a hard job to feed a family stuff you know is good for them without resorting to cheaper but destructive foods like pasta and lots of bread.

After I figured out how bad the damage was, I sat all the children down and told them the figure for what it cost us this week to feed them. I impressed upon them that because of the cost of feeding them, the least they could do for their father and I was to cooperate with us in not wasting the food, and to not grumble over chores or do them sloppily. I guess it is too much to expect children to feel gratitude towards their parents for feeding and housing them while they are growing up, but I think it is a good thing to try and instill in them for what they receive and so often take for granted.
Everybody's Doing It, So...

...I will too. Googlisms, that is.

Some of my favorites:

cheryl is new mtv babe [huh?]
cheryl is a wife [got that one right]
cheryl is one of the few people that can take a disaster and turn it into a funny song [well, maybe a story]
cheryl is wonderful [very true]
cheryl is currently completing her phd in natural health [don't I wish!]
cheryl is a favorite with audiences who rave [this is hopeful thinking about the seminar I am doing in a week]
cheryl is now back in action at a new local stable [as the Brood Woman]
cheryl is his only hope and love that keeps him going [I better be!]
cheryl is 36 [heheheheh]
cheryl is as comfortable performing in a small intimate setting as she is outdoors or in large concert halls
cheryl is an artist of great talent and
cheryl is also a compassionate and powerful healer [all very true. Trust me.]
cheryl is all natural and intends to stay that way
cheryl is a very sharp and accomplished crown prosecutor [according to my children]
cheryl is a bodyguard whose latest assignment becomes a death trap when she crosses paths with a deadly hit man known only as the owl [it's tough being a parent to some of these kids]
cheryl is 51 [no I am NOT!]
cheryl is cute [but of course, dahling!]
Better than Chocolate...

...but just as addictive, is my baby Elodie. [croon it as you say it.]

Any mothers reading this will know what I mean when I say I get an endorphin rush when she comes into view. And better yet, she is non-caloric and doesn't mess with my bloodsugar levels!

Going for another rush...
Proverbs, Assurance of Salvation and Progress in Sanctification

There are some interesting things happening in me. Things that I know are not of me, but rather, are evidence of the Holy Spirit's work in my life.

Last night for family worship, the children and I listened to a tape from Dr. Bahnsen on Proverbs 3:11,12: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD. Nor detest his correction; for whom the LORD loves he corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights." I realized as I listened to the sermon that I am truly grateful for the trials that I was brought through in the past three years. It was as though God was spanking me and telling me, "Okay Cheryl, time to grow up."

Here is some of the peaceable fruit of righteousness that has been wrought in me as a result: I used to struggle all the time with assurance of salvation. But I KNOW that I am Christ's now! I could kiss the rod that has been the means of my correction. I love fellowshipping with the saints. God's Word is precious to me. Some of this use to be doubtful, but no more. I also believe the promises of God more fully. This makes me pray with confidence. Last night after we listened to the sermon, I closed in prayer, full of confidence that God would use the means and make them effectual in the life of my children and family. My faith is not so much in the promises, but in seeing beyond them to the Promiser. The promises of God are becoming as real to me as my hands.

Is this something that Cheryl can take the glory for? No way! I know what I am. I know what I am capable of -- nothing, or nothing good. This is all of God and this unprofitable servant gives Him all the glory.

Monday, November 04, 2002


Today I did something that I never thought I would ever be able to do -- I walked boldly into the den of lions known as the Ministry for Children and the Family -- in other words, SOCIAL WORKERS. I had to take Cole, the young runaway, in to see a social worker so she could ascertain where he is at.

Time was when I would have cringed at the thought of being any where near a social worker's office. When the social workers showed up on my doorstep three years ago to investigate our family for abuse, it was my worst nightmare come true. One hears of terrible tales of children wrenched from the arms of their parents, not to be returned until they had undergone considerable damage from foster homes. But the trial that we underwent three years ago did something for me that I never thought would happen. It gave me confidence and trust in God. I saw the faithfulness of God in action in my life and that of my family and now I can look back and give God thanks for that experience.

And so, I walked into that office with nary a thought of fear or trembling because I KNOW God can take care of me and mine.


Some days I really enjoy reading the blogs of the younger set and other days I find it downright irritating. Today is one of those irritating days. What really bugs me is the pretension that young people bring to doctrine -- like they figured it all out and us old duffers are just going through the non-motions of a dead orthodoxy.

But...[sigh] I used to be like that too.

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Real Mother

I can't think of anything sweeter or more satisfying to this mother's heart than seeing my baby asleep in my arms, drunk on milk I provided. Unless, of course, it is seeing the way her eyes light up when she sees me coming, as though the sun and moon rise and set by me.

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Foster Mother?

It appears that I am destined to be a foster mother at least for the time being. I find this a rather ironic turn of events given the history of what my eldest girls did when they left home.

The young hitch-hiker that my husband picked up went down to Vancouver with us last weekend. Then he came back with us because no one wanted him there. So now he is with us.

I confess that I am a reluctant foster mother. I really thought I already had enough on my plate with homeschooling 7 of our 9 kids at home, doing my practicum for my biokinesionics course, writing lessons for my weight loss program, and preparing for a seminar in Alabama. Now, I have to add learning the fine art of psychological terrorism of spoiled teens in an effort to introduce him to the real world. Cole already had a taste today when I made him go to the school district office to figure out how to get into school. I let him flounder for a while and then went in and helped out with some of the details. It is looking likely that he will be doing correspondance for this semester. Ugh. I would have preferred to send him on the bus to school because it would mean that he would be getting up early and be out the door and gone for most of the day and I wouldn't have to deal with him at least for that portion of time. But that is not likely to happen now. [sigh]

On the other hand, maybe he needs to be here to learn a bit of self-discipline and to hear the Gospel. He asks intelligent questions during family worship and seems to pay attention at the Bible Studies and during corporate worship. I guess time will tell us what kind of impact we are to make in his life.
Old Friends

One of the pleasures of Heaven will be fellowshipping with old friends there. I had a wonderful time visiting with "Mother" Grace, a wonderful woman who serves as my Titus 2 model of godly womanhood. I also had a lovely visit with my friend Iris and her family. And then there was a nice chat by phone with my friend Loretta. Last, but not least, was my conversation with Bob. Bob was responsible for rescuing me from Arminian darkness and introducing me to Calvinistic light. Now, when I have the time, we are going to engage in some discussions on eschatology. I have had the feeling in the past year that this was one area in which I wasn't going to be allowed to rest. God seems to be bringing people my way that are intent on discussing this. So, now that I have settled the question of the regulative principle of worship, headcoverings, paedobaptism, exclusive psalmody and covenanting, I guess it is time to delve headlong into eschatology.
My Vacation

Well, ok, it was really only a weekend, but that is the first vacation away that I have had since I don't know when. Marc and I went down to Vancouver so he could attend a seminar and I could kick back and have a rest. While Marc was at the seminar, I occupied my time by playing with Elodie, watching TV and CONTROLLING THE REMOTE in the motel room, wandering the streets of Vancouver, and browsing through the books in Chapters, an enormous book store which is part of a chain. I also sampled a dessert from Death by Chocolate, and sipped on various fancy decoctions from Starbucks. Almost heaven. I also got a chance to spend some time with some old friends that I knew when I lived in the area.

Vancouver is an interesting city. We were right down in the heart of it. Prince George is 500 miles north and is considerably chilly right now with a skiff of snow today. Yet in Vancouver, they had impatiens and pansies blooming away right in the heart of the city. Wild. There were also street people to be seen sleeping on the sidewalks downtown, next to their shopping carts filled with old bags. At one point Elodie and I were out for a walk and a street person approached me and asked for some spare change. When I responded that I didn't have any to spare, he looked thoughtfully at Elodie for a few moments and then recommended I get some plastic to keep her dry (it was drizzling out).

Another interesting event was coming to a street corner only to find myself in the middle of a bunch of flaming sodomites, one of whome was dressed in a feather boa, high heels, a black furry skirt and a bouffant hairdo and nothing else. I think he even shaved his legs. He was about 8 feet tall when you included the hair do and shoes. I crossed to the other side of the street quickly.

Monday, October 21, 2002

I like taking tests.

Here is the results of another test I took:

All Guardians (SJs) share the following core characteristics:

Guardians pride themselves on being dependable, helpful, and hard-working.
Guardians make loyal mates, responsible parents, and stabilizing leaders.
Guardians tend to be dutiful, cautious, humble, and focused on credentials and traditions.
Guardians are concerned citizens who trust authority, join groups, seek security, prize gratitude, and dream of meting out justice.
Guardians are the cornerstone of society, for they are the temperament given to serving and preserving our most important social institutions. Guardians have natural talent in managing goods and services--from supervision to maintenance and supply--and they use all their skills to keep things running smoothly in their families, communities, schools, churches, hospitals, and businesses.

Guardians make up as much as 40 to 45 percent of the population.

Or how about this one?

Your distinct personality, The White Knight, might be found in most of the thriving kingdoms of the time. Don Quixote was a White Knight as was Joan of Arc, the Lone Ranger and Crusader Rabbit. As a White Knight you expect nothing in return for your good deeds. You are one of the true "Givers" of the world. You are the anonymous philanthropist who shares your wealth, your time and your life with others. To give, is its own reward and as a White Knight you seek no other. On the positive side you are merciful, sympathetic, helpful, giving and heroic. On the negative side you may be impulsively decisive, sentimental and misdirected. Interestingly, your preference is just as applicable in today's corporate kingdoms.

This test result was somewhat reassuring:

Disorder Rating Information
Paranoid: Low
Schizoid: Low
Schizotypal: Low
Antisocial: Low
Borderline: Low
Histrionic: Moderate
Narcissistic: Low
Avoidant: Low
Dependent: Low
Obsessive-Compulsive: Low

People with histrionic personality disorder are constant attention seekers. They need to be the center of attention all the time, often interrupting others in order to dominate the conversation. They use grandiose language to discribe everyday events and seek constant praise. They may dress provacatively or exaggerate illnesses in order to gain attention. They also tend to exaggerate friendships and relationships, believing that everyone loves them. They are often manipulative. "

Uhhh.... Glad to see I only have a moderate case of this.

His Royal Brattiness

The young lad that my husband picked up off the side of the road will soon be given a shove out the door. The only question is in which direction he will be shoved. The past two weeks have given us an opportunity to become better acquainted with him. Overall, he hasn't been too bad to have around. For a kid who is 14 and who wasn't raised in a Christian home, he is curiously naive about life. Certainly not the young tough that he likes to portray himself as. Last night the terrible truth about why he left home came out. It seems that he considers his mother to be really unreasonable because she has, on occasion, woke him up out of a sound sleep to make him wash dishes or sweep floors that he had neglected to do when asked. Too bad, so sad. My foot is itching to boot his butt for his mother's sake.

My husband said that the guys at work had a discussion about the state of kids today when the young lad came up. One of his co-workers said, "You want to know how to ruin a country? Just spoil the kids rotten! The state our country is in is because we have been doing this for the last 25 years!"

You know, I think he is on to something.
Romantic Voyeurism

Lately I have been able to indulge in a bit of pleasant romantic voyeurism through reading the blogs of Rick and Rachel . It is much more pleasant and less nerve-wracking to watch other people's children become romantically involved than it is to watch your own do it.
Children as Talents

It occured to me the other day, as I was musing on the Parable of the Talents, that children could be the equivalent of talents. The practice of daily family worship, catechising, and corporate worship and living out the Christian faith before them is a form of investment in their lives, which, if you believe the promises of God, will yield an increase. Failure to invest in your children this way is tantamount to burying them in the ground. And we all know what happens to those who bury their talents...

Tuesday, October 15, 2002


You give your love and friendship unconditionaly. You enjoy long, thoughful conversations rich in philosophy and spirituality. You are very loyal and intuitive.

Find out your color at Stvlive.com!

Take this test.

Saturday, October 12, 2002


Some people bring home stray cats or dogs. My husband has taken to bringing home stray people lately.

A few weeks ago it was a Japanese tourist on a bicycle. This past week it was a 14 year old runaway boy. He is still with us, his parents know, and right now we are taking things on a day by day basis with no real long term plans one way or the other.

The funny thing is, this whole thing has had a "divine appointment" feel to it for my husband, myself, and our eldest son. "C" has slipped into our family with hardly a ripple. He has joined us in family worship every day and asks intelligent questions and makes intelligent comments. He has even been reproving some of the children about some of the things that we discussed in family worship. Now one would be tempted to think that he is playing up to us by doing this, but this is something the children are telling me that he does when no adult is around to admire his grasp of things biblical. He is very bright and did the homeschool curriculum I assigned to him without a murmur and completed it satisfactorily.

Anyhow, this whole thing has enabled us to practice homemaking as a form of missions work.

Tomorrow is the Lord's Day and we are having a big turkey dinner with all kinds of goodies to go with it. My daughter, son in law, and grand-daughter will be joining us for it. This is the first meal we will have shared with them since Trista got married almost a year ago. Yippee! Progress is being made!

Wednesday, October 09, 2002

I Feel Old

Or maybe it is because I don't get out enough. But most of the blogs I read are of people who are younger than me. Are there any other fuddie duddies who blog besides me? Am I mutton dressed like a lamb?

Saturday, October 05, 2002


One of the things I have noticed about children is how ungrateful they can be. You can spend the better part of a day burning gas, spending money and doing things that you personally don't enjoy doing, in order to gratify them. And what do they do? Whine if you don't grant the next thing, pout, and focus on the things that they think you should have done or given them.

What does this teach me? How heinous the sin of ingratitude is.

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be know of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and godhead, so that they are without excuse, because , although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Romans 1:18-21

Very sobering words. God's wrath is revealed, partly because men were not thankful.

How often have I been unthankful and grumbled at the circumstances of my life instead of rejoicing over the MANY mercies I have been shown?

Bless the Lord, oh my soul and forget not all His benefits!

Friday, October 04, 2002

Even Better...

Turkey with gravy, mashed yams or sweet potatoes, and cranberry just doesn't compare to a crying baby who brightens up into beautiful smiles as soon as they see you. Elodie is at that delightful stage where she looks at me as though the sun and moon rise and set by me. It is such a wonderful thing that we mothers are granted when we can offer instant safety and security to a crying child by merely picking them up and giving a snuggle or offering a warm breast of milk. To see the anxious looks and rigid posture melt into complete relaxation is better than rubies, diamonds, mink coats, and mansions.

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

One of My Least Favorite Things...

Popular culture. I spent another hour and a half at the hospital today while I waited for one of my older girls to get her cast changed. This gave me the rare opportunity to read a popular woman's magazine that happened to be in one of the waiting areas. It has been a while since I read one and now I remember why. The utter crassness and lack of dignity concerning what should be intimate details of one's life are blazoned across the cover. I didn't know it, but there is a fashion in relation to breast size. In the 60's and 70's small was in. In the 80's and 90's big was in and now in the second millenium the look is moderate and healthy. Hmmm... I think the only time I was in fashion was the 60's and 70's. Too bad the fashion wasn't for stretchmarks. I'd have it made.

One of my Favorite Things....

...A mouthful of a combination of dark turkey meat, gravy, mashed sweet potato and a little bit of cranberry sauce. Pure heaven.

Monday, September 30, 2002


One night I had a wondrous dream,

One set of footprints there were seen.

The footprints of my precious Lord,

But mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared,

And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"

Those prints are large and round and neat,

"But Lord, they are too big for my little feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,

"For miles I carried you alone.

I challenged you to walk in faith,

But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,

The walk of faith, you would not know,

So I got tired, I got fed up,

And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,

When one must fight , and one must climb,

When one must rise and take a stand,

Or leave their butt prints in the sand."

-- Anonymous

Saturday, September 28, 2002

Bless you, Wayne. The rest of the day was not a dead loss.

I have a friend who has recently been in the hospital for an anxiety disorder that makes her throat tighten up to the point that she is unable to swallow food. She has lost over 75 lbs. and is a nervous wreck. She was actually hospitalized and put on strong tranquilizers as it was the only way she could eat. They recently released her from the hospital because they are overcrowded and needed her bed.

Today some of her children were here for a birthday party. When she arrived to pick them up, I could see that she was not doing well. In fact, she had dropped off her youngest with us at the swim center and literally ran away and hoped we would take care of her (we did). She looked very pale like she would faint, was extremely embarrased about leaving her daughter with us, and she was having a mini-panic attack complete with an inability to swallow and nausea.

I thought I might be able to help her, so I had her come in and sit down with me in my sun room. We began with something easy -- her nausea and I used a technique called EFT which is something that Dr. Mercola, a Christian osteopathic physician, also promotes.

It took only two rounds of tapping for her nausea to disappear. Then we began to work on the tightness in her throat. One round of tapping brought no noticeable relief. So then I changed tactics and told her that I wanted her to think about what emotional trigger was causing her to stress out so much that she was feeling "choked." I also assured her that she could speak in her own language (she is Finnish) if she felt more comfortable doing this and if she didn't want me to know her issues. (If it was someone who only spoke English, I would have them Hum or insert a code word if they didn't want me to know the issue -- this respects their borders and privacy.) Now here is what is interesting -- after two rounds of tapping while she spoke in Finnish with me giving some directions in English, I could see a shift take place in her. Her cheeks, which had previously been very pale, all of a sudden grew rosy in color. She also relaxed in a profound way. But even more interesting is the fact that she began to pray in Finnish. I kept tapping on various points as she kept praying and stopped only when she stopped and I could see that it was appropriate. She opened her eyes and the first thing she said to me was, "God is in what you are doing."

She still had a tiny bit of tightness in her chest, but the tightness in her throat was gone. This had only happened before under the influence of strong narcotics. She later called me on the phone because she started to have a panic attack and we were able to clear that completely as well.

Her experience with prayer is not unusual. I am finding that if you can help people clear emotional short circuits in their systems, it becomes easier for them to pray about the sins that may be causing them the problems on the spiritual level. One of the things that really seemed to work with her was when I had her repeat the phrase, "Even though I have this problem with ________, I deeply and profoundly forgive and accept myself for my part in causing this, and I completely forgive those who have had a part in it as well. The floodgates opened and relief was soon found.

Anyhow, I thought I would share this little bit of experience with it as a demonstration of the good it can do.
Hmmmm.... I am moderately obsessive compulsive according to this test.

Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder is similar to obsessive-compulsive anxiety disorder. People with this disorder are overly focused on orderliness and perfection. Their need to do everything "right" often interferes with their productivity. They tend to get caught up in the details and miss the bigger picture. They set unreasonably high standards for themselves and others, and tend to be very critical of others when they do not live up to these high standards. They avoid working in teams, believing others to be too careless or incompetent. They avoid making decisions because they fear making mistakes and are rarely generous with their time or money. They often have difficulty expressing emotion.

It has been one of THOSE DAYS. I would like to bite chunks out of my pillow, or better yet, someone's leg! And that is about all I can safely say.

Thursday, September 26, 2002

My friend Valerie wrote the following beautiful passage in an email lately. I couldn't resist posting it here as it epitomizes the attitudes we should have towards the children God gives us:

Imagine with me a perfect world. Suppose that we can enjoy our children without any expense or trouble or inconvenience.

Suppose that there is no such thing as painful pregnancy; there is no morning sickness and no labor.

Imagine what it would be like if we were fabulously wealthy and living in spacious homes on beautiful grounds with no concern whatsoever for our future provision. What if we had no shoes to buy, no clothes to make, and no need to shop sales or cut coupons to feed our children?

What would it be like if they never needed to visit the doctor, never got coughs or fevers, and never threw up in the middle of the night?

What if they always obeyed, never cried, never whined, never complained and never pinched each other? What if they always praised Jesus and had no other attitude but love for God and His People, including their parents and siblings?

Wouldn't life be lovely? Wouldn't it be beautiful?

If my picture were reality-based, how many children would most Christians want? More than one or two? More than they have now? I'm guessing so.

There are many aspects to life with children that *are* precious, some that are almost pure bliss, so I suspect that if the difficulty and sorrow were removed, if life with them were nothing but unadulterated joy, Christians would have more children. I suspect that we would be pursuing Biblically mandated fruitfulness with a grand and intense passion.

But alas, we are sinners, our children are sinners,and we live together in a fallen world. Here, bringing up children is nothing if it's not hard! More than hard, it can be painful, expensive, heart-breaking, frustrating, and even exasperating.

Isn't it these trials and sacrifices of bringing up children that make parents think twice about relaxing and fully enjoying the marital bond, trusting God to give His full measure of newborn blessings and maybe even hoping that they will be abundant? Isn't it this difficult and painful side of life that makes us wonder about the prudence of standing by and meekly watching God fill the quiver?

But think about it.

The perfect world that I proposed *is* reality-based! It is coming--and it is not long away for any of us! Life with our children will someday be just like I described: pure bliss.

The Bible teaches that God's Providence and our faithful labor to bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord do work together to secure the salvation of most of our children, if not all of them. Someday, you and I will cast crowns before Jesus' feet and have the great joy of watching many or all of our children do the same.

Together with our children, we will sing hymns of praise to our wonderful, awesome, holy God Who has shown us such abundant, completely undeserved love and mercy! What a day that will be, praising the Lord with our children and our children's children after them!

I am convinced that most Christians make their childbearing decisions based on a spoonful of the ocean. They focus on these 9 months of getting through pregnancy or these 5 years of getting a child reasonably trained or these 20-or-so years of financial provision--or even these 50 to 70 years (at most) of watching, counseling, and praying.

Forgetting the full picture almost entirely, they set their thoughts on the 9 months or the 70 years or somewhere in between and they forget that when we've been in Heaven ten TRILLION years, we and our children will have no fewer days to sing God's praise than when we first met Jesus face to face!

"Set your affection on things above and not on things on the earth." Colossians 3:2

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." Matthew 6:19-21

Every plan, every action that is not focused on our future in Heaven with Christ is worthless, useless, bound to be lost and destroyed. But when we pour out our lives to receive, love, teach and train our children for *Jesus' sake*, we are making an investment that Eternity will give us no cause to regret!

"And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." Mark 8:34, 35

Losing our lives here for the sake of Eternity is the way to save our lives *for* Eternity. Apply this!

Our children are conceived in us microscopic but eternal, fragile but indestructible. If God pleases and we bring them up in the admonition of the Lord, their lives are treasures destined for Heaven.

Our fertility is a talent. To some God has given a little, to others much--and none of us have a guarantee for the future.

To whom much is given, much will be required. The Spirit does not say that much *might be* required; He says that much *will be* required.

We will either spend our fertility for the glory of God, with our eyes on Eternity, trusting (and maybe even *asking*) God for the increase--or we will live with our hearts firmly fixed on these few fleeting moments of earthly life, bury our talent and concentrate on what is most comfortable for this short day.

We have such little faith! God has never once ceased to be in control of the creation of new life, not in any family ever. (John Calvin called the idea that children are conceived without direct, divine intervention a "preposterous error," based on Psalm 127:3.)

As the Child-giver blesses our homes with children, it is never with any other object but our immediate and eternal good. It is His design to conform us to the image of Christ, for His glory.

God does not at all require or demand or instruct us to provide Him with birth control. Isn't it incredible that any of us should be so presumptuous and illogical as to think that our *omnipotent* God requires or appreciates our feeble attempts to compel His hand?

Infinite power cannot exist apart from absolute self-control. We do not need "birth control" when the Creator, who is supremely wise and Good, has impeccable *self-control*. God's self-control, governed by His perfect wisdom, cannot ever fail to hold His Creativity to the limits that He Himself set in eternity past. (Ephesians 1:4)

Have children--invest in Eternity!

Tuesday, September 24, 2002

It Really is About the Jews...

I had opportunity the other day to sit down and do some reading in things eschatological. Something that leapt out at me was the amount of attention that God gives the nation of Israel. They really are going to lead the rest of the world into repentance in the millenium. I fear that a lot of eschatological views commit the very offense that the Apostle Paul warns us against in Romans 9: boasting against the natural branches. We act and speak as though the fulness of the Gentiles is really all there is and forget the promises that God made to Israel. He will keep his promises. God is not a man that he should lie.
That's Entertainment

Last night my husband took me to hear Great Big Sea a Newfie band that plays a combination of traditional folk and Celtic rock. Really great music, but I think I will forgo concerts from now on and stick to just playing the CD's. It took a while for my ears to recover and the distortion of the music because of the loudness detracted from the ability to enjoy the music. The concert was opened by another band called Crush and they confirmed my suspicions that I am turning into a fuddy duddy. I sat with my fingers in my ears to drown out as much of the noise as I could. My husband and I clapped loud and long at the end of the last song because we were overjoyed that they were stopping.


Last night my husband broke the news to me that a move could be in our near future. His company is laying off or offering buyout packages to 6000 employees. If he takes the buyout, it means a big income tax hit. If he stays, he would probably survive the layoffs, but it could mean having to relocate. This isn't such a tragedy but for one thing: My church. It is difficult enough to raise the children in the Faith, but doing so when you have a spouse who is not like-minded is worse. And doing it without the support of a church family is worse yet. I need to go and pray and get some peace about this.

Monday, September 23, 2002

I just hate it when I lose a good blog entry. I had a jim-dandy one written up and then I lost it. Wah!

No time to re-write. Too much homeschooling. Too much junk in my head to sort out. Too much wondering what to make for supper.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Berek's teaching me how to make links in my posts. Was he successful?
Before anyone beats on me for being just another anti-American, I should point out that I was born in the USA and lived there for most of my childhood. I still have loyalty to the good ole US of A. But this doesn't prevent me from thinking that US foreign policy seems designed to provoke just about anybody else into fits. The US, as a corporate body, acts as though none of the 10 commandments applies to it or how it deals with its neighbors. Here are some thought-provoking questions:

Questions That Won't Be Asked About Iraq
by Rep. Ron Paul, MD

In the House of Representatives, September 10, 2002

Soon we hope to have hearings on the pending war with Iraq. I am
concerned there are some questions that won't be asked - and maybe
will not even be allowed to be asked. Here are some questions I
would like answered by those who are urging us to start this war.

1. Is it not true that the reason we did not bomb the Soviet Union at
the height of the Cold War was because we knew they could retaliate?

2. Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because
we know it cannot retaliate - which just confirms that there is no
real threat?

3. Is it not true that those who argue that even with inspections we
cannot be sure that Hussein might be hiding weapons, at the same time
imply that we can be more sure that weapons exist in the absence of

4. Is it not true that the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency
was able to complete its yearly verification mission to Iraq just
this year with Iraqi cooperation?

5. Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to
develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the
attacks on the United States last year? Does anyone remember that 15
of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and that none came from

6. Was former CIA counter-terrorism chief Vincent Cannistraro wrong
when he recently said there is no confirmed evidence of Iraq's links
to terrorism?

7. Is it not true that the CIA has concluded there is no evidence
that a Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Atta and Iraqi
intelligence took place?

8. Is it not true that northern Iraq, where the administration
claimed al-Qaeda were hiding out, is in the control of our "allies,"
the Kurds?

9. Is it not true that the vast majority of al-Qaeda leaders who
escaped appear to have safely made their way to Pakistan, another of
our so-called allies?

10. Has anyone noticed that Afghanistan is rapidly sinking into total
chaos, with bombings and assassinations becoming daily occurrences;
and that according to a recent UN report the al-Qaeda "is, by all
accounts, alive and well and poised to strike again, how, when, and
where it chooses"?

11. Why are we taking precious military and intelligence resources
away from tracking down those who did attack the United States - and
who may again attack the United States - and using them to invade
countries that have not attacked the United States?

12. Would an attack on Iraq not just confirm the Arab world's worst
suspicions about the US - and isn't this what bin Laden wanted?

13. How can Hussein be compared to Hitler when he has no navy or air
force, and now has an army 1/5 the size of twelve years ago, which
even then proved totally inept at defending the country?

14. Is it not true that the constitutional power to declare war is
exclusively that of the Congress? Should presidents, contrary to the
Constitution, allow Congress to concur only when pressured by public
opinion? Are presidents permitted to rely on the UN for permission to
go to war?

15. Are you aware of a Pentagon report studying charges that
thousands of Kurds in one village were gassed by the Iraqis, which
found no conclusive evidence that Iraq was responsible, that Iran
occupied the very city involved, and that evidence indicated the type
of gas used was more likely controlled by Iran not Iraq?

16. Is it not true that anywhere between 100,000 and 300,000 US
soldiers have suffered from Persian Gulf War syndrome from the first
Gulf War, and that thousands may have died?

17. Are we prepared for possibly thousands of American casualties in
a war against a country that does not have the capacity to attack the
United States?

18. Are we willing to bear the economic burden of a $100 billion war
against Iraq, with oil prices expected to skyrocket and further
rattle an already shaky American economy? How about an estimated 30
years occupation of Iraq that some have deemed necessary to "build
democracy" there?

19. Iraq's alleged violations of UN resolutions are given as reason
to initiate an attack, yet is it not true that hundreds of UN
Resolutions have been ignored by various countries without penalty?

20. Did former President Bush not cite the UN Resolution of 1990 as
the reason he could not march into Baghdad, while supporters of a new
attack assert that it is the very reason we can march into Baghdad?

21. Is it not true that, contrary to current claims, the no-fly zones
were set up by Britain and the United States without specific
approval from the United Nations?

22. If we claim membership in the international community and conform
to its rules only when it pleases us, does this not serve to
undermine our position, directing animosity toward us by both friend
and foe?

23. How can our declared goal of bringing democracy to Iraq be
believable when we prop up dictators throughout the Middle East and
support military tyrants like Musharraf in Pakistan, who overthrew a
democratically-elected president?

24. Are you familiar with the 1994 Senate Hearings that revealed the
U.S. knowingly supplied chemical and biological materials to Iraq
during the Iran-Iraq war and as late as 1992 - including after the
alleged Iraqi gas attack on a Kurdish village?

25. Did we not assist Saddam Hussein's rise to power by supporting
and encouraging his invasion of Iran? Is it honest to criticize
Saddam now for his invasion of Iran, which at the time we actively

26. Is it not true that preventive war is synonymous with an act of
aggression, and has never been considered a moral or legitimate US

27. Why do the oil company executives strongly support this war if
oil is not the real reason we plan to take over Iraq?

28. Why is it that those who never wore a uniform and are confident
that they won't have to personally fight this war are more anxious
for this war than our generals?

29. What is the moral argument for attacking a nation that has not
initiated aggression against us, and could not if it wanted?

30. Where does the Constitution grant us permission to wage war for
any reason other than self-defense?

31. Is it not true that a war against Iraq rejects the sentiments of
the time-honored Treaty of Westphalia, nearly 400 years ago, that
countries should never go into another for the purpose of regime

32. Is it not true that the more civilized a society is, the less
likely disagreements will be settled by war?

33. Is it not true that since World War II Congress has not declared
war and - not coincidentally - we have not since then had a clear-cut

34. Is it not true that Pakistan, especially through its intelligence
services, was an active supporter and key organizer of the Taliban?

35. Why don't those who want war bring a formal declaration of war
resolution to the floor of Congress?

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

Your average life span is:
90 Years Old
By modifying your Health, Lifestyle, Diet and Environment you can live to be: 99 Years Old
You were born on Tuesday, January 10, 1961. You have lived 15,226 days and have 17,770 days left to live. Lets make them count!
You should die on Sunday May 14, 2051 at 11:16:54 AM.

Taken from my lifespan calculator found at http://www.longtolive.com/

Monday, September 16, 2002

An Eventful Weekend

Never a dull moment. We had a guest from England this past weekend: a medical doctor interested in our presbytery and wanting to meet some of our families. There was some fear amongst those who know me well that he would sustain some sort of injury in my home, due to my well known antipathy to most forms of allopathic medical care. He survived the ordeal with nary a scratch, bite or bruise. My mother taught me that guest are sacrosanct and not to be beat upon. Actually, I had a very pleasant visit with him and I hope he had one too.

We also had a Japanese comic on a bicycle come to see us. He is from Tokyo and is a unique character. His bicycle was equipped with a custom made bike rack for holding his carbon guitar. He also carried an amplifier for his guitar which weighed about 60 kg. He said he was often tempted to chuck it off the bike when in the mountains! I don't blame him. Yuki entertained us with flamenco music, country and western, old Elvis Presley tunes, The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, traditional Japanese music and music from Italy. He also kept the children entertained with magic tricks. Saturday night everyone watched Lord of the Rings on the tv while Chris and I locked ourselves in the sunroom in a vain attempt to carry on a conversation over the sounds of battles being fought in the dwarves caverns.

Sunday afternoon brought the news that one of my daughters had been in a car accident. She got a broken arm and concussion but was otherwise unhurt. Her friend didn't do so well. She ended up in icu with a torn liver, perforated stomach and bowel, and pneumonia. I had warned Trista of this girl's dangerous driving and unreliability. Now she has learned yet again that my friend Marjory was right all along. Marjory's favorite saying: "Life is rough, life is tough, and life is full of surprises. And the first thing life teaches you is.... your mother is always RIGHT."

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

This is our week for showing hospitality to international guests. We may be getting a Japanese bicycle tourist for a visit tomorrow. My husband was working by the side of the road when this guy drove past. He stopped him to speak with him. It's been almost 22 years since we did bicycle touring after we were married. My rear end still aches in remembrance.

On Saturday, D. V. we get a guest from England. Looking forward to the visit but oh the house! You can house clean or homeschool, but you can't do both! Or at least, not very well.

Had a really good laugh today. Go to http://www.engrish.com if you want one too.

Monday, September 09, 2002

"Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all His benefits: who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's....

The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy... He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities...

Bless the Lord, o my soul!"

Excerpts from Psalm 103

I am becoming more and more convinced that daily gratitude and a counting on one's blessings are a sovereign remedy against discontentment and grumbling and all the ills that flow from them. Even when we experience a tragic providence or suffer wrong, we are not being dealt with according to our iniquity. This is true even for the reprobate.

I am ashamed when I think of all the times I have grumbled and have forgotten the good things in life that I enjoy. Do I have sleepless nights? At least I lie on a soft bed while enduring them. Is my house a mess? At least I have a house, and a pretty comfortable one at that. In fact, I live and eat better than kings of old. When I weigh all the advantages that I enjoy in this life against the petty miseries I have endured, I have much to be thankful for.

On another note... Yesterday I heard a sermon on Mark 10:23-27. It was a potent reminder against the sin of covetousness. It is impossible for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. It is impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God if his trust is in his riches. Money can get you a lot of places in this life, but it won't buy you heaven.

But is covetousness limited just to money and things?

Pastor Greg made the point that if we desire anything above God -- if there is anything we would not give up in this life in order to have Christ -- we are sinning through covetousness. Our faith and our happiness lie not in our spouse, children, friends, family, calling, interests, health, supplements, studies, etc. Our faith is to be in Christ, and Christ alone. I guess the acid test for determining where our heart's treasure is, is to look at the amount of time we spend on anything compared to the time we devote to communing with Christ. If communion with Christ has become a chore, we are in trouble.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Maybe I am discovering a reason why so many doctors in the medical profession seem to be so hard-hearted and coldly clinical. Working with people and their ills brings you face to face with mortality: theirs and yours. Being impersonal and clinical puts up a shield against such thoughts and keeps you from breaking your heart over the pain others feel.

We are born decayed and decaying, but if we have reasonably good health, a lot of us can ignore this fact for a long time. When you finally do face it, it can be quite a shock.

I was supposed to build what is called an "anchor" in neuro-linguistic programming, to keep out distracting thoughts and distress over others when I work on them, and to bring feelings of tranquility. I have yet to put it to the test, but I wonder if it will really be effective. Will I be able to be compassionate and yet not lose my perspective? I should ask my nurse-sister how she does it.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

It's 4:30 in the morning and I can't sleep. Stress will do that to you.

I can't seem to find the right balance anymore. Not enough activity is as stressful to me as too much. But I rarely have a chance to have too little activity any more. In fact, I can't remember when that last happened.

Here is my to do list of things to get done:

1)Write my exam for my biokinesionics course and turn in 30 clinicals with it. This involves setting up appointments with people and then spending an hour or more with them checking them over and suggesting ways and means for fixing what ails them.

2) Finish writing and editing my weight loss course curriculum, set up a website for it, and prepare for doing a seminar around the end of October. Dh says to look at this as a sort of vacation (I'm going to Alabama D.V.) Ha! Since when is standing in front of a bunch of strangers and talking a vacation? And with a baby? Sweet Elodie is coming with me. At least she will keep me somewhat grounded. I hate being away from my kids as much as they drive me crazy at times.

3)Finish setting up the curriculum for homeschooling and then teach it or oversee it getting done. The responsibility for the children's education is the most burdensome and one I dare not lay down or neglect. It could be just because it is the wee hours, which tend to induce black thoughts, but I worry that they are all going to grow up ignorant. Worse yet, I picture all of them leaving the Faith because I wasn't diligent enough in catechising or living it out in front of them. This raising of children can be hard on the heart.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002


I just got finished reading some of Emeth's posts on her blogs and what she wrote about missing her brothers resonated with me deeply.

This past week as I was finishing up my course on biokinesionics, my husband took seven of our children on a camping trip for a couple of days. I had the house to myself with only sweet Elodie for company. I knew I wouldn't enjoy being by myself so I invited a young couple who are on the course with me and who were also from out of town. We had a wonderful meal together and really enjoyed getting to know one another.

Tuesday, I managed to get home late, but the house was eerily silent. It wasn't too bad at first, but when it came time for bed, it was very lonely going around and locking up and shutting off the lights without having anyone in the house besides me and Elodie and a few mice in my basement. And this is a foretaste of the future when my children are grown and gone. I don't like it.

At times I sigh over the lack of time to sit and read uninterrupted for a few minutes. There always seems to be a crisis brewing somewhere. But then I go to the library and find I can't read at all because NO ONE interrupts me. How did this happen?

I confess to stressing out today and wishing I could run away when the kids got noisy and started squabbling over silly things. I need to remember the silence and how little I liked it and be thankful at least that they are still here for now.

One thing I wish my children would learn is how to appreciate this time in their life with their siblings. Once they are grown and gone, they will never be living with one another like this again. The shared history is one of the most important ingredients of memories and companionship. This is a good time of life if they would only recognize it. Responsibilities and cares are few. Times of fun are many.

I miss my sister. She was only 16 when I got married and left home for good. We have never lived in the same province since then and only see each other every few years. We were never close as children. There was too much jealously on my part over the perceived favoritism of my mother towards her, and too much temptation to tease me into a frenzy on her part. But since then we have become better friends. She called me the other day for some help and encouragement that she didn't think she could get from anyone else. It was truly a blessing to give comfort to one who is not only my sibling, but also my sister in Christ.

Monday, September 02, 2002

You know how irritating in-laws can be? I think I am discovering the reason why that is now that I are one. It is a lot like when you have your first child. As a new parent you feel that your life and ability to parent is on trial and when your child screws up it reflects badly on you. Well guess what? That feeling intensifies when that child grows up and marries. Then you get to watch them run their own household and you find yourself thinking things like:

"I thought I taught her how to clean better than that!"
"Why in the world are they eating THAT?"
"Why did they buy ______ when they clearly can't afford it?"
"Why doesn't she/he raise my grandchild better than that?"

The temptation to give advice so that the child won't be a failure as a housewife, husband, or parent and therefore a bad reflection on you is very strong. I have developed a callous on my tongue from biting it so many times. But I made a vow to myself when my children married: I would not give any advice unless asked for it. I also vowed that I would not cause my children to feel like they were about to undergo a white glove inspection when they saw me coming for a visit.

Saturday, August 31, 2002

I will be the first to admit that there is an awful lot of occultic and mystical and just plain nonsensical junk that is attached to energy medicine. It seems that people just lose their heads as soon as they start into the subject and start attributing all sorts of stuff to they spiritual realm that don't belong there. For instance, I read a book the other day that said:

"Numerous cultures describe a matrix of subtle energies that support, shape, and animate the physical body, called qi or chi in China, "prana" in the yoga tradition of India and Tibet, "yesod" in the Jewish cabalistic tradition, "ki" in Japan, "baraka by the Sufis, "wakan" by the Lakotas, "orenda" by the Iroquois, "megbe" by the Ituri Pygmies, and the "Holy Spirit" in the Christian tradition."

Now the person who wrote that is obviously grossly ignorant about Christian theology for one thing, or she would never have made such a foolish mistake as to call the energy in the body the Holy Spirit. Another mistake that she has made is to equate the energetic force found in the human body with the realm of spirit. To me, this is like equating the heart that pumps blood with the heart the Bible speaks of as the part of man that believes in God, or assigning mystical qualities to the central nervous system. We know that electrical energy exists in the human body. Western medicine acknowledges and uses this fact every time they hook someone up to do an EKG or an EEG on a person. Medical X rays are another form of energetic medicine that western allopathic medicine frequently uses in diagnosis. X rays have made the utilization of electromagnetic fields in medicine a commonplace procedure. What we have here in these instances is the melding of allopathic medicine, which is based on a Newtonian mechanical physics model of cause and effect, and a form of technology that utilizes an Einsteinian quantum physics model.

There are several presuppositions that I bring to the whole subject of energy medicine. The first is that the earth is the Lord's all that dwell therein. There is nothing that is outside the realm of God's oversight. The second is that if the energy system exists in the body (and I believe that it can now be proved that it does) then it was created and put there by God. Satan and his demons have no power to create anything; they only destroy and pervert what God has made. C.S. Lewis said that goodness is good in and of itself while evil can only be derived by twisting and perverting that which was originally good. I think that is what has happened to this subject. The opportunity to twist and pervert it is just too great to pass by for the Evil One.

I'll have to do some digging around to find the man's name, but I had a book that spoke of an experiment conducted by an allopathically trained doctor back in the 1930's in an effort to prove that the chinese meridians were all bunk. He injected himself with radioactive isotopes at the ends of the meridian points that the charts showed, and then used a moveable xray to find out where in the body the isotopes went. To his great surprise, every place that had a bit of radiation showing up corresponded to the
accupuncture points on the charts. Instead of disproving their existence, he proved that they really do exist. Unfortunately, he later died of radioactive poisoning as the result of these experiments. When I speak of energy medicine, I am speaking of something that physically exists and which can be manipulated and used for the healing of the physical body. It does draw upon the knowledge of these systems that were discovered by the Chinese and the Ayurvedic traditions, but I think we can use the
information about these energy pathways in the body without having to believe their explanations for it or accept their false religious presuppositions. To completely reject this information would be, imho, to throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

What I am attempting to do for myself, and perhaps those who read this, is re-frame the whole field of energy medicine within the realm of a Christian worldview.

I have just completed a biokinesionics course taught by a Christian without any of the mystical accretions that usually go with it. There was no chanting, no talk about becoming one with the universe, no encouragement to submerge oneself in the collective subconcious or any of the other things that go with eastern pantheism. Instead, what I did learn is comparable to finding out which light switches in the body got turned off and then using the right technique to turn them back on again. What I am seeking to do is no different than what a conventionally trained medical doctor is doing -- seeking to alleviate the pain and suffering of others. I am just utilizing a different means for doing this and trying to stay within the bounds of a Christ-centered worldview while I do so.

When a person has a headache, one can either leave it alone and hope it goes away, or take a tablet to anesthetize the nerves that makes one feel it or else cause the blood vessels to expand, take some herbs (that the pharmaceutical drugs are usually derived from), do a spinal adjustment to relieve compressed vertebral discs, or push on a few accupressure points that are also neurolymphatic or neurovascular points which increase lymph fluid or blood flow and take the pain away. Is one more lawful than the other? Is there a law of God that has been broken when doing this? I don't think so, but I am willing to be corrected on this.

Am still working on getting response thing set up. Comments can be sent to cheryl@grenon.org

Monday, August 26, 2002


The following is from a post I received recently:

"I don't know about you but I learned in my high school chemistry class in 1958 that the building blocks of ALL matter (including human bodies) are ATOMS. This was hardly new....even at the time. No one disputes this fact. Nor does anyone dispute that atoms are made of ENERGY (in the form of positive and negative electrical charges).

"Einstein further emphasized this point with his Theory of Relativity wherein he developed the famous formula....

"Energy = Mass times the speed of light squared

"In simple terms this means that physical matter (including the human body) is MADE OF ENERGY. Thus, even though the human body may appear to be solid, its foundation is made of energy.

"This simple fact is one of the most universally agreed upon findings in the scientific world. To my knowledge, not one scientist anywhere disagrees with it. It's acceptability ranks right up there with the laws of gravity.

"However, for reasons known only to the cosmos, the Western healing sciences have....

ignored it."

How short-sighted! Instead, they continue to regard the human body as a physical entity and thus walk right by its energy roots. They treat the body as a....

bag filled with body parts and chemicals."Thus their methods involve the repair and replacement of body parts (surgery) and the "correction" of body chemistry by other chemicals (drugs).

"Many useful things have come from this conventional approach so I'm not knocking it. In fact, I'm very glad it is around and I respect those diligent scientists and healing practitioners that have used this approach. If I had a burst appendix, for example, I would enthusiastically volunteer myself for the surgeon's table.

"However, for the Western healing sciences to ignore the well established fact that the body, at its core, is made of energy is like wearing glasses that only permit vision up to 10 feet. "

Those in the know, know that I am studying a form of energy medicine called biokinesionics. I think one of the reasons why western medicine and Christians have been so hesitant to embrace energy medicine is for several reasons. One reason is that no one ever found a network of copper wiring in the human body that could convey electrical energy. The other reason is because of the pantheistic baggage that is usually attached to the various forms of energy medicine.

How much validity is there to the idea that we have an energy system? Most people don't realize they already believe in its existence. We are all probably familiar with the use of the EKG or the EEG to measure heart rhythms and brain waves. What exactly are they measuring? The electrical activity of these organs. So how does the brain and the heart communicate? Undoubtedly through hormones and things of that nature. But why not through electrical energy?

"In recent years the technology has been developed that demonstrates that the Chinese were onto something when they devised their charts of the body's meridians. One unique system which makes use of the electrical information associated with the acupuncture meridians is the Motoyama AMI Machine. Utilizing electrodes which attach to the terminal acupoints of the twelve main meridians, the AMI Machine is able to compare the eletrical balance between the right and left sides of the body. The AMI computer analyzes electrical differences between the right and left meridians that supply energy to the same deep organ system. By comparing the dgree of electrical imbalance between the two meridians, the AMI Machine is able to provide detailed information about energetic imbalance in the physical body. Electrically unbalanced acupoints, as diagnosed by the AMI Machine, appear to reflect the presence of existing or impending disease in meridian associated organ systems." Pg. 204, Vibrational Medicine by Dr. Richard Gerber

More to come....

Those who wish to comment will have to content themselves with emailing me directly at cheryl@grenon.org as I don't know how to set up this blog for accepting comments. A dear gal has graciously offered to set up my blog properly for me so hang in there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

Why I am Not a Napkin Noggin

When I was a little girl, I attended a Plymouth Brethren Assembly. One of the distinguising features of the PB's is that the women are required to wear hats or scarfs or veils on their heads during worship. I dispensed with the headgear when I went to a Baptist church and later on re-donned one when the Presbyterian church I currently attend had us wearing them. However, that has now all changed again and I am once more free of the annoyance of a scarf that slips and hats that are too tight for my bulging brains. The official reason for why I am no longer a napkin noggin is posted below. (This is long Emeth, so please sit down and get comfortable when you read it.)


The Practice Of Headcoverings In Public Worship

Issued by the Reformed Presbytery In North America
June 4, 2001

Introduction Preliminary Considerations The Plan And Scope Of This Report 1. The Subordinate Standards A. The Practice Of The Headcovering In Scotland (1560-1638) B. Examination Of The Practice Of A Covenanted Session 2. European Reformed Testimony A. The Church Of Geneva In The Time Of Calvin B. The Geneva Bible Notes C. Francis Turretin (1623-1687) D. The Reformed Churches Outside Of Scotland and Geneva 3. The Scriptural Observations Of The RPNA Upon 1 Cor. 11:2-16 A. The Context Of 1 Corinthians 10-14 B. Other Cultural Issues In The New Testament Conclusion Of The Reformed Presbytery In North America Directive Of The Reformed Presbytery In North America Correspondence To The Reformed Presbytery In North America


It is our sincere desire to lead the people of God under our care in the ways of Christ that has led Presbytery to issue this report concerning headcoverings. We have carefully and prayerfully studied the issue from both Scripture and history. We now urge you, dear brothers and sisters, who are under the inspection of the Reformed Presbytery In North America to read this position paper with a dispassionate and objective spirit, seeking to understand as clearly as possible, the reasons given for Presbytery's conclusions. This report is not intended to offer an exhaustive amount of information on the subject of headcoverings in public worship, but rather is intended to give a summary of the major principles which have guided Presbytery to its present position.

Preliminary Considerations

It may be asked, "Why is a report on headcoverings in public worship needed at the present time?"

First, there may be issues concerning which the Presbytery has not, as yet, officially adopted a position, but sees it as necessary to do so for the good of the church. This is true with regard to the headcovering in public worship. Prior to the formation of the Reformed Presbytery In North America (in August 2000), the Puritan Reformed Church of Edmonton had for a number of years practiced and taught the unalterable moral use of the headcovering for women in public worship. Approximately three years ago, the Session moved away from the position that headcoverings were an unalterable moral practice to a position of uncertainty while yet practicing the use of the headcovering in public worship. With the formation of the Presbytery, the distinctive teachings and practices of the Session as an inferior court necessarily came under the judicial review of the whole Presbytery. Such a review was initiated concerning headcoverings, and this report constitutes the judicial conclusions of Presbytery.

The second reason why this report on the headcovering in public worship is deemed necessary by Presbytery is due to increased information that has come to its attention which addresses the issue before us. When greater light on a subject becomes available, our duty before the Lord is to reform. Not to do so would be a grievous sin. Thus, Presbytery considers itself bound by duty to Christ and to His church to submit this report for the clearing of its conscience.

Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing (Philippians 3:15-16).
Thirdly, Presbytery's decision to issue this report involves the significant issue of ecclesiastical authority. God alone has absolute authority. All authority received by man (whether in the familial, ecclesiastical, or civil sphere) is delegated by God and limited by God's Word. Since Jesus Christ is the only head of the Church, the officers of the Church must be careful that they do not exceed the lawful boundaries of their limited authority in their use of the keys of the kingdom by imposing ordinances or practices upon the people of God in public worship which are not clearly warranted by Scripture. To do so is tyranny. For Christ's authority can never be used against the truth, but only in defense of the truth.

For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth (2 Corinthians 13:8).

God alone is Lord of the conscience, and hath left it free from the doctrines and commandments of men which are in any thing contrary to his Word, or beside it in matters of faith on worship. So that to believe such doctrines, or to obey such commandments out of conscience, is to betray true liberty of conscience; and the requiring an implicit faith, and an absolute and blind obedience, is to destroy liberty of conscience, and reason also (The Westminster Confession Of Faith, 20:2).

The Plan And Scope Of This Report

First, the Presbytery, as a covenanted judicatory in moral continuity with earlier faithful courts, will examine the position stated and upheld by these covenanted judicatories as declared in our subordinate documents, along with the private writings of faithful covenanted ministers. Second, we will reference the determinations and declarations made by other non-covenanted, yet faithful reformed judicatories and ministers. Third, having considered the practice and interpretation of Scripture by faithful courts and ministers as it relates to the headcovering, we consider their position in the light of our own study of Scripture.

1. The Subordinate Standards

When approaching a passage of Scripture, it is particularly important to interpret that passage with a clear understanding of the context in which it appears, as well as to interpret that passage in consistency with the rest of God's revelation in Scripture. In our judgment, the heart of the controversy concerning headcoverings in public worship turns upon whether the statements of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 were based upon cultural considerations or upon some other more permanent, moral principle.

In examining our subordinate standards, the critical question in our minds was this: Did our covenanted judicatories understand 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 to teach that the headcovering was a moral sacred significant sign commanded by God to be used in all generations and countries; or did they affirm the contrary, and believe this passage to be teaching that the headcovering was cultural, a mere circumstance of worship which was common to human actions and societies and, therefore, alterable?

We believe it is certain that our covenanted church courts interpreted 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 with a cultural presupposition and that they believed the headcovering to be cultural and, therefore, alterable according to the prevailing national custom of that time. Our proof for this conclusion immediately follows.

A. The Approved Practice Of The Headcovering In Scotland (1560-1638)

First, we will demonstrate that men (at least, and most likely the women as well) ordinarily covered their heads during the time when a sermon was being preached and that these same men" ordinarily” uncovered their heads when the Lord's Supper was being served. Demonstrating this to be the ordinary practice within the Church of Scotland will serve to prove that our covenanted General Assemblies and all inferior courts did not understand Paul to be teaching that men were always to remain uncovered in a public worship service. It, therefore, follows that if our covenanted judicatories ordinarily allowed men to be covered for sermons and uncovered for the celebration of the Lord's Supper, then they interpreted the covering and the uncovering of the head in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 as a cultural custom within Corinth at the time in which Paul wrote.

Speaking upon the subject of different signs to be distinguished (namely, natural, customable, and voluntary), George Gillespie, minister of the Church of Scotland states the following concerning one example of a customable sign:

Customable Signs; and so the uncovering of the head, which of old was a sign of preeminence, has, through custom, become a sign of subjection (Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, Naphtali Press, p. 247, emphases added).

Secondly, customary signs have likewise place in divine service; for so a man coming into one of our churches in time of public worship, if he sees the hearers covered, he knows by this customary sign that sermon has begun (Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, Naphtali Press, p. 248, emphases added).

From the above we learn that the Scottish Church "customarily" (i.e. according to their cultural custom) did not cover their heads until the preaching began. We also note that the sign of uncovering the head, according to Gillespie, had radically changed its meaning over time in Scotland. Of old in Paul's time, it was a sign of preeminence, and now in Gillespie's time "custom" had altered its significance to mean just the opposite (i.e. subjection). This alone is proof that Scotland's ministers did not deem the headcovering to be an unalterable sign (for if it were unalterable, then why did they accept the changed meaning of the sign?), and that they necessarily understood Paul's statements in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 within a cultural context.

Furthermore, we learn from that which is cited below that the Scottish Church purposely removed their headcoverings when it was time to receive the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Samuel Rutherford proves that the Church of Scotland ordinarily removed the headcovering when receiving the Lord's Supper when he states:

Though therefore we receive the supper of the Lord uncovered, no man can conclude from thence Adoration of the Elements, as we do from kneeling conclude the same, as we shall here for all bodily worship or expression of our affection to means of graces (though these means be but creatures) is not Adoration properly either of God, or of these means, it is Lawful to tremble at the word, and for Josiah to weep before the book of the Law read (The Divine Right of Church Government, Still Waters Revival Books, pp. 89, 90, emphases added).

In his Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, George Gillespie answers an objection raised by an Anglican bishop. Though the objection is primarily directed to the question of reverence and adoration of the sacraments, we use the following citation as a second witness to prove that the Church of Scotland ordinarily practiced the removal of headcoverings at the celebration of the Lord's Supper. Gillespie states:

Those who speak more plainly than Bishop Lindsey, do here object to us, that reverence is due to the sacrament, and that we ourselves do reverence it when we sit uncovered at the receiving of it (Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies, Naphtali Press, p. 217, emphases added).

In his answer, Gillespie does not deny that they uncovered their heads at the receiving of the sacrament. To the contrary, he explains why it was done, and how it, in no way was intended to be an adoration of the elements of bread and wine, but instead merely a reverencing of them. For all those who might be interested to read his extended explanation, please note pages 218 and 219 in Gillespie’s Dispute Against English Popish Ceremonies.

We do not presently wish to enter into the merits or demerits of uncovering the head at the receiving of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, as that is a separate question from that which we intend to analyze by this Scottish practice. What we do wish to point out is the manner in which this covenanted church approached the whole matter of the headcovering in light of what is taught in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16. In Scotland during her best and purest times, it is historically certain that men (at least, and most likely women as well) customarily wore a headcovering during the time that sermons were preached and that it was a practice accepted by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. It is in no way arguable that this practice was contrary to the will of the General Assembly, as we have records of all the Acts of General Assembly from that time, and no censure or controversy is mentioned in regard to this practice. The same is true for the practice of removing the headcovering when receiving the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. These conclusions being certain, we must ask the following question: Since Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:4 states that, "Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head," and again in verse 7 states, "For a man indeed ought not to cover his head"—Which contextual presupposition and understanding would the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland apply to the text of 1 Corinthians 11 in order to allow men to wear headcoverings during the sermon, and then to remove them as an act of reverence during the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper? A universal, unalterable interpretation of the headcovering in 1 Corinthians 11 or a cultural, alterable interpretation? Seeing that both the sermon and the sacrament are acts of worship administered at the time of assembled public worship, is it conceivable that the covenanted judicatory of the Church of Scotland understood headcovering as a sacred significant sign that was unalterable? Rather, is it not certain that they deemed the headcovering to be a cultural custom which could be altered?

We conclude that it is incontestable as demonstrated by their own practice that the General Assembly understood and interpreted 1 Corinthians 11:4, 7 with the presupposition that Paul was speaking from a cultural perspective.

Carefully note that Rutherford interprets the headcovering to which Paul refers in 1 Corinthians 11 as a national or cultural sign rather than as a universal or moral sign.

Uncovering the head, seemeth to be little older then Paul's Epistles to the Corinthians. The learned Salmasius thinketh it but a National sign of honour, no ways universally received: but certainly is not Adoration: Though therefore we receive the supper of the Lord uncovered, no man can conclude from thence Adoration of the Elements, as we shall here for all bodily worship or expression of our affection to means of graces (though these means be but creatures) is not Adoration properly either of God, or of these means, it is Lawful to tremble at the word, and for Josiah to weep before the book of the Law read, and for the Martyrs to kiss the stake as the Instrument by which they glorified God, in dying for the truth: all these things being Ojectam quo, and means by which they conveyed their worship to the true God, and natural and Lawful expressions of their affection to God: For uncovering the head, it is a sort of veneration or reverence, not adoration; and Paul insinuateth so much when he saith, 1 Cor 11:4. “Every man praying and prophesying having his head covered, dishonoreth his head”: But it is not his meaning that he dishonoreth God. The Jews to this day, as of old, used not uncovering the head as a sign of honour: But by the contrary, covering was a sign of honour. If therefore the Jews, being made a visible Church, shall receive the Lords Supper, and Pray and Prophesy with covered heads, men would judge it no dishonoring of their head, or not of disrespect of the ordinances of God: Though Paul having regard to National custom in Corinth, did so esteem it (The Divine Right of Church Government, Still Waters Revival Books, pp. 89, 90, emphases added).

Rutherford is publicly teaching that Paul had regard to the national custom of Corinth. He states that "national custom" is the reason why Paul did esteem a man's head being covered as that which dishonored his head. This covenanted minister was not disciplined nor deposed for teaching this truth to the church at large, but rather was deemed one of the Second Reformation's brightest lights. If this was false doctrine (as some suppose), then why was Rutherford neither disciplined nor corrected for his public error? Surely some members of the General Assembly read these public statements. In our judgment, Rutherford was not disciplined because the Church of Scotland agreed with him. They too, understood that Paul (in 1 Corinthians 11) was speaking from a cultural context.

This is also consistent with The Westminster Confession of Faith (1:6) which states:

The whole counsel of God, concerning all things necessary for his own glory, man's salvation, faith, and life, is either expressly set down in Scripture, or by good and necessary consequence may be deduced from Scripture: unto which nothing at any time is to be added, whether by new revelations of the Spirit, or traditions of men. Nevertheless we acknowledge the inward illumination of the Spirit of God to be necessary for the saving understanding of such things as are revealed in the Word; and that there are some circumstances concerning the worship of God, and the government of the Church, common to human actions and societies, which are to be ordered by the light of nature and Christian prudence, according to the general rules of the Word, which are always to be observed (The Westminster Confession of Faith, 1:6, emphases added).

One of the proof texts used for this section of the Confession is:

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him (1 Corinthians 11:13, 14)?

By the use of this proof text, it is certain that not only did the Westminster Assembly place the headcovering within the realm of that which is circumstantial to worship (and thus alterable) as opposed to that which is an unalterable sacred significant action, but also that the Church of Scotland (who judicially ratified and covenanted to uphold this Confession) viewed the headcovering as a circumstance of worship.

In addition to this, the fact that The Directory For The Publick Worship Of God does not even mention headcoverings in public worship should not escape our attention. The Directory's primary concern is to set out what God requires in worship. If the framers and upholders of this Directory deemed the headcovering in public worship to be a mandatory and unalterable sacred significant sign, then their omission of it from the Directory is a very serious error. Issues of far less relative significance are included in this carefully written Directory. We, therefore, conclude that the omission of any direction concerning headcoverings may reasonably be offered as proof that the Assembly did not authoritatively require headcoverings in all circumstances of public worship nor in all nations at all times.

Finally, after perusing all the Acts of General Assembly from 1560 to 1649 inclusive, all records of the Commission to the General Assembly which we have in our possession, and all Presbyterial and Session records available to us, we have not found one instance where a man was censured for covering his head in worship, nor a case where a woman was disciplined for uncovering her head in worship (although we know that men covered their heads and women uncovered their heads at certain points in public worship). Though this is an argument from silence, we deem this fact noteworthy and unexplainable, if, indeed, men must at all times be uncovered in worship and women must at all times be covered in worship.

This leaves no doubt in our minds that these covenanted church courts within Scotland consistently interpreted the uncovering of men and the covering of women in 1 Corinthians 11 with the contextual presupposition that Paul was addressing the cultural practice within Corinth. In order for us, as a Presbytery, to censure the practice and interpretation of the covenanted General Assembly, and to accuse them of serious error, we must necessarily produce conclusive proof that 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is not to be interpreted culturally. We do not believe that the Church of Scotland was in error on this point. To the contrary, we believe that they correctly ascertained the meaning of this passage of Scripture and ruled headcoverings to be circumstantial and alterable according to the custom and culture of various nations.

B. Examination Of The Practice Of A Covenanted Session

In particular, The Register of the Minister[,] Elders and Deacons of the Christian Congregation of St. Andrews, Comprising the Proceedings of the Kirk Session, and of the Court of the Superintendent of Fife, Fothrik, and Strathhearn, 1559-1600.

Only a couple of instances from a number of like cases will be presented from these covenanted judicatories in order to confirm that these judicatories necessarily must have interpreted the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 from a cultural perspective. The first example from the Session of St. Andrews now follows.

March 1581

The which day, Thomas Reif younger, confessed to having committed adultery with Margaret Cluny, is discerned to compear [appear—RPNA] upon Sunday next [and—RPNA] to come with the said Margaret, clothed in sackcloth, bare headed and bare footed, and stand at the Kirk door from the second to the third bell to sermon before noon, and thereafter to compear upon the adulterers place of the penitent stool within the Kirk, and sit therein until the sermon be ended, and so forth to continue each Sunday until the Kirk be satisfied (The Register of the Minister[,] Elders and Deacons of the Christian Congregation of St. Andrews, Comprising the Proceedings of the Kirk Session, and of the Court of the Superintendent of Fife, Fothrik, and Strathhearn, 1559-1600, pp. 475, 476, emphases added).

Note here that the Session has commanded both a man and a woman to sit bare headed upon the penitent stool (which was a stool placed within clear view of the congregation during worship). This is significant on two accounts. What punishment was it for the man to sit bare headed, if indeed the Session believed that 1 Corinthians 11:4 taught that a man ought always to have his head uncovered during public worship? Also, if the Session believed that according to 1 Corinthians 11: 5, 6, 10, a woman must necessarily cover her head during public worship, or be judged immodest and in violation of the Seventh Commandment, then why, in punishing her adultery, would they order her to show herself immodest before God and man (and the angels) during a public worship service? This would be to punish her immodest adultery by commanding her to be immodest! Clearly, this covenanted Session understood Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 to be speaking within a cultural context. To say otherwise is to condemn this action and to implicitly condemn all subsequent assemblies for failing to censure this action by the Session.

Just in case someone should raise the objection that, in the above example, the woman was not commanded to be bareheaded during prayer, but only during the sermon (as if that would clear them of the obvious difficulty), we will provide yet a more detailed example.

January 1584

The which day, compears [appears—RPNA] Jhone Paterson, merchant and citiner in St. Andrews, who grants and confesses that he has had carnal dealings with Issobell Gray in adultery, he being married to Jonet Trymlay his spouse (he then admits his guilt but denies part of Issobell's statement). The Session, in respect of his confession, with one voice ordains the said Jhone Paterson, and also the said Issobell in respect of her confession, to begin, upon the Sunday next to come, their humiliation for the said offense; to wit that both together to compear clothed in sackcloth, bare headed, and bare footed at the Kirk of the said city, at the second bell to sermon before noon, and to stand there until the third bell to sermon be ceased; and thereafter to compear together on the highest degree of the penitent stool, and sit as said until the sermon and prayers be ended, and so forth to continue each Sunday until the Kirk be satisfied (The Register of the Minister[,] Elders and Deacons of the Christian Congregation of St. Andrews, Comprising the Proceedings of the Kirk Session, and of the Court of the Superintendent of Fife, Fothrik, and Strathhearn, 1559-1600, p. 551, emphases added).

Similar rulings and examples can also be found in the same Register upon pages 441, 572, 705, 731, 767, 785, 793, 866, 877, 886, and 921. Note here, that in the above cited ruling by this covenanted Session in Scotland, we find that a man and a woman are commanded to sit on the penitent stool with a bare head "until the sermon and prayers are ended." Again, if a woman is not to be in public worship with her head uncovered during prayer without being chargeable with immodesty, then why did the Session command her to remain on the penitent stool until the prayers were ended? Can we possibly impute to this covenanted Session the contradiction of having a woman repent of adultery by committing acts of sinful immodesty?

Our explanation is this : we understand that the covenanted Session of St. Andrews understood 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 to be cultural in context, and, thus, their censure of these two people did not contradict this text. According to the cultural norms in Scotland at that time, women did wear headcoverings in public and at worship. Thus, for the woman to come bareheaded was culturally shameful to her. The men, also customarily wore hats during the times of sermon. Thus, for the man to be bareheaded was likewise a public humiliation. The bareheadedness of both the man and the woman was not construed as a sin against the light of nature, for that would involve the Session in commanding people to sin as an act of repentance. The bareheadedness of the man and the woman was a cultural humiliation, and, thus, a significant act of discipline for their sin. This explanation clears the Session of commanding this adulterous couple to sin against the light of nature and exemplifies the point that the headcovering to them was a cultural issue.

2. European Reformed Testimony

A. The Church Of Geneva In The Time Of Calvin

We now turn to the teaching and practice of faithful continental reformed churches. In this section we examine the presuppositions and practices of covenanted Geneva, according to the words of John Calvin, the Notes of the Geneva Bible, and Francis Turretin.

We do not deny that the cultural practice of Geneva was generally for women to wear a headcovering in society and in public worship. This, however, is not at the heart of what we are seeking to ascertain. The question we are asking is whether the covenanted divines of Geneva understood the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 to be teaching that the headcovering is a permanent moral sacred significant sign, or alternately, a culturally alterable circumstance.

Speaking of decorous arrangements which take away confusion in the church, Calvin says on page 1207 of Institutes Of The Christian Religion (Westminster Press edition):

There are examples of the first sort in Paul: that profane drinking bouts should not be mingled with the sacred supper of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:21-22), and that women should not go out in public with uncovered heads (1 Cor. 11:5).
After addressing matters related to proper order and decorum as mentioned above, Calvin goes on to say:

But because he [God—RPNA] did not will in outward discipline and ceremonies what we ought to do (because he foresaw that this depended upon the state of the times, and he did not deem one form suitable for all ages), here we must take refuge in those general rules which he has given, that whatever the necessity if the church will require for order and decorum should be tested against these (Institutes Of The Christian Religion, Westminster Press, p. 1208, emphases added).

What is Calvin's conclusion?

Lastly, because he [God—RPNA] has taught nothing specifically, and because these things are not necessary to salvation, and for the upbuilding of the church ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age, it will be fitting (as the advantage of the church will require) to change and abrogate traditional practices and to establish new ones (Institutes Of The Christian Religion, Westminster Press, p. 1208, emphases added).

If Calvin believed that the headcovering was an unalterable law of God, in all times and circumstances, then why did he say it "ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age...." and that ".... it will be fitting (as the advantage of the church will require) to change and abrogate traditional practices and to establish new ones?" This is inexplicable except upon the presupposition that he understood 1 Corinthians 11 to be speaking from a cultural perspective. If the headcovering is an unalterable law of modesty, then what do the "customs of each nation and age" have to do with the headcovering?

There are some who would try to evade this conclusion by stating that Calvin was speaking here only of extraordinary times and situations when a woman may not be covered. We trust that all who read Calvin in context will easily ascertain that when he says the headcovering "ought to be variously accommodated to the customs of each nation and age" he did not mean in extraordinary situations only. The customs of each nation and age are hardly extraordinary. In fact, it is because they are customs that we would class them as ordinary.

B. The Geneva Bible Notes

The notes of the Geneva Bible make the same point as Calvin has made above. Commenting upon 1 Corinthians 11:4 ("Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head",) the notes (which were written later by Beza, Calvin's successor) state:

{3} By this he [Paul—RPNA] gathers that if men do either pray or preach in public assemblies having their heads covered (which was then a sign of subjection), they robbed themselves of their dignity, against God's ordinance.

{b} It appears, that this was a political law serving only for the circumstance of the time that Paul lived in, by this reason, because in these our days for a man to speak bareheaded in an assembly is a sign of subjection (emphases added).

The Geneva Bible was used in the Protestant kingdoms for a very long time, only to be eventually supplanted by the King James Version in English speaking nations. Its popularity makes it certain that this note was read by many persons within Geneva and elsewhere. This note from the Geneva Bible could not make the cultural argument in 1 Corinthians 11 any clearer. If the divines of Geneva truly believed that 1 Corinthians 11 was "not" to be interpreted with a cultural presupposition, then why is this note never questioned, condemned, or corrected by subsequent Genevan Divines and Assemblies; and why are these comments even included within the most widely used Bible of the reformed people within Geneva? Why was there no uproar in Geneva over such a blatant cultural interpretation of Paul's instruction in 1 Corinthians 11?

In our judgment, it was because there was general agreement in Geneva upon the way that1 Corinthians 11 ought to be understood and applied. Though they themselves in Geneva adopted the headcovering in both society and public worship, they did not understand this passage of Scripture to necessitate its use in all times, nations, and circumstances. Thus, the Geneva Notes by Beza and the words of Calvin are written from the same cultural perspective.

Note also that like the comment made by Beza in the Geneva Notes regarding the changed meaning of the sign of the headcovering, George Gillespie's comment quoted previously likewise corroborates the words of Calvin and Beza: "in these our days for a man to speak bareheaded in an assembly is a sign of subjection" (rather than a sign of authority as in 1 Corinthians 11;4).

Thus both Scotland and Geneva had the same customary practices (for men at least). Both were the opposite of the practice instituted by Paul in Corinth. In Corinth, male covering was dishonourable and intimated subjection. In Geneva and Scotland, it was honourable signifying authority. Did Genevan divines understand 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 to be speaking from a cultural context? Based upon the evidence above, we do not see how it could reasonably be questioned.

C. Francis Turretin (1623-1687)

Turretin was the renowned teacher of the Academy in Geneva and successor to Calvin, Beza, and Diodati. Turretin not only observes that the cultural decorum of being covered or uncovered in public worship was only for a time, but also concludes that since the reason for the practice has ceased so should the practice itself.

Although certain ordinations of the Apostles (which referred to the rites and circumstances of divine worship) were variable and instituted only for a time (as the sanction of not eating blood and of things strangled [Acts 15:20]; concerning the woman's head being covered and the man's being uncovered when they prophesy [1 Cor. 11:4, 5]) because there was a special cause and reason for them and (this ceasing) the institution itself ought to cease also; still there were others invariable and of perpetual observance in the church, none of which were founded upon any special occasion to last only for a time by which they might be rendered temporary (such as the imposition of hands in the setting apart of ministers and the distinction between the offices of deacon and pastor). Since the institution of the Lord's day was of this kind, from this we infer that the intention of the founders was that the observance of this day should be of perpetual and immutable right. (Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 95, emphases added).

Was Turretin teaching a new headcovering doctrine or was this essentially the same doctrine which Calvin and Beza’s Genevan Notes promoted? It seems to us that if Turretin was radically changing Geneva's doctrine of the headcovering, there would have been some contention and argument from his fellow pastors and congregations. In fact, to the best of our understanding, there is no mention of this at all in the historical record.

What then was the uniform position of Geneva regarding the headcovering? Calvin says the headcovering is alterable, the notes to the Geneva Bible say it is alterable (at least for men), and Turretin says its variable for men and women and in his day it ought to cease entirely. In each of these cases, it is clear that these divines interpreted the passage in 1 Corinthians 11 within a cultural context.

D. The Reformed Churches Outside Of Scotland and Geneva

(1) The Augsburg Confession (1530)

This early Confession of the Reformation declares that the matter of the
headcovering in public worship is neither a matter with which to bind men's consciences nor a necessary service which if violated makes one guilty of sin.

What is, then, to be thought of the Lord's day, and of like rites of temples? Hereunto they [ours] answer, that it is lawful for Bishops or Pastors to make ordinances, whereby things may be done in order in the Church; not that by them we may merit grace, or satisfy for sins, or that men's consciences should be bound to esteem them as necessary services, and think that they sin when they violate them, without the offense of others. So Paul ordained, 'that women should cover their heads in the congregation' (1 Cor. xi. 6); 'that the interpreters of Scripture should be heard in order in the Church' (1 Cor. xiv. 27), etc.

Such ordinances it behooveth the churches to keep for charity and quietness' sake, that one offend not another, that all things may be done in order, and without tumult in the churches (1 Cor. xiv. 40 and Phil. ii. 14), but so that consciences be not burdened, so as to account them as things necessary to salvation, and think they sin when they violate them, without offense of others; as no one would say that a woman sins if she went into public with her head uncovered, provided it were without the offense of men (Philip Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom, 6th ed. [1931], Baker Books, 3:68-69, emphases added).

This Confession was widely subscribed early in the First Reformation. In fact, a subsequent version of this Confession (revised by Phillip Melancthon, but not revised on this point) was subscribed by John Calvin in Ratisbon in 1545. If, as this Confession states ("no one would say that a woman sins if she went into public with her head uncovered, provided it were without the offense of men"), then again we ask: What contextual understanding did these brothers and sisters have regarding 1 Corinthians 11? Clearly, in a culture where men were not ordinarily offended by a woman going outside with her head uncovered, such as our own culture, this Confession of Faith says there is no sin.

(2) The Reformed Churches Of France (1579)

In its National Synod, the Reformed Churches Of France specifically address the issue of the headcovering in public worship. However, they do not require women to be covered and men to be uncovered (as taught in 1 Corinthians 11:4, 5), but rather at the time of prayer, they require all (without exception) to be uncovered. Such a practice does not demonstrate some unalterable, universal rule in regard to the headcovering. To the contrary, the practice of the Reformed Churches Of France indicates an ecclesiastical custom that was not permanent in itself.

XXX. Whereas divers Persons during Publick and Family Prayers, do neither uncover their Heads, nor bow their Knees, expressing thereby the great Pride of their Hearts, and scandalizing such as fear the Lord, that this their Irreverence may be amended and reformed, all Pastors, Elders, and Governours of Families are advised and required to see carefully unto it, that during the time of Prayer, every one in their Churches and Families without exception, be they high or low, noble or base, do testifie the humbleness of their Heart, by those fore-mentioned outward marks of humility, unless they be hindered by unavoidable necessity or malady, in which cases we leave them to the direction of their particular and respective Consciences (Synodicon in Gallia Reformata, ed. John Quick, The Synod of Figeac. Synod X. Of the Tenth National Synod of the Reformed Churches of France, held at Figeac the Second Day of August, and ended the Eighth Day of the same Month, in the Year of Grace 1579, being the Sixth Year of the Reign of Henry the Third, King of France and Poland, emphases added).

Likewise, the Discipline of the Reformed Churches of France states:

That great irreverence, which is found in diverse persons, who at public and private prayers do neither uncover the heads, nor bow their knees, shall be reformed, which is a matter repugnant to piety, and giveth suspicion to pride, and does scandalize them that fear God. Wherefore all Pastors shall be advised, as also Elders and heads of families, carefully to oversee that in time of prayer all persons without exception or acceptation, do evidence by those exterior signs the inward humiliation of their hearts, and of that homage yielded by them unto God, unless anyone be hindered from doing so by sickness or otherwise; the judgment which shall be remitted to the testimony of their own particular consciences (Synodicon in Gallia Reformata, ed. John Quick, The Discipline of the Reformed Churches of France, Chapter 10, Canon 1, p. xliii, emphases added).

How then did the Reformed Churches of France understand the headcovering? They required all persons without exception, and everyone in their churches and families without exception to pray publicly and privately with their heads uncovered. This means men, women and children were to pray in public and private with uncovered heads so as to signify inward reverence and humility toward God. This is hardly what one would expect to find if they had interpreted 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 in a universal, moral sense. Please keep in mind that these citations are the agreed upon position of the entire French Reformed Church as stated in their Book of Discipline (over a very long period of time) and not merely the opinion of one or two ministers.

(3) The Dutch Annotations Upon The Whole Bible, Or, All The Holy Canonical Scriptures Of The Old and New Testament (1637)

The Synod of Dordt (in 1618) commissioned a work of Annotations covering all of the books of the Old and New Testaments to be made available for heads of households (and students of the Scripture) in their study of God's Word. It was completed in 1637 and was published by the authority of the Synod of the Reformed Church of the Netherlands.

The following comments are made upon 1 Corinthians 11:4:

[N]amely, forasmuch as the uncovering of the head was then a sign of power and dominion, as on the contrary now at this day those that have power over others, will keep their heads covered, and they that are under others will uncover their heads before them. But in all these things, we must always have the respect to the use of divers times and countries, and what is honorable and edifying therein, 1 Cor. 14:40, Philippians 4:8 (The Dutch Annotations Upon The Whole Bible [1637], trans. Theodore Haak [1657], 1 Corinthians 11:4, emphases added).

Again, this is not the opinion of one or two ministers in Holland, but rather the agreed upon position of the entire synod. Here again, consistent with the ministers of Scotland, Geneva, Germany and France, these renowned Dutch ministers in the Netherlands’ best and purest time of Reformation, indicate that the sign of the headcovering in their time and land was different than that of Corinth at the time in which Paul penned 1 Corinthians 11. All those in Holland who were under subjection were to signify there submission by uncovering their heads, and all those in authority were to cover their heads. Obviously, these ministers agreed that 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 was to be interpreted within a cultural context.

By now it should be clear that those divines living at the time of the First and Second Reformations did not view the headcovering (whether covering oneself or uncovering oneself) as an unalterable practice, but rather as a custom changeable in both meaning and practice.

The noted historian, David Hay Fleming, further illustrates the constantly changing practice of the headcovering among the Reformed churches from that of Paul's practice in 1 Corinthians 11.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century many Scottish Presbyterians uncovered their heads during sermon. [A footnote cites the following source: An Examination of Three Prelatical Pamphlets, 1703, p. 18] The custom survived in the Scottish Church at Rotterdam until at least the last quarter of the nineteenth century. At one time the ministers of Scotland may have kept their hats on while preaching, as French and Dutch Protestant preachers did (The Reformation in Scotland [1910], Still Waters Revival Books, pp. 301, 302).

As Presbytery has sought to understand the cultural context of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, it has become increasingly clear that this is an interpretive key that ought not to be omitted from a proper understanding of this passage. We have clearly demonstrated that the Covenanted Church of Scotland practiced (and approved) a cultural use of the headcovering within worship. We have demonstrated that this is consistent with our subordinate documents, in particular with The Westminster Confession of Faith (1:6), which classifies the headcovering as a circumstance of worship which is alterable. We have found no evidence to suggest that the headcovering was required in Scotland as a mandatory and unalterable practice based upon the law of nature. Consequently, we have not found one case wherein a man was disciplined for covering his head or a woman censured for uncovering her head, nor do we find it mentioned, let alone required, in The Directory for the Public Worship of God. Furthermore, we have provided irrefutable evidence to demonstrate that the reformed churches in Geneva, Germany, France, and Holland, during their purest times of reformation, all understood the covering and uncovering of the head in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 as cultural. This demonstrates the judgment of the best divines in the purest times of the reformed church.

How then should we, as a Presbytery, contextually approach 1 Corinthians 11:2-16? Should we adopt the same cultural approach as this immense and learned cloud of witnesses, and understand as they clearly understood that this text was based upon cultural customs within Corinth, or should we use a contradictory approach, and thus accuse them of serious error and face the necessity of altering our covenanted testimonies of faith and practice? Presbytery is persuaded that the first of these two options is the most sound and wise perspective in which to view 1 Corinthians 11:2-16.

3. The Scriptural Observations Of The Reformed Presbytery In North America Upon 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

The Presbytery prayerfully issues the following observations as those, which in our judgment, are most consistent with the text we are discussing.

A. The Context Of 1 Corinthians 10-14

We would draw your attention to the contextual flow of Paul's argument in 1 Corinthians concerning meat offered to idols, headcoverings and the Lord's Supper.

(1) Meat Offered To Idols

In 1 Corinthians 10:23 Paul states:

All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

He then goes on to teach the Corinthians, and the church at large, that the lawfulness of eating meat offered to idols depended upon the circumstances of the case. Eating such meat in a pagan temple where it had religious significance was an act of idolatry. However, when this same meat lost it's religious significance and became simply a commodity of trade and consumption in the social realm, it was permissible to buy or eat it (unless it scandalized another, causing them to stumble). Thus, Paul is giving principles to the church in order that they may judge for themselves what was most expedient and orderly in various circumstances.

(2) The Lord's Supper

Skipping over 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 for a moment, we next consider the context and instruction of the Apostle Paul in his direction regarding the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). It is clear from the context of Paul's rebuke that the Corinthians were guilty of disorderly conduct during the administration of the Lord's Supper. Some were getting drunk, others were not waiting for the whole congregation to be assembled before beginning, and generally, as one might expect by such selfish behavior, these activities were causing confusion and offense in the church. Paul instructs them regarding how to restore godly order to the celebration of this ordinance.

Paul gives the following words of instruction:

Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come (1 Corinthians 11:33-34).

Again, similar to Paul's concern for godly order, decorum, and the eschewing of offense in 1 Corinthians 10 (in regard to meat offered to idols), Paul instructs the Corinthians how they should order the circumstances that surround the celebration of the Lord's Supper. He teaches them that it is offensive and divisive to fail to wait for one another, and that if the reason one cannot wait is hunger, then it would be expedient to eat something at home before coming. Although, we may never see this particular offense arise in our circumstances, nevertheless the principle of unoffensive behavior in a public setting is applicable to many circumstances.

(3) Spiritual Gifts

As the Apostle continues into Chapters 12, 13 and 14, his emphasis is upon unity and edification within the Church of Christ, and the importance of not using spiritual gifts in a disorderly and offensive manner which, in effect, fails to edify the body by causing strife and division.

Our point here is this: From 1 Corinthians 10-14, Paul is giving general principles of good order, that the Corinthian Church may behave in an edifying and unoffensive manner. The flow and general theme of the context of this section of Scripture is clear. Paul is using specific circumstances and issues, which the Corinthians faced in their day and age, to teach them how to apply the godly principles which would minimize offense and would promote love, edification and unity. Meat sacrificed to idols is certainly specific to that age and culture, as is the error of getting drunk at the Lord's Table, as is much of the instruction in how to properly order prophetic gifts. While we, in our culture may not ordinarily face the case of meat sacrificed to idols, or people getting drunk at the Lord's Supper, or people abusing true prophetic gifts, we however, greatly benefit from applying these godly principles of good order to the situations of our time.

(4) The Headcovering

In keeping with this context, we believe that Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 was continuing in the same general line of argument. He addresses the headcovering practice which was culturally acceptable to the Corinthians, and seeks to teach them that they are not to be offensive, divisive or contentious by altering the customs of the land, when they come to worship. He is laying down the same principle as that taught both before and after the headcovering passage. In effect he is saying, do not alter the established order of this circumstance when you see that it will be offensive and destructive to the unity of the church. Do not be contentious about this issue. Rather, do that which edifies and that which promotes unity within your current cultural context. Thus,the moral nature of covering or uncovering one’s head in worship is not (in and of itself) the issue which Paul is addressing. To the contrary, he is addressing the detrimental effect that such activity would have upon the unity and peace of the church within the cultural context of Corinth.

We have already demonstrated that this cultural perspective in approaching 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is not uniquely the view of the Reformed Presbytery In North America, but also the view that guided the best and purest churches of the First and Second Reformations. We concur with their scriptural judgment.

B. Other Cultural Issues In The New Testament

We offer the following supportive argument to demonstrate that in Scripture, cultural distinctions must be carefully considered when judging Scriptural commands. Consider the following two obligations in Scripture which clearly hinge upon the cultural context in which they were given— namely, foot washing and the holy kiss.

(1) The Obligation To Wash The Feet Of Others

On the night in which the Lord Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper, he gave His disciples an object lesson in serving one another: He, their Master, humbled himself and washed their feet.

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you (John 13:14-15).

Is this an obligation that rests upon all Christians in all ages to perform one to another? Or are there cultural considerations at that time in history which help us to understand this obligation given by Christ to the disciples? In fact it was the role of a servant to wash in cool water the dusty, weary feet of the master, mistress, or guests. Although the Lord authorized his disciples to wash the feet of others, as an appropriate act in their cultural context, we do not believe that in our society we are presently under an obligation to practice that specific cultural custom. We recognize there is a moral principle (of selfless service) that stands behind that cultural practice which we must continue to exemplify in our lives as Christ’s ministers and disciples. The Lord here illustrates the moral duty incumbent upon all who rule in His Church to be the greatest servants of all in caring for others. The actual practice of foot washing had cultural significance to those living in the ancient world, but it has no real significance to those living in the Western world of the twenty-first century. Perhaps our closest cultural equivalent to foot washing presently is offering refreshments and hospitality to guests who visit in our homes.

It is interesting to note as well that this is not the only time that foot washing is mentioned in the New Testament. Foot washing was such a significant act within the apostolic Church that it formed one of the “good works” to which the Church was to look in setting aside those elderly women who were qualified to be financially supported by the Church.

Let not a widow be taken into the number under threescore years old, having been the wife of one man, Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work (1 Timothy 5:9-10).

There are a few anabaptistic churches that have made foot washing an ordinance to be observed at the time of the Lord’s Supper. However, the vast majority of the Christian Church has correctly understood the actual practice of foot washing to be a cultural custom. We acknowledge that foot washing was authorized by Christ (in John 13:14-15) and commended by the apostle Paul (in 1 Timothy 5:9-10),and that it signifies the moral principle of selfless service. But we also acknowledge that we are not universally bound to the alterable, cultural custom of foot washing, but rather to the unalterable, moral principle of service. So likewise, we acknowledge that men and women are not universally bound to the alterable, cultural custom of uncovering and covering their heads, but rather to the unalterable, moral principle of lawful male headship under Christ and respectful female submission in the Lord within the assemblies of the Church.

(2) The Obligation To Greet One Another With A Holy Kiss

There are three places in the New Testament where we find imperatives to greet one another with a holy kiss.

Salute one another with an holy kiss. The churches of Christ salute you (Romans 16:16).
All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss (1 Corinthians 16:20).
Greet one another with an holy kiss (2 Corinthians 13:12).
In one other passage, the imperative of the holy kiss is extended to include "all the brethren."

Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss (1 Thessalonians 5:26).
The same questions may be asked about the obligation of the holy kiss as were asked about foot washing. Is this an obligation that rests upon all Christians in all ages to perform one to another? Or are there cultural considerations at that time in history which help us to understand this obligation given by the apostle Paul to the churches at Rome, Corinth, and Thessalonica?

Again, it is generally recognized that the practice of the holy kiss was not the exclusive practice of those within the Church, but rather was a cultural expression of friendship in society at large. This being the case, we must not artificially cling to their cultural practice as being necessary among all believers in the modern Western world of the twenty-first century. The predominant cultural equivalent of the holy kiss among those in our Western society would likely be a holy handshake or perhaps a holy embrace. Is such a departure from the actual cultural expression of the holy kiss as commanded by Paul a violation of God's Word? Again, we do not understand that we are bound by this specific cultural custom, although we would understand that the moral principle (of Christian love) that lies behind that practice does in fact continue as an obligation. So likewise, we acknowledge that men and women are not universally bound to the alterable, cultural custom of uncovering and covering their heads, but rather to the unalterable, moral principle of lawful authority and submission within the Church.

(3) The context of 1 Corinthians 11

As we consider briefly the passage itself in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16, it should be apparent how significant the cultural context is in correctly understanding the text. For if the headcovering ought to be viewed in a similar way to that of foot washing and the holy kiss, as also the good order concerning sacrificed meat and the Lord's Supper, then Paul is instructing the Corinthians concerning the abiding moral principle of proper order and decorum between male authority and female submission in public worship within the appropriate cultural expression familiar to Corinthian society.

Thus, when Paul appeals to the order of headship in 1 Corinthians 11:3 (“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”), he begins by laying down the unalterable, moral principle of male headship and female submission. This, in reality, was the truth that was being denied when the men covered their heads and the women uncovered their heads contrary to the accepted cultural custom in Corinth. The uncovering of the man and the covering of the woman were merely the outward cultural expressions of this revealed order of headship (similar to the outward cultural sign of the holy kiss signifying the revealed truth of brotherly love).

Paul also makes clear to the Corinthians (in 1 Corinthians 11:4-5) that when men cover their heads and women uncover their heads in public worship, they bring shame upon themselves by inverting the conventional customs appropriate to men and women within Corinth.

Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head.But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

Similarly, if the Corinthian believers had refused to greet one another with a holy kiss, it would have been tantamount to denying the unalterable principle of brotherly love and would have brought great shame upon their own heads for refusing to do that which even the heathens did one to another as a cultural expression of their love.

The same moral principle (of male authority and female submission) is taught from the order of creation in 1 Corinthians 11:7-9. We believe that if our present culture did customarily use male/female signs which express the gender order, it would be necessary to follow these. If, however, the headcovering is not cultural, but is rather (as some claim) a divine regulation required in public worship for all time, based upon the law of nature and the order of creation, we would expect to find evidence of this in the Old Testament. We would expect to find the headcovering instituted in the Garden of Eden as a creation ordinance. The evidence, however, is to the contrary. For Genesis 2:25 teaches that Eve did not wear a headcovering, but was rather naked.

And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.
Nor do we find the Corinthian headcovering regulation taught as an ordinance in the public worship of God in the Old Testament. Indeed for certain men in ecclesiastical office we find the exact opposite required. High priests were required to cover their heads in Leviticus 8:9 in contrast to Paul’s instruction that men uncover their heads in public worship:

And he put the mitre upon his head; also upon the mitre, even upon his forefront, did he put the golden plate, the holy crown; as the LORD commanded Moses.

Similarly, the priests also were required to cover their heads in Ezekiel 44:18 contrary to the regulations of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:4.

They shall have linen bonnets upon their heads, and shall have linen breeches upon their loins; they shall not gird themselves with any thing that causeth sweat.

We consider that this evidence is sufficient to demonstrate that the headcovering practice of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 cannot be an unalterable moral requirement based upon the creation order, the law of nature, or worship regulations of the Old Testament.

Paul uses every argument at his disposal to demonstrate the disorderly and unbecoming conduct of women who (within that cultural context) uncovered their heads in public worship. Even the angels, who approve of all good order rather than confusion within worship, become a reason for these women to cover their heads in accordance with the prevailing custom of women in Corinth.

For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10).

If Paul can address the disorderly conduct of the Corinthians in the use of spiritual gifts by drawing their attention to the fact that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”; then he can also address the disorderly conduct of the women who have removed the cultural sign of their submission by reminding them of the outward order and submission in which the angels delight.

Paul raises a rhetorical question in 1 Corinthians 11:13:

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?

We ask: If Paul was commanding the Corinthians and the church of all ages to obey an unalterable law of God, irrespective of time and culture, then what was he calling the people to judge in themselves? Was he encouraging the people to judge in themselves whether God's unalterable commands are right? No, that could not be the case, for we are not to judge the commands of God, but rather to adore and obey them. If one should answer, "Paul was calling the people to judge according to the law of God written in their hearts, and according to the light of nature"; we then ask: Does the light of nature in fallen man teach principles of gender comeliness in prayer? Specifically, do all heathen nations intuitively understand that it is sinful for a woman to pray to God uncovered, and a man covered? If so, then where is the evidence of that fact? To the contrary, we have previously demonstrated that among even the most reformed nations, men were at times covered for prayers and at other times uncovered. Likewise, women as well as men and children were (as in the French Reformed Churches) ordered to be uncovered during public and private prayers. We have demonstrated that even in enlightened and reformed nations the meaning of the sign of the headcovering had changed radically. In one age a covered head meant submission, and in another age it meant the exact opposite—namely, authority. The light of nature in regard to women praying uncovered is not even close to uniform among the reforming Protestant nations. So how then do we assert that Paul was calling on the Corinthians to judge according to a uniform light of nature within a heathen land?

What then was he asking the people to judge? They were to judge in themselves, whether, under the current cultural circumstances, it was comely for a woman to pray in public uncovered. This is something that could be easily judged and is a very relevant question for the Corinthians to answer. All they had to do was to look at what was considered comely in their culture and to respond accordingly.

One of the strongest objections against the cultural interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 is claimed to be found in 1 Corinthians 11:14:

Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?

What kind of nature does Paul have in mind? The unalterable light of nature written in our hearts?

John Calvin has rightly rendered the sense of the passage. Commenting upon 1 Corinthians 11:14 Calvin states:

He [Paul—RPNA] again sets forth nature as the mistress of decorum, and what was at that time in common use by universal consent and custom—even among the Greeks—he speaks of as being natural, for it was not always reckoned a disgrace for men to have long hair. Historical records bear, that in all countries in ancient times, that is, in the first ages, men wore long hair. Hence also the poets in speaking of the ancients, are accustomed to apply to them the common epithet of unshorn. It was not until a late period that barbers began to be employed at Rome—about the time of Africanus the elder. And at the time when Paul wrote these things, the practice of having the hair shorn had not yet come into use in the provinces of Gaul or Germany. Nay more, it would have been reckoned an unseemly thing for men, no less than for women, to be shorn or shaven; but as in Greece [Corinth—RPNA] it was reckoned an unbecoming thing for a man to allow his hair to grow long, so that those who did were remarked as effeminate, he [Paul—RPNA] reckons as nature a custom that had come to be confirmed (emphases added).

If, as Calvin taught, nature is custom that has come to be confirmed within a society, then Paul is asking this question: "Doth not even a custom which has come to be confirmed in your culture, itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?" This follows very well with the scope of Paul's argument and is indeed something that the Corinthians could easily judge. If we say that God explicitly commanded the use of the headcovering in this passage irrespective of the culture of the Corinthians, then there was really nothing for the Corinthians to judge in themselves, and this makes Paul's question irrelevant. We are not prepared to assert this.

Conclusion Of The Reformed Presbytery In North America

We have come to the conclusion, based upon scriptural argument, and in accord with the best divines in the purest times of the church that 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 should be interpreted within a cultural context. We believe that Paul is not enjoining all churches, at all times, to follow the specific headcovering practice which he prescribed for the Corinthian Church. We do assert, however, that the principles which are taught in this passage afford us great light as to how to conduct ourselves in decency and order within various cultural contexts. We further assert, like Paul, that in a land where the headcovering is a cultural sign of either authority or submission that the orderly way to proceed is to follow the custom of the land, provided that such a custom does not oppose the general rules of the Word of God. In a land or time when the headcovering is neither a sign of submission or authority (as is true within North America in the twenty-first century), we maintain that one ought not to wear a headcovering as a sign of authority or submission, and thus cause confusion or offense within the church. If a man or a woman within our culture attaches no significant meaning of authority or submission to the headcovering, and simply wishes to wear a hat to church, we believe they are at liberty to do so. In this way, we, as Christians, may use our liberty to promote unity and peace within the body of Christ and to drive away unnecessary contention from the Church.

The Presbytery heartily and without reservation testifies its full agreement with and approval of our covenanted subordinate standards and the rulings of our covenanted and faithful judicatories as being agreeable to and founded upon the Word of God. As with all our subordinate standards, we make no claims that this report is infallible. We confess that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the alone infallible rule of faith and practice (cf. Term #1 of our Six Terms of Communion) and that the infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself (cf. The Westminster Confession Of Faith, 1:9). In the words of The Westminster Confession Of Faith (31:4), we further believe that

All synods or councils, since the Apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err; and many have erred. Therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith, or practice; but to be used as a help in both.

Indeed, if it is ever conclusively proved that any of our subordinate documents have erred from the infallible rule of Scripture, our duty is to reform. The primary purpose of all subordinate standards is to state what we believe the Scriptures to teach.

Directive Of The Reformed Presbytery In North America

The Presbytery, based upon all the considerations mentioned in this report, directs the practice of all members under the inspection of the Reformed Presbytery In North America to be brought into full accord with our Covenanted Standards and the rulings of our covenanted and faithful judicatories. This change in public practice will be effective immediately.

Correspondence To The Reformed Presbytery In North America

Finally, we understand that this alteration concerning headcoverings will inevitably lead to many questions. We request that you direct your correspondence regarding this report to Mr. Greg Barrow, Clerk of Presbytery (gkbarrow@shaw.ca ), who will in turn make your comments available to the whole Presbytery. We pray that each of you will carefully consider the reasons why we have made this change and that you might be blessed in the liberty purchased for us in Christ.

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another (Romans 14:17, 19).

So there you have it... the official reason why I have been de-hatted. More comments will, no doubt, follow. But I have a screaming baby to attend to now.