Controversy Among Youth Concerning Jen Hatmaker’s Last Name: Is Jen Hatmaker a Hat maker?

By Rupert Lange

With the current uprising of theological issues concerning Jen Hatmaker’s comments on homosexual marriage, younger people are beginning to read her statement. As a popular icon amongst teenagers and young adults in the church, her views have reached many people of this age group. Although her words were very clear about how she felt on the issue, students still are very confused and concerned about Jen Hatmaker…

As this hot button issue is causing controversy everywhere, students are beginning to wonder whether Jen Hatmaker is actually a hat maker. While her firm stance is becoming a trademark to her as a person, the issue concerning whether she makes hat for a living is causing students to question her credibility, honesty, and integrity.

“I just don’t get it”, says youth pastor Thomas Cranford. “In today’s Christian culture, it’s super cool to be edgy, and I dig that. You know, saying stuff like what she said is very attractive for a younger audience, especially in a culture where people argue constantly about anything. But with a last name like that, how do you not except millennials to question the truth behind what you stand for?”

At this point in the interview Cranford stated that he had to go because his students were wanting to do a youth group mannequin challenge.

Jen Hatmaker has definitely stirred the pot as of late in Christian culture. With these new allegations regarding her last name, this will only add fuel to the fire.

*This is a parody. Have a Great Thanksgiving. 


Rupert Lange is a Senior at West Monroe High School. He is involved in the local church, loves to read, watch sports and drink coffee.

Controversy Among Youth Concerning Jen Hatmaker’s Last Name: Is Jen Hatmaker a Hat maker?

Book Briefs: Practical Religion By JC Ryle

JC Ryle was born in 1816. He was ordained in the Church of England in 1841. He became the rector of St. Thomas’s, Winchester in 1843, then to Helmingham, Suffolk the following year. From 1843 to 1879, he wrote various works and gospel tracts. In 1880, Ryle became the bishop of Liverpool and retired in 1900 at age 83. He died later that year.fullsizeoutput_5b9

I have benefited from the writings of Bunyan, Calvin, Luther, etc. But none have been more beneficial than JC Ryle. In his work Practical Religion, Ryle cuts to the heart of the Christian life. He saw problems in his day and addressed those. But those same problems are present today.

Practical Religion is divided into 21 Chapters: Self-Inquiry, Self-Exertion, Reality, Prayer, Bible Reading, Going to the Table, Charity, Zeal, Freedom, Happiness, Formality, The World, Riches and Poverty, The Best Friend, Sickness, The Family of God, Our Home, Heirs of God, The Great Gathering, The Great Separation, and Eternity.fullsizeoutput_5b8

Ryle addressed the skewed views of the gospel of grace such as “nominal Christianity”. Ryle calls it “churchianity”. But it is the same problem that still exists in many of our Churches today. Some claim Christ when it benefits them, but when life is tough, those  “nominal” believers are found not to be true. In reading Practical Religionthe Christian will be encouraged in Praying and Reading their Bible. But they will also feel conviction on living this life for eternity, not for the “here and now”.

fullsizeoutput_5baI am thankful to God for the life of JC Ryle and his influence in my life. But I am also thankful for Banner of Truth for publishing his works and other various works that are so important for the Christian life.

If you would like to purchase Practical Religion, you may do so here.

Banner has recently released Ryle’s Autobiography, you can purchase it here.


Evan Knies is a student at SBTS, grad of Boyce College, and Minister of Students at Bullitt Lick Baptist Church in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. He is married to Lauren and you can follow him on Twitter at @Evan_Knies.

Book Briefs: Practical Religion By JC Ryle

William Perkins: 3 Reasons the Spirit Drove Christ into the Wilderness to be Tempted

By Obbie T. Todd

While a student at Christ’s College at Cambridge, William Perkins (1558-1602) experienced his conversion after overhearing a woman in the street chiding her disobedient child. Much to his surprise and humiliation, the mother alluded to him as “drunken Perkins.” According to Perkins, this experience then propelled him to reform his ways and to eventually cling to Christ for salvation. The young Perkins went on to meet Laurence Chaderton (1536-1640) who would disciple him and become a lifelong friend. Along with men like Richard Greenham and Richard Rogers, Perkins and Chaderton went on to form a spiritual brotherhood at Cambridge, regarded by many as the Puritan center of the day.

Perkins knew well the guilt and even the public shame of sin. Therefore he was a particularly wise source concerning the issue of temptation. According to J.I. Packer, the Elizabethan theologian became a “pioneer” for Puritan literature on everyday Christian living. (A Quest for Godliness, 41) Perkins defined theology as “the science of living blessedly forever.” (Golden Chaine) Due to the necessity for sanctification and godliness in the Christian life, it was incumbent upon the believer to approach temptation in a biblical manner. The Christian life could be divided into two chief actions: “mortification” and “vivification,” or putting to death the remaining sin of the flesh and living unto Christ by the Spirit. As Perkins demonstrates, temptation is one of the primary means through which Christ achieves this sanctifying process.

In his work The Combat between Christ and the Devil Displayed, taken from his sermons at Cambridge, Perkins scrupulously exegetes the Scriptures while also prescribing a way of righteousness for the sinner. For Perkins, Christ wasn’t simply our penal substitute; He was our perfect life: “But here Christ stood in our room and stead (as He did upon the cross) encountering with Satan for us, as if we in our own persons had been tempted.” (Works of William Perkins, Vol. 1, 97) The Christian looked to Jesus for his justification as well as his sanctification. This was axiomatic for Perkins’ view of Christianity. In his robust presentation of Christ’s desert trials, Perkins seeks to answer why the Spirit drove the Son of God into the wilderness to be tempted. Typical of Perkins’ Ramus logic, the Puritan divine produces three answers…

1. Christ Became a Better Adam by Overcoming Satan’s Assault.
For Perkins, the temptations of Christ in the wilderness should be interpreted against the temptations of Adam in the Garden. Only through biblical typology could Christ’s temptations find fuller meaning. According to Perkins, the Spirit moved Christ to be tempted “that He might foil the devil at his own weapon; for the devil overcame the first Adam in temptation, therefore Christ the second Adam would in temptation overcome him.” Just as Adam is the head of the human race, Christ is the head of a new humanity to be glorified at the resurrection. Without Christ’s conquering of Satan and complete abstinence from sin, this future hope isn’t realized. Our corrupt hearts “like tender do easily suffer corruption to kindle in us; but Christ’s most holy heart did presently like water quench the evil of Satan’s motions.” Jesus threw water on the sweltering darts of Satan’s arsenal. Christ is the guarantor of a better covenant built upon better promises. (Heb. 7:22, 8:6) This new covenant is established upon a sinless Savior who learned obedience and was made perfect through suffering. (5:8-9)

2. Christ Gives Us Insight into the Devil’s Schemes and How to Overcome Them.
According to Perkins, the Spirit cast the Son of God into the wilderness to be tempted “that in His example he might give us direction whereby to know the special temptations wherewith the devil assaults the church, as also how to withstand and repel the same.” Jesus teaches us how to endure temptation and trial, giving us the bigger picture of human suffering. For Perkins, this principle is especially important in deterring the ignorant notion that those who are tempted by the devil are necessarily in sin. Christ Himself was tempted! Perkins exhorts his readers to “behold Christ Jesus the most holy person that ever was, even the ‘holy one of God’ [John 6:69], was tempted of Satan, and that exceeding sore, having the same troubles and vexations thereby arising in His mind that we have, insomuch as the angels came to minister comfort unto Him (v.11).” Christ’s temptation doesn’t compromise his deity; it confirms his suitability, sufficiency, and superiority as our Intercessor and High Priest “who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Heb. 5:15) This leads naturally to number 3.

3. Jesus Is Now Our Compassionate High Priest.
Jesus walked in our shoes. Just as we are tempted, he was tempted…and then some. Perkins reminds his readers that “Christ was tempted, that He might be ‘a merciful high priest unto them that are tempted’ (Heb. 2:17-18), for Himself knowing the trouble and anguish of temptation, must needs in a more compassionate fellow-feeling of their miseries be ready to help and comfort His members when they are tempted.” As head over the church, Jesus doesn’t lord over us as a tyrant; instead He “comforts His members” as a ruler who understands and empathizes with His people. Our Priest-King came as a servant, and thus He has walked a mile in our shoes. Against the accusations of the Devil, this is a comfort to the sinner. According to Paul R. Schaefer Jr., “The issue of holy living, or sanctification, pervaded the writings of the Elizabethan theologian William Perkins and provides a basis for understanding a primary concern of his theology.” (The Spiritual Brotherhood, 49) With such a conviction for Christian piety, it’s no wonder Perkins marshaled his biblical and intellectual resources in order to guide the sinner through the vicissitudes of human temptation.

William Perkins: 3 Reasons the Spirit Drove Christ into the Wilderness to be Tempted

The Gospel on the Wall

By Cade Campbell

handwriting-300x239It was a night no one at the banquet would ever forget as the wealthy and powerful king Belshazzar sat feasting at a sumptuous table along with the most powerful governors in all the land. The great dinner was going splendidly, even as they brought the golden pieces of furniture from the Temple of the LORD in Jerusalem and began to mockingly eat and drink from them. For Belshazzar it was a feast fit for a king, a hedonistic party to rival any of Gatsby’s.

Then the party was crashed.

Belshazzar’s blasphemous banquet was interrupted by an uninvited guest. His name had not been on the guest list. He had not signed in for the evening, but in an instant everyone in the great hall knew he was there, and they immediately knew that he was the center of attention.

It was a feast for a king, and so, as was proper, the king showed up.

A hush fell over the great hall as a single, solitary hand appeared levitating above the heads of the revelers. The hand rushed to the great plastered wall and begins to scribble a message: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” Then in an instant, like a flash of lightning the hand vanished. Soothsayers from around the kingdom were sought out but none could interpret the mysterious message. Then Belshazzar asked for someone else. He called Daniel, the servant of the Most High God. Daniel answered the summons, read the warnings, and gave the message to the king. Daniel’s warning was ominous. The message had a very specific meaning: “Mene – God has brought an end to your kingdom, Tekel- You have been weighed in the balances and have been found wanting, Parsin – Your kingdom is given to the Medes and the Persians.”

And it was so. That night Belshazzar’s reign was ruined. The mechanizations were put into motion that would bring the people of God out of exile in Babylon and back to the land of Abraham’s promise.

The story, recorded in Daniel 5, has been one of my favorites since childhood and has always given me chills! The tale has everything: mystery, the miraculous, the supernatural, prophecy, and judgment. It also fuels our passion for justice. We all want Belshazzar to get what’s coming to him, and we cheer when Daniel bravely speaks the truth to the very heart of power.

That’s what’s always drawn me to the story, but the older I get the story has taken on a special significance. When I read it I still feel the blood rushing when Daniel pronounces the message, but I’m also convicted of my own sin. I can imagine the horror of having that message appear on my bedroom wall. In fact, that cold-hard truth confronts us from every page of the Bible. The Spirit through the Word confronts and convicts us of our sin. And we are told that our puny little kingdoms will end, our greatest possessions will be spread out in a last will and testament, and then the Bible hits us where it hurts. It tells us that we all come up short. We’re lacking. We are weighed on the holy and righteous scales of God’s perfections and the pronouncement is clear: We are wanting. We don’t measure up. We’re not good enough, and if we think we are, we’re just as deceived as bad ol’ Belshazzar.

What’s so monstrous, is left to ourselves we delude ourselves into believing that we are good enough. There is a self-righteous little legalist in all of us that wants to stick out our chest and show the world what we’re made of. The problem is in our depravity we’re not made of very much, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. We want to be rule-keepers, traditional analysts, and judgment police. At the end of the day we can oftentimes find ourselves being like the religious leaders that snatched an adulterous woman in the heat of passion at a five and dime hotel and brought her to Jesus. Just like the Pharisees, part of our plan is always to make ourselves look a little bit better by making “real” sinners look as bad as they really were. We want to escape judgment by rounding up our own posse and throwing up the blinds on everyone else, all in an attempt to justify ourselves before God.

But how does Jesus respond to the mob’s legalistic charade, the kangaroo court? Jesus does something that we never see him do anywhere else in the gospels. He ignores the religious leaders and the trembling woman who sits waiting to have her skull bashed in with a rock. He doesn’t pay them the time of day, or so it seems. Instead he stoops down onto the ground, and with a solitary finger he begins to write in the sand.

Now, I know I’m guessing and imagining, but hear me out. We aren’t told what Jesus wrote. It seems to just be a passing detail common in actual eyewitness testimony. Jesus, the Galilean rabbi, was spelling out letters in the dusty street of Jerusalem. He could have written anything. So maybe, just maybe his finger began to slowly trace out words his hand had written on a wall all those years ago.

Jesus is God in flesh. The God of Israel stooped to write even as he was standing as the judge and jury over the poor sinner’s life. Here was the the same God who judged Babylon and crashed Belshazzar’s banquet. Perhaps, just perhaps, he took some time to trace out those same words he had written once before: “Mene, Mene, Tekel, Parsin.” Then Jesus looked up and locked eyes with the arrogant would-be murderers. He wiped his hand, that same wall-writing hand on his cloak, and whispered: “Whoever is without sin, who isn’t afraid of being balanced, who isn’t frightened by the holiness of God, start throwing your rocks.”

There was a long pause of silence, ended only by the sound of stones thudding to the sand and the shuffling of sandals retreating into the shadows of the streets. Maybe Jesus whispered to himself, “I didn’t think so,” as he finally looked up at the woman, and stared into her eyes.

She still sat where she had been slung in her exposed shame – in the dock, in the defendant’s chair, waiting for the verdict from the only one who could justly kill her where she knelt. Her story wasn’t over. The rabbi from Nazareth had not rendered his decision. All of heaven and earth held its breath, and with a smile of mercy that twinkled behind eyes of grace, Jesus asked: “Where are those who would condemn you?” She whispered back, “They are gone. They no longer wish to press charges.” Jesus lifted the young girl off the sandy street and whispered into her ear, “I don’t wish to press charges either. I do not condemn you. Go and sin no more.”

That was a dramatic moment if there ever was one. Jesus, the sinless one, looked into the eyes of a sinner and confronted her with her own unworthiness, confronted her with his own right to judge, and his own right to condemn her for all eternity. But instead of giving her condemnation, he gave her grace.

Was Jesus being soft on sin? Was he just being tolerant, non-judgmental, and politically correct? Was he showing himself to be enlightened by modern standards? I don’t think so. The woman didn’t get off easy. She was confronted in her sin. She was publicly shamed. The curtains were quite literally pulled back and exposed her for the sinner she was, and Jesus didn’t argue the point.

She was a sinner. She did deserve death. She did deserve condemnation, but instead of looking into the eyes of judgment, on an early morning in Jerusalem she locked eyes with Jesus, and Jesus’ hands held no stone. Those empty hands were the same hands that had hurled stars into distant galaxies. His fingers had traced the Grand Canyon. His hand had scooped out the oceans and held back the Red Sea. The tips of his fingers, the same fingers that had written on Belshazzar’s wall, were also the ones that had etched commandments onto the stony tablets of Sinai. Those empty hands were the most powerful hands in all the world.

But that’s not where the anonymous adulterers hope was found. Her hope, and my hope was not found in the fact that his empty hands did not pick up a stone, but in the mind-blowing mystery that they would instead take a nail. The mystery of the gospel is that the hand that wrote on the wall and that had written in the sandy streets of Jerusalem, is the same hand that was stretched out as a spike was hammered through it and into a wooden cross. That hand, that beautiful, nail-pierced hand is the hope for every adulterer, and every legalist, and every cripple, and every criminal, and every tired and weary sin-stained heart on earth.

The hand of Christ is our hope because his hand writes out another word for those who are his, a better word, a gracious word, a gospel word with the dark crimson ink of his own blood. All the legal charges that anchored us to the bottom of condemnation’s depths, like a mill-stone, have been “nailed to the cross, and I bear them no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!” Because of his bloody hand nailed to the bloody cross, Jesus’ words are whispered to me, “arise child; there is now no condemnation. I alone have done what you could never do.”

The gospel assures us that the hand of God, the hand that writes on the walls of our hearts, is nail-pierced, and that nail pierced hand writes out the most beautiful blood-stained words in all the world, “I have been weighed in the balances, and I have not been found wanting.”

He is not found wanting. And he never will be. It is finished. It is finished indeed.


Cade Campbell, (M.Div, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Pastor for Preaching and Discipleship at First Baptist Church Henryville, Indiana. He and his wife Amy are originally from Mississippi and you can follow him on Twitter at @DCadeCampbell.

The Gospel on the Wall

Luther’s “Three Walls”

by Obbie T. Todd

The Protestant Reformation was, in many ways, the product of manifold political, social, and religious forces crashing together at a God-ordained moment in history. Still, in other ways, it began with a man. In his 16th century German Reformation, Martin Luther stood defiantly against an institution that had pontificated for over a millennium. Yet, in his theological and moral challenge to the Catholic Church, he did not stand alone. In 1520, while lecturing on the Psalms, Luther wrote an Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation in order to gather support for his reform.

In his new biography entitled Martin Luther: Visionary Reformer (2015), Scott H. Hendrix explains Luther’s aim for the address: “The goal was not to foment a German uprising against Rome but to reform the practice of religion in Christendom. Because the clergy were shirking their duty, the only recourse was an appeal to laypeople in authority who could twist arms and force change.” (90)

Luther begins his open letter by identifying the “three walls” of the Romanists: (1) their decrees erroneously stating that no temporal power has authority over them, (2) their claim that interpretation of Scripture belongs to no one except the pope, (3) and their assertion that no one is able to call a council except the pope himself. The first section of Luther’s Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation is a an invective against these three walls.

1. Concerning the first “paper-wall,” Luther begins by eschewing the notion of spiritual elitism. For him, there is no “spiritual estate” for bishops, priests, and monks. According to Luther, “there is among them no difference at all but that of office, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:12.” Through baptism we are all consecrated to the royal priesthood of 1 Peter 2:9. In cases of baptism, Luther reminds us, anyone could baptize. (or give absolution, as Luther held penance to be the third sacrament) After all, we share one faith, and we believe in the same Gospel: “For whoever comes out the water of baptism can boast that he is already consecrated priest, bishop, and pope, though it is not seemly that everyone should exercise the office.” This office is granted by the will and command of the community, not by one’s arbitrary whim. Therefore a priest, like any other temporal authority, is an office-holder. Just as spiritual authorities are charged with the administration of the Word and sacraments, the temporal authorities are to “bear sword and rod with which to punish the evil and to protect die good.” In Luther’s scheme, the temporal authority is not “above” that of the spiritual and may not punish it. However, it should be left to perform its role “without hindrance.” According to Luther, such tasks should be performed objectively and without discrimination, “regardless whether it be pope, bishop or priest whom it affects; whoever is guilty, let him suffer.” The freedom, life, and property of the clergy are no more important than the laity.

2. As to the second wall, Luther takes aim at those who deem themselves “Masters” of the Holy Scriptures: “For since they think that the Holy Spirit never leaves them, be they never so unlearned and wicked, they make bold to decree whatever they will.” To this Luther questions why there is even the need for a Bible! The Pope has “usurped” the power of the Holy Spirit. Luther further opines that the Romanists have misinterpreted Matthew 18 when they contend that the pope alone holds the “keys” to the kingdom. In reality, these keys are given to the “community” of the church. According to Luther, “the keys were not ordained for doctrine or government, but only for the binding and loosing.” When the pope claims supreme hermeneutical authority for himself and codifies his own man-made religion, he singlehandedly constrains the “Spirit of liberty” in the church. For this reason Luther calls together the church in this letter: to accuse the pope before the church.

3. Thirdly, concerning the authority to call together councils, Luther reminds his readers that it was in fact not Peter who convened the Apostolic Council in Acts 15:6, but rather the Apostles and elders! Luther thus contends that it is incumbent upon the temporal authorities to bring about a “truly free council” in order to restore Scriptural faithfulness and order. Luther likens the situation to a fire breaking out; the citizens have a duty to tell others. Citing 2 Corinthians 10:8, Luther heralds the edifying purpose of the Church. He then concludes that those who pursue destruction do so by “the power of the devil and of Antichrist.” Luther sees the Roman pope as the fulfillment of eschatological texts such as Matthew 24:24 and 2 Thessalonians 2:9. In the end, Luther’s only hope is Scripture: “Therefore we must cling with firm faith to the words of God, and then the devil will cease from wonders.” Luther contends that the Romanists have made the consciences of the people “timid and stupid,” and for this reason it is time to enact the power of the temporal authority in order to aid that of the spiritual.

In his Address to the Christian Nobility of the German Nation, Luther ripped down these three walls in order to shed further light upon the abuses of the Catholic Church and to rally the support of the educated laity in the Reformation.

Luther’s “Three Walls”

Elect Exile: John Calvin the Refugee

Obbie T. Todd

In recent years, the idea that John Calvin ruled 16th century Geneva with an iron fist has become increasingly popular in Calvinist and non-Calvinist circles. After all, who else could order the burning of an anti-Trinitarian heretic? Standing at a distance, it’s easy for the 21st century Christian to simply conclude that Calvin was the “mayor of Geneva,” a magisterial Reformer who turned his Swiss chateau into a Christian autocracy of sorts. Such a picture of John Calvin, however, could not be further from the truth. For example, it was actually the Genevan City Council that officially ordered the burning of Servetus, whose effigy had already been burned by the Catholic Church for his heretical views. As Alister McGrath rightly observes, “The relation between reformer and city council was thus delicate, easily prone to disruption, with real power permanently in the hands of the latter.” (Reformation Thought, 19)

Furthermore, Calvin himself was a Frenchman living in Switzerland. He was an outsider, and this created significant political tension for someone attempting to supervise the morality of Geneva’s bourgeois class. In addition, Calvin wasn’t the only refugee in Geneva. Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor at the Academy, had also fled his native France. In fact, between the 1540s and 1560s, the influx of refugees into Geneva steadily rose from roughly 12,000 to 20,000. Persecution of Protestants by the Catholic Church in France and Italy brought thousands to seek asylum within the safe, mountainous confines of Geneva. Remarkably, Calvin eventually received his citizenship in Geneva only four years before his death! Until that time he remained in some ways a social outsider in the very city he was called to shepherd. A picture of Calvin the sojourner is never more vivid than in his ignominious burial in an unmarked Genevan grave, something he had requested himself.

“We are always on the road,” Calvin said. The circumstances surrounding Calvin’s introduction to Geneva were a constant reminder to him of the benevolent providence of God to a wandering people. Having left his French homeland, the road to Basel and Strasbourg was blocked by troop movements in Lorraine as the war between Francis I and Charles V dragged on. This forced Calvin to take an unexpected detour to the south through Geneva. There, a man by the name of Farel trapped the young Calvin and convinced him to stay. According to Farel, Calvin would be playing the part of cowardly Jonah should he refuse his calling to Geneva. It’s here that Calvin the Refugee would become Calvin the Reformer.

According to Calvin scholar Herman Selderhuis, Calvin’s “theology of the experience of being a stranger, of having heaven as one’s true home country, reduced the need for strong ties to one’s earthly home country, increased mobility and produced a pioneer mentality.” (John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life, 215) Calvin called life a “churning river.” For him, life took place “in an ominous labyrinth,” an image he was fond of using in order to illustrate the uncertainty and frustration of the human experience. One could only escape this labyrinth and find purpose through the direction of Jesus Christ.

Calvin, after all, was eventually exiled from Geneva. The French refugee had also become a Swiss refugee. At issue was the city’s level of dependence with Bern, another Swiss city-state. For the faction of people who wanted strong relations with Bern, Calvin stood in their way. Hence, in 1538, the Reformer hit the road once again. On his way from Geneva to Basel, Calvin stopped in Strasbourg where a man by the name of Martin Bucer was waiting for him. This would spell the beginning of Calvin’s comfortable, proficient three-year exile from Geneva. It also served as yet another testament that Calvin’s life was never his own. Knowing himself to be the bookish type, Calvin once complained, “I would most like to withdraw.” Ironically, the years at Strasbourg were perhaps the only years in which he was able to do exactly that. Three years later, Geneva called upon Calvin once again – this time to refute Jacopo Sadoleto, bishop of Carpentras, who saw an opportunity to reclaim vulnerable Geneva for Rome. Calvin’s reply to Sadoleto on behalf of Geneva is a brilliant distillation of Reformation thought. In it, Calvin asserts,

“For though I am for the present relieved of the charge of the Church of Geneva, that circumstance ought not to prevent me from embracing it with paternal affection – God, when He gave it to me in charge, having bound me to be faithful to it forever.”

Calvin’s calling and perseverance were unwavering even in exile. As a refugee and sojourner, he understood his journey in light of Christ’s faithfulness and not his own. For this reason, Calvin often paralleled his own experiences – and that of Geneva – with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Discussing the development of Calvin’s liturgy, Selderhuis avers, “Calvin saw a lot of himself in David, and together with his congregation – almost all French refugees – he could identify with the nation Israel that wandered in the desert, experienced so many setbacks and yet was in God’s care. The Psalms became existential pilgrim songs but also rhymed battle cries.” (91)

For most Christians today, the name John Calvin is synonymous with one word: predestination. However, in order to avoid the cold, distant, tyrannical stereotype so common in evangelical circles today, it’s necessary to contextualize John Calvin the person. More importantly, it’s incumbent upon modern readers to understand John Calvin the refugee alongside John Calvin the scholar. In a world of warring kingdoms, plagues, exiles, and social revolutions, Calvin’s doctrine of divine sovereignty was inextricable with his view of human suffering. For the sojourning Christian destined to bear the sufferings of Christ (Rom. 8:17), divine providence wasn’t an abstract theory; it was a precious comfort. It went hand-in-hand with the Gospel itself. According to Roland Bainton, “Both Calvin and Luther had an overwhelming sense of the majesty of God, but whereas for Luther this served to point up the miracle of forgiveness, for Calvin it gave rather the assurance of the impregnability of God’s purpose. (The Reformation of the Sixteenth Century, 114) From the vantage point of human suffering and sojourning, a sovereign God was a welcome friend and Savior. Consequently, for 21st century Christians who wish to explore the John Calvin the Reformer, it’s important we not neglect John Calvin the refugee.

Elect Exile: John Calvin the Refugee

No Moody Deity: Why the Wrath of God is Unlike the Wrath of Man

By Mathew Gilbert

If you’ve ever seen the movie The Lion King, then you’ll surely remember the scene where Mufasa, king of the lion tribe, gazes out at his entire kingdom with his young son, Simba. Mufasa is trying to help Simba see that one day he will be gone and the kingdom will belong to him. The royal lions are gazing out into their dominion of the African safari, which is marked by a glorious and booming sun shining down. Mufasa’s words are, “Look, Simba. Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” Then, little Simba notices another part of the kingdom that is untouched by the sun. He curiously asks his father, “But what about the shadowy place?” Mufasa responds, “That’s beyond our borders. You must never go there, Simba.”

Romans 1 is much like this scene from The Lion King. The first 17 verses shine with the glorious light of the gospel. However, picking up in verse 18 until the end of the chapter, Paul goes to a very dark place. The first half of Romans 1 is the domain of light we not only want to walk in, but all we want to talk about. The second half of Romans 1 is the domain of darkness we would rather ignore. Indeed, we stay away from this shadowy place in thought and action. But as New Testament scholar Douglas Moo has said, “Only when we have really come to grips with the extent of the human dilemma will we be able to respond as we should to the answer to that dilemma found in the good news about Jesus.”

Romans 1:18-32 really is a shadowy place filled with the wrath of God, the power and curse of sin, idolatry, depravity, and judgment. Paul seems to move from the light of the gospel to the darkness of sin and judgment to answer one question: “Why do we need the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation?”

There are few topics or truths in the Bible that ruffle feathers quite like the wrath of God. Even saying, the wrath of God, sounds scary. It’s not something we like to talk about much. In fact, I’ve heard non-Christians say they could easily believe in a God of love, but they could never believe in a God of wrath. In other words, they can believe in a John 3:16 God, but not a Romans 1:18 God.

The problem with this concern is that the John 3:16 God is also the Romans 1:18 God. There aren’t multiple gods revealed in Scripture. There is only one true and living God revealed in Scripture, and he is both loving and holy. Actually, because he is loving and holy, he pours out his wrath against unrighteousness and the unrighteous. But an important question for us to ask is, “What is the wrath of God?”

Wrath is just an intense word that basically means anger. God is angry at unrighteousness and ungodliness. But it is important to remember that God’s anger is not like our anger. It is possible for us to be angry in a righteous or holy way. For example, it is good to be angry at murder, injustice, and evil of all kinds. But most of the time we are angry in sinful ways. Our motivations and actions fueled by anger are usually sinful.

God is never angry in an unrighteous or sinful way. His anger is pure, holy, and right. It is also wrong to think about God’s wrath as the attitude and action of a moody deity. God doesn’t have mood swings or a temper. Instead, in the words of John Stott, “God’s wrath is his holy hostility to evil, his refusal to condone it or come to terms with it, his just judgment upon it.”

God’s righteousness is the origin of his wrath. If he did not hate and destroy that which is unrighteous, he would rob himself of glory and his people of joy. It is amazing news that God opposes unrighteousness and sin because he also absorbs the very wrath the unrighteous deserve. God’s wrath and God’s love are not enemies. The enemy of God’s wrath is neutrality. If God just ignored our sin, he could not save us from our sin. Instead, God’s wrath is against sin and sinners. And in God’s love he sent Jesus to fully bear his wrath in our place. In the finished work of Christ, God saves us from himself, to himself, and for himself.


Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

No Moody Deity: Why the Wrath of God is Unlike the Wrath of Man