Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

The church-state hybrid

“We must begin by pointing out that with the launching of the New Testament vision a new idea was being broached; the world was being treated to a new and very revolutionary concept of society, namely, that men can get along peacefully in the market place even though they do not worship at the same shrine. The New Testament conceives of human society as a composite thing, that is, composed of factions. . . It thinks that even though men differ basically and radically at the shrine they need not clash in the market place.”
-Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and their Stepchildren, pp. 11-12, copyright 1964 Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

As Leonard Verduin saw it, when church and state unite so that being a citizen and being a Christian are the same thing, a hybrid has been created. This hybrid may call itself Christian, yet its nature is contrary to authentic Christianity. Authentic Christianity is characterized by faith and love, neither of which can be produced or enforced by the power of the state. The religion of the hybrid is not based upon beliefs or doctrines, but by participation in the religious ceremonies and sacraments mandated by the state. There can be no mission in such a setting, no sense that some might be saved and others unsaved, as all are saved by virtue of citizenship and church membership. To refuse to participate in government-mandated sacraments is an act of treason.

“During the past half-century the world has witnessed the rise of totalitarian governments and monolithic societies, that is, societies in which all are expected to share in the same ultimate loyalty. These are socieities in which there is no room for diversity of conviction. I view this development with alarm. My conviction is that for a person to be his proper self he must live in the presence of genuine options, must be able to exercise choice, must, in a word, be free to enjoy a measure of sovereignty. In order to be fully human, a person must be part of a composite society.

“Moreover, it is my conviction that the composite society is to a large extent the product (albeit a b y-product) of the world-view of authentic Christianity.”
-Leonard Verduin, The Antomy of a Hybrid, page 7, copyright 1976 Wm B. Eerdmand Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan

This has been the vision of the Christians known as Anabaptists, Waldensians, Mennonites, etc. throughout history. Their refusal to compromise their faith by submitting to the hybrid has led to intense persecution on many occasions. Will we, who claim to be descendants of the Anabaptists, have the same steadfast faith when persecution comes again?

Cat vantage

Cats are asleep about two-thirds of the time, but their noses and ears seem to be always on the alert. Open a can of tuna in the kitchen without making a sound and the aroma will reach a cat who is sound asleep several rooms away. Soon she is by your feet, asking for a share. Rustling a bag of cat treats will often have the same effect.

A black cat is aware of the camouflage value of its coat. One of our cats noticed a mouse hole beside the garden shed and lay down close by under a maple tree. She became almost invisible in the dense shade and the hunt was successful.

Your cats can distinguish the sound of your automobile from all the others going by. When you get home they are waiting to greet you. One of our cats would sit on the back of the couch and push aside a vane of the vertical blinds to look out the window. When we drove up, especially after dark, there would be two golden eyes looking right at us.

A cat can sleep anywhere, sometimes in a secluded spot, often in your favourite chair. Sometimes they find a vantage point where they can keep track of everything going on in the house

Angus, who looks very much like the cat in the above picture, has chosen the washing machine as his vantage point. The other cat in the house cannot jump that high, so it belongs exclusively to Angus. He has a clear view from there out the hallway window, plus the people of the house frequently walk in front of him. He can then loudly demand attention and we don’t have to bend down to offer the attention and comfort he desires.


The war to end all wars didn’t end all wars.

When a revolution succeeds in overthrowing the oppressors, the revolutionaries then become the oppressors.

What is wrong with the world?

“The answer to the question, ‘What is Wrong’ is, or should be, ‘I am wrong.’ Until a man can give that answer, his idealism is only a hobby.” (G. K. Chesterton)

Looking for clues

“The future is an opaque mirror. Anyone who tries to look into it sees nothing but the dim outlines of an old worried face.” Jim Bishop.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


“Almost all current events in the affairs of governments and nations have their parallels and precedents in the past.” Harry S. Truman

Morning Coffee 11/9/20 The ball is IN our court!

“The world has been watching the 2020 race for United States President.” That is certainly true here in Canada, and many Canadians have become emotionally involved on one side or the other. Your thoughts point us toward what we need for healing. No politician has the prescription for healing, we must look to God and submit our wills to His, without presuming to already know what His will is.

Morning Coffee Devotions

Hello Family

A lot has happened since i last wrote to you. I will speak about those things in this weekends up coming podcast if the Lord wills. A few weeks ago I told you a story about a young warrior with incredible potential but did not take full advantage of it, if you have not read it link is at the bottom.

The world has been watching the 2020 race for United States President. we all see the results, so now what? We (followers of Christ) take action, we pray for this new administration! Our personal opinion of them does not matter. God’s will supersedes what we think is good and what is not.

All authority is established by God. To neglect our duty to pray for them and intercede for our nation because they are not what we voted for is a sin, and don’t relax and put…

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Shelley didn’t live in Saskatchewan

Image by Richard Duijnstee from Pixabay 

If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?

That line comes from Ode to the West Wind by Percy Bysshe Shelley. This morning, here in Saskatchewan, spring seems far away. It’ll be five months until this snow is gone.

Four women named Mary, three men named James

I suppose there has always been a fashion in names. When I was a boy in school there were three Roberts in one classroom. To our teachers we were Bob, Bobby and Robert; to our classmates we were Bob, Professor and Goofy. I was Professor, I must have been a know-it-all. Goofy was the class comedian; in the midst of a serious discussion he would come out with an off-the-wall remark that would crack up the whole room. The teachers did their best to pretend they were not amused, but even they could not help smiling at times.

Years later, while working in an auto parts factory, there were often three Bob’s out on the floor. Bob Wolfgram was a shift supervisor, Bob Wickenheiser an electrician, and Bob Goodnough was from the quality assurance department. When Bob was paged over the PA system, we had to listen carefully to get the last name.

And back in my younger years all the nice girls were named Joan. At least it seemed that way to me, though I did have a couple of female cousins who were not named Joan and who I thought were pretty nice. I believe Joan was the most popular name for girls in that era.

Getting to the subject at hand, it can seem confusing to sort out all the Mary’s mentioned in the gospels. The name was popular because Miriam was one of the most prominent ladies in the Old Testament. In Hebrew the name was spelled Myriam or Miryam; it became Maria in the transition to Greek and Latin and is spelled Maria, Marie or Mary in most European languages.

The first lady we encounter in the New Testament is Mary, the virgin who was espoused, but not yet married, to Joseph and who became the mother of Jesus. Then there is Mary, the wife of Alpheus (also spelled Cleophas or Clopas), Mary the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and Mary Magdalene.

There is no indication in the Bible that Mary remained a perpetual virgin. Matthew 1:25 states that Joseph knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son. That plainly indicates that a normal conjugal relationship began after the birth of Jesus and that he was the eldest among the children of Joseph and Mary.

Mary, the wife of Alpheus, is sometimes called Salome, and John 19:25 states that she was the sister of Mary, the wife of Joseph. They both had sons named James and Jude (or Judas). Those who hold to a doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary take verses like Matthew 13:55 to refer to the children of the other Mary and Alpheus. To this Adam Clarke comments: “Why should the children of another family be brought in here to share a reproach which it is evident was designed for Joseph, the carpenter; Mary, his wife; Jesus, their son; and their other children?”

Jesus was a frequent guest in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, this Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with spikenard (John 11:2 and 12:3). This should not be confused with the incident recorded in Matthew 26:7, Mark 14:s and Luke 7:37, of a woman anointing the head of Jesus. This anointing also took place in Bethany, but a few days later in the home of Simon, the Pharisee, and the woman is not named.

Neither should the woman in the latter anointing be confused with Mary of Magdala. Nor should we assume that Mary Magdalene was a former prostitute or a very sinful woman. The scribes and pharisees would surely have made such accusations against her if there were any grounds for doing so. All the information we have of her indicates that she was a respectable woman of some wealth, Jesus had cast seven evil spirits out of her and that she was the first person to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection.

James in the New Testament is a translation of the Greek form of Jacob (Yaakov in Hebrew), the father of the Israelite people. There are three men named James in the gospels and the early church. The first is James, the brother of John. He became the first leader of the church in Jerusalem. James, the brother of our Lord, remained a skeptic during the life of Jesus, but became a believer after the resurrection. He was the second leader of the church in Jerusalem after the first James was murdered by Herod. It is this James who wrote the epistle of James. James the less, son of Alpheus and Mary Salome was also one of the apostles of our Lord.

Here it comes

Image by Юлия Зяблова from Pixabay 

We have been enjoying unusually mild weather this week, with day time highs of 15° C or higher. But the threat that the coming weekend will bring an abrupt switch to winter has been hanging over our heads since last Sunday. A Colorado low has been tracked all week and is forecast to reach us tomorrow, Saturday, with the full storm arriving Sunday.

A Colorado low is a low pressure system beginning in that southwestern state and tracking northeast towards Canada, picking up moisture along the way and dumping it upon us. The forecast is for 30 to 40 cm of snow and winds gusting up to 70 k/hour. Monday morning could look like this.

public domain photo from Pixabay

Most of us have heeded the warnings and put our lawn chairs and lawn mowers away for the winter. I expect retail outlets have seen a rush on sales of snow shovels and winter apparel. Children are looking forward to playing in the snow, some adults are looking forward to a few days of remunerative work in removing the snow from streets and parking lots.

The main advantage for the rest of us is that it gives us something new to talk about, and blog about.

Happy thoughts

Image by Scottslm from Pixabay 

There’s a bluebird on your windowsill
There’s a rainbow in your sky
There are happy thoughts, your heart to fill
Near enough to make you cry.

(The first stanza of Bluebird on you Windowsill by Elizabeth Clarke.)

Elizabeth Clarke was a nurse at the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver. One day in 1947 one of her patients, a young boy, was thrilled when a bird perched on the windowsill next to his bed. That evening she wrote the words to this song, and soon after added a melody to the words.

She sang the song often to her patients. Soon friends and coworkers encouraged her to publish it. She sang the song on a Vancouver radio station and before long it was being recorded by well-known singers like Wilf Carter, Tex Williams, Doris Day and Bing Crosby.

Elizabeth Clarke once told a journalist “I didn’t intend to write it – it just came.” She donated all the royalties from the song to children’s hospitals across Canada and continued her nursing career until her death in 1960.

Do old arthritis remedies ever die?

I have had some arthritic stiffness in my right shoulder for years. It has been bothering me a little more lately. I rummaged through our medicine cabinets, in both bathrooms, and came up with three tubes of rubbing compound for arthritic pain. The fine print on the tubes indicate that one expired in 2004. another in 2014 and the last in 2016. Does that mean anything?

My parents kept a bottle of oil of wintergreen in their medicine cabinet. We used a little from time to time and I don’t think they ever needed to replace it. As far as I know it never lost any of its effectiveness. Certainly never lost its scent.

Judging by their scent, oil of wintergreen is one of the principal ingredients in two of these tubes. It seems to help a little when I rub it on my shoulder, and does no harm as far as I can tell. Except I’m not sure my wife will want to sleep in the same bed with me tonight.

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