Why Mark II
Sunday, December 20, 2020 · A 3 minute read.
In Aaron’s Rod Blossoming, George Gillespie wrote what is arguably the definitive case for presbyterian church government. It’s exhaustingly thorough and is likely one of the most important books in presbyterian history (although I’m in no way qualified to make this assessment). Anyway, my favorite part of it is when he says,
I Have often and heartily wished that I might not be distracted by nor ingaged into polemick Wri∣tings, of which the World is too full already, and from which many more learned and idoneous have abstained; and I did accordingly resolve that in this Controversall age I should be slow to write, swift to read and learne.
Pardon his spelling, iPhones didn’t have autocorrect in 1646. Anyway, the sense of the quote (and what follows) is a very humble man saying that he only begrudgingly wrote this seminal work on church government because he was pretty sure it would be helpful to the church. The world already has way too many polemical books (books that argue for a particular position); he didn’t want to throw his into the mix unless he was sure it would provide something important that couldn’t be found elsewhere.
It’s always interesting when someone says something relatively simple, mundane even, but something that has consequences that kick you in the diaphragm and leave you making that weird “I can’t breathe” moaning noise for a few seconds. That was my experience when I read this. George Gillespie’s humility stood in stark contrast to my “Look at me, everyone! I have things to say! Someone please call me a witty wordsmith!” attitude.
For those who don’t know, don’t remember, or just never cared, I used to have a blog by the same name as this one. On it I wrote about many things, but the most common topic was theology. Besides having been convinced that I ought not be writing as one having authority, that blog ended because I saw the vast ocean of Christian writings that all pretty much say the same 12 or so things (7 of which are probably heretical). It was an ocean that made it impossible to find the buried treasure, the exceptionally good books hidden on islands—but not by pirates. That would break my metaphor.
It is for this reason that I’ve buried that old blog. I don’t want to be a part of the pesky, distracting ocean that keeps people from even hearing about books by Thomas Watson and Wilhelmus à Brakel. Hold on a minute, “buried that old blog?” That’s confusing because of the previous ocean metaphor. I burned it. Burned it with fire. Man, my writing has gotten rusty.
So many believers think that they are well read on matters of theology because of the contemporary paperbacks and blogs they read. My experience has taught me quite the opposite. I found eating the candy of lesser writers was not only failing to help me grow spiritually. It was actively stunting my growth, making me think I was getting real nutrition and satisfying my biological hunger response, so that I had no desire for dinner.
This blog is still a worse thing to read then Thomas Watson, but its main new feature is that it doesn’t pretend to compete with him. Watson never wrote about note-taking systems, photographic composition, headless CMS’s, German note-taking systems, or the rest of it. If you want good theology, please go read his Body of Divinity. If you want fun thoughts on everything else, you’ve come to a place that will attempt to fulfill that desire.