Ligonier Ministries to Offer a Winter Cruise in 2015: Theme is Enduring Persecution and Suffering Faithfully


Ligonier Ministries is sponsoring a cruise to learn about enduring persecution and suffering faithfully.


While we are seeing headlines like this:

ISIS ‘Systematically Beheading Children’ in Iraq; They Are ‘Killing Every Christian They See,’ Says Chaldean Leader


(I had to scour the videos to find one that wasn’t too graphic because what I saw this morning was gruesome – beheaded children  – and I cannot erase that visual from my mind –  yes, children of Christian families beheaded. I think this video is one of the less graphic ones.)




. . . . “This winter, Ligonier Ministries is sponsoring a Caribbean study cruise of the Eastern Caribbean:”



ligonier, RC Sproul Jr., Kevin DeYoung, Russell Moore, Steve Lawson,



“Our theme will be Christ’s call to endure persecution and suffering faithfully,




cruise2015 Ligonier Ministries, cruise, suffering, persecution, RC Sproul, RC Sproul Jr***



Not there!!!

Ahh, that’s better!!!


 . . .and I am excited that Steve Nichols and R.C. Sproul Jr. will be joining me as we look at what God’s Word and church history have to tell us about this subject. Our itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the Bahamas, and we will have many opportunities for fellowship and learning together as we travel.”

But wait . . . . there’s more . . . if you go on this cruise, you get to go to Ligonier’s National Conference for FREE:


Speakers for this conference include Alistair Begg, Kevin DeYoung, Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven J. Lawson, Russell Moore, Stephen Nichols, R.C. Sproul Jr., and me.

The conference is set a few days before the cruise so you can experience this wonderfulness back to back from February 19 to March 1.

What are you waiting for?


Bon Voyage!


Stupid sunburn!


photo credit: mbarrison via photopin cc

91 thoughts on “Ligonier Ministries to Offer a Winter Cruise in 2015: Theme is Enduring Persecution and Suffering Faithfully”

  1. I know, Meaghan. They bandy about the word “persecution” like a boy crying “wolf.”
    Ligonier Ministries hasn’t got a clue what it means to suffer for your faith.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It is telling these charlatans are not able to connect the dots, isn’t it? And people actually pay to go and hear them. I often think of what our Lord said in Matthew concerning the Pharisees: They get their “reward” here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Ligonier Ministries is sponsoring a cruise to learn about enduring persecution and suffering faithfully.”

    This is provoking a case of cognitive dissonance in me.

    So. They want to talk about how to endure suffering while on a cruise ship while sipping pina coladas?

    It would be like hosting a conference about starvation in third world nations and the increasing level of empty food pantries in American cities at an all-you-can-eat buffet at Golden Corral or Denny’s with an all- you- can- eat ice cream Sundae bar provided.

    It is jarring to host this shin dig about suffering and persecution on a cruise ship while people are being beheaded by Islamists overseas, and things like that are going on around us.

    Maybe they only mean suffering as it pertains to American middle class, like, “I could not get a parking spot close to the mall’s front doors, I had to park way out in BFE.” (which isn’t to say that American middle class do not experience pain and heartbreak at times and need compassion too, but if it’s on the level of, “My cable went out five minutes before the season cliff hanger of ‘Mad Men,'” er, no.)

    This calls for a link to a certain video on You Tube by Weird Al:
    -First World Problems, by Weird Al –

    partial song lyrics:
    “My maid is cleaning my bathroom, so I can’t take a shower / When I do, the water starts getting cold after an hour / I couldn’t order off the breakfast menu, cause I slept in till two
    … I got First world, first world problems / Tried to fast forward commercials, can’t – I’m watching live T.V / I’m pretty sure the cookies in this airport lounge ain’t gluten free
    / My barista didn’t even bother to make a design in the foam on the top of my vanilla latte… I got first world problems”


  4. @Lydia:

    It is telling these charlatans are not able to connect the dots, isn’t it? And people actually pay to go and hear them.

    “Stupidity is like hydrogen; it’s the basic building block of the universe.”
    — Frank Zappa

    “There’s a sucker born every minute.”
    — P.T.Barnum

    “Four-one-nine just a game;
    You be the mugu,
    I be the Masta!”
    — “I Go Chop You Dolla”, Nigerian pop song about a swindler


  5. BTW, there is sometimes suffering on cruise ships. In the past few years, there have been regular stories about diseases breaking out on cruise ships. So, maybe it is actually fitting to do a lecture about suffering on one?

    Cruise ship passengers sickened on luxury liners, CNN, April 2014

    Three outbreaks of illness affecting more than 100 people each have been reported aboard two cruise liners — two of them in back-to-back cruises of the same ship — according to the nation’s leading health protection agency.

    I’ve also read about how the cruise ship crews rape women passengers out at sea, but they can’t be prosecuted, due to lack of being in anyone’s jurisdiction… something about international laws not being applicable in the middle of the ocean?


  6. Yes. I went to Peru. For Jesus. I suffered walking around Machu Picchu. It was so hard to breathe. I only had Starbucks in Lima. Poor, suffering me.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. enduring persecution and suffering faithfully

    I don’t think any one of these guys has a clue about persecution or suffering. If they want to help people who are suffering perhaps they should take a ship to an are where Christians are being persecuted and do a rescue mission.


  8. Ligonier was one of the first ministries to try and sue a blogger for saying negative things about their financial management and trolling for donations to live high on the hog. It made the Orlando Sentinel and USA Today back in 2007 (or was it 06?) Anyway, Ligon Duncan’s brother, James, was involved as the manager of Ligonier ministries. Even the legal eagle blogger Glen Reynolds wrote about it.

    The problem? They could not find the blogger. :o)


  9. Reminds me of my expastor who was suffering because I called him out. So he went against scripture to sue me for the endless persecution I did of him on my personal blog as I shared my story. Poor CON.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. If I remember correctly, CON’s wife was suffering horribly too. She couldn’t go anywhere around town without having to defend herself. Which was why she had to leave business cards on cars around town telling her side of the story. Oh the stories of the persecuted.

    Liked by 1 person


    I just got word that they changed the theme from ““Our theme will be Christ’s call to endure persecution and suffering faithfully”


    “Our theme will be “Persevering in the Christian Life,”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Takes some creativity to come up with such phrases to describe a wonderful vacation paid for THEM paid by the rest of the participants. What a scheme!


  13. This calls for a link to a certain video on You Tube by Weird Al:
    -First World Problems, by Weird Al –

    Though a “Persevering Through Suffering and Persecution” luxury cruise is farther out and weirder than any of those First World Problems Weird Al sang about.

    Something about “First World Problems”. In his nonfiction book Danse Macabre, Steven King wrote about FWP in the context of Fifties Teen Movies. Money quote was that obsessing about FWP “is the sign of a civilization that has beaten the Survival Game.” When you don’t have to drop a kid every nine months to ensure that one or two will survive to adulthood or that the next-tribe-over version of ISIL won’t waltz in, kill them and you, and scoop up all of yours as pillage & plunder (“When they’re little, Sickness. When they’re big, War.”), you can climb Maslow’s Heirarchy and find and tackle problems elsewhere.

    (Aside: I once had to talk down a guy who was seriously abused in high school. He went on about how his parents and uncles — all Great Depression survivors — blew him off with an attitude of “What problems? You’re not starving to death.” He had pointed out that his parents’ generation almost DID starve during the Depression in rural PA and I told him about Maslow’s Heirarchy and that his Depression-formed parents had gotten stuck in Physical Survival Mode.)

    Yet even when you’ve beaten the Survival Game and have only First World Problems to deal with, the hardwired survival instinct is still strong and you will tend to focus on those FWPs as if they WERE life-threatening dangers to your survival. This explains both FWP obsessions and a lot of Activism, where minor FWPs are focused on as Urgent Threat #4765 That Must Be Stopped NOW OR ALL WILL BE LOST!


  14. I can only say a “Christian” WTF?? Of course if they get enough people to sign up for this cruise through their ministry they (and their families) will get to go on the cruise for free. I worked on a cruise ship in the 80’s and I know how this works! I grew up private school, country club, debutante etc. and in the church. It is so easy to be a “Christian” when you can afford these luxuries. After spending time in third world countries, I understood the verse “vanity of vanities”. Now I know I am an entitled first world white woman and enjoy all that goes with it. But no matter what, I know I am not persecuted. However, some of my childhood friends (Christian) love to talk about how they are persecuted because they aren’t suppose to say ” Merry Christmas”, their president is a Muslim, etc—ya’ll know the drill.
    There is a lot of poverty in the Caribbean, but the tourists will only see the nice areas. What if the speakers donated to the locals the money they are saving by having a free cruise? I am sorry to be so angry here and I don’t begrudge people going on nice vacations. Just don’t pretend you are taking the cruise for reasons other than you want a nice trip!!!! Thanks for letting me rant.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. HUG said,

    (Aside: I once had to talk down a guy who was seriously abused in high school. He went on about how his parents and uncles — all Great Depression survivors — blew him off with an attitude of “What problems? You’re not starving to death.” He had pointed out that his parents’ generation almost DID starve during the Depression in rural PA and I told him about Maslow’s Heirarchy and that his Depression-formed parents had gotten stuck in Physical Survival Mode.)

    I relate to what that guy was going through, and it’s one of my pet peeves, which is why I added a qualifier to my post above that middle class folks need compassion too, sometimes, if it’s really warranted.

    This other extreme bothers me too, people (usually Christians, though not always) who play the “compare and dismiss game” when it comes to hurt in life.

    Like I had this boss once who had to “one up” you in a conversation about suffering all the time. For example, one day a co-worker came in with a sprained thumb or whatever, someone asked her about it, she said, yeah, it hurt and was painful, so this boss had to tell her and the all of us about the time she broke every bone in her body in 1976, how awful it was, told us how she had to wear a full body cast, and she once had a leg bit off by a shark in 1995, etc.

    My older sister is like this, too. Any time I’ve mentioned some kind of pain I’m undergoing, she has to tell me about something ten times more stressful that happened to her in her life several months ago, and she then dismisses my pain by saying it’s no big deal, to shut up about it, since her pain is bigger than mine, so what do I have to cry about.

    That also happened after my mother died. I went to Christians, both extended family and at a local church, seeking solace and a shoulder to cry on, but got told that because I’m not a homeless bad lady in an abuse shelter I should get over it and count my blessings, I have life pretty sweet, I was told.

    So yep, Christians can and do sometimes go the other way on this and totally discount someone else’s pain and problems because in their view, what’s the big deal?

    Unless you are going through something really severe, like getting your heart ripped out by a rabid gorilla, you’re just a big, whiny cry baby if you seek help or empathy over whatever you’re going through, so the thinking goes.

    This is one reason why I am very hesitant to open up to anyone anymore, at least in real life. Online it’s not as bad.
    I’m especially cautious about getting vulnerable around most Christians, because so many of them will immediately start hitting you over the head with shame for even admitting to having problems, or they give you the cliches about “all things working together for good,” or, “what are you complaining about, you don’t have it as bad as orphans in India,” or “just turn it over the Lord,” etc.


  16. Oh well, so they changed the title of the theme? lol That’s funny and sad. Get some bad press, did they? Amazing that the powers that be at Ligonier responsible for these things did not have an inkling beforehand how that theme might be taken negatively and how insulting (and non-Christian) it appears.
    It’s still the same theme at Sovereign Luxury Experiences:

    “Dear Friends,

    I want to make sure that you know about an upcoming study opportunity that you won’t want to miss. This winter, Ligonier Ministries is sponsoring a Caribbean study cruise of the Eastern Caribbean. Our theme will be Christ’s call to endure persecution and suffering faithfully, and I am excited that Steve Nichols and R.C. Sproul Jr. will be joining me as we look at what God’s Word and church history have to tell us about this subject. Our itinerary includes St. Thomas, St. Maarten, and the Bahamas, and we will have many opportunities for fellowship and learning together as we travel.”


  17. I hope someone threw this up as a spoof / parady / poorly thought out joke. Maybe a disgruntled employee looking to cause embarrassment ?

    If NOT than I’ m a ONE POINT Calvinist for LIFE. I truly believe in the total deprivity of Calvinists.

    It would be hilarious to book on same cruise , actors / “terrorists” dressed in ISIS garb or maybe a bunch of women wearing burkas. Have a few loose wires sticking out of the burka , and have her trying to attach a small battery with electrical tape while sitting in the conference mumbling: why I must do mans job……

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wait, what? RC Jr is part of this gathering of intellectuals? I thought his dad removed him from Ligonier when he was defrocked. I don’t care a lot for Sproul Sr because the super-reformed soteriology has done a lot of damage to my faith, but at least he’s reasonably within orthodoxy (complementariansm notwithstanding). But Junior is totally a fringe player. I don’t get it.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. Well Persephone RC jr will be tending the overpriced , CASH BAR while he gets sloppy drunk in preparation for his break out session on WIFE spanking.

    Topics for Wife whacking 101 with RC light….

    Knowing when she needs it and giving it to her good
    Belts or paddle, which best fits your marriage.
    How to make your wife call you YOUR lordship
    Should you smack your wife in public ?
    Spanking your wife with guests in the house.

    Bonus session on how to lie your way out of a jam if ” that redheaded woman from the google lawsuit ” writes about you. Free with the purchase of 17 drinks. Excludes tithe, taxes and non- alcoholic drinks ( except RED BULL).


  20. Sproul sprout was able to rebuild his image in the face of his defrocking. He ran from justice in the RPCGA to Doug Wilson’s denomination, the CREC. He stayed under Doug Wilson’s authority for a short time until he was able to transfer into another micro reformed denomination.

    Sproul Sprout is a hypocrite of the highest order. He preaches that one should be accountable but when faced with the just decision of his own denomination he ran like a coward into the welcoming arms of his other despotic reformed buddies.

    The sad thing is is that memory is sort and no one seems to remember what kind of man he really is. It’s also why I believe that these men will be able to rebuild their reputations and lure others out of their money and their salvation.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Really sad but really not surprising. That’s what happens when Christians prefer comfort to actual suffering, which would include speaking up for truth instead of philosophizing and covering up evil. Totally not surprised because these guys just don’t get it.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Ann @ SEPTEMBER 20, 2014 @ 3:27 PM

    I love your comments.

    You tell it like it is and with so much compassion on other threads.

    Kudos to this: “I am sorry to be so angry here and I don’t begrudge people going on nice vacations. Just don’t pretend you are taking the cruise for reasons other than you want a nice trip!!!! Thanks for letting me rant.

    Love the rant! These creeps need to shut the hell up, stop the rhetoric, please, real people are suffering unimaginable horrors.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Some random thoughts…

    R.C. Sproul, Charles Stanley and other “celebrity” pastors like to do this cruise thing, but the propriety of this should be called into question. It’s just like famous pastors who sell trips to Israel.

    The original theme of the cruise was certainly in poor taste to say the very least. I would’ve at least thought Sproul Sr. to be above that, but perhaps that was just naivety.

    This business, “Sovereign Cruises”, is a source for a lot of these cruises:

    As you can see from the home page, you can take a cruise with RC Sproul or with Joseph Farah (your choice).

    Nothing wrong with wanting to go on vacation (I’ve been on a Viking Cruise myself), but the Sovereign Cruises website bothers me. Under the headline for “Christian Cruises”, there is the subtitle: “Honor the Lord on one of our exceptional Sovereign Christian Cruises.”

    “Honor the Lord” by going on one of their cruises? Seriously? I wish they wouldn’t advertise themselves in this way. It makes merchandise of Christianity (which is commonplace in America today, I know).

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Julie Anne, you should have taken a screen shot of it before they walked back on “persecution.” What a bunch of cowards. They knew it was hyperbole, and they should have stood by it.


  25. Another interesting thing about this is that these guys spend a lot of time decrying “entertainment” in churches. But yet, MacArthur’s Grace To You has hosted Alaska cruises. Had a debate about this with a MacArthur fan who went great lengths (with a lot of contortions) to explain why a luxury cruise does not qualify as a form of entertainment.


  26. Chuck Swindoll also advertises his Christian cruises on our local christian radio station, but never a persecuted cruise; only fellowship cruises……and here I thought Jesus commanded us to take care of the widows, the poor, those who cannot help themselves due to infliction, etc. Guess “the church” has come a long way baby. Locally, we spend more money on the stupid sign that we do bringing meals to those after surgery, or are sick in their homes, or a phone call for a good word of encouragement from the Scriptures…….oh wait……the churched are too busy meddling, lying and tale bearing, gossipping, back stabbing and being two faced causing chaos within the institutional system… even care to love and encourage another in Jesus Christ who so desperately needs Him in times of crisis.

    In addition to the exhorbitant amounts of money within the church systems these days lurks a more hideous disaster looming within the walls……it’s called narcissism. Oh, how we love ourselves while pretending to be persecuted….LORD, have mercy upon us.


  27. Daisy,
    We are suppose to grieve with those who grieve. You should never have been told any thing else when your mother passed. I am so sorry that no one was there for you. (((((HUGS)))))


  28. Katy, Swindoll is often the poster boy for many of a Great man of God. Years ago, I remember doing some research into his parachurch ministry and reading the public filings. My goodness. He sure took care of his family (including wife children on payroll) in his parachurch ministry WHILE being a preacher and paid quite well. Must be nice to be his kid and rake in 100 grand a year as an officer of the parachurch ministry. Also wife paid as board member.

    These guys build for themselves little empires off OPM. Selling Jesus.


  29. I had no idea, Lydia, concerning Chuck Swindoll. It is common knowledge that Joyce Meyer and many Word of Faith hucksters employ family members to thief from the gullible (that was once me) churched, but had no idea those outside of this heretic camp employed the same methods. I purchased a couple of Chuck’s books as well, at a time when the writings/words of men and women were far more important to me than my Bible, so it is my own fault for being led astray and I accept full responsibility for that.

    Now, the chains have been broken and God’s Word is worth far more than all of the gold in California and God’s church does not live inside of buildings made with human hands, His church, or called out ones , are everywhere and I find some of the best fellowship here on the internet and of all places….at Walmart, where many of us can speak freely about our faith in Jesus and witnessing and building one another up.

    Thank-you for the tip, Lydia. Mr. Swindoll’s books, along with others I collected, to be more so called “spiritual” in trying to fit in with the women at church, were all thrown into my garbage pile in the back forty. No looking back, no regrets. A resounding Amen.

    God Bless all of you this day that our LORD hath made.


  30. Thank you Gail! I try to be balanced, but sometimes my passion gets the best of me. Your name is among several that I look for in the comment section. I guess we all have personal favorites! A shout out to Brenda R too. I copied something you wrote and shared it with my therapist! And of course JA gives us a place to use our voices!


  31. Thank you, Brenda R.

    I was really hurt and mystified after my mother died and I turned to Christian extended family and folks at a local church, and instead of getting sympathy and encouragement, I received platitudes, and a mindset that because some people had life tougher than me that I should brush aside my feelings of grief.

    I was very, very close to my mother and having to readjust to life without her was difficult. I had to do it alone, because the Christians I went to reacted horribly. Some just avoided me, they didn’t want to take my phone calls (and I was not calling often).

    When you have very real pain dismissed because, in the listener’s opinion, what you are facing is supposedly not as bad or serious as what someone else is going through, that can be even more painful.

    I think the tougher thing for me to handle was not my mother’s passing per se but how other people around me chose to mis-handle my grief over it. I suspect this happens a lot with other areas in life for other people.

    There is this other side, though, Christians who appear to be living easy, comfortable lives who complain about stuff like getting a tare in their pantyhose or getting chipped nail polish, while others in life are experiencing great hardship, like having to live in a cardboard box under an overpass.

    I do see both of these extremes go on among Christians.


  32. There is this other side, though, Christians who appear to be living easy, comfortable lives who complain about stuff like getting a tare in their pantyhose or getting chipped nail polish, while others in life are experiencing great hardship, like having to live in a cardboard box under an overpass.


    There is going to be a judgment. Those that are worried about chipped nail polish might have been wiser to be passing out sandwiches to those under the overpass. For Those who show no empathy to those who are hurting or grieving and turning a blind eye, there will be a judgment. It makes me wonder what is inside the heart. Having a head knowledge of Christ is not enough, it is what is in the heart that counts.

    Many years ago I had a pastor that used to say, “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet.” There will always be someone who has more difficulties than we do, but that doesn’t mean that we should tell a person in obvious grief to “suck it up”. It is just plain wrong.


  33. I’ m a ONE POINT Calvinist for LIFE. I truly believe in the total deprivity of Calvinists.

    Me too! Never have been a Calvinist, but I am opposed to any theology created by man.


  34. Jenn Grover, my husband and I made this same comment. It’s unreal. No one could make this stuff up. It reads like something off The Onion (or perhaps The Darwin Award).

    I wish we’d banked all the money that we gave to them over 20 years, and we could have sent a quiverfull daughter to college, or we could help a wife and kids who were abused in the name of complementarianism. It makes me sick. We had no idea that the people who ran the organization lived so extravagantly. We were so naive. At least we got a tax deduction. I wonder if you can deduct the cruise as a business expense if you’re a minister?


  35. Hmmm?

    Is it “Ligonier Ministries?”

    Or, is it “Legionnaires’ Disease?”

    Seems they have a lot in common… 😉


    Symptoms – “Legionnaires’ Disease.”
    By Mayo Clinic Staff

    Legionnaires’ disease usually develops two to 10 days after exposure to legionella bacteria. Or exposure to “Ligonier Ministries.” It frequently begins with the following signs and symptoms:

    1 – Headache
    “Ligonier Ministries” if taken seriously, after exposure…
    Will make your brain hurt.

    2 – Muscle pain
    “Ligonier Ministries” if taken seriously, after exposure…
    Will bind heavy burdens on your shoulders.

    3 – Chills
    “Ligonier Ministries” if taken seriously, after exposure…
    Will become very, very, scary.

    4 – Fever —
    “Ligonier Ministries” if taken seriously, after exposure…
    Will make your blood boil.

    Can WE, His Sheep, His Kids, say WE, are suffering persecution???

    Having to listen to these guys??? “Ligonier Ministries???”

    Liked by 1 person

  36. Amos,

    That is why I love your responses. You are able to put things in there proper perspective. Yes, I do believe there is persecution in listening to these guys and I would hate to be one of the ones trapped on a ship with them.


  37. Brenda R

    “I would hate to be one of the ones trapped on a ship with them.”

    Oy Vey!!! – Think I’ll pass on being “one of the ones.”


  38. Julie Anne–

    So glad to see Calvinists are never derided on other threads. Just on the one set aside for the derision of Calvinists. Particularly happy to see that you never join in. This bolsters your constant claim to impartiality. You’re only interested in the outing of abuse…wherever it may occur.


  39. Welcome back, Hans. I’m starting back at school today and don’t have time for the banter. If Arminians were having a cruise and had this persecution theme, I would be an equal opportunity blogger. Just feed me the material and quit whining.


  40. “So glad to see Calvinists are never derided on other threads. Just on the one set aside for the derision of Calvinists. Particularly happy to see that you never join in. This bolsters your constant claim to impartiality. You’re only interested in the outing of abuse…wherever it may occur.”

    Hans, I could definitely see a non Calvinists (but Protestant) seeker mega doing this sort of cruise. They always think the “culture” is persecuting them.

    The difference is that the Cal movement are the big dogs now in Evangelical cirlcews with the most conferences, celebs, publishing, etc. And every dog has his day.

    I do the rise of an AnaBaptist movement that seems to be in direct opposition to the rise of Calvinism. So we will see how good they are at marketing themselves and making bank off Jesus. So far, the Cals win as they knew how to use the internet early on. Now the same internet is their problem. :o)


  41. Katy, Parachurch ministries have to report 990’s and you can find them on some sites like Charity Navigator and some others I cannot recall the names. It takes patience to find them but people need to know. Remember World Vision and all the backlash about them and homosexuality? And so many were accused to starving children because they withheld funds? The big news was how much the CEO made. He could have fed quite a few starving children. The liberals got a bit mad when that was pointed out because they wanted all those mean evangelical conservatives to feel bad about starving children. But to ignore the obscene salary of a “charity” CEO. It works both ways.

    Swindoll’s daugher must have been a real cracker jack Marketing officer to make that sort of bank that is not even typical in corporate American circles for marketing.


  42. Oh and John Hagge income (and family staff) from a para church ministry was so obscene, he closed it down and ran it through “his” church where no one is the wiser because it does not have to be made “public”.


  43. Lydia–

    I guess you haven’t been to Walmart lately, where Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Joseph Prince, and T.D. Jakes line the “Inspirational” shelves. You haven’t been to Barnes and Noble. You haven’t been to any old run-of-the-mill Christian book store and seen the reems and reems of books by Max Lucado and Beth Moore and Dave Ramsey.

    Sure, you can find Platt and Driscoll and Chandler…and maybe a title or two by Sproul. If you fudge the meaning of Calvinist a bit, you can pick up a copy of MacArthur’s or Chan’s latest book. But “big dogs” we are not. Look on any Christian book bestseller list, and you may or may not spot a Reformed guy. I found two current lists. On one, Calvinists occupied 3 out of thirty slots. On the other, there was was not a single Reformed author out of 25. Word-Faith and dispensationalists are still THE big dogs, with far more conferences, seminars, book sales, films, music sales, etc.

    And most of the splash (of the splash that there is) is by Reformed BAPTISTS, who have their very own distinctive culture (rather similar in many ways to Dispensationalists). Chandler, Driscoll, Platt, Mohler, Chan, MacArthur, Dever, Piper, White, Mahaney, Harris…all BAPTISTS.

    Presbyterians, by and large, do not have megachurches. Redeemer in NYC, Briarwood in Birmingham, and Perimeter in Atlanta are the only three I am aware of. Perhaps if you were not so intent on your theological vendetta, you’d see things more clearly.

    Give yourself a test. Go back 50 or 100 years and research abuse in churches. If theology is truly to blame, then the Reformed will be abusive in every possible historical era.


  44. Julie Anne–

    Look, I get that the juxtaposition of pampered, rich, white Evangelicals taking off on a cruise to study “persecution” is ironic and even a little funny. But these cruises are ubiquitous. Surely, some of them study something serious minded rather than just self-centered, self-help garbage. If they were to study Third-World hunger, I’d be the first to applaud their efforts of getting out of their comfort zones a bit (especially if they were challenged to live among the poor and minister to them rather than just sending money).

    Saying that the paying guests couldn’t possibly have experienced actual persecution is presumptuous. What, no missionaries on board? Saying that none of them have experienced suffering is idiotic. These are mostly older, retired folks with plenty of health and grief issues. Is it really a source of ridicule for Christians to study the great number of biblical passages on suffering and apply them to their lives? Do you people even listen to what you laugh at? It’s all kind of pathetic.

    What any of this has to do with Reformed theology I cannot even begin to imagine.


  45. I don’t understand the desire to denigrate people of European (‘white”) descent. I think there is no Jew or Greek in Christ.


  46. I don’t have any objection at all to people taking a cruise and learning about anything- art, history, cooking, faith or what have you. There are two aspects of the original title of this cruise that bother me. First is that I am so grateful to live in a country where I can practice my religion freely that it annoys me when my fellow Christians whine about being ‘persecuted.’ Back when certain pundits were carrying on about a war on Christmas, I was on a medical support list for caregivers taking care of people with a rare disease. Despite the fact that there was a lot of knowledge to be had from more experienced caregivers, one man signed off the list over this very issue. He went off on an off topic rant because his local card store carried Happy Holiday cards in addition to Christian themed cards which he saw as a war on Christmas. I pointed out that the shop is a business and there is a market for those cards and that I personally sent them to non-Christian friends. He said he didn’t want to be on the list with a heretic like me. We are NOT being persecuted if a stranger wishes us a happy holiday or a card store carries cards for all faiths or if Christmas is commercialized in the malls or even if someone on Facebook has something negative to say about Christianity. Let’s have a little gratitude for our country!

    The most important concern is of course the murder of Christian families in the Middle East. We need to know how we can help in their rescue and I would rather send the money to help refugee families than to go on a cruise. As others have pointed out, it is hugely insensitive to imply that cruise members are being persecuted at this time. Yes, we all have reason to grieve and we all go through adversity and many of us can use help to persevere but let’s reserve the complaints about persecution to those who are truly being persecuted for their faith.


  47. Hans,

    Give yourself a test. Go back 50 or 100 years and research abuse in churches. If theology is truly to blame, then the Reformed will be abusive in every possible historical era.

    I offer the works of Phillip Greven as a notable example of abuse among the Reformed. In particular, Spare the Child is notable, but the Protestant Temperament offers some fine examples, too. Pious parents and the total depravity doctrine make infants into little demons who need to be shown “love” via discipline. This is not true of all those who are Reformed, but to say that the theology has no affect on a significant number of parents who feel compelled to beat the sin out of their babies is naive.

    Jonathan Edwards’ wife’s diaries would be sufficient for a child abuse investigation today, and if they did today what his wife, Sarah, documented clearly and consistently, they would lose custody of their children and would be prosecuted. Does that count as persecution among the Reformed?

    Want some more evidence? Not everyone interprets Arthur Pink in the same way:




    (The post includes a photo meme of a growling/grimacing little girl with a quote from Voddie Baucham, Jr: “One of the reasons that God makes human babies small is so they won’t kill their parents in their sleep. They’re evil.”)

    Quoting Pink:

    “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies” (Ps. 58:3). First, from the moment of birth every child is morally and spiritually cut off from the Lord—a lost sinner. Matthew Henry described it thus: “estranged from God and all good: alienated from the Divine life, and its principles, powers, and blessings.” Adam lost not only the image of God but His favor and fellowship too, being expelled from His presence. And each of his children was born outside Eden, born in a state of guilt.

    Second, in consequence of this, Adam’s children are delinquents, warped from the beginning. Their very being is polluted, for evil is bred in them. Their “nature” is inclined to wickedness only; and if God leaves them to themselves they will never turn from it.

    Third, they quickly supply evidence of their separation from God and of the corruption of their hearts—as every godly parent perceives to his sorrow. While in the cradle they evince their opposition to truth, sincerity, integrity. “Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child” (Prov. 22:15), not childishness but foolishness—leaning toward evil, entering upon an ungodly course, forming and following bad habits. It is “bound in the heart”—held firmly there by chains invincible to human power.

    But in all ages there have been those who sought to blunt the sharp edge of Psalm 58:3 by narrowing its scope, denying that it has a race-wide application; these are determined at all costs to rid themselves of the unpalatable truth of the total depravity of all mankind. Pelagians and Socinians have insisted that that verse is speaking only of a particularly reprobate class, those who are flagrantly wayward from an early age. Rightly did J. Owen point out:

    It is to no purpose to say that he speaks of wicked men only; that is, such as are habitually and profligately so For whatever any man may afterwards run into by a course of sin, all men are morally alike from the womb, and it is an aggravation of the wickedness of men that it begins so early and holds on in an uninterrupted course. Children are not able to speak from the womb, as soon as they be born. Yet here are they said to speak lies. It is therefore the perverse acting of depraved nature in infancy that is intended, for everything that is irregular, that answers not the law of our creation and rule of our obedience, is a lie.

    “And were by nature the children of wrath, even as others” (Eph. 2:3). That statement is, if possible, even more awful and solemn than Psalm 58:3. It signifies much more than that we are born into the world with a defiled constitution, for it speaks of not simply “children of corruption,” but “children of wrath”—obnoxious to God, criminals in His sight. Depravity of our natures is no mere misfortune; if it were, it would evoke pity, not anger. The expression “children of wrath” is a Hebraism, a very strong and emphatic one. The original rendering of I Samuel 20:30 and II Samuel 12:5 mentions “the son of death,” that is, one deserving death. In Matthew 23:15 Christ used the fearful term “the child of hell”—one whose sure portion is hell; while in John 17:12 He designated Judas “the son of perdition.” Thus “children of wrath” connotes those who are deserving of wrath, heirs of wrath, fit for it. They are born to wrath, and under it, as their heritage. They are not only defiled and corrupt creatures, but the objects of God’s judicial indignation. Why? Because the sin of Adam is imputed to them, and therefore they are regarded as guilty of having broken God’s law.

    Equally forcible and explicit are the words “by nature the children of wrath,” in designed contrast with that which is artificially acquired. Many have insisted (contrary to the facts of common experience and observation) that children are corrupted by external contact with evil, that they acquire bad habits by imitation of others. We do not deny that environment has a measure of influence. Yet if any baby could be placed in a perfect setting and surrounded only by sinless beings, it would soon be evident that he was corrupt. We are depraved not by a process of development, but by genesis. It is not “on account of nature” but “by nature,” because of our nativity. It is innate, bred in us. As Goodwin solemnly pointed out, “They are children of wrath in the very womb, before they commit any actual sin.” The depraved nature itself is a penal evil, and that is because of our federal union with Adam, as sharing in his transgression. We are the children of wrath because our federal head fell under the wrath of God. Calvin stated, “There would be no truth in the assertion of Paul that all are by nature the children of wrath if they had not been already under the curse before their birth.”

    But a greater than Calvin has informed us: “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Rom. 9:11-13). This goes back still further, before birth. Esau was an object of God’s hatred before he was born. Obviously a righteous God could not abominate one who was pure and innocent. But how could Esau be guilty prior to doing any good or evil? Because he shared Adam’s criminality; and for precisely the same reason, all of us are by nature the children of wrath—obnoxious and subject to divine punishment—not only by virtue of our own personal transgressions, but because of our constitution. Deviation is coexistent with our very being. We are members of a cursed head, branches of a condemned tree, streams of a polluted fountain. In a word, the guilt of Adam’s sin lies on us. No other explanation is possible; since our guilt and liability to punishment are not, in the first place, due to our personal sins, they must be because of Adam’s sin being imputed to us.

    For the same reason infants die naturally, for sin is not merely the occasion of physical dissolution but the cause of it. Death is the wages of sin, the sentence of the broken law, the penal infliction of a righteous God. Had Adam never sinned, neither he nor any of his descendants would have become subject to death. Had not the guilt of Adam’s offense been charged to his posterity, none would die in infancy. Yet it does not necessarily follow that any who expire in early childhood are eternally lost. That they are born into this world spiritually dead, alienated from the life of God, is clear; but whether they die eternally, or are saved by sovereign grace, is probably one of those secret things which belong to the Lord. If they are saved it must be because they are among the number elected by the Father, redeemed by the Son and regenerated by the Spirit—without which none can enter heaven; but concerning these things Scripture appears to us to be silent. The Judge of all the earth will do right, and there we may submissively yet trustfully leave it. Parenthood is an unspeakably solemn matter.


  49. Will Durant The Story of Civilization: The Reformation Chapter XXI, page 2.

    Quote from a letter from John Calvin to friend William Farel (2/13/1546):

    “Servetus has just sent me a long volume of his ravings. If I consent he will come here, but I will not give my word; for if he comes here, if my authority is worth anything, I will never permit him to depart alive”


  50. When disembarking a cruise in Galveston a number of years ago, I spoke with a Christian man who attended Joel Osteen’s church and had been on one of his cruises. We had a wonderful discussion of the lure of what I called the “Lord of the Flies effect” where people seem to be more inclined to licentiousness because no one knew them on the ship. I found it to be disturbing in many respects, especially with the gambling on board. The discussion then opened up into what it’s like on a Christian cruise where there is less opportunity for people to indulge in that kind of behavior (as it is without restraint and encouraged on a regular cruise).

    I thought to myself, “A Joel Osteen cruise sounds like something that would make my IQ drop exponentially, and I’d rather be boiled in oil.”

    But on such a cruise, at least the good thing about it is that people are open an up front about why they’re there. It’s for recreation, and no one makes any bones about that. I appreciated the discussion with the man, and I know that though I don’t hold Osteen up as some paragon of virtue, he doesn’t go around condemning people, encouraging alienation, rigid child discipline, or “survival of the spiritually fittest”/”spiritual eugenics” like so many of today’s grand New Calvinist elect use to degrade other Believers within the pale. (Not arguing that Osteen is within the pale of orthodoxy, either.)


  51. Spend a day, even an hour in a state institution for the developmentally disabled or the mentally ill. I could not read through RC Sproul’s writings I have a confession and I am a bit ashamed of this, I cant stand the guy and his kid they make me want to bark. I was deeply sorry for RC Jr. loss of his wife, he was not worthy of her in my opinion and I have great empathy for the kids, but those two, none at all. That is wrong and I am sorry for that but I am truly trying. Every time I listen to either of them speak I almost get physically ill. I am sure the feeling is mutual. But that aside I wish them nothing but peace and health and Salvation, that is where our worlds part, they do not wish the same for me. They want my backside to burn and they want to watch. They actually want to watch forever people being tortured.

    This entire cruise thing makes me want to puke. Now I could see a cruise on say, Christians dealing with pressures of the world in modern western society and developing community in a pluralistic society etc. Maybe a cruise on how to help the suffering church, sometimes getting away and praying and corporate discussion could really come up with some very helpful insights. There is nothing at all wrong with a cruise, just the mindless claptrap that went into naming it and the egos that went along with it.


  52. Brian,

    I have not found RC Sr to be really altogether there since he was in a literal train wreck about 20 years ago. He’s very different than he used to be, in presentation and focus. I’ve seen him in person, before and after, and he seems different. Sometime after the accident, I think in the late ’90s, he wrote about suffering and his level of chronic pain after that physical trauma. So I cut him some slack, and I finally got my husband to agree to cut off the checks. This was much easier when we found out how much he was paying his kids/inlaws to run things (or not run them).

    He’s not the same man, and I see him as being more absent from decisions and direction of Ligonier since then. And it’s always bothered me that he never publicly addressed the issues with his son. (At least not to my knowledge.)


  53. Keith,

    Is there any meaning I’m missing in your comment concerning Durant? I’m not a history buff, and I’m terrible with geography. I only get really interested if there’s some ideological twist.


  54. Cindy: No particular meaning, other than that I read some of his work in undergrad and found it to be quite good. His wife, Ariel was also a historian They won a Pulitzer together. They are among the historians I would like to read more of one day.


  55. Love Durant. Been a few years since I read some of his volumes and want to read more of him but so little time. I love how he (and his wife) approached history as a “biography of civilization”.

    Great quote:

    “Epilogue—Why Rome fell”, The Story of Civilization, 3 Caesar And Christ,

    “A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself within. The essential causes of Rome’s decline lay in her people, her morals, her class struggle, her failing trade, her bureaucratic despotism, her stifling taxes, her consuming wars.”

    We can pretty much check most of those on our list today. Ouch.


  56. Cindy, I get hives when I read Pink. I literally had to remove his “Sovereignty of God” from my house after I read it because it creeped me out so much. I felt like I was blaspheming a great, merciful and glorious Yahweh by even reading it!

    Not only do they massacre Romans but they blaspheme God in doing so!


  57. Cindy:
    I think all history is written from an ideological/philosophical perspective. Historiography is the field of study which covers these perspectives. Durant is at times within the vein of Spengler and more recently Paul Johnson.

    Lydia: Nice quote! I looked on the Amazon site this morning and saw the full set of (used) for around $100.00. Quite a bargain.


  58. Full set of “The Story of Civilization” I meant to write. I find it really inspiring that he and his wife had such a love for this field, and produced great work together. They came from such different backgrounds!


  59. How uncanny, Keith. I was also thinking of Paul Johnson. Have you read, “History of the Jews”? It has been about 15 years but I would love to read it again –but loaned my copy out and never got it back.

    Durant? The Library! I had to stop collecting books as it got out of hand.


  60. Paul Johnson’s “Intellectuals” is really good as is his “Modern Times”…I have not read “The History of the Jews”, but am sure it is good. So little time to read!


  61. Thanks, Keith. It was my impression that the Story of Civilization was a well-respected source, but I wouldn’t be adept at evaluating bias. That’s why I asked. I thought that it was better than the encyclopedia that someone sold to my parents, back when kids had need of such things. Now, give me something from Scientific American, and I’ll size it up the bias rather quickly.

    🙂 I actually parted (painfully) with 60% of my books last year. I had so many that a used bookstore owner came to my house. The Salvation Army got the rest. It was a very hard thing to do.


  62. Will there be liquor and gambling open on the cruise? I’ve heard some Christian cruise events don’t. Not that it bothers me either way. My wife doesn’t an I’m a reformed alcoholic 4 years now by His grace.


  63. @CindyK, @Lydia:

    Remember what happened to A.W.Pink. He reached the theoretical ultimate end state of Protestantism, “The One True Church with Only One Member”, worshipping alone every Sunday because EVERY church outside of himself was Apostate or Heretical by the standard of A.W.Pink’s Perfectly Parsed Utterly Correct Theology.

    “The Dwarf is for the Dwarf! I Won’t Be Taken In!”


  64. Oh Cindy K I’m so sorry! My husband keeps threatening to sell my books. There will be bloodshed. I saw the entire collection of The Story of Civilization at the used books fair this year, it really pained me to leave it there. Hmm, maybe I should make Ed’s closet into a library…


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