Top (from left): Al Franken, Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Roy Moore. Bottom: John Besh, Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Piven, and Richard Dreyfuss. (AP images)
The past month or so, we’ve seen incident after incident after incident of sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct (Weinstein, Franken, Moore, etc.). We’ve witnessed (or participated in) the #MeToo trend, bringing awareness to and identifying what is apparently a pervasive problem in our society. Yet, as these scandals have unfolded, many have responded with shock and surprise. “I can’t believe that [so and so] did that…”
Christians believe in the doctrine of sin — that humanity is broken and rebellious against God, rejecting his good purposes. And so, on the one hand, Christians are never totally surprised when humanity acts heinously. We have theological categories for this.
On the other hand, there’s a certain level of shock that should always be present — a shock that matches the degree of sin’s audacity. Even as we understand humanity’s disposition to sin and propensity to commit great acts of evil, this reality doesn’t make sin any less appalling. Furthermore, due to God’s (common) restraining grace on humanity, we expect people to treat others with a certain base-level of dignity, even in their sinfulness.
But, at this point in the cultural story, if you’re still surprised when the latest sexual assault scandal emerges, you shouldn’t be.
As always, James K.A. Smith is equally perceptive of cultural habits as he is insightful in his analysis of them.
In today’s The NFL’s Thanksgiving games are a spectacular display of America’s ‘God and country’ obsession, published over at the The Washington Post, Smith plays on a common thesis in his writings:
Whereas many see our culture’s habits, traditions, and institutions as mundane, non-religious affairs, James sees much more at stake. They are competing rituals, or “religious” liturgies competing for our worship and shaping our loves.
Christian worship is formative — forming us into a people who love Christ and his kingdom. Our competing cultural “liturgies” (e.g., here: a traditional NFL Thanksgiving; or in other places in Smith’s writing: e.g., the mall as a house of worship for consumerism — quite relevant for tomorrow’s Black Friday) have a deformative power, pulling on our affections and, in the process, misplacing them (idolatry).
Should we engage in ministry and pursue the mission even when it might involve putting ourselves in potentially harmful situations. Yes. Absolutely. Without a doubt. We do not make an idol out of our welfare and self-preservation.
But what if we have a family? What if doing this sort of ministry and pursuing the mission in this way not only potentially endangers ourselves, but also our family and our children — those of whom Paul says, “[I]f anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8).
John Piper — “Short answer: Yes.”
Why? Because the cause is worth the risk, and the children are more likely to become Christ-exalting, comfort-renouncing, misery-lessening exiles and sojourners in this way than by being protected from risk in the safety of this world.
Read the article, Risk Your Kids for the Kingdom? On Taking Children to Unreached Peoples.
See “for obedience to Jesus Christ,” 1:2; “obedience to the truth [of the gospel],” 1:22; “they disobey the word [of the gospel],” 2:8; “some do not obey the word [of the gospel],” 3:1; “those who do not obey the gospel of God,” 4:17; cf. outside of 1 Peter — 2 Thes 2:8; Rom 1:5; 15:18; 16:26; Acts 6:7.
The gospel message is not merely something to be believed; but, rather, it is also something to be obeyed. It is not merely a proposition to be heard and considered — something like, “Believe it if you feel like it.” No. Accompanying the gospel is a summons straight from God himself, a summons to believe. To not believe is not to take a neutral stance towards the gospel. It is to rebel; it is to disobey God himself, rejecting his very appointed means of salvation (see 1 Peter 2:4-8).
Yesterday The Gospel Coalition unveiled its new TGC Courses.
These look like they’ll be great for Sunday school, small groups, and personal study. A great resource — and free!
Learn more here, and watch the video below.