Review of Desiring the Kingdom by James K. A. Smith

Summary

Desiring the KingdomJames K. A. Smith sets out to present a vision of what a distinctively Christian education should look like. Without discarding the importance of what Christians think (worldview), he argues that authentic Christian learning ought to focus primarily on the formation of Christian desires (‘social imaginary’). In short, Smith argues that Christian education is more about formation than information, more about what one loves than what one knows. Practically speaking, distinctively Christian education should mean much more than merely teaching what is taught at any other university, but just from a Christian worldview. Rather, Christian education should be fundamentally rooted in liturgical worship as that discipline which forms students’ desires. Thus, he describes this educational ideal as ‘ecclesial,’ rooted in formative liturgical worship.

Smith’s philosophy of education is based on an understanding of worship, which is rooted in a specific anthropology. Therefore, although his main goal is to present a philosophy of education, his work has much broader implications for areas such as anthropology and corporate worship.

Smith begins his case by presenting an anthropology, because one’s view on education (and worship) is intrinsically linked to one’s understanding of the nature of man. Whereas the prevalent Christian anthropology seems to view man as primarily a thinking or believing creature, Smith argues that man is primarily a lover or desirer. Man’s decisions and behavior is primarily oriented by desire, what he loves, a vision of the ‘good life’ and a corresponding longing for it.

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Calvin on Loving Others as Image-Bearers

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The Lord enjoins us to do good to all without exception, though the greater part, if estimated by their own merit, are most unworthy of it. But Scripture subjoins a most excellent reason, when it tells us that we are not to look to what men in themselves deserve, but to attend to the image of God, which exists in all, and to which we owe all honour and love. … Say that he is unworthy of your least exertion on his account; but the image of God, by which he is recommended to you, is worthy of yourself and all your exertions. … We are not to reflect on the wickedness of men, but look to the image of God in them, an image which, covering and obliterating their faults, should by its beauty and dignity allure us to love and embrace them.

John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, book III, chapter 7, section 6.

Ligon Duncan on God’s Sovereignty and Human Freedom

Ligon Duncan provides two quality video responses about a topic which always seems to be a hot issue among Christians: God’s sovereignty and human responsibility.

In the first video Duncan affirms that God’s sovereignty and human responsibility are not contradictory concepts but are assumed side by side in scripture. They are not mutually exclusive but are coordinate truths.

In the second video he defines human freedom (often called “free will”) from a correct understanding of the human condition in light of man’s utter sinfulness (total depravity).

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The Cross = My Infinite Worth? (John Piper)

Today I was reading in The Supremacy of God in Preaching by John Piper and I ran across the paragraph below. This paragraph really seems to be just a side thought in Piper’s argument, but nonetheless, it caught my attention. Read it for yourself:

It horribly skews the meaning of the cross when contemporary prophets of self-esteem say that the cross is a witness to my infinite worth, since God was willing to pay such a high price to get me. The biblical perspective is that the cross is a witness to the infinite worth of God’s glory, and a witness to the immensity of the sin of my pride. What should shock us is that we have brought such contempt upon the worth of God that the very death of his Son is required to vindicate that worth. The cross stands in witness to the infinite worth of God and the infinite outrage of sin.

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