“The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image,… therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love”.
Koko and I wish you all a blessed Thanksgiving! As the Psalmist says (Psalm 107:1-9),
1 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.
4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;
5 hungry and thirsty,their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.
8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.
I recently received Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel by Russell Moore. If you are not familiar with Moore he is the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. Onward is a profoundly deep and engaging look at American Christianity, some of its problematic preconceived notions, and a very encouraging way forward.
In this book Moore makes an argument for the Church to engage our culture while maintaining the Gospel of Christ. In our efforts to make our amends with the culture of modernity we have set Christ aside and elevated high moralism and perfectionism as the substance of our Christian faith. The end result is a religion that ostracises the culture for not living up to its moral expectations and pays a little more than lip service to Christ.
Moore suggests a better way of going, “Our call is to an engage alienation, a Christianity that preserves the distinctiveness of our gospel while not retreating from our callings as neighbors, and friends, and citizens”. The miscalculation of the church during modernity was that it naively thought if it toned down the Gospel it could present Christianity as a religion of values something that everyone can buy into, right? Wrong, there is a whole society that views values as Victorian moralism of a bygone age, leaving our churches with no attendees and no Gospel.
This is why Moore says, “We must learn to be strange enough to have a prophetic voice, but connected enough to prophesy to those who need to hear. We need to be those who know both how to warn and to welcome, to weep and to dream.” Rather than tone down the Gospel we should be doing as Paul says and holding it up. This is what Christianity is about. I also appreciate his line about being strange. At times it feels like we want to show the world how much we are like them. Moore tells us to accept the strange. Moore goes on to say “Let’s not aspire to be a moral majority but a gospel community, one that doesn’t exist for itself but for the larger mission of reaching the whole world with the whole Gospel.”
This review has gone longer than I wanted so i’ll abruptly end here. I highly recommend Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel for the laity all the way up to Church leaders.
Rating 5 out of 5.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Years ago a pastor friend e-mailed me and said he was reading a book by Collin Hansen Young Restless and Reformed. He went on to say it helped him understand me better. I knew him pretty well and I knew what he was saying was out of candid sincerity but it made me wonder what was it that lead him to believe any of these things about me. Was I young? At the time maybe. Was I restless? Looking back I can definitely say yes. Was I Reformed? That’s too complicated to get in to here. But one thing I wasn’t was the crowed described in Young Restless and Reformed.
The idea behind Young Restless and Reformed was that there were these evangelicals who experienced the best that contemporary evangelicalism could offer (i.e. Arminian, seeker driven, motivational preaching, cutting edge praise and worship music, mega churches, celebrity pastors, etc.) and came out of that feeling short changed. The product in other words didn’t live up to the hype. They found refuge in the theology of the Reformers but were restless because they didn’t know how to bring this recovered theology into contemporary Church. This became a new endevor for the YRR crowed.
Enter in Austin Fischer, Young, Restless, No Longer Reformed describing his way from “Reformed” theology back to Arminian theology. I haven’t read this book but I came across an interesting blog post written by Kevin DeYoung which you can find here.
“I’ll conclude by summarizing a Protestant evangelical Baptist method thusly: it is illumined by the Spirit, rooted in biblical exegesis, governed by patterns of biblical language, shaped by the biblical economy, guided by the biblically-derived rule of faith, guarded by biblically-derived tradition, refined by systematic and philosophical reflection, and located within the communion of the saints.” -Matt Emerson
You can read the full article here.
“Strangely enough, the increasing marginalization of Christianity offers an opportunity for the church to reclaim a gospel vision that has been too often obscured, even within the sectors of the church we think of as “conservative.” Russell Moore, Onward
This passage from Moore’s book Onward could catch us off guard. In other words the assumption might be, how can we go wrong by being conservative? If we qualify that term a bit we want to conserve the teachings of Christ. However, Moore describes a situation where we (the church) have rested on our laurels of be conservative so much so that the primary issues of Christ crucified have become “obscured” in exchange for something more like social conservatism.
More’s suggestion that we reclaim the gospel vision is definitely a good point. I would also add that we begin to open dialogue so that we might discuss what that even means.
Conceptually this is one of the hardest for contemporary evangelicals to grasp. Any suggestion of why that might be? I’m all ears (or eye balls).
12 Therefore, just as t sin came into the world through one man, and u death through sin, and v so death spread to all men 1 because w all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but x sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not y like the transgression of Adam z who was a type of a the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man’s trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for b many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For c the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought d justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness e reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore, as one trespass 1 led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness 2 leads to justification and life for f all men. 19 For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s h obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now i the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased j grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, k as sin reigned in death, l grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.