Ben Hein

Ben is a husband to Neva and father to his two boys, Felix and Kaius. He also has the privilege of being a pastor at Shady Grove Presbyterian Church in Derwood, MD. The views expressed on this blog are not representative of the views of Shady Grove Presbyterian Church.

There is no doubt that we in the West – particularly in the United States – are facing an authority crisis. One only needs to take a cursory look at posts on social media, comments on YouTube, or the stories run on various news channels to see that we have a real problem with authority. Intense disagreements with authority figures or established sources of information have become the norm for the world we live in.

Author Tom Nichols has described this phenomenon in his book The Death of Expertise. He describes what we’re experiencing as the “collapse of any division between professionals and laypeople, students and teachers, knowers and wonderers.”[1] Equal rights means that our opinions must be equal as well; to reject authority and expert figures is to assert our own autonomy and individualism – both of which are national virtues. “The death of expertise,” Nichols writes, is a “rejection of authority in all its forms coupled to an insistence that strongly held opinions are indistinguishable from facts.”[2]

Nichols identifies several causes for what we’re all experiencing today, such as the lost art of conversation, critical thinking being replaced by the Google search engine, and the fusion of entertainment with journalism. Yet regardless of its cause, this shift in the public attitude is marked by the fact that it is now a positive thing to be hostile toward sources of expertise and authority.

It is in this context of our current age that makes the Christian view of authority completely unique. In a world where we have associated the word ‘authority’ with abuses of power, privilege and platform, true Christian authority is marked by an ethic of service, sacrifice and suffering. The Church has been tasked with shining a light on this ethic of authority by Christ himself through the practice of ordination. Continue Reading

The issue of baptism is one that not all Christians agree on, but sometimes the lack of agreement in this area leads to an assumption that this isn’t an important issue. That simply isn’t the case. Jesus commands his people in the great commission to make disciples by baptizing and teaching them (Matthew 28:18-20). There’s good, earnest Christians on either side of this issue. But regardless of where you fall on this, it is very important. The purpose of this article is to explain why I baptized my infant son Felix into the church. What follows is adapted from the explanation I gave before baptizing my son, and many people commented it was very helpful for them. Continue Reading

The resources listed below are by no means exhaustive. However, I do believe that these are some of the best resources you will be able to get your hands on. The list is broken up by subject. There are both Christian and non-Christian resources listed together. I trust the reader to use their own wisdom and best judgment over what will be helpful for them during this season of life.

If you are going through a season of depression or anxiety, please remember that while books will be helpful your greatest relief will come from a trusted friend, a wise counselor and a competent doctor. Don’t suffer in silence.

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I’ve recently taken to enjoying strolls through our local Barnes and Noble. In just the past few months, I’ve been surprised at the kinds of books that jump out to me – books I wouldn’t have ever though to check out on my own. You never know what you’ll find when you’re not looking for anything.

Today was one of those days where I found a real gem. As I walked past the store’s section for Black History Month, I saw some of the books which one might come to expect today; The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, memoirs of Rosa Parks, books by or about Dr. King. One book stuck out to me – March by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin (illustrated by Nate Powell). Continue Reading