One of the reasons why Christians differ in their views and approaches to cultural engagement is because they not only view their own history differently, but also because they view our present responses to that history very differently. Do we have an accurate picture of Church history? What responsibility, if any, do we have for the sins committed by Christians in the past (or present)? What are the challenges present in coming to a consensus on these issues? These are some of the questions I will tackle in this second part of the series. This post is a part of a series that is meant to be read in order. For part 1, start here.
The first grid we need for understanding what it means to be Christians in culture is that of historical humility. Continue Reading
My family recently moved to a new neighborhood near our church. From the outside, this neighborhood is seen as one of the better neighborhoods in our county. It is perceived as being full of neighbors who are close and intimate with one another – a community that has been relatively untouched by the slow erosion of neighborhoods happening all around us. I moved into this neighborhood with great anticipation, eager to be greeted by our new neighbors upon our arrival. After all, it’s really easy to “love your neighbor” when they love you first, right? I secretly hoped this new neighborhood would make my task of following Jesus convenient and comfortable.
Weeks and months went by without much interaction from any of our neighbors – until I finally met a nice woman who lives a few doors down from me. She and her husband have been living in the same house in this neighborhood for almost 40 years! She began to tell me about all of the other neighbors and how long they have lived here (some for 20, 30, or 40 years as well). I asked her how often they get together as neighbors for meals or other events. Sadly, she told me that while they used to get together often, they have not done so in a very long time. When I asked her why, she couldn’t point to any reason. They just don’t.
Even the strongest of our neighborhoods and small communities have not been untouched by the many fractures eroding the foundations of our neighborly relationships. How can Christians respond to the failing health of communities and the polarization of tribalism in our culture when we hardly know other church members, let alone our next-door neighbors? Continue Reading
How are we today as the Church meant to read the creation account as told in Genesis 1 and 2? Many Evangelical leaders today paint the picture that the only faithful interpretations of these chapters are an explicitly “literal” one, meaning that Christians must believe in a young earth, creationist science, etc. One only needs to briefly read and listen to the likes of Ken Ham and Ray Comfort to see how their teachings have permeated into many modern churches and pastors. Such leaders would have us believe this view of creation and our origins is not only the only choice a Christian has, but is also the historic view of the church.
But is this really the case? Is a literal 6-day young-earth reading of creation really the only way to read the text? Indeed, is it even the most historically and Biblically faithful? Many proponents of the Creation movement today would have us believe so. However, when we actually turn to the pages of church history itself, we actually find something quite different. Through a brief study of some of the giants of church history (from antiquity to today) is that a literal creationist reading has not always been the way the church has read the text. I want to briefly consider the works of 6 figures from church history, who I have selected because of their influence as well as their clarity on the subject at hand. My point in doing so is not to cast doubt on the Creationist view, but to broaden our approach to be more considerate of views other than our own. Continue Reading
There is a temptation when we look back on figures in history to view them as a finished product; individuals who began their life’s journey in as prolific of a manner as the way they ended it. The Reformed tradition often gets this wrong when we look back on our own heroes. John Calvin – the Giant of Geneva and author of the Institutes – is no exception. We know of his incredible achievements, yet there is another side to John Calvin: a man who suffered much and caused sufferings for others, a man who got as many things wrong as he got right, a man who struggled with the sins of pride and poor temperament. I have learned much from Calvin’s works and his successes, but I’d like to suggest at least four lessons that we can all learn from some of his mistakes and failures in his early years of ministry. Continue Reading