New Post: Keep the Why
I was going to stop posting on conservative evangelicalism, but maybe just one more time before I move on to other topics. I really think Christians need “keep the why” in our statements about lifestyle & culture. I say this because I’m troubled by a few things: 1) the society we live in is Biblically illiterate. The Bible, along with Shakespeare, Aesop and Hans Christian Anderson lays in a dusty corner of our collective mind, untouched in years. Most folks at the mall or coffeeshop you drive by would struggle to explain the difference between Paul, Jesus and Moses. This is not my way of condemning society but simply a fact about the world in which we live. 2) Many humans, by their nature, want a “moral life”- honestly, I think this is a temptation from Satan that he uses to undermine the work of the gospel, but I digress. Ideas like “people are basically good,” “live well,” “be a good person,” are very popular, and are what they expect a Christian to say or support. 3)Most Christians don’t hold a “biblical worldview”- they are Therapeutic Moralists.(this was from a study of american teens in youth groups) They too expect us to say “you’re okay, just live a good life and God will bless you.”
I don’t think God sent Jesus to make us Moral. I think he sent Jesus so that we might be Holy.
This has profound ramifications in how we live and work. I think of the Quakers, who in a previous century housed, feed, taught and welcomed escaped slaves into their communities, when slaves were seen as sinful half-men (mark of Cain, sexual predators, devil worshipers,etc). A “good christian family” of the time would not have extended Christian hospitality in such a way. [you’ll notice that “good christian family” isn’t in the Bible]- maybe make a contribution to the folks that minister on the front lines, but take a black man into their home? What would the neighbors think?
Our society’s standards for “moral behavior” often fall short of the kinds of selfless devotion, personal sacrifice and humility that are described in the Bible and identifiable in the lives of early Christians. But we won’t recognize this if we don’t know the Bible.
Secondly, in public discussions of moral issues, I think we need to recognize that both our opposition and our audience are ignorant of the Bible’s teachings. People get that Christians “don’t believe” in abortion, pornography, sex outside of marriage, etc… but the burden of explanation is on Us to explain our views. If we stop at the “what”- we lose the opportunity to share God’s truth with those around us. It’s very likely your one-sentence bible lesson will be all the Bible they get that week.
Here are some profound truths that I think we should put back into these conversations (and our conversations with coworkers and friends)
God is Our Creator:
“Christians are uncomfortable with abortion because God made every human on purpose, and I think that includes unborn babies.”
“I’m not in favor of euthanasia because I believe every human life is a gift from God”
Humans are sinful:
I don’t believe humans are basically good, I think we have the potential for that, but it’s in our nature to be selfish and do evil things.
And this final point is probably the most challenging:
If you are a Christian Leader, your audience/room/congregation is expecting you to support their Therapeutic Moralism. They will regularly mishear what you say. I think you have a responsibility to surprise and challenge them. Even sometimes directly attack the false philosophies that are a part of their sub-Christian worldview. (there used to be this guy who preached in a “they say, but I say” pattern… I can’t remember his name…. 😉
I’m hopeful that regular one-sentence bible lessons will enrich our churches and our communities.