God, Give Us Discomfort
The broad evangelical movement is in a difficult moment and has been for several years now. Much has been said and written on the various social issues that are being debated. Like myself, perhaps you have been uncomfortable with knowing how to address issues like racism in the church. That’s okay.
In fact, I believe that discomfort can be a God-given gift that draws us to think more deeply on a topic. Many of us may shy away from discomfort, especially on hot-button social issues. I think, however, that Christians should think more deeply and clearly, read more widely and thoughtfully, and respond more graciously and kindly than any others on these hot social issues.
If you will, pray this with me:
God, help us to be uncomfortable with easy answers. Help us to love truth (Ephesians 5:8-10), but shun half-truths (Isaiah 59:14-15).
Give us clear minds (Job 38:36) and give us wisdom (James 1:5). Help us to display your love to a world that is in so much upheaval (1 Corinthians 13:1).
Give us the grace to enter into deep relationships and conversations with those who disagree with us (1 Peter 3:15).
Give us your heart for peace-making (Matthew 5:9), your heart for justice for the oppressed and marginalized (Deuteronomy 10:18, Isaiah 1:17), and your heart for those who mourn (Matthew 5:4).
Help us to be quick to listen and slow to speak (James 1:19). Compel us to have passion for justice and mercy (Matthew 23:23).
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Consider the Culture 🎨
The Song of Songs has a lengthy history of varied interpretation? Is it an allegory of God’s love for His people? Or a picture of Jesus and the church? Or did the Holy Spirit inspire “mere” love poetry? Longman believes the last option is the most correct. Although the Song of Songs can certainly be viewed as a type of Christ and the church because Christ and the church is a “marriage”-like relationship (Ephesians 5:22-23), that is not the primary intent of the book.
The Remnant Radio crew interview Dr. Longman on a range of topics involving the Song of Songs and how Christians should relate to sex and sexuality more generally. They also dig into the “purity culture” of the 90s and 00s, and they try to address both the good and the bad in it.
- Song of Songs (New International Commentary on the Old Testament) | Tremper Longman 📚
- Chasing Love: Sex, Love, and Relationships in a Confused Culture | Sean McDowell 📚
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Read and Reflect 📖
Professor Michael Kruger explains why Protestants believe in Sola Scriptura (scripture alone) and what it’s trying to protect us from.
At the heart of Sola Scriptura, is the recognition that fallen humans are always looking to replace God’s authority with some other human/creaturely authority. After all, that was the essence of the very first sin in the garden. The rebellion of Adam and Eve was fundamentally a rejection of God’s word that if they ate of the fruit they would surely die.
Ever since, humans have been remarkably inventive in the variety of authorities they erect in place of God. Sola Scriptura is designed simply to prevent these other authorities from ruling the Christian and to keep God’s Word rightly as our ultimate guide.
He then gives us three authorities that compete for our attention with scripture: traditionalism—“church tradition is our guide,” individualism—“my private Bible interpretation is my guide,” and existentialism—“religious experience is my guide.” If you haven’t thought about how you interpret scripture, I recommend this article to understand these three competitors for our understanding of scripture.
- Canon Revisited: Establishing the Origins and Authority of the New Testament Books | Michael J. Kruger 📚
Explore the Scriptures 📖
What does wisdom have to do with joy? Proverbs 8 speaks of a woman who is the wisdom of God personified and worked alongside God to create all things. The BibleProject team writes about how we do and don’t trust in Lady Wisdom and why we should.
…If Adam and Eve had trusted God’s knowledge of good and bad, it would have kept them safe to enjoy all the good things he had made for them. But when Eve was deceived into doubting God’s motives, her perspective about his instruction changed. Now she perceived God’s wise counsel as limiting her well-being instead of preserving it.
God’s wisdom is always for our good, even if we can’t see how in our limited perspective. Throughout the Old Testament, we learn that when we, humans, fail to allow God to “see” what is right and wrong, and we try to “take” what God has forbidden us:
These observations teach us that there are two ways to “see” and “take.” Eve saw a reality that seemed to contradict God’s instruction, so she took matters into her own hands against his counsel. But Abraham listened to God. He believed that God was leading him to life, even if that included a detour with death, so he took his most beloved son and followed God’s counsel. Both perspectives were limited and both required trust in either God or in oneself. These options appeared deadly at one point, but only one way would lead to life. Jesus put it like this: “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it” (Luke 9:24).
Of course, all of this leads us to Jesus Christ. Jesus “became wisdom from God for us” (1 Corinthians 1:30), and “in [Jesus] are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3). In God’s perfect wisdom, He gave His one and only Son to be a sacrifice for us; to bear our sin and punishment (1 Peter 2:24). When we give up ourselves to follow our Messiah King, we give up our right to “see” what is right and wrong and submit ourselves to the “only wise God” (Romans 16:27).
Listen and Reflect 🎧
Many depictions of Jesus display a meek and mild man, hands out as if in surrender, face lifted to heaven. He looks like he would never hurt a fly. He looks physically incapable of hurting a fly. But we have one story of Jesus truly angry and he is not a weakling. He is physical. Of course, I write of Jesus overturning tables in the Jerusalem temple and driving moneychangers out with a whip.
Caroline Cobb is a music artist who asks, “Would Jesus turn over tables in our churches? Our social-media feeds? Our conferences? My concerts? My heart?” She identifies three reasons why Jesus was so enraged with the leaders of the temple: their “tarnished witness,” their “hollow worship,” and their “self-centered why.”
What’s our response to this warning? Should we stop writing and promoting our Christian books and music? Should we shutter the publishing houses, the record labels, the conferences? Would Jesus flip over my merch table?
These questions are hyperbolic, and we should not draw one-to-one comparisons between the temple and the church. But let’s sit in the discomfort for a moment. Let’s wrestle with this question before God: How have we become like the merchants and moneychangers Jesus raged against?
I’ve been greatly blessed as Biblical scholars Alastair Roberts, Derek Rishmaway, and Matthew Anderson discuss the various pieces of the Beatitudes. In this episode, they discuss the blessing on those who mourn. They work through a Biblical-Theological account of mourning by working through the Old Testament view of mourning and lament into how the modern West views mourning.
Preparing to mourn well isn’t often talked about, but I believe that it’s important to think about and even rehearse these difficult topics before we need them. This podcast is a great way to start thinking about mourning and lament from the Bible’s perspective.
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Christianity Is True ✝️
Brian Chilton walks us through nine sources we have for the resurrection of Jesus Messiah from death. Internet skeptics often regard “the Bible” as a single source, but, of course, “the Bible” didn’t exist when Jesus walked the earth, nor even when the apostles did. The Bible is a collection of writings from various authors, who lived in various places, at various periods of time.
What you may not know is that even skeptical New Testament scholars generally agree that we can look further than simply “Paul,” “Luke,” and other individual authors as a source. Chilton separates, for example, the 1 Corinthians 15 creed from the Romans 10:9 confession. Read on to find out how these nine sources give us historical confidence in what the apostles claim to have witnessed.
- The Layman's Manual on Christian Apologetics: Bridging the Essentials of Apologetics from the Ivory Tower to the Everyday Christian | Ed. Brian Chilton 📚
- On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision | William Lane Craig 📚
Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️
Spycraft and Soulcraft on the Front Lines of History: A Conversation with Former CIA Chief of Counterintelligence James Olson | Thinking in Public with Albert Mohler 🎧 →
We all want our country to be safe and free from threats, and we also know that this world is full of depravity and evil. But we also know that repaying “evil for evil” is not something that a nation should do (Romans 12:17); there should be moral standards in how it engages in protecting itself.
What are those standards? Is the killing of innocents ever okay?
What if those who mean us harm are using innocents as human shields, such that we cannot bring them to justice without collateral damage?
Can assassination (planned killing without a fair trial) be justified?
What about torture?
What if there’s an imminent threat to innocents and we know an evildoer knows relevant details?
Then is torture permissible? If so, how far?
Should we waterboard?
Break someone psychologically?
And how does a Christian, a “little Christ,” exist in this world?
This is something that James Olson has thought carefully about, and Mohler is respectful and thankful for Olson’s service to America, but also clearly disagrees with Olson on some aspects of what is permissible. However, this isn’t a debate, and the disagreements aren’t sharply addressed. I am interested where you land on this difficult topic.
Keep Your Mind on Things Above
I will be praying for you this week.
Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
— James 1:2-4 (CSB)
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