Issue #62

The Virtual Good Life, Gun Control Debate, Christian Historiography and American History, and more...

Issue #62
Photo by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral / Unsplash

Why “The Garden Weekly?” 🌳

I’ve never really explained it, and I can understand why it may seem like a name more in line with a gardening magazine to some.

The Garden, Because It’s Tended

The first reason is the obvious one. The Garden Weekly is a curated set of seven articles, podcasts, videos, or books that we recommend you look at this week. It’s carefully tended and curated, like a garden. We try to choose content that is both challenging and nourishing. We choose content that challenges your preconceptions of what it means to be a follower of Messiah Jesus, and those that strengthen your resolve to live for him. We believe that our worldview as American Christians is limited, so we try to draw content from a variety of perspectives that will give you a broader view of what it means to live for Jesus.

The Garden, Because It’s Our Home

Why seven pieces of content? Seven is the number of creation. After seven days, God planted a garden, in the East, in Eden (Genesis 2:8). God created man outside of the garden and then placed him in it, as a test. Would we trust God, or choose what is right and wrong for ourselves? Our forefather and mother failed the test, as have we all. We were banished from what was to be our home into exile, into the wilderness.

But Jesus Messiah passed the test for us. All who choose a life of cross-bearing suffering rather than pleasurable, sinful death can have it. The reward is what we failed to achieve: eternal life and communion in true pleasure with God. Not a harps and baby angel pleasure, but a working, earthy pleasure of spreading the Garden of God to fill creation as his co-rulers. And not because we deserve it, but because it’s a gift.

The Garden is what we were made for. Its smell fills our nostrils in the cool summer breeze and the lapping waves. We taste it in the warm dinner conversation with close friends. We feel it in the hug of someone we love and who loves us.

We hope you also see the garden in some of what we share with you.

Explore the Scriptures 📖

God’s Hot Nose | Tim Mackie, Jon Collins, Carissa Quinn 🎧 →

This, and the “for more” link below, are some of the most interesting conversations that I’ve heard on God’s wrath/anger. The first time we think of God’s anger we think of Noah’s flood, but if we read the text carefully, we see that God doesn’t display anger there, but sadness. These two discussions help us get a more fully orbed picture of God’s wrath than is commonly portrayed.

For More:

Challenge Your Brain 🧠

The Virtual Good Life | Julie Miller 📃 →

This article tackles an interesting question, first brought up by philosopher Robert Nozick.

“Suppose there was a machine that would give you any experience you desired. This machine would stimulate your brain so that you would think and feel that everything is actually happening. Should you plug into this machine for life?”

This machine is rapidly becoming reality. Virtual reality and augmented reality technologies are rapidly accelerating. Within the next decade or two, the ability to sit at home yet navigate a virtual office will almost certainly be possible and perhaps required for some jobs. Less close, but certainly possible is the ability to trick our brains into thinking we’re laying on a Caribbean beach through all five senses.

How should we think Christianly about that question? That’s the task that Miller takes up, and she does it well.

An uncritical attitude toward any new technology often results in desensitization. Journalist Michael Harris warns that “every technology will alienate you from some part of your life. That is its job. Your job is to notice.” In this case, our job is to analyze the human cost of immersive virtual reality and notice how, by design, it alienates us from our humanity.
If this ministry helps you, please know that while we offer it for free, it is not free to run. If you are financially able and you would like to support us, you can purchase products through our store, join our membership program, or give a one-time donation. Visit the Supporting Us page to find out more about these options.

This is completely optional, and everything that is currently free will continue to be free. Thank you for reading The Garden Weekly.

Living This Christian Life 🤴👸

Debate: Gun Control and the Right to Bear Arms | Andrew Wilson and Bob Thune 📽 →

I love the concept of this series of debates from The Gospel Coalition. As a coalition, they hold the gospel central while allowing for disagreement on other important subjects. That kind of unity is difficult and can be costly, but it’s important because it’s what Jesus calls us to (Ephesians 4:3).

So they have started a series of “Good Faith” debates. “Good Faith” because, first, the debate is done in good faith between believers who believe that grace, kindness, and compassion are important when seeking truth. Second, they’re debates about what implications the gospel has for us to live out a “good faith.”

In this debate, British pastor Andrew Wilson and American pastor Bob Thune debate gun control. Wilson, an advocate of Christian non-violence, knows that he has his work cut out for him when talking to a conservative American Christian audience, so he makes both common good and theological points. Thune, who certainly has the easier job, argues for both using guns in defense, and potentially in protection from an overbearing government.

As always, listen with an open mind. This won’t be the last debate I link, I’m sure. In the comments below, share what you think is the best argument from each side!

Debate: Gun Control and the Right to Bear Arms | TGC Youtube

Christianity Is True ✝️

The Argument for God from Music | Gavin Ortlund and Scott Rae 🎧 →

Did you know that music can be a persuasive argument for God? I’ve heard the argument for God from beauty, but how Ortlund framed this was new to me. I found it interesting. It certainly made me more interested in his book to read how he fleshes it out more fully.

For More:

Are you enjoying this letter? You can subscribe via e-mail, RSS, and Twitter to be notified when new issues release.

Family Focus 🏡

Resources to Teach Kids About the Persecuted Church | Jenny Marcelene 📃 →

How do we talk to kids about believers under persecution?

Since many of us don’t experience persecution regularly, we easily forget the plight of believers worldwide. But if we ignore the hardships of our brothers and sisters, we’re possibly neglecting our responsibilities to them (Gal. 6:10) and unintentionally modeling callousness to our kids.

Marcelene provides resources for different age groups, from preschool to High School and young adults.

Listen and Learn 🎧

Born Again This Way | Rachel Gilson and Patrick Miller 🎧 →

Find out this week on Truth Over Tribe when Patrick sits down to talk with Rachel Gilson. Author of Born This Way: Coming Out, Coming to Faith, and What Comes Next 📚 (Affiliate Link), Rachel gets personal with us about how she first realized she was sexually attracted to other women, how she became a Christian, and how she has struggled to reconcile those two realities. As we learn more about her, the conversation then opens up to gay identities and relationships in the Bible and the many layers of gender and sexuality.
If you've enjoyed reading this letter, please share it with others and help us grow. We exist to help Christians grow in their faith and to make the name of Jesus Messiah glorified in all the earth. We grow thanks to readers like you sharing what we do with others. Thank you!

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

Christian Historiography and American History | Ryan McCormick 📃 →

In this article I don’t want to rehash the contentious arguments over CRT. Others have had and will continue to have that debate. Instead, in moments where the culture war is being waged with such ferocity, it is helpful to take a step back from the froth and fury and give the controversy greater context. Specifically, as a preface to this argument, I believe it is useful to frame the debate within a larger question: what sort of historiography should we as Christians adopt when approaching our own nation’s past?

Historiography is an approach to understanding and interpreting history.

Conservatives believe that history should be taught in a way that records the great achievements of Western or American history so as to bolster our reverence for this heritage…Conservatives very much believe it is essential that public history preserves for future generations the “important and remarkable achievements” of our country’s past…
…Liberals see history not as an opportunity to praise the “important and remarkable achievements” of our republican empire but to deconstruct our national myths, uncover how the putative greatness of the past often masks grievous oppression, and give voice to groups marginalized from orthodox histories.

Thus, while the conservative believes the function of history in public schools is to instill patriotism, the liberal believes that it should instead deconstruct our chauvinism.

Where McCormick goes next was surprising to me. He argues that liberal historiography has roots in Hebrew Scripture. Joshua—2 Kings were likely brought into their final form during the period that Israel was enslaved and forced into exile in Babylon. Because of Israel’s sin, the temple of YHWH was razed and Jerusalem burned. These scrolls of history were prophetically shaped to give a narrative voice explaining why Israel was in their current state. In that way, the prophets that shaped these histories into the form we now know were “deconstructing” their histories to show how their sin had led to judgment.

And like liberal historiographers today, the Jewish scribes’ excoriation of their nation’s past was part of a moral crusade: only by grappling with the past legacy of unrighteousness and purifying themselves of its stain could they hope to build a truly righteous Jewish community.

Steeped in biblical history as they were, later Christian writers would adopt a similar historiographical agenda. Rome might have seen itself as the divinely ordained consummation of world history, but Christian writers would unmask a more unflattering portrait. Revelation paints Rome as a whore riding a beast, drunk on the blood of the saints, trafficking in all kinds of oppression and demonic activity. Only by recognizing this apocalypsis, this “unveiling” of the truth, and repenting can anyone hope to escape the final condemnation and enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

However, not all is well in the progressive history camp. There is a difference between approaching history critically and preserving the knowledge of past sins as well as triumphs, and picturing history as purely evil.

Although the Jewish community exiled in Babylon sought to portray Israel’s past as a compromised one, from the historical accounts they edited together there remain stories and heroes we instinctively admire. Gideon, Samson, David, and Solomon may all be ambiguous figures, but there is a certain wisdom in Sunday school portrayals of their achievements. Our imaginations are gripped by Samson’s final triumph over his Philistine captors and David’s courageous stand against Goliath. Whatever subtle hints the narrative gives us about Solomon’s morally complicated legacy, the list of accomplishments and building projects leave us in legitimate awe. And the author of Hebrews singles out many of these figures for praise in its hall of faith (Heb. 11).

Christians, therefore, are called to witness not only the national triumphs but also the compromise and sin. America’s past is checkered enough to be full of both. Any attempt to portray America as an unblemished star or as hell on earth is flawed.

What I mean to suggest by all this is that a true Christian historiography gives witness to both the good and bad in human history. Sin has reigned since Adam, and under its rule every empire has rested on the blood and bones of the oppressed. And yet, at the same time, the psalmist can declare (as a present reality) that God has set humankind “a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (Ps 8:5), giving him marvelous dominion over the earth.

I’ve only clipped sections of this wonderful piece. With all the arguments and rage over what is taught in schools, especially about American history, this article needs to be read.

Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
— Matthew 7:18–20 (CSB)

Joel Fischer