When people hear, “Head for the hills,” they think, you know, to light out for the mountains and build a compound and sit there and wait for the end. I don’t think we’re called to that. I know I’m not called to that; most people aren’t called to that…. It means as lay Christians, we have to build some kind of walls to separate ourselves from the world so that we can continue to go out into the world and minister to people and be who Christ asked us to be.
This podcast is a discussion between Al Mohler and Rod Dreher on The Benedict Option (which is now published, even though it wasn’t when the podcast was recorded) which I really encourage you all to consider. Not only is the topic of coming to terms with our identity as Christians in an increasingly militant secular culture of particular interest to me, as an aspiring pastor, but this is a genuinely useful example of how to pursue dialog between Christian sects. While Mohler is an evangelical and Dreher is eastern orthodox, they both clearly respect and engage with the arguments and positions of the other side, admitting the good without minimizing or ignoring areas of disagreement.
Personally, this book is on my short list, so I hope some of you might also consider reading it as well. I would love to have some engagement about the ideas presented and how the concepts might have some purchase in the Bible Presbyterian community. We certainly have a tradition of separatism in the founding ideals of the denomination, but the particular crises that we face, culturally and politically, have shifted. We need to consider how we can preserve our witness and communal ties without compromising the gospel, and I think that the concepts in this book might be a springboard to begin these conversations again.
Russell Moore – Many of you may be aware of the scuffle in the SBC about Russell Moore, but I wanted to bring it up, in case you were not. Personally, I admire Russell Moore a great deal, partially for his willingness to speak honestly and openly about Trump during the election. While I would not say that I can get behind absolutely everything which Moore says, I believe that he understands correctly the passing of the Religious Right and represents a mature attempt to negotiate a place for Christianity in culture on this side of secularization. The tempest seems to have passed this time, but if Moore is ousted from the SBC, I believe it would bode poorly for the trajectory of the denomination moving forward.
…preaching is a public authoritative proclamation of the gospel, through ordained ambassadors of Christ, who plead with people to be reconciled to God on Christ’s behalf, on the grounds of Christ’s person and work
This may not sound that interesting to most of you, but there’s really a fair bit of flux and misunderstanding about what the actual act of preaching is, to whom it should be addressed, the claims it makes upon the hearers, etc…. The outworkings of these debates very much impact what congregations in the pews should expect to hear from their pulpits, as well as what they should not. The above definition is a useful one, I believe, as it makes the explicit purpose of preaching clear – reconciliation with God. Preaching is not ultimately a seminar on godly living or the finer points of systematic theology, as much as I enjoy the finer points of systematic theology. All of these things are biblical knowledge which may be (and must be) brought to bear upon the question of reconciliation with God, but if we, as preachers, forget our greater calling as ambassadors of Christ, calling the children of God to be reconciled to their Father, we are not doing the principal work of our office.