Worth Reading - 4/23

1. Kevin DeYoung writes about the importance of honesty in communication. The God of justice hates false reports:

This post is not about any one thing in particular. And at the same time, it is about a great many things that take place on the internet. Here’s the Bible passage I want us to reflect on for a few minutes:

“You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with a wicked man to be a malicious witness. You shall not fall in with the many to do evil, nor shall you bear witness in a lawsuit, siding with the many, so as to pervert justice, nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Exodus 23:1-3).

I see at least four prohibitions in these verses.
How should evangelicals wishing to restore the moral foundations of public life respond to fellow citizens and self-proclaimed atheists like James Sansom, who believe that natural law supports an ethic of self-indulgence against the sort of morality we mean to restore? Should we appeal to the same philosophical system on which atheists rely, or is there a better strategy? Should the success of evangelicals engaging the public square depend on hoping supernaturally grounded moral standards can be restored by alleging no need to rely on God or supernaturalism of any kind? Or is there some more effective strategy?

I will argue that once secular society generally denies the reflected presence of divinely imposed moral standards in nature, appealing to nothing other than nature as it is can no longer be a viable strategy for reviving confidence in the possibility of discovering such standards; and that under such conditions restoring the possibility of discovering such standards depends not on alleging to agree with the irrelevance of supernaturalism, but rather on appealing directly to the reality and relevance of supernaturalism for discerning the reflection of moral order in nature.

3. Karen Swallow Prior came to visit us at Southeastern a few weeks ago. She was talking about her most recent book, Fierce Convictions, and the importance of intellectual rigor and social engagement:

In order to change the mind of Parliament about the slave trade, More realized she would first have to change the people’s perspective. Her abolitionist efforts were some of the first propaganda campaigns seeking to influence public opinion.

”The tracts were politically and religiously conservative but socially liberal,” Prior said. “They supported traditional hierarchies and work ethics, yet empowered the poor in arguably radical ways by providing reading material that improved literacy with the use of elevated language accessible to readers.”

The tracts became very popular in London since they combined entertainment and instruction, she said. The tracts’ timing made them applicable to poor classes who were becoming literate.

”The tracts included not only lessons in morality and religion but also recipes, thrifty hints, and tips for self-improvement,” she said.
Humility means we don’t just affirm in the abstract that we “we see in a mirror dimly” (I Cor. 13:12), but we genuinely receive this truth with our hearts, and put it into practice in our day-to-day interactions. Other people can see things we cannot see, and editors in particular are sensitive to things that writers cannot see—especially issues of formatting, publicity, and style. In dealing with an editor, as in all of life, we must heed James 1:19: “let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

It can be really hard, especially when you are painstaking about the details of your writing, to receive editorial changes and comments that feel slipshod or insensitive to your voice or meaning. The temptation is to get annoyed and reject the whole thing. But “a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15), and “he who listens to reproof gains intelligence” (Prov. 15:32). Even in relatively poor editing there are usually things we can learn.

My experience is that writers tend to either not care at all about edits (especially if it’s an interview or they don’t write regularly), or they get bent out of shape at any changes. The goal is to strike a balance between the two, and so we need to know our temptation. In so many areas of life it is important to “submit to the process.” If we submit to the editorial process, though it can be uncomfortable at points, it will strength and broaden our writing over the long-term.