1. A few weeks ago, Aaron Earls wrote about the courage it will take to stand as a faithful Christian in the coming days. This is a message we need to understand now because it will only become more important in the future.
The bride of Christ has confronted and thrived in the midst of cultural embrace of triumphalist leaders parading as political messiahs, sub-biblical sexuality offering empty promises, the devaluing of human life from the unborn to the elderly, and rejection of our shared humanity over issues of race and class.
That the Church will come through victoriously on the other side yet again is not in doubt—not because our strength or accomplishments, but because of Christ’s strength in our weakness and His finished work on our behalf.
The only real question is about you and I. Will we make it through unscathed? Will individual Christians maintain their faithful witness in the midst of trying times? That all depends on how we choose to respond.
We will be told that there are only three options—capitulation, cowardice or cynicism. Each have their own temptations and allures, but each is faulty and unbiblical.
2. Derek Rishmawy tangles with the notion that people always live consistently with their doctrine. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't.
See, while I still believe that doctrine and life go together, I think there’s a bit of confusion more broadly about the connection between believing and living. People seem to have bought into a popular version of what economists call “rational actor theory”, where (on my dummy definition) people make their decisions in a goal-oriented, reflective, and maximizing way. In other words, there’s something of a clean link up between beliefs and behaviors. If you know one, you should be able to draw a straight line to the other.
This is the kind of folk theory you see at work in a lot of our conversations around politics, or in theology, and so forth. Joe believes in penal substitution, and he just punched Lou in the face, so clearly it’s his violent ideology at work. Jenny struggles with anxiety, so that must be her Arminian theology of providence crushing her with stress. Jake has been flirting with progressive theology lately, so we can expect him to acquire a harem soon. And so forth. Or, we’re shocked when someone who believes as we do acts in a manner we never would.
3. Over at RAAN (Reformed African American Network) they spent some time talking about a recent kerfuffle on social media. More significantly, the podcast talks about what can be learned from a mistake made in public about race relations.
4. Over at BBC an article considers why people are so gullible. I don't agree with everything the author argues, but it worth a read an some thought.
If you ever need proof of human gullibility, cast your mind back to the attack of the flesh-eating bananas. In January 2000, a series of chain emails began reporting that imported bananas were infecting people with “necrotizing fasciitis” – a rare disease in which the skin erupts into livid purple boils before disintegrating and peeling away from muscle and bone.
According to the email chain, the FDA was trying to cover up the epidemic to avoid panic. Faced with the threat, readers were encouraged to spread the word to their friends and family.
The threat was pure nonsense, of course. But by 28 January, the concern was great enough for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to issue a statement decrying the rumour.
Did it help? Did it heck. Rather than quelling the rumour, they had only poured fuel on its flames. Within weeks, the CDC was hearing from so many distressed callers it had to set up abanana hotline. The facts became so distorted that people eventually started to quote the CDC as the source of the rumour. Even today, new variants of the myth have occasionally reignited those old fears.
5. Social media gives us the ability to speak too quickly (see number 3 above). Richard Clark argues that the tendency to be a hashtag activist leads us to respond too quickly to perceived injustices.
If only every online controversy or burst of outrage were as valuable or effective. Perhaps because we’ve seen some Twitter-storms work effectively, they have become a go-to for airing grievances and frustrations even when it would be better to workshop them with friends and experts. We sometimes confuse a call for something to be done with the act of actually doing something—instead of giving strategic thought to the best course of action, much less working to become a part of the solution. Often the wise course is instead to wait, listen, and think for a while.
To wait and listen is not inaction. Few of us are crime-fighting superheroes. We are rarely directly affected by, or experts in, the issue at hand. For many issues, it might be better to not immediately enter the fray—especially if we suspect we may be justifying ourselves by showing that we’re on the right side of the latest cause. In most cases, the charitable and wise step is to listen to those who have “a dog in the fight” or more expertise about the issue. As Proverbs puts it, “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (29:20, ESV).
6. Why would a church support abortion? Russell Moore unpacks one explanation. The answer is pretty awful.
In 2006, Schaper wrote an article about the abortion she had. She wrote that her abortion was the right choice since she and her husband had young twins at the time. “Because women are mature sexual beings who make choices, birth control and abortion are positive moral forces in history,” she wrote. “They allow sex to be both procreational and recreational, for both men and women.”
What was striking to me at the time was that Schaper did not rely on the standard abortion advocacy arguments of the unborn child as a “clump of tissue” or a “mass of cells.” Instead, she called her abortion murder, and spoke of her unborn child as a child. She even named her “Alma,” which means “soul.”
“I happen to agree that abortion is a form of murder,” she wrote. “I think the quarrel about when life begins is disrespectful to the fetus. I know I murdered the life within me.”
“I could have loved that life but I chose not to,” she continued. “I did what men do all the time when they take us to war: they choose violence because, while they believe it is bad, it is still better than the alternatives.”