Informing the Reforming! Blogger and Author Tim Challies worship and serve as a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church and a co-founder of Cruciform Press.He love to write about Christian living, theology, and reviews of books that are of interest to Christians.
When we sin against other people, our natural response is to distance ourselves from them. The naughty child who has defied her parents will look at the mess she has made, then slink away to her room. The church member who has spread gossip about another person will keep his distance the next Sunday. In this way, we imitate our first parents when they committed their first sin. In their shame and uncertainty, they ran and hid in a vain attempt to escape the all-knowing gaze of God.
The last glimpse we see of Peter in the drama of Jesus’s crucifixion, he is a broken man who has committed a terrible act of betrayal. Three times he has denied any association with Jesus; three times he has gone so far as to call down divine judgment upon himself rather than take the risk of being associated with the man he once declared “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Though he had boldly promised he would rather die than deny, though he had bravely drawn his sword to defend his Lord, he has since revealed his utter cowardice. As Jesus suffers and dies, Peter runs and hides. As Jesus publicly breathes his last, Peter privately weeps bitter tears of conviction, guilt, and regret.
Yet the first glimpse we see of Peter in the drama of Jesus’s resurrection, he is a confident man who remains accepted among the disciples. He is a brother, not an outcast. Upon hearing the news that Jesus is no longer in the tomb, it is Peter who rushes to be first to investigate, first to run toward this now-risen Lord. When he and his colleagues sees Jesus on shore, Peter is first to plunge overboard, first to race confidently to his side. Despite his grave transgression, he lacks no assurance.
What gave Peter such confidence? What compelled him to run toward instead of run away? I can think of only one thing: He knew Jesus. And what convinced the disciples to continue to affirm instead of begin to reject Peter as their peer? I can think of only one thing: They knew Jesus. Peter and the other disciples had spent time with Jesus, had been known by Jesus, had been loved by Jesus. They had complete confidence in his willingness and capacity to forgive. It seems never to have entered their minds that Peter should be shamed, shunned, or reprimanded, or that he must endure a time of symbolic rejection before experiencing formal restoration. Though Jesus had not yet fully manifested himself to them through his ascension into glory and through the sending of his Spirit, already they knew. They knew Peter was a friend of Jesus and that no betrayal would sever that friendship. Their confidence was based firmly on their knowledge of the one who had told them, “No longer do I call you servants … but I have called you friends.”
My fellow Christian, since you are in Christ—since you’ve put your faith in him and received his forgiveness—you, too, are his friend. You, too, are known and loved by him. You, too, can have the confidence that no matter how badly you’ve betrayed him, no matter how terribly you’ve transgressed, he will never turn you away. In your sin and failure, in your grief and shame, you can make like Peter and run straight to Christ.
It can be hard to remember, feel, or enact the passion of the early years of marriage. “I assumed it would always be there, but now, the fear creeps in and the self-doubt begins. Why is this so hard? Shouldn’t this just be there? Shouldn’t I want to be with my husband? Why do we only talk about the kids or the house? I’m just so tired, but that never used to matter.”
I’m not American (though I am, as it happens, heading to America today), but still believe there’s lots of value in this article. “I could say that it doesn’t behoove us to get caught up in the circumambient imbecility of our day, the tribalizing, polarizing, mocking, insulting, insincere, cynical political engagement modeled by radio hosts, TV pundits, and political candidates. Instead, we should cut our own wake, modeling the same combination of truth and grace exhibited by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This little observation may prove useful to people whose churches are in world cities or in cities that receive students from overseas. “So young people from such backgrounds arrive at university with a shaky faith (if any) and a tenuous attachment to church. Reaching out to such students in their early days is vital if they are not going to be lost altogether.”
Justin Taylor: “To answer this, we have to review some basics about how ‘time’ was thought of in the first-century Mediterranean world. If we don’t, it is easy to become anachronistic and to import or insist upon levels of precision that were not in operation in the original context.”
So, do it, keep it simple, at least initially. You can add later, but keep it simple initially and just keep doing it for 18 or 20 years and see the Lord work through the preaching of His Word and through prayer.
Jesus Christ our Lord surrendered in order that He might win; He destroyed His enemies by dying for them and conquered death by allowing death to conquer Him. —A.W. Tozer
I appreciate this French Evangelical’s thoughts on the burning of Notre Dame. “As a French Evangelical Protestant, I hardly attach any spiritual meaning to a cathedral—even my beloved Notre Dame.” Also see:
Erik Raymond: “I remember as a new Christian looking around during Communion and wondering what everyone was doing. Everyone looked like they were doing something. I didn’t know. Because of this, I’m always happy to answer the question when asked, ‘What should I think about during the Lord’s Supper?'”
Before you purchase more eBooks for your digital library, you may want to first check out Monergism.com who now has published over 450 free eBooks for your Kindle, smart phone or tablet (in multiple formats) There is enough quality biblical literature and theology to last you for man”y years to come. The eBooks are high quality and each has an actively linked table of contents. The collection includes authors such as Louis Berkhof, J. Gresham Machan, B. B. Warfield. Richard Sibbes, Martin Luther, Augustine, John Newton, John Owen, John Calvin, and many more. There is even instructions how to easily upload an eBook to your Kindle.
Words fail at the sheer stupidity of this. Slate reports, “A study published in the journal Neuropsychologia has shown that religious fundamentalism is, in part, the result of a functional impairment in a brain region known as the prefrontal cortex.” Such religious fundamentalism is, “an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues.”
I like this approach from J.A. Medders. “It’s that time of year when you hear preachers say, ‘The Devil thought he won on Friday, but he didn’t know about Sunday!’ It preaches well. But I don’t think it’s true.”
“The devil is a liar. Since the beginning, lies have been his stock and trade, his most valuable weapon against God’s children. So effective are his lies that the world and our hearts sing harmony to his melody.” Many of his most compelling lies are about sex.
So what’s the argument for continuing to use a printed Bible? It allows you to leave behind a tangible link to your faith. When you have run your race and received your reward, your Bible will live on as a testimony to your interests, to your character, and ultimately, to your Christian profession.
Faith is being satisfied with all that God is for us in Christ. —John Piper
A recent story from Wired helpfully explains the latest batch of changes Facebook has made to its algorithm—the algorithm that sorts through the billions of available articles, photographs, and videos to determine the few we will actually see as we scroll our news feeds. This is just their latest attempt to head off the never-ending stream of content that is illegal, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate, and to deliver content that is safe, inoffensive, and within the bounds of their “community standards.” Experts believe these algorithmic changes will substantially change our Facebook experience by changing the kind of content we will see there. In that way, it provides the opportunity to consider what it means to have so much information delivered to us algorithmically, and to ask whether we are really comfortable with this fact of online living. I’m going to suggest it’s time we begin to take steps to break free.
Before we go any farther, we need to consider the fact that what we see on Facebook—and Twitter and Instagram and Google News and Apple News and … —is determined by algorithms, formulas carefully coded to spread some content and to suppress others. We rarely have access to complete collections of information anymore. Rather, algorithms pre-sort it for us. This is necessary because of the sheer quantity of content being produced today, and also because of the ugly qualities of so much of it.
The Algorithm-Driven Life
Here’s how it works. Every day millions of individuals and organizations create tens of millions of pieces of content. From news giants like the New York Times who churn out hundreds of articles every day, to hobby photographers who share occasional photographs, to bloggers who write their listicles, to whoever it is that creates all those memes—all of these content creators feed their material into a very few content distributors. These are the sites or the apps where people go to discover or consume the majority of their content—Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Apple News, and so on. The task of an algorithm is to filter down the many pieces of information it could present us to the few it actually will present us. It makes this determination by considering what it knows about us, then comparing that to the many articles, videos, and photographs people have fed it. What it presents to us when we open it are the relatively few bits of content it believes we are most likely to find appealing.
But before any of that can happen, the algorithms need to determine whether such content should even be seen in the first place. YouTube, after all, doesn’t want to serve pedophilic content to pedophiles, and Twitter doesn’t want to feed extremist content to extremists. Thus all the information submitted to these content distributors is algorithmically scanned to determine whether it is even permitted to exist on their platforms or to be disseminated by them. These algorithms can, in theory, distinguish a male nipple (permitted) from a female nipple (not permitted). They can, in theory, distinguish hate speech (not permitted) from free speech (permitted). What passes through this first set of algorithms is placed into the bucket of available content that can be delivered to us by the second set of algorithms. More on this shortly.
The fact is that much, and perhaps even most, of the information and entertainment we encounter online today is filtered in this way. When we visit YouTube, we each see the long, customized list of videos its algorithm has decided are most likely to appeal to us. Tap on the Apple News app and we are presented with lists of articles its algorithm has determined are most likely to cause us to tap and read. These lists differ from the ones it shows our husbands or wives, parents or children, or even our twin siblings. Whether on YouTube or elsewhere, we rarely see complete and unfiltered collections of content anymore. We see only what the many algorithms present us.
The Benefits and the Dangers
It is true of all technologies that they invariably come with both benefits and drawbacks. Algorithms are no exception, and present us with both strengths and weaknesses. The strengths are obvious. For example, they can sort through the vast amounts of content to cut it down to something manageable, they can distinguish between what’s interesting to you and what’s interesting to me, they can detect nudity and block it from those who don’t wish to see it. The weaknesses, though, can be a little harder to detect. Let me bullet point just a few of them.
They are biased. Algorithms are not unbiased. Rather, they are created by human beings who subconsciously (or sometimes very consciously) embed their ideologies into their formulas. If conservative information and perspectives are being algorithmically suppressed today, as some have charged, that’s likely only because non-conservatives form the great majority of the employees within the tech companies, and they’ve embedded their ideologies accordingly. If conservative Christians coded the algorithms, they would be biased as well, though obviously in different ways.
They are moral. Just as there are biases within algorithms, so there is morality. Those who code the algorithms have to determine what is good and evil, what is safe for public consumption and what is dangerous, what deserves to be spread and what deserves to be suppressed, what constitutes hate speech and what is legitimate free speech. This is why people who advocate modern sexual mores are likely to find their content being algorithmically disseminated while those who advocate traditional sexual mores are likely to find it suppressed. Such morality is coded into the algorithm by the people who create it.
They cannot determine truth or accuracy. Algorithms are well-suited to presenting content that is appealing, that grabs our attention, that makes us want to watch it, click it, share it. But they aren’t well-suited to determining what is true and helpful, or what is worthy of our time and attention. In other words, they are better at pleasing us than instructing us, and better at delivering what’s popular than what’s true.
I’ve listed just a few concerns out of many, but I trust even these are enough to get us thinking about the place and the prominence of algorithms in modern life. As we put it all together, we can see, for example, that the people behind Facebook’s algorithm have necessarily encoded their own biases and morality into it. They have determined what represents truth and error, what constitutes hate and love, what should be spread virally and what should be suppressed immediately. It is no secret that the great majority of people who work for the big tech companies are neither conservative nor friendly to conservatives in religion, politics, or matters of morality. These people have immense power—power we have given them by so wholeheartedly embracing their product and power we continue to give them as we go on using it. They are now the gatekeepers of so much of the information we encounter day-by-day.
The Solution: Self-Curation
For all these reasons, I am convinced there is increasing value in self-curation and a growing necessity for it. It’s time to escape from the algorithm, at least in those areas that matter most to the good life and the Christian faith. Sure, we can let the algorithm work its magic while we browse for books on Amazon or look for entertainment on YouTube. But when we want to be equipped, edified, and informed, we need to take responsibility. To this end, I’ll offer two broad suggestions with a few specifics for each.
First, be your own curator. Discover trusted sources of news, articles, and other information and curate them yourself. Don’t rely on Facebook to determine, for example, when you ought to read an article from WORLD or Desiring God or Modern Reformation. Rather, regularly check these sites on your own so you can determine when they have something that will benefit you. Remember, some of their most compelling and important articles may otherwise never reach you because the algorithm will deny or suppress them. Specifically:
Use Feedly or a similar service. Through the magic of a hidden technology called RSS, Feedly allows you to subscribe to sites and then see all their new content. It involves no algorithm, so you will need to be your own curator. You’ll learn quickly how to skim the headlines to find the material that will benefit you. Skim many so you can deep-read a few.
Sign up for the email newsletters of trusted sources of news and information.
Subscribe to channels on YouTube. When you click the “subscribe” button, new videos from that channel will always be placed in your sidebar. This means you will not need to rely on YouTube’s algorithm to find and recommend these videos for you. They may, after all, be the kind of content YouTube will formally allow but algorithmically suppress. (But remember, YouTube may have already algorithmically denied or removed videos it considers unsuitable).
Turn off the algorithm in Twitter so you can see all updates chronologically rather than some algorithmically. Alternatively, use a third-party app that offers this feature. (But remember, Twitter may have already algorithmically denied or removed tweets it considers unsuitable).
Mark certain sites “appear first” in Facebook. (But remember, Facebook may have already algorithmically denied or removed posts, images, or videos it considers unsuitable).
In short, reduce your reliance on algorithmic sites when it comes to important, meaningful content.
Second, find other trusted curators. Find curators you trust—people whose theology or politics or other interests you trust—and let them serve as a filter for you. Then find a way to follow them outside of any algorithms (i.e. outside of Facebook, Twitter, or Apple News).
Subscribe to their email newsletter.
Follow them using Feedly or another RSS service (see above).
Make it a habit to visit their site on a regular basis.
Don’t be afraid to follow creators or curators whose perspectives differ from your own; be on guard against the internet’s “echo chamber effect.”
It is becoming increasingly clear to me that we have not thought deeply enough about all these algorithms. We’ve stood ignorantly, idly by while they’ve invaded so much of our lives and shaped so much of what we see and experience online. It’s time to consider all we know of Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Jack Dorsey (Twitter), Tim Cook (Apple) and all the rest and to ask ourselves, do we really want to give them this kind of authority? To allow them to judge what we’ll find interesting and informative is to cede to them the authority to withhold from us what they determine is inappropriate or offensive. It’s time to face how much we stand to lose by living the algorithm-driven life. It’s time to break free.
This is such a good and encouraging article. “There is, though, a sweetness to the truth of what is happening in my body and the bodies of my peers: we know, even without looking in the mirror, we are wasting away and with that comes a strange renewal in our inward man. We know our days are numbered, and with them comes an urgency, unlike the urgency we felt in our teens and twenties.” (From another author, see Aging and Finishing Well.)
Yup. “The raging disputes over finer points of theology, over the social expression of justice in a conflicted world, and a whole host of other significant and insignificant issues could be much better worked through in the channels of private communication, through the colloquy of local churches and denomination, and in face-to-face dialogues where nuance can be embodied, and even strong disagreement can be privately worked through.”
Brad Hambrick explains the distinction between acts that are immoral and acts that are illegal. “For ministry leaders it can often feel inappropriate to contact Child Protective Services (CPS) or law enforcement without first questioning an alleged perpetrator of abuse, especially if this person is a church member under our shepherding care.”
Kevin DeYoung explains a precious point of Christian doctrine. “Propitiation is used in the New Testament to describe the pacifying, placating, or appeasing of God’s wrath. The easiest way to remember the term is that in propitiation God is made pro-us. Unlike expiation, propitiation has a relational component to it. Christ’s death not only removed the moral stain of sin; it also removed the personal offense of sin.”
“Each time it happens, we get less adept at incredulity, less inclined to outrage and distress. We’re not happy about it, of course, but we are, sadly, getting used to it. Then the backward troubleshooting begins, the diagnosing of sicknesses long after the deaths. Ministry post-mortems tell us so much, but it would be great if we could see the falls coming. But can’t we?”
You hear a lot about the value and wisdom of seeking out older mentors to walk beside you on your Christian journey. Here are some thoughts and ideas about who should seek a mentor and who should be a mentor to the younger generations.
Death breaks the union between the body and the soul, but perfects the union between Christ and the soul. —Thomas Watson
Jared Wilson: “Now that I’m not a pastor, I have taken seriously one of my ministerial goals in serving pastors and advocating for pastors. To that end, if you’re one of those who thinks pastors whine too much and work too little, I want to share with you some reasons you may not have considered that pastoral work really is different.”
Reviews matter, but perhaps they aren’t always as trustworthy as we’d like to think. This author “spent two weeks in the underbelly of Amazon’s fake review economy — and emerged questioning our collective trust in the stars.”
Before you purchase more eBooks for your digital library, you may want to first check out Monergism.com who now has published over 450 free eBooks for your Kindle, smart phone or tablet (in multiple formats) There is enough quality biblical literature and theology to last you for many years to come. The eBooks are high quality and each has an actively linked table of contents. The collection includes authors such as Louis Berkhof, J. Gresham Machan, B. B. Warfield. Richard Sibbes, Martin Luther, Augustine, John Newton, John Owen, John Calvin, and many more. There is even instructions how to easily upload an eBook to your Kindle.
You may have heard the term “whiteness” used in recent discussions related to social justice and racial reconciliation. This is a helpful primer that explains how it is used and how some of those uses ought to concern us. It also proposes more helpful alternatives to convey similar meaning. (See also Denny Burk’s .)
Most people believe the number is far higher than is actually the case. “A recent Gallup survey found the average American believes 23% of the population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.” Yet the reality is just a fraction of that.
This seems like something we’d all do well to try. “The positive effect of returning to these analog activities is so pronounced that I’ve come to think of this strategy like a magic pill of sorts for curing the low-grade anxiety and existential aimlessness that define our culture of constant connection. This effect seemed particularly powerful for young people who have never known life without an accompanying screen. Like sleep and exercise, this analog cure seems to have few downsides, and its benefits compound.”
From a great distance and with the scantest information we can judge another person’s least transgression. Yet we can rack our own hearts and minds and often barely come up with a single way we are anything less than perfect.
Ease and luxury, such as our affluence brings us today, do not make for maturity; hardship and struggle however do. —J.I. Packer
This sponsored post features a video by Rebecca McLaughlin, author of Confronting Christianity: 12 Hard Questions for the World’s Largest Religion (Crossway).
The Meaning of Metaphor
The first thing I would say to someone who asks me, “How could I take the Bible literally?” is “Have you ever had your heart broken?” Now if they’re over the age of fifteen, their answer will almost certainly be *yes*. And then I would ask them to examine what they meant when they said that and to realize that they’re not reporting on a cardiac arrest or a physical heart condition. They’re communicating a profound truth through a metaphor.
The Bible is full of those metaphors. Jesus, in particular, was a master of metaphors. So Jesus is the Good Shepherd, he is the Light of the World, he is the True Vine, he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, he is the source of Living Water. If you read just Jesus’s own words in the Bible, (like in a red letter Bible) you are focusing on Jesus’s words. Just look at those words, and you will find metaphor after metaphor. You’ll find multiple occasions where Jesus uses a metaphor, people take him literally, and they completely miss his point.
Distinguish the Difference
So as we come to the Bible, just as we come to any conversation or any text, we need to distinguish between what is true and what is literal because they’re not interchangeable. I could tell you that my father is a medical doctor. I’m making a literal statement and it happens to be untrue. Or I can tell you that God is my father, and I’m making a metaphorical statement but it is one of the most profoundly true things I could say about myself.
The really exciting thing about a biblical metaphor is that unlike me, or any other human being, when we’re looking to develop a metaphor, we look around ourselves and we think, “Oh this is a little bit like that.” God starts one whole step back. He doesn’t look around and find things to compare to each other, he actually creates metaphors.
One example is that of parenthood. God didn’t look at human parents and say, “Oh, they really love those little children and those babies and those young people. My love is a bit like that, so I’m going to use that as a metaphor to express my love.” God actually created parenthood so that we would get a glimpse at his love. And if you take the biblical metaphor seriously, so much of the fabric of our lives is actually an embodied metaphor to help us get a glimpse of God’s love and God’s glory.
Don’t Excuse the Hard Parts
Some people will say, “If we start taking parts of the Bible non-literally, does that mean we can explain away all the hard passages, the challenging teachings of the Scriptures?” Absolutely not. Jesus, for example, said, “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction and many find it.”
That is an extremely challenging teaching and it is expressed through a metaphor. At the same time, the gospel writers and the New Testament authors are at great pains to make clear that they are claiming that Jesus literally rose from the dead—flesh, bones, wounds, and all. There is no way to say this was just a metaphorical rising that happened in the disciples’ hearts. So whereas we must be very attentive to the metaphors in the Bible—wherever possible, trying to read the Bible faithfully, understanding and taking those metaphors to heart—we also can’t use this as a blanket excuse to rub out any parts of the Scriptures that we find inconvenient. Because actually, many of the inconvenient truths are expressed through metaphor and the Bible is painfully clear on a number of other inconvenient truths that we need to take straight up literally.
Rebecca McLaughlin (PhD, Cambridge University) is the co-founder of Vocable Communications, a communications consulting and training firm. She is also a regular contributor to the Gospel Coalition and previously spent nine years working with top academics at the Veritas Forum, which hosts forums on college campuses with conversations that pursue answers to life’s hardest questions.
We were driving across Africa’s dusty plains—he, a man who has never left his nation and I, a traveler far from my own. We bounced along rutted, unpaved roads and passed by villages with access to little more than the most rudimentary infrastructure. As we chatted about his life and mine, he asked me what’s meant by that little euphemism he has seen in Western media: “a woman’s right to choose.” As I explained it, his face registered first shock, then disgust, then judgment. He made it clear that in his assessment Canada must be a nation that is hopelessly backward and shockingly barbaric.
Recent news stories tell that in regions of Malawi, girls who menstruate for the first time are forced to have sex with a paid sex worker in a rite meant to mark their transition from childhood to womanhood. If the girls refuse, custom dictates that some great misfortune could befall them, their families, or their villages. And so, a local “hyena” is hired and he carries out the awful three-day ceremony. This is a horrifying custom that legitimizes sexual assault and carries a grave risk of passing along sexually transmitted diseases. Thankfully, it’s a custom the government is attempting to eradicate and, through official action and changing social mores, it is going into decline.
In Canada, we murder babies. We don’t say it like that, of course, but it’s the horrifying truth behind what we term “abortion.” When we abort a fetus, we are ending the life of a human being. Sure, that human being may be tiny, underdeveloped, within another person, and utterly dependent upon its mother, but humanity is not defined by size, level of development, environment, or degree of dependency. The stark fact is, we murder unwanted babies—we cut them into pieces and pull them from the womb. In fact, we give the Order of Canada to doctors who champion this right and carry out this grim procedure.
In Ukraine, many people consider disabled children taboo and their families can bear significant social stigma simply for having them or exposing them to the public eye. Instead of being integrated into family and society, people with disabilities are often relegated to institutions where they are left ignored and untreated, and where they bear an increased risk of assault or being trafficked for labor, sex, or pornography. Ukraine bears the ignominious distinction of being one of the least disability-friendly nations in the world. Thankfully, it seems as though the nation is slowly beginning to display a greater acceptance of disabilities and the responsibility to help the disabled flourish.
In Canada we murder babies—especially disabled babies. Some similar nations are celebrating the fact that they are preparing to be entirely free from Down’s syndrome, but this comes only at the cost of universal testing and widespread preventative abortion. As actress Patricia Heaton has said, these nations aren’t “actually eliminating Down syndrome. They’re just killing everybody that has it. Big difference.” Big difference, indeed. Aborting a disabled child is now considered an act of mercy to the individual, the family, and the wider society. It’s considered a mark of our social progress that we’ve nearly eradicated this disability (by eradicating all the people who have it).
In parts of Nigeria, thousands of children suffer terribly for being branded as witches. When a family member contracts an illness or experiences a misfortune, they may blame a child, declaring him or her a witch. This often leads to punishment, torture, or even expulsion. Many of Nigeria’s homeless children, vulnerable to assault and all manner of privation and exploitation, have been accused of witchcraft and thus driven from their homes and families. Thankfully, Nigeria’s criminal code and Child Rights Act have been updated to protect children by making it illegal to accuse them of being witches (though, sadly, enforcement is woefully lacking).
In Canada we murder babies. A woman’s freedom to choose is considered an inalienable right that’s as essential to human flourishing as freedom of speech or freedom of religion. Judgment-free, cost-free abortion is considered a necessary mark of any sophisticated first-world nation. No nation can be considered equal to our own if it will prohibit or even restrict abortion at any time or for any reason. Abortion rights remain in the ascendancy in Canada; it’s unlikely we’ve yet reached peak abortion.
Those who live in Western nations are prone to look down upon other cultures, and to see them as unsophisticated, backward, or even barbaric—they fear albinos or mutilate the genitals of their women or hold to a caste system. Yet in traveling far and wide, I’ve learned that many people in non-Western nations regard Western cultures as unsophisticated, backward, or even barbaric. Though they see we may have more developed infrastructure and greater access to necessities like clean water and excellent healthcare, they also see that we take the lives of the most vulnerable among us and consider this a point of pride and a mark of progress. They see what we obscure under a cloud of euphemisms and under endless discussions of rights. They see that we murder babies.
It’s a word you should know! “The doctrine of Divine Impassibility is an ancient Christian belief, confessed throughout the long history of the Church, and yet often misunderstood or rejected today. It reflects classical Christian theism, and its import is well-known by theologians and has been fixed for centuries. It is deeply rooted in the Christian tradition and confessed by every major English Protestant church…”
Amy shares lessons from overseas that are relevant at home, too. “Since America’s inception, Christians didn’t need to worry about this. Cross-cultural missions was out there–not right here. Okay, so maybe they thought about it when it came to first-generation immigrants. Maybe a church would offer a seminar on ‘How to Reach Your Muslim Neighbor’.” But times have changed.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one. “Religious routines absent intimacy with God rot our souls, but the faithful practice of corporate worship fueled by God’s Spirit produces enduring joy. Even on the days we don’t feel like it, we show up for worship. Even when we’ve lost our song, we sing through the tears. Even when our kids would rather do something else, we lead the way back into the community of faith. Even when the Devil accuses us, we reject isolation and unite with other believers to declare with our voices what we doubt with our heart. Even when our minds wander, we open our Bible, listen to another sermon, and take note of God’s Word to us.”
This is a very interesting reflection. “If my male, pale and stale heart could be warmed, it would be so by the growing realisation that the baton of colonialism, long the historic burden of the conservative, Christianised West, can now been handed to the woke Left in our culture.”
I guess it depends who you ask, but the bigger point is that apps can rarely take the place of expertise and real-world engagement. “Dziedzic believes it’s possible to program your way to a better relationship. A growing number of Americans seem to agree. Lasting has attracted 750,000 users since it launched in the spring of 2017. About 2,000 people download the app every day.”
Dan DeWitt on second-degree separation: “While I can conceive of a situation where second-degree-separation might be necessary, nearly all of the times I’ve heard of others doing this it is about non-essential issues. When that’s the case, it comes off as a self-serving, self-protecting, public relations stunt.”
It has been one of those weeks in which I collected more good links than I was able on include in the week’s regularly-scheduled A La Carte posts. Thus, here is a rare Sunday edition that includes some that were too good to just erase.
Facebook is once again changing their algorithm, and it matters to the content you will see. “The changes, broadly, seek to nurture what Facebook refers to as ‘integrity’ on the platform at a time when many users, regulators, and politicians have come to see Facebook and its other apps—WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger—as the chief propagators of propaganda, hate speech, and fake news online.”
No church can do everything. Kevin DeYoung says, “I hope that with a little common sense, some realistic expectations, and some grace-filled forbearance, we can develop the habits and dispositions that will make us less frustrated ourselves and less frustrating to others. The church may not be able to do your thing, but that doesn’t mean your thing can’t be a blessing to the church.”
You can and you must! “You can control your anger! Your anger is a choice. This is good news if you are an angry parent. You don’t have to continue to choose to be controlled by your anger! You have made anger into a dominating, habitual response. You feel controlled by your anger…”
Michael Kruger explains that we should not discount the testimony of others when it comes to our conviction that the Bible is true. “Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with defending the Bible on historical grounds. The Bible has impressive historical credentials and there’s a time and a place to discuss them. But, if we insist this is the only grounds for our beliefs, then we run into a few problems.”
This is long—like small book long—but still worth at least a skim for the interesting bits. Scott Young says memory “is a topic that has long fascinated me, and I’ve written a lot about memory previously on this blog. However, I wanted to create a guide that would combine and integrate everything we know scientifically about memory, and distill that knowledge into practical advice.”
Boyce Dorm Meetings
Boyce College has been sharing music from their dorm meetings, and I’ve been really enjoying them (while also keeping an eye out for my elusive son). I’ve embedded one below, while others are available on their YouTube channel.
His Mercy Is More - Boyce Dorm Meeting Band - YouTube