the forty-second parallel

It Does Not Work

Jared Wilson:

American evangelicalism has not done a great job at making Jesus the point of the enterprise of faith. We take the Gospel notion of “faith alone,” a belief many Reformers died contending for, and make it about us. We turn perseverance into personal empowerment and sanctification into self-improvement. We’ve made religion a bad word by turning Law into legalism and grace into license. We made Jesus our buddy, our co-pilot, our sidekick. We don’t have sin — we have “issues.” We say we have bad habits rather than admit we have sinful hearts. We look to Scripture in general as a toolbox of pick-me-up quotable quotes and to the Gospels specifically as a chronicle of warm-fuzzy behavioral aspirations. We forgo Christian repentance and gospel proclamation in favor of the culture war against gay marriage, evolution, atheism, liberalism, America forgetting her heritage, what-have-you.

But if the point of any of it is not Jesus, it will not, cannot, and does not work.

Posted on May 7th, 2009 | Jesus, The Gospel

Live into this

Eugene Peterson:

The biblical way is not to present us with a moral code and tell us “Live up to this,” nor is it to set out a system of doctrine and say, “Think like this and you will live well.” The biblical way is to tell a story that takes place on solid ground, is peopled with men and women that we recognize as being much like us, and then to invite us, “Live in to this. This is what it looks like to be human. This is what is involved in entering and maturing as human beings.” We do violence to biblical revelation when we “use” it for what we can get out of it or what we think will provide color and spice to our otherwise bland lives. That results in a kind of “boutique spirituality” – God as decoration, God as enhancement.

Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, p. 140

Posted on April 9th, 2009 | Life in General, The Gospel

So radical, so real and so costly

John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life:

Of course, we do not use the word cool to describe greatness. It is a small word. That’s the point. It’s cheap. And it’s what millions of young people live for. Who confronts them with urgency and tears? Who pleads with them not to waste their lives? Who takes them by the collar, so to speak, and loves them enough to show them a life so radical and so real and so costly and Christ-saturated that they feel the emptiness and triviality of their CD collection and their pointless conversations about passing celebrities? Who will waken what lies in their souls, untapped — a longing not to waste their lives?

One could easily cross out young from the phrase young people because I think what Piper describes applies across the board to millions and millions of everyday people. Just replace CD collection with gadgets or clothes and substitute politicians for celebrities.

It’s never occurred to them to live any other way. That’s why it’s so important to push back against triviality with the fullness of the Gospel. Not so that we can be “good” Christians and stake our identity to a moral code, but so that we might live for the only thing that truly matters — the glory of Christ Jesus.

Posted on March 26th, 2009 | Jesus, John Piper, The Gospel

Not a circus or a show

Michael Spencer:

I was reminded again how many of us are homeless in evangelicalism. It’s sad. I know we can be a difficult and hard to please bunch, but most of us want a church more than anything else. Not a circus or a show, but a church. Is that so hard?

Posted on March 13th, 2009 | Jesus

Repeal the 17th Amendment?

George Will puts forward an interesting (and persuasive) argument for doing just that.

Posted on February 23rd, 2009 | Politics


Greg Pinkner, The Trial of Wealth:

Money is a tangible promise of an uncertain future. Christ is an intangible promise … of a certain future.

Posted on December 7th, 2008 | Jesus

The Broken and the Marginal

Tim Keller, The Prodigal God p. 14 – 15:

Jesus’s teaching consistently attracted the irreligious while offending the Bible-believing, religious people of his day. However, in the main, our churches today do not have this effect. The kind of outsiders Jesus attracted are not attracted to contemporary churches, even our most avant-garde ones. We tend to draw conservative, buttoned-down, moralistic people. The licentious and liberated or the broken and marginal avoid church. That can only mean one thing. If the preaching of our ministers and the practice of our parishioners do not have the same effect on people that Jesus had, then we must not be declaring the same message that Jesus did. If our churches aren’t appealing to younger brothers, they must be more full of elder brothers than we’d like to think.

via Steve McCoy

Posted on November 24th, 2008 | Jesus

A Cold Civil War?

Susan B. at Lilac Rose:

As far as I’m concerned, the differences are irreconcilable. …

However this election turns out, there will be turmoil. If Obama wins, a large part of the country will feel angry and powerless against the will of the left leaning blue states, the news media, Hollywood and academia. (In fact, they already feel that way, I assure you.) They will believe that ACORN created enough false voter registrations to put Obama over the top. If McCain wins, the left will riot and claim, “The Diebold machines were hacked!” The blue states, the news media, Hollywood and academia will resent that the will of the “dumb hicks” in flyover country overruled that of their “betters”. And we will hear the cries of, “Racism! Racism!” ad nauseam.

I hate to sound all doom-and-gloom, but I see absolutely no solution to this. Or at least no solution in which America stays in the same form it is now. I hope I’m wrong about that. I guess we’ll see.

I can’t say I agree with the entire sentiment expressed by Susan B. But with all the turmoil in the financial markets, I can’t shake the feeling that we are standing on the precipice of some kind of monumental political change. Based on polling from recent years, roughly half the country will welcome such change and the other half will detest it.

Will those reactions lead to something like a “cold civil war”? I hope not – but the existence of such conjecture solidly within mainstream punditry certainly gives pause.

Posted on October 12th, 2008 | Culture, Politics

He is Better

Matt Chandler, Nine Pastoral Prayers:

We don’t follow Jesus because he makes things better. We follow Jesus because he is better … We don’t follow him because he makes our life better. We follow him because he is better than life.

Posted on April 13th, 2008 | Jesus

Jesus did not come to make you happy

Jared Wilson:

Jesus did not come to make you happy. He came to make you holy. And there is a joy in that process we can find that is much deeper, much greater, much better than the happiness we are far too easily pleased with.

Posted on June 10th, 2007 | Jesus