A theological analysis of sin, sexuality, and the Christian life

Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with ChristOpenness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ by Rosaria Champagne Butterfield
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Building on her autobiographical Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, Butterfield explores the theological issues relating to original sin, sexuality, and identity. She draws on the Bible and the Augustinian-Reformed theological tradition to make her case, and she does it well. She writes lovingly to those who disagree with her and calls for all sinners to come to Christ.

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Jake Meador: “Class and the Benedict Option”

At Mere Orthodoxy, Jake Meador recently considered how class might affect the feasibility of the “Benedict Option.” Using education as a test case, he first pointed to the importance of thinking well about the kind of schools to create:

In the first place, we need to be clear on exactly why we’re proposing a withdrawal from our nation’s public schools. If the withdrawal is purely defensive in nature, then it is likely to fail. If we have no further objective in our approach to education than protecting our children from the bad people out there, then we really have no philosophy of education at all.

Rather, we’ll simply end up with what some of our nation’s Christian schools functionally are—prep schools for the white upper-class that are in 80% of their curriculum indistinguishable from the public schools.

Then, how can Christian education be accessible to everyone in a Christian community?

Of course, in a healthy church environment you can probably further mitigate some of these problems. A good friend of mine who grew up Dutch Reformed told me once that there was not a single family in his church whose kids were in public school out of necessity. In his church if you wanted your kids in a private Christian school, the church made it happen. And yet the rarity of stories like the above highlight the very reason we’re having these BenOp conversations in the first place.

In far too many cases the communal ties that bind religious communities together are slender and easily cut. And so a family attending a well-off church that wants to send their kids to private school but cannot afford it will often end up sending their kids to public school out of necessity despite the fact that their fellow parishioners could help them pay for private school. It is out of this weakened sense of Christian community that many of the church’s contemporary problems have grown.

And so we end on a dilemma—to create BenOp communities that are accessible to everyone (and not just the rich), we need thick communities bound together by love and a shared commitment to care for one another, even when that care comes with a price in dollars. Yet the lack of those communities is precisely why we need some sort of BenOp. To put it starkly, the conditions necessary to create BenOp communities do not exist which is both why we need some sort of BenOp and why we may not be able to attain it.

He’s against what?

Against ChristianityAgainst Christianity by Peter J. Leithart

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Leithart argues against not Christ or the Church, but against an intellectualized, privatized understanding of the Christian faith. For Leithart, “Christianity” offers a philosophy or an ideology when the point of the gospel is that the Church is a new society of redeemed people, the City of God, in Augustine’s words. This means that theology ought to express the language and stories of the people of God, sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper) mark out the members of the city, and that the ethos of the City replaces other sets of values. Leithart’s arguments for these understandings and against what he sees as distortions are expressed in the first four chapters: “Against Christianity,” “Against Theology, “Against Sacraments,” and “Against Ethics.”

The fifth chapter, “For Constantine,” contends that Christendom comes when the Church faithfully adheres to its calling as the City of God. This chapter is where you can see Leithart’s postmillenialist views most clearly.

I really enjoyed following Leithart’s arguments throughout the book, even though my sense of eschatology and the Christ-culture relationship is not very well defined.

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A melody for Holy Week

Christians at the Cross: Finding Hope in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of JesusChristians at the Cross: Finding Hope in the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus by N.T. Wright

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wright preached a short sermon each day of Holy Week in Easington Colliery, England, in 2007. I enjoyed his theme throughout: that when we hear the main melody of the story of Jesus, we should also hear the bass line of the Old Testament that grounds the whole thing, and we also hear the tenor and alto lines of the stories of our society and personal lives, respectively. In each of the sermons, focuses on God’s redemptive purposes in Christ for the world and specifically for Easington Colliery, an old coal town whose mine was closed in the 1990s.

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A new past

In an exhortation to his congregation this past weekend (Fathers’ Day), Doug Wilson talked briefly about the implications of regeneration, where God gives new life to the believer and become’s the Christian’s Father. He concludes:

This is one of the greatest miracle that God performs, and He does it all over the world. He has done it here, with us. New life, but do not think of this as a mere infusion of some spiritual joy juice. No, in regeneration God gives us a new set of ancestors.

Not only does He radically alter our future, He also gives us a new past.