Of Blogs and Resurrection – Love in Sin and Sin in Love (Reprise)

Though long fallow, this blog space may exhibit some Autumn resurrection that looks more like tiny shoots of Spring. Whether these shoots blossom into kudzu or tulips remains to be seen. I can’t get away from the fundamental question of how Christians are supposed to live individually and together (as the Church visible) with respect to present human culture. I am still talking primarily to myself, though the journal burning parties for thoughts recorded this medium are likely to be less fun than burning paper and smoke disappearing into the night.

Back to the question. What is the proper conception of Christian individual and corporate roles in human institutions and general culture – right now, today, at this cultural moment? Are these roles more oriented to process or product? Should they be viewed as “redemptive” or not? Do Christians merely herald the beauty of the eternal kingdom, which arrives with such cataclysm that the heralds’ trumpets are silenced before their rebirth into the symphony of a consummated kingdom? Or are the heralds’ notes a harmony that blends and builds with the melody of a restored earth and a consummated kingdom? Is there any melody, any cultural riff on God’s revealed truth – on His love – whose audition today will resonate recognizably in eternity? What about the two kingdom approach? Is God’s kingdom, as it unfolds or arrives, demonstrably broader than the Church (as I believe it to be)?

These questions are not merely eschatological, though eschatology is essential to their consideration. I don’t even know if they are the “right” questions – the questions whose answers will scratch my itch. I have some ideas about answers to these questions, but they do not rise above the level of intuition (at best, because it has often proven true in the past) and bias (at worst, simply because it may be invisible).

At its core, this line of inquiry should facilitate an answer to a simple question to ask: “I am a Christian, so how should I live before God and man (and why)?” OK, that’s more than one, but the “line of inquiry” is the why – the bridge we have to cross to get to the how. It’s likely to be a long bridge, and I begin unsure of my method. I suspect that any method is better than no method, so it’s no worry. Here goes: (1) Figure out the right questions to ask, (2) ask the questions of Scripture, and (3) reconcile my answers from Scripture with others’ answers in light of our present cultural position. The third step is likely to induce further items in the second step, so that may be something of a feedback loop.

I will seek the “right questions” by engaging a few different works (some in greater depth than others), perhaps somewhat arbitrary, but they are the ones right here beside me:

  • James Davison Hunter, To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, & Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World (Oxford 2010)
  • Oliver O’Donovan, Resurrection and Moral Order: An Outline for Evangelical Ethics (Eerdmans 1994)
  • Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God (IVP Academic 2006)
  • Christopher J. H. Wright, Old Testament Ethics for the People of God (IVP 2004)
  • Graeme Goldsworthy, The Goldsworthy Trilogy (Gospel and Kingdom, Gospel and Wisdom, The Gospel in Revelation) (Paternoster 2000)
  • Thomas Sowell, Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (Basic Books 2007)
  • Adian Nichols OP, The Word Has Been Abroad: A Guide Through Balthasar’s Aesthetics (CUA Press 1998)
  • Adian Nichols OP, No Bloodless Myth: A Guide Through Bathasar’s Dramatics (CUA Press 2000)
  • Dick Keyes, Beyond Identity: Finding Your Way in the Image and Character of God (Paternoster 1998)
  • Though some are harder than others to understand, each of these works is pretty heady and many are abstract. Yet the questions I want to discern and answer are concrete and earthy. In part, these works come to mind because I think that they encircle the questions I want to ask and answer without stating the questions or answering them directly. In part, they make the list because they have been or should be influential in my thinking, but I haven’t yet squeezed all the worth out of them that I can. No doubt I shall need something like Peter Leithart’s Against Christianity to keep my feet on the ground. We’ll see how it goes . . . .

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