This week has been filled with terrible tragedy as two African-American men were killed by police officers without any apparent provocation, and on Thursday night at least 10 police officers in Dallas were shot (three of whom were killed) by two snipers while assisting peaceful protesters. While it’s tempting to write a big long article on the “shoulds” of this, instead, I can only encourage praying for comfort for the families affected, for protection for those responding to these events, and justice to be done.
Honestly, I need to do more listening than talking during moments like this, but I also need to write to process. And I can’t help but feel my silence would be louder and more hurtful than any stumbling attempt to work through it.
What these phrases miss is the doctrine of imputed righteousness—that Jesus takes the sins of believers and credits them with his perfect righteousness. A second-chance gospel often neglects (and sometimes even negates) this crucial teaching. It rightly declares Christ’s sacrifice erases the guilt of sin but tacitly teaches the gospel leaves behind an empty spiritual ledger and a morally neutral heart. It promises fresh hope by saying “God gives second chances,” but underneath carries the depressing message “God forgives; now the rest is up to you.”
As Christians, we don’t usually want God’s discipline. It’s painful, but we need it. Our disobedience is both offensive to God and bad for us. But God corrects us out of love; in fact, God proves we are his children through his discipline (Hebrews 12:7–8).
Fine. But how exactly does God rebuke us?
There is a myth that porn is harmless. “It’s just a few consenting adults doing what they want with their own bodies,” the thinking goes.
But this simply isn’t true. In reality, pornography is deeply involved in the exploitation of women and children and is destructive to its consumers. Here are six reasons why porn is much more than an individual decision—it is part of a system that preys on women and children; and its viewers are participating in, contributing to, and being shaped by that destructive, enslaving system.
Perhaps our poor assumptions about contextualization are why many view the concept as a perversion of the gospel. But this view fails to see that contextualization is found all across Scripture. Even the traditionalist pastor who preaches against contextualization while leading a congregation of formally dressed hymn-singers contextualizes the gospel.
In light of this observation, I’d like to commend an understanding of contextualization shaped by God’s Word.
If you’re a preacher then sermon preparation is unavoidably part of your life. Whether you write outlines or read your notes verbatim or preach off the cuff (not recommended), it is a God-given and worthy calling to be developed over time. You should grow and strengthen in this God-given skill for as long as it remains your duty. It must not become old habit, but instead, every sermon should be treated as an opportunity of a lifetime.
The situation is complex precisely because such injustices are so longstanding and are often hidden from majority populations, who don’t pay attention to such questions because they rarely have to think about them. My oldest two sons are learning to drive. I have many fears, but I’ve never worried about one of my sons being shot after being pulled over. My perspective is thus radically different than my African-American neighbor or colleague or fellow church member. Notice the differences even on social media over the past couple of days. An African-American colleague of mine noted that the divide is glaring, with black evangelicals interacting with this set of news while many white evangelicals continue on discussing the presidential race or the upcoming Olympics, with no reference to these shootings. That divide ought to cause us to reflect on how we’re experiencing the culture differently, and what implications that has for our unity and our witness.
I found this an interesting analysis of the misapplication of data. The tone of the critique is also very even-handed, which I appreciate.