As I write this opening sentence, I immediately imagine the many puzzled looks that will probably rise to the surface. Pupils will dilate slightly, eyebrows will rise by a short (but significant) half-inch, and perhaps the beginnings of a bemused smile will begin to creep towards the corners of the mouth. Or perhaps the next time we meet, you’ll clap a hand on my shoulder, smile warmly and laugh, “Hey, so what’s up with that new website that you started?” I’ll give you some knock-off one-liner that I’m now repeating for the umpteenth time, or perhaps I’ll crack a joke about how my URL is reflective of my pomp and snobbery (“Really? benedictkang.com? Don’t you think a ‘dot com dot au’ might have been a bit more appropriate?”). Whatever the case, let me answer some of the many questions I’m bound to receive preemptively.
It is not for a lack of things to do that I have decided to take up writing regularly (again). I am a man disinclined to just about anything until necessity calls – to put it simply, I fill gaps where I see them. In this respect, there appears to be an ever-looming gap (at least in the circles that I walk) in a solid and coherent Christian ethic, and young Christians in particular, seem ill-equipped to deal with the many toils and travails of living as a Christian in a fallen world. The essential purpose behind The Reformation of Manners is to redress this problem and to provide a grid wherein Christians possess a sense in which theology and ethic connect; where principle meets practice, and we know what it means to glorify God – yes, even beyond the boundaries of prayer, reading our Bibles, and attending service regularly (for the record, I wholeheartedly endorse these things). But beyond these areas of Christian practice, there appears to be an overwhelming volume of silence. To name just a few:
– Should Christians think and act politically? If so, how?
The kind of Gospel ethic that narrows the scope of Christian practice to a few areas of Christian discipline is, I think, thin gruel at best. It is of sufficient nutritional value to simply get by, but not substantial enough for Christians to build up the necessary spiritual fortitude required to actively participate in the redemption of God’s world. The vision of the Bible is simply enormous, and the God of the Bible just as great, and the ramifications of God’s Word have far-reaching consequences for you and for me. Despite this, many Christians (young adults, as one particular demographic) approach their work, studies, and Christian community with a sense of lethargy, triviality, inconsequence, or a combination of the aforementioned.
Enough thin gruel, friends – and onward and upward to steak and potatoes!