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The Hiatus Comes To An End …

I apologise for I ought to have given forewarning that I would be terribly occupied over the month of June: the end of the financial year coupled with final exams at college does not present itself as an altogether good opportunity to write regularly. But to provide some closure that I have indeed been busy (and also because knowledge gathered quickly goes to waste if it is not shared), I will publish some of the essays I wrote for college.

Woohoo
10/10 this is how I felt coming out of my final exams. Praise God.

There is an intuitive sense in which the “presence” (Heb. פָּנֶה, פָּנִים; Gk. πρόσωπον; both possess similar semantic ranges) of God is understood, but little appears to have been said with respect to the development of this theme. That is to say, is there an essential biblical-theological paradigm by which “the presence of God” can be meaningfully understood? The priestly nature of God’s people appears to have an especially strong theological bearing upon the theme of God’s presence, and it is a particular touchstone by which some clarity might be afforded.

Genesis to 2 Kings has correctly been treated by scholarly consensus as a distinct literary unit: the Primary History or the Enneateuch.[1] This arrangement not only chronologically simplifies the biblical narrative, but also makes better sense theologically since the Former Prophets are necessarily coloured by the themes in the Pentateuch. In particular, Deuteronomy[2] forms an important backdrop to which Israel’s raison d’être is understood: both Torah observance and Israel’s expulsion from the Garden, the Promised Land, and more generally, the divine presence are catalysts by which subsequent generations are urged to repent and call upon YHWH, their God (1 Kings 8:22-53).[3]

Although YHWH is no tribal deity with localised sovereignty (v. Psalm 22:28; “God rules among the nations”), the ontological identity of Israel is the presence of God in their midst (cf. Jeremiah 14:9).[4] Moses later confirms this identity in Exodus 33:15-16: “Is it not in your going with us … that we are distinct?” and Israel’s function necessarily hinges upon their identification with YHWH (Deuteronomy 4:7-8; 33:29). To this end, McKelvey writes the following: “[Israel] could survive without the hope of a Messiah, but never without the hope of God’s dwelling with His people.”[5]

Theologically, the Pentateuch arguably focuses on the presence of God more than any other book in the biblical corpus. In fact, the Pentateuch is incorrigibly resolved to its ultimate end: the reestablishment of God’s presence among His people (cf. Genesis 21:22; Exodus 3:12; 15:17; 29:45-46; Numbers 35:34; Deuteronomy 2:7) – a legacy that is continued by later books of the Hebrew Bible (cf. Joshua 1:5; Psalm 22:27; 46:7, 11; Isaiah 1:16-20; 41:10; Habbakuk 2:14; Zechariah 14:9). What the biblical account clearly demonstrates is that God’s promises for Israel’s future are inextricably connected with His deeds of the past.[6] Thus, throughout the Primary History, the major strand of continuity appears to be the reinstatement of free, full, and unmediated access to God’s presence.[7] The tabernacle, the sacrificial system, the return into the Promised Land all point to the ultimate eschatological objective of Israel. To this end, on the very fringe of Canaan, Israel is left with a number of complementary resolutions to either accept or reject as a whole: remain faithful to the covenant and receive Canaan as the new Eden where God’s presence dwelled; keep the law, and in so doing become the kingdom of priests who, in God’s presence, could stand (Exodus 19:6; 29:45-46; Numbers 35:34).[8]

But the phrase, “kingdom of priests” warrants attention for it is the priestly identity of Israel that illuminates the conditions for and nature of God’s presence with His people. I draw significantly upon the work of Smith[9] and Herring[10], though the brevity of this paper does not allow detailed discussion. Nevertheless, it is clear that the Pentateuch is concerned with the priestly character of Israel with respect to God’s presence: Leviticus lays the necessary priestly conditions that must be upheld for God to dwell among the people; the Sinaitic narrative is essentially a reiteration of Israel’s priestly character; and post-lapsarian theophany is only afforded by divine sanctuary spaces.[11] Prior to The Fall, priestly humanity (Genesis 2:8-15) safely dwelled in YHWH’s presence (3:8), but Adam’s sin necessarily disqualified him from both his priestly duties, as well as spatial-spiritual proximity to his God (3:23). Of course, the legacy of this division is still very much borne throughout the Primary History: Cherubim guard the entrance into the Garden presence (3:24), the tabernacle (Exodus 26:31; 36:8), and the walls of the Jerusalem Temple (1 Kings 6:23-29; cf. Exodus 37:7-9; 2 Kings 19:15).

The Sinaitic experience is a particularly interesting account of the efficacy of priestly humanity to secure God’s presence. Israel is, in one sense, given the opportunity to incubate their identity (Leviticus 18:1-5), though in the presence of a good, but dangerous God whose holiness determines their livelihoods (cf. Numbers 1:53). Even in the barrenness of the Sinai desert, the redemptive overtones of God’s presence as in Genesis are reproduced: “I will put my dwelling place among you … I will walk (הִתְהַלַּכְתִּי֙; cf. Genesis 3:8) among you and be your God” (Leviticus 26:11; cf. Deuteronomy 23:14). Israel eventually leaves Sinai with the ark of the covenant, the manifestation of YHWH par excellence, but even the ark goes into exile on account of a corrupt priesthood (1 Samuel 4:1-11) before being returned to Jerusalem. It is only after Solomon builds the Temple on Mount Zion that the ark (and the people) is brought to rest (1 Kings 8:56). But as they are wont to do, priestly humanity yet again fails in its divine prerogative as “a kingdom of priests”: anti-temples are built in the North under the headship of Jeroboam (1 Kings 12:32; 13:33), worship of Baal proliferates under Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kings 16:29-31), the prophets of the LORD are rejected (1 Kings 18-19; 2 Kings 2:12; 13:14, 20), paganism is introduced into the Jerusalem Temple (2 Kings 16; 21), and the people exceed the nations before them in corruption (2 Kings 21:9). The dividends of Israel’s abortive actions to uphold their priestly heritage precipitates God’s rejection of Israel and subsequent exile, not of the land, but of His people.

In conclusion, Israel’s liturgical and doxological identity was that of a “kingdom of priests” (Exodus 19:6), and the fulfillment of this office was the prerequisite for God to dwell among His people. Stemming from the creation of mankind (Genesis 1:26-31 ff.), Genesis defines this strand of continuity, while the rest of the Primary History develops Israel’s priestly role. Israel’s access to God’s presence, though jarred and maimed by The Fall, looks forward to a time when God will definitively reinstate Adam and Eve’s priestly office to His people through the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14; 6:20).

 

[1] Cf. D. N Freedman and B. Kelly, ‘Who Redacted the Primary History?’, Sefer Moshe: The Moshe Weinfeld Jubilee Volume (Eisenbrauns, 2003) at 39-47.

[2] Cf. Erich Zenger et al., Einleitung in Das Alte Testament (Kohlhammer, 2001) at 177-78. Here, Zenger argues for an exilic history stemming strongly Deuteronomic influences.

[3] Arie Leder, ‘Presence, Then the Covenants: An Essay on Narrative and Theological Precedence’, Dutch Reformed Theological Journal, 53/1 (2012) at 181.

[4] Ryan Lister, The Presence of God: Its Place in the Storyline of Scripture and the Story of Our Lives (Crossway, 2014) at 150.

[5] R. J. Mckelvey, ‘Temple’, in Desmond Alexander (ed.), New Dictionary of Biblical Theology (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000) at 810.

[6] Scott Hafemann, ‘The Covenant Relationship’, in Scott Hafemann and Paul House (eds.), Central Themes in Biblical Theology: Mapping Unity in Diversity (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) at 36.

[7] Cf. Roy Ciampa, ‘The History of Redemption’, ibid. at 267-68.

[8] Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1991) at 149.

[9] Mark Smith, The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1 (Fortress Press, 2010).

[10] Stephen Herring, ‘A “Transubstantiated” Humanity: The Relationship between the Divine Image and the Presence of God in Genesis 1:26f.’, Vetus Testamentum, 58 (2008), 480-94.

[11] Leder, ‘Presence, Then the Covenants: An Essay on Narrative and Theological Precedence’, (at 185.

Bridging the Gap: The Six Days of Creation

In my last article (which you can read here), I ended by asking the question: Where do we fit in among the grand scheme of God’s redemptive plan for His creation?” This is just one of many questions that I find Christians seem to struggle to find clarity on. To that end, publishing content to address (and in some cases, redress) these theological and ethical shortfalls is an important part of all that The Reformation of Manners stands for. “Bridging the Gap” is just one of the ways that we try to provide a biblical framework from which we can better engage with God’s world and His people. It is a way of connecting Christian convictions into matters of practical substance.

So what sense should we make of the seven days of creation? Genesis 1:2 is the immediate vantage point: God is concerned with the world as the focus of His attention. As previously mentioned, the idea of God intimately ‘hovering’ over His embryonic creation is pictorially akin to that of a mother bird stirring her young to flight. It is a compelling and provocative expression of God’s deep care and devotion to His created world.

The first chapter (and to a greater extent, chapter two) of Genesis presents God as the loving Maker who delights in His creation, but equally reveals God as the majestic and supreme Creator over all. The world at this point is “without form and void”, but God is about to give His world shape and meaning. Although the earth right now is empty, God is about to fill it with life (although the doctrine of ex nihilo is not mentioned explicitly here, it is strongly implied elsewhere in the biblical corpus cf. Psalm 33:9; 148:5; John 1:3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 11:3; Revelation 4:11). Indeed, God matches the dual negatives of formlessness and emptiness with their positive counterparts: form and fullness.

It is here we must address the days of creation themselves. The chronology of creation (of which there has been extensive debate), I think, is only important insofar as the order belongs to the poetic form of the passage and should not be interpreted literally. It is a shame that the creation narrative has so often been pitted as a ‘religious’ explanation against the many ‘scientific’ explanations – they cannot be competitors if only for the fact that the biblical author’s concern is to display theologically the visible world as God’s handiwork, and not to present a chronological record. The fulfilment of form (that is, separation and the creation of space) and fullness are God’s concern, and it is only after these are satisfied does God pronounce His work as ‘good.’

DAY ONE: LIGHT SEPARATED FROM DARKNESS
DAY TWO: SKY SEPARATED FROM THE WATERS
DAY THREE: DRY LAND SEPARATED FROM THE WATERS

DAY FOUR: SUN TO GOVERN THE DAY, THE MOON AND STARS TO GOVERN THE NIGHT
DAY FIVE: BIRDS TO FILL THE SKY, SEA CREATURES TO FILL THE WATERS
DAY SIX: ANIMALS TO FILL THE LAND, HUMANITY TO RULE THE EARTH

The Pillars of Creation
‘The Pillars of Creation’ is a marvellous example of God’s handiwork, but Mankind sits higher on the hierarchy of creation.

But God’s work in creation reaches its pinnacle in Genesis 1:26-31 with the creation of human beings in the “image” and “likeness” of God, and it is here our attention will rest. It is undeniable that the birth of Man is the pinnacle of God’s creative work (cf. P. J. Gentry, “Kingdom through Covenant: Humanity as Divine Image”, Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 12.1 (2008): 16-42 does a brilliant job of developing Genesis 1:26-28 as the climax of God’s creation). The wider created world is reflective of God’s glory (v. Psalm 19), but mankind operates within a special sphere of favour, and Genesis 1:26-31 presents this brilliantly in three ways:

Firstly, God begins to speak in a new way, switching from a third personal singular (‘God made … let there be etc.’) to a first person plural (‘Let us …’). Although it is difficult to be completely certain with respect to this new form of speech, I think it is safe to assume that it is a combination of grammatical (plural of self-deliberation or self-encouragement) and theological (reference to the plurality of the Trinity) rhetoric.

Moreover, God declares that He will make humankind in his image, and according to His likeness, and the language here is definitely that of sonship (cf. Genesis 5:1-3; God creates Adam in the likeness of God … Adam begets Seth who is in his own likeness, after his image). Meredith Kline, on the topic, writes, “To be the image of God is to be the son of God” and this is true in two respects:

  • Relationally, we are sons and daughters dependent on God through covenant. Adam’s role as ‘son’ is taken up in the biblical narrative by Israel (Exodus 4:22-23; Hosea 11:1), David (2 Samuel 7:13-14), ultimately in Jesus, the true Adam, Israel, and David, and the true Son of God. Christians are partakers in sonship through adoption as God’s children (1 John 3:1-3; Romans 8:29), and also partakers in covenant. The terms of the covenant are symbolically represented in the two trees in the Garden: life in dependence and obedience unto God on the one hand; and on the other, death by turning from God and seeking but a shadow of true life apart from Him (cf. Jeremiah 2:12-13).
  • Vocationally, as God’s children, we are also charged to rule the world as His representatives within a limited measure of independence, just as Adam was. At the very least, Adam was both a king and a priest (in addition, Adam may be have occupied a prophetic office, but I am undecided). God commands Adam to ‘have dominion’ over the earth, and Adam is called to work and to keep the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15; cf. 2:8 where God plants the Garden – Adam is now called to continue in God’s role) – a kind of pictorial epithet for monarchs in biblical antiquity. David Clines writes, “human beings represent God in a way analogous to kings. “Adam is almost certainly described as God’s vice-regent and therefore, the archetypal human king.

    But Adam also holds a priestly office in the sense that Adam’s work is priestly work – Adam is commissioned to “to work” and “to keep” (Genesis 2:15) the Garden. The Hebrew verb, “to work, עָבַד is not only used in the cultivation of agriculture, but also for the service of God (e.g. Deuteronomy 4:2, 12), and in particular, the sacred duties of the Levites and the tabernacle (cf. Numbers 3:7-8; 4:23-26). Similarly, “to keep, “שָׁמַרnot carries both the simple idea of protection, but is more commonly used in relation to religious duties (cf. Genesis 17:9; Leviticus 18:5). Adam then, is not only appointed to rule over God’s creation, but jointly to serve the Creator in creation.

People_of_Margarita_island_working
All work is meaningful before God – not just the ‘spiritual’ matters.

What does this mean for Christians today?

Firstly, it means to give serious thought to the nature of Man and our purpose here on earth. Although creation was ‘good’ and even ‘very good’, it was not yet perfect, complete, and thus did God call His people to emulate him: ‘be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it’ (Genesis 1:28). We are given the enormous privilege of continuing God’s work in creation, and Hermann Bavinck writes beautifully, “the first man, however highly placed, did not yet possess the highest humanity … [Adam] stood at the beginning of his “career” not at the end.” Friends, we must never think of our vocations as dreary, mundane, or meaningless – we are God’s people, and in Him, our work is an act of service (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:16-17, 23-24), using our gifts, skills and opportunities in ways to bless both His name and His creation (1 Corinthians 12:7; 1 Peter 4:10; Romans 12:1-8).

Theology Wednesdays: Genesis 1:1

As we are wont to do, our familiarity with the Bible can often descend into a blasé recitation of God’s Word. Somewhere near the top of that list, I’d imagine, is the opening statement of Genesis, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” For the record, there is nothing incidental about the first verse of the Bible. To account the theological profundity of Genesis 1:1 to the happy chance of an inspired, but otherwise capricious biblical author is, at least in my mind, inconceivable.

The Theological Bedrock: God Outside Time, Space, and Matter
I mean, let’s flesh out some of the paradigms at work here. Firstly, for God to have created the heavens and the earth in the beginning of time, then another necessary premise must also be that God was at the beginning of time. Not only that, but God created “the heavens and the earth” which in the Hebrew (הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם … הָאָֽרֶץ”” cf. Genesis 2:1; Psalm 8:1; 33:6, 8; Isaiah 42:5; 45:18) idiomatically represents the totality of the material universe: space and time. God’s agency is emphatic, with the verb “to create” (בָּרָ֣א) used exclusively of divine activity. The biblical author could not express this in any stronger terms: it is God who created the universe at the beginning of time.

In fact, Genesis as a whole is, quite simply, a book of origins centred on the character of God. The entire universe finds its origins in the jussive fiat of God, “Let there be … and it was so”; through the Spirit of God, Man is born and given life, purpose, and stature; Abraham is elected by God to become the “father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:4-5 cf. Genesis 12:2) and a vehicle of blessing (Genesis 12:3). In a marvellous sense, Genesis 1:1 is an anticipatory summary of the entire account of God shaping, filling, and ordering His creation (cf. Mark 1:1, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God”; John 1:1-3, “In the beginning was the Word … all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”) It is clear that the God of the Bible stands at the centre of, operates in, and blesses His people and His world. Genesis 1:1 is testament to God’s character: the creation of the world was not a product of chance, or the accidental collocation of atomic matter, extreme heat and the necessary conditions to produce the universe as a chaotic happenstance. God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1), resolutely, sovereignly, effortlessly.

What Reading Genesis Should Feel Like
When Genesis starts getting juicy (from the first verse).

The Doctrine of Creation Changes Everything
As with any good theology, the doctrine of creation rightly understood ought to tug at our heartstrings and provoke a response of awe and majesty. But good theology also ought to lead to a heightened awareness of humankind’s unique role in the participation of redeeming creation. So what are the theological principles to translate into practice?

If God created the world (and lovingly so; the Piel participle “hovering, רָחַף” semantically serves as a metaphor for that of a mother bird brooding over her young cf. Deuteronomy 32:11), then the world is important and humanity ought to participate in the care and redemption of it (cf. Revelation 21, 22). The essence of Christian salvation is not that we should abandon the earth and go to heaven, but the very opposite – when Christ returns, heaven comes down to earth! We are taught to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), but rarely do we see a real desire to see these convictions become a matter of substance. But Christians seem to lack any kind of ethical grid when it comes to caring for creation beyond, say, recycling paper products or making a conscious effort not to litter (which, for the record, are great things to do).

The Beginning
How does God’s creative work connect with us? We’ll delve a bit deeper in Saturday’s “Bridging the Gap.”

For brevity’s sake, I have only really covered a surface-level understanding of the doctrine of creation, particularly in the ethical sense. Nevertheless, it should serve as a helpful starting point for fruitful thought to take place: where do we fit in among the grand scheme of God’s redemptive plan for His creation? To that end, stay tuned for more content on Genesis 1:1-2:3 upcoming on Saturday’s “Bridging the Gap” where we will explore the implications of the six days of creation (I will cover the Sabbath day separately) for you and for me.

When Death Levels All

It seems that for all the niceties of the world, most people are unaware that they are only about five minutes to midnight. The necessary complement to being alive is neither glamorous nor grand, no matter how hard culture may try to persuade us otherwise: death, when it strikes, levels all. Irrespective of age, ethnicity, cultural status, socio-economic position, or any other measure, death is indiscriminate when it makes its claim. We sit down for coffee, clock in for our nine-to-five’s, and lay ourselves down to sleep without so much as a thought direct to the muted timpani of our heartbeats – and the very tangible reality that, one day, it will stop.

giphy
Your face right now.

Sheesh, morbid stuff, I know. It is a sad reality that for so many, a life beyond the world in which they currently live is inconceivable. But the greater tragedy is that in trying to find meaning in this life, they embrace the fleeting good of worldly hedonism – it is sophistry at best, like trying to cast a shadow in the dark. Or perhaps it is more like moonshine, not just in the artifice of its light, but also in the cold lifelessness of that world. The other end of that spectrum is no less satisfying. Sure, Nietzsche, Tolstoy, and Sartre might have been good fun in university, but existentialism tends to grow old with age. Nevertheless, some people are content to walk toward that sad fate, and are happy to find meaning in meaninglessness.

What about Christians? What do we look forward to when death beckons us closer? When our mental and physical faculties begin to fail us, and we grow increasingly frail as time passes? “The wages of sin is death,” writes Paul, “but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We must concede that death happens because sin happens; death is a reality because sin is a reality. But we are lucid enough to realise that the most harrowing truth is that death is the working of our own hands. Even as Frankenstein was taken aback in horror as “the Adam of [his] labours” gritted his teeth at him and rasped, “You are my Creator!” so too does death hideously posture itself before us as the product of our sinfulness.

“But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” That is our solace in calamity, and the hope that is set before us (Hebrews 6:18-19).

Theology Wednesdays: The John Doe Approach to the Old Testament

Christians love their New Testament, and for good reason. I mean, the revelation of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, through whom God has made known His plans for His people and world is not only a brilliant message, but an exciting one. And there are few things more warming to the soul than to hear animated conversation come from the lips of fellow believers about what they’ve read in Scripture and how it’s shaping their lives. The pages of the Book of Philippians or of the Gospel of John are preached prolifically, and they hold deeply compelling messages. Commentaries on the New Testament fly off the shelves at Christian bookstores (alright, maybe they don’t fly off the racks per se, but you get my idea).

But mention the Old Testament and suddenly you come face-to-face with lethargic expressions or polite feigned interest (thanks guys – it never costs to be polite). Of course, sometimes you’re met with that happy chance of a fellow who’s done their Hebrew homework for the semester, and they’ll sit and chat about the brilliant theology behind the Book of Ruth, or the Christian ethics of the Decalogue. But of course, they are the exception that proves the rule. The point is that generally, people fall into one of three camps: they either (1) haven’t read the Old Testament; or (2) haven’t understood the Old Testament; or (3) don’t see the relevance of the Old Testament. What does that make people like me? Lonely campers.

But forgetting the banter for a minute, why is that for so many Christians the Old Testament seems to exude an aura of unapproachable hostility? The Hebrew Bible is not only a trove of theological profundity, but beautifully written, and has just as much to say (if not more) as the New Testament when it comes to matters of Christian ethic. In fact, Jesus came not to abolish the law and render it abortive, but to fulfil it (vide. Matt 5:17, which is a beautiful example of a triple entendre: Jesus came to πληρῶσαι ‘fulfil’ the Law: (1) through obedience; (2) to bring to its full measure; and (3) to bring to completion).

Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand: reading the Old Testament is daunting enough as it is, let alone trying to know it. Joining the dots from one chapter of the Hebrew Bible to the next is a mental challenge akin to recollecting the name of that really great phở joint in Cabramatta (Tan Viet? Pho Viet? Pho Tau Bay? Bau Truong? Or was it in Bankstown?). Reading the Old Testament is kind of like that. You need to make a real concerted effort to actually find the right places, but even when you do, you can’t make seem to make any sense of what they’ve placed in front of you, and the writing on the wall doesn’t help either.

Jazzy Monkey

This is all to bring it to the conception of Theology Wednesdays here at The Reformation of Manners. What better way to get over the hump of the working week than by looking at the character of God? But reading the Old Testament shouldn’t make for a poor second choice to flesh out the character of God, and so I’ll do my best to kill two birds with one stone (or two turtledoves with one sacrifice if you’re poor). If you didn’t get the joke in the brackets, that’s a sure sign you should subscribe and drop a line to me. Stay tuned.

The Problem of Thin Gruel

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:

– What should Christians do with the money that they earn?
– How do I know that the vocation I’m pursuing is glorifying to God?

– Should Christians think and act politically? If so, how?

c2ef44b1-e139-448e-b8ae-ecf4e86617c4_rw_600
This is what many Christians look like spiritually, except that they’re not asking for more.

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.

It is my hope that as The Reformation of Manners becomes a platform for meaningful conversation on theology and ethics, that you and I would share in the same enthusiasm for God’s Word, and move towards being better ambassadors for Jesus in each of our spheres of influence (2 Corinthians 5.20).

Enough thin gruel, friends – and onward and upward to steak and potatoes!

I will try to put out written content every Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. I am always looking for contributors and guest writers to supplement my ideas with theirs. You can get in touch with me, just say hello, or subscribe to The Reformation of Manners here.