~ 16 August 2007 ~

The swing of the pendulum

No non-profit has a better fundraising letter than does Mars Hill Audio. Typically 3-4 pages each, I usually save the thoughtful, essay-like letters by Ken Myers for my personal library. This summer’s letter examines the nature of Christian hope, and how many in the church have substituted an empty optimism for the solid hope offered by Christ. One aspect that is affected by this is the church’s attitude toward the world:

When I was a boy, many American Christians assumed that an alliance with the world was a bad thing. From [John 14:27], from Romans 12:1f., from James 1:27, from I John 2:15, and from many other less explicit biblical texts, they knew that worldliness was a condition fervently to be avoided by faithful disciples. Unfortunately, they believed that worldliness was adequately defined by delighted participation in almost any kind of cultural activity; movies, card-playing, alcohol, and tobacco were especially singled out, but the general principle was that “worldly” meant “bodily.” Since that time, the gnosticism implicit in such attitudes has been abandoned by many Christians, a change for which we must be grateful. But it seems as if American Christians have moved from assuming that all cultural activities are inherently suspect to assuming that all cultural activities are inherently innocent and beyond criticism. Rejecting a bad definition of worldliness, we exhibit almost no collective concern whatsoever about avoiding worldliness rightly defined.

In short, many Christians have swung the proverbial pendulum too far in the opposite direction, leaving just as far from the biblical mandate as they were before. Read the rest of the letter [PDF] for what Myers sees as a solution to the American Church’s missing of the mark.

I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ll mention it again: a subscription to the Mars Hill Audio Journal is worth its weight in gold, although an MP3 subscription is only $30. Unlike other “talkies” (radio, podcasts, etc.), MHAJ has a long shelf life, and an uncanny ability to make you listen to some segments again and again to mine them for all their worth.

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