Enjoy a Gloriously Epic Metal Easter

Becoming the Archetype’s “Self-Existent” off of their album Dichotomy is probably my favorite Easter song. I have been moved to tears on multiple Easters as I listen to this and think about the glorious resurrection of my Redeemer. Also, it is amazingly metal.

Some might wonder if the medium fits the message. “Is metal an appropriate means to convey the beautiful truth of Easter?”

I can only answer that question, with another question: “What is more epically-metal than Jesus killing Death?” I rest my case.

Into the darkened tomb
I walked but only found it empty

My mind is tormented
My soul is shaken

As a flame is tormented by the wind and rain
As the earth is shaken by an earthquake

My heart has accepted
What my eyes could never have believed:
I watched Him die
I watched Him die

In the silence death is defeated
In my spirit the battle rages on

And then I stepped into the light
I heard His voice, I saw His face
And then He stood there before me
A man buried but never dead*

My heart has accepted
What my eyes could never have believed
I saw Him rise
I saw Him rise

HE IS ALIVE! and reigns forever
HE IS ALIVE! He’ll reign forever

Soli Deo Gloria

*Some might quibble with this line. Yes, Jesus truly suffered death on the Cross. Then again, these guys are metal-heads and it sounds awesome.

It is Finished–All of It (Good Friday According to Calvin)

it_is_finishedAt some point all of us have wondered, why is Good Friday ‘good?’ What is great about a bloody Jew on a Roman Cross suffering an execution, an act of political terrorism? Jesus’ words “It is finished” (John 19:30) are his own answer. There are a number of things I could say, but instead I’ll let Calvin expand on that for us:

It is finished. He repeats the same word which he had lately employed, Now this word, which Christ employs, well deserves our attention; for it shows that the whole accomplishment of our salvation, and all the parts of it, are contained in his death. We have already stated that his resurrection is not separated from his death, but Christ only intends to keep our faith fixed on himself alone, and not to allow it to turn aside in any direction whatever. The meaning, therefore, is, that every thing which contributes to the salvation of men is to be found in Christ, and ought not to be sought anywhere else; or — which amounts to the same thing — that the perfection of salvation is contained in him.

There is also an implied contrast; for Christ contrasts his death with the ancient sacrifices and with all the figures; as if he had said,” Of all that was practiced under the Law, there was nothing that had any power in itself to make atonement for sins, to appease the wrath of God, and to obtain justification; but now the true salvation is exhibited and manifested to the world.” On this doctrine depends the abolition of all the ceremonies of the Law; for it would be absurd to follow shadows, since we have the body in Christ.

If we give our assent to this word which Christ pronounced, we ought to be satisfied with his death alone for salvation, and we are not at liberty to apply for assistance in any other quarter; for he who was sent by the Heavenly Father to obtain for us a full acquittal, and to accomplish our redemption, knew well what belonged to his office, and did not fail in what he knew to be demanded of him. It was chiefly for the purpose of giving peace and tranquillity to our consciences that he pronounced this word, It is finished. Let us stop here, therefore, if we do not choose to be deprived of the salvation which he has procured for us. -John Calvin, Comm. on John 19:30

This is why Good Friday is good–I don’t have to look anywhere else–Christ finished it.

Soli Deo Gloria

5 Theses on God and Christian Theology

clear wordI’ve been doing lists of 5 recently. First there were 5 ingredients to being a good theologian, then 5 things my mom taught me about theology, and now I’ve got another 5. Where will it all end? Probably not here.

In any case, these come from Mark D. Thompson’s insightful defense of that oft-maligned and mostly misunderstood doctrine of the perspicuity of scripture A Clear and Present Word: The Clarity of Scripture. He lists 5 key points about theology that must be kept in mind if the teaching about scripture’s clarity isn’t to devolve into the “static”, abstract, and impersonal notion it is commonly caricatured as:

  1. “Christian theology, at its most basic, is talk about God.” (pg. 49) Note, theologians have been saying this long before Rob Bell got around to it. Etymology aside (theos = God, logia = words), the first distinctive feature of theology is that it is concerned primarily with God. While theologians might talk about politics, humanity, the nature of reality, and so forth, in so far as they are doing theology, they are speaking of these things with reference to God. If they’re not, then they’re engaged in some other discipline, which is fine, but we shouldn’t call it theology. 
  2. Christian theology is essentially and unavoidably trinitarian.” (pg. 50) The point is that when Christians talk about God, they’re talking about the God who is wonderfully Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from all of eternity. That’s the God we see revealed in the history of Israel as it culminates in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son Jesus Christ who came by the will of the Father, in the power of the Spirit for our salvation and God’s glory.
  3. Christian theology is talk about God made possible by God’s prior decision to be known.” (pg. 51) At its most basic level the doctrine of revelation means that you only know about God because of God. It on the basis of God’s free, loving decision to be known by creatures–creatures in rebellion no less–that we come to have anything to say about him. As I’ve noted elsewhere, all of our knowledge of God is had by God’s grace. Our very knowledge of God is God’s kindness, God’s condescension to take up our feeble language and use it in powerful ways to speak to us of his great love–even more, to take up our feeble humanity and walk amongst us. (John 1:14)
  4. Christian theology can only claim truth and authority in so far as it conforms to God’s self-revelation.” (pg. 52) God has acted and spoken in certain ways to authoritatively reveal himself to us in history–our goal in theology is to be faithful to that revelation.   Contradicting God is not an option. For that reason, theology cannot be merely creative speculation, but rather a careful exposition of God’s words and works in history for our salvation, as we find them in the Text that bears his divine imprimatur. This doesn’t mean we can’t be creative in our exposition, or ever engage in what might be called metaphysical speculation, but rather that both are carried on in service of and submission to God’s own words about himself. Any “theology” that carries us beyond, or against God’s own self-revelation loses the name ‘Christian.’
  5. Christian theology is talk about God that takes place in the presence of God and in the eyes of the world. (pg. 53) Finally, theology is not done in a vacuum. Thompson calls our attention to the fact that theology happens in the presence of the God who is active through his word. “We do not speak of God in his absence or behind his back.” When we write theology, we are speaking both about God, and, in a way, to him; Augustine addressed his Confessions to his most important hearer. And yet, God is not our only hearer. We do theology in the eyes of the watching world; it’s primary character is that of proclamation. God does not benefit from theology–he already knows who he is. It is the creation that needs to hear of the words and works of God for its redemption. For that reason, theology must be engaged with the world in which we find ourselves, not in a way that blunts or domesticates it, but enables it to accomplish its intended purpose–to confront and welcome the world with the saving news of the Gospel.

As with nearly all numbered lists, this one could easily be expanded. However, these 5 lines of thought are helpful to keep clear as we think about the theological task in general, and specifically on the dynamic reality of Scripture. What we say about Scripture is unavoidably tied in to what we say about the Triune God we find revealed in Jesus Christ.

Soli Deo Gloria

5 Things My Mom Taught Me About Theology — What That Means For Your Kid

This is not my mom, but since she would probably not like any photo I picked of her, I'm giving you one of John Calvin instead.

This is not my mom, but since she would probably not like any photo I picked of her, I’m giving you one of John Calvin instead.

On a whim last week I stopped to try and think about who, out of the various books, pastors, and theologians I’ve been shaped by, has most shaped me theologically. I started rifling through the names–Calvin, Vanhoozer, Horton, Wright, Barth, Newbigin, Kreeft, Lewis, Kierkegaard–and came up with a surprising answer: my mother, Arliett. This is no joke, or even my attempt at a heart-warming post about dear old mom (who really isn’t old anyways), it’s just a practical point. For all the Calvin or Vanhoozer or Horton I quote, the deepest roots of my theological instincts can probably be traced back to my mom’s early instruction in the faith.

I’ll be straight with you and say Mom doesn’t have what most would consider formal theological training. She was raised in a Catholic school and got saved in a Calvary Chapel Bible study a couple of years before I was born. There was no seminary and I don’t recall us owning a single systematic theology text in the home before I bought mine in seminary. Mom learned what she knew from a lot of Bible studies, personal reading, and a lot of hours listening to sermon tapes from Bible teachers. Still, she learned enough to be recognized by the leadership and was eventually asked to be a bible study leader in the women’s groups at our churches.

Her first aim though, besides knowing and loving Jesus herself, was that my sister and I would know him too.  For the first few years of my life in church, she was my Sunday School teacher using the flannel-graphs, telling us the stories, and teaching us from the Word of God. When she had a major surgery related to a tumor when I was in Jr. High, she told us afterwards, that her one prayer was that she would live so she could make sure and encourage us in our faith until we were adults. And honestly, I can attest she did not let up–ever. Whether it was playing hundreds of hours of sermons in the car, buying us teenage devotionals, making sure we were in Bible studies, or praying for us in moms’ groups, we had a full-time spiritual cheerleader and gadfly in my mom.

So what exactly did my mom teach me that’s still with me today? Plenty, but I think I’ll limit it to 5 key points:

  1. The Trinity is Non-Negotiable - Back when I was a kid we had Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons walking door to door a lot in our neighborhood. My mom was aware of this and told us one key question we should always ask when someone came around trying to talk about Jesus was “Do you believe in the Trinity?” If they didn’t, just tell them you do and don’t continue the conversation. While maybe not the best example of ecumenical dialogue, she wasn’t much interested in it at that point, but rather with the spiritual health of her children. She never mentioned Arianism, tri-theism, modalism, or the difference between the economic and immanent Trinity, but she did teach us very clearly that Christians confess a Triune God who is wonderfully Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Anything else is not the God of Jesus Christ.
  2. Is it in the Bible? - Next, she taught us the importance of the Bible. Her and my dad both would read the Bible to us at night, (although she preferred my dad to do the reading before bed because she didn’t want us picking up her Honduran spanish accent in our English). In that, and a million other ways, she was always telling us that the Bible was where the truth of God was found. We weren’t fundamentalists rejecting all other books (my parents took me to the library a lot), but the bottom-line was, for faith and morals, if it wasn’t in the Bible, then it wasn’t binding on us for salvation, and should probably be avoided. Now, of late I’ve come to a more appreciative view of the weight of tradition, creeds, councils, etc., but that basic instinct to strive to trust the Word of God above all other words came through the words of my mother.
  3. We Have a Story-Shaped Gospel - This one’s kinda simple. Like I mentioned above, my mom taught us Sunday School. I learned a lot of Bible stories at her knee. Also, I don’t know if it was my dad or my mom who made the decision to use the sweet comic-book-style Picture Bible when we were kids, but that was a great move. From a very early age I had the inarticulate sense that the Bible was not just a collection of disembodied truths, but a series of stories telling the spiritual history of all the generations of believers that came before, leading up to the saving actions of Jesus Christ. Long before I read Hans Frei, my mom taught me about story.
  4. Balance - Another theological instinct bequeathed to me by my mom was a sense for balance. I’ve never been a fan of extreme positions or false dichotomies. For instance, I’ve always been peeved at those who try to pit a Christus Victor angle against the penal substitutionary angle or vice versa, in the atonement discussion when they’re both fully compatible with each other and found in scripture. (Col. 2:14-15) The one issue that I remember my mom giving me a sense of balance about when I was a kid was regarding spiritual gifts. We were at a decent Assembly of God church for a couple of years because they had a good kids program, but when I came home asking why I didn’t have the gift of tongues in the 3rd grade, my parents decided it was time to roll out. She made a point to tell me that yes, the ‘charismatic gifts’ like tongues and prophecy were real (not cessationism), but they were always to be used in proper order, and they weren’t necessarily for everybody (charismaniacs). We all have different gifts. Again, I’m pretty sure she’d never read Gordon Fee’s commentary on 1 Corinthians, but she taught me to handle the Word in a way that wasn’t reactionary or ‘enthusiastic’, but calmly responsible.
  5. Humility - Finally, my mom strove to teach me humility. I can’t tell you how often she would talk to me about Solomon’s humility in asking for wisdom. In a hundred different ways she warned me against pride in thinking I knew more than I did, simply because I usually knew a little more than the rest of my friends. This continued from the time I was a small child until I was in high school, and then in college, and on into grad school, and–you get the picture. For natural born sinners, humility before the Word of God and the God who is beyond fathoming is a lesson that can never be taught too early or too much.

What Does this Have to Do with You? As I mentioned earlier, I’m not just trying to write a heart-warming post about my mother, or my childhood. My point in ripping through all of those truths my mom taught me is to encourage parents to understand their primary role in the spiritual education of their children. I didn’t learn those very important lessons in seminary, but in the home.

I say this as someone who works in student ministries. I know about the wonderful programs, Sunday School teachers, directors, studies, and lessons that can be used to help shape the spiritual life of your child. The plain fact of the matter is that, at best, we get your kids for about an hour or two a week while you have them for the rest of it; there is simply no competition.

You need to realize that your child’s spiritual life is not the church’s responsibility, but yours. We are there to help you do your job as a parent. See, your primary job as a parent is not to make sure that your kid gets on the right sports team, or the right college, or has a “successful life”, or is even “happy”. Your primary job is, by implicit example and explicit instruction, to point your child to Christ in all that you do.

If you feel overwhelmed by the idea of being responsible for the spiritual well-being of your child hear me say three words of encouragement:

  1. First, good for you–it is a big deal and from my experience in student ministries not enough parents care about it beyond wondering why we haven’t speed-sanctified their child for them. A little urgency isn’t a bad thing.
  2. Second, calm down–you are not responsible for converting them, as that is work of the Holy Spirit, but pointing them to Christ. Too much urgency will make you crazy.
  3. Third, take heart–you are not alone in this. You have the promise of Jesus that he will be with you until the end of the age as you go out to fulfill the Great Commission even unto the ends of your own backyard. (Matt 28)

Soli Deo Gloria

Some resources for newly-inspired, but lost parents:
1. The Jesus Story-Book Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
2. Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware
3. The Good News We Almost Forgot by Kevin DeYoung (More for parents who feel shaky about theology)

T.S. Eliot’s Definition of Heresy and the Value of Heretics

EliotT.S. Eliot is one of my favorite poets that I don’t read–at least not his poetry. When reading Scruton I found out he had a lecture series involving the notion of heresy, so of course I was intrigued.  It took some digging to track them down though, because they had been suppressed by Eliot himself due to some unfortunately anti-Semitic content. In any case, I found them and tracked down his definition of heresy and heretics:

Furthermore, the essential of any important heresy is not simply that it is wrong: it is that it is partly right. It is characteristic of the more interesting heretics, in the context in which I use the term, that they have an exceptionally acute perception, or profound insight, of some part of the truth; an insight more important often than the inferences of those who are aware of more but less acutely aware of anything. So far as we are able to redress the balance, effect the compensation, ourselves, we may find such authors of the greatest value. If we value them as they value themselves we shall go astray. And in the present state of affairs, with the low degree of education to be expected of public and of reviewers, we are more likely to go wrong than right; we must remember too, that an heresy is apt to have a seductive simplicity, to make a direct and persuasive appeal to intellect and emotions, and to be altogether more plausible than the truth.

-Eliot, T. S., 1888-1965. After Strange Gods : A Primer of Modern Heresy; London : Faber and Faber.

In other words, heretics are usually never totally wrong. In fact, they often-times grasp a vital truth more profoundly than others, but let it distort their thought when it becomes a focal point dominating all other truths. For that reason, sometimes interacting intellectually with heretics, or distorting teachers, is helpful–albeit in a negative way. One thinks of the way that Calvin’s interactions with Osiander on the issue of union with Christ which forced him to clarify his own thought on the matter. This doesn’t excuse heresy or mean we shouldn’t strive to avoid it and cling to the truth any less. It does mean that sometimes it’s good to try and understand what motivates it in order that our orthodoxy might be all the stronger. If I can understand the repugnancy of the absolutist dogmatism that drives some towards relativism, I can learn to present truth in a more gracious and understanding manner. If I can understand what would motivate a panentheistic denial of transcendence, I can know better how to communicate the beauty of a God whose transcendence is the ground for his immanence.

In other words, in the sovereignty of God even heretics can teach us something about the truth.

Soli Deo Gloria

Rob Bell At the Areopagus (CaPC Feature)

Seth T. Hahne is the man.

Seth T. Hahne is the man.

Paul’s debate with the philosophers at the Areopagus remains a favorite story of mine. The Areopagus, or Mars Hill, in Athens was the cultural and intellectual center of the ancient world, so when the apostle Paul was asked to speak there on this strange new teaching about “Jesus” and “the Resurrection”, he spoke with great erudition and made an appeal for the Gospel tailored to his ‘religious’ but intellectually skeptical audience.

What We Talk About When We Talk About God is Rob Bell’s Areopagus speech.

You can read the rest of my feature review of his book HERE at Christ and Pop Culture.

Soli Deo Gloria

PS. It’s why I haven’t written anything this week and might not write much else.

Checking Out Churches? Don’t Forget the ‘Jesus Drinking Game’ Test

Well, now that I have your attention, some of you may be wondering what the Jesus Drinking Game Test is and why is a college minister talking about it? (Also, whether I’m going to be fired in about two sentences.)

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. (Acts 2:14-15)

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day.” (Acts 2:14-15)

It all came up in a chat with my buddy, Andrew–a fiery, young, Welsh intellectual on the rise–when discussing church standards. Although staunchly Reformed, he keeps getting invited by his more liberal friends to their liberal mainline churches. Recounting one such experience he recalled: “I got drug to a new-agey Episcopal bible study where we did ‘centering prayer’ on ‘what God means to you, or however you perceive the Life Force.’” That did it for him. Now whenever he’s asked to check out one of his friends’ churches, “I tell them my rule: if I were to be drinking in church and take a sip every time Christ or the Gospel is mentioned, would I get tipsy? If not, I’d rather stay home.”

Now, make sure to note the hypothetical character of this test. Nowhere on this blog are you reading an exhortation to take flasks with you to church or play drinking games. For the record, drunkenness is a sin. (Eph. 5:18) Also, for my students, if you’re under 21 you shouldn’t even be touching the stuff.

The principle, however, is quite sound. As a baseline minimum, if you wouldn’t get drunk if you had to sip every time they mention Jesus or the Gospel in a church service, then it’s probably not a church you want to be going to. It might be a nice place, full of decent, moral people trying very hard to be good, have lovely children’s programs, lively social events, and a very nice pastor who is a great public speaker with a good amount of practical wisdom about your finances or dealing with conflict. All that taken into account, if this is not a place where Jesus’ Name is lifted up as the only one that saves, and the Gospel as the message that sustains, you should walk out and find another. Any church worth its salt will be drenched in Jesus and the Gospel.

Of course, merely dropping Jesus’ name and saying the word “gospel” in front of every other phrase is no guarantee of fidelity. This is probably another good reason not to be drinking in church–you want to pay attention to what they actually say about Jesus and the Gospel, measuring it against the word. (Acts 17:11) Still, for those considering a congregation to worship at, keeping the ‘Jesus Drinking Game’ principle in mind isn’t a bad place to start.

Soli Deo Gloria

Why The New Pope Shouldn’t Listen to Obama’s Advice (CaPC)

obama

Obama isn’t the most precise theologian. Nor should that be expected of him–he’s only a politician after all.

In a recent interview before the selection of the new Pope Francis, President Obama was asked about his thoughts on the incoming pope. He expressed his hope that the next Holy Father would be faithful to what he considers the “central message of the Gospel.” Admirable sentiment. I think we should all hope for a pope who loves the Gospel. The question we have to ask ourselves is: what do we mean by the Gospel? Well, according to the President it’s “that we treat everybody as children of God and that we love them the way Jesus Christ taught us to love them.”

Now, I don’t want to single out or beat up on the President, but when you have people like Andy Stanley using language about him being pastor-in-chief and what-not, his definition of the Gospel becomes culturally-important. People listen to it whether they should or not. As such it becomes a teachable moment. Being a preacher-type, I can’t help myself.

You can go read me correct the President’s theology over at Christ and Pop Culture.

Soli Deo Gloria

Common? High? Pop? What Kind of Culture Is It? (With Some Help From Roger Scruton)

The notion of ‘culture’ has fascinated me ever since I first got my hands on Lesslie Newbigin’s The Gospel in a Pluralist Society in which he lays out his vision for engaging Western culture for the Gospel. It was around the time that the whole emergent church thing was still a thing and it seemed like everyone was talking about the shift to “postmodern” culture and what that meant. In middle of that conversation I started to realize that ‘culture’ was an important issue for evangelism, discipleship, and just ministry in general.

As I went on to read more about the issue, I found that almost everybody in the theological literature agrees that if you’re going to do ministry, then you have to understand cultural context you’re set in. Whether it’s modern culture, postmodern culture, indigenous cultures, or church cultures, ‘culture’ is everywhere and ever-so-important. Of course, this raises the issue of what exactly we mean by the term ‘culture’.

Seems like something we ought to have nailed down if we’re going to be talking about it so much.

You can almost feel the philosophy coming off of him.

You can almost feel the philosophy coming off of him.

Now I’ve had my own working definition of it for some time. The problem I’ve found is that, depending on the publication, author, or discipline you’re reading, everybody seems to have their own definition of it, many which seem to be at odds with each other.

This is why I was so pleased when I found that in first pages of his insightful little work Modern Culture, Roger Scruton helpfully lays out three different senses of the term ‘culture’ that are typically used today:

  • Common – The first is what might be called ‘common’ culture. It takes its cues from Herder, whose notion of kultur indicated the unique spirit of a nation or people as opposed to zivilization which could be shared with various other nations. This, apparently, was taken up and developed by the German romantics who pointed to the idea that culture is what shapes and is found in the various songs, art, traditions of a nation. In this view, it is what is common to all the people in a nation or tribe. This means that nobody, “however ill-educated, is deprived of culture, since culture and social membership is the same idea.” (pg. 1) It is this interpretation that most of the early anthropologists and sociologists of our day work with.
  • High – The second is what might be called ‘high’ culture and takes its roots in a more classical understanding that is linked to the idea of culture as cultivation and virtue. It is not common to all, but must be acquired through education, which usually requires some intellect, as well as leisure and resources for study. To have culture on this view is the province of the few and the well-educated. It comes with a knowledge of the broad literary canon, an appreciation of the right sorts of music and the arts. Culture, in this view, is a sort of moral-technical expertise. This idea has been championed by literary critics such as Matthew Arnold, and later by T.S. Eliot, and of course, Scruton himself. In fact, the book as a whole should be seen as a defense of high culture. (pp. 1-2)
  • Pop- Scruton says that a third sort of culture has emerged recently from the battles between the two. As we noted, the idea of common culture is usually attached to a tribe or a nation, a set, identifiable grouping of people whose culture can be identified and is generally shared. One of main characteristics of the modern/postmodern world which we inhabit is the breakdown of the various tribes associated with ‘traditional society.’ (pg. 2) There are no uncontested practices, thought patterns, songs, and narratives which can be appealed to without a sense of irony. That being said, humans still have need for a sort of solid and stable identity-shaping environment just as the traditional societies gave. It is in this situation that what might be termed ‘popular’ culture emerges, as a sort of tertium quid, a third thing, both like and unlike both of the prior conceptions. Pop culture is the province of ‘cultural studies’ programs in college and is thought of by its defenders as an equally valid ‘culture of the people’. Essentially pop culture is what’s involved when the notion of high culture as something that is a feature of “choice, taste, and leisure” in the sense of cultivation is merged with the common such as pop art and entertainment.  (pp. 2-3) As Scruton notes, “Any activity or artefact is considered cultural, if it is an identity-forming product of social interaction.” (pg. 3)

Of course, Scruton looks upon this last development with dismay, and, as mentioned earlier, in the rest of the work will launch a defense of high culture against any relativistic, postmodern deconstructions, or anti-elitist protests of the equal validity of popular culture.That doesn’t concern me at this point.

For Christians and ministers of the Gospel in particular, there are a number of theses I would like to simply list for reflection, without much additional comment.

  1. While these categories are not air-tight, uncontested, or always easily-distinguishable, it’s good to have some baseline working definitions to think with, especially when you’re reading about cultural engagement. It’s helpful to know what your author is dealing with because prescriptions for one category don’t always carry into the others.
  2. Christians should be engaged with culture at all levels. Common, high, or pop, there is no level or layer that can be ignored by ministers of the Gospel. Anything that is forming our people for good or ill, is our concern.
  3. Accordingly, effective ministers will become students of the common culture of the communities they inhabit.
  4. Depending on the type of congregation, or minister, they should also try be serious, not merely cursory, students of both the high and pop culture that our people draw on for their social-identity construction. (I emphasize ‘try’ because pastors have a lot on their plate already.)
  5. Preaching that both affirms and critiques in light of the Gospel needs to be alert to both the unconsciously formative, and consciously chosen elements of cultural formation. Sometimes it is the common cultural assumptions that are most difficult to expose, simply because they are assumptions.

As always, there’s more to say, but I don’t want to say it right now, so maybe I’ll say it later. Or maybe you should say it in the comments. Knock yourself out.

Soli Deo Gloria