Monday Faith Links: Morality, CNN’s Terrible Story About Porn and the Church, & Generational Conflict

I’m really not intending to get on a pattern of doing these every other week, it’s just kind of the way things have fallen the past month. I’ll strive to post more links next Monday.

As for this week, there’s another good collection of articles and posts I’ve found. And there’s kind of a common “moral” theme going through some of them.

To start, here’s a blog post from pastor Tullian Tchividjian about combating post-modernism’s view of morality.

He starts off by pointing out there is a divide among pastors about how best to reach people who are lost and sinning greatly. Do we go with the grace, grace, and more grace angle, or do we show them how their actions are clearly against God’s will (the law).

Tchividjian falls into the camp of grace, even arguing against that approach before agreeing with it because of scripture. His argument for the law point out how that is our gut reaction as Christian people when we see lawlessness, along the lines of, “These people don’t know the rules, and it’s our job to show them so they’ll stop sinning.”

But the Bible says grace is the answer. Tchividjian uses a great passage from a Tim Keller to seal the deal:

Some claim that to constantly be striking a ‘note of grace, grace, grace’ in our sermons is not helpful in our culture today. The objection goes like this: “Surely Phariseeism and moralism is not a problem in our culture today. Rather, our problem is license and antinomianism. People lack a sense of right or wrong. It is ‘carrying coal to Newcastle’ to talk about grace all the time to postmodern people.” But I don’t believe that’s the case. Unless you point to the ‘good news’ of grace, people won’t even be able to bear the ‘bad news’ of God’s judgment. Also, unless you critique moralism, many irreligious people won’t know the difference between moralism and what you’re offering. The way to get antinomians to move away from lawlessness is to distinguish the gospel from legalism. Why? Because modern and post-modern people have been rejecting Christianity for years thinking that it was indistinguishable from moralism. Non-Christians will always automatically hear gospel presentations as appeals to become moral and religious, unless in your preaching you use the good news of grace to deconstruct legalism. Only if you show them there’s a difference–that what they really rejected wasn’t real Christianity at all–will they even begin to consider Christianity.

I totally agree with both Keller and Tchividjian. It’s kind of ironic to find this article, too, because of one my best friends and I recently had this discussion ourselves. We agreed in general, though I’ll admit that he zoned in more specifically on grace than I did. And while I won’t and can’t disagree at all with my friend or what Tchividjian’s article states, I think we still have to be careful not to forget that faith without works is dead.

Even though Jesus welcomed and forgave sinners (us included), He still told the woman caught in adultery to “Go, from now on sin no more” (John 8:11) and told his disciples that “He who does the will of my father” will enter heaven (Matthew 7:21). There are other places where Jesus, Paul, and the disciples make clear that there are right things to do and ways to live, and there are wrong things to do and ways to live. If we don’t have the fruits of the spirit, we may not have the spirit after all.

But, it is certainly true that our motivation for obeying God can’t be to simply do the right thing. We have to be so grateful for God’s grace and wrapped up in His glory that we will only naturally strive to follow His commands. We have to preach grace if we are going to reach the lost, but once we are caught up in His grace we have to, it says in Hebrews, keep encouraging one another to love and, yep, good deeds.

Other Links

  • CNN.com has been doing rather frequent religion stories lately as part of its Belief blog. Its story this Sunday certainly grabbed my attention: “Can the Christian crusade against pornography bear fruit?” This is a HUGE issue in the church today, but one that this writer didn’t even come close to understanding. The post basically meandered through some comments from therapists about whether such a thing as porn addiction exists and how successful some attempts at treating it have been. The post almost brushes aside the reasons that Christians view porn as a problem and gives a “scholar” the chance to share her completely misguided view of Song of Solomon. I give CNN minimal credit for addressing this topic, but they missed the mark so badly that I think it ends up doing more harm than good. And for good measure, the main art for the story is a Playboy magazine opened within a Bible. Imagine the uproar if they had a similar picture but with the Quran in place of a Bible! For some balance, here are some links that speak to the issue more accurately: Morality for the Internet Age (Gospel Coalition), How does unbelief contribute to the need I feel for pornography? (John Piper), and this series of articles from a husband and wife in Relevant Magazine (Part I, Part II, Part III).
  • OK, last one, and this doesn’t have to do with morality. D.A. Carson wrote an interesting article for The Gospel Coalition called “Generational Conflict in Ministry.” It’s a relevant topic for most people in church, as there are always generational differences, but especially today as cultural change seems to be happening more quickly.
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