Calvin and Christian Shrillness

There is an impulse in many of us that emerges in our public engagement, especially on social media – the preferred method for discourse currently.

The impulse: call out sin or injustice or immorality whenever we see it. It is often done with a shrillness that is, quite frankly, unbecoming (and lest you think I’m wagging a finger, I am the pot calling the kettle black).

Against this impulse Calvin writes, “[Christians are not bid] to assert and proclaim what has been given us by the Lord everywhere, and always and among all indiscriminately, for the Lord gives his people the spirit of discretion, so that they may know when and how far and to whom it is expedient to speak” (Commentary on 1 Peter 3:15).

51zgzlu3qsl._sx331_bo1204203200_Reflecting on this, Dr. Tuininga writes, “Calvin agreed that Christians need not always publicly reprove vice. There are times for silence, even before magistrates, and silence does not always constitute cowardice.”

A good word. Join us for more of this and exploration of how Calvin’s two-kingdom theology offers a way forward for Christians to faithfully engage in today’s democratic, pluralistic societies.

“Christian Politics: a Political Theology of Hope,” with Dr. Matthew Tuininga. A Trinity Fellowship event at ECC (503 S High Street, Bloomington). Thursday night, February 20th. 7:00 pm. A time of Q&A will follow the lecture.

Newbigin on Hope and the Environment

iss520newbigin20graphicI am currently re-reading a fantastic book by Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralistic Society.  The book has little to say directly about creation care or climate change, but Newbigin’s insights do apply to the conversation. In a chapter entitled “The Bible as Universal History” he traces how history has been written and taught since the time of Augustine. Since Augustine, history has been taught as the progress of the City of God. Secular revisions watered it down into a vague ‘progress of society’; communists morphed it into the progress of the working class, etc. All of these visions looked hopefully towards the future. But, Newbigin contends (writing in the late twentieth century), “In the closing decades of this century it is difficult to find Europeans who have any belief in a significant future which is worth working for and investing in.” In the early decades of the twenty-first century, this bleak outlook and apathy have spread to the U.S. also. Newbigin continues,

“A society which believes in a worthwhile future saves in teh present so as to invest in the future. Contemporary Western society spends in the present and piles up debts for the future, ravages the environment, and leaves its grandchildren to cope with the results as best they can. One searches contemporary European literature in vain for evidence o fhope for the future; rather, in Jurgen Moltmann’s words, it is characterized by cold despair, resignation, and cinicism.”

Certainly, love for neighbor, present and future neighbor’s, demands more. Certainly, the Christian’s outlook should be different. But what…how?

Join us this Wednesday night, April 3rd, at 7:30pm at Evangelical Community Church for a special lecture by Kyle Meyaard-Schaap entitled “Creation Care, Climate Change, and the Gospel.” A panel will engage questions after the lecture.