DeYoung and the restless

Kevin DeYoung is nominally appropriately one of the faces of “the young, restless and reformed” movement. I like him. He writes and speaks with a clarity I appreciate and without (mostly) the hubris I’m uncomfortable with in other prominent brothers.

I like what he’s had to say about appropriately defining the missional movement in this post so much that I’m going to post this extended quote from his appearance at the Desiring God conference in the states recently

“(1) I am concerned that good behaviors are sometimes commended using the wrong categories. For example, many good deeds are promoted under the term “social justice” when I think “love your neighbor” is often a better category. Or, folks will talk about transforming the world, when I think being “a faithful presence in the world” is a better way to describe what we are trying to do and actually can do. Or, sometimes well meaning Christians talk about “building the kingdom” when actually the verbs associated with the kingdom are almost always passive (enter, receive, inherit). We’d do better to speak of living as citizens of the kingdom, rather than telling our people they build the kingdom.

(2) I am concerned that in our new found missional zeal we sometimes put hard “oughts” on Christians where there should be inviting “cans.” You ought to do something about human trafficking. You ought to do something about AIDS. You ought to do something about lack of good public education. When you say “ought” you imply that if the church does not tackle these problems we are being disobedient. It would be better to invite individual Christians in keeping with their gifts and calling to try to solve these problems rather than indicting the church for “not caring.”

(3) I am concerned that in all our passion for renewing the city or tackling social problems we run the risk of marginalizing the one thing that makes Christian mission Christian: namely, making disciples of Jesus Christ.

Now, having raised those concerns, I need to make sure you know what I am not saying. I do not want:

  • Christians to be indifferent toward the suffering around them and around the world.
  • Christians to think evangelism is the only thing in life that really counts or that helping the poor really only matters if it results in conversions.
  • Christians to stop dreaming of creative, courageous ways to love their neighbors and impact their cities.

But here’s some of what I do want:

  • I want the gospel—the good news of Christ’s death for sin and subsequent resurrection—to be of first importance in our churches.
  • I want Christians freed from false guilt, freed from thinking the church is either responsible for most of problems in the world or responsible to fix all of these problems.
  • I want the utterly unique task of the church—making disciples of Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit to the glory of God the Father—put front and center, not lost in a flurry of humanitarian good deeds or environmental concerns.”
  • Preach it brother.

    Asking the wrong questions about UFC

    Al posted a quote from Leunig yesterday that suggested a causal link between a recent UFC fight and increased knife crime in Melbourne – I’ll leave you to find your own problems or agreements with that argument.

    The meta of that post has been pretty interesting, and I can’t help but think that we’re approaching this question in the wrong way.

    Some pacifist brothers (Seumas has some good thoughts on the issue that are worth digesting) are convinced that violence is inexcusable in any circumstances and thus they are, as it were, conscientious objectors to UFC. Some of these opponents would suggest that the issue is so settled by scripture that this can’t be a question of conscience or liberty. I think the fact that so many people are divided by this issue suggests that it’s not so cut and dried in terms of “right” and “wrong”.

    I can’t help but think we’re not being particularly Pauline in our approach to the issue – perhaps instead of asking if we should prohibit (through exhortation and whatever else) Christians from partaking either in the sport itself or in the appreciation thereof – we should be asking “how can we come to grips with UFC in a way that preaches the gospel of Christ”… that was Paul’s priority, and it was Jesus’ mission – more than coming and rejecting war and calling us to peaceful lives, he came and called on us to preach the coming of the kingdom of God.

    Anybody who can’t see a nice easy straight line from Jesus the guy who submits to death so that we don’t have to, or Jesus the guy who enters the cage and takes our beating, is missing out on opportunities to connect the gospel message with fans of the world’s fastest growing sport. I’m not suggesting we take the Driscoll line that Jesus is a cage fighter… but some of the arguments against UFC are sillier than the arguments for it. I’ll leave you with some words from Romans 14 which I think are the most compelling scriptural words on the matter.

    1 Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. 2 One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

    5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. 7 For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8 If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

    Why Redeemer Lives

    Justin Moffat (another one of my favourite bloggers – his series on things he’s learned about preaching is worth a read) has a list of ten things he observed about Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church during his time in New York (where he worked in a church plant).

    Here are my favourite bits from his list:

    3. Redeemer seeks to ‘exegete’ the city. They ‘walked the streets’ early on to breathe in and consider the needs, drives and fears of New Yorkers. They didn’t generalise, patronise, or assume that they knew the needs before they began their project. But when they decided, they were specific.
    5. They assume that people can be involved in a ‘service project’ (Mercy Ministry) without sacrificing their commitment to the Gospel.
    6. They speak in church as though new people and not-yet-Christians are always present.
    7. Tim Keller is positive, insightful, and a good example of the new apologetic. He has clearly identified and articulated certain ‘defeater beliefs’, and he systematically goes about answering them.

    It’s a useful reflection – though doesn’t touch on the whole theology/idolatry of the city issue (though he teases a future post on the matter in the comments.

    I was going to mention this the other day – but didn’t – but dad paid Redeemer a visit once upon a time during a whirlwind visit of the states – and wrote this useful article about Missional Churches (PDF) (back in 2004 before it the buzzword reached zeitgeist status) – he also wrote something about Redeemer that I can’t find on his old, abandoned blog (again in 2004 before blogging was cool – isn’t he such a trendy/geeky dad) … but I’ll keep looking.