So, continuing, albeit late, from my previous post…
How shall we now live given the dimensions of our culture & faith? Increasingly I find myself drawn more and more to an essentially conservative approach to faith and life, not that I’ve ever been particularly liberal. What I mean is that I am beginning to doubt the progressivist agenda of our age, especially the social justice wing of American evangelicalism.
It is not that I reject social justice; indeed, I believe that any reading of the gospels and the totality of holy scripture reveals a deep seated demand for justice to be implemented and to be sought after by the people of God – not just personal, but systemic.
What I reject is the subtle substitution of such justice concerns for what might be called (and what have been called) fundamentals of the faith. I do not think we can afford to bend out understandings of scripture to prevailing socio-cultural norms in an effort to be people of justice & mercy at the expense of holiness.
Ah holiness… that elusive word which I hear less and less of in any circle at all, but which is, to me, bedrock to our understanding of God and salvation. God, it seems, is holy, and has the audacity to insist that we emulate him in that holiness. Yet often social action, acts of mercy, etc., are substituted for personal holiness which, unlike the kingdom of God, is the one thing we are given sole jurisdiction over.
What do I mean? Simply this: peace and justice in society are ultimately the purview of God who has promised that perfect peace & justice will not prevail until “the Day.” What we have been given charge over is our own lives and bodies, which we are to purify and present spotless before the Lord. Part of that purificaton and spotless presentation is working for peace & justice in the world and in our respective spheres of influence.
As we look towards future history, we would do well to look far enough ahead that we remember that history itself will one day draw to a close, and we will be ultimately evaluated not on the basis of how our sons & daughters remember us, but how our actions and beliefs are remembered by the chief judge. That will certainly mean acting and believing in ways that will increasingly become unpopular and countercultural. Just because those who have followed Jesus before us believed some things that we may not think of as being wrong, doesn’t mean that we are right.