Anthropology Ethics Pastoralia

Fruitfulness in the Ruins

Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.[1]

So, Kevin DeYoung has—unwittingly I assume—caused some disagreement and distress. In a recent blog post, he argues that ‘It’s Time for a New Culture War Strategy’. In short: children. Lots of them, faithfully discipled.

I can understand why his article, as it stands, was hard for some childless couples and some single people to read. I suspect a few more caveats or acknowledgements of the complexities and pains of life would have been helpful. But, whether or not one is persuaded, his argument isn’t new. And whether or not we personally agree with him, it really shouldn’t, as someone suggested on Twitter(!), unite all evangelicals in disagreement.

In what follows, I want to do three things. First, I’ll make some preliminary observations to frame the main substance of this article. Secondly, I’ll examine what DeYoung actually says, as although I have some questions of my own, I think he’s been misunderstood and misrepresented by some.[2] And thirdly, I’ll explore whether or not his basic thesis (or my reading of it) holds water.

John Webster Pastoralia Prayer

Grace in a Time of Coronavirus

In our current trials, painful as they are, we are being given a gift—a gift as Christians, a gift as pastors, a gift as churches and a gift as nations, if only we will take it. This time of losses, restrictions, anxieties and griefs, it also a matchless opportunity for grace.

In The Culture of Theology, John Webster invites us to take our own existence, and the situation in which we are placed, with full seriousness. He asks, ‘In what sense can theological existence be cultivated?’, and answers, ‘The first thing to say is that it can’t.’1 Although he is writing about the ‘anatomy of a theologian’, what Webster says here applies equally to our understanding of all human existence in the light of the gospel. This seems more obvious now than at any time in my lifetime. If we believed it, how refreshing it would be! It would calm our bubbling anxieties, cool our frenzied conversations, soothe our restless fears.

Pastoralia Suffering

On Coping (or not) with a Crisis

I’ve been trying to work out why I’m feeling existentially disconnected from CoV-19-related fears. I’m taking it seriously, but it’s not registering in any deeply personal way. Partly it’s that my routines are largely undisrupted. But as I reflect on people’s reactions I think there’s more, because a lot of these feelings have been my friends for more than 2 years now. 

Early in December 2017, I had a fairly epic nervous breakdown. The reasons are unimportant. But the consequences were horrible. We’re all different, and in no way was my situation as bad as a global pandemic or the most severe health risks of contracting the virus. But I look at people’s reactions and changed circumstances and think: Been there, done that. (Or: Am there, doing that.)