I started this study and reading this book at an insane time. Fresh off concern about religious freedom for military members, participating in a Bible study about using Biblical evidence and the chaos of the end of the school year are all coming into play. On top of that, recent conversations with a good friend regarding our differing opinions on a morality issue and how we see it different Biblically, my head is spinning. As I started the book I realized I’ve been caught up in preschool vocabulary land for far too long. Words like axiom, quixotic, bourgeoisie, triumvirate and nee-Marxist critical theory made me wonder if I was up to the challenge. Here I sit. Head swimming, fingers flying, wondering if I understand more or less. 

Stefanie’s discussion this week is about Chapter one. She provides a very accurate summary and questions on her site. I want need to take a second and back up to the Introduction. I took a few notes and considering where I am in my life right now, they seem important considerations. Keller speaks to the divide in our society, both secular verses religious and within political parties. I would even take it a step further considering some of my recent conversations and say it even exists within the church. Keller’s observations included…

“The people most passionate about social justice were moral relavists, while the morally upright didn’t seem to care about the oppression going on all over the world.”

I have to say, I’ve been accused of not being a Christian because of something I said on this blog regarding politics. That was fun. At the same time, I’ve read other people’s blog posts and walked away with a deep sense of disappointment because it seemed that while trying to accomplish good, they ignored other moral imperatives.  I like that Keller states that “Faith journeys are never SIMPLY intellectual exercises.” (emphasis mine) I have felt for a long time that I am the square peg trying to fit in the round hole. When Keller suggests the idea of a “Third Camp” I felt like he was speaking directly to me. I wanted to yell “YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!” His idea is that there would be 

“A group of Christians who had a concern for justice in the world but grounded in the nature of God rather than in their own subjective feelings.”

Good gravy! I have been feeling like I was a little out there but could this group exist? I’ve read so many different things about poverty. Do this. Don’t do this. You have it right. You have it wrong. If you want to read a couple of things that I’ve read recently, you might want to read what Jen Hatmaker posted today or this post about projecting poverty. I don’t always have the answers. I know that Proverbs 29:7 says that the righteous cares about justice for the poor but the wicked have no such concern. I want to be with the group of people who are concerned and doing. I think it’s up to the church and not the government. At times I’ve lost faith in the church and in the government because what are we doing? Has it really come to in order to help we have to ignore what we believe is morally right? Does culture really get to tell us what is morally correct or will it be God’s word that speaks to us? Sorry… tangent. 

Keller’s other thought, “God’s grace does not come to people who morally out perform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a savior,” resonates with me. It’s something I need to be reminded of daily. I need to do out of love and because of the grace I’ve received, not because doing earns the grace. Keller gives a description of Christianity in the Greco-Roman world. It left me with many questions just like the description of the church in Acts… Why are we waiting for the government to solve the poverty problem? Why aren’t we…? Where is the church? Am I am example of Christianity? If I’m the example, we are all in trouble! What exactly is Christianity supposed to look like today? If we are reading this book to learn how to defend our beliefs, what beliefs exactly are we defending? 

I’m crawling out of my notes, but be warned my head is still swimming. Stefanie’s question for discussion about Chapter one is:

Question: Which of the axioms presented by Keller resonated most with you? Do you agree with it or disagree with it? Why?

Oh my! I think because of recent discussions about religious freedoms within the military that third axiom hit home. It was “Religion Is A Private Affair.” If you believe, you can’t squash or hide your religion. In fact, we are under a great commission to go out unto all the world to spread the Good News. Instead we are urged that to be quiet is to be respectful and the politically correct thing to do, along with his other axiom that it is arrogant to insist that your religion is correct. I try to remember if salvation is only offered through knowing that Jesus is God’s son, what He’s done for you and acceptance of those things through baptism how would I feel if someone didn’t receive that gift of grace because I was afraid to speak out and tell them the truth. My neighbors, my friends, my family, what if one of them didn’t find God’s saving grace because I was worried about being politically correct? What if that is true of anyone? My next question is how do we bring this message with peace and love. In the last part of Chapter one, I believe Keller describes a path for just that. 

I am very anxious to see how others answer this question. If you would like to read more, click the button to read the answers in the comments and links to other blog posts. 

 

 

Ni Hao Yall