“Put aside a culture war that…”

“Put aside a culture war that…” July 7, 2015

David Brooks:

Put aside a culture war that has alienated large parts of three generations from any consideration of religion or belief. Put aside an effort that has been a communications disaster, reducing a rich, complex and beautiful faith into a public obsession with sex. Put aside a culture war that, at least over the near term, you are destined to lose.

Consider a different culture war, one just as central to your faith and far more powerful in its persuasive witness.

We live in a society plagued by formlessness and radical flux, in which bonds, social structures and commitments are strained and frayed. Millions of kids live in stressed and fluid living arrangements. Many communities have suffered a loss of social capital. Many young people grow up in a sexual and social environment rendered barbaric because there are no common norms. Many adults hunger for meaning and goodness, but lack a spiritual vocabulary to think things through.

Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.

The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.

This culture war is more Albert Schweitzer and Dorothy Day than Jerry Falwell and Franklin Graham; more Salvation Army than Moral Majority. It’s doing purposefully in public what social conservatives already do in private.

I don’t expect social conservatives to change their positions on sex, and of course fights about the definition of marriage are meant as efforts to reweave society. But the sexual revolution will not be undone anytime soon. The more practical struggle is to repair a society rendered atomized, unforgiving and inhospitable. Social conservatives are well equipped to repair this fabric, and to serve as messengers of love, dignity, commitment, communion and grace.

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  • I agree with Brooks here.

    And to be clear, he’s not advocating that we say “Well, we might as well go with the flow and affirm SSM.” It’s a question of which battles outside of our walls that we prioritize, and with which weapons. Contrary to much of the fear-mongering going on right now, churches and pastors are absolutely free (and will remain so for as long as the first amendment matters) to bless whatever marriages they see fit according to their faith, and they should do so lovingly and without apology. But outside of what we teach on marriage, what do want to be known for doing? What work do we want to prioritize at this moment in time? For my part, it is not a re-seating of SCOTUS to get their decisions to line up with my faith. It is much closer to what Brooks advocates. Love of God and neighbor has tons of opportunities right now.

  • tsgIII

    The options have been called the Status Quo Culture War( stand firm and fight)by Robert P George, the Benedict Option by Rod Dreher, and the Mother Theresa Plan by Brooks. These are not as obviously mutually exclusive as at first thought, and are being nuanced by those authors and many others.

  • tsgIII

    And I should have added James Davison Hunter’s Faithful Presence

  • tsgIII

    Clark Pinnock and Robert Brow have a good position on being a witness in “Unbounded Love”. A vision of God the dimensions of whose love are boundless. It lifts up the transforming ways of God with us. And the effect seems so wonderful in that you move heaven and earth so lightly, so quietly, that no one notices. Sort of a mustard seed approach.

  • Ken

    The culture war is a lost cause. Deal with it. It’s right in there with the war on drugs, the war on terror and the war on Vietnam/Cambodia. Time to pull out the troops and redirect the resources… as Brooks suggests.

  • Scott Watson

    In other words, the choice is between the praxis of Jesus and that of the Pharisees in his day (in terms of their program of holiness defined as intensification of Torah and its social corollaries). But many social conservatives may find this a tall order because many have defined their identity over against those whom Mr. Brooks desires for them to minister to, just as the Pharisee in the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18. Some Religious Right social conservatives call for God’s judgment on account of the acts and activities of their adversaries in the Culture Wars. They should beware what they pray for: 1 Peter says that judgment begins at the house of the LORD.

  • From where I sit, many conservative Christians believe that their efforts to “fight the normalization of homosexuality” are aligned with the effort to strengthen families and communities. That’s a part of the non-affirming plausibility problem: calling stable gay relationships destabilizing and destructive.

    It seems to me that for Brooks’ vision to be realized, the virtues of marriage – including gay couples – need to be acknowledged. As it is, this overwhelming outrage caused by gay people committing themselves to one another for life seems to be a reaction (and witness) that’s contrary to the goal of building stable communities.

  • tearfang

    you may not be interested int he culture war, but it is interested in you. It may take two to tango, but it only takes one to start a fight. The battle ground is no longer government; it is the free exercise of christian’s faith and the freedom of their conscience.

    Ask the owners of the Oregon bakery Sweet Cakes recently ordered to pay $135,000

    Ask the pastors of Houston subjected to subpoenas for their opposition to allowing men into women’s bathrooms.

    Ask Trinity Western University in Ontario Canada who’s accreditation was revoked bc of their no sex outside of traditional marriage policy

    We should learn from history. When people say they want to do bad things… we should believe them. If they tell us they want to destroy the church… in mainstream outlets like the New York Times opining that the wall of separation of church and state should torn down and the church made subservient to the state and forced to pay taxes to the state we should believe them. #theCutureWarIsInterestedInYou

  • Marshall Janzen

    Trinity Western University is in BC, not Ontario, and its accreditation has not been revoked. It is facing legal challenges over whether the law societies in some provinces will recognize law degrees granted by TWU if it is successful in starting a law school.

    Not sure of the others, but as someone who attends TWU, I know you’re far off-base on that item. Spreading misleading information does not help anyone “learn from history.”

  • tearfang,

    It takes very little to issue a subpoena. In Florida, attorneys can essentially issue them themselves. It’s not a lawsuit, it’s generally an order to give answers to questions (or documents) about someone else’s lawsuit.

    I’m not going to deal with the Canadian case since that’s not under the US Constitution.

    That leaves the bakers who refused do make a cake for a gay wedding. I believe there is a similar case involving a photographer somewhere in the US. As litigious as we are, that’s all we’ve got, and, frankly, don’t be shocked if cases like those of the baker go different ways in other state and local jurisdictions. As a counter, consider the recent Hobby Lobby decision, for instance. In any event, we are a long, long way from having the First Amendment disappear.

    It does take two to tango, and to fight. If someone wants to force us to bake them a cake, maybe, instead of resisting them, we should bake them two. No more lawsuit. No more legal fees. No more fight. And, bonus: obedience to Jesus and his methods of overcoming evil people who try to force us to do stuff under the law of the day. The culture war isn’t the only thing looking to draw us in. Jesus is interested in you, too. For my part, I’m gonna dance with the One that brought me.

  • Let me add: as Christians, we are told to respond to much worse treatment with startling generosity. Christians “fighting” to keep from having to bake a cake or photograph people aren’t doing anything good for the name of Christ, nor are they following his way for dealing with people who use the law to oppress us, if these cases can be even said to rise to the level of oppression.

    More faith in love, my friend. Less in lawyers. More faith in the Advocate, and less in adversarial process.

  • Andrew Dowling

    -The pastors is Houston were not issued the subpoenas “because” they were in opposition to the city ordinance, but because the city was sued for reportedly throwing out a petition demanding a referendum and the city had been told the pastors had given instructions regarding signing the petition during Sunday service.

    -The Sweet Melissa bakers flagrantly broke Oregon state law on public accommodation based on sexual preference. I do think the fine is egregious, but not the judgment against them.

    -I don’t really care about Canadian accreditation standards, and Lord knows many of the Christian colleges in the States who peddle creationism and thumb their noses at basic principles of academic integrity should lose their accreditations. That they haven’t is a disgrace and shows that conservative institutions actually possess quite a lot of power in the public sphere, contrary to the sanctimonious hang-wringing common in the last few weeks.

    But that you would lump these cherry-picked examples as some sort of persecution is why conservative Christianity is losing the public discourse.

  • tearfang

    My apologies in getting the locations mixed up. You are quite correct that TWU is in BC. The accrediting board is in Ontario, as was the case. You are also correct that the whole university has not lost accreditation, yet, but their planned law school has. And precisely because of their biblical stance on sex and marriage.

    You are incorrect in characterizing it as a legal challenege since the rulling has been recently handed down as I noted: http://www.ontariocourts.ca/scj/files/judgments/2015ONSC4250.pdf
    Far from being far off-base, I believe my one liner captured the essence of the case. It is your characterization of it as ‘legal challenges’ as if those challenges have nothing to do with their stance on marriage and sex when in fact that is the entire sum of the case, which is ‘misleading information’.

    Note they were sued back in 2001 and won their case for the whole school. As such as I understand the case this is essentially a repeat for which the outcome is going a different way, and given Canada’s trajectory since they redefined marriage I suspect the Judge quoted in the article is likely right that if their supreme court takes the case the’ll likely overturn the 2001 judgement in spite of their version of freedom of religion (note the quotes from the ruling). http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/ontario-law-societys-decision-to-refuse-trinity-western-accreditation-upheld/article25230491/

    From everything I’ve read, this is not the exception but the trend for places that have redefined marriage. A prime example being Sweden’s hate speech laws which explicitly include “church sermons” and resulted in the jailing of pastor Ake Green.

  • I think Brooks’ assumption that some conservative evangelicals are capable of turning their full attention to creating stable family units and communities (and abandoning the legal fight against LGBT rights) is baseless. The culture war is too ingrained in the identity of too many (especially older) evangelicals. Brooks has always misread this base and given them a favorable consideration they honestly don’t fully earn. More often from vocal conservative evangelicals I am hearing a shrill moralizing and barely contained excitement at the thought of being “persecuted.” Perhaps there is a silent majority of conservative traditionalists who are taking the opportunity to recalibrate their priorities and focusing on new battles. But they certainly aren’t the most vocal.

    For conservatives like Brooks (who are not driven by a puritanical ideology of inerrancy or fundamentalism) it makes perfect conservative sense to focus on the things that actually matter (and he’s been in favor of marriage equality since at least 2003). And he’s always been amenable to reason and (perhaps) even changing his mind. To translate for conservative evangelicals, he’s a traitorous, spineless RINO who turns his back on the plain Word of God. For some the tribal markers over this issue will always be more important than anything so base as facts, evidence, and actually building stable families and communities. This will become more and more evident when non-affirming evangelicals turn on their erstwhile brethren who are reconsidering this issue. The gospel for many of them has come to mean “standing firm” on this particular issue.

  • tearfang

    If you read about the Houston case you’d know that they subpoenas were politically motivated- and unjustified- and ultimately retracted, which is to say the mayor couldn’t get away with it. Persecution? No. Abuse of power of harassment through the legal system yes. Expect to see more of this in the future and it leading to real consequences. For example I could have brought up CA prop 8 donor lists and the harassment they endured. A high profile case of which led to the forced resignation e.g. firing Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich bc he donated to the prop 8 campaign despite an impressive resume including inventing javascript. He was not outspoken on the issue and had no instances of discrimination. In other words he wasn’t fighting a culture war, but he is certainly one of its victims. Not a victim of government. I firmly believe Mozilla has a right to hire and fire whom the choose, but it does speak the the intentions of the agitators who got him fired.

    I can see why you would invoke Hobby Lobby. At first glance it would appear as if it was a victory for freedom of conscience, but it is highly dubious that the same logic would be applied to SSM. It was a major case so much has been written but I think this article makes some good observations about the likely limited nature of its scope. http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/court-rules-in-favor-of-for-profit-corporations-but-how-broadly-in-plain-english/
    Namely what the swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy writes about it being primarily bc the law was already accommodating others, but also the bit about their being ‘less burdensome’ ways to accomplish the same expressed gov interest.

    As for Canada not being the US, sure but that doesn’t mean apriori it isn’t important. Culture doesn’t stop at the boarder, and the supreme courts of various nations including the US pay attention to what the others are up to and cite them in opinions, I’m not saying they justify their opinions on foreign law, but it is naive to think it doesn’t influence their thinking.

    “don’t be shocked if cases like those of the baker go different ways” well yes and no :p you have more faith in our judges than they apparently deserve. The double standard test has already been lost when CO’s supreme court ruled that gay bakers can refuse to bake cakes with bible verse condemning sodomy but in separate cases ruling christians can’t refuse to bake cakes celebrating homosexual unions because; must be hate. Yes we are called to love, but we are also called to be a voice for justice, which means advocating for a just society.

  • tearfang

    Generosity is one thing participating in the celebration of something you think is evil is another. Those who oppose the confederate flag do so bc they see it as an evil symbol of slavery and rightly or wrongly see flying the flag as an endorsement of immorality. Is it so hard to see how some Christians see active participation in a celebration of homosexual union as an endorsement of immorality? Even if you think they are wrong the proper course is to persuade them of the error of their thinking not to pressure them to violate their conscience.

  • tearfang

    I think my other replies are sufficient to show your characterization of the events is inaccurate, but briefly if your statement about the reasons for the Houston pastor’s subpoenas were accurate they would have been limited in scope to what you describe, they were not.

    The Trinity Western University issue had nothing to do with creationism, and everything to do with their stance on marriage and sex, read the links.

    For the most part these were picked bc they came to mind and they were recent, but yes they are anecdotal, so what? Not I didn’t claim these were examples of persecution! I thought my repetition of #theCutureWarIsInterestedInYou was pretty unmistakably clear as to what they were examples of. Since you bring it up 100 grand for not baking a cake is persecution, albeit on a small scale of that one family being made an example of for any other bakers that might dare to not want to bake a cake. As for your legal analysis of it being a clear violation of the law, others on this board have claimed to disagree: freedom of religion, conscience and association, first amendment and all that, but you are right… ultimately their opinion and mine don’t matter, what matters is what the nine judges will say, and really bc we know what most of them will say what matters is what Kennedy will say. At least until one of them retires/dies, then who knows?

  • Hi Justin,

    I’m not sure I agree. In my personal experience, my non-affirming family participated in my wedding.

    Can they love me well? No. Even today (eleven years after I brought my now husband home), they see as immoral that which has been a part of my flourishing. They would prefer my singleness. That’s hurtful.

    Can they love me the best they are able? Absolutely. They showed up for me and witnessed my vows.

    Life is messy.

    I think your views may be somewhat uncharitable even if understandable. My point is that there’s a disconnect between opposition to marriage for gay couples and championing the stability that comes from marriage.

    Peace and blessings to you

  • David, I agree: I am being somewhat uncharitable. And to be honest, you and many LGBT folks have exhibited much more grace and long-suffering patience than I would probably be capable of putting up with. But this is based on my own observations in response to Brooks – my short term outlook on the situation is pessimistic. People like Brooks have already moved on from this issue because they never fully understood that this opposition was never about conservatism or societal stability – it was always about ideology and power. Just read the meltdowns and barely veiled hints at secession over on Doug Wilson’s blog and you’ll see what I mean.

    The disconnect between the demonstrable benefits of marriage equality and the ideology-based opposition is not lost on many conservative evangelicals. But no evidence or public policy results or even personal experience/relationships will move a person who has a precommitment to believe his interpretation of the Bible is perfect. It’s going to take some tough love (in the form of interpersonal and social pressure, not government pressure) for them to feel the full weight of our incredulity over their perspective on this. But perhaps we should do so with more charity, as you say.

  • Dorfl

    The double standard test has already been lost when CO’s supreme court ruled that gay bakers can refuse to bake cakes with bible verse condemning sodomy but in separate cases ruling christians can’t refuse to bake cakes celebrating homosexual unions because; must be hate.

    Come on, you have to see that those examples aren’t analogous.

    If you could refuse to bake a cake condemning gay people but not a cake condemning Christians, that would be a double standard. If you could refuse to bake a cake celebrating Christians but not a cake celebrating gay people, that would be a double standard. But instead you have to compare baking a cake celebrating gay people with a cake condemning gay people, which are not comparable things.

    I mean, imagine that two commenters turned up, the first one saying “Tearfang is brilliant and speaks the truth in love” and the second saying “Dorfl is a silly stupid person who lies all the time”. The second would fall afoul of commenting rules on most blogs, but not the first. This does not mean that the rules treat you and me differently. It means they treat supporting people and attacking people differently.

  • Andrew Dowling

    The legal precedent of public accommodation non discrimination laws is well established. Oregon has a law that says, if you operate in the commercial sector, you cannot deny your services based on someone’s sexual orientation, regardless of one’s religious objection (same principle applies to non discrimination laws regarding race, which yes pre 1970s many had been proclaiming religious objections against desegregation).

    When that law passed, the bakery owners had a decision to make with two sound options: we can either follow the law and pray for those we disagree with, or we can’t handle it and should close. Instead, the owners decided they would simply break the state law. And they did, and got rightfully fined for doing so.

  • Taxes to pagan Roman authorities, carrying packs for oppressive Roman soldiers . . . consider how your arguments attack Jesus’ commands in their context. You’re fighting the Lord, my friend.

  • Let me add this, because this area is so central. In the NT, Jesus expressly teaches and then models in the most costly way how good overcomes evil in this world with the Spirit’s power: the SOM and the passion and so many teachings in between (and in Paul’s teaching and example to boot) share this central strategy in responding to and even defeating the evil within people: kindness, prayer, generosity, and even self-sacrificial love. We don’t fight the way the world fights. We fight by giving more to the one who takes, by loving those who hate, by praying and blessing those who curse, by dying for those who want to kill us. This is not optional stuff. This is what it means to pick up our cross and follow the One who did this himself. This is the plan for good purging evil from the lost: Christ doing what he did and little Christs doing likewise. We are to be like our Father, who is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. He causes it to rain on the just and the unjust, thereby helping them!

    If these folks’ conscience is against this, it is only because they have not been taught how much this pattern of life is central to their Lord’s life and his ongoing work–through us. They’ve likely been taught the opposite and that lawsuits in Jesus name are more powerful and productive than obedience to his teachings and example. Their conscience has been formed by something other than the teachings and example of Christ. I’m not advocating that we give up!! Nor am I peddling some watered-down version of the faith! This is how we fight the evil you want to fight. It’s right there in the scriptures in the most direct and powerful ways. Do you not see it and how it applies so directly to these situations?

  • Phil Miller

    It seems to me that if we’re going down the “guilt by association” route, there’s almost no end to finding things that could be considered sinful. Do bakeries bake cakes for couple where one partner was adulterous in a previous marriage? I’m sure they do, and I’m sure they don’t even ask such questions. The fact is that the vast majority of wedding cakes don’t even have a written message on them. Most of them are purely decorative, and they might have the little bride and groom figurines on top. It’s not that I think people should necessarily be forced to violate their conscience, but rather if they feel they’re in a profession where they are going to have to violate their conscience, perhaps they need to find another place of employment. These sort of things go both ways.

  • Hi Justin,
    There’s much I agree with in what you say. Especially this: “no evidence or public policy results or even personal experience/relationship will move a person who has a precommitment to believe his interpretation of the Bible is perfect.”

    I’m not sure those stubborn beliefs are always about retaining power or bald faced animus; I believe they are often sincerely held. While I’ve certainly encountered bigotry, I’ve also frequently run across people who say “I really want to be affirming because I love my gay friends/family, but I just don’t see the bible permitting their relationships”. The latter group is in a lot of pain right now. The only thing that will change their hearts is the Spirit. And that’s happening. Rapidly. It’s been remarkable to watch.

    In the interim, however, we’re destroying our Christian witness. Mutually self-sacrificial gay covenantal relationships are objectively virtuous, but the conservative parts of the Church insist on calling them immoral, inferior and destructive to society. Not only do we come off as mean-spirited (and there is much religion-based hate), we also show ourselves to be irrational.

    To do the work Brooks is suggesting will require moral credibility. The longer the church holds rigidly anti-gay views, such credibility will be diminished.

  • Third sound option: they could have stopped offering wedding cakes altogether but continued to bake baby shower cakes for unwed mothers and valentines cupcakes for men to bring their mistresses.

  • Andrew Dowling

    It’s also an industry unto itself. The likes of Mohler and Tony Perkins have become rich off of peddling fear and bigotry. There is a huge billion dollar conservative media industry, in cajoots with conservative evangelicalism, composed of TV, books, websites etc. that are essentially designed to stoke outrage in middle aged and older white people (mostly men). The more outrage, the greater the consumption.

  • $24533877

    If you are wondering, where Jesus stands on immorality, sodomy and the like,study both the Sermon on the Mount and the Ten Commandments

  • tearfang

    Let see,

    baker is asked to make a cake that they don’t want to make, check.
    Both cakes were interpreted by the bakers as expressing support for a particular moral position (homosexual sex is sinful, and homosexual unions ought to be celebrated.)
    Both bakers found the message in deep conflict with their own sense of right and wrong.
    And for the icing on the cake the moral messages were both about the same topic and mutually incompatible. That the logic of one calls for something not to be celebrated and the other calls for it to be celebrated is what makes them all the more comparable.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “baker is asked to make a cake that they don’t want to make, check.”

    In terms of the cake itself it was the identical product they made for anyone else. If someone is so easily offended by what their product may be legally used for, they really have no business selling that product.

  • tearfang

    I commend your devotion to love, you do well to advocate for loving gay people. This is compatible with advocating for justice for others, justice for the innocent. Do you think it is just that Sweet Cakes was fined 100+k for declining to bake a cake? Even among friends and family it is perfectly possible to decline participating in some event of theirs and still love them. Even for a spouse sometimes the most loving thing possible to say to someone is no. If you can’t see that I give up.

  • tearfang

    They declined bc of the event for which the cake would be used. It would have made no difference if someone of heterosexual orientation had tried to order the cake, you are mistaken in your belief that this is a valid application of denial of services based on sexual orientation. According to the law they are innocent, it is a travesty of justice that Oregon has ruled otherwise, and the law itself would be unjust if it actually was as Oregon ruled. What is right about a 100k+ fine for declining to bake a cake?

    [edit] at any rate if you are a baker the culture wars sure seem interested in you. Or a photographer, business owner or wedding coordinator, or pastor, or… so many more.

  • Dorfl

    Both cakes were interpreted by the bakers as expressing support for a particular moral position (homosexual sex is sinful, and homosexual unions ought to be celebrated.) Both bakers found the message in deep conflict with their own sense of right and wrong.

    In one case the moral position was “It’s all right for gay people to marry” and in the other it was “Gay people should not marry”. The former does not attack any group of people, but the second does.

    Try to demand a cake saying “Christians should not marry”. If the baker cannot refuse that, then I’ll accept that there is a double standard.

  • Lark62

    Ask the owners of Sweet Cakes why they posted personal information – including address and phone number – of the couple on facebook and launched a media feeding frenzy against them. The size of the settlement was directly related to the harm caused by the baker’s choices.

  • Lark62


    The bakers loved the couple so much they posted the couple’s phone number on their facebook page. And their address.

    The bakers loved the couple so much they villified them in the press resulting in death threats.

    The bakers loved the couple so much they almost cost the couple their children. The couple was in the process of adopting 2 kids from foster care. CPS said they would take the kids because of the death threats caused by the bakers.

    Love? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • Brent White

    I commend you for your patience and consideration, tearfang. What your interlocutors are saying, in a nutshell, is that since they don’t have a religious objection to gay marriage, those cake-bakers, wedding photographers, caterers, etc., shouldn’t either. If these business owners lose their businesses because they refuse to violate their consciences, that’s the breaks. Never mind that gay couples could go down the block and find any number of other service providers more than happy to accommodate them.

    It’s hard to believe we even have a first amendment anymore, isn’t it?

    Needless to say, if the government were forcing liberal business owners to promote or endorse right-wing viewpoints that violated their consciences, these same people would be howling in protest.

    Here’s an excellent post from a New Zealand theologian about the SCOTUS decision. His own country recently went down the same path. http://rightreason.org/2015/gay-cakes-and-business-by-association/

  • Brent White

    From that Glenn Peoples post: “Look, if you think bakers, florists, and jewellers (or anyone else) who believes that marriage is between a man and a woman are ignorant bigots, go ahead and say so (but you really shouldn’t think that). Argue about that issue. Engage with the arguments about the nature of marriage. Try your best to get people to appreciate your point of view and to understand why they ought to reconsider their stance on marriage. Go for it. But lies are beneath us. You ought to stop feigning the inability to understand why a business owner believes that in commercially acting in support of an event, they are somehow condoning it. I don’t believe this is a special one-off genuine failure to understand, except in the sense that you have managed to convince yourself, possibly. You understand perfectly well how guilt by association works in other scenarios. Stop making exceptions playing stupid when it comes to your pet cause.”

  • Norman

    This is an interesting discussion which I think may have been at the forefront of 2T Judaism. Specifically as embraced by Paul and his Abrahamic kingdom of faith and Gentile inclusion. We find this universalist idea of being lead by the faithful into relationship back in Enoch literature in which there is a degree of universalism recognition for all peoples. I think we see this in the OT in Gen 1:26-31 where people of God are the leaders of Gods flock of creation. We see it again in Hosea 2:18, Dan 7:27 and most prominately in Heb 11 historic circle of faith where the ancients of faith are included with those who recognize Christ as the example of that ancient faith. Perhaps we screw the lid down too tightly on the breaking in of Gods kingdom without embracing the inclusionary paradigm change that those like Paul were trying to effect.