Another One Bites The Dust

Another One Bites The Dust March 14, 2021

I am over at Stand Firm this morning.

It seems to be the “new normal” that every other week another person in the high echelons of Evangelical Intelligentsia decides to throw over orthodoxy and trip lightly into the broad, wide road that leads to destruction. As usual, I only find out about famous people when they either die or commit heresy. In this case, I did a lot of reading about James K.A. Smith who has, apparently, brought a lot of people along into a “fuller and more interesting” kind of “Christianity.” This piece caught me up to speed pretty well. What happened? He ends this way:

For those of us who read Smith’s tweet and understand that he has swerved off the road and is in fact stuck in a ditch, we’re coming to the realisation that disorder is now being reframed. Replete as the comments were with terms such as “bigotry” and “hate” towards those who questioned Smith or expressed dismay at his tweet, they reveal the new gospel of our sexular age. The new version of disordered love now includes those who would not affirm. If you do not affirm then you simply love your bigotry and your hate. You are expressing disordered love right there. The category must remain, it cannot be left void. It is now to be refilled with something entirely antithetical to Augustine’s original intent. Perhaps only Smith himself will be creative enough – and genius enough – to write the book that embeds these new sexular age disorders into Augustinian theology. Time will tell. So it is not the case that, since affirming, all bets are now off. Smith is not holding up his hands, saying “I quit!” and acquiescing to the disordered loves he once warned of. It is not that simple. Something must fill that category of disorder. The intellectual world of Smith demands it. He cannot continue to teach Augustine with any integrity should he junk his categories. And speaking of Confessions, here’s mine. I’ve always struggled to finish a James KA Smith book. Not because they are not brilliant philosophically, culturally and sociologically. They are. But I’ve struggled to finish them because they are so thin in their practical ecclesiology. The requisite vision of an alternate ethical community that could withstand the howling furies of the cultural Chernobyl overtaking us is simply not strong enough in his books to capture my interest.

I love that line— “the howling furies of the cultural Chernobyl.” The problem, or at least one of them, is that Smith and others think there is no “cultural Chernobyl.” They think that they can do something “new,” something uncritically uncourageous, something that the whole rest of the world is doing, and suffer no consequences at all. In fact, in the relevantness of this new “enlightenment” only good and lovely new cultural flowers will bloom, as soon as all those standing in the way are able to see how wrong they are, repent of their bigotry, and join in the glad throng.

So anyway, I was looking over the lessons for this morning, and we are closing in on the end of Lent, and so of course there is this:

All the officers of the priests and the people likewise were exceedingly unfaithful, following all the abominations of the nations. And they polluted the house of the Lord that he had made holy in Jerusalem.

The line fairly jumped off the page, which often happens to me as I read the lections. Whenever I think I am living through something “unprecedented” or even just very uncomfortable, I am able to crack open Ye Olde Bible and discover that it was always thus. But still, how discouraging. “All” the officers and the priests and the people were likewise exceedingly unfaithful. The line is from II Chronicles, that long and careful narrative about how the people whom God chose for himself went to the uttermost parts of their synchronistic idolatry to try to get away from him and let him know how little did they appreciate the distinction of his peculiar and intolerable love. They preferred to worship the gods of all those nations that surrounded them. They preferred even child sacrifice to repentant trust in the Lord who brought them out of Egypt by his mighty arm and planted them as a vine in a good and rich land. They were All exceedingly unfaithful. Moreover, while they were unfaithful…read the rest here!

Photo by Nikola Knezevic on Unsplash

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