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Have Christians enabled the Rape Culture?

I am asking this question in light of the recent cases of rape involving student athletes.  My question doesn’t really have to do with the cases themselves for the most part, but that they served as a spring board for a conversation my wife and I had.

My dear wife, Julie, had been talking online with a group of her friends about the cases.  In the course of the topic it had come up about how to prevent rape.  If you Google “rape prevention” you will find some excellent hints and tips for women.  One of Julie’s friends asked, “question mark 4but what about for guys?”  When Julie first told me this I jumped to the reality of men being raped (which does happen); but, no, the question was how can guys prevent rape from happening to women.  Or in other words, they meant how not to rape.  I will admit when I first heard this my reaction was to be upset that they were treating all men as if they were rapists.  Outrage culture has made me rather sensitive and prone to seeing false accusations.  My wife was quick to say, “No, you’re a nice guy.  You were always careful to take me into account.”  Slightly mollified we were able to continue the conversation.  Yet, while I was pleased to hear my wife say she thinks “I am a nice guy.”  I still, though, did not feel like a nice guy.  And this is where I get to my question.  Have Christians enabled the Rape Culture?

I know myself.  The student athlete could have been me.  I have been in that place of being around a woman who was out of her mind drunk.  I will come back to this story later, but to put minds at ease I helped make sure she stayed safe. However, if things had been different my story could have been the student athlete’s story and it’s not because I had parents who failed to instill values and cared more about external prestige.  The reason I say it could have been me is because I learned good behavior from the school of thought of how far can I go before I sin.  This is the school of thought that says if you think it, it’s ok so long as you don’t do it.  It’s the school of thought that says you can run right up to the line and maybe put a toe across and still be a good person.  It’s the school of thought that dismisses locker-room talk as boys will be boys.  When we were taught sex-ed by the well-meaning school counselor it largely boiled down to this “how far can I go without having sex.”  Essentially, this is asking what can I get away with but still have my fun.  This is not a wise course.  In fact, in the depraved mind of sin sick people it quickly becomes “it’s not wrong if I don’t get caught.”  For most of us, it manifests itself in the snatching of a cookie from the jar when no one is looking, or speeding on the highway when the cop isn’t around.  Occasionally though, it results in a young man raping an incapacitated young woman and then running when he is caught.

We, Christians, have adopted that question, “How far can I go before I sin?”  I hear it all the time in the form of question like “Is it a sin if I ______?”  In Bible Studies it is not unusual to have a whole series of questions that are essentially an attempt to draw a logarithmic graph coming ever closer to zero without ever crossing over zero.  And so I wonder, have we Christians enabled rape culture by adopting this line of question?  To some extent, I think we have.  Please don’t hear me saying that we have condoned rape.  We do not.  I was taught, and I know that we still teach rape is wrong.  Rather, I think we haven’t done our part to stifle rape culture by adopting worldly thinking rather than Biblical thinking.  In doing so, I think we have in a sense enabled rape culture without meaning to do so.

So, biblically thinking, how should we be thinking.  Solomon, still the wisest man ever wrote:

Proverbs 7:1–27 (ESV) My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart. Say to wisdom, “You are my sister,” and call insight your intimate friend, to keep you from the forbidden woman, from the adulteress with her smooth words. For at the window of my house I have looked out through my lattice, and I have seen among the simple, I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness. And behold, the woman meets him, dressed as a prostitute, wily of heart.  She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home; now in the street, now in the market, and at every corner she lies in wait. She seizes him and kisses him, …With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him.  All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.  And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth.  Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death.

Solomon uses this story teach wisdom in living life.  The seductress is the personification of foolishness and temptation.  And Solomon illustrates that when the you act foolishly you place yourself into temptation and temptation is incredibly powerful.  So, powerful in fact that we will gladly walk to our doom none the wiser.  So, Solomon’s advice is don’t even go down the road of temptation.  Rather than asking how far can I go down the road he says, don’t even turn down it.  Walk on the road to wisdom and embrace her.  Essentially, the passage is about the folly of our question “how far can I go before its wrong.”  Solomon makes it very clear the question is “which path is wise?” and the answer to the question is go down that path.

How can we apply this to the situation at hand and reverse our unintentional enabling of the rape culture?  We start asking which is the path of virtue. In other words, how can I love my neighbor.  When we read the explanations to the Ten Commandments we find that not only does Luther explain how we sin in regards to this commandment, but also how the commandment translates into the positive action of loving our neighbor and God.  Using the 5th commandment, “You shall not murder” we can see that hurting our neighbor goes against the commandment as thus is sin.  And at the same time, we can see that in 'The_Good_Samaritan'_by_David_Teniers_the_younger_after_Francesco_Bassanoaccordance with the commandment we should actually help our neighbor, defend our neighbor from harm and protect them.

We can begin to end our enabling of rape culture by teaching how to be good to my neighbor rather than how far can I go before I sin.  Essentially, we teach boys how not to be a rapist by teaching them how to love their female neighbors.  The ancient practice of chivalry was such an attempt.  And to some extent it could behoove us to adopt the idea of this code as the code good men live by.  I know it won’t be perfect, nothing we establish will.  However, it is worth pursuing an ideal that benefits our neighbor.  I said earlier that I was in a situation that if it played out different I could have been just like the swimmer from Stanford.  A female friend of mind decided to celebrate her birthday in the sadly stereotypical manner of going on a pub crawl and drinking until she is too plastered to walk straight.   Looking back, I’ll be honest, I wish I hadn’t gone a long with it.  Friends shouldn’t let friends drink in such a fashion.  I regret this part, but I don’t regret other parts.  My friend proceeded to get very drunk that night.  We stopped her when she tried proving she was sober and took her back to the dorm room that served as my group of friends communal living room.  There we spent the rest of the night holding her hair out of the toilet.  What didn’t happen was any of us taking advantage of her.  In my case, what held me back was the fact that I knew it would be wrong.  It would hurt her.  While I had been brought up with the question “how far can I go before I sin.”  I was also brought up with the idea that men protect those who can’t protect themselves.  She was in no position to protect herself, so I stuck around to make sure she was safe.

Christians, we need to emphasize in our teaching how can I love my neighbor not the idea of how far can I go before I sin.  We identify what is sin and temptation so that we can take the road that leads away from them.  And we do so not because it will save us, but because our neighbor needs us to go down that road.  Women, and men for that matter, need us to walk down the road that seeks to love our neighbor.  They need us to teach our children to be the one who sees the young lady passed out in alley and calls for help.  We need to teach our children that we sacrifice our time and our habits for the benefit for the other.  In days past a brother wouldn’t dream of letting his sister walk alone in the dark and I think we need to return to that.  We teach our sons and our daughters to follow the path of wisdom and not the path of folly and temptation.

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On Reading Old Books

One of the greatest things C.S. Lewis ever said is:lewis

It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books.

Why? Each age, each period of time has its own set of cultural blinders; things that it assumes to be true. There is a certain agreed upon common sense if you will. Take for example, in our modern day there is a common assumption that religious faith should have little to do with politics. Now I realize this may seem strange because you may be one who liked Dr. Ben Carson for president because he is a good Christian man or similarly Marco Rubio. (It does seem many of the Republican Candidates this go around touted their religious credentials.  Apologizes to you who are Democratic, I am not ignoring you, it is just that most of the people I know are Republican so I know their reasons better.) And I will agree that we should take one’s religious beliefs into account. But this is not where the issue lies. Our assumption, our blinder if you will, is found buried beneath our pick for president. It is the assumption that freedom of religion is an inalienable right. What if I were to tell you that the premise that we are free to believe what we wish is completely antithetical to Scripture? When God says things such as the First Commandment “You shall have no other gods.” or “no god but Me.” (Dt 32:39 and others) there are some pretty hefty implications. Namely that we are not free to believe as we will. We either rightly believe in the One God or we believe falsely in dead idols. Take it all in and it boils down freedom of religion is a figment of our imagination. We are required to believe in God. It took me a little while to come to grips with this premise, but we created a secular spiritual divide in ourselves without even realizing it because we adopted the assumptions of our day. It is entirely possible to operate with both premises and not realize the contradiction.  We assumed that both are true. We are bound by God’s Law to accept only one religion and that we have an inalienable right to believe as we wish.  The reality is that if God’s word is true than the second cannot be.  So, what happened I think is that we created a divide between temporal – politics – and eternal – religion – and relegated them to completely separate realms.I bring this up as an illustration not as an advocating of the over turning of the Bill of Rights (I actually really like the 1st Amendment because it leaves us free to believe rightly. Also faith is something that cannot be forced, but that is a topic for another article).  As I read Luther, I realized that even as he spoke about two kingdoms, the earthly realm – government – and the heavenly realm – church – he never saw them as separate entities.  Rather he saw them as related entities with different but overlapping responsibilities.  Over the years we lost this sense as we adopted various philosophical world views and in the end we created this cognitive dissonance without even realizing it.  We just simply assumed both were true because we had a common assumption drawn from our contemporaries who also assumed it is true.  In doing so we created a divide that doesn’t exist. I didn’t realize this until I made a concerted effort to read old books. And it all happened by accident.

Over a year ago, maybe two years ago, I can’t actually remember when I started, I began an effort to improve the quality of my preaching. As a part of that effort, I started listening to some preachers of today that I admired, but I also started reading the sermons and works of preachers of days gone by that I admired – namely Martin Luther. Adding Luther to my studies was an easy step for me. I have a nifty Bible program called Logos that also has an extensive theological library that can be added and it can link that library to the Bible. So that, when I look up a passage a second window will display related passages from Luther’s writings – particularly his lectures on the various books of the Bible. I started reading those for my sermon prep. I would read a bit here and there as I studied and slowly how I was thinking began to change. It was so subtle it wasn’t until I was talking with somebody recently that I noticed I have changed – I used to think one way but now I think in another. Reading an old book, namely Luther broke through my cultural blinders.

C.S. Lewis knew what he was talking about in his article On the Reading of Old Books. We need to be able to examine our world and our thoughts, but to do so we need to look through the eyes of others so that we can see beyond our blinders. It is going to throw you down a rabbit hole though because, to understand the old books you need to read even older books so you can understand the old book’s assumptions. That rabbit hole is worth it. Having my blinders removed brings the world into better perspective and hopefully is helping me do better as a pastor, parent, husband, and citizen. It’s helped me to recapture something that was lost. And I suspect it will continue as I read more old books.

 

Cited

On The Reading of Old Books” by C.S. Lewis

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Passing on the Christian Worldview: The Ten Commandments – God’s Leatherman

I can remember years ago when the Leatherman multi-tool was introduced. It was the Swiss Army knife for DIY’ers. EverythingLeatherman you could think of was included in this pair of very useful set of pliers.     I’m pretty sure you could find a set that included a kitchen sink. The Leatherman was the ultimate tool for every wannabe MacGyver – you know the 80’s TV hero who could build a nuclear reactor out of a stick of bubble gum, duct tape, a couple of paper clips and some dish soap. Soon after they came out my wife and I bought one of the smaller versions to give as Christmas presents for all the men in our families. Well, all but one. Me. I was pretty jealous of my own gift. It was at that moment I once again ran into God’s Leatherman, the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments have multiple uses. They are a curb, a mirror, and a guide. We sometimes refer to this three-fold nature as the three uses of the Law. What happens is the Holy Spirit makes use of the Laws to accomplish three things – to curb our behavior, to show us our sins, and to teach the believer God’s will. In the case of my jealousy regarding the Leatherman tools, I ran into the mirror. I didn’t break it but it sure broke me. So, what does this mean for us in forming our Worldview?

Bumper bowling

bumperHave you ever seen the bumpers they put in the bowling alleys when kids are bowling? Years ago it was a length of hollow tubing that they put out when requested. Now they have high tech risers that can be raised and lowered. Either way they serve one purpose, they keep the ball rolling down the lane so that you aren’t always missing everything. The Ten Commandments do the same sort of thing. They keep us bouncing down the lane so that life isn’t complete chaos. If you think things are bad now, imagine if the Law wasn’t throwing the brakes on our behavior. As much as the bumpers keep most bowling balls rolling down the lane there are those that land over the bumper. The same thing happens with the Law which is where the next use comes in.

Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of all?

It’s not Snow White. She may be fairer than the evil queen, but she is still is ugly as sin in this mirror. The Law as mirror is much like the painting in the book The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. It shows us who we truly are. In the book, Dorian Gray is a fantastically handsome man who commissions a special painting of himself. The painting is bewitched so that he will always remain handsome while the painting takes on the scars of his evil. So that when Gray finally looks at the painting, he dies upon seeing how ugly he truly is. The Law as mirror does the same thing to us. It kills us by showing us who we truly are in excruciatingly accurate detail.

Guide

The Law also teaches us. It tells us what the God pleasing course of action is. Often we overlook this use because the answer isn’t flashy and sometimes it’s painful. But none the less, the Law is the epitome of God’s will for what we are to do. And so, it should be the first place we turn when considering any action or thought.

In regards to all these uses Luther’s Small Catechism is extremely helpful. Luther did a great deal of the leg work needed to fully understand the impact of each of the Ten Commandments. Essentially, Luther summarized the Sermon on the Mount in order to write the explanations for each of these commandments. He also drew from other Biblical passages, but the Sermon on the Mount already is a commentary on the Ten Commandments and so makes a great source to summarize. But at the same time there are explanations to the commandments in the Epistles (letters) and in the Old Testament and Luther does include those sources.   And not only that they were written to make it easy for us to memorize. All in all, it makes the Small Catechism a great go to source for a quick overview of the commandments and their implications. Thus making them most excellent for daily use.

Forming our thoughts

As we immerse ourselves into the commandments on a daily basis they begin to form our thoughts. What happens is now that which is written our hearts is given a voice. That voice in turn speaks up as we taken the world around us.

Now, do not mistake this idea with the Hollywood advice of “follow your heart.” Hollywood’s advice is some wishy washy mush that could just well turn out to be indigestion. Whereas the Ten Commandments are an unchanging constant. They are not subject to the whims of the moment or the tyranny of pragmatism. They are an unwavering line that speak the truth in all times and places. As part of the CrossRoad Life Recovery program, we talk about the Ten Commandments and their role in our life. One, of the things we mention in the First Step materials is that the Ten Commandments provide an objective measure by which we can test and figure out a life situation. When people build a house what do they use to measure the lumber? Do theyPotters-Clay use their individual hands? Or do they use a tape measure? They use a tape measure because it is a constant size whereas each person’s hand is a different size. If they used their hands the house would be an unmitigated disaster. This is the difference between following your heart and the Ten Commandments forming your thoughts.   Our hearts are different, worse they are not to be trusted because of the old heart who loves sin that keeps hanging around, and so following our hearts would be total anarchy. While on the other hand we have the Ten Commandments which are the same no matter who is involved.

As the Ten Commandments are forming our thoughts they will also keep us honest. The Ten Commandments let us know when we messed up. I have told this story before, there was this one guy who really wanted to do better at helping other people. So, he started watching for moments that he could be a help to someone. One day a situation straight out of romantic comedy occurred as he was walking into the grocery store a lady was coming out carrying her bags. One of the bags ripped sending canned good all over the parking lot. He helped her retrieve her things. And as he was walking away he thought “I sure hope someone saw me help her.” He tried to do right by one of the commandments and broke another. He realized what happened and admitted to his breaking the commandment. But, this illustrates what I am referring to in the commandments keeping us honest.

Guiding our actions

When something becomes ingrained in our thinking it affects our actions. For example, I had been bringing up the issue of speeding in context of the Fourth Commandment as governmental authority rests in this commandment. Speeding is a sin as it flaunts what our God given authorities have said. Now here I am, a guy with a semi controlled lead foot saying this. After a few times of bringing it up I realized, “I need to listen to my own sermon.” So, I made it a goal to drive the speed limit. Thoughts affected my actions. As Christians, this is what we want the Ten Commandments to do for us. We want them to affect our actions because these are things God wants us to do. In dealing with our old self, and his foolish love of sin and death it will take a great deal of training and a great deal of killing with the Gospel. Using my example of not speeding. I am not perfect in my attempts. There are still places where speeding is an overwhelming temptation. So, I am still in need of confessing my sin and being forgiven. I am not sure I will ever outgrow it in this area either. But at the same time, I as a Christian need to strive to do that speed limit because it is the law made by our God given authorities, but also my neighbor needs me to be safe on the road. So, even as I confess and I am set free in Jesus’ forgiveness, I am practicing the art of having a light touch on the gas pedal. Why? Because those Ten Commandments are in the back of my head saying this is the right thing to do and guiding my actions.

The Ten Commandments play an important role in the Christian’s life. They are well worth the effort to ingrain into your thought. Read them and the meanings every day (it helps us understand their full scope). Pray that God instructs you through His word of Law. And admit your failure to follow His Law. Just do not stop there. We need what comes next or we will drive ourselves into despair. What comes next is the Good News that kills the sinner and raise to life the Child of God.

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Passing on a Christian Worldview – The Overlooked Radical Tool

The year is 1529, the Reformation is well under way.   Martin Luther and his fellow pastors and professors had been teaching and proclaiming the Gospel for nearly 12 years. Now, their influence had spread throughout Germany and other parts of the Holy Roman Empire. Yet, even as their influence spread, the reformers in Wittenberg possessed little idea of how the Gospel and Scriptures were understood amongst the priests and laity outside of the city. So, Luther and some of his fellows began visiting congregations throughout the country. What they found was incredibly distressing. For all that the unleashed Gospel had spread the people were fairly ignorant of Scripture and their worldview was still largely affected by the abuses of the Roman Catholic Church.

The result of these visits is what is probably the most overlooked worldview shaping tool ever devised, the Small Catechism. Yes, the book that has been gathering dust since your days in confirmation is one of the most radical worldview shaping tools ever created.

Sadly, over the years we have created an environment that allowed us to overlook the value of the Small Catechism. It became a text book. Nothing kills a book faster than becoming a text book for a class. Because, what do you do with a textbook after you finish a class? You either put it on a shelf to never look at it again or you get rid of it. As a pastor nothing makes me sadder than to see somebody put their Small Catechism in the for sale pile. But, we did it to ourselves. I must confess, I did it myself. The catechism was just a means for getting head knowledge.small catechism

The catechism is so much more than head knowledge. Comprised mostly of Scripture the Small Catechism can be understood as almost as the Bible in miniature. In the Small Catechism we are given the basic frame work of God’s Word and the means to understand what God is telling us. What is more is that we are even given a frame work by which to live and understand our own lives. In short, these 30 some pages (as formatted by CPH’s Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation) contain the greatest tool the average person can have.

What we have been given.

A means to understand the Bible.

The six chief parts of the catechism are set up the way they are specifically. They chart out how we can understand the Word of God by using God’s Word. Most of the Small Catechism is either a direct Scripture quote or a paraphrase of the Scriptures. So, it is possible for us to read the Scripture and see how the various events, songs, and prophesies illustrate the Six Chief parts and demonstrate a fundamental principle of understanding the Bible – Scripture interprets Scripture.

The Ten Commandments

Luther placed the Ten Commandments first because the Ten Commandments identify the problem by showing us our sin. Essentially, they summarize the various statements of God’s Law in the Scriptures. I’d like to point out briefly that the explanations draw heavily on Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which is essentially a commentary on the Ten Commandments.

The Apostles’ Creed

There are three main creeds that Luther could have chosen for the Small Catechism, but the Apostles’ Creed serves best because it shares the redemption story. Essentially, we can understand the Apostles’ Creed as the summary of the Redemption story. The creed confesses the Gospel truth that God is our Father and creator and how He as our loving Father restores us through the work of Jesus. Plus, the creed confesses the Scriptural promises of how God makes us His in Christ and sustains us. In doing so, the Apostles’ Creed truly is a summary of the Bible, because the entirety of Scripture revolves around the Redemption story.

The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is God given faith’s response to hearing the Law and the Gospel of the Redemption story. It is the prayer that asks for the very things God has promised to give – forgiveness, what we need to live, and protection from evil.

Baptism, Absolution, and Communion

These three things along with God’s word are God’s answer to the petition “deliver us from evil.” I will be treating these sections individually later but for now they are collectively God’s answer to the Lord’s Prayer. For it is by the means of Baptism, Absolution, and Communion that we are given forgiveness of sins and deliverance from Evil. They give us the very bread that we need to survive the onslaught of Satan and his minions.  They bring us out of this dead world by bringing Jesus, the Lord of Life, to us.

Table of Duties

This is the answer to the question, “What does a holy life look like?” Here you will find Scripture verses pertaining to many of the stations of life we will find ourselves in through the course of our lives. And so, it serves as the starting point for figuring out what God would have us do in our life.

All of these Six Chief parts come together into one fantastic tool that can shape our worldview and enable us to pass on the worldview.   The first step we take is memorizing it. For many of us that may mean re-memorizing it. I will suggest to ways to memorizing the Small Catechism. The first is to read one of the Six Chief parts each day. The other is this nifty little CD from Concordia Publishing House called Singing the Faith. I highly recommend Singing the Faith because music is a fantastic mnemonic device (a tool to aid memory recall).

Why memorize?

You cannot form a worldview unless it is so solidly engrained into your mind that it becomes a natural part of your thinking. And working to memorize something will do just that. When learning a new language, one of the best ways to learn is to be completely immersed in that language. People who have studied abroad have experienced this phenomenon. When we work to memorize something, and I don’t mean the cramming so many school kids do before a test, rather the intentional work designed to promote long term retention, we end up immersed in the work we are memorizing. The shear act of memorization requires regular exposure. For example, Pastor Schlote gets up every morning and does a series of stretches while reciting bible verses. Every day begins with that memory work. Another example, is in my own family we have been using the Singing The Faith CD, music gets into your head. I catch myself singing “The First commandment…What does this mean?…” while sitting in my office or driving around town. At first, it made me laugh, but then it drove home how powerful a memory tool music is. But this is what means to become immersed.  You are exposed in such a way that even when you are not actively thinking about it, it comes to mind.

So if you want to start passing on a Christian Worldview begin with the greatest most overlooked Worldview tool – the Small Catechism.  I’ll spend the next six or so entries going into each part and how they affect our worldview.

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Passing on a Christian Worldview: Beginning with the end in mind

If you want to accomplish anything you need to have a goal. Our goal is straightforward, to instill a Christian worldview. Ok, we have a simple goal.  However, do we understand our goal.  If we want to succeed, we first need to understand.  So, without further ado here is what our goal entails.

What is a Christian Worldview?

A Christian worldview is simply one that sees everything through the lens of the cross of Jesus. This may seem to be a narrow view on first glance and in a sense it is as it will exclude various views, ideas and paradigms. On the other hand, it is a view that allows us to take in the world and understand it. Through the cross we can see the core issue, we can understand God’s relationship with creation, and our place in it.

It answers the big question

What is wrong with the world?

You don’t get to the cross without a problem. The cross is pretty plain about the problem. Sin. Paul makes it pretty clear when he writes,

“Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come…Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 5:12–21 (ESV)

Seeing life through the cross we begin to see how sin has affected all of creation in a general sense and a specific sense. Obesity is a great example. In the general sense we can see that sin has affected our bodies in such a way that they cannot metabolize food to its fullest and at the same time prior to the fall it is hard to imagine such a thing would be a problem. And at the same time, we can see obesity is largely due to our own sinful overindulgence. Without sin we would not feel the need to overindulge. We would have perfect contentment with just the right amount of food with perfect nutrition. Sin is the reason bad thing happen. It sounds simplistic, it even sounds overly black and white. But without sin there would be no shades of grey. The cross, helps us to see the reality of sin and its place as the root of suffering.

It remedies the wrong.

Ultimately, the cross is about redemption. It is the loving act of the gracious Creator of all things that restores His creation. Through the death of Jesus the sins of the world is atoned. From this we can understand the fundamental question of humanity of “what is the problem and how is it fixed?” The cross tells us that sin is what is to ultimately blame for all suffering. And it tells us how the problem is fixed. Namely, God takes on human nature, lives perfectly, takes on sin, dies, and rises again. The act of God redeeming the world answers those immediate questions but like a rock thrown into a still pond its importance radiates outwards.

Ripples in the pond

Like ripples radiated out from the stone’s landing point, the Gospel’s effect radiates out in our lives. As the Gospel restores us in Christ it naturally effects other parts of our lives. It creates the desire to have God pleasing lives. It affects how we view things such reason and revelation. The Gospel changes our relationship with others – a whole host of things are changed. A great example of the effect of the Gospel has on our view of the world can be seen in the recent bookletIn Christ All Things Hold Together by the LCMS Committee on Theology and Church Relations. The booklet is a summarized view of how the cross affects our view of science and how a Christian can work in the realm of science. Working through that dynamic it cannot help but touch on how the cross affects our whole view of the world and how we understand it.

We are at home in the paradox

As a pastor I frequently get questions that boils down to which is the right answer that is asked in an either or format. Frequently, my answer is “both,” because even as the answers appear to be completely opposite they are both true. When you have two apparent opposites that are equally true you have a paradox. The cross establishes a paradox. Because of the work on the Cross, we Christians exist in the paradox of being both justified and sinner. The work of the cross did not remove us from the world so we still deal with the effect of sin and yet, we are also no longer a part of this world but of the renewed world to come. How this can be is a paradox. We can only confess both to be true. It is when we try to reconcile the paradox we get ourselves into trouble. For example, those who claim Christians cease to sin and so you can not be a Christian if you still have sin in your life. It is true a Christian in Jesus is without sin. However, it is not true that we stop sinning (Rm 7:13-25). Both are true. Both cannot co-exist or at least should not and yet, they do. Hence, our lives being a paradox.

Our ultimate goal

In this post, I have given an extremely basic overview of what a Christian worldview looks like.  I will draw out some more details in following posts, but please realize because of its all encompassing scope there is a great deal more that can be said.  However, now that we do have a basic understanding of what the Christian Worldview looks like we can begin to explore how we pass on the Worldview. We will start covering the “how” in my next article.