Extracurricular Activity 2.14.15 — Why Becoming a Worldly Saint is a Good Thing
Trevin Wax: Your title is provocative. Becoming Worldly Saints is the last thing we want for people, unless we recognize the proper sense of “worldly” versus the improper sense. Can you explain why your title is a good summary for the main point of your book?
Mike Wittmer: The Puritans were called “Worldly Saints” in Leland Ryken’s book by that name, so it may not be as provocative as it sounds. It might just be old-fashioned!
“Worldly Saints” may seem like an oxymoron, but it’s the perfect title for what God calls Christians to be. We must be worldly—enjoying creation, loving friends and family, and excelling in our cultural tasks. All things being equal, Christians should make the best humans. We also must be saints—loving God, fighting sin and making disciples of all nations. Being a saint is more important than being worldly, but we can’t have one without the other.
(Get a free study guide and small group videos for "Becoming Worldly Saints.")
Confession of sin is vital in the Christian life. It plays a powerful role in our coming to terms with ourselves and our sin, and in our attempts to reconcile ourselves with those we have wronged: ourselves, our neighbors and our God. But confession, it turns out, is far more than repentantly making our sin known to others.
Throughout the Confessions, Augustine takes our notion of confession and raises it to a new level, replacing our emphasis upon sin with a much more appropriate accent: the grace and mercy of God.
[S]ince reading Robert Sokolowski’s long-acclaimed book The God of Faith and Reason, I have been wanting to qualify this line of argument. If, in the past, I have wanted to say that the Old Testament teaches us that God is simple, immutable, and impassible, I now want to maintain that it is the New Testament, just as much or even more than the Old, that pushes us towards these affirmations. It’s not adequate to say that the Old Testament defines the divine nature for us, and then the New Testament indicates that that nature belongs to Jesus. The matter is more subtly complex than that.
Religion and violence is a difficult topic, especially at the moment with the rise of Islamic terrorism. But violent extremism isn’t solely a problem in Islam. Many thoughtful skeptics of Christianity ask, Doesn’t your Bible — especially the Old Testament book of Joshua — endorse violence on a dramatic scale? Some might say there’s no difference between what the Bible prescribes and other forms of violent religious fundamentalism.
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