Genesis (Part 2)

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Genesis 1

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Last Thursday night I missed a connecting flight in Atlanta, Georgia, and had to spend the night there and catch a different flight the next morning. The next morning I came down a little after 6:00 to grab some breakfast before the 6:30 shuttle. Just as I was sitting down with my plate the shuttle pulled up, so I quickly threw the plate away and went to get on. I took my seat and the driver said he would be back in a few minutes. There was just me and a young lady and an elderly Irish lady sitting in the van waiting for the driver to return.

I made the comment that perhaps I could have eaten my breakfast after all, given the wait, and this prompted the young lady to explain, with exasperation, that she had missed her flight. She then had some choice words about Delta that I will not repeat here. She was clearly agitated and irritated at the delay and had had quite a negative experience with the airline that day, at least to hear her tell it. It was a bit awkward to hear this great irritation in a van in the dark and cold with an elderly Irish woman sitting there! But then the Irish lady spoke up in her beautiful accent and said, “You know, I know it can be frustrating, but just think about this: we are alive and here and today will be better.” The young lady agreed, as did I, and she seemed to calm herself a bit and even became pleasant as we talked further.

It occurred to me in that moment that the Irish lady had diffused the situation by making an appeal to the most amazing miracle of all: the miracle of existence. Yes, your travel plans have been disrupted. Yes, the days greet us with a thousand irritations. Even so, above it all, we exist! We are here! We have life! It was a beautiful reminder.

I believe that a proper grasp of the first verse of Genesis can bring joy to us in the midst of the living of these days by reminding us that no trial we will ever face is as big as the miracle of our own existence! And when we get this right—the amazing and astonishing fact that we exist—we can then rightly praise the God who made it so while seeing our trials in the proper light.

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Genesis (Part 1)

genesis-title-1-Wide 16x9
Genesis 1

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Genesis can save your marriage.

Genesis can help you become a better parent.

Genesis might just even save your business.

I mean it.

In the book of Genesis we find the foundational truths of scripture and are equipped thereby for the living of life. I agree with the 16th/17thcentury reformer Christopher Pelargus who said of Genesis:

Genesis itself, explained methodically, encompasses a mirror of all of life, or rather is rightly called a theater of life, whether one wishes to consider divine matters, or politics, or household affairs.[1]

All of this is so, yet to put these things first—our needs, our success, our families—is to risk missing the whole point of Genesis, which is this: we have a great God who has created everything, who holds the whole world in His hands, and who has made us for Himself. That is, to put your marriage or your family or your business as the main point of Genesis is to risk ultimately harmingyour marriage or your family or your business. However, to get the main point right does indeed open the door for renewal in all of these other areas. Which is simply to say what Jesus said in Matthew 6:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you

So let us do that. Let us seek first the kingdom of God and God our King! There is no better place to do this than at the beginning.

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James Earl Massey’s When Thou Prayest

51QE0ig4mvL._SX325_BO1,204,203,200_I cannot speak highly enough of James Earl Massey, the famed preacher and homiletician who went home to be with the Lord last year. I was privileged to get to know him a bit during my Doctor of Ministry studies at the Beeson Divinity School and was honored to have him sit on my final project committee. I consider James Earl Massey to have been a great scholar, a true gentleman, a uniquely gifted preacher, and, most of all, an example of what a Christian should be. He was a model of humility and integrity and will be sorely missed.

I entered his name into Amazon a few weeks ago and noticed the Kindle version of his 1960 book, When Thou Prayest. I’m so glad I did! It is vintage Massey: beautifully written, wise, insightful, not derivative, and evidencing a life of practice behind it.

I recall once at Beeson an interesting moment in which a young lady asked Dr. Massey if he would share some of his own devotional practices. He responded kindly but a bit, to me, surprisingly, that he preferred not to at that time, given the personal nature of the topic. It did not strike me as rude. On the contrary, it struck me as strangely refreshing in our day of over-exposure. Even so, it was an interesting moment. I thought of that exchange when I saw this book because it occurred to me that I would now get to hear the answer that the young lady who asked the question, and that all of us who were in that room, wished to hear.

The book is brief, but profoundly impactful. Let me just share a few highlights to give a sense of what the book is like:

One of the teachings of Jesus on prayer begins with the words, “And when thou prayest. . . .” Thus we understand from Jesus himself that prayer is a necessary and normal action for men. No man is truly normal who does not pray. The Christian who does not take time regularly to hold communion with God by means of prayer is not at his best. (Kindle Locations 123-126)

During prayer, we are critically searched in the light of God. But that searching is necessary to lead us to strength. The feeling of emptiness is necessary to create hunger for the needed filling. It was to this that Jesus referred when he stated, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). Here in large part is both the pain and the pleasure of prayer: the encounter always includes an examination of us. But as the needed searching takes place, the fact of God’s fatherhood assures our spirit. (Kindle Locations 156-160)

Without a forgiving spirit, prayer is but failure. We must not presume to hold a moment before God when we act in meanness toward others. (Kindle Locations 542-543)

One thing I appreciated about this book was the balance between theology and practice. It was at some points poetic and theoretical and other times imminently practical. For instance, consider Massey’s advice on how to fight distractions when we pray:

Step 1. Plan your prayer period to grant sufficient time for the quieting of your mind. Do not always rush into prayer. Silence should help to settle you; then the tensions of the body can subside and the pressures in the mind diminish.

Step 2. Find a place that lends itself well to prayer. Jesus had this in mind when he11_james_earl_massey instructed, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray . . . .” (Matt. 6:6).

Step 3. Set yourself to pray. Let your purpose be stronger than any pressures that you feel. The reach of the soul should finally subdue any initial rambling of the mind.

Step 4. Assume a bodily position that will not soon cause you to be fatigued. The position of the body is often a distracting feature itself.

Step 5. Follow some creative procedure. Use some reliable guide for the mind during the time before God.

Rehearse some Scripture verses; read until you feel the thrust of the whole occasion. Softly sing some hymn or meditate over some Christian poetry until its message fully captures your attention. Then give that centered attention to God.

Step 6. Develop the ability to concentrate. Concentration is the ability to be attentive. It takes concentration to reduce mental images to a minimum for attentive prayer. (Kindle Locations 381-394).

The book also contains some memorable turns of phrase. For instance, Massey encourages the Christian who is struggling with the inadequacy of his or her words in prayer to remember that “even when we are disturbed because our plea is not fully sound, he looks beyond our statements and answers our state” (Kindle Locations 178-179). Beautiful! Also, I was struck by Massey’s two references to prayer as “a privileged tryst” (Kindle Locations 139-140 and 207). What an evocative and profound image!

When Thou Prayest is a tremendous and insightful little introduction to prayer that will challenge, encourage, and guide the reader into a much-needed reflection on this important aspect of the Christian life. Highly recommended!

The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 25)

Covenant1Let us conclude our consideration of the church covenant with a challenge. Our final statement is one of commitment to engaging in missions.

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by

loving one another as Christ loves us,

praying for one another,

speaking truth to one another in love,

being patient with one another,

protecting one another,

considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by

studying God’s Word faithfully,

learning the gospel together in family worship,

giving ear only to sound doctrine,

living out the gospel in our lives,

embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by

gathering for worship faithfully,

singing to the glory of God,

joining together in fervent prayer,

doing good works to the Father’s glory,

living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ,

giving offerings to God joyfully and faithfully.

We covenant to reach the nations by

sharing the gospel with those around us,

reaching out to the poor and the needy,

praying for the cause of missions in the world,

giving to the financial support of missions,

being personally involved in missions as God leads and as we are able.

In order to unpack the mindset and heart-set that must be in place for us to be involved in missions, we will consider Philip’s engagement with the Ethiopian Eunuch inActs 8.

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The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 24)

Covenant1It is astonishing how aggressive the early church was in her missionary efforts. In his seminal work of 1792, An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens, William Carey marveled at the spread of the gospel in these early years. He writes:

Peter speaks of a church at Babylon; Paul proposed a journey to Spain, and it is generally believed he went there, and likewise came to France and Britain. Andrew preached to the Scythians, north of the Black Sea. John is said to have preached in India, and we know that he was at the Isle of Patmos, in the Archipelago. Philip is reported to have preached in upper Asia, Scythia, and Phrygia; Bartholomew in India, on this side the Ganges, Phrygia, and Armenia; Matthew in Arabia, or Asiatic Ethiopia, and Parthia; Thomas in India, as far as the coast of Coromandel, and some say in the island of Ceylon; Simon, the Canaanite, in Egypt, Cyrene, Mauritania, Lybia, and other parts of Africa, and from thence to have come to Britain; and Jude is said to have been principally engaged in the lesser Asia, and Greece. Their labours were evidently very extensive, and very successful; so that Pliny, the younger, who lived soon after the death of the apostles, in a letter to the emperor, Trajan, observed that Christianity had spread, not only through towns and cities, but also through whole countries.[1]

Christianity Todayhas reported:

That Christianity reached China by the end of the first century has long been dismissed as a myth. Now, says the Chinese People’s Daily, evidence suggests it really happened. Wang Weifan from Jinling Seminary says tombstone carvings from about A.D.86 depict Bible stories and Christian designs.[2]

How astonishing. Christianity reached China by 86 AD? It is truly remarkable. Christianity from its beginning has been a missionary religion. For that reason, prayer support, logistical support, and financial support of missionaries has long been incumbent upon churches. Our covenant reflects this necessity:

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by

loving one another as Christ loves us,

praying for one another,

speaking truth to one another in love,

being patient with one another,

protecting one another,

considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by

studying God’s Word faithfully,

learning the gospel together in family worship,

giving ear only to sound doctrine,

living out the gospel in our lives,

embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by

gathering for worship faithfully,

singing to the glory of God,

joining together in fervent prayer,

doing good works to the Father’s glory,

living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ,

giving offerings to God joyfully and faithfully.

We covenant to reach the nations by

sharing the gospel with those around us,

reaching out to the poor and the needy,

praying for the cause of missions in the world,

giving to the financial support of missions

On what basis do we justify the financial support of missions in the world?

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The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 23)

Covenant1John Piper has ably passed on the story of the birth of Baptist missions and of William Carey’s powerful image of the church “holding the rope” for her missionaries.

It was a little band of Baptist pastors, including William Carey, who had formed the Baptist Missionary Society on October 2, 1792. Fuller, more than anyone else, felt the burden of what it meant that William Carey and John Thomas (and later, others) left everything for India in dependence, under God, on this band of brothers. One of them, John Ryland, recorded the story from which came the famous “rope holder” image. He wrote that Carey said:

Our undertaking to India really appeared to me, on its commencement, to be somewhat like a few men, who were deliberating about the importance of penetrating into a deep mine, which had never before been explored, [and] we had no one to guide us; and while we were thus deliberating, Carey, as it were, said “Well, I will go down, if you will hold the rope.” But before he went down…he, as it seemed to me, took an oath from each of us, at the mouth of the pit, to this effect—that “while we lived, we should never let go of the rope.”[1]

Church, we must hold the rope for our sent missionaries. As modern Americans we are perhaps accustomed to thinking of “holding the rope” in terms of financial support. In fact, I want to argue this morning that intentional, consistent prayerfor our missionaries and their efforts is the primary way we hold the rope today, as is reflected in our covenant.

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by

loving one another as Christ loves us,

praying for one another,

speaking truth to one another in love,

being patient with one another,

protecting one another,

considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by

studying God’s Word faithfully,

learning the gospel together in family worship,

giving ear only to sound doctrine,

living out the gospel in our lives,

embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by

gathering for worship faithfully,

singing to the glory of God,

joining together in fervent prayer,

doing good works to the Father’s glory,

living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ,

giving offerings to God joyfully and faithfully.

We covenant to reach the nations by

sharing the gospel with those around us,

reaching out to the poor and the needy,

praying for the cause of missions in the world

To “pray for the cause of missions in the world” is to fulfill William Carey’s plea for us to “hold the rope.”

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The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 22)

Covenant1From 361 to 363 AD, Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustuswas the Emperor of Rome. He is widely known today as either “Julian” or “Julian the Apostate.” This latter appellation is because he abandoned Christianity, the faith in which he was raised, and sought instead a revival of the old pagan religions of Rome to counter the rising tide of Christianity. He sought to have the pagan temples restored and the pagan priests put back to work. It was, in many ways, a frustrating venture for Julian. At one point, in a fit of frustration, Julian wrote the following to one of the pagan priests: “It is a disgrace that these impious Galilaeans [Christians] care not only for their own poor but for ours as well.”[1]

What a telling statement! Julian the Apostate was irritated at the Christians’ undeniably impressive care for the poor in Rome. More than that, he marveled and chafed at the realization that the Christians not only cared for the Christian poor but also for the pagan poor. Historian and theologian David Bentley Hart writes this of the early church’s care for the poor:

Even pagan critics of the church were aware of the astonishing range of Christians’ exertions on behalf of others…Ultimately…one finds nothing in pagan society remotely comparable in magnitude to the Christian willingness to provide continuously for persons in need, male and female, young and old, free and bound alike. Christian teaching, from the first, placed charity at the center of the spiritual life as no pagan cult ever had, and raised the care of widows, orphans, the sick, the imprisoned, and the poor to the level of the highest of religious obligations.

And again:

From the first century through the fourth, I think one can fairly say, no single aspect of Christian moral teaching was more consistent or more urgent than this law of charity. In the surviving Christian literature of the first five centuries, both before and after the church’s transformation into the imperial cult, the refrain is ceaseless, and is most poignantly audible in the admonitions of the great church fathers of the post-Constantinian period-Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, John Chrysostom-to rich Christians: to follow Christ, one must love the poor and give to them without reserve or preference. At its very best, the Christian pursuit of charity, both before and after Constantine’s conversion, was marked by a quality of the supererogatory that pagan religious ideas could simply never have inspired…And, as I say, even committed pagans acknowledged the peculiar virtues of the Galilaeans. The pagan historian Ammianus Marcellinus, for instance, who admired Julian and who harbored no rosy illusions regarding the church, still commended the faith of the Christians as a “gentle” creed, essentially just in its principles and its acts.”[2]

Caring for the poor and the needy has long been a key concern and focus of the Christian Church. In fact, it seems to have been one of the dominant concerns of the church. William Barclay has given another example of this reality.

In the East it was the custom for beggars to sit begging at the entrance to a temple or a shrine.  Such a place was, and still is, considered the best of all stances because, when people are on their way to worship God, they are disposed to be generous to their fellow men.  W.H. Davies, the tramp poet, tells how one of his vagrant friends told him that, whenever he came into a new town, he looked for a church spire with a cross on the top, and began to beg in that area, because there, from experience, he found people most generous.[3]

Yes, with all of the church’s problems throughout history, and all of its failures to care for the poor as it ought, there is something about Christianity in particular that has special care and concern for the poor and the needy. Our covenant expresses this concern and priority under the final section, “the reaching of the nations”

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by

loving one another as Christ loves us,

praying for one another,

speaking truth to one another in love,

being patient with one another,

protecting one another,

considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by

studying God’s Word faithfully,

learning the gospel together in family worship,

giving ear only to sound doctrine,

living out the gospel in our lives,

embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by

gathering for worship faithfully,

singing to the glory of God,

joining together in fervent prayer,

doing good works to the Father’s glory,

living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ,

giving offerings to God joyfully and faithfully.

We covenant to reach the nations by

sharing the gospel with those around us,

reaching out to the poor and the needy

Of all of the numerous concerns that the church should have, why mention this one, “reaching out to the poor and the needy”?

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The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 21)

The early 16thcentury Isenheim Altarpiece truly is a stunning work of art. Painted by Matthias Grünewald, this stunning depiction of the crucifixion causes the viewer to catch his or her breath in awed amazement. You will notice something odd as you look at the main, center panel, namely, the presence of John the Baptist. The Wikipedia article on the piece aptly describes the oddity of this particular scene:

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At Christ’s left, John the Baptist is accompanied by a lamb, symbolising the sacrifice of Jesus. The presence of John the Baptist is anachronistic. Beheaded by order of Herod in 29 AD, he could not possibly have witnessed the death of Christ. This last figure announces the New Testament by crying out in Latin, illum oportet crescere me autem minui (Vulgate, John 3:30), “He must increase, but I must decrease.” The inclusion of John the Baptist in this scene is symbolic, since he is considered as the last of the prophets to announce the coming of the Messiah.[1]

What intrigues me most about this image is John’s long, boney, pointing finger. He is pointing to Jesus. Grünewald was no doubt seeking to capture the essence of John’s description of John the Baptist inJohn 1:

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

Three times there we find the word “witness.” I believe that pointing finger captures the essence of witnessing about Jesus. To witness is to point others to Jesus. In that boney finger you find your calling and the very purpose of this church. The calling of the Christian and the purpose of the church is to point men and women and boys and girls to Jesus! Toward that end we have begun the fourth section of our covenant with a commitment to sharing the gospel.

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by

loving one another as Christ loves us,

praying for one another,

speaking truth to one another in love,

being patient with one another,

protecting one another,

considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by

studying God’s Word faithfully,

learning the gospel together in family worship,

giving ear only to sound doctrine,

living out the gospel in our lives,

embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by

gathering for worship faithfully,

singing to the glory of God,

joining together in fervent prayer,

doing good works to the Father’s glory,

living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ,

giving offerings to God joyfully and faithfully.

We covenant to reach the nations by

sharing the gospel with those around us

Traditionally, sermons on witnessing tend to start with us and move upwards. These sermons stress our responsibility and the importance of witnessing. Furthermore, they stress the shame and scandal of Christians not witnessing. All of this has a place, of course, but I would like to start with God and move down to us.

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The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 20)

It is a violent scene to be sure. I am talking about a 16th century woodcut by the Italian (Bolognese) artist Ugo da Carpi entitled “Hercules Chasing Avarice from the Temple of the Muses.”

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In the woodcut we see Hercules, his face stern and all of the muscles in his body taut with tension. He is grasping a personified “Avarice” by the back of the neck. His right arm is upraised, holding a club, just about to strike Avarice a deadly blow. Sitting serenely around this scene of violence are the nine Muses, the goddesses of song, art, and creativity.

This scene may strike us as odd and as foreign, but there is, in fact, something very biblical (in principle) about what we are seeing here. “Avarice,” you see, comes from the Latin word avaritia and is defined as an “immoderate desire for wealth” or “excessive or insatiable desire or greed.” Hercules is therefore driving Avarice from the temple because greed inevitably destroys beauty and harmony. Greed is ugliness itself and it turns us into monsters.

St. Augustine writes in the Confessions that we Christians should use wisdom and beauty to good purposes wherever we find it, that we should plunder the world’s works of art and literature in the same way that the Jews left Egypt with the Egyptians’ wealth. I intend to do that this morning with this image.

Beauty and power cannot reside where avarice, greed, is allowed to ply her wares. For the children of God to be all that God has called us to be, we must cast avarice out of our own lives and out of the church. We must be generous, open hearted and handed, and quick to be a blessing with the material things that God has given us. And we must do this for God’s glory, as our covenant expresses:

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by
loving one another as Christ loves us,
praying for one another,
speaking truth to one another in love,
being patient with one another,
protecting one another,
considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by
studying God’s Word faithfully,
learning the gospel together in family worship,
giving ear only to sound doctrine,
living out the gospel in our lives,
embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by,
gathering for worship faithfully,
singing to the glory of God,
joining together in fervent prayer,
doing good works to the Father’s glory,
living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ,
giving offerings to God joyfully and faithfully.

The Bible speaks a great deal about stewardship and how the children of God ought to handle the blessings that God has given us. One of the more intriguing discussions of this is found in 2 Corinthians 9. Here, Paul is informing the Corinthian church that he is sending a delegation to the church in order to receive an offering for the suffering saints of the Jerusalem church. The Corinthians had already agreed to contribute a year earlier and they apparently had the means to do so. Alongside the Corinthians, others, like the Macedonian Christians, had also agreed to contribute to the offering for Jerusalem. So Paul is sending a band of believers to Corinth to receive the promised offering. In preparing them for the arrival of this delegation, Paul discusses what Christian giving looks like and what its fruits are. Let us first hear this amazing chapter:

1 Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. 6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Paul is calling for avarice to be cast out of the temple, for generosity to reign in the midst of God’s people.

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The Covenanted Committed Church (Part 19)

Covenant1In Dostoevsky’s novel The Idiot, Prince Myshkin is quoted as saying, “Beauty will save the world.” Readers and scholars have discussed and debated the meaning of the statement ever since. Brian Zahnd calls the statement enigmatic, but concludes that the statement “certainly must somehow have been connected to Dostoevsky’s deep Christian faith.” Commenting on the statement, Vigen Guroian concludes that “it is clear that Dostoevsky intends Christ as its ultimate referent.”[1]

What a fascinating thing for a Christian to say: “Beauty will save the world.” Dostoevsky did not mean beauty as a mere idea or concept. He was not saying that beautiful things will save the world. Rather, he was saying that God is beautiful and that Christ is therefore beauty manifest. This may sound odd to us, “Beauty will save the world,” but the beauty of God was actually something that earlier Christians spoke a great deal about.

In The Beauty of God: Theology and the Arts, Daniel J. Treier, Mark Husbands, and Roger Lundin have written about the disappearance of the language of “beauty” from the Christian vocabulary and about hopeful signs that the concept is working itself back into the modern Christian vocabulary.

After a period of considerable neglect in modern religious thought and church culture alike, beauty has begun to reclaim its rightful place in the larger scheme of Christian theology. For many centuries, along with goodness and truth, it formed part of the triad of transcendental ideals that the Christian tradition inherited from the classical age and appropriated for its own uses. From the beginning of the Christian era to the dawning of the modern world, a rough consensus about the interrelationships of beauty, truth and goodness governed Western conceptions of everything from the workings of language to the intricacies of creation and the mysteries of providence…Under a number of pressures, that synthesis gave way in the early modern period, and the theological interest in beauty entered a period of slow but steady decline. Over time the ideal of beauty seemed increasingly irrelevant to the new realities that science, economics and politics were either discovering or creating at the dawn of the modern age.[2]

I would like to argue for a reclaiming of beauty as not only a concept and a component of our vocabulary, but as a way of helping us follow Jesus Christ. The third section of our canon contains a call to live lives reflective of the beauty of God in Christ.

As a body of born again believers,

We covenant to become an authentic family by

loving one another as Christ loves us,

praying for one another,

speaking truth to one another in love,

being patient with one another,

protecting one another,

considering one another as more important than ourselves.

We covenant to embrace the whole gospel by

studying God’s Word faithfully,

learning the gospel together in family worship,

giving ear only to sound doctrine,

living out the gospel in our lives,

embracing the whole counsel of God.

We covenant to bring glory to God by,

gathering for worship faithfully,

singing to the glory of God,

joining together in fervent prayer,

doing good works to the Father’s glory,

living lives that reflect the beauty of Christ

Again, this will sound odd to some, and perhaps it will sound odd or uncomfortable to men in particular. I wish to show, however, that beauty not only has a place in the Christian vocabulary, it should occupy a very important place in our very lives.

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