Acts 2:1-13

Tongue of FireActs 2:1-13

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Have you ever heard of xenoglossy?  Xenoglossy is the phenomenon in which a person wakes up from a coma or emerges from some traumatic experience speaking a foreign language.  It is somewhat akin to Foreign Accent Syndrome, or FAS, accept that FAS involves a person suddenly having a thick foreign accent that they somehow cannot turn off.  (Think, for instance, of Madonna and the strange British accent she developed upon moving to England.  I jest.)

Xenoglossy is apparently a disputed phenomenon, with many doctors questioning if it is even real.  Even so, for those who claim to be suffering from it, it appears to be real enough.  It would indeed be a strange phenomenon, would it not, to wake up speaking a foreign language?

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article on xenoglossy lists our text as an early example.[1]  Of course, the New Testament sees what happened at Pentecost as something else entirely.  In the scriptures, this is not a freak occurrence resulting from trauma or other mysterious causes.  Rather, it is the deliberate act of God, granted at just the right moment and for very specific reasons.  This miraculous and astounding visitation of the Spirit was foretold by Jesus and had the worldwide proclamation of the gospel of Christ as its aim.  As such, it has distinctly theological, not neurological, overtones.

To get at the events described by Luke in Acts 2:1-13, let us construct a sentence.  Our sentence will have three parts, each highlighting an aspect of this miraculous display.

The Church is a God-empowered body…

We will begin our sentence like this:  “The Church is a God-empowered body…”  Whatever else is happening here, it is clear that God is visiting His people in power.  This is more than evident in the vivid imagery of our passage.

1 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. 3 And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. 4a And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

First of all, note carefully the way in which Luke describes what happened here.  John Polhill explains.

Luke was well aware that he was using metaphorical language in these verses by carefully employing adverbs of comparison:  “like the blowing of a violent wind”…”what seemed to be tongues” (literally “tongues as of fire,” v.3).  He was dealing with the transcendent, that which is beyond the ordinary human experience and can only be expressed in earthly analogies.[2]

Yes, Luke was trying to describe something that required descriptive powers that no language possesses:  a movement of God.  What is most telling is that he speaks of this movement in elemental terms of “wind” and “fire.”  These are images that are pregnant with theological meaning.

First, Luke says that there came “a sound like a mighty rushing wind.”  The word for “wind” here is pnoe, which is a form of pneuma, also the word for Spirit.  Luke uses pneuma in verse 4, undoubtedly intending to create a link between the wind that fills the house and the Spirit that fills the disciples’ lives.

The Hebrew word for wind or spirit is ruach.  Tellingly, we find this word at the beginning of the Bible.  In Genesis 1, we read:

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Fascinating!  At creation, the Spirit of God hovered “over the face of the waters” or “the deep,” bringing creation out of the void as God spoke.  The Spirit, then, is the divine breath or divine wind that brings something from nothing, the Spirit of the living God that creates everything from nothing and that can make a dead heart live!

We see the same image in Ezekiel 37, when Ezekiel prophecies over the dry bones.

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling, and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.

Here again we see the animating, empowering, enlivening Spirit of God bringing energy and vitality and life to that which previously had been still and dormant and inactive and dead.  This is what the Spirit does to the unregenerate heart:  it resurrects it, bringing life into its otherwise dead chambers.  The wind that fills the house is the Spirit that fills the heart!

Then we see tongues as of flame descending.  This image of divine fire is likewise filled with provocative theological imagery.  You will recall that the Lord appeared before His people in the wilderness as a pillar of fire in Exodus 13.

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.

God goes as fire before His people.  Furthermore, at the baptism of Jesus, John the Baptist foretold that Christ would one day baptize His followers with fire.  Interestingly, John says this in Luke’s gospel in Luke 3.

15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.

Here the two images are combined:  wind and fire.  Both bespeak the mighty movement of a holy God in and among His people.  A Christian prayer from the 9th century says this:

Come, Holy Ghost, Creator blest,

Vouchsafe within our souls to rest.

Come with thy power and heavenly aid,

And fill the hearts which thou hast made.[3]

The Church is a God-empowered body!  He has come to His people!

…of worldwide Jesus proclaimers…

The Church is a God-empowered body of worldwide Jesus proclaimers.  The holy fire of God falls upon the Church and it falls for a particular purpose.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.

Fire falls, and, significantly, it falls in the shape of tongues…and the tongues of the gathered Church are loosed with bold proclamation about the greatness of God in Christ.  Fire falls, and the Church speaks!

Throughout human history, one of the most shocking, brutal, and violent acts that a person or group of people would commit against another person whose words they found offensive or dangerous was the act of violence against that person’s actual tongue.  Consider Giordano Bruno, who was accused of writing heretical tracts at the close of the 17th century.  On February 17, 1600, Giordano Bruno was executed after being condemned to death by the Inquisitor Robert Bellarmine.  As an act of mercy a pouch of gunpowder was tied around his neck before the flames were lit.  His tongue was also nailed to his jaw.

Or consider Denise Stephenson.  Her parents were slaves in Halifax County, Virginia.  She relates the following story:  “The master wouldn’t even allow the people to pray.  They had to have their prayer meeting in secret.  Once they saw a man praying and they nailed his tongue to a tree…Had to be careful in those times.”

Or consider Pope Leo III.  Pope Leo III had his tongue cut out by an officer named Pascal.

Or what about a monk named Erluin?  In 910 AD, after Erluin “suggested that his monastery return to strict observance of the Rule of St. Benedict, his fellow monks ripped out his tongue and blinded him.”[4]

What is interesting about this disturbing trend is that it is the exact tactic the devil takes when he wants to derail the Church:  he seeks to remove our tongues.  He does not do so, normally, by actual physical violence, but rather by tempting us to employ our tongues in the service of every topic but Christ, by silencing us on the most important issues.  How unbelievable it is that the Church seems so often to remove its own tongue when it comes to proclaiming the truth of Christ!

The tragedy is further compounded by the fact that those who deny the truth are in no way silent or shy about their errors.  It seems at times that the only people who will not bear witness are those who know the truth.  This should not be!  Commenting on our text, the 7th/8th century English Christian, the Venerable Bede, put it beautifully when he wrote:

Now the Holy Spirit appeared in fire and in tongues because all those whom he fills he makes simultaneously to burn and to speak – to burn because of him and to speak about him.   And at the same time he indicated that the holy church, when it had spread to the ends of the earth, was to speak in the languages of all nations.[5]

“To burn because of him and to speak about him.”  Friends, how can we be silent about our King?  When the Spirit fell upon the Church at Pentecost, it fell to enable them to speak!  The Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz wrote, “What is pronounced strengthens itself. What is not pronounced tends to non-existence.”[6]  Would that we understood that fact:  “What is not pronounced tends to non-existence.”

If Christ is real to you, you will proclaim His Kingdom!  If Christ is your King, you will not be shy to speak of Him!  If Christ has raised you from death to life, you will not be timid about this amazing miracle!

And to whom does the Church proclaim?  To the nations!  They speak in the tongues of the nations present.  While the New Testament does speak of “speaking in tongues” as we traditionally think of it, that is, of speaking in unearthly languages, that does not actually appear to be what is happening here.  Will Willimon explains.

            It is doubtful that Luke is describing ecstatic speech here, the glossolalia of 1 Corinthians 14, because that sort of speech needed translation for anyone to understand.  Judging from the discussion of glossolalia in 1 Corinthians 14, the Spirit manifested its presence in a variety of ways in Paul’s churches.  Luke’s concern is with the description of a Spirit-empowered intelligible proclamation in foreign languages (2:6,8).[7]

At Pentecost, then, when the Spirit fell, He fell upon the assembled Church to empower and enable them to speak the gospel in the languages of the gathered nations.  Jesus had already told them that they would be His witness “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).  Now it begins.  And as it began so it should continue.  We should, we must continue the worldwide proclamation of the gospel!

…whose message inevitably causes people to be amazed, perplexed, or angered.

The Church is a God-empowered body of worldwide Jesus proclaimers whose message inevitably causes people to be amazed, perplexed, or angered.  These are the reactions the disciples received as a result of their bold and surprising proclamation.

7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 13 But others mocking said, “They are filled with new wine.”

Let us be clear:  wherever the gospel is truly proclaimed, people will respond by being amazed, by being perplexed, or by being angered.  The reactions of the crowd were not all of one type then and they are not all of one type now.  Then, as now, the reactions are diverse.  Some believe.  Some are confused.  Some mock, accusing the disciples of being drunk.

What is significant is the fact that the early Church was too struck by the beauty of the message and the privilege of being able to proclaim it to worry about the divers responses of the crowd upon hearing it.  Their task was to speak, not to worry about the reactions of those to whom they spoke.  They clearly wanted all to believe, but the fact that many would not believe did not dissuade them.  They were a people on fire, a people on fire with holy fire.  Tongues of flame had taken up residence in and among them.  The incendiary message of the gospel was their message because it was God’s message, and they were God’s!

Church, when we read of this amazing miracle and hold it up against our current practice and our current witness, how stark is the contrast?  The God of 1st century Pentecost is the God of 21st century Central Baptist Church.  If you have come to Christ, He has poured His Spirit out upon you.  If the Spirit caused the early Church to speak with passion and boldness of Christ, how can He, who does not change, not cause us to do the same?

Brothers, if we do not speak, we achieve our silence only by fighting against the Spirit’s desire to be heard!  If we are quiet in the face of the watching world, it is to our shame.  The Spirit is a proclaiming, revealing Spirit.  He bears witness to Christ.  This means that if this Spirit takes up residence in the repentant, believing hearts of Christ’s Church, the Church must do what the Spirit does….and He has!  He has taken up residence within us!

Church:  speak!

Church:  speak!!


[2] John B. Polhill, Acts. The New American Commentary. Vol.26. David Dockery, gen. ed. (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1992), p.98.

[3] Jaroslav Pelikan, Acts. Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible. (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2005), p.50.

[4] /Bruno_Giordano.html / PA51&lpg =PA51&dq= %22nailed+his+tongue%22&source=web&ots=2OdB7722Dv&sig= L4av RRhkeh LN8KQCwsVqtosbCsk#PPA51,M1 / cut+out+ his+tongue%22&source=web&ots=mP0JzYuN9V&sig=PBQ6vA5tlg9w1tSHZg-5TPwAo5k#PRA11-PR7,M1 /

[5] Francis Martin, ed. Acts. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. New Testament, vol.V. Thomas C. Oden, gen. ed. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), p.22.

[6] “The Church’s Way of Speaking”, id_article= 224&var_recherche=tongue

[7] William H. Willimon, Acts. Interpretation. (Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1988), p.32.

James Leo Garrett, Jr.’s Evangelism for Discipleship

ImageServerDB.aspThe best books are not always either currently on store shelves or even currently in print.  I was reminded of that fact today when I read James Leo Garrett, Jr.’s little book, Evangelism for Discipliship.  Published almost fifty years ago, the addresses that comprise this book were originally delivered to the Kentucky Baptist Evangelistic Conference meeting January 15-17, 1962, and published in 1964.  I found a copy through an online used book site.  I note that one more copy is available from

My interest in acquiring this book was two-fold.  First of all, the subject matter:  I am interested in the idea that true evangelism aims for discipleship and not merely conversion. Second, a personal reason:  I have the utmost respect for Dr. Garrett, who I took for Systematic Theology at Southwestern Seminary, and who I am privileged to call a friend today.  Dr. Garrett has been called the last of the gentlemen theologians.  This may well be the case.  His impact on Southern Baptist life and education has been significant, and I am part of a large group of former students who realize the great treasure we had in sitting under the teaching of Dr. Garrett.  Furthermore, I interviewed him and reviewed his book, Baptist Theology, for The Founder’s Journal here, and earlier for my site here.  I have reviewed another work by Dr. Garrett here.  I turn frequently to his Systematic Theology and have taught portions of it at Central Baptist Church.  What is more, Dr. Garrett wrote the Foreword for my first book, Walking Together, and cast his shadow over my second book, On Earth as it is In Heaven, as well (through his work on church discipline and regenerate church membership).

In this book, Evangelism for Discipleship, Dr. Garrett offers careful definitions of six biblical concepts:  repentance, forgiveness and reconciliation, new life, discipleship, and sanctification.  His handling is vintage Leo Garrett and offers an early glimpse of the kind of careful, methodical approach that would later characterize his magnum opus two-volume Systematic Theology.  By that I mean he offers a thorough etymology of each word and concept, examples of how the concepts have been approached and understood throughout the church universal, examples of fallacious approaches that should be avoided, and concluding comments pointing forward to a healthy embrace of these important truths.  In particular, one can note Garrett’s careful ecumenism, his concern for Southern Baptist life, and his impressive grasp of Christian history in this treatment.

The work is, of course, dated at points, particularly when he addresses this or that current issue facing Southern Baptists.  A couple of times he approaches the need for racial justice, an idea that was certainly more controversial in the Southern Baptist Convention of 1964 than of today.  In discussing regeneration, he interestingly notes that Southern Baptists had perhaps inordinately stressed the human aspect of the new life to the neglect of the sovereign work of God and should be reminded that God is indeed at work in salvation.  I could not help but wonder if Dr Garrett could say such a thing now with the advent of neo-Calvinism in the SBC and whether or not he would perceive that particular pendulum as having swung to the other extreme in our day.

Many aspects of this work were quite helpful.  In discussing the relationship between justification and sanctification, Dr. Garrett stresses that while the former term is almost always used in Scripture to refer to a moment, the simplistic assertion that sanctification always refers to a process is a bit naive as the New Testament uses the word in other ways as well.  Thus, sanctification has a more fluid definition.  Furthermore, in discussing the ordo salutis of faith and regeneration, Dr. Garrett proposes not listing these in a chronological sequence on a linear timeline but rather as an upper and lower story singular notion, with regeneration being the work of God above and faith being the response of man below.

I suppose what I found most interesting about this work was the personal and, at times, conversational tone of the work.  This is no doubt due to two factors:  the fact that these were originally sermons at an evangelism conference and the fact that Dr. Garrett would have been only thirty-seven years old when he delivered them.  His age at the time is impressive in and of itself, given the care and scholarly acumen evidenced in this book.  Regardless, it was fascinating to hear Dr. Garrett (1) use sermonic illustrations, (2) make direct appeals to the audience concerning current issues in the SBC, (3) evidence some rhetorical flourish at points, and (4) even use humor at one point.

Dr. Garrett is not a humorless or dour man, but he is a historical and systematic theologian.  Thus, the work he has primarily done does not lend itself much to these kinds of personal touches.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading them!

Is this book still relevant?  To be sure it is.  A new generation of ministers and laypeople could really benefit from the kind of careful and meticulous approach Dr. Garrett takes here and elsewhere.  I suspect that is why I, and others, do try as we can to keep his legacy alive.

If you’re near a theological library or care to search online, this would be a helpful work for you to read and, if possible, own.

An Interview With Brad Brisco on Missional Living

Last week I posted a review of Brad Brisco and Lance Ford’s Missional Essentials here.  Brad has graciously agreed to answer some questions I sent him about missional living.  I hope you’ll find this encouraging and helpful.  My thanks to Brad for his willingness to do this.


I wonder if you could offer a good definition of “missional” for those who may be unfamiliar with the word?

I usually say I have a short answer and a long answer when defining missional. The short answer is that missional is simply the adjective form of the noun missionary. Therefore missional, like any other adjective, is used to modify or describe a noun. So when we use the phrase “missional church” we are simply saying that the church is a missionary entity. The church doesn’t just send missionaries, but the church is the missionary.

However in most cases that very brief definition isn’t enough. To provide a more comprehensive way of understanding the word I will talk about core characteristics that should inform the way we understand the missional concept? I believe there are at least three major theological distinctions that help to undergird the missional conversation. Without such a foundation we run the risk of simply attaching the word “missional” onto everything the church is already doing, and therefore ignoring the necessary paradigmatic shift. Those three key theological foundations include: 1.) The missionary nature of God and the church; 2.) Incarnational mission; and 3.) Participation in the missio Dei.

How would a “missional church” look different from an “evangelistic church”?

I think the best way to answer that is to say a missional church is one that is organized around, informed by, and/or catalyzed by mission. In other words, the programs and activities of the church are shaped by God’s mission. Therefore, it is not just about having a “missions” department, or an evangelistic committee, but everything the church does has a missionary component. The reality is that the nature or essence of the church is rooted in the nature of a missionary God. If God is a missionary God (which He is) then we as His people are missionary people. Every member is to think think and act like a missionary in their local context.

I’ll be honest:  I’ve resisted studying the missional movement mainly because of a sense of “movement fatigue.”  But Missional Essentials as well as a number of conversations with people I truly respect has led me to think that what’s happening here is really quite important.  Still, for the skeptical part of me, is this all just a fad?  Twenty years from now, will we look at the word “missional” the way most of now look at the phrase “seeker sensitive,” as kind of a quaint moniker that came and went as so many trends do?

I think what is different here is two fold. First this is not a recent phenomenon. Serious theological reflection around missional thinking has been talking place since the 30’s with Karl Barth. Later in the International Missionary Councils in the 50s and 60s. Later through the influence of Lesslie Newbigin, David Bosch and others. It has deep theological and missiological roots. Second, because it has such roots it is not a renewal movement, but instead is a missiological movement. It is not about strategies, human ingenuity or church growth techniques, but instead it is about recapturing the missionary nature of the church.

Are there examples in church history of movements that we might call “missional”?

I think there have been many times in church history when the people of God understood themselves as a sent people. In large part it has been in the last four decades, as the result of church growth mentality, that the church moved from being a “go and be” people to a “come and see” people. The church growth movement put too much emphasis on how to get people to come participate in what the church was doing. With our actions we told the world that if they wanted to know Jesus they needed to come be with us, and be like us. Rather than seeing ourselves as the missionary people of God who are sent to where people are.

I’m curious to know whether or not you think the presence of church sanctuaries and architecture undermines missional living conceptually?

Buildings certainly do not have to be a hinderance. They can become that if the emphasis is on getting people to come to the building, but the reality is that we are a called and sent people of God. We do still need to gather together for worship, study, prayer, etc. We can and should gather together to be equipped to be sent out to participate in what God is already doing. I love the Lesslie Newbigin quote about the church when he states: “[The church] is not meant to call men and women out of the world into a safe religious enclave but to call them out in order to send them back as agents of God’s kingship.”

You write a lot about the missional use of our homes.  It has resonated deeply with my wife and me and we are now involved in discussions about home stewardship and reaching our neighborhood.  Should we abandon the idea of the home as an escape?  Should we feel guilty about closing the blinds and doors and unwinding?  Where do we draw the lines on this?

We have to use wisdom in knowing where healthy boundaries need to be set. But in most cases, Christians look at their homes as places of security rather than a vehicle for biblical hospitality. Our focus on the family as a place of safety has been disastrous for missional living. We must learn to overcome our fears and open our lives and our homes up to others. We must welcome the stranger!

What do you see as the great challenges to missional living within the institutional North American church?

There are several challenges, including fear of the world, living lives without time margins, consumerism, and the idol we have created called the American dream.

Finally, how have you and your family lived missionally in your community?  What lessons have you learned?

I like to frame living out missionality in three arenas; where we live, work and play. Where we live includes being a good neighbor to those we live around and opening up our home. Where we work is about vocation. We must rethink what it means to contribute to and participate in God’s mission through our work. And where we play has to do with engaging social space in our community. We must engage Third Places and public space. We must have eyes to see and ears to hear what God is doing in our community and neighborhoods. We must then ask how He wants us to participate in what He is already doing.

Brad Brisco and Lance Ford’s Missional Essentials

46092205Some months ago, Dave McClung of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention wanted to know if I would like to participate in one of a few small groups working through Missional Essentials by Brad Brisco and Lance Ford.  Now, Dave is a cool, eclectic, smart, well-read guy with a deep love for the church and a keen eye on how the church engages culture.  Furthermore, I have for some time now regretted the fact that I have never seriously wrestled with the whole missional concept , so I said yes.

Missional Essentials is a workbook, though it has some strong sections of insightful prose on the missional church as well.  It is an insightful primer to missional thinking as well as a practical challenge to many of the assumptions undergirding the institutional church today.  The reading sections are helpful and make very good use of other sources and the workbook interaction sections do a good job of (a) leading the reader to interact with scripture and (b) challenging the reader to think through the practice of missional living.

In essence, the missional movement is calling the church to see itself as a missionary in its culture.  What this means is that the local church should stop seeing itself as an entity that engages in mission projects and trips and instead should see itself as the mission project.  What this means is that church doesn’t send out missionaries, the church is God’s missionary.  Therefore, all believers are to embrace missional living, in and through their church, to be sure, but in their neighborhoods as the church preeminently.  If you have grown up in the conservative, institutional, North American church, you will readily get what is so revolutionary about this thought and against what fallacious ecclesiological concepts it is pushing.

I would caution you in one way about reading Missional Essentials:  if you do not want to be seriously unsettled in your complacency concerning loving and reaching your neighbors, do not read this work.  This workbook, especially the last third of it, really engages the reader with pretty direct questions about whether or not we love our neighbors, are actively forming relationships with them, and are being good stewards of our homes.  It has certainly caused me to have a number of conversations with my wife about developing a strategy to reach the streets on which we live.

I have every intention of leading Central Baptist Church through this study.  I believe this is fantastic, biblical, soul-stirring stuff that I, for one, desperately needed to hear.

Danny Akin’s Five Who Changed the World

Danny Akin’s Five Who Changed the World was distributed for free at the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in Indianapolis last month.  They are apparently for sell somewhere, though I’ve yet to figure out where.  Akin’s personal website has a link that takes you to a blank page.  This is a shame, and I hope to figure out where to get these soon, because this is a fantastic and moving look at five great missionaries that will inspire and, I honestly believe, change you.

Originally delivered as five sermons at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, these missionary portraits are delivered to the reader (and, I’m sure, the original audience) with conviction, passion, and an obvious desire to see the readers moved to action by this inspiring accounts.  Akin looks at William Carey, Adoniram Judson, Lottie Moon, Bill Wallace of China, and Jim Elliot.

Akin depends heavily on the standard biographies of each of these, which is fine.  His goal here isn’t original historical research.  His goal is to pass on the stories of five great champions of the gospel and to remind us of the high cost that many have paid to take the good news to the world.  He obviously is wanting to shake us out of our own complacency, and he does so with genuine conviction and in a non-manipulative way.  In other words, Akin’s agenda is clear and it is correct.  We desparately need to hear these great stories again.

My wife and I were frequently and deeply touched by these biographies.  The essay on Lottie Moon was particularly moving and Akin chose well from her letters.  In short, Roni and I have been moved to have sincere conversations about our own failure in the area of following the Great Commission and I believe we will be much more sensitive to this crucial need today and in the days to come.

William Carey’s An Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use Means for the Conversion of the Heathens

William Carey’s Enquiry is rightly considered the manifesto of the modern missions movement, of which Carey is considered the father.  It is a relatively brief and utterly fascinating work in which Carey sought to convince the Particular Baptists of England that the Great Commission applied as much to the modern church as it did to the original disciples who first received it from our Lord.  It is readily available online and will likely serve the modern reader as much, if not more, than it served the original readers of the 19th century.  I do regret not having read this entire work until now.  In addition to being a seminal missiological text, it is compelling, articular, insightful, and convicting.

Carey argued in the Enquiry that the missionary imperative of the Great Commission is as binding today as its calls for baptism and the making of disciples is.  Furthermore, he found in Christ’s words “lo, I am with you always” an implicit akcnowledgment that the Commission is transgenerational in its calling (i.e., it applies until “the end of the age”).

Parts of the Enquiry will seem almost quaint to the modern evangelical, accustomed to large missions boards as we are.  For instance, Carey argued that missionaries would simply have to commit to learning languages, something, he said, that could be fairly easily done in the space of a year or two.  Furthermore, missionaries on the field would need only a small plot of land on which to grow a garden sufficient to sustain them.  Most of all, Carey argued, these missionaries would need to be men of courage and resolve, unafraid of hardship or death.

I was struck by the earnestness of Carey’s tone and the simple logic of his argument.  He pointed out that when a trading company is granted a charter, it wastes no time in pressing to the outer regions of its territory in order to establish relationships and open profitable avenues of trade.  The church’s charter, he argues, includes the whole world and eternity itself is at stake.  Thus, should we not be equally zealous in reaching the world?

Carey’s time was, in some ways, different from our own.  Even so, the same subtle (and not so subtle) arguments he heard against the missionary enterprise are prevalent today as well.  As such, William Carey’s Enquiry remains, and will remain, timely and needed.

Shusaku Endo’s Silence

How shall I put this without appearing over-the-top?  Here it is:  quit reading whatever it is you’re reading and order Shusaku Endo’s powerful, disturbing, insightful, unsettling, thought-provoking novel, Silence.

I had heard Philip Yancey mention Endo before, but I only just recently got around to ordering his masterpiece, Silence.  My wife and I finished reading it last night and we woke up this morning talking about it.  In fact, I have not stopped thinking about it all day, and I do not know if I will ever come to peace over the central tragedies of this amazing book.

The book is about the persecution of Christians in 17th century Japan.  Specifically, it is about a Portugese priest, Father Rodrigues, who travels to Japan to try to find out what has happened to another priest, Father Ferreira, who travelled there before him and who, rumor had it, had apostatized and was living with a wife in Nagasaki.

Rodrigues and his companion Garrpe eventually reach Japan and are immediately immersed in the horror story of the slaughter of Christians in that country at that time.

I fear to say too much, and, in truth, there’s not much more I can say; not so much because doing so would give away the story (which it would), but because it would detract from the experience of walking through this story.  It is, in fact, an experience, and one that I believe Christians in America should encounter.  Along the way, you will be challenged deeply in your thinking about missiology, Christology, and faith.

Shusaku Endo is considered one of the greatest writers ever produced by Japan.  He was a Christian who grappled with his faith in his writings.  His life is fascinating and tragic, and he is a figure that I hope to become more acquainted with as the days go by.

Get this book.

No, seriously, get this book.

Timothy George and John Woodbridge’s The Mark of Jesus: Loving In a Way the World Can See

What a unique and interesting book Timothy George and John Woodbridge’s The Mark of Jesus: Loving In a Way The World Can See is.  The title and content are meant to pay homage to Francis Schaeffer’s tremendous little book, The Mark of a Christian, and to Schaeffer’s idea of love as the “final apologetic.”  Maybe it’s best to see this book as an update and extension of Schaeffer’s work.

Much has changed since Schaeffer wrote, and yet so much has not.  What has not changed is the need for the Christian witness to be grounded in love and borne on the wings of love.  With the rise of Islam and an increasingly tendentious religious scene in the United States (and around the world, for that matter), there has never been a better time for a renewed call for the final apologetic.

Love is the final apologetic because it cannot be refuted or argued against.  Our arguments for Christ or against other religions can be bandied about, debated, and dissected, but genuine love for people cannot be.  This is the case that George and Woodbridge are making, and they do it well.  This is not, by the way, a lapse into sentimentalism.  Strong arguments and truth claims are needed.  But when these are buttressed by love, how much stronger they become.

Anything by Timothy George is worth reading (and I’m sure by Woodbridge as well, though I’m not as familiar with him).  It is nice to see a popular level book by Dr. George, and I do hope he will do even more of these.  Of course, being from the pens of two academic, this book occasionally wanders in fields that some might find a bit tedious.  The long chapter on the rise of fundamentalism was fascinating, but I did occasionally wonder, while reading this chapter, who exactly this book’s target audience is?  Regardless, that chapter in particular is important and helps explain a great deal about media terminology in covering religious realities in North America as well as about how people view evangelicals and fundamentalists.  Furthermore, the authors do a good job in this section of questioning the oft-repeated supposed linkage between Christian fundamentalism and Islamic fundamentalism.

There’s helpful and practical wisdom here about what Christian ecumenism should look like.  The authors refuse to sell doctrine down the river in exchange for dialogue and peace.  No, we are to hold to our biblical convictions and seek to communicate them clearly.  But we communicate our convictions with hearts of love and understanding.

Personally, this is a word I needed to hear.  I suspect it’s a word we all need to hear.  I highly recommend this book.

Jesse C. Fletcher’s Bill Wallace of China

I would like to encourage any and all of you to take some time and read Bill Wallace of China. It is currently out of print, but shouldn’t be too hard to get a copy of.  I do not think I can recommend this book strongly enough or that I can adequately describe how powerful an experience reading it was for me. Jesse C. Fletcher is to be commended for crafting a work that is at the same time beautiful, shocking, convicting, and inspiring.

This is the story of how a quiet, unassuming, humble, middle-aged, American bachelor from Tennessee gave his life to the people of China. William Wallace was a medical missionary in Wuchow, China, during the turbulent times of the Japanese assault on China leading up to World War II and the rise of Chinese communism that ensued in the wake of that war. It is the story of a man who refused to leave his post when all others had. It is the story of one who won fame as a doctor among the Chinese, won many to faith in Christ, committed heroic deeds in his obstinate refusal to let a Baptist hospital die, and who ultimately died a brutal death in a Chinese communist prison at the hands of his guards.

If ever a culture and people needed true heroes, it is our culture and our people. Dr. Bill Wallace should rightly be presented as just that: a hero. It is hoped that you will purchase and read and share and be moved by this powerful testimony of one of God’s special children, martyr Bill Wallace.

H. Richard Niebuhr’s Christ and Culture

Christ and Culture represents a cogent and systematic approach towards the categorization and evaluation of the Church’s interplay with culture throughout space and time.  It is a seminal articulation, as evidenced by the strong feelings that it elicits from modern authors writing in the same field today, fifty-two years after its initial appearance.  One begins to sense, when surveying a merely random sampling of modern works on the subject, that there is something of a Niebuhrian specter over the entire field which one may resist, acquiesce to, or curse, but never ignore or deny.

Niebuhr’s foundational contention is bold and provocative in its Christological assertions.  He quotes approvingly Rabbi Klausner’s contention that Jesus threatened culture “by abstracting religion and ethics from the rest of social life” and postulating a concept of an otherworldly, a-cultural kingdom.1  Niebuhr speaks of Christ and culture as “two complex realities” and argues that “Christ leads men away from the temporality and pluralism of culture” and towards a radical devotion to God.2  To prove this contention, he points to the claims of the early antagonists to Christianity and their perception that Christ presented a threat to their culture.

It must frankly be asked whether or not this picture of Christ is true.  Did Jesus teach a radical devotion to the God outside of culture and in so doing not only not concern Himself with the advancement of culture but frankly disregard it as well?  This assertion would appear to be a gross oversimplification, and we may defend this by a number of means.

To begin with, there is no explicit evidence in the instructions of Jesus that this was His intention.  Such a bold claim should ideally be able to point to some extant biblical claims to this effect.  In truth, given the radical nature of Klausner and Niebuhr’s claim and given the far-reaching implications of such a claim, one would hope to see an abundance of such evidence.

Instead, what the Gospels offer us are claims that are either enigmatic or seemingly contradictory to Niebuhr’s Christology.  Mark 12:17 (“Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”) may be seen as postulating a radical dichotomy between the Way and the culture, but it could also be read as a theological statement about the supremacy of God, the recognition of which might, in actuality, cause His followers to enrich and guide culture.   Furthermore, John 17:11,15-16 (“I do not ask that You take them out of the world…They are not of the world.”) could be read as an expression of Jesus’ desire that His people live with no regard to the culture, but it is perhaps better to see it as an appeal to the Father on behalf of His followers who will be exhibiting other-cultural values (yet not necessarily a-cultural values) in the dominant world system.  Furthermore, the salt and light word-picture given by Jesus in Matthew 5:13-16 would appear to flatly contradict Niebuhr’s picture of Jesus through its emphasis on such restorative, preservative, and life-sustaining mediums.

Niebuhr’s Christology has also been poignantly critiqued in the work of John Howard Yoder.  In The Politics of Jesus, Yoder takes great pains to show that, far from ignoring culture or abolishing it, Jesus’ teachings offered a revolutionary political ethic that was a far cry from the simply sectarian privatized spirituality to which Niebuhr appears to limit His focus.  Yoder argues that the cross was “a political alternative to both insurrection and quietism,” that Jesus was killed for sedition, not heresy, that the very forming of the disciples had “political import,” and that Jesus ushered in a quite this-worldly jubilee.  Furthermore, Yoder contends that Christ represented and taught a new kingdom on earth then (as opposed to a merely future kingdom), that Jesus rejected precisely that separatistic a-cultural spiritualism which Neibuhr claims He adhered to, and that He sought to create “an alternative social group” and not simply an anti-social group.3  Through many other examples, Yoder demonstrates that Christ not only did have great concern for culture, but that the redemption of man in his entirety was the crux of His coming.

Yoder’s critique, which, while it may be forced and overstated at times, is quite solid in its central assertions, also calls into question Niebuhr’s understanding of the reasons why Christ and the Church were resented and resisted by the culture.  Niebuhr argues that early Christianity was resisted because they threatened culture through disinterest in it and through directing “their hopes towards another world.”4  Niebuhr contends also that Christ was understood to have failed to motivate His followers to “human achievement” and that He fostered “intolerance” in His followers.5  However, it would seem that the opposite was the case.

Christ was resisted not because He bred indifference to the culture in His disciples thereby rendering them effectually useless in the construction of a better social order, but rather because He introduced a culture that stood in such radical contradistinction to the prevailing culture that it was seen as a threat to the power structures of the day.  It was not, then, that Jesus and His followers were so intolerant that it engendered ire in those outside of the community of faith.  Rather, they were so tolerant that their counter-cultural alternative threatened the very survival of the world’s norms.  Thus, Christ may be accused of threatening culture, but for very different reasons than Niebuhr suggests.  Most importantly, his understanding of the cultural and socio-political import and, indeed, thrust of Christ’s teachings is misguided.

Flawed though his Christology is, however, Niebuhr’s typology of Christ and culture may still be evaluated.  This is because of the fact that his typology more readily reflects the Church and culture.  The body of Christ and Culture is ecclesial more than Christological.  Niebuhr expressed five types of approaches the Church has taken towards culture:  “Christ Against Culture,” “The Christ of Culture,” “Christ Above Culture,” “Christ and Culture in Paradox,” “Christ the Transformer of Culture.”  Before interacting with the individual types, we must deal with the overall typological structure itself.

Fairly serious charges have been leveled against Niebuhr’s framing of the problem by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon (who have rather famously claimed that “few books have been a greater hindrance to an accurate assessment of our situation than Christ and Culture.”).6 Hauerwas and Willimon argue that Niebuhr affirmed “Constantinian” social strategies and that he dismissed those outside of his own liberal tradition as being narrowly sectarian. They also argue that Niebuhr sacrificed the radical nature of the Christian community in his call to responsible participation in the power structures of the culture, and that, in his typology, he “failed to describe the various historical or contemporary options for the church” and  “simply justified what was already there.”7  This last charge is a direct criticism of the typology itself.

Hauerwas and Willimon are, overall, quite persuasive in their critique of Niebuhr, but one suspects that they protest too much and have not adequately considered the qualifications which Niebuhr himself put on the types.  In truth, Niebuhr recognized a “multiplicity” of approaches that churches and individual believers have taken towards culture.  Furthermore, the categories are merely “typical partial answers” that have been recurrent throughout history.8  He saw the entire discussion as dynamic and ongoing.  The types do seem insufficient with the benefit of fifty years of hindsight, but Hauerwas and Willimon go too far in their implication that Niebuhr was being underhanded by framing “the argument in such a way as to ensure that the transformist approach would be viewed as the most worthy” and by employing “subtle repressiveness” in his construction of the types.9

It must also be stated that Niebuhr’s methodology is commendable.  In presenting each type, he offers an in-depth expression of its thesis, points to representative examples of the type, and then offers the positives and negatives of the position.  Hauerwas and Willimon go so far as to be suspect of his affirmation of the positive aspects of each type, seeing in these affirmations a strategic ploy which subtly promoted pluralism as a virtue thereby preparing the reader to see Niebuhr’s own pluralistic position as the most admirable.10  It is difficult not to feel that Hauerwas and Willimon, for all of the brilliance of their own proposals concerning the problem of Christ and culture, occasionally lose themselves in the moment.  There is no reason to suspect that Niebuhr was being anything other than objective and fair with the types, even if, as seems clear, he preferred one over the others.

Niebuhr depicts his first type, “Christ against culture,” as that approach which rejects culture, sees it as fundamentally evil, and turns from culture’s political and societal expressions in an attempt to find protection and avoid spiritual contamination.  Those who use this approach view the Church as “a third race” which stands apart from the fallen culture.11 Representative of this type were Tertullian and Leo Tolstoy.

Niebuhr’s handling of 1 John under this type illustrates one of the deficiencies of his approach:  the tendency and temptation to force the scriptures into these categories.  Admittedly, he does qualify that no book of the Bible fits neatly into any of these categories, and that 1 John simply “contains the least ambiguous presentation of this point of view.”12  However, Niebuhr’s rather conjectural assertion that the author of 1 John was so sure of the imminence of Christ’s return that he gave little thought towards creating a cultural ethic or set of instructions in this area reveals a certain tendency towards eisegesis in his handling of the text.

Even so, Niebuhr’s critique of this position is quite thorough and balanced.  He correctly notes that those who have adopted this approach often end up influencing and advancing the culture as well as drawing from the culture at the same time.  In short, the great Achilles’ heel of this type is its assumption than one can truly detach oneself from the culture.  It is, in actuality, impossible, and even those that have adopted this approach end up trafficking in cultural forms of thought, speech, and interaction.13  This approach appears to be naïve of the cultures’ role in forming who we are.

As balanced as Niebuhr’s handling of the “Christ Against Culture” type is, it must be noted that there are subtle but serious problems that arise here as well.  By lumping “Protestant sectarianism” in with the ascetic and nearly monastic Tolstoy and the legalist Tertullian, Niebuhr appears to imply that viewing the Church as a separate culture (i.e., “sect”) means abandoning it to irrelevance.  Yet, there is a powerful school of thought, of which Hauerwas, Willimon, Yoder, Clapp, and many others are a part, which have convincingly shown that the Church as a separate people among the people not only has the potential to redeem the culture but is, in fact, the model which Christ himself taught.  That is, there is a form of sectarian engagement which the Niebuhrian categories cannot allow.

For instance, Christian political thinkers Timothy Sherratt and Ronald Mahurin would almost certainly be considered by Niebuhr to be in the “Christ Against Culture” category.  They see Christians as inhabiting a unique culture, a Kingdom within the culture, so to speak.  However, they argue that the ethics of the Kingdom will enrich the culture even though they will do so through the use of non-cultural tools (i.e., the infusion of love instead of power into the political process).14  Furthermore, Lawrence E. Adams has demonstrated that, given the inner turmoil and self-contradictions of American public opinions, and given the willingness of the American culture to follow leadership which is clear and engaging, “the acting out” of kingdom principles within the community of faith, regardless of any use of or involvement in the normative cultural power structures, will likely prove to be its most effective tool in reaching the culture.15  Thus, the suggestion that all sectarianism is a form of negation and isolation proves to be too simplistic.  In truth, a sectarianism that would offer the wider culture a powerful display of countercultural ethics, political, economic, and otherwise, might possibly be the best way of engaging the culture.

Niebuhr’s handling of “Christ in Culture” is quite admirable and balanced.  Those in this camp are theological liberals, those who seek to wed what is best in Christianity with what is best in culture.  They are “this worldly” and are concerned less with the purported miracles of Scripture than with human achievement and attainment.  The Gospel is posited in cultural terms, and Jesus is seen as the apex of civilization.  These are the enlightened ones, rationalists whose Christianity ultimately ends up being a vague form of Gnosticism wearing a Christian jacket.16

While pointing out that Fundamentalist critics of cultural-Protestantism are often guilty of the same cultural loyalties and societal causes (albeit, of a different stripe) as those they criticize, Niebuhr actually repeats many Fundamentalist objections to this position.  He points out, for instance, that those who have adopted this approach do not seem to draw others to Christ, that they must, of necessity, compromise on the scandal of Christ in order to accommodate to culture, and that they seem to open the door for mere humanism.17  Consequently, his overall tone of this position is one of rejection.

Niebuhr classes his final three types under the umbrella term “the church of the center” and argues that these churches represent “the great majority movement in Christianity.”18  The “church of the center” expresses itself, according to Niebuhr, in three ways:  through the synthesis of Christ and culture (“Christ Above Culture”), dualistically (“Christ and Culture in Paradox”), and with a conversionist emphasis (“Christ the Transformer of Culture”).  This grouping together is important insofar as it implicitly relegates separatistic strains to the realm of the tangential.  At this point, Haurwas, Willimon, and others who are arguing for the creation of a radical culture within the culture seem justified in their frustration with Niebuhr.  Again, separatism and sectarianism are too easily dismissed by Niebuhr’s types as being those approaches which impact culture only incidentally.  Clapp, Yoder, Hauerwas and others have very convincingly shown that this is simply faulty.

The synthesist is the believer who understands the distinction between the Lordship of Christ and the temporality of culture, but who nonetheless seeks to bring Christian verities to bear on his immediate culture.  He seeks a unified system, though not, like the “Christ of Culture” believer, to the point of sacrificing the supremacy of Christ.  There is no confusion in his mind about his priorities.  Christ is preeminent.  However, he wants to see the Kingdom lived in the culture now.

In many ways, Francis Schaeffer is the champion of this approach.  Through his use of culture in apologetics and his call for a return to a Christian America, Schaeffer, who clearly reflects elements of “Christ the Transformer of Culture” as well, represents a modern attempt at the synthesis of Christ and culture.  Yet, Schaeffer offered tragic but clear affirmation of Niebuhr’s criticism that synthesists “tend, perhaps inevitably, to the absolutizing of what is relative, the reduction of the infinite to a finite form, and the materialization of the dynamic.”19

This is seen nowhere more clearly than in Schaeffer’s most blatant call for Christian engagement with the culture, A Christian Manifesto, a book which was instrumental in the solidifying of Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1980’s.  Here, Schaeffer bizarrely attacks Christian lawyers and intellectuals for the “loss” of the culture to the humanist worldview and rather shrilly calls for Christians to see the “conservative swing in the United States,” as evidenced by the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, as a temporarily opened window which offers Christians the greatest opportunity to impact the culture.20  In so doing, Schaeffer “absolutized the relative” (i.e., a political opportunity in a particular election) and reduced the “infinite to a finite form” (i.e., the Church within the structures of the state).  In this, Niebuhr’s evaluation of the synthesists proves not only amazingly accurate, but prophetic as well.

Ultimately, Niebuhr appears to favor “Christ the Transformer of Culture.”  He refers to the adherents of this position as belonging to “the great central tradition of Christianity” and seeks to show how this position avoids the extremities of the others.  Once again, those who see Christ as being “against culture” are relegated to the category of largely irrelevant and reactionary separatists.  True engagement, according to Niebuhr, comes in operating within the structures of the culture.  His appeal to this position as being not merely a position, but a “motif” which runs through “the Gospel of Matthew and the Letter of James through Paul’s epistles to the Fourth Gospel, or proceeds from Tertullian, the Gnostics, and Clement to Augustine, or from Tolstoy, Ritschl, and Kierkegaard to F.D. Maurice” further reflects his admiration of it.21  Clearly, then, Niebuhr sees this type as that which not only has the widest biblical support but is also so pervasive that those of other types inevitably return and partake of it.  Indeed, for Niebuhr, this type strikes something of a via media between “the anti-culturalism of exclusive Christianity, and against the accommodationism of culture-Christians.”22

Yet Niebuhr’s optimism for this position has proven to be naïve.  One must question whether or not such an optimistic understanding and approach to the Church’s interaction within culture is truly able to impact culture and, perhaps more critical to the question at hand, to avoid cultural accommodation.  The charge that such an approach merely reinforces a “Constantinian” approach to culture, downplays the restorative and reforming power of a community exhibiting other-cultural values in the midst of the dominant cultural system to change that system, and binds the church to necessarily ineffectual means is frankly difficult to contest.  Furthermore, it has perhaps been demonstrated in the fifty years which have elapsed since the initial publication of Niebuhr’s work, that the optimistic liberalism of his approach has simply not achieved the type of results that adherents to this position might desire.

Ultimately, the dismissal of “sectarianism” as irrelevant and reactionary is too simplistic.  It inappropriately neglects the great potential for cultural transformation through the establishment of a community of believers who see themselves not merely as consumers and manipulators of existing cultural models but rather as harbingers of a radical new Kingdom ethic which might be exhibited among the larger culture, thereby creating a distinct new alternative to decaying cultural norms.

1 H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture (San Francisco:  Harper & Row, 2001), 3.
2 Ibid., 39.
3 John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI:  William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2002), 36-39,62,96,106.
4 Niebuhr, 6.
5 Niebuhr, 6-7.
6 Stanley Hauerwas and William H. Willimon, Resident Aliens (Nashville:  Abingdon Press, 1989), 40.
7 Ibid., 40-41.
8 Niebuhr, 40.
9 Hauerwas and Willimon, 40-41.
10 Hauerwas and Willimon, 41.
11 Niebuhr, 49.
12 Ibid., 46.
13 Niebuhr, 66-69,72.
14 Timothy R. Sherratt and Ronald P. Mahurn, Saints as Citizens (Grand Rapids, MI:  Baker Books, 1995), 38.
15 Lawrence E. Adams, Going Public (Grand Rapids, MI:  Brazos Press, 2002), 131,133,152,154.
16 Niebuhr, 85-90.
17 Niebuhr, 108,113.
18 Ibid., 117.
19 Niebuhr, 145.
20 Francis Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (Wheaton, IL:  Crossway Books, 1982), 47,50-51,73-74.
21 Niebuhr, 190-191.
22 Ibid., 206.