Anthony Bourdain and Depression

ICYMI:  Anthony Bourdain committed suicide earlier this month.

This article by Mike Cosper at TGC offers insight into the plight of one who chooses suicide:  It is similar to the plight of one who leaps to certain death out of a burning high-rise building from which there is no escape.  For them, the terror of falling from that height is just as great as it would be for you or me looking down and enjoying the view under normal circumstances.  But in that situation, with the inescapable prospect of being burned alive and the flames growing ever closer, the fall begins to look less worse.

It is a similar situation for a suicide victim:  It isn’t driven by hopelessness or by death suddenly seeming more appealing.  Such a person feels the same fear of death as you or I, but also feels some inner terror that overwhelms the fear of death and causes it to seem less worse, similar to the plight of one who must choose between leaping out of a burning high-rise and being burned alive.

Read:  Anthony Bourdain and Reckoning with Depression by Mike Cosper at TGC

Evangelicals: Just Shut Up About Sex Trafficking

My fellow evangelicals:  You have just forfeited every last shred of moral authority that you ever had to speak on the issue of sexual slavery/trafficking, which remains one of the greatest and most profound evils of our generation.

You just nominated Dennis Hof as the Republican candidate for a seat in the Nevada state legislature.  Hof owns a strip club and five brothels, and is the bestselling author of “The Art of the Pimp”.  What’s more, several women, including a former sex worker of his, have accused him of sexually abusing them.

Yet you supported him without even so much as batting an eyelash.  An influential pastor in Hof’s community closed his eyes and prayed, giving thanks to God when his victory was announced.  “We have politicians, they might speak good words, not sleep with prostitutes, be a good neighbor. But by their decisions, they have evil in their heart. Dennis Hof is not like that”, he said.

So just shut about sex trafficking.  You have nothing to say to anyone, anywhere, about this grave injustice.

A New Direction for the SBC?

ICYMI:  The SBC now has a new president.  J. D. Greear, a 45-year-old pastor from North Carolina, was elected a couple of weeks back.  Greear becomes the youngest president to head the SBC in 37 years.

Greear’s election is a strong signal that change is potentially afoot in the SBC.  He was elected on the strength of younger voters who are weary of the SBC’s intense involvement in the culture war and Republican politics, and has made clear his intentions to lead the SBC down a different path.

Greear has promised to lead the denomination down a different path, which, he has said, must include efforts both to repent of a “failure to listen to and honor women and racial minorities” and “to include them in proportionate measures in top leadership roles.” If the meeting in Dallas is any indication, his vision is resonating with a large number of the next wave of Baptist leaders.

Some interesting points about Greear which are not mentioned in the writeup:  Greear hails from a church which does not identify as Baptist (not publicly, at least).  So when the announcement came that Greear was seeking the office of president of the SBC, it was a shock to many in his church.  I wouldn’t make too big a deal over this, as it has long been fashionable for churches to downplay denominational affiliations.  (How many people at Rick Warren’s church do you think realize they’re Baptist?)

The other piece of this is that Greear is part of a growing movement of Calvinists in the SBC.  The most influential members of this wing include Al Mohler and Owen Strachan, among others.  Theologically, this movement is excruciatingly conservative and complementarian, though they are not nearly as wedded to Donald Trump as the old guard so at least they have that going for them.  In the final analysis, we’ll just have to see.

Slacktivist: The Last Judgment as “Secret Sins Film Festival”

Those of you who grew up in the world of evangelical youth camp probably had the experience (multiple times for at least some of you) of the youth pastor describing the last judgment as an event where God takes a highlight reel of your life and shows all your secret sins, lusts, etc. to all your closest friends and everyone else in the world.  Doubtless the effect of this was to use this mortifying prospect as a motivator to keep you on the straight and narrow during those tumultuous adolescent years.

But Slacktivist turns this on its head and turns it into a means of grace.  You see, it won’t be just you having your secret sins broadcast on the heavenly jumbotron for all the world to see.  You will also be watching everyone else’s secret sin highlight reel on the heavenly jumbotron.  After a few of these, some patterns will emerge.  Well before you reach the halfway point, you will have seen so much that you won’t be shocked by anything.  You will come to the realization that all these sins are basically the same at the core, the only differences are superficial matters of time and place and circumstance, that there is nothing in your own secret sin highlight reel that is essentially different from anyone else’s.  You will be overwhelmed by the sheer revulsion of it all and the resulting need for grace; you will begin to get a picture of how God sees us.  With everyone knowing everything there is to know about you and you knowing everything there is to know about everyone else, you will be in a much better position to freely extend grace to others even as grace is being extended to you.

Read:  Heaven as Secret Sins Film Festival by Slacktivist

Fr. Stephen Freeman: The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Today I give you a post from Fr. Stephen Freeman.  Freeman is one of the most influential Orthodox bloggers, and he blogs at Glory to God for All Things.

His post is entitled “The Wisdom to Know the Difference” and the big idea is that change is a constant in our culture but we always assume that all change is good without ever thinking about whether that is really the case.  For every change there are unintended consequences that we cannot predict or manage.  He looks at some places where this spills over into church life, such as the discussion surrounding the ordination of female deacons and changes to the liturgy.  His idea is that these things are part of the tradition that is handed down to us and we should proceed with caution when talking about changing them–merely because a practice is inconsistent with the spirit of our age may be the poorest reason for changing it.

Read:  The Wisdom to Know the Difference by Fr. Stephen Freeman

Mohler: Judgment Has Come to the SBC

We are living in very strange times indeed.  It is not very often that I find myself in agreement with Al Mohler.  This is one of those times.

Mohler writes an excruciatingly agonized reflection about the state of the SBC in the wake of the Paige Patterson scandal.  Patterson, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, was shepherded into retirement a couple of weeks back when a pattern of wrongheaded counsel given to women in abusive marriages emerged and made him too toxic to keep around.

I remain opposed to Mohler’s theological commitments of inerrancy and complementarianism.  Mohler takes excruciating pains to show that these commitments can’t possibly be to blame for the crisis facing the SBC, which I find hard to believe.  But at least he is willing to admit that there is a problem and that change is needed.  The #metoo movement has come to American evangelicalism, and the day of reckoning is coming.

In Romans 1:18 we are told: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.”

This is just a foretaste of the wrath of God poured out. This moment requires the very best of us. The Southern Baptist Convention is on trial and our public credibility is at stake. May God have mercy on us all.