My 100th Blog Post, and a Big Announcement

After a long break from blogging because of seminary, I’ve finally gotten to my 100th post for Endangered Minds. Coincidentally, it will be my last post ever for this blog. Don’t worry, I’m not getting out of the blogging game, I’m just changing the playing field a bit.

This coming Monday, I’m launching a completely new blog, with a new look, a new name, and a new domain. I’m excited because I think this new blog will be able to fit more with how I love to write and how I process thoughts about life, theology, culture, and stories. I’ll still write about the same things I wrote about here, but it will just be with a new flavor.

Although things are changing, I really did love my time with Endangered Minds and wish it well. Thank you so much for reading it.

For those of you who may be worried that any articles you liked will be lost forever in the dark space of the interwebs, have no fear. I am transferring every single blog post from Endangered Minds to my new blog, even the comments.

All I ask of you is, if you’ve followed this blog through email subscription or through WordPress, type in your email address at the bottom and follow my new blog. As soon as my new blog is ready, you’ll get an email of the first blog post delivered straight to your inbox. Don’t worry, I won’t spam you! And after that first blog, you are free to unsubscribe from the email list.

In addition, I’ll be creating a Facebook Page for the blog that you can follow also. If you like what you see, feel free to share it with your friends.

This is going to be a new adventure. I’m both terrified and excited at the same time. Let’s see what happens next.

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Making Christian Music Beautiful Again

Normally, I really hate self-promotion but I’m gonna give a shameless plug to a guest-post I wrote called “Putting the Art Back in ‘How Great Thou Art’” for Trevin Wax’s blog, Kingdom People, which is part of The Gospel Coalition blogging network (If you don’t read his blog, you should!). In it, I write about Christian music and its need to proclaim truth more beautifully:

God loves music. He created it. The problem is that sometimes us Christians act like we hate the art of song. That must be the case, for how else could we justify the mass production of what attempts to pass for “Christian” radio these days?

Much like of our books, a large portion of our music is not beautiful. That is a problem, for it does not properly represent the One we adore.

In contrast, the Bible is full of beautiful songs. Here are four things they have that many of our songs today do not:

Imagery, Depth, A God-Centered Focus, and Awe.

If you haven’t read it yet, you can read the rest of the post here. It was a really great learning experience to be able to write for a crowd who is not familiar with my writing, ideas, or lame jokes. I even got my first negative blog comment ever! Pretty exciting stuff.

Many thanks to Trevin and his willingness to let a green blogger like me on his fabulous site. And thank you to the Creator whose greatest work of art was completed on Calvary.

The Christian Culture Bubble

Christians have a funny understanding of culture.

Many times when a new technology or cultural progression occurs, Christians automatically reject it. We don’t examine or investigate. We just cast off.

We liked the old way of doing church, preaching the Gospel, teaching truth. We don’t want that new stuff.

Having a preference isn’t wrong, but what happens is that in the minds of many Christians, the old ways become another truth to us—another Gospel—as if by playing an organ in church more people will be saved than by drums and lights.

What happens is that we equate the old way with righteousness. We all want to live righteously, right? And so, when we see the culture progressing from that old way, we retreat, we build walls, and create a righteous Christian culture bubble where we can be safe. And then we create our own alternatives to what the world offers so we feel like we still can have fun.

Such a mindset is sinful. Let’s call it for what it is.

THOU SHALT NOT TWEET

When we declare something “righteous” and something else “evil” without the backing of Scripture, we are doing what the Pharisees did—adding rules upon rules upon rules. I think God’s Word is sufficient enough to give us an adequate framework for morality, even in the 21st century. We don’t need to help God out by inviting ourselves to brainstorm new commands with Him.

Let’s also consider the implications of such a mindset.

We, the Church, have been commissioned to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). The bubble-mindset is antithetical to this command. We cannot go if we are cloistered behind closed doors.

Take for example social networks. I know many Christians who have taken advantage of Twitter and Facebook for the glory of God. But I also know many other Christians who would criticize the other ones for being a part of social networks.

The comments vary between: “It’s all about pride on Twitter, so I’m not going to be a part of that” (translation: because I’m so humble)—”I’m a relational person, so I can only relate to people face-to-face”—”I don’t have time”—”It’s just stupid”—”It’s just a fad that will fade away.”

While I don’t have time to answer every objection (and that is not the object of my post), I would like to say this: social networks are not going anywhere. As of 2011, over 500 million people are on Facebook. That’s not a fad; that’s a cultural movement that is changing how the world is working. It may not be Facebook that’s the top dog in five years, but social networks are here to stay for a while.

If we are commanded to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations,” how come we are not willing to obey the “go” part? This is where the people are and so we must go.

As my lead pastor, Wesley, said the other day—gone is the day in America when a church could just open their doors and call it evangelism. Today, if your church doesn’t have a website, people may not even know it exists.

People called compact discs and digital music a fad. Now most new cars don’t even come with a tape player. Yet, I can guarantee you that there is a pastor somewhere still trying to hand out his sermons on cassette tapes.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GOSPEL

Of course, not all technology and culture is beneficial or good. If it violates Scripture then don’t use it. But don’t forget that many things in culture are morally neutral—it’s the person who decides if it will be used for evil or God’s glory. The internet can be used for pornography or for reaching people with the Gospel who would never set foot in a church—they are hurting and don’t know what to do, so they Google “Does God love me.”

It’s easy to forget that God was willing to come into human culture to reach us. He wrote the Bible in a language. He employed authors who used figures of speech and referenced customs of the day. And then He sent His Son to live in a culture. To eat certain foods. To dress a certain way. To speak a certain language. All with the goal of saving people in the culture.

Christians can reflect God as His ambassadors and do this too.

The Apostle Paul used the newly developed postal routes to send out his letters to the churches. Paul also quoted pagan poets to illustrate certain Gospel truths (Acts 17:28). Gutenberg and Luther used the new printing press to mass produce the Word of God. Today, many people are being saved through the free and easy access to thousands of quality preaching via podcasts and YouTube.

What really matters is that we have a heart to reach the lost and are willing to do anything outside of sin to do that. Christians, we cannot idolize our methods and our comfort. It doesn’t matter if it is through Twitter or on the bus; we should always have the Gospel on our lips.

How will you burst out of your bubble and get in the game?

The Life and Influence of Francis Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer has been one of the most influential Christian thinkers in my life. I first encountered his work in seminary when I was assigned the task of writing a biographical critical evaluation of his person and work (if it sounds a little ridiculous, it’s because it was).

I was hooked to Schaeffer’s clear logic and engagement with culture. He predicted post-modernism before we were even post modern. His method of exegeting the climate of the age and filtering it through the Bible has been an inspiration for Endangered Minds.

Now I am slowly and slavishly making my way through The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer.

SHIFTY OLD MAN

It is a hard thing to ascribe a singular label to Francis Schaeffer.  He may be referred to as a philosopher, at times a theologian, a sectarian, an intellectual, an activist, a pastor, a man of God.  Michael Hamilton states, “perhaps no intellectual save C.S. Lewis affected the thinking of evangelicals more profoundly; perhaps no leader of the period save Billy Graham left a deeper stamp on the movement as a whole.”[1]  He was a mystery to the evangelical world, and remains somewhat of an enigma today.  He retained “strange bedfellows,” keeping company with:

“Jack Sparks; musicians Larry Norman and Mark Heard; political figures Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Jack Kemp, Chuck Colson, Randall Terry, C. Everett Koop, Cal Thomas, and Tim and Beverly LaHaye; and scholars Harold O. J. Brown, Os Guiness, Thomas Morris, Clark Pinnock, and Ronald Wells.”[2]

His impact can be felt today in the multiple L’Abris that scatter across the globe. His books are still widely read by many scholars today.  And he made the term, “Christian intellectual” not sound like an oxymoron or a punchline.

SCHAEFFER’S INFLUENCE

For a man who spent half of his entire life in residence in Europe, Francis Schaeffer had a profound impact upon Christianity in America.

He was a man who received much attention without much effort.  His appearance was—to borrow from the Prophet Isaiah—of “no beauty that we should desire him.”[3]  Instead of an expensive suit, clean-cut hair and face, Francis wore “knickers, knees socks, and walking shoes.”[4]  Added to the alpine persona and the weathered, wrinkled face was a white goatee, which “he wore later in life adding to his artistic, cultured appearance, far from the stereotype of the evangelical pastor.”[5]  He was short, around five feet and eight inches tall, and owned a screechy voice (kind of like a whiney bird), which at first notice sounded more humorous than authoritative.[6]

It is a difficult task to quantify the impact that Schaeffer had upon Christianity in America for Francis was many things to many people; critics might have even called Schaeffer a mercurial man—constantly shifting focus like a sugared-stoned five year old.  Yet it is this very quality of change and adaptation that perhaps facilitated the enormous influence Schaeffer had on American evangelical thinking.

His approach to the Christian life bridged the gap between two groups in American Christianity that usually clash with each other, the scholars and the activists.

Barry Hankins prefers to think of Francis as a sort of Christian hybrid who was, “part evangelical and part fundamentalist.”[7]  The range of Schaeffer’s impact changed and grew as Francis moved through different phases of his life, first beginning with the schisms in the Presbyterian denomination, following thereafter with the creation of L’Abri, then his growth in popularity in American evangelical culture, ending with a renewed passion for fundamentalism coupled with political activism.

Some viewed such changes as a flaw but others saw it as keeping up with the climate of the day.

SCHAEFFER’S CRITICS

As popular as Schaeffer was, he did receive a lot of criticism throughout the years.

Throughout his lectures and his descriptions of culture, Francis was accused of using too broad of strokes to interpret Western history and culture.  Hankins states that modern Christian scholars believe “his interpretation of the course of western intellectual history, what he called ‘the flow,’ was problematic in its details.”[8]  Earl Lee believes that Francis has “obvious failings as an art critic” and also as a historian.[9]  Lee also labeled the film series, How Should We Then Live?, a work that is “filled with his [Francis’s] patriarchal, high-handed pronouncements on art and philosophy.”[10]

Perhaps one of the strongest arguments made against Schaeffer by fellow Christians was that “he consistently over-emphasized the power of human reason to lead to correct conclusions about ultimate matters.”[11]  This belief seems to be in contradiction with Scripture that portrays mankind as completely lost and incapable of finding its way to the solution.[12]  1 Corinthians 2:14 states, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”[13]  Yet in spite of his shortfalls as a historian and art critic, and also his overestimation of the human intellect, Francis Schaeffer still remains one of the most influential Christian thinkers of the latter half of the twentieth century.

SCHAEFFER’S HEART

For all that Francis Schaeffer has been know for, his counter culture mindset, his faith in inerrancy, his staunch fundamentalism, it seems that his lasting legacy has not been by his mind but with his heart.

Fischer states, “Schaeffer’s work is ultimately not a call to arms, but a call to care.[14]

It was his evangelical shiftings that enabled him to reach such an influence.  He identified with the troubled youth, the elite intellectual, the middle-American worker, and the radical fundamentalist.

Francis taught Christianity how to think and feel.

Hamilton believes “clearly he was evangelicalism’s most important public intellectual in the 20 years before his death.”[15]  His secret was not to try and gather glory for his own self but to “put your feet in Jordan, and let God take care of you.”[16]  It was this reliance upon God that carried him throughout his life and to true greatness.

May we all learn from his example.


[1] Michael S. Hamilton. “The Dissatisfaction of Francis Schaeffer. (Cover story).” Christianity Today 41, no. 3 (March 3, 1997): 22. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed February 8, 2011).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Isaiah 53:2b, ESV.

[4] Hamilton, “The Dissatisfaction of Francis Schaeffer,” 22.

[5] Duriez, Francis Schaeffer, 9.

[6] Fischer, “LEARNING TO CRY FOR THE CULTURE,” 40.

[7] Barry Hankins, Francis Schaeffer And the Shaping of Evangelical America (Library of Religious Biography Series) (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), xii.

[8] Ibid, xiv.

[9] Lee. “Francis Schaeffer: Prophet of the Religious Right,” 28.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Hankins, Francis Schaeffer, 235.

[12] Romans 3:10-18.

[13] ESV.

[14] Fischer. “LEARNING TO CRY FOR THE CULTURE,” 40.

[15] Hamilton, “The Dissatisfaction of Francis Schaeffer,” 30.

[16] Hankins, Francis Schaeffer, 239.