A Morning Peacock of Links (4/19)

Why We Need More Christian Entertainers

Drew Dixon discusses the tension of being Christian entertainers using his own awkward experience at a Christian concert as a starting point. For me, I’ve definitely been in similar situations as Dixon. Not only that but, if I’m honest, I find that a lot of Christian artists in the secular market better deal with this tension than do a lot of Christian artists in the CCM market:

Perhaps CCM would experience a renaissance if more artists would embrace their role as entertainers. If it is possible to eat and drink to the glory of God, then certainly it’s possible to entertain in a manner pleasing unto the Lord. Scripture never condemns entertainment, and Jesus certainly had a penchant for fellowship and celebration. He turned water into wine at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1–12) and so regularly celebrated with others that he was accused of being a “glutton and a drunkard” (Luke 7:34). So perhaps a good step forward for Christian entertainers is to stop feeling guilty for providing their patrons with entertainment. Why be embarrassed to do something God made good? Certainly I would hope that CCM artists would craft meaningful and spiritually edifying music, but I think an unnecessary “praise and worship” rubric has been implicitly placed on Christian artists. I think this rubric stifles creativity and results in rather uniform and predictable music.

Furthermore, this push to provide a worship experience has resulted in an odd conflating of CCM and corporate worship. Entertainment is a gift from God, and Christian artists should consider how they might entertain with excellence and creativity rather than feel their craft is less valuable if they don’t produce a worship album or close out their latest EP with a worship ballad. Of course, we hope that Christian artists will produce music that transcends our expectations for entertainment. We hope that Christian art will resonate with our experiences in the world and produce spiritual reflection in us, but such is not possible if we continue to subject it to unbiblical and utilitarian rubrics. So here is to hoping for Christian music that is fun, full of joy, and unapologetically entertaining.

Three Questions to Ask Before you Post Something on Facebook

Stephen Altrogge on three questions to ask before posting things on social media. This hits close to home for me as social media has often been an idol in my life. Like any form of communication, we can either constructively make a DIFFERENCE or stubbornly make a POINT on social media. I think Altrogge’s questions help steer our faculties towards the former:

  1. Is it true?
    When posting something as fact, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I know the whole story?” and, “Is it possible that there is another side to this story?”
  2. Is it helpful?
    Before we post something we should ask, “Will this help others by encouraging them, making them laugh, inviting them to pray, giving them grace, etc?”
  3. Will this affect others negatively?
    It’s really important to think about these things because the way we talk about issues has a real effect on other people and can even lead people into sin. If I speak about something in an emotional, angry, inflamed, sarcastic, bitter way, other people will be led to respond in the same way.

Dealing With Doubt

Mitch Stokes discusses dealing with doubt, how that doubt is natural in life, and, in fact, how necessary doubt is for the Christian faith:

So, the war between belief and unbelief exists in microcosm inside every believer. We should remember, as the Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga says, that “believers are constantly beset by doubts, disquietude, spiritual difficulty, and turmoil…It never goes that well with us, and it often goes a good deal worse. There is an unbeliever within the breast of every Christian.”

…In any case, it certainly won’t do to ignore your doubts, and defusing them will only strengthen your faith. To be sure, doubts can be strong enough to become a trial in your life. But like all trials, they’re meant to refine faith, not stifle it.

The Post Christian Condition – Anders Breivik and the Limitations of Justice

Albert Mohler on Anders Breivik, his trial, and the limitations of a Post-Christian justice system in scandinavian nations. Their prisons sound like paradise:

The Scandinavian nations are, according to many sociologists, the most radically secularized nations on earth. A study undertaken by sociologist Peter Berger years ago rated Sweden as the world’s most secular nation, with neighboring Norway close behind. But the Scandinavian nations are not merely secular; they are specifically post-Christian. The specific religious worldview they have lost or rejected is that of Christianity — the faith that shaped the culture of these nations for many centuries.

Christianity produces a system of laws and justice that puts a high premium on both personal moral responsibility and the sanctity of human life. For this reason, the punishment of murderers has been taken with great seriousness. Those who take a human life with premeditation were understood to forfeit their own.

The rejection of the Christian worldview and the loss of biblical moral instincts produces a very different system of justice. Norway abolished the death penalty in 1902. Later, the nation abolished the sentence of life in prison, claiming that it was too extreme. As Newsweek’s Stefan Theil has reported, “Normally, even murderers are fully eligible for parole after just a few years in prison.”

As for the “prisons” themselves, Theil explains:

“Take Halden Prison, a maximum-security facility for murderers and rapists a few miles from the Swedish border. Completed last year for $280 million to house 250 inmates, its living quarters are bright and airy, with mint-green walls and IKEA-style furniture in varnished natural wood. Looking more like a college dorm than a maximum-security jail, each cell comes with a flat-screen TV, a private bath, and a large unbarred window. Inmates take cooking classes and work out with personal trainers; there’s a deluxe gym with a rock-climbing wall as well as a professional music studio for prisoners’ bands. Half the guards are women, which prison governor Are Hoidal says creates a less aggressive atmosphere. For the same reason, the guards don’t carry weapons and freely mingle with the inmates. Prisoners even fill out questionnaires to rate the level of service.”

Why Idolatry Was (And Is) Attractive

Kevin DeYoung (via Doug Stuart) discusses 9 “selling points” of idolatry in the ancient world that help explain why it was so rampant back then. Most, if not all, of these points still apply to idolatry in the modern world today:

Can you see the attraction of idolatry? “Let’s see I want a spirituality that gets me lots, costs me little, is easy to see, easy to do, has few ethical or doctrinal boundaries, guarantees me success, feels good, and doesn’t offend those around me.” That’ll preach. We want the same things they wanted.  We just go after them in different ways. We want a faith that gets us stuff and guarantees success (prosperity gospel). We want discipleship that is always convenient (virtual church). We want a religion that is ritualistic (nominal Christianity). Or a spirituality that no matter what encourages sexual expression (GLBTQ). We all want to follow God in a way that makes sense to others, feels good to us, and is easy to see and understand. From the garden to the Asherah pole to the imperial feasts, idolatry was the greatest temptation for God’s people in both testaments.

A look around and a look inside will tell you it still is.

How I Pray For My Sons

Greg Breazeale on some of the ways he prays for his two young sons.
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