I heard this week that one of my sins in the public domain is my use of my blog banner photo of myself juxtaposed to a statue of Neptune.
Since that was a recent charge leveled at me about my heretical proclivities, I thought would explain.
Even though one of my other charges these days is that I am too friendly with the Papists, I know this will possibly add further wood to people’s personal inquisition fires by mentioning my fondness with Catholic Bishop Barron’s use of the Jewish Temple ‘Gentile Court’ as an example of how to engage the secular or seeking world in evangelisation. I see part of my pastoral writing and speaking life as an evangelist and apologist.
“But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” -2 Timothy 4:5
I try to create or enter a public space where people at various stages of interest or disdain of religious matters might engage with one another. I do my best to “…not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”(Acts 15:19). I do this by trying to declutter my evangelization methods of the typical evangelical religious culture’s stumbling blocks that related to “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” (Colossians 2:21) in welcome and witness in the culture. This can lead to me being “Too pagan for the fundies and too Jesusy for the pagans” but I do my best to work at finding that most engaging middle ground in hope of reaching some.
So in my evangelization effort in today’s postmodern world, I often use the platforms of public interest as springboards for discussing truth claims that I think matter. I “handle, taste and touch” cultural issues, interests and idols in order to proclaim the “unknown god’ many people are worshipping in sincere ignorance (Acts 17:22-23).
I take my thinking from some of the greatest minds the church has ever known, like Saint Augustine, who writes in “On Christian Doctrine” book two, pg 6o:
“If those who are called philosophers, especially the Platonists, have said things which are indeed true and are well accommodated to our faith, they should not be feared; rather what they have said should be taken from them as from unjust possessors and converted to our use.”
This idea, which is fraught with dangers and opportunities is profoundly articulated best in Peter J. Leithart’s introduction to his book ‘Heroes of the City of Man’ which is titled ‘The Devil Has No Stories’, you could and should, read it here: https://docs.google.com/…/11BYzzWv_4FX60mqBf7uj6rXCxO…/edit…
In closing, I unashamedly admit that I believe:
“...All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are of Christ, and Christ is of God.” (1 Corinthians 3:21-23).
This means that everything is fair game, we are free to: “…examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good…” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
I know that such freedom scares many people and that there is a ‘defilement’ posture that many evangelicals hold in their minds about interacting with the world. I can understand that point of view, and I agree that we all face temptations and dangers in our work of witness.
But I refuse to be accept a religiously superstitious posture that immobilizes engagement and produces a neurotic, apprehensive life. I choose to live my call dangerously, but purposefully, close to the fires of judgment:
“...you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” (Jude 1:22-23)
As for the Blog Header picture, the reality of why I chose that pic is far more vain…I just liked the beard resemblance.
I stand accused, I am a…pogonophile.
Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy.