“Feelings are not facts,” we hear a lot these days. In a host of intellectual and even pastoral debates, this binary is popular. There are those who care about the real stubborn world of inflexible facts, and those who want to force the world to conform to the shape of their feelings. There are those, analogously, who stick to the plain teaching of the Bible, and those who try to retrofit the Bible into the shape of their sentiments.
Uniting modern persons is no religion or creed or political vision, but rather the world of film and literature. These get to us beneath our discursive reasoning. Whatever creed or critic you follow, you probably like Johnny Cash, The Wire, and To Kill a Mockingbird.
One way of reading the story of civilization is to read it as a story of divine pedagogy. This can be overstated at the expense of other truths and metrics of reality, but (as such) it is both a biblical notion (Gal. 3-4) and a thickly treated theme in the history of the Christian church. Can modernity possibly be read in this light?
Another blog? Yes. Pilgrim Faith? Yes. Why? Let me tell you.
As of January 1’st, I (Joseph Minich) have taken on the role of Davenant Fellow with The Davenant Institute. “What’s that,” you might reasonably ask. Basically, in addition to doing some local and online teaching, I will be crafting Christian education products in concert with their vision to recover the wisdom of classical Protestant orthodoxy for the contemporary church (with deep sensitivity to the complexity of its challenges).
This blog fits into the picture in a few ways. It compliments our new Pilgrim Faith podcast, which is our attempt to craft a multi-disciplinary conversation with (mostly) evangelical scholars and pastors about topics that are difficult for modern Christians. The assumption is that wisdom is achieved best in collaboration, and we seek to craft a conversation that serves this end. A complementary podcast (A Plausible Faith?) is a series we are producing for doubting Christians and curious non-Christians which aims to take their doubts, instincts, and reactions to the Christian faith very seriously. In these, I will walk through the various loci of the Christian faith (as well as relevant asides), wrapped in the rhetorical voice of a fellow pilgrim, in order to help those in a crisis of faith work through their questions, and (hopefully) persuade some of the veracity, goodness, and beauty of the Christian faith.
This blog fits into the picture as a place where I can communicate some of this same material in written form. Posts will fall roughly into two categories. In some, I will cover fairly basic theological and Scriptural material with an imagined audience roughly equivalent to those mentioned above, but with the expectation that ordinary Christians might benefit quite a lot as well. In other posts, I will try to re-frame some of our contemporary disputes in ways that perhaps help us to be sympathetic with a broader register of concerns than we typically are, and which help gesture us toward what a wise and contemporary synthesis might look like. Certainly I don’t posture myself as some “answer man.” Rather, my goal is to do my part in helping shove conversations in the direction where we (a) know what a good answer might look like, and also (b) where one might be found.
And Pilgrim Faith? As it turns out, the Reformed Orthodox sometimes spoke of their theology as “pilgrim theology.” In this context, the metaphor captures two things. First, it captures the sense that the church is always moving betwixt its past and its future. We’ll never “arrive” on this side of the Jordan. Rather, we move with the compass of God’s general and special revelation (and with God’s “own dear presence to cheer and to guide”) toward the end of God’s promised maturity in faith and love. The goal is to expand the world of the garden in the realm of the mind and of the Christian imagination, while also doing our part to fulfill the Adamic task of protecting the boundaries of the garden. Second, the metaphor captures the rhetorical mode in which these resources seek to address fellow Christians and human beings. To wit, these are resources developed by Christian laypersons (in good standing with their church) that speak to modern people in the voice of a fellow traveler. Both in the podcasts and here, I am not speaking as any official, but rather as a Christian brother who I hope can be an encouragement to you.
If you are interested in supporting these labors sponsored by The Davenant Institute, please consider giving here. As well, especially if you know of any who might be interested in supporting our work, please forward this link to them.
We hope you come back to journey with us!