What made the G/B/U list this year?
The bad: How many Christians were killed or displaced (along with other minority groups) this past 12 months? Too many to mention, but the methodical cruelty of Islamist terror group ISIS (among others) brought home to the rather soft Western Christian culture what true persecution might actually look like.
The good: If ever the prayers of the average church reached beyond their own boundaries it was this year. Christians all over the world expressed solidarity in prayer (and on Facebook :-\ ) for brothers and sisters around the world. And as I said, before, perhaps that puts our own persecutions and persecution complexes in the shade.
The ugly: It’s going to get a whole lot worse before it gets any better.
The bad: This is not a comment (well, not completely) on Driscoll’s theological foundations, most of which i agree with. But since when should a Trinitarian Christian share the stage with a Unitarian such as TD Jakes? Perhaps that was a hint that when “names” mingle with other “names” then the Name Above All Names risks being put on the back burner. And then there was the train wreck of dodgy book deals and the bullying that none of the other evangelical “names” seemed to call until the groundswell from the “no names” was too much to ignore.
The good: I listened to Driscoll for the first time about 10 years ago and instantly loved what he was saying, both in terms of his understanding of culture, and – back then – his preaching of the biblical text. A lot of blokes did. He shaped a lot of my thinking. The crunchier Reformed types have been going around saying “I told you so!” as if Driscoll’s sins somehow justifies their inertia, internal squabblings over minor details, and evangelistic inabilities. Few of them – if any – are shaping much of my thinking. His Emergent enemies from a decade ago haven’t been saying much, not so much because of circumspection, and more because their numbers has dwindled to yeti-like proportions, as has their influence.
The other good thing is that perhaps the celebrity culture that has evangelicals besotted will be a thing of the past. I doubt it will, but in this instance, we are left with faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is hope.
The ugly: The crowing, Schadenfreude and general scornful glee of those who wanted to see Driscoll cut down, whether they be Christian or non-Christian. To the non-Christian I say “I get why you are doing it.” To the Christian I say “shame on you.”
The bad: Not simply the sexual abuse cases that the Roman Catholic Church had to face, but the obfuscation in the past, and the rush to innocence in the present. What’s the Latin term that should be on everyone’s lips; Mea Culpa? Our very own Cardinal George Pell visibly and verbally shrank in the face of the evidence here in Australia.
The good: The radar is now firmly in the “on” position. Perhaps there will be a shadow of justice in this age, in what is a taste of the true justice in the age to come.
The ugly: The name of Christ besmirched by those who most claimed to represent Him.
The Good: Marriage is back. Rumours of marriage’s demise since Woodstock were greatly exaggerated. Marriage was once considered a thing of the past, and a vestige of the old traditional world that was on the way out. In the 1980s I remember marriage being scorned at school by my peers, whilst teachers – English and English Lit predominantly – set texts that demonstrated how archaic, how oppressive and how Judeo-Christian it actually was. It’s also given Christians who do not agree with SSM a time of reflection to think through their relationship to state power, especially as their influence wanes in a post-Christian era. It’s also cast a spotlight on what is pretty much a dismaying last few decades among evangelicals when it comes to divorce, adultery and sex scandals within their tribe. Christians had forgotten that judgement begins in the house of God. If the debate gives us a chance to sort out our own marriages first – all the better for that.
The Bad: Marriage is back – with a vengeance. The new marriage paradigm is taking no prisoners. The thing that was once so obsolete is now so important that to deny it to anybody – everybody – is to deny them the source of their complete identity and joy. Marriage has suddenly become a human rights issue, not a public institution issue – and any true debate is being drowned out. English and English Lit classes set text demonstrating how complete and affirming marriage can be when given free rein. Meanwhile the Old Morality has been replaced, not by immorality, but by the New Morality, determined to equate any expressed traditional views on marriage as the equivalent of the KKK and slavery. Adherents of traditional marriage will be cowed into silence by soft power, or coerced into silence by hard power. The SSM issue will inevitably lead to a great divorce among evangelicals over the next decade. It is already.
The Ugly: That’s exactly what this debate is going to get. It is already.