Cultural Theology - Jubilee Summer 2019

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The EICC is addressing the church’s urgent need to retain and equip the next generation of Christian cultural leaders to be able to formulate, articulate and…
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The EICC is addressing the church’s urgent need to retain and equip the next generation of Christian cultural leaders to be able to formulate, articulate and credibly defend the truth, freedom, and goodness of the gospel of Jesus Christ – the Christian faith – in the midst of the intellectual and practical challenges of our day. We’re doing this through the delivery of targeted High Impact Training programs, which are held at the new EICC Centre for Reformational Culture, and which are heavily subsidized by EICC scholarship support.You can help by becoming an EICC Builder! EICC Builders are those individuals and families whose shared concern for this urgent need has led them to pray for the work as well as to give on a monthly basis. This stable base of recurring support is essential, and we have set a five-year goal to add +500 new EICC Builders. The monthly scholarship involved for each delegate on a High Impact Training program is: ½ 1Scholarship $45.00Scholarship $85.0023Scholarships $175.00Scholarships $250.00These are guidelines only, gifts of any amount are gratefully accepted.Becoming a Builder is easy: simply tear off and complete the attached donor card and mail it back to us in the postage-paid envelope. Your tax receipt will be issued and mailed to you at year end. Or donate online at www.ezrainstitute.caPartner with us… become a monthly EICC Builder today! EZRA INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIANITYPO Box 9, STN Main, Grimsby, ON L3M 4G1SUMMER 2019EditorRYAN ERAS EICC FounderJOSEPH BOOT2 Editorial Ryan Eras 4 Recovering the Christian Mind Joe Boot13 The Eschatological Arc of Christian Apologetics Andrew Sandlin21 Whose Rainbow? Peter Jones29 Life is Religion: Remembering H. Evan Runner John Hultink 37 Book Review: Francis A. Schaeffer’s Art and the Bible Jeremy W. JohnstonJubilee is provided without cost to all those who request it. Cover design by Barbara L. Vasconcelos. Jubilee is the tri-annual publication of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity (EICC), a registered charitable Christian organization. The opinions expressed in Jubilee do not necessarily reflect the views of the EICC. Jubilee provides a forum for views in accord with a relevant, active, historic Christianity, though those views may on occasion differ somewhat from the EICC’s and from each other. The EICC depends on the contribution of its readers, and all gifts over $10 will be tax receipted. Permission to reprint granted on written request only. Canada Post Publications Mail Agreement Number: PM42112023 Return all mail undeliverable to: EICC, PO Box 9, STN Main, Grimsby, ON L3M 4G1, www.ezrainstitute.caEzra Institute for Contemporary Christianity To receive Jubilee please visit, www.ezrainstitute.ca/jubilee Or write to us: EICC, PO Box 9, STN Main, Grimsby, ON L3M 4G1 jubilee@ezrainstitute.caSUMMER 2019JUBILEE EDITORIAL: ISSUE 252PAGE NO.RYAN ERAS Ryan Eras is Director of Content and Publishing at the Ezra Institute, responsible for developing and producing the EICC’s print and web content, and serves as managing editor for Ezra Press and its imprints, and editor for the Ezra Institute’s journal, Jubilee. He holds a BA in History from Tyndale University, and an MI in Library and Information Science from the University of Toronto. Ryan has served in several educational and support roles, providing bibliographic research and critical editorial assistance for several popular and academic publications. Ryan and his wife Rachel have four children.The theme of this issue is Cultural Theology, a term whose meaning isn’t immediately clear. Just imagine the time we had trying to settle on a cover design that captured that idea. To talk coherently about ‘cultural theology’ you first need clear definitions for the two words that make up that term, and a sense of the relationship between them. What is culture? Culture, as we’ve said elsewhere, is most readily understood as the concrete, public expression of the deepest values, priorities, and loves of a society. In other words, it is “applied belief,” or “externalized religion.” Life is religion, as Evan Runner observed. These religious beliefs express themselves in a society’s laws, education system, arts and entertainment, political organizations, and more. For instance, we punish with our strictest laws those things that we find most intolerable; we nurture, through education, those values that we are most interested in passing on to the next generation; we depict – and consume – in our art and entertainment those ideas, settings, personalities and relationships that are most important to us. When it comes to building culture, the question is not whether, but which? The activity of culturebuilding is inescapable; it is hardwired into our DNA. In her book The Mind of the Maker, Dorothy L. Sayers begins by considering the question “what is man?” and she starts at the Bible’s account of the creation of man. We are told that man is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and Sayers writes that we have man, the image-bearer, in front of us, but at this point in the biblical narrative, we are not actually told much about what God is like. If we bear the image of God, what exactly is it that we’re reflecting? The one thing we do know about God at this point in world history is that God creates, and that what he creates is good. “The characteristic common to God and man,” writes Sayers, “is apparently that: the desire and ability to make things.” It only remains to be seen what kind of culture we will make. The creation mandate – also called the cultural mandate – is God’s command to Adam and Eve, and all human beings since then, to get to theSUMMER 2019 business of making – figure out how this world has been made, and work within those created realities to develop their potential (cf. Gen. 1:28). Just as the things that God makes are “very good” because God is good (Gen. 1:31; Mark 10:18; 1 Tim. 4:4), so the things that we make are reflective of our character – what we value, love, and worship. These loves will be our guiding principles for building culture. If we love God, that love will show itself not only in our church life and personal devotions, but in our political activity, our entertainment, our purchasing habits, educational choices, and much else besides. Cultural theology, then, is the discipline of understanding what God’s Word says about culture, and applying that understanding to those various cultural spheres. Cultural theology is an approach that aims to get to the root of all human activity by examining the god concept at work in a particular cultural sphere. Because we live in a self-consciously individualistic age, the divide is becoming more clear between what Peter Jones calls One-ism and Two-ism – worship of the Creator, and worship of the creature. As I write this, we’re less than a month away from the Ezra Institute’s inaugural H. Evan Runner International Academy for Cultural Leadership. After participating in several different in-depth, intensive training programs over the years, we’ve seen the growth and lasting change that results from the opportunity to be together with likeminded people, sitting in tutorial with godly and experienced teachers. Providentially, this 16,000 sq. foot facility, the Centre for Reformational Culture, set on 24 acres of prime Niagara Escarpment, is sending us a very clear message for what to do with the materials God has given us. The Centre, renovated to accommodate 30-40 delegates plus 4-6 faculty at a time for multi-day programs, is especially well suited to delivering the type of sustained and impactful learning experience necessary to truly begin to address and formulate a foundational theology of culture. The Centre is a warm, comfortable, intimate environment where delegates can fellowship, worEzra Institute for Contemporary ChristianityEditorial: Issue 25 ship, pray, interact with their peers and faculty, and sit under the tutelage of world-class faithful scholars and qualified lay instructors. The teaching at the Runner Academy is delivered in lecture format, and in tutorials around the fireplace, over meals, during walks on the property… in short, in methods suited to meaningfully shaping and impacting the hearts and minds of future leaders. To plant in hearts and minds what it means to hold a truly scriptural life and worldview and to begin to see what is involved in formulating, articulating and credibly defending and advancing a God-honoring vision for all of life, and to lead others in that same task. This issue of Jubilee is meant to be a focused introduction to some of the themes and subjects that we explore in greater depth at the Runner Academy. They are rooted in the eternal truths of God’s Word, and by virtue of that, they have something to say to the particular challenges and struggles in the church and culture today. IN THIS ISSUEJoe Boot discusses a program for recovering a soup-to-nuts approach to thinking as a Christian in every area – not just about traditionally Christian things like devotions and apologetics. If the world belongs to Christ (and it does), then wehave a responsibility to bring our thinking in line with His Word. Andrew Sandlin unpacks the relationship between apologetics – the defense of the faith – and eschatology – questions about the goal and end of history. An understanding of the full gospel of Jesus, including His plans for history, has an impact on our approach to apologetics because it acknowledges the full scope of both the depravity of man, and the restoration of all things in Jesus Christ. Peter Jones squarely addresses the rainbow flag: a symbol most commonly associated with LGBTQ+ movements today, but with an older heritage in God’s faithfulness to His covenant. In posing the question ‘whose rainbow?’ we are actually asking questions about ultimate authority for the meaning and determination of life. John Hultink, who was a student of H. Evan Runner, remembers the life, testimony and influence of his teacher, and gives some insight into the reasons why he was a fitting namesake for the Runner Academy. In this issue’s book review, Jeremy Johnston introduces Francis Schaeffer’s classic work Art and the Bible.3RECOVERING4PAGE NO.JOSEPH BOOT JOE BOOT is the founder and President of the Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity and the founding pastor of Westminster Chapel in Toronto. Before this, he served with Ravi Zacharias as an apologist in the UK and Canada, working for five years as Canadian director of RZIM. Joe earned his Ph.D. in Christian Intellectual Thought from Whitefield Theological Seminary, Florida. His apologetic works have been published in Europe and in North America and include Searching for Truth, Why I Still Believe and How Then Shall We Answer. His most noted contribution to Christian thought, The Mission of God, is a systematic work of cultural theology exploring the biblical worldview as it relates to the Christian’s mission in the world. Joe serves as Senior Fellow for the cultural and apologetics think-tank truthXchange in Southern California, and as Senior Fellow of cultural philosophy for the California based Centre for Cultural Leadership. Joe lives in Toronto with his wife, Jenny, and their three children, Naomi, Hannah, and Isaac.SUMMER 2019 The ChristianMindTHE COLLAPSE OF THE CHRISTIAN MINDSOME YEARS AGO I was speaking inCalifornia in the Santa Cruz area on the issue of Christian apologetics. My subject was the centrality of Christ in the task of engaging the culture. After my lecture, I was taken to lunch by a very pleasant young couple. One of the first questions they asked me with a smile was how long I had been an apolo-jedi. I appreciated the joke, but as the conversation went on it highlighted a typical misperception of the real challenge confronting Christians today and how we are to face it. I am convinced that the urgent task before God’s people in our time is the recovery of a Christian mind – most especially for those in ecclesiastical and cultural leadership – not just the training of an elite group of Christian Jedi to defend key features of biblical doctrine against traditional objections. This is because the greatest problem of our era is not a lack of arguments or evidences; at a much deeper level, we have experienced the near total collapse of the Christian world-andlife-view in the culture and tragically, often in the church. We do not need better evangelism techniques or smarter apologists. What we need is a wholesale recovery, and in some instances a fresh discovery, of what it means to think Christianly and therefore to be Christian. The questions challenging believers in the West today are qualitatively different from those we faced even twenty-five years ago, because there is no longer a mutual understanding of reality that can undergird a common discourse; the old shared foundations have eroded beneath us. Consequently, it is increasingly unusual to find oneself interrogated by unbelievers about the nature or possibility of miracles, the reliability of the New Testament text, the character of sin,whether good works are enough to be acceptable to God, or whether or not God is triune (unless speaking with a Muslim). Most of these questions don’t even occur to your average millennial or Z generation young adult because such questions already presuppose an underlying broadly Christian worldview and biblical literacy. For the first time in centuries we typically find ourselves in discussion with ordinary people where our most basic religious presuppositions about the nature of reality are antithetical to one another. This situation affects the kinds of questions we each deem relevant to addressing the existential and theoretical problems of life. The pervasiveness of anti-Christian worldviews in every aspect of cultural life has had a profound impact on the contemporary church. A few cultural prophets saw this emerging problem back in the 1960s. One such individual was Harry Blamires, whose 1963 book, The Christian Mind, had a deep impact on me. He opens this short classic by recognizing the commonplace fact that the thinking of modern people has been secularized. But critically, he goes on to point out that this disaster is not the primary challenge for Christians: Tragic as this is, it would not be so desperately tragic had the Christian mind held out against the secular drift. But unfortunately, the Christian mind has succumbed to the secular drift with a degree of weakness and nervelessness unmatched in Christian history…there is no longer a Christian mind. There is still of course a Christian ethic, a Christian practice, and a Christian spirituality.… As a spiritual being, in prayer and meditation, [the Christian] strives to cultivate a dimension of life unexplored by the non-Christian. But as a thinking being, the modern Christian has succumbed to secularization. He accepts religion – its morality, its worship, its spiritual culture; but he rejects Ezra Institute for Contemporary ChristianityRecovering The Christian Mind the religious view of life, the view which…relates all problems – social, political, cultural – to the doctrinal foundations of the Christian faith, the view which sees all things here below in terms of God’s supremacy…1 Blamires’ assessment was right on point. And given that many professing Christians today don’t even accept a biblical morality in the manner Blamires understood in the ‘60s, it is clearly no longer enough to speak of equipping Christians to answer a few isolated questions about their ‘personal faith,’ as though all they require is a couple of seminars on dealing with the main objections and all shall be well. Instead, Christians need renewal and reformation in terms of a comprehensive scriptural view of reality, while learning to understand and respond to the underlying religious motives shaping our culture. We need this so that we will be enabled to reformulate the questions of our time by explaining the root and meaning of the unbeliever’s own queries and difficulties – both real and imagined. This can only be done from the standpoint of a consistently Christian world-andlife-view, as Blamires understood: There is something before the Christian dialogue, and that is the Christian mind – a mind trained, informed, equipped to handle data of secular controversy within a framework of reference which is constructed of Christian presuppositions. The Christian mind is the prerequisite of Christian thinking. And Christian thinking is the prerequisite of Christian action.2 In the lives of our children, family and friends who have wandered from orthodox faith and rejected or sidelined biblical truth, adopting unscriptural worldviews and lifestyles, today’s believers have witnessed firsthand that the Christian mind, and thus the Christian way of life, is collapsing around us. The band-aid solutions on offer to our hemorrhaging faith are not up to the task. We need a radical, root and branch response to the crisis of our time. This requires the development of a Christian mind, a total Christian view of reality and the defense of the Christian philosophy of life as rooted in the scriptures – a cultural apologetic capable of confronting systematic unbelief, with systematic belief. Ezra Institute for Contemporary Christianity By this I do not mean an elitist intellectualizing of the faith – a new evangelical scholasticism, but rather relearning to think and live by the Word of God in regard to every aspect of life: from human identity and sexuality, to marriage and family, law and politics, economics and the arts, science, business, media, education, and all things besides. THINKING CHRISTIANLYTo some, this kind of programmatic agenda might seem a bit alarmist, overly radical or simply unnecessary. As Roy Clouser framed the question of the Christian skeptical of worldview thinking, “While one can articulate a Christian view of God, a Christian view of how to stand in right relation to God, and a Christian view of ethics, why is it necessary to articulate a distinctly Christian view of everything?”3 This seems like a fair question. After all, isn’t our faith centred in the hope of heaven, an afterlife and “For the first time deliverance from an evil world? Why do we in centuries we need a distinctly Christian view of everytypically find thing, since on this view everything is not ourselves in really very important? And besides, isn’t it only in the areas of morality and spiritudiscussion with ality that Christians and non-Christians ordinary people disagree? Isn’t the vast majority of daily life where our most and thought basically value-neutral? Many Christians will agree that we certainly should think about ‘Christian’ things and themes, we should be ‘spiritual people,’ but surely there isn’t a distinctly Christian view of everything? How could there be? Why should there be?basic religious presuppositions about the nature of reality are antithetical to one another.”These questions themselves belie the collapse of a Christian mind. Beyond the unbiblical diminishing of the goodness and value of the totality of creation – a latent dualism which divides reality into an upper and lower storey (the upper level being superior and good, the lower lesser or evil) – a fundamental confusion in these objections is equating thinking Christianly with thinking about Christian things. Blamires writes: To think Christianly is to accept all things with the mind as related, directly or SUMMER 201956 Recovering The Christian Mindindirectly, to man’s eternal destiny as the redeemed and chosen child of God. You can think Christianly or you can think secularly about the most sacred things – the sacrament of the altar for example. Likewise you can think Christianly or you can think secularly about the most mundane things.… There is nothing in our experience, however triv
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