Kinnaman and Lyon Research Faithful Living, Part 2
Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
The notion that Christianity is irrelevant and extreme feels odd, having grown up at a time when things were different. In the course of one generation, the consensus about how the world worked and our place in it changed dramatically, not only on the street but in the church. Snap, one morning you wake up and, after the coffee kicks in, you realize that the “invasion of the body snatchers” occurred while you slept and pod people now control everything. What do you do now?
In their book, Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons divide their argument into three sections:
- Understanding Our Times.
- Living Good Faith.
- The Church and Our Future (7-8).
Part one of this review focused on the first section (the invasion of the space aliens above). In the next review (part three), I will address the third section. In this review (part two), I will focus on this second section.
Living Good Faith.
Kinnaman and Lyons offer an interesting contrast involving six principles, which illustrates why Christian faith feels so out of sync today.
Cultural principle 1:
“To find yourself, look within yourself.” (57)
Christian principle 1:
“To find yourself, discover the truth outside yourself in Jesus.” (60)
Cultural principle 2:
“People should not criticize someone else’s life choices.” (57)
Christian principle 2: “Loving others does not always mean staying silent.” (60)
Cultural principle 3:
“To be fulfilled in life, pursue the things that you desire most.” (57)
Christian principle 3: “Joy is found not in pursuing our own desires but in giving of ourselves to bless others” (60)
Cultural principle 4:
“Enjoying yourself is the highest goal of life.” (57)
Christian principle 4: “The highest goal of life is giving glory to God.” (60)
Cultural principle 5:
“People can believe whatever they want as long as those beliefs don’t affect society.” (57)
Christian principle 5: “God gives people the freedom to believe whatever they want, but those beliefs always affect society.” (60)
Cultural principle 6:
“Any kind of sexual expression between two consenting adults is fine.” (57)
Christian principle 6: “God designed boundaries for sex and sexuality in order for humans to flourish.” (60)
The scariest part of this observation is that many Christians have bought into the cultural principles, first articulated by Roman philosopher Lucretius one hundred years before Christ, and abandoned the Christian ones (59, 62). People forget that the church has been struggling with pagan philosophies from the very beginning.
How do we live the good faith?
Kinnaman and Lyons write:
“The secret recipe for good faith boils down to this: how well you love, what you believe, and how you live.” (72)
Double Love Command
This is an old recipe for dealing with an old problem and should come as no surprise to those who spend time with their Bible. The authors point to Matthew 22:37-39, which cites the double love command: Love God; love your neighbor. But most people ignore (or misinterpret) the next verse:
“On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt 22:40 ESV)
“The Law” is a rabbinic reference to the Books of the Law (of Moses), which are the first five books of the Bible. “The Prophets” is a rabbinic reference to all the other books of the Old Testament. If you understand what Jesus is saying, then what you believe is not up for grabs—you cannot just interpret love anyway you want. The Old Testament context for love is found in Exodus 34:6 where God provides an interpretative key to the giving of the Ten Commandments:
Interpretative Key to Ten Commandments
“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness,” (Exod 34:6 ESV)
In this context, love (וְרַב־חֶ֥סֶד; rav hesed) is better translated as “covenantal love”—keeping your promises. Keeping your promises is another way of saying living them out, as Jesus’ younger brother James famously says: “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” (Jas 2:17 ESV)
Consequently, Kinnaman and Lyons’ secret recipe for good faith is no secret to practicing Christians, who naturally spend a lot of time with their Bible.
In their new book, Good Faith, David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons explore the perceptions that Christian faith is both irrelevant and extreme, employing empirical studies and data to make their case. Their analysis bears examination and discussion by practicing Christians, seminary students, pastors, and researchers.
Other ways to engage online:
Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.
Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2wVZtbb