welcome. why "weak on sanctification"?

this accusation is often made about lutheran christians. because we focus so strongly on god's justifying grace in christ, and our continual need, as "sinner-saints," to receive god's gifts of grace through word and sacrament, people say we are "weak on sanctification." i prefer to say we are strong on jesus, whose sanctifying work in our lives is the fruit of the gospel all along our lifelong journey. i would much rather focus on what he has done than on anything i might do.

the weekly discussion

each week I set forth a topic to promote discourse about some aspect of Christianity, the church, or the spiritual life. i would love to hear your perspective and thoughts on each week's subject. these discussions are usually posted on mondays, so if you missed this week's post and would like to catch up on the conversation, just scroll down and join us.

October 11, 2009

the weekly discussion—october 11

should a follower of christ...
  • watch fox news?
  • listen to keith olbermann?
  • listen to glenn beck?
  • watch michael moore movies?
  • listen to rush limbaugh?
  • be a fan of jon stewart and the daily show?
what do you think about the state of discourse and "news" in the u.s. today?

what do you think christians should do in order to be wise and discerning about the opinions and information we receive through the media in these days?

today's van gogh

old man in sorrow (on the threshold of eternity)
, 1890


  1. I think it is probably like anything else, It should be done in moderation. I don't think that Christians should huddle together in a Holy ghetto. Should Christians use Facebook, watch CNN, eat Dorito's, or McDonalds? We can go round and round on this kind of stuff and waste a whole lot of time that could be used in valuable discourse with the lost.
    I do think we should avoid over indulgences of things that are not good for us. I do think much of T.V. AND radio can be very incindiary and inflame otherwise healthy mental outlooks and opinions. Should we drive Buicks,drink Starbucks, read Christian books? (other than the Bible) It's gotta be about grace, and healthy moderation. Now I'm going to grab a Starbucks, and watch some Fox News, and read the latest Rick Warren book.

  2. Don't check your brain at the door. Read, listen, watch all you want, who you want, but that doesn't alleviate the responsibility to do your own thinking. Come up with your own opinion or conclusion.

    The political discourse in this country stinks because we let our pundits and pastors do our thinking for us, and we blindly follow what they tell us. There is not a Christian "should" in this, except to ask God for the ability to be "wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

  3. Doesn't there come a point, though, with some of these "news" shows, when we should say, "enough"--this is just ranting and raving without any real informational benefit or edification of any kind? won't this kind of hype and hysteria just continue to proliferate as long as we support it?

    And what is it doing to discourse in the church, when radical political opinions begin to take the place of theological discussion and mutual encouragement?

  4. Personally, I don't like the way my blood pressure tends to rise when I watch ANY of those listed (and others), so I limit myself to the local newspaper, and a little bit online. I don't really understand why so many Christians are obsessed with keeping up with current events...are we trying to predict Jesus' return? Prepare ourselves for the end times? We can do neither by watching the news.

    I guess my response is, if you're going to watch any of those, make sure you watch a little of both sides. I am fairly apolitical these days, because I'm tired of the political polarization. Limiting oneself to one side's media only promotes that.

  5. I've learned to recognize that creepy, rubber-necking feeling I get when there's good gossip or really horrible news. When I feel that way -- when my impulse to read is really just a salacious desire to see how awful other people are -- then I will not let myself read a story or listen to a show. My wanting to know the details about a single incident of abuse in Kansas, for example, is not a desire to be well informed, it's just the sin of gossip.

    I can't speak to individual shows, papers, etc., because I tend to avoid them as a temptation to sin. It may be that other people aren't tempted to that same sin by listening to Rush; but I do think it's worth asking a) if doing so is edifying and beneficial, and b) if what he (and others) are saying is true and done for the purpose of building up. As far as "b" goes, the site called factcheck suggests that most of these so-called pundits are often very wrong, and they seem to be motivated by hate, not building up. If we listen to them to be informed, we're fooling ourselves; why then are we listening to them?

  6. I think too that we are in an age of information overload. Facebook, Twitter, Blackberry's, Internet, cable, and print media etc.etc.. All of it comes at us so fast that there is little opportunity to fact check,and little time to slow down and process the info. By being so over the top, folks assure that they are the ones who get to be heard. We are over marketed and we live in an age of soundbites. Life is operating at such a crazy pace now.
    It is hard to find folks who are willing to sit down and have an honest discourse about world events. I think too that all this rapid input of information has left us a much more rude society. Life has just gotten insane. My brother and his wife sit in a living room across from each other communicating by laptops!! How crazy is that!! They say that way they can carry on coversations around the kids. But somehow it's just plain nuts.
    As a pastor, I am however starting to see a turn in the tide. I am seeing (some) churches starting to pull away from the mega church, programming oriented church service. I am seeing some movements returning to there roots, and a renewed desire for authentic community, and a hunger for the Word of God. Willow Creek in Chicago has all but acknowledged their failure to shepherd their flock properly and has been re-thinking their current church model. It's not like all the stuff we have in this world is going to pass away immediatly, but how do we live and thrive as Christians in this world.
    Funny thing, this topic, I am heading off to the Abbey at Gethsemeni in Trappist, Kentucky late Sunday afternoon. I am doing this to escape and re-boot, to still my heart and to be locked into a few days of silence with The Lord. Just being still, and praying, and regaining strength in a connection that is drowned out by all the mental clutter of this world. I think it is good to detach for a day or two every once and a while.

  7. News is supposed to be unbiased, I thought. I tend to stick with the kind of news that is that way. Because I am conservative, I find myself drawn to conservatives like those on Fox, but I quickly dislike the negativity and blatant biasedness of it. In my mind, they are not primarily a news show, but an opinion show about the news. When regular news media becomes that way to the left, I dislike that, too - and more so, because it is definitely not my viewpoint.

    When I'm utterly disgusted, I just begin to pray - probably what God wanted to begin with! "Pray without ceasing." "In everything, by prayer and supplication..."

  8. Pastor Tim, good for you to be able to get away for awhile. We recently unplugged the TV at our house, spent a week away in the Tennessee woods, and spent another weekend camping. It is amazing how much better I feel after "turning off the sound" for a season. It also makes those voices that are trying to be heard above the others by being so shrill and over-hyped sound even more ridiculous and easier for me to ignore. I believe strongly in living "in the world," but also as a contemplative. This means making definite choices about what we listen to.

  9. I agree with you Chaplain Mike. I think too it helps you to center yourself. I've got to learn to turn off that Blackberry too. I find myself preaching a gospel of simplicity and contemplation more and more, and it is finding a wider range of appeal in these crazy times.

  10. I have often complained about how ironic it is that in this age of infinite horizons of online information that we nonetheless manage to seek out precisely what conforms to our own views. And then I do the same thing. I have half a mind to develop some application that randomly chooses, e.g., Fox one day, Le Monde another, Ha-Aretz one day, Al-Jazeera another, and so forth as the information source I'll view. (The app should also randomly book a room at a Trappist Monastery for a week and then lock down the whole PC....)