By / Aug 28

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Hurricane Laura, Jacob Blake, the Republican National Convention, Liberty University, and COVID-19. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece by Jason Thacker with “How pornography is preying on the vulnerable in the midst of COVID-19,” Alex Ward with “Explainer: Report of the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board,” and Josh Wester with “4 Lessons from Carl F.H. Henry’s The Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism.” Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Meredith Leatherwood for a conversation about life and ministry.

About Meredith

Meredith Leatherwood is the Founder of Leatherwood Promotions, a business that promotes Christian records and singles in the music industry. She has been working in the music industry for nearly two decades as a record promoter. She holds a Masters in Theology from Liberty University. She and Brent have been married for eight years and they’re busy raising three children in Nashville, Tennessee. 

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Culture

  1. A massive hurricane, named Laura, made landfall early Thursday morning off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas
  2. 2 killed during Jacob Blake protests in Kenosha
  3. Justic Dept. to open investigation on Kenosha shooting
  4. 17-year-old charged with homicide after shooting during Kenosha protests, authorities say
  5. Republican National Convention took place
  6. Falwell resigns as president of Liberty
  7. Coronavirus cases fell by 15% this week

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By / Jul 30

This past weekend we crossed the 100-day threshold. For those who don’t follow politics closely, that means there are now fewer than 100 days before the November 2020 election. Obviously, the months and weeks ahead of any election, especially in a presidential election year, are an important time. We shouldn’t take it for granted that we live in a nation where citizens are able to help determine the trajectory of our country and how its people are governed. But one thing that an imminent election also means is that the heat and drama of politics will further intensify in the days ahead. And as we enter into the most intense part of the political cycle, Christians should think carefully about what it looks like to conduct ourselves in ways that honor Jesus.

The Scriptures call the people of God to be good citizens (1 Pet. 2:13-17). In the United States, one of the clearest responsibilities of citizenship is participating in the political process through which we elect our nation’s leaders. For some Christians, that simply means that on or ahead of election day, they will make their way to a polling place to punch a ballot. For others, participating in the political process is more involved. That might include certain forms of advocacy, volunteering, or even running for office themselves. Either way, the Bible isn’t specific about how much being a good citizen requires of Christians as far as politics is concerned. But even so, the Scriptures do have much to say about the way Christians engage in the political process.

Troubling data

Before laying out a few things Christians should keep in mind this election season, it is worth briefly considering some data from a recent national survey conducted by the Cato Institute. It is not a secret that our society has become increasingly politically polarized and tribal. There are a lot of reasons for this, but one of the sad realities about our politically charged time is that the loudest voices are usually those on the extreme ends of the political spectrum. And predictably, this has resulted in a silencing of more reasonable voices. 

In their survey, Cato found that 62% of Americans “say the political climate these days prevents them from saying things they believe because others might find them offensive.” And this isn’t a problem for only one side. As the report details, “Majorities of Democrats (52%), Independents (59%) and Republicans (77%) all agree they have political opinions they are afraid to share.” 

But more than silencing certain voices, a shocking number of people now believe that a person’s political views are grounds for certain forms of retribution. The Cato survey concluded that 22% of Americans “would support firing a business executive who personally donates to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign.” On the other hand, 31% would “support firing a business executive who donates to Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.”

Four ways for Christians to engage

The findings of the Cato survey are deeply troubling. And as we enter the throes of election season, this is an opportunity for Christians to show the world a better way to think about politics. To that end, here are four things Christians can do as the election approaches.

1. Keep things in perspective

One of the reasons political discourse is often so toxic is because we regularly overestimate the stakes. Every election is important, but most people are rightly exhausted by the quadrennial proclamations about the “most important election of our lifetimes.” More than that though, our political engagement needs to reflect the confidence we have in Jesus. There is nothing wrong with Christians supporting a candidate or party. There is nothing wrong with having a preferred outcome for November’s election or working toward that end. But for Christians there is something greater at stake than the outcome on Election Day, and that’s our public witness. 

As believers, in everything we do we are ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). And as we engage in the political process, we want everything we do to reflect Jesus. That means, for example, we refuse to engage in fear-mongering and mockery. And it also means we refuse to compromise on our convictions for the sake of political expediency. A lot of things shape a person’s view of politics. But every Christian should look to the Scriptures and listen to their conscience to guide them at every step. Whatever November’s elections might mean, there is no outcome that can change the fact that Jesus is still on his throne (Heb. 12:2). Our political engagement should reflect our confidence in his sovereign rule over the universe.

2. Recognize people’s dignity

The United States is a large and diverse country. Our nation is filled with millions of people with different backgrounds and experiences and political views. You don’t have to believe that all political views are equally valid in order to show respect to the people who hold them. In fact, persuasion is one of the best things about the political process; people take their ideas into the public square and attempt to convince others to adopt their view or support their candidate. But as the Cato survey revealed, so often political discourse devolves from attempts to persuade into opportunities to mock, insult, and ridicule.

Whatever November’s elections might mean, there is no outcome that can change the fact that Jesus is still on his throne (Heb. 12:2). Our political engagement should reflect our confidence in his sovereign rule over the universe.

Christians should always resist this temptation. As followers of Jesus, we recognize that every person is made in the image God (Gen. 1:27). And because they bear God’s image, every person is worthy of dignity and respect. So it’s always important for Christians to remember that if it has flesh and blood, it’s not our enemy (Eph. 6:12). Yes, we may have ideological opponents. There will be those we have the strongest of disagreements with. But our fellow citizens are not our enemies. And even in the midst of a heated campaign cycle, we must treat other people with the kind of love and respect that points them toward Jesus. 

3. Have some humility

Sometimes it is tempting to believe that if other people would just read their Bibles or use their brains they would see political issues the same way we do. But the truth is, politics is an incredibly complex enterprise, and arriving at particular political solutions is rarely such a linear process. Still, there are some political questions that Christians should not debate. Abortion is probably the most obvious example in our own day. It should be uncontroversial to say that Christians should oppose abortion. The Bible not only teaches us that all life is sacred, but also clearly teaches that life begins in the womb (Ps. 139:13-16). But even with an issue like abortion, where we can draw a straight line from the teaching of Scripture to the position that Christians should hold, there are still more questions to answer. Some Christians feel strongly that they cannot support any kind of incremental effort to eliminate abortion. These Christians feel abortion is so heinous that they are unable to support anything less than a total ban on the procedure. Other Christians, however, will support almost any measure that would reduce the number of children dying from abortions. Which of these is the better or more biblical approach is obviously more complicated.

Beyond this question, the reality is that with most political questions it is much more difficult to draw such a straight line. On many issues, Christians may give serious thought, searching the Scriptures for insight, and still come to different conclusions about the best policy solution or path forward. This is no sign that our Bibles are deficient. Nor is our lack of agreement necessarily sinful or based on a faulty reasoning. The truth is politics is often more complicated than whether something is right or wrong. And more things influence our opinions than we sometimes believe. One of the best things that believers can do is recognize their own fallibility. When other Christians hold political views you disagree with, have enough humility to believe that they might have good reasons for doing so.

4. Be passionate, not belligerent

None of this is meant to strip away anyone’s zeal. Our nation is best served when its citizens are passionate about the political process, especially by passionate followers of Christ. Moreover, the issues at stake in this and every election are important and sometimes critically so. The leaders we elect and the policies they implement will have a meaningful effect upon real people’s lives. So in a sense, caring about politics is caring about people. But all of us know that politics can be a nasty business. Sadly, people are usually more motivated by anger or fear than an optimistic vision of the future. This is why we see so many more ads attacking politicians than ads extolling their virtues. 

Even so, before we are citizens of the United States, Christians are citizens of another kingdom that is not of this world (Phil. 3:20). If we are trusting in Jesus and our ultimate allegiance belongs to him, we are called to serve and honor him in everything that we do. And this includes the way we engage politically. There is nothing wrong with passion, but passion is no excuse for subterfuge or malevolence. Sinful behavior is just as wicked when the goal is to win an election. Jesus didn’t browbeat anyone into heaven. And lambasting one’s ideological opponents is no way for Christians to conduct themselves either. Whether you are campaigning door to door, speaking at a political event, or posting on Facebook, remember that you are representing Jesus. Be passionate, but not belligerent. Let your words and actions honor him. 

By / May 1

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss presidential race updates, food supply shortages, LifeWay cut backs, and the golden age of reruns. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece from Mike McCarty on why home is not always a safe place, Lindsay Nicolet’s interview with First Baptist Church of Picayune on how they are providing childcare for essential workers, and Dane Hays on what to do when disagreeing with family and friends about social distancing. Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by Sara for a conversation about life and ministry.

About Sara: Sara Groves is singer/ songwriter and recording artist with a passion for justice and a heart of mercy. She has joined forces with International Justice Mission to advocate for victims of human trafficking for the past 12 years. Sara has produced a string of successful albums including her latest, Abide With Me,  a collection of hymns recorded in a 110-year-old church, and Joy of Every Longing Heart (Christmas). Twitter: @grovesroad

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Rep. Justin Amash announced on Tuesday that he has "launched an exploratory committee" to seek the Libertarian Party's 2020 nomination for a possible third-party presidential run.
  2. Trump EO; Meat plant workers to Trump: Employees aren't going to show up
  3. Biden announces a committee to help with VP selection
  4. Biden is also dealing with allegations of a potential sexual assault that happened several decades ago.
  5. 9 Ways Schools Will Look Different When (And If) They Reopen
  6. LifeWay announces budget cuts and staff reductions amid COVID-19
  7. Coronavirus reaches 1 million cases
  8. Another 3.8 million Americans file for unemployment
  9. California to close all beaches
  10. Costco will start requiring customers to wear masks Monday
  11. More than $400,000 so far raised for small churches at risk during COVID-19
  12. A pug in North Carolina may be the first dog in US to test positive for coronavirus
  13. We're in a golden age of TV reruns.

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By / Apr 10

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss Bernie Sanders ending his presidential bid, an important ruling on abortion, Queen Elizabeth’s speech on COVID-19, more laughs from the Cuomo brothers, and a very different looking Easter. Lindsay also gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content including a piece from Alex Ward on coronavirus and Holy Week, Chelsea Sobolik on the pandemic’s effects on the vulnerable, and Stephen Grcevich on the church and mental health concerns during this crisis. Also in this episode, the hosts are joined by the ERLC’s Catherine Parks for a conversation about life and ministry.  

About Catherine  

Catherine Parks has loved reading biographies since she was a kid. When she's not reading, she loves playing volleyball and basketball, traveling with her family, and helping lead worship for her church. She's the author of Empowered and Real: The Surprising Secret to Deeper Relationships and lives in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband, two children, and a cute dog named Ollie. You can follow her on Twitter: @CathParks

ERLC Content

Culture  

  1. A new White House Press Secretary
  2. Wisconsin’s complicated primary
  3. Bernie drops out
  4. Ruling: Abortions are not essential services
  5. Are abortions essential during coronavirus? 
  6. U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson out of ICU after COVID-19 infection
  7. The Queen’s speech: “We Will Succeed”
  8. Pandas in isolation, Tigers contracting coronavirus, & Dogs, cats, and Covid-19
  9. Tyler Perry buys groceries for seniors at 44 locations in Atlanta
  10. Celebs at Lakewood for Easter Sunday
  11. John Kransinski’s second round of good news
  12. The Cuomo brothers make America laugh, again

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  • Lindsay: A Loving Life by Paul Miller
  • Josh: All the feels: gas prices, food fights, and Cracker Barrel
  • Brent: A review of TV pundits’ home decor

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  • Q: I’m a parent trying to reinforce the Bible’s view of sex with my children who are finishing high school next year. Are there any resources you would recommend or certain things I should be thinking about?

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By / Aug 15

We live in a world of constant information. Just think about your day so far. Here’s how my morning looked:

Alarm turns on the radio: government minister being grilled over education policy.

Walk the dog, headphones firmly in, listening to a film review podcast.

Make the kids packed lunches with radio in the background, trying to stop our youngest from activating Alexa and playing the Power Rangers theme song at ear bleeding levels. (Tell me: Why is it, when I shout, “Alexa, stop,” she doesn’t, but when my kids tell her to stop, she immediately does?)

Scan the news app: politics, economy, sports, economy, politics.

Check the weather app: rain.

I’ve only been awake for 45 minutes, and already my senses have been subjected to a barrage of information.

Technology experts have stated that the amount of recorded information generated from the dawn of humanity to 2003 was in the order of five exabytes of data, where an exabyte indicates 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes. From 2003 to 2010, we generated an additional five exabytes. By 2018, 90% of the world’s data had been generated in the previous two years alone. When you consider that 400 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s hardly surprising. That’s a lot of prank videos to get through.

Telling stories

But people don’t take on information as bytes. Our smartphones might be downloading bytes of information, but our brains aren’t—the unit our minds and hearts operate in is stories. Now when I say “stories,” I don’t mean the sort of stories you were taught to write in school, with a beginning, a middle, and an end (usually a very predictable one). These stories are all the experiences, feelings, imagination, and ideas that we communicate from one human being to another. We read them in the newspaper, we watch them at the movies, we hear them sung from the car stereo, we glance at them on Instagram, we frame them in our homes.

All of us spend a lot of our waking moments taking in, and telling, these cultural stories. Recent research showed that the average American consumes over 10 hours of media every day. It’s thought that you’ll spend seven and a half years of your life watching TV, and over five years on social media. But there are so many hours in a day, right? No wonder that it’s been said of the TV streaming service Netflix that their greatest competition isn’t another company but the human need for sleep.

Yet many of us find this barrage of information overwhelming, at least some of the time. And for Christians, there’s an added question: how do we know what’s right? As followers of Jesus, we want to think, speak and act in a way that honors him. We want to “set [our] minds on things above” (Col. 3:2), but in reality, most of the time our minds are submerged in a constant stream of stories. The problem is not that these cultural stories are bad in and of themselves; it’s more that we’re ill-equipped to know quite what to make of them. How does what I watch on a Saturday night link with what I hear at church on a Sunday morning? We barely begin to think about it before the next thing starts on autoplay. So more often, we just don’t.

Three reactions

So what do we do? I think many Christians respond to culture in one of three ways (and the rest of us respond in a mixture of all three).

Some of us just want to “look in.” We stick our heads in the sand, get into our holy huddle and Christian bubble, and hang on for dear life. We put our fingers in our ears so that we can’t hear the noise outside, while at the same time singing loudly to one another about Jesus coming back soon when all the outside stuff will go away. Until then, we keep ourselves safe from worldly influences by only ever reading Amish romance novels or the latest releases from our favourite celebrity pastor. If we were in therapy, this would be called our sanctified “flight” response.

Some of us instinctively “lash out.” This is our sanctified “fight” response. We get all huffy, red-faced and finger pointy at the culture around us. Or we just tut and roll our eyes at sex scenes in films or the bad language on TV. At its worst, our healthy belief in judgment turns into an ugly judgmentalism. Our proclamation of the good news of Jesus is heard as a rant on morality. And then we wonder why people “out there” don’t want to come and be with us “in here.”

Then, some of us end up “looking like.” Whatever the motivation, our lives—and our cultural diets—are indistinguishable from the neighbor’s next door, and our churches end up looking not much different from the local sports club. Maybe it’s a well-intentioned drive to be “relevant.” Maybe it’s a reaction against judgmentalism. Maybe it’s simply an indulgence of our sinful nature. Whatever it is, we struggle to be recognized as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). We have become experts at conforming “to the pattern of this world” when we’ve expressly been told not to (Rom. 12:2).

Look in, lash out, look like: which response are you most prone to?

Engage

Let me suggest that there is another way—and that’s what [my] book is all about. Because it is possible to be truly “in” the world instead of “looking in”—without being “of” the world and looking like it. It’s possible to engage with culture in a way that’s truthful and gracious, not angry and self-righteous. It’s possible to consume culture without either being bewitched by it—buying into everything it tells us—or bewildered by it. It’s possible to watch TV and read novels and play video games in a way that actually feeds our faith rather than withers it. It’s even possible for you—yes, you—to be that person who starts off talking to a friend about last night’s football and ends up talking about Jesus. 

That’s what [my] book will equip you to do. It will help you to process the cultural stories you hear every day. I want to give you the confidence to think about and speak about culture in a way that points people to a bigger and better reality: the story of King Jesus and his cosmic plan for this world. Because you can’t escape culture. But you can engage culture.

This is an extract from Dan Strange’s new book Plugged In: Connecting your faith with what you watch, read, and play. You can pick up a copy here.

By / Jul 9

Afshin Ziafat shares how churches can increase diversity depsite being in a location that isn't diverse. 

By / Jul 2

Albert Mohler discusses the future of secular America at the Southern Baptist Convention Pre-Conference in Dallas, Texas.

By / Mar 28