by Carl R. Trueman
The Christian church on earth is always, in a sense, in exile. Whatever the incidental identities of her members may be—whether of nationality, race, class, or gender—their ultimate identity is that they are in Christ and belong to him. Compared to the ephemeral categories that human cultures have created for distinguishing one from another, this foundation in Christ is absolute and final. As a result, the church never belongs to this world, but always looks to another.
Yet there are times in history when it is more dramatically obvious, and perhaps more painfully experienced, than at other times, that the church is in exile. In America, given the past cultural dominance of a form of civic Protestantism that is now vanishing rapidly, the sense of being an exile community is likely to be sharpened in the imminent future. Read more
by David VanDrunen
Conservative American Christians seem to feel culturally adrift and morally isolated today in ways they have never before experienced. While each generation needs to be careful about exaggerating the magnitude of its own challenges, certain moral sentiments have shifted markedly in a short period of time, in ways that raise difficult questions for Christians seeking to understand their place in civil society and their responsibilities within it.
This article does not analyze these recent cultural shifts, but reflects more broadly on how Christians should understand their identity in the world. Scripture indicates that the discomfort and homelessness that many American Christians now feel is in fact the ordinary and expected state of affairs. This is sobering, but it is heartening to know that Scripture prepares us for these circumstances, providing theological perspective and guidance for faithful life in our changing societies. Read more
by Marcus A. Mininger
How does being a Christian relate to everyday life? In particular, what value do ordinary activities in this creation, like baking or plumbing or architecture, have for God’s larger kingdom purposes to redeem a people and usher in the new heavens and earth? On one side, some in church history have looked at human culture negatively, as something that is worldly and corrupting and therefore to be avoided. On the opposite side, others have viewed this world’s cultural activities redemptively, as helping bring in and constitute God’s final kingdom rule on earth even now. In between these opposites, a spectrum of other views exists.
For example, in recent years some Reformed writers have advocated separating ordinary cultural activities and Christ’s redemptive work into two different kingdoms. One kingdom is not specifically Christian, but is “common” to believers and unbelievers. It includes our social and cultural activities and is guided by natural law. The other kingdom is “religious” and is identified with the church, where Christ presently rules. Life in that kingdom is guided by Scripture. Read more