June 2024 New Horizons

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The Thrill of Desecration

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The Thrill of Desecration

Until recently, one of the unquestioned assumptions about the modern world was the fact that it is disenchanted. This term refers to the idea that in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, the rise of bureaucracy, and the increasing mastery of nature that technology seemed to deliver, the world became a less magical place. Where our medieval ancestors lived in a world that they felt was permeated by the supernatural, we live in a world where everything can be reduced to an algorithm or a technique. The desire of Dickens’s Mr. Gradgrind in Hard Times , that children learn “facts, facts, facts,” exemplifies this attitude. Where once the stars above spoke of mysteries too profound to fathom and of a God whose power and glory has set them in order, now we just see masses of gas undergoing a prosaic chemical process, randomly distributed in otherwise empty, meaningless space. There is a lot of truth to the notion of disenchantment. We do experience the world today in a manner that often lacks mystery, ... Read more

Glory Lost, Glory Regained: The Image of God

We are made in the image of God, after his likeness. This is a foundational truth, giving dignity and worth to every human being, yet strangely there is some recurring confusion as to precisely what is meant by “image of God.” Pause your reading now and jot down what you think it means to be made in the image of God. You might be surprised. Perhaps you will suggest it means rationality and intellect; perhaps dominion over the creatures; perhaps our capacity for relationships, or spiritual relationship. Does your definition maintain the dignity and worth of every human being? We don’t always get this right. Let me give you an example, a horrible example. You can skip to the next paragraph if you want. In Table Talk , Martin Luther is reported as suggesting that a boy with a severe disability be suffocated. Asked why, he replied, “Because I think he is simply a mass of flesh without a soul” ( Works , 54:396–397). Luther had more to learn. OP pastor George Hammond wrestled with this question ... Read more

The Habits of the Heart

How do people change? Is it from the outside in or from the inside out? Or is it both? To think of it in biblical terms, how does sanctification take place? Do we become holy by our habits or by our hearts? Or is it both? A bundle of recent books has contended that being intentional about our habits can have a significant impact for good in our daily lives. These books are complemented by a cluster of Christian authors who have proposed that such insights are cordial to a biblical view of change. A worthy and popular representative of this latter group is James K. A. Smith, author of You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit . The Power of Habit Smith’s essential thesis is that certain practices provide the primary catalyst for change in a Christian’s life. We should think of these everyday habits as rituals or “liturgies.” These liturgies are shaping us, for good or for ill. For example, a casual stroll in the mall, he posits, inevitably nurtures a consumeristic outlook, ... Read more

An Anthropology of Addiction

“Every man’s inordinate affection will be his great affliction ” (Augustine). We are what we love. [1] Where our treasure is, there our heart is also. Love is many things, but most certainly pleasure is a necessary element. How can a man say he loves his wife yet does not take pleasure in her? “Greater love has no one” than that demonstrated by Jesus, who “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus suffered immense pain for his people. “Suffering is love!” one may argue and argue correctly in the appropriate context. However, it was “for the joy . . . set before him [that he] endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Joy is not flavorless. Joy is not bland. Joy is, well, for lack of a better word—enjoyable! The Gifts Inherent to our being is both a capacity and drive for pleasure. This is not a bug in the system, but a design feature. We are created in such a way that we seek out experiences that are pleasurable. This was true before the fall, as evidenced by Adam’s ... Read more


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