Random Thoughts on the Year Ahead

Please consider this post as being intentionally below our usual front page standards. “Intentionally,” because we’re coming off of a holiday and I haven’t completely taken my heels off my desk yet.

What I aim to do here is share some pretty much random thoughts on the year past and the one head from a SharperIron point of view.

The year past

Over all, twenty-ten was not a bad year for SI. Site traffic was down about 3% compared to the year before, but from October 1 on, was higher than the year before by a significant and increasing margin. November increased over October and December increased over November. It’s hard to tell yet whether that represents a trend. But I’m encouraged by the fact that we began 2010 with traffic levels below those of 2009 and finished the year well above them.

Of course, site traffic is kind of like church attendance. It’s just the easiest factor to look at to gauge how you’re doing—not necessarily the most meaningful one.

In 2010, we completed our first-ever survey of SI readers. Some interesting results came from the survey. While I can’t say we attempted any specific changes in response to the survey, the results did become a part of the team’s perspective on what we’re doing. And survey responses did shape our discussions on things like approach to moderating, selection of Filings and other posts, and the site’s relationship to doctrinal issues.

Speaking of—another significant event of 2010 was the unveiling of an expression of the doctrinal views of SI’s admins and moderators. It’s a modest start, but an important one. Folks have sometimes (in emails and posts) referred to “SI’s position” or “SI’s view” on this or that. The phrase has never really had any meaning since “SI” is pretty much everybody who posts. But as a way of referring to what the site leadership believes, the phrase has been hollow as well: we never said what we believed about anything beyond the existing Doctrinal Statement. Now there’s a bit more to work with.

Where our handling of doctrine will go in the future remains to be seen.

Financially, we did OK in 2010, too. I’m no CPA,1 and all the crunching hasn’t been finished yet, but I’m pretty sure SharperIron, LLC finished a tiny bit ahead for the year in the dollars and cents department. Thanks to all of our advertisers, as well as those who donate from time to time or use the Amazon box.

Looking ahead

Since the styling and functionality updates in June (“SI 3.1”), we’ve had some intermittent problems with site performance: slow page loads. Some tweaks a week or so ago appear to have helped, but it may be necessary in 2011 to go back to a slightly beefier (but more than “slightly” more expensive, I think) server configuration. So we may be asking for money again soon.

But right now, looking ahead mostly brings writing topics to mind. Though some ideas are brewing on how to make the site a bit more “social” in 2011, I’m mostly looking forward to doing more actual writing—what got me involved in SI in the first place back in ‘05, as a once-a-month writer.

Some topics I’ve been gnawing on follow. If you’re interested in writing on these topics, I’d welcome your perspective as well. Take a look here for details on how to construct your manuscript and get it to us.

What does “depending on God” mean?

I suppose all believers are keenly interested in this subject unless they believe they’ve already figured it out. Reading a few of the early chapters of David Platt’s book Radical piqued my interest again in doing some writing against popular misunderstandings of the concept.

In particular, why do we keep speaking of “depending on God” and “depending on our own strength” as two options when Scripture is clear that in reality, there is no such thing as “our own strength”? And if it’s true that “our own” is an imaginary category when it comes to ability and power, what are we really doing when we fail (which we surely do) to “depend on God”? How do 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 and 1:9-10 help us sort it out?

Thinking biblically about poverty

Platt’s book got me thinking about poverty as well. A recent discussion in Sunday School about what obligations believers and “the church” have for ministering to the material and physical needs of “the poor” meshed with recent discussions here and elsewhere about the “missional” view of the church, “kingdom-now” thinking, and related topics. In addition, as the evangelical mainstream continues to shift leftward toward the liberal social agenda (which has become the doctrine and practice of the old mainline denominations) I’m increasingly interested in chipping away at some of the thinking that underlies this leftward trend.

I’m concerned that a new generation of sharp, devoted, well-intentioned evangelicals and fundamentalists have absorbed some popular fallacies in the areas of poverty and social justice. The results could eventually be pretty serious even in our own neck of the woods.

It isn’t about “politics,” per se, but about what we ought to believe about the nature of human beings individually and collectively—and how to truly help people.

Our society (and many evangelicals as well) seems to be devoting a great deal of energy to “solving” the poverty problem without first going to the trouble to understand its causes. What really helps the poor depends on what really makes them poor to begin with and what keeps them that way. When we understand that, we’re ready to talk about solutions.

Separately from that set of questions, we need to think through how these activities relate to the special purposes God has assigned to the church. But because of where the fight-poverty energy seems to be coming from, I suspect getting the cause-effect issues clarified solves much of the trouble here as well.

So why are the poor poor? The topic is begging for some attention in the year ahead.

Dressing up for church

Why did we ever get into the habit of donning coats, ties and nice dresses on Sundays? More importantly (maybe), having established this tradition for a few centuries (how long, exactly?), why are so many so interested in departing from the tradition now? And is there really any biblically relevant material on the subject?

Along with these starter questions, I’m interested in how their answers relate to the meaning of clothing styles in our cultural setting and in cultures in general. How is the meaning of one style versus another determined in a culture? Is there any Scripture to back the idea that what we wear says something (i.e., has meaning)?

Then we have a whole set of questions involving how one form of dress vs. another impacts us when we work or worship. The question of impact or results is a separate (though not unrelated) one from the question of meaning.

A major financial services firm (UBS) gave some conspicuous attention to its corporate dress code recently. The reaction has been interesting. Does the business world know something today’s (American) Christians are not willing to seriously consider?

Thinking is fundamental

When we launched “SI 3.1” last June, the new style included a new byline of sorts. It is not prominently displayed yet. Most browsers display it in the page title line (or tab title) when you go to SI’s front page, and it appears in Google hits: “Thinking is fundamental.”

To me, “thinking is fundamental” is stating the obvious and borders on tautology.2 But who can deny that “thinking” and “fundamentalism” have had a somewhat distant relationship for much of movement’s history? The reasons for that are complex, and I’m probably not up to the task of sorting them out, but I would like to do some writing on the subject in the year ahead. It makes perfect sense to me that believers with a worldview built on a solid commitment to the fundamentals of the faith ought to excel in redeeming the mind.3

Looking at the subject scripturally, what reasons do we have to highly value careful and clear (and when necessary—painful) thinking about what Scripture means, about the issues of our day and about our own “movement”?

It’s evident to me that we do not live in a society that has a sentiment deficit. Our culture does not emote too little. We may be reserved and quiet in our interactions with people (especially here in the Midwest), but when it comes to how we arrive at our beliefs about things—do we think too much? Not in Wisconsin. I’d guess even less so in most other places.

Separation

Speaking of clear thinking, though separation has been a rhetorical focus in fundamentalism for a long time, it is not a subject we have given “too much” attention to. Rather—in my view—it’s a subject we’ve (in general) not given the right kind of attention to. The Preserving the Truth Conference I’m slated to attend later this week is encouraging to me on that score. As an idea focused on the preservation of truth and the purity of the church, separation is an area of doctrine and practice that we must not allow to die if we can help it—despite all the confusion and muddled execution that has often gone hand in hand with it.

I don’t know yet what sort of opportunities I’ll have to field my questions, but some I’m taking to the conference this week—and also hoping to see some writing on this year—include these: Is biblical separation merely absence of fellowship to some degree or is it more intentionally censorious? (That is, when we separate are we saying, “We have differences that make it impossible for us to work together on Project X”? Or are we saying something more like, “We have differences that require us to put distance between us and you in relation to Project X because you are wrong”?)

Closely related: what do we have for exegetical support for one option or the other? How does one view versus the other play out in our relationships with ministries and leaders?

And what does “ecclesiastical separation” really mean (especially if it is defined merely as absence of fellowship) for independent Baptists who have each congregation separated from each other congregation as a starting point?

Finally, are there some things current pastors and teachers can do to help congregations and future pastors better evaluate what kinds of differences are separation issues and what kinds are not?

More or less “straight ahead”

So I look forward to what 2011 holds. There is work to do, and I hope SI can continue to be helpful in some important ways to believers in the year ahead.

Notes

1 In fact, I’m pretty sure I excel in making my own accounting more difficult for myself!

2 Added phrase only to try to sound smart. Excuses for using the word “tautology” are so hard to come by!

3 I have dabbled in the subject a little bit here in the past. As fundamentalists, why are we suspicious of the intellect in ways (and to a degree) that we are usually not suspicious of our intuitions or instincts or “heart” (which seems to often mean the same thing)?

[node:bio/aaron-blumer body]

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There are 48 Comments

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Just a random thought about dress that may be completely new to most of the folks here...

The way that the church historically combated the pastor in the $1,500 suit showing off his flashy new tie was to dress the clergy in robes.

Many may think that clergy or choir robes are to display some type of ecclesiastical authority or add to the showiness of dress. This may be the case in some traditions or some quarters currently, but it is my understanding, at least, that historically within the Reformation tradition the main benefit of using a robe for the preacher was to "hide" some of his personality behind the importance of the task he was performing.

Similarly, choir robes take the attention off of the individuals, who will all be dressed alike and very modestly, and place it on the message being sung.

To take it a step further, many at least in the Lutheran tradition have purposely placed all instrumentalists and soloists, and even choirs, in the church balcony, to further lessen the idea that they are performing or entertaining. Rightly or wrongly, they would view the current "entertainment church" as the logical outcome of the basic way that fundamental Baptists have been doing church for 100 years.

This may all sound silly to someone who grew up in the "KJVO"-type church. I can attest, however, that I when I first left the Lutheran church for fundamentalism, there was definitely a measure of culture shock in seeing women and girls step up to the pulpit to present special music. Also, in college I was definitely confronted with the idea that dressing for success, if not show, was an intrinsic part of pulpit ministry.

I'm just sayin'... Those who have grown up in fundamentalism may find it hard to believe, but in an area like this many in the Reformation tradition, particularly, would definitely not view us as a step in the conservative direction. Nor would they view moving from ties to T-shirts as a step in a better or more conservative direction.

For whatever it is worth... Biggrin Maybe someone can build on these thoughts...

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Paul J. Scharf's picture

I can't help but think of a missionary who once slipped on the ice on the sidewalk outside of our church and put a hole in the pants of his $1,500 suit... Ouch, ouch!! :O :cry:

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Don Johnson's picture

Is that the going price? Wow.

I can't remember paying more than 300 for a suit... of course, I haven't bought a suit for more than 15 years... Free is my favorite price and I have gotten that a few times thanks to the Lord's grace through good Christian friends.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Becky Petersen's picture

Becky Petersen wrote:
Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

For many believers today, the suit has been disgraced by Pastors who behave like CEO's instead of servants of the Lord.

Isn't this how a lot of churches treat their pastors. I was kind of naive, I guess, but when a senior pastor resigns, I kinda used to figure that some other pastor would step up and help the church through the difficult days--not have the whole "slew of pastors" resign...just cuz the senior pastor resigned.

I didn't understand why the senior pastor's decision has to dictate that the assistant, youth pastor, and business guy all are supposed to leave too. We are treating pastors like CEOs. I just thought if the senior pastor wants to move on to "green pastures" (bigger church), that maybe an assistant might actually be considered for the senior pastorate. If I were in the church, I'd like some sense of continuity. Someone explained to me that it is so that the pastor can work with his whole new staff that HE calls in (a new youth guy, a new music guy, etc.) Isn't that more or less "CEOish"?

So, maybe this philosophy could be explored a bit more. Maybe I'm so "out of it" that it is a given that this is normal in our larger IFB churches.

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

Another issue is money. Kim and I have four children. I simply cannot afford to keep my 13 year old in suits. As soon as you buy him one, which costs a lot of money, he outgrows it. So, we make sure he has a nice shirt and pants for church. I don't think we are at enmity with God over this, do you? My guess is that other families have similiar experiences?

And does anyone really have a problem with your child not wearing at suit? Maybe some do. I can't imagine anyone having a problem with it. There is this stereotype about it, but does it really exist? (That a kid needs to wear a suit to church or he is inappropriately dressed.)

Pastor Joe Roof wrote:

I will confess that I do share Joel T's burden for ties. They are an unecessarily expensive piece of clothing that hangs from the neck that attracts gravy. Biggrin

This is what I think is funny here. Some of the Russian Baptists don't let their people wear ties because they say it associates you with the Mafia, business, etc. and thus you are "crooked". Here in Poland, we were at a church and tent camping. My husband didn't have a suit with him but was asked to speak at this church while we were in the area. When he explained that he didn't have a suit coat, they took him to a rack and had him find one that fit. !!! (I personally think both views are a bit rigid.)

I've also found that upon going back to the states, I find that people dress up in our home church far more than is really necessary. I don't even own such dresses anymore and am comfortable less formally dressed. However, my mom found me some dressier clothes to wear for Sunday morning cuz she thought I was too casual. (But I give her a break since she's 80.)

We're more like the guy who was for Hawaii...we are so grateful for people just to come to church--I really don't even remember what someone wears unless it is really "out of normal". I would remember immodest--but other than that, I can't remember what people wear. I do think that speakers shouldn't look trashy though.

Charlie's picture

Paul J. Scharf wrote:

I'm just sayin'... Those who have grown up in fundamentalism may find it hard to believe, but in an area like this many in the Reformation tradition, particularly, would definitely not view us as a step in the conservative direction. Nor would they view moving from ties to T-shirts as a step in a better or more conservative direction.

For whatever it is worth... Biggrin Maybe someone can build on these thoughts...

Agreed. The conservative Lutherans have preserved an admirable worship culture. Going farther from the contemporary worship culture, my Presbyterian church does not even have choirs or special music. All singing is congregational. In a few Reformed churches, musical instruments are prohibited and/or only psalms are sung. So, the music ministries of Fundamentalism seem very loose indeed, at least in certain aspects. While Fundamentalists argue about what genres and styles of music are appropriate, they pay very little attention to what types of performance are appropriate.

I can't say that I embrace the most restrictive Reformed position, but it may be more wholesome than the performance/entertainment culture that pervades the American scene. I have not found Fundamentalism to be less performance-oriented than evangelicalism. The Fundamentalists usually take their cues from older popular culture or from "high" culture performance techniques, whereas the evangelicals tend to embrace contemporary popular culture. Really, only the Catholic and Reformation groups have theologically-founded worship cultures.

My Blog: http://dearreaderblog.com

Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Charlie wrote:
Really, only the Catholic and Reformation groups have theologically-founded worship cultures.

Ouch!!!!

You just quit preachin' and commenced to meddlin'!! H:)

I do agree that IFB, by and large, is severely lacking in developing a worship culture. I am truly inspired when I listen to someone like http://www.tenth.org/index.php?id=119 ]Dr. Paul Jones address issues of this nature. I wish that we could somehow combine the best of all worlds (from my perspective, of course Smile ).

I can proudly say that my seminary alma mater http://www.faith.edu/studentlife/chapel/chapelmessages.php?year=2007 ]brought Dr. Jones in to address these issues several years ago. There is hope!

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

G. N. Barkman's picture

Aaron,

Thanks for kicking off such a lively discussion by just listing what you INTEND to discuss in 2011!

Does that fact that what we wear and other cultural issues creates enormous interest, whereas theological topics often go by virtually unnoticed say anything about contemporary fundamentalism? (Just wondering.)

Warm regards,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

Becky Petersen's picture

G. N. Barkman wrote:
Aaron,

Thanks for kicking off such a lively discussion by just listing what you INTEND to discuss in 2011!

Does that fact that what we wear and other cultural issues creates enormous interest, whereas theological topics often go by virtually unnoticed say anything about contemporary fundamentalism? (Just wondering.)

Warm regards,
Greg Barkman

I know you are talking to Aaron, here, but just mention the C word and off we go into theology.

Smile I can't believe how many threads start taking off into a dispute between Calvinism and "noncalvinism". That's pretty theological isn't it?

On many issues of theology and biblically related topics, we've all had to come to a point where "good men differ" and just live and let live. I thought most seminarians/college guys get the problems of the world all solved while in seminary. What more is there to discuss? (just kidding). However, application is constantly in front of us...we need to make decisions regarding how we do things and what we do constantly. We don't have to decide what we believe about theology "daily"--do we?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Joe wrote:
Just last night, I watched a sermon on the web. The preacher was wearing a t-shirt and blue jeans. It seem obvious to me that this man had put on the Lord Jesus Christ before coming to that platform.

I don't doubt it. But have you never seen a preacher in a suit who had put on the Lord Jesus Christ before coming to the platform?
It only takes one to prove that the suit is not the problem... and that the jeans are not the cure.

Somebody asked if suits normally go for $1500 these days. a) To those who introduced that number.... I wonder how exactly do we know how much the suit cost? Just curious. b) Never spent more than $200 and change on a suit ever in my life (but I would not think $500 was too much if I got a good decade of wear out of it. Some of the cheap ones look terrible after you wear them twice.)

Let's keep in mind, too that there is alot of ground between the coat and tie and the jeans and tshirt. These are not the only two options, thankfully!

"Theologically founded worship cultures"... I don't buy that. It's not an either-or situation. Some groups have put more theology focused thought into what they do than others, but none are free of cultural influences and very few are devoid of theological considerations. So we're really talking about scale... with groups and individual churches at all different points along the scale.

Quote:
I thought most seminarians/college guys get the problems of the world all solved while in seminary. What more is there to discuss? (just kidding)

Yeah. I did have them all solved. Then when I got more into "the world," low and behold all the problems changed. Wink

Paul J. Scharf's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
"Theologically founded worship cultures"... I don't buy that. It's not an either-or situation. Some groups have put more theology focused thought into what they do than others, but none are free of cultural influences and very few are devoid of theological considerations. So we're really talking about scale... with groups and individual churches at all different points along the scale.

Aaron,

Just wondering -- what is it that you don't buy?

I think the point I would make is that -- from my experience in conservative Lutheranism -- there definitely was a very heavy culture there, involving worship, which had little or nothing to do with the changing culture in the larger world -- unless you want to say that it was a "worldly-culture" that influenced the change from using German to English about 70 years ago.

The denominational culture stretched back vertically to the church's heritage, and was uniform horizontally across the denomination -- regardless of the location of the local church.

(There was even a requirement that all graduates of the college that supplied teachers for my denomination's Christian schools must learn to play the organ -- even if they had 10 thumbs :bigsmile: )

Now, something that I could never have predicted when I left the Lutheran church is that this culture has been chipped away at as even Lutherans more and more mimic the "entertainment church" in an attempt to catch more people. But there is still definitely a unique culture there.

But by contrast, what is the "worship culture" in IFB-dom? I certainly can't identify one. I might go into 10 different IFB churches -- each with a different hymnal, different instruments, different views on music, different orders of worship, different levels of training among the musicians, some trying to do their version of Church Growth, some that have heard of the regulative principle and are trying to follow it...

Where is the culture? There might be such a culture within a single local church. But as a hallmark of fundamentalism?? By and large, I don't see it.

Church Ministries Representative for the Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry

Steve Davis's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
As for the political part of it, when we cut through all the mechanics of politics and the rhetoric, there is a real core difference between the liberal approach to poverty and the conservative one. These are not two equally unbiblical perspectives because one is built on directly rejecting a biblical view of human nature and the other is built on embracing the biblical view. But there is a great deal of diversity on both left and right nowadays and few bother to look at the core principles.

Liberal and conservative may not be equally unbiblical but both are equally imbalanced and neither are biblical. Liberals see more structural oppression. Conservatives emphasize more personal responsibility but not necessarily related to anything biblical. These categories are no longer that helpful in my opinion. We have a knee-jerk reaction against anything liberal. They may’ve over-emphasized elements that need to be considered in balance with other factors.

Dave M.'s picture

Hi Aaron

Have been thinking quite a bit over the last few years about this concept of depending on God. From the other comments on your post, this topic did not seem to drum up as much interest as the issue of ties and $1500 suits...
Anyway, I obviously don’t have a complete handle on the question, but it appears from Scripture in general that dependance on the Lord involves at least these three things: a frequent awareness of His presence (which can be done even when extremely busy, under duress, suffering, etc); a realization of our deep need and inabilities (otherwise, why bother to depend?) and a genuine desire to accomplish God’s will (otherwise, we are clearly not depending on Him).
It also seems evident to me that dependance on God is directly linked, not to say synonymous with, being filled with the Spirit. If anything, being filled with the Spirit has to be dependance on God.

As to the concept of “depending on our strength” , we could simply envision it as “non-dependance”: not being aware of God’s presence, or not realizing our need, or not really caring about what the Lord wants in our particular situation.
The verses you quote do seem to have a direct bearing on this issue, along with Colossians 1:29, 1 Corinthians 15:10, John 15:5, etc.

Thanks,

Dave Mumford

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Thanks for that, Dave. I'm inclined to agree with your observations on it. I wonder why we are so rhetorically stuck on "depending on our own strength" though... it's long struck me as an odd way to put it and I've seen many use that in reasoning against the use of something God provided (to use an extreme example, "We'll pray for the healing of our son who has cancer rather than giving him treatment, because we should depend on the Lord and not our own strength." But "own strength," by that definition, is what they are depending on to even speak that sentence.)

Paul S wrote:
Just wondering -- what is it that you don't buy?
I don't buy that there are a couple of groups that have theological worship cultures and the rest don't. You have varying degrees of theological centrality and you have differing theology, and lots of other variables. As an example, I don't think the use of robes and all kinds of ancient iconography is inherently "more theological" than the alternatives (especially if you poll the average person in the pew for the whys and wherefores). Maybe we're not thinking of the same definition of "worship culture."

Steve wrote:
Liberal and conservative may not be equally unbiblical but both are equally imbalanced and neither are biblical. Liberals see more structural oppression. Conservatives emphasize more personal responsibility but not necessarily related to anything biblical. These categories are no longer that helpful in my opinion. We have a knee-jerk reaction against anything liberal. They may’ve over-emphasized elements that need to be considered in balance with other factors.

I don't think you're talking about liberalism and conservatism here--rather, the worst representatives of each. Like anything else, you have large numbers of people who claim these ways of thinking that do not really understand them. It's true that "conservativism" is, for many who claim it, nothing more than a vague anti-government attitude... or something equally vague like "emphasis on personal responsibility." But there is a real conservatism and a real liberalism and the genuine articles are have profoundly different views of human nature and society. Conservatism as a system of thought never felt the need for "chapter and verse," but embraced a view of human nature that happens to be far more biblical than the alternatives--pretty much as something self-evident.

So, it's not really helpful in general to compare genuine liberalism to distorted and sick conservatism. Let's compare genuine to genuine.
(Liberalism does not overemphasize certain things, it begins with profoundly wrong views of the human problem)

G. N. Barkman's picture

I'm with Aaron on this one. Although there are as many varieties in each camp as flavors of ice cream, the underlying foundations and assumptions of each are distinctly different. Conservative assumptions are far more rooted in Biblical views of God and man, even though many Conservatives only vaguely understand these truths. Liberal assumptions are primarily rooted in a utopian view of humanity and society which is contrary to Biblical revelation. There is a clear difference for those who take the Bible as God's truth.

Cordially,
Greg Barkman

G. N. Barkman

Becky Petersen's picture

JobK wrote:
Now I am against the idea that we should use our charitable acts as overt evangelistic tools, or to bear witness of the church's virtues to the world. I view such things as public relations at best and cynical, self-serving manipulation at worst. Instead, we should look at it as our role in "common grace."

I've seen this proposed before here in SI (that if you somehow "witness" as you do charitable acts that it is a bad thing"). To me, you are creating false distinction and I don't understand why you can't witness and try to win the lost to the Lord as you feed them, give them gifts, etc. It isn't bribery, but the Lord used miracles to prove He was the Messiah. What is wrong with doing charitable acts in the name of the Lord and not simply "common grace" as you said.

Where did you hear that you can't do it "for the Lord". 1 Cor. 10:31 tells that whatever we do, we should do it for the glory of God. What brings more glory to God than seeing a sinner come to Christ. If the Lord allows you, through feeding them, or meeting a physical need, bring the gospel to them, then I think it is wonderful. This is what Pacific Garden Mission has done for years and years and has produced the program called "Unshackled". Would you consider this somehow "a bad thing"?

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

...I think. JobK, that is.
I mean, making kindness, relief work, etc., into a sales pitch for the gospel does seem to cheapen both the gospel and the acts of kindness. I can see why we'd want to avoid that.
But, with Becky, I can't see why that means you can't be kind, generous, helpful, etc., and really mean it and still use it as an opportunity. Deosn't seem to me that wanting to help people in the short term is incompatible with desire to help them in the ultimate sense. Both can be rooted in compassion that is completely genuine.

But there are pitfalls, yes. Sometimes these efforts get manipulative and--especially in the eyes of an PR-cynical culture like ours--seem to be nothing more than theater.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Shaynus wrote:

So Alex, it's not about the suit necessarily. It's about not calling attention to yourself by means of dress. A hearty Amen to that. The context that one finds oneself will really determine what exactly is calling attention to the self, as opposed to ignoring the self and focusing on the Word.
I appeared to miss this a few days ago but yes, you read my response accurately.

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