Monday, June 25, 2012

Shirking the Problem of What Is Good

I'm not sure whether it's more remarkable to me that G.K. Chesterton wrote these words from Heretics when he was about 30 years old, or that he wrote them over a century ago:

Every one of the popular modern phrases and ideals is a dodge in order to shirk the problem of what is good. We are fond of talking about "liberty"; that, as we talk of it, is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "progress"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. We are fond of talking about "education"; that is a dodge to avoid discussing what is good. 
The modern man says, "Let us leave all these arbitrary standards and embrace liberty." This is, logically rendered, "Let us not decide what is good, but let it be considered good not to decide it." He says, "Away with your old moral formulae; I am for progress." This, logically stated, means, "Let us not settle what is good; but let us settle whether we are getting more of it." He says, "Neither in religion nor morality, my friend, lie the hopes of the race, but in education." This, clearly expressed, means, "We cannot decide what is good, but let us give it to our children." 
(p. 13 in this edition, paragraph break added)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Very Brief Recommendation

Some of the most fruitful times I've experienced in church staff meetings have been those occasions when we've thought through the theological foundations for why we do what we do. Obviously, there's an abundance of tools for generating those conversations, not least among them, Scripture itself.

One non-inspired book that I've found to be unusually helpful for guiding our examination of pastoral ministry is Charles Bridges' The Christian Ministry. You won't agree with Bridges across the board. You certainly shouldn't. But it raises a wide range of important conversations. It's also an old book, and a significant advantage of using an old book is that we can explore the underlying, abiding principles that shape our ministry while maintaining some distance from the pressures that perpetuate our allegiances to our traditions.

I've just learned that the book is now available in paperback at a much lower price than the Banner of Truth hardback. And it's on Kindle for less than $1.