Three ways to live

Which is your way?

Taking light from wherever it comes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 7:09 pm on Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Jonathan Edwards, a American preacher, theologian, and missionary, is famous for his fire-and-brimstone sermons and causing the first Great Awakening revival in 1730. The intensity of his preaching sometimes resulted in members of the audience fainting, a surprising fact if you read carefully his sermons that are rather dull and extremely intellectual – not something that is likely to cause people to faint.

I am slowly learning more and more about this great man; my latest discovery was that Edwards made an effort to be aware of the cultural movements of his time. He said in “Some Thoughts Concerning the Revival” that he made it his practice to take light from wherever it came.

Being able to take some good from other people’s beliefs, actions, behavior is an important part of contextualization and something most of us are pathetically bad at. What does it mean exactly? Consider “Harry Potter” book, for example. Some Christians denounced it as devil’s book trying to promote ideas of magic. Others have an ambivalent feeling that it is something entertaining to read but having nothing to do with Christian faith. What would Edwards say?

Josh Moody, a senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Newhaven, CT, in his article “What Would Jonathan Edwards Say About Harry Potter?” thinks that after reading the books, Edwards would have discovered that we live in an age that is fascinated by the transcendent—and the paranormal—but that, while intrigued, is totally confused about that realm. Edwards would have seen that the essential question of spirituality—What happens when I die?—is a great vacuum that culture is looking to fill. The series also tells us—and this no less important—that if Rowling’s world is expertly reflecting the light our world can shed on these matters, true understanding is at a pretty low level.

To me, this attitude of seeing positive things in culture and yet challenging it, is reminiscent of Acts 17:22-23

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.

If Paul and Jonathan Edwards agree on the way to approach the culture, we need to start paying attention.

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