The Story-Formed Way (Street-Level Biblical Theology: Geerhardus Vos Is Smiling)

May 22, 2012 at 6:05 am

Around 14 years or so ago, a friend of mine introduced me to the writings of Geerhardus Vos and the discipline loosely known as “biblical theology.” If you haven’t read Vos’ Inaugural address as Professor of Biblical Theology in Princeton Theological Seminary, from 1894: “The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline,” I highly recommend doing so.

Biblical Theology, as outlined by Vos, Graeme Goldsworthy and others, is simply the tracing of God’s progressive self-revelation over the course of redemptive history, centering on the idea that Jesus is the true lens through which we understand all of Scripture. This approach ties us to the organic unity of Scripture and reinforces its inter-relatedness as an unfolding story. Each bit of revelation is dependent on what has come before and lays the groundwork for what comes next.

While biblical theology can sometimes trace the progression of somewhat technical theological ideas, the basic idea has gained widespread interest as the excitement about the idea of “story” continues to grow. Everyone loves a good story and the Bible contains the world’s greatest story.

A biblical theological approach to Scripture helps avoid a disjointed understanding of the Bible. At some point in growing up, I realized that I knew a lot of biblical stories without fully realizing how they all linked together or formed a cohesive whole.

This past weekend, I had the privilege of co-leading a great group of people through something called The Story-Formed Way. If you’re not familiar with this great resource, it’s a 10-week paraphrased, guided dialogue journey through the story of the Bible developed by Church of the Cross‘ family Soma Tacoma.

I’ve been able to lead this event numerous times and I see something new every time. It’s great watching people put the pieces together and see the big picture of a God who constantly pursues His people for His glory. It’s something that just about everyone can understand and just about everyone will also be challenged by. If you want a better idea of the big picture or if you know people who are curious about the Bible, I can’t recommend this resource highly enough.

Distinguishing Between “Disciples” and “Discipleship”.

May 14, 2012 at 6:08 am

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how local churches can best create contexts in which God’s truth is more likely, not just to be clear, but become “real” for people (for more on this concept, see my feeble post here, listen to Tim Keller’s fantastic lecture series Preaching to the Heart, or read Jared Wilson’s wonderful book Gospel Wakefulness). We cannot, nor should we try to force people to change. And yet, I do believe that Christianity is most powerful outside of the institution. By this, I don’t mean that local churches should have no structure. I simply mean that, to a large degree in the West, Christianity has become institutionalized.

We have largely helped people in the segmentation of their lives. We have encouraged them to abandon their “non-Christian” friends to enter into the “Christian” world. We have replaced their movies. We have replaced their music. We have replaced their friends. This, of course, has been done in order to protect Christians from “being pulled down.” Because, as we all know, it is much easier to pull someone off a ladder than it is to pull someone up onto the top of a ladder.

The result, of course, has been that many Christians have isolated themselves from those who don’t (yet) believe. We encourage our unbelieving neighbors to join us in the sports league at the local mega-church and we ask those who don’t (yet) believe to cross cultural barriers that we ourselves are not willing to cross. All the while, we forget how much we love to sing “Jesus, What A Friend Of Sinners,” without really wanting to live like Jesus lived.

I should have mentioned at the beginning that, alongside my thinking about making the Gospel “not just clear but real,” I have been thinking about the idea of discipleship in light of Matthew 28:18-20, which has become known as “The Great Commission:”

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

The more I think about these verses and its implications, the more I have come to personally distinguish between “disciples” and “discipleship.” In his fascinating book The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard describes a “disciple” as:

A disciple or apprentice, then, is simply someone who has decided to be with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become what that person is.

I think (but please help me understand if I’m wrong), that we can safely distinguish between the process we have come to know as “discipleship” and someone who is actually a “disciples.” Let me explain. Based on Willard’s explanation, coupled with the “Great Commission,” I understand a “disciple” to be someone who has actively decided to follow in Jesus’ ways and strive to become more like Him.

“Discipleship,” however, I understand, to be the process teaching people to “observe” or “practice” all that Jesus commanded, so that we can baptize them “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy spirit” in the promise and strength that, not only has “all authority in heaven and on earth” ben given to Jesus, but that He is with us, “always, to the end of the age.”

But, let me further explain. As I understand it, “discipleship” applies to both those who have made the decision to become “disciples,” but those who haven’t. And, to add to the mix, “discipleship” is not just about modifying people’s behavior. Because, let’s be honest: we can tweak people’s emotions and we can scare people into certain decisions, but, in our own strength, and in our own ways, we can never really change people’s hearts. That’s up to God and God alone.

So, what are some of the things that Jesus has commanded people to obey? Think about Matthew 16:24-28:

 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

Here, Jesus basically says that we should love God so much that the rest of life is simply rubbish to us (a sentiment the Apostle Paul expressed years later). We love God so much that we’re living to give up the rest of life in order to follow Him. Or, when asked what the greatest commandment is/was, what was Jesus’ response, was, if I may summarize, “Love God and Love Others” (Matthew 22:36-40). Or, what about the time when Jesus said that it was by our love for one another (not our political affiliations or the “family friendly” radio we listen to or the movies we watch or don’t watch, or the neighborhood we live in, or the car we drive, or the church we “go to” or drinks we do or don’t drink) that the world would know that we are His (John 13:35)?

Here’s the thing: “discipling” those who profess to follow Jesus and those that don’t often boils down to the same thing: getting people to realize that they can’t possibly meet God’s standards on their own. They need Jesus. They need His perfect, Spirit-dependent, Law-abiding, God-loving, perfectly dependent, God-glorifying, joyfully obedient because it flows from Worship of the Almighty who created Heaven and Earth life. What Jesus did, we need but could never do. What Jesus is, we should be but don’t want to be. We have loved other things. We have pursued other loves. We have bowed down to the altar of _____________ when all that said “god” represents is only found in the One true, Creator God who somehow exists in Three Persons in One Being and demands our worship because it is good, right and perfect.

So, as I meet and talk and live life with my Christian friends, we are continually finding the myriad of ways in which we fail to meet God’s standards. And we are so thankful that Jesus has d0ne what we do not and could not and, frankly, do not want to do: glorify God in utter dependence with every breath. We learn to show one another how utterly dependent on Jesu we truly are and how utterly beautiful His life of perfect obedience not only was, but is for my everyday.

And, as I talk and live with my friends who do not yet belong to Jesus, my home becomes an example of my worship/joy-fueled pursuit of the Perfect Model, Sacrifice and Intercessor. They will begin to witness the way I lay down my own life for my wife’s best interests and, in response, she joyfully yields herself to my lead. They will witness how we sacrifice our time, our money, our resources for the sake of others. And we will continually seek opportunities to tell them that it is only because we have come to know the depths of how much God has first loved us by giving His only Son (1 John 4:8-12) so that we may have everlasting life (John 3:16).

In other words, as I see it, the point of “discipleship” is to get those who already believe and those who don’t to get to the point where they throw there hands up and say “I have no hope other than Jesus.” The point of “discipleship” is always to get people to the Gospel, to get them as close to hugging that bloody, splintery Cross as possible.

For some, this will result in belief and new life and following Jesus through earthly death unto eternal life. For others, this will result in eternal judgment from God. At some point, everyone, everywhere, at every time, must decide what to do with Jesus. He is the the one inescapable historical figure who everyone must deal with. After all, He claimed to be God and that makes Him either a “liar, a lunatic” or a truth-teller, to paraphrase C.S. Lewis.

So as I understand it, though a “disciple” is someone who has been spiritually raised from the dead (Ephesians 2) and has committed themselves to Jesus and the glory of God in all things, “discipleship” is the point of getting people to the point of realizing that they have no hope before God other than Jesus. So, “discipleship” applies both to “disciples” and not-yet discipels, since the Gospel is the hope for both.

I hope you’re tracking with me and I’m not sure I’m communicating my point here well, but what I’m trying to say is that I understand “discipleship” as something that applies to both “Believers” and “Non-Believers” (to use more traditional Evangelical terms) because the point of discipleship is never just behavior modification but heart modification which comes only through contact with God which comes only through the Spirit leading us through contact/confrontation with Jesus and His Work at the Cross.

As we bring everyone into contact with what is expected of them by God (Matthew 5:48, etc.), which is nothing less than perfection, we all begin to realize that the only way we can meet such expectations is by a perfect substitute inserting themselves between us and God, which is exactly what Jesus has done. So, the idea of “discipleship” means bringing a professed “disciple” through, not only the initial changes that come at salvation (I used to smoke/drink/think about that and now I don’t) but the heat issues behind the sins  (I now realize that I smoked/drank/thought about that because I was looking for _____) and it also means bringing someone who does not yet follow Jesus to a point of crisis, whether it means they realize they can’t possibly do it on their own or they don’t want to curtail their “freedom” to follow Jesus.

So the point of “discipleship,” as I’m beginning to understand it, is to always make someone a better disciple of Jesus, no matter where they’re at on the continuum; to always bring them closer to fuller belief (while realizing that there will be some who simply never cross over the full threshold of belief, which, ultimately, is God’s business, not ours) and full discipleship. It is always meant to bring us to the point of brokenness (the intersection of “law/gospel”), where we realize that we can’t possibly meet God’s standards without Jesus.

What are your thoughts? Am I right in distinguishing form “disciples” and “discipleship”? Is the point always to bring us (as Sovereign Grace Ministries has taught me to sing}, “Deeper Into The Glories of Calvary”? Am I right in understanding the process of discipleship to begin even with those who don’t (yet) believe in helping them to confront Jesus’ expectations and guiding them to the realization that they will never meet such standards on their own? Am I right in understanding that the ongoing process for those who have already professed allegiance to Jesus is the same?

By the way, iff you wonder why the image for this post is based on Franz Kafka‘s brilliant short story “The Metamorphosis,” please read it if you haven’t and then e-mail me if you still have questions. Or, if you have read it and don’t like my associations, also please e-mail me. Otherwise, please

  • Read my previous post about helping the Gospel become, not just “clear” but “real.”
  • Listen to Tim Keller’s “Preaching to the Heart” lecture series.
  • Read Jared Wilson’s helpful book Gospel Wakefulness.

The Elder Process (What Are We Really Communicating?)

May 7, 2012 at 6:18 am

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (and since it’s my blog, I can say it as much as I’d like, especially with my fondness for parentheses). I am so thankful for the Church of the Cross family where I serve as an elder (not to toot my own horn, but please notice that I didn’t say that I serve as “Lead Pastor”).

Currently, there are only two elders; myself and one other. This is not ideal by anyone’s standards, as we believe (as do many others), that local congregations are best governed by a “plurality” of elders (more than one and probably more than two). So, our other elder and I, for some time, have prayerfully been considering adding more elders (at least one to start with).

During that prayerful consideration, I have been scouring the Bible, books and the internet (yes, I realize that that might not be a healthy combination, but more on that as we proceed) to discover what process other local congregations of like-minded theological convictions might use in training/raising up/recognizing other elders.

As I’ve scoured said Bible, books and internet (so you know it’s true), I’ve been convicted and astonished by a couple of things. First, I can’t believe (literally; I can not believe) how long some local congregations take to install elders (up to three years). And, second, I’m surprised (though I probably shouldn’t be by the theological circles in which I often travel) by how theological and entirely not practical some of the “qualifications” for elders seem to be in many local churches.

Let’s start with the first thing. I’ve read upwards of 20-25 church position papers on installing new elders. It’s not uncommon (do you see the Litotes that I just employed there? A term I just learned while preaching through the Sermon on the Mount) for a local congregation to take up to three years to install a new elder. I’m not kidding. A three year process.

A lot of that has to do with the theological circles within which I travel. I realize that it may be different for you, but this is not y0ur blog. I have many Reformed convictions which means that I do, indeed believe theology is imminently important. Indeed, along with A.W. Tozer, I believe that “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” However, I worry that this idea has actually come to exclude many otherwise qualified men from pursuing the office of elder.

Which leads me to my second concern, which is intimately related to the first. The vast majority of the processes I looked at considered such things as: 1) describe the current theological debate between covenant theology and dispensationalism (no, I didn’t capitalize either of them), or 2) please describe and state your position in the ongoing debate between calvinism and arminiansim (again, I chose not to Capitalize either).

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I believe that theological convictions are important and that we all ought ought to have them. I’m just not sure that we ought to be taking three years to make sure that our other elders agree with us on our particular take on every theological issue. After all, isn’t t the local body made up of different parts of the Body  (1 Corinthians 12-14)? And, this may just be me speaking here (and not the LORD), but wouldn’t our local congregations be better off with a (maybe small) variety of theological convictions on several issues rather than an already decided board of votes?

But, more to the point of what set me off to writing in the first place. When we install a three (or more)-year process to install elders that includes such issues as dispensational/covenantal theology, aren’t we excluding many guys that Scripture simply doesn’t exclude? Consider, for example, the main passages that are often used in selecting elders:

 1 Timothy 3:1-7: The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4 He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

or

Titus 1:5-19: This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you—6if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. 7For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. 9He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.

or

1 Peter 5:1-5 So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

What I have personally garnered from these passages and other is that a man’s character is the primary consideration for whether or not he should serve as an elder or not and only after that, his theological knowledge. I realize that this is may get me into some  trouble in (R)eformed circles but let’s be honest, the vast majority of the qualifications for elders mentioned, even if even/or especially if we include Acts 6, are character related. Yes, an elder must be able to teach and refute false doctrine, but somehow, we have turned that into THE primary consideration rather than one among many. Scripture seems more concerned with a man’s character.

I take this to mean that I should be more concerned with how the Holy Spirit has changed a particular man’s life and character than whether or not he agrees with my own particular theological convictions. Yes, I understand that this means that a local congregation may not be able to be as dogmatic about certain issues as it might like to be and that it adopt a bit more ambiguity on the non-essentials than some of us are comfortable with. But, come on, when Paul told Titus to appoint elders (Titus 1:5), do we really think he meant, take up to three years and examine every nuance of their theology to make sure that it comports with your own?

I have come to worry that our process of “appointing elders” in a local congregation means little more than making sure that they agree theologically with the existing elders on EVERY issue so that a local congregation has very clear theological boundaries.. And I’m not sure that this is either healthy or biblical. But I also realize that I may be crazy.

We have come to the point where we are largely communicating that if you are not highly theological or aspire to be, or a reader, you will simply never serve as an elder in many local congregations. One of the things that surprised and disappointed me was how few churches mentioned calling outside references. I want to know how a man’s business associates and neighbors think of him. I found questions about the ordo salutis and the eschaton but I only found one church that actually said they would call outside references. In other words, theological knowledge (or at least the pursuit of theological knowledge) seems to have become more important to us than character when selecting elders.

What do you think? Do you think that the Scriptural ideals mean that we should take up to three years to install local elders? How united on every issue do you think elders of a local congregation ought to be? Is it healthy for there to be disagreement? On on how many issues? Who gets to decide? If the goal is to make discipels who make, mature and multiply other disciples (Matthew 28:28-20), isn’t at least some bit of diversity beneficial?

And more to the point. When we adopt a process that takes up to three years of in-depth theological study, what are we really communicating to our “every-day guys”? If Ephesians 4:11-13 is true, and we are striving to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, then shouldn’t we be encouraging all of our men to be aspiring to the “position” of elder? Yet, when we draw the process out over years of theological study, aren’t we communicating to most of our men that, if they’re not readers and theological thinkers, they’ll never be elders? Is this the Scriptural model? I’m not so sure. But then again, I’m open to correction.

I’m not sure I want to be part of a process that tells the vast majority of guys they’ll never qualify nor should they even aspire. What do you think (and yes, I really am open to your dialogue)?

Monthly Mix CD: April – “Can’t Get There From Here”

May 3, 2012 at 10:42 am

So, at the beginning of 2012, I decided that I would share my love of music with you, the kindly mass of humanity that reads my blog. I figured all two of you might like some of the same music that I do. So I decided that I would post one mix CD per month. The problem is that, though I love music, I have not put anything about this regular monthly mix CD in to my calendar. So, plain and simple, I forget.

Here is April’s monthly mix CD. Called “Can’t Get There From Here,” it explores a theme which you can figure out if you want or you can just listen to the good music contained within. Here is the setlist:

  1. Home by Bears of Manitou
  2. Always Travel Light by Doug Burr
  3. Folded Hands by Zoo Animal
  4. Fast Car by Tracy Chapman
  5. Unfortunately, Anna by Justin Townes Earle
  6. There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths
  7. When It Don’t Come Easy by Patty Griffin
  8. Hold On by Tom Waits
  9. Hold On, Hold On by Neko Case
  10. Come On Up To The House by Tom Waits
  11. Jesus Gonna Build Me A Home by John Davis
  12. I Want You To Come Home Now by Drew Grow and the Pastors’ Wives
  13. Please Come Home by Dustin Kensrue
  14. Going Home by Juarez
  15. Feelin’ Good Again by Robert Earl Keen, Jr.
  16. Home by Bears of Manitou

So, I broke a few of my own personal rules here regarding mix CDs. I not only repeated an artist on a single mix, I repeated a song. Just pointing that out.

  • Download April’s monthly mix CD Can’t Get There From Here.
  • Download March’s monthly mix: “Sabzimentals”.
  • Download February’s monthly mix: “Raintermentals”.
  • Download January’s monthly mix: “Skinned Alive”.

Doug Burr: Look Sessions

May 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm

Look Sessions recently released a couple of live tracks Holiday at the Sea favorite Doug Burr recorded for them at SXSW.

First up, “Chief of Police in Chicago, followed by “Red, Red.”


“Chief of Police in Chicago” by Doug Burr from Look Sessions on Vimeo.


“Red, Red” by Doug Burr from Look Sessions on Vimeo.

  • Visit Doug Burr’s website
  • Visit Look Session’s website

Breaking Bad, Groundhog Day, And 3 Ways To Live

May 1, 2012 at 6:46 am

Kristi and I recently watched all four seasons of Breaking Bad (don’t worry, not all at once). The series follows the trajectory of Walter White, “an underachieving chemistry genius turned high school chemistry teacher” who, upon being diagnosed with terminal cancer, turns to using his chemistry expertise to provide for his family after he’s passed, by producing the “the world’s highest quality crystal meth” (quotes from IMBD).

As you might guess, the show is pretty dark and increasingly violent. And yet, it’s also got a healthy dose of the rubberneck syndrome. When you drive by a car accident, you can’t help but look. The viewer becomes transfixed as White’s lies pile on top of one another and his illegalities compound until he finds himself locked in a battle with an international drug kingpin, the Mexican cartel and it seems like there’s no possible way out.

It is a fascinating picture of the impact and depths of sin. Though White started with good intentions (wanting to provide a legacy for his family after he was gone), he chose the path of sin (if I may use such terms, and, since I am a pastor, after all, I may) in order to try and fulfill those good motives. And it becomes increasingly obvious throughout the four seasons (we are waiting for season five!) that White doesn’t just have cancer, he is a cancer. His attitude and actions draw everyone around him into his world of lies and danger. His actions are never isolated and always impact those he loves.

Contrast this with one of my favorite movies, Groundhog Day. Bill Murray plays Phil, an arrogant, insensitive weatherman who begrudgingly barrels through life belittling everyone he comes in contact with. Phil finds himself trapped living the same day (Groundhog Day) over and over and over and over until he finally gets it right, going through the day sacrificially, thinking of others before himself and finally getting the girl. Needless to say, it takes him a while before he finally gets it right.

Though Groundhog Day is meant to be a heartwarming romantic comedy (which it is), as a follower of Jesus, I am fascinated by its undercurrent; the idea that if we just get everything right, if we just do the right things, then we’ll be alright. Granted, Phil does seem to have a heart change but the idea seems to be that the day is not going to change until he gets everything right; as if there’s some magic formula of events and actions that he has to get just right. Which he finally does.

I mention these two scenarios because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what Tim keller calls the “three ways to live.” Many Christians are under the notion that there are two ways to live in the world, God’s way (Christianity) and Our way (rebellion). But, Keller reminds us (most powerfully through his treatment of the parable of the Prodigal Son(s), Prodigal God), there are actually “three ways to live” and two ways to run from God: “irreligion,” the younger brother in the parable, or Walter White and his increasing rebellion and “religion,” the older brother or Phil who has to do the right things before he can move on.

I am fascinated by finding portraits of both brothers in pop culture. Walter White may initially want a good thing (to care for his family) but he chases it by making crystal meth and ultimately finding himself involved in murders, cover-ups and money laundering. It’s almost as if his sin is swallowing him alive but he keeps chasing it. This is exactly how many people go through life, chasing money and security at any price necessary, even destroying themselves and those they love in the process.

Phil the weatherman, on the other hand, finds himself in the unwanted predicament of having to “get it right” before he can move on. This is exactly what many people here when they hear Christians say “come to Jesus.” They hear us saying: “be good people” and “do the right thing,” which translates to them as: “if you obey, then God will accept you, so you’d better get your actions in line.”

But, as Keller reminds us, there are actually three ways to live. The Gospel cuts right through our irreligious rebellion and unfettered pursuit and pleasure and the shackles of religion, trying to get our behavior right so that we can be right with God.

If we don’t understand the difference between the Gospel and religion, we are setting people up for a false encounter with Jesus. On the one hand, those people with iron-clad self-will might actually begin to change some of their behaviors and, once they do, they will begin to pat themselves on the back, gain a false sense of God’s favor and begin to look down on those who don’t live as well as they do. We’ve all encountered judgmental Christians (“judgmental” and “Christian” are terms that shouldn’t make any sense when put together and yet, sadly, we’ve all experienced it). Or, on the other hand, people will not be able to live up to Jesus’ standards and walk away, saying things like “Well, I tried that Christianity thing and it just didn’t work for me.” Or worse yet, we will set people in the horrible position of trying to meet standards they can’t and perpetually feeling judged by God because they’re just not “good enough.”

But the good news about Jesus isn’t that we can get good things through rebellion or that if we obey, God will accept us. When the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God didn’t come to them and say: “OK, listen up: Here’s 10 Commandments. If you keep them, then I’ll rescue you from Egypt.” No, it was the opposite! He redeemed them, and only then took them to Sinai. Before giving them any “rules,” God reminded them: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:1). The Gospel says: “I am accepted, therefore I obey.”

Everywhere we turn, our culture is struggling to make sense of both ends of the spectrum. Pop culture is filled with glorifications of sin, but it is also filled with misguided efforts at religion. We Christians need to do a better job at humbly but boldly showing how neither will lead to satisfaction because both are actually ways of running from God. But I worry that the reason so few Christians make this distinction (especially between the Gospel and religion) is because so few Christians actually understand it. Many well-intentioned Christians are clutched in the talons of religion rather than flying in the freedom of the Gospel. If we don’t get it, how in the world should we expect pop culture to get it?