Professor John Swinton of Aberdeen University wrote the beautiful and insightful book, Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship. I will soon be interviewing John. In his book, John says how much he was taken by this video:
A son or daughter grows up in a Christ-professing home. Sadly, the parents have not availed themselves of opportunities to grow in their own understanding of the Christian faith. They can’t interact or answer any of the objections to Christianity that increasingly nag Johnny and Sally.
Johnny and Sally go off to college. They abandon their Christian upbringing.
The parents add to their sorrow with the misguided notion that their kiddo abandoned the faith due to “liberal professors.”
George Will’s piece may be animated by unsavory motivations, but there is much we evangelicals ought to hear. We hate when our leaders are poked in the eye, especially by those outside our camp, but Will’s highlighting of Graham’s pragmatism and naivete are important to hear.
Graham was no Elmer Gantry to be sure, but he was more human and therefore flawed than many Christians want to admit.
Years ago, while traveling in troubled parts of Africa with Tim Dearborn – then a senior member of World Vision’s leadership team – I wondered why God allowed so much suffering. Dearborn reframed the question, asking why we allow it. He noted that if Christians gave ten percent of their income away, which he argued was a starting point, we could: 1) Wipe out extreme poverty; 2) Provide a 6thgrade education to everyone; 3) Provide clean water to everyone; and 4) Double every church budget and double every mission budget in the world and still have hundreds of billions of dollars left over. He argued back then that the question is not: when is God going to provide, or when are we going to be generous, but when are we going to be faithful and obedient?
I called Tim last week to see if he wanted to update his thinking. He said the numbers still hold, and then observed that there were four things that got the Jews in trouble during the Old Testament era: 1) a failure to circumcise; 2) a failure to tithe; 3) a failure to keep the Sabbath; and 4) a failure to welcome the stranger. He argues that these were all issues of trust. In every situation they (we) were being asked to give something up something they did not want to give up. With circumcision – well, there is no desire to give up anything on that front. With the tithe, it’s money. With the Sabbath, it’s time, and with our home, it’s control / privacy. On all four fronts, obedience protects us from idolatry and helps us learn to trust God.
First, this book is a meaty, yet beautifully written book of 600 plus pages. I made over 550 marginal notes in my copy. I read and discussed it with a friend which made it a very rich experience.
Second, even though her book is rightfully heralded in “conservative” theological circles, there are some things that you might find objectionable like Rutledge giving room for the possibility of universal salvation.