Mere Fidelity: The Four Loves, on Friendship

Matt, Alastair and Derek take up C.S. Lewis’s chapter on friendship.

If you enjoyed the show, leave us a review at iTunes. If you didn’t enjoy the show, let us know and we’ll work to make it better. Or we’ll ignore you, and you’ll feel better for having vented your feelings. We are here to help, either way. And if you want to subscribe by RSS, you can do that here.

If you’re interested in supporting the show (with money, that is), you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow DerekAlastair, and Andrew for more tweet-sized brilliance.  Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

The Christian Statesman and the Gospel to the Poor: A Christian Classical Liberal Perspective

Over the next week we’ll be running pieces multiple pieces on political economics. The chief question we are addressing is “What duties a Christian magistrate has to the poor?” In today’s post, Dylan Pahman of the Acton Institute is giving a classical liberal answer to that question. Tomorrow we will be running a response to the same question written by a Christian socialist.

“My picture of man,” said the German Ordoliberal economist Wilhelm Röpke,

is fashioned by the spiritual heritage of classical and Christian tradition. I see in man the likeness of God; I am profoundly convinced that it is an appalling sin to reduce man to a means … and that each man’s soul is something unique, irreplaceable, priceless, in comparison with which all other things are as naught.

This conviction animated his support for classical liberalism and free market economics. And so it does for me. Thus, I believe the duty of the Christian statesman (or stateswoman) to the poor requires defending human rights, supplying urgent needs, reducing barriers to market entry, and guaranteeing access to the institutions of justice, seeking realistic, gradual reform as possible and prudent. Continue reading

Our Impoverished Imaginations: The World of Jen Hatmaker

Last week Jen Hatmaker, a prominent evangelical author who most recently featured on the Belong Tour with several other notable evangelical women, gave an interview to RNS focused primarily around politics and the 2016 election. Amongst other things, they covered issues related to sexual ethics, same-sex relationships, and gay marriage. Continue reading

Categorizing the Benedict Options: A Reformation Day Reflection

Today marks the 499th anniversary of the day that would come to be seen as the spark that ignited a movement that purified the church in northern and western Europe and gave new energy to an already strong movement to return to the classical sources of Christian wisdom. I am referring, of course, to Reformation Day and to October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed (we think) his 95 Theses to the church door in Wittenberg.

It’s a notable day in the church calendar and yet it is also one that arouses no small bit of controversy. The late medieval church had been marked by corruption, scandal, and abuse for several hundred years by the time Luther rose to prominence, but what Christians still to this day cannot agree on is what should have been done to deal with the decadence of the European church and particularly the hierarchy of the dominant ecclesial institution in Europe, the Roman Catholic Church.

The Catholics, The Radicals, and the Magisterial Reformers

What is interesting is not simply that we are still having these debates today, but that the three sides involved in the debates have not even changed all that much. In this post I want to draw out the enduring relevance of the Reformation and the debates that marked the first 50 years after Luther’s emergence by identifying three separate movements within the western church. All three are variations on Rod Dreher’s Benedict Option as all three are, much like their 16th century variants, trying to wrestle with difficult, complex questions in the aftermath of widespread failure on the part of the church.

Continue reading

How Evangelicals Can Build a Responsible Political Witness

Our latest contribution on this year’s election comes from Dr. Greg Forster.

Russell Moore is right that self-appointed evangelical political leaders are destroying the credibility of American evangelicalism by endorsing Donald Trump. One implication, which Moore doesn’t speak to, is the urgent need for American evangelicals to develop a responsible political witness. These charlatans and hucksters are only able to get into the spotlight because of the vacuum left by the absence of an authentic gospel presence in our culture’s civic forum.

Yes, it’s dangerous to try to build a political witness for the church. The failure of the Religious Right, the bankruptcy of social conservatism and the scandal of evangelical leaders selling their souls for Trump all point to these dangers.

Yet it is fear of these very dangers that has prevented responsible leaders from building an authentic gospel witness to politics. That paralysis has created the vacuum within which fools like James Dobson and Tony Perkins, glory hounds like Eric Metaxas and prostitutes like Ralph “I Need to Start Humping in Corporate Accounts!” Reed operate. Continue reading

Dr. Moore and the Politics of Dinner Parties

I’m pleased to publish this essay by Susannah Black reviewing Dr. Russell Moore’s recent Erasmus Lecture given last weekend in New York City.

On Monday night I got on the E train in Forest Hills and headed to the Union League Club on East 37th Street to hear Russell Moore, President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the public-policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, announce the end of the Religious Right as a political force in America.

So that was interesting.

This was, of course, the Erasmus Lecture: First Things’ signature annual lecture; a sort of State of the Nation or Setting of the Agenda for politics and religion in America, straight to your computer’s livestream from Murray Hill in Manhattan. It’s been going on for 29 years now, and past speakers have included Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Archbishop Timothy Dolan; past subjects have included Islam and Christianity; the crisis of conservative Catholicism in the age of Francis; the development of Catholic moral teaching; genealogies of modernity… the gamut of the topics of conversation that those who can’t help but talk about politics and religion at the dinner table have been talking about for the past quarter century plus. Continue reading

On Voting and Civic Participation: A Response to Wayne Grudem

I’m delighted to publish this incisive review of Dr. Grudem’s Trump endorsement written by Drs. Matthew Arbo and Jeremy Kidwell.

This has been a strange and bewildering year for American politics, and for certain segments of the American church. Some commenters have felt confident to call the church’s reaction to the general election a “schism” in the religious right—quite strong language. The candidacy of Donald Trump has been inordinately mystifying for many of us, Christians included, but “schism” is far too vague a diagnosis in attempting to capture the state of this discourse, just as “religious right” is a rather unimpressive sociological descriptor. We would like to suggest that this and a great many other takes on “evangelical politics,” reflects a troubling confusion about the nature of Christian political citizenship that has finally been drawn from the background into the foreground of political discourse. This confusion is on clear display in Wayne Grudem’s 19 Oct piece “If You Don’t Like Either Candidate, Then Vote for Trump’s Policies.” Continue reading

Mere Fidelity: The Election Episode

In which we go there.  John Stonestreet, President of the Colson Center and co-author of Restoring all Thingsjoins the crew to talk about how Christians should think about the upcoming election and whether and how we are all going to be able to get along again on November 9th.
If you enjoyed the show, leave us a review at iTunes. If you didn’t enjoy the show, let us know and we’ll work to make it better. Or we’ll ignore you, and you’ll feel better for having vented your feelings. We are here to help, either way. And if you want to subscribe by RSS, you can do that here.

If you’re interested in supporting the show (you know, with money), you can check out our Patreon here.

Finally, as always, follow Derek and Andrew for more tweet-sized brilliance.  Thanks to Timothy Motte for his sound editing work. And thanks to The Joy Eternal for lending us their music, which everybody should download out of gratitude for their kindness.

Betraying Politics: The Mystique of Public Life

This is a fun week—for the second time in as many days, we’re debuting a new writer here at Mere O. It’s a delight to be able to publish this guest piece from John Shelton.

“Everything begins as a mystique and ends as a politique,” observes French essayist Charles Péguy. In other words, that which begins as a pure idea—mystic, even transcendent—devolves into profane politics, the slow grind of policy divorced from any sort of sanguine idealism. The politique politician is an automaton, swayed by the slightest breeze of public opinion and party leadership. Such a man considers himself to be “eminently practical.” If he is always choosing an evil, at least it is the lesser of two. He takes what he can get; he desires the possible and worries not over the good, the beautiful, the true. He scoffs at Plato, even Aristotle. His man is Hobbes—Machiavelli, if he is forthright. He esteems them not for their realism but their cynicism. Such humdrum pessimism is fit cover for this man without a chest. Continue reading

The Five Stages of Evangelical Grief

I’m pleased to publish this guest post from new Mere O contributor Brian Mesimer.

I was recently at a church conference where one of the plenary addresses focused on the role of the Christian in the public square. The speaker, a Christian philosophy professor, said all the right things a Christian professor should say in that kind of lecture. And yet nothing he said made me feel remotely comfortable about the place of evangelicals in the public sphere. I suppose that part of that feeling came from my concern about the coming collapse of evangelical politics after Trump’s inevitable loss. My therapist’s imagination, however, wouldn’t let me stop there. I couldn’t help but think that our strategic planning for 2020 or our concern over whether or not the Benedict Option is viable is a bit premature. Continue reading