We’re Laughing With not At You

I imagine that was Peter Sagal’s defense for this bit of Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (an episode I heard while driving in New England):

SAGAL: Tom, this week, listeners also wrote in, saying we were way too mean to Mitch McConnell. What was the specific insult our listeners were upset by? Was it A, Mitch McConnell looks like a thumb with glasses…

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: …B, Mitch McConnell looks like a Mr. Potato Head if the potato had been mashed…

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: …Or C, as a young man, Mitch McConnell didn’t beat polio. It was that polio left his body because it couldn’t stand being there any more?

(LAUGHTER)

TOM BODETT: Oh.

ROBERTS: Oh.

BODETT: Oh, you know, I think he did have polio as a child. Is it that one?

SAGAL: No, it was actually a trick question…

BODETT: Oh, thank, God.

SAGAL: …Because it wasn’t any of those.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: I feel like we wouldn’t be on the radio this week…

BODETT: I was going to say, you know?

BURBANK: …If it was any of those.

SAGAL: We said Mitch McConnell looks like a chinless owl.

(LAUGHTER)

BODETT: Oh, that’s right.

SAGAL: To our credit, we also didn’t say…

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No, we didn’t say these, so people had no reason to complain. We didn’t say Mitch McConnell looks like a jack-o’-lantern that was left out on the porch till March.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We certainly didn’t say that Mitch McConnell looks like someone dropped a bunch of facial features into a bowl of butterscotch pudding.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We absolutely did not say…

BODETT: And thank God.

SAGAL: …That – you know when somebody pulls out their belly skin to show you how much weight they lost? – that looks like Mitch McConnell’s face.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: And we certainly never stooped to saying that Mitch McConnell’s face was bleeding badly from a face-lift.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We would never do that.

BODETT: That, that…

SAGAL: Too low even for us.

I am sure Senator McConnell chuckled right along with NPR’s quiz show host, panelists, and audience.

And to keep it fair and balanced, here is how Sagal yucked it up with Nancy Pelosi when she was Speaker of the House:

SAGAL: Let’s clarify something right off the bat. How are we to address you? What is the protocol? Speaker Pelosi, in honor of your former position? Leader Pelosi, in honor of your current one?

PELOSI: Because we’re all such good friends here, just say Nancy.

SAGAL: Just say Nancy. Nancy.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: It sounds good, though, Nancy. So we’re delighted to have you with us. We found out, and it should be obvious, given your success in politics, that you grew up in a very political family. You were raised in the business.

PELOSI: Right.

SAGAL: Your father was the mayor of Baltimore.

PELOSI: Yes, he was.

SAGAL: Right. So what was it like growing up in a political household?

PELOSI: Well, it was like campaigning, forever campaigns, all the time. There was never a time when we weren’t walking precincts or receiving volunteers at the door to pick up their brochures, their buttons, their bumper stickers, their placards that would be called lawn signs these days. And I learned how to count votes.

SAGAL: Did you really? So, like, other kids were counting blocks, you were like going “one vote, two votes.”

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: When you were a baby, were you kissing babies?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: We were reading about your father’s career and your involvement with him, and we read that one of the jobs that you had working with your father was that you kept his favor file. Is that correct?

PELOSI: No, I didn’t keep it but I worked on it. That is, to say…

SAGAL: What is it exactly?

PELOSI: What it is, is that if somebody – for example, if someone came to the door and said they needed help in some way, if they needed help finding a job or something like that. The idea was, of the favor file was that when that person was on his or her feet then they would extend a helping hand to somebody else. In other words, they passed it on.

SAGAL: Really?

PELOSI: So where would you go to look for help for somebody else is someone that you had helped already.

SAGAL: Right. Or if you needed to have someone killed…

PELOSI: Again, it was a very…

SAGAL: …call upon this person.

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: Do I detect an ethnic slur there?

SAGAL: No, no.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I wasn’t at all thinking about that scene from “The Godfather.” I really wasn’t.

(LAUGHTER)

CHARLIE PIERCE: Leader Pelosi, we have no idea who this guy is doing the interview.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: So, eventually you got married, you moved with your husband to San Francisco and you got involved with politics there. You ran for office yourself. You know, when you went into politics, you did it with a splash.

Of course, you rose through the ranks of the Democratic Party in the House, and you became the Speaker of the House. You’re our first Speaker of the House we’ve ever had on the show. We have a lot of questions about that. Primarily, what is it like to sit behind the president during the State of the Union address?

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Is it hard to maintain a straight face?

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: Well, I’m glad you’re getting down to the truly important here…

SAGAL: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

PELOSI: …Speaker of the House.

SAGAL: No, really, I mean it must – because you know, like the nation is looking at the president and you are looming there over his shoulder. You could wreak havoc with the address if you wanted to, by making faces. Do you have to think about, like…

PELOSI: Well, one could.

SAGAL: Yes.

PELOSI: Well, here’s the thing…

SAGAL: Yeah.

PELOSI: …the Speaker of the House has awesome power. And so when the joint session is called and the president of the United States is welcomed in a joint session, House and Senate, it is the Speaker of the House who introduces the president. Not that that’s the power part, but it’s a manifestation…

SAGAL: That is power. You could keep him waiting. You could be standing, and he could be waiting outside. And you could be like, “So guys, what’s up?”

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: See the game last night?

PELOSI: Well, no, but, you know, but you would want to be respectful now wouldn’t you? I mean, under other circumstances you would want to be respectful…

SAGAL: Yeah.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: I want to ask a little bit about the job. Do you ever talk to the current Speaker, John Boehner? Does he ever call you up and go “I don’t know how I’m going to get this done; these guys are being so obstreperous. What do I do, Nancy?” Does that ever happen?

PELOSI: No.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: Really, you don’t…

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: He doesn’t invite you over, back to your old office just for a get together, have a good cry, you and him and talk about problems.

PELOSI: No.

SAGAL: No, really, I mean…

PELOSI: Girls don’t cry.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: No. Well done.

(APPLAUSE)

FAITH SALIE: Nancy, I can’t believe I just called you that. Thank you.

PELOSI: Thank you, Faith. I’ll call you Faith; you call me Nancy.

SALIE: That’s a deal. I earnestly want to ask you about an issue that’s dear to my heart and I understand it’s dear to yours, which is chocolate.

PELOSI: Oh, yes.

SAGAL: We’ve read this too that this is your great vice, if you will, you’re big into chocolate.

PELOSI: I don’t consider it a vice. I consider it…

SALIE: A blessing from God.

(LAUGHTER)

SAGAL: You consider it…

PELOSI: Very dark chocolate, very dark chocolate.

SAGAL: Very dark. So tell us what you can. Tell us what you’re willing to admit of your chocolate consumption.

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: Let’s get down to brass tacks. How many pounds of chocolate have you eaten today?

(LAUGHTER)

BURBANK: I’ll take that as 20.

(LAUGHTER)

You tell me, which is funnier? Peter Sagal laughing his way through the week’s news or Man Getting Hit by Football?

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Why Do Celebrity Pastors Stumble Over “Thus Saith the Lord”?

I am not sure why Eugene Peterson’s flip-flop on gay marriage is such a big deal. But (all about mmmmmeeeeEEE) I’m not in the habit of taking my cues any more from popular Christian authors or personalities. That could be age, temperament (naysayer), or wisdom — and in the right combination separating those traits may be redundant. But I continue to be surprised by what catches on among evangelicals who fret (even if I don’t want to come across as being above it all).

While following some of the reactions, I came across responses from Tim Keller, John Stott, and Sam Allberry. Since Stott is deceased, I should have known that these would not be direct reactions to Peterson. What caught my eye was the link to a review by Keller — can you believe it? There on display is the same affliction that got Peterson into trouble in the first place — namely, failing to minister God’s word and telling us instead about thoughts and reflections based on a lot of stuff you’ve read.

What is especially noteworthy about Keller’s handling of such a controversial subject as homosexuality if he is going to maintain his New York City profile is his ability to quote authors (other than the prophets and apostles).

First some of the debate about homosexuality in church history and antiquity:

These arguments were first asserted in the 1980s by John Boswell and Robin Scroggs. Vines, Wilson and others are essentially repopularizing them. However, they do not seem to be aware that the great preponderance of the best historical scholarship since the 1980s — by the full spectrum of secular, liberal and conservative researchers — has rejected that assertion. Here are two examples.

Bernadette Brooten and William Loader have presented strong evidence that homosexual orientation was known in antiquity. Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium, for example, tells a story about how Zeus split the original human beings in half, creating both heterosexual and homosexual humans, each of which were seeking to be reunited to their “lost halves” — heterosexuals seeking the opposite sex and homosexuals the same sex. Whether Aristophanes believed this myth literally is not the point. It was an explanation of a phenomenon the ancients could definitely see — that some people are inherently attracted to the same sex rather than the opposite sex.

For comparisons of homosexuality to slavery Keller can take you to more scholarly literature:

But historians such as Mark Noll (America’s God, 2005 and The Civil War as a Theological Crisis, 2006) have shown the 19th century position some people took that the Bible condoned race-based chattel slavery was highly controversial and never a consensus. Most Protestants in Canada and Britain (and many in the northern U.S. states) condemned it as being wholly against the Scripture. Rodney Stark (For the Glory of God, 2003) points out that the Catholic church also came out early against the African slave trade. David L. Chappell in his history of the Civil Rights Movement (A Stone of Hope, 2003) went further. He proves that even before the Supreme Court decisions of the mid-50s, almost no one was promoting the slender and forced biblical justifications for racial superiority and segregation. Even otherwise racist theologians and ministers could not find a basis for white supremacy in the Bible.

He even uses awareness of 19th century debates about slavery to take a swipe at Southern Presbyterians:

During the Civil War, British Presbyterian biblical scholars told their southern American colleagues who supported slavery that they were reading the Scriptural texts through cultural blinders. They wanted to find evidence for their views in the Bible and voila — they found it. If no Christian reading the Bible — across diverse cultures and times — ever previously discovered support for same-sex relationships in the Bible until today, it is hard not to wonder if many now have new cultural spectacles on, having a strong predisposition to find in these texts evidence for the views they already hold.

What are those cultural spectacles? The reason that homosexual relationships make so much more sense to people today than in previous times is because they have absorbed late modern western culture’s narratives about the human life. Our society presses its members to believe “you have to be yourself,” that sexual desires are crucial to personal identity, that any curbing of strong sexual desires leads to psychological damage, and that individuals should be free to live as they alone see fit.

As if the Bible supported abolitionists or anti-slavery arguments were immune to “modern western culture’s narratives about the human life.” Sometimes Keller wades into scholarly material superficially so that it agrees with him, but I digress. (Funny how when I bring the Bible into the history seminar it doesn’t gain me any credibility.)

Then you have Keller appealing to more academics to critique these modern “narratives”:

These narratives have been well analyzed by scholars such as Robert Bellah and Charles Taylor. They are beliefs about the nature of reality that are not self-evident to most societies and they carry no more empirical proof than any other religious beliefs. They are also filled with inconsistencies and problems. Both Vines and Wilson largely assume these cultural narratives. It is these faith assumptions about identity and freedom that make the straightforward reading of the biblical texts seem so wrong to them. They are the underlying reason for their views, but they are never identified or discussed.

Maybe this is impressive to David Brooks and other columnists and reporters at the Times, but wasn’t Keller called to minister God’s word? Where is Moses, Jesus, or Paul? Nothing wrong inherently with being aware of some of the scholarly and public intellectual literature. But can’t you give us a “thus saith the Lord” pastor Tim?

When he finally gets around to the Bible, Keller accentuates the positive (the way Mr. Rogers did):

The saddest thing for me as a reader was how, in books on the Bible and sex, Vines and Wilson concentrated almost wholly on the biblical negatives, the prohibitions against homosexual practice, instead of giving sustained attention to the high, (yes) glorious Scriptural vision of sexuality. Both authors rightly say that the Bible calls for mutual loving relationships in marriage, but it points to far more than that.

In Genesis 1 you see pairs of different but complementary things made to work together: heaven and earth, sea and land, even God and humanity. It is part of the brilliance of God’s creation that diverse, unlike things are made to unite and create dynamic wholes which generate more and more life and beauty through their relationships. As N.T. Wright points out, the creation and uniting of male and female at the end of Genesis 2 is the climax of all this.

That means that male and female have unique, non-interchangeable glories — they each see and do things that the other cannot. Sex was created by God to be a way to mingle these strengths and glories within a life-long covenant of marriage. Marriage is the most intense (though not the only) place where this reunion of male and female takes place in human life. Male and female reshape, learn from, and work together.

Gee golly williker. Marriage is just one stroll down the trail of delight (or maybe through Homer Simpson’s Land of Chocolate). Where is the grit of NYC? Where is the complicated character of life in the modern world where we have to make tough choices, or recognize the good and less attractive in all people we meet, and the institutions in which moderns operate? Where is the edge that attracts at least some people like Brother Mouzone or Woody Allen to the Big Apple? The view from Keller’s study is awfully pleasant (and crowded with books other than the Bible).

Meanwhile, Russell Moore made a decent point about Peterson when he compared the evangelical celebrity to Wendell Berry’s own flip-flop on gay marriage:

And now Peterson says he’s willing to walk away from what the Scriptures and 2,000 years of unbroken Christian teaching affirm on the conjugal nature of marriage as the one-flesh union of a man and a woman reflecting the mystery of Christ and the church. I can’t un-highlight or un-flag my Peterson books. I can’t erase from my mind all the things he has taught me. Should I stop reading him, since he has shown a completely contrary view on an important issue of biblical interpretation—and, beyond that, of the very definition of what it means to repent of sin?

This is the same sort of conversation had a few years ago among those of us who’ve been taught much by novelist and poet Wendell Berry when he, too, embraced the zeitgeist on marriage and sexuality. Some said we should throw out our Berry books and never read him again. Others, I’m sure, seeing how much they’d benefited from Berry on place and memory, probably decided to follow him right into this viewpoint. Maybe the same will happen with Peterson now.

True enough, but when Moore says we should not throw Peterson’s books away (who am I to adopt such a move since H. L. Mencken sets on my shelf of worthies right next to Machen — alphabetically anyway), I wonder why Mr. Southern Baptist doesn’t distinguish Peterson as a would-be pastor and theologian from Berry who simply is a writer and farmer. Berry makes no pretension to issue “thus saith the Lord’s” based on his reading of Scripture. Peterson, however, operates in the world of Scripture and theology (and all you usually get — my impression — is “the Lord would be really happy if you might ever consider this and you may also flourish forever and ever”).

It’s Funny Because It’s True

That was Homer Simpson’s reaction to the video, “Football to the Groin” (as I recall). Good humor has a strong does of reality, that was the lesson implied in Homer’s quip. And Babylon Bee’s top ten books for 2016 also suggest that Old Life criticisms of the Protestant world have a strong resemblance to reality. These indicate that OL and BB share not a w-w but a wariness about evangelical hype and cliches:

1.) Whatever Tim Keller wrote, probably: Honestly, we didn’t read any Tim Keller books this year. But we’re sure that whatever he wrote was pretty good. So the number 1 book of the year is whatever he wrote. Pick your favorite and put it in this slot. Congratulations, Tim!

3.) The Purpose Driven Ferret — Rick Warren: While fans of the Purpose Driven series have hundreds of variants to choose from, Rick Warren may have outdone himself with this special edition of The Purpose Driven Life, written exclusively for the close cousin of the polecat. Your ferret will love learning how to fulfill its God-given purpose as Warren masterfully uses over 250 different translations of the Bible to drive home his point.

6.) Worldview: The Worldview: Worldview Edition — Al Mohler: Al Mohler is right in his wheelhouse when writing about worldviews, and his latest work, Worldview: The Worldview: Worldview Edition is an excellent guide to worldviews and the worldviews that view them in the world.

7.) Hyphenating To The Glory Of God — John Piper: Piper focuses with white-hot, laser-like intensity on, as he puts it, “the all-other-punctuation-mark-surpassing splendor” of the hyphen. Soul-stirring and paradigm-shattering, you should not miss this all-too-important, not-exactly-like-his-usual-books-but-still-vintage-John-Piper work.

9.) ? — Rob Bell: “I was thinking about what I wanted my new book to convey,” Bell said thoughtfully in a short YouTube video designed to promote the May release of New York Times bestseller ?. “And it suddenly hit me—I really have no idea. I mean, about anything.” This masterful work features thousands of question marks arranged on each page in no discernible order, as well as several chapters written in Sanskrit.

The lesson: the way to avoid ridicule is stop doing ridiculous stuff.

Blame Trump on Sunday School

Stay with me.

It looks like evangelicals who go to church don’t support Donald Trump:

Across all the states, the March 15 elections showed that, on average, a super-majority of 60 percent of evangelicals voted for someone other than Trump. Furthermore, there continues to be strong evidence that the more religious a voter is, the less likely they are to support Donald Trump. For example, in Missouri exit polls, which tracked church attendance, Trump performed much worse than Ted Cruz. Of those who attend religious services “more than once a week,” Cruz garnered 56 percent of the vote, outpacing Trump by a full 26 percentage points. Among those who attend religious services once a week, Cruz earned 50 percent of the vote, which was a full 17 points above Trump.

In contrast, with those who only attend services “a few” times a year, Trump won 48 percent of the vote to Cruz’s 29 percent. If Missouri’s numbers are indicative of voters in other states, then Trump does much worse among those who actually take their faith seriously enough to attend religious services consistently.

So, who is responsible for nurturing evangelicals who don’t go to church (and vote for Trump)? Sunday school is.

Church leaders sensed that Boomer parents wanted the one hour break from their kids—that they wanted to focus on their own spiritual life for an hour away from the distraction of their children. And, again, we assumed, reasonably so, that worship targeted to adult boomers would not be all that engaging for kids. So dynamic Sunday school programs were created to engage the kids at their level in their language while their parents were in worship. In fact, some churches didn’t (and don’t) allow kids into big people worship at all.

The result: Many of these innovated congregations had a positive, significant impact on the lives of disenfranchised Boomers and their kids. Many saw their congregations and their children’s ministries grow exponentially. The evangelism imperative to reconnect with Boomers seemed to work.

But there was (and is) one huge unintended consequence: We have raised the largest unchurched generation in the history of our country.

Admittedly, there are many reasons why each generation in our culture is increasingly distanced from the church. Some have to do with societal shifts that have nothing to do with the church. Some have to do with the inability of the church to articulate the Gospel in compelling ways.

But perhaps one of the reasons has to do with the Sunday School shift…as we shifted kids out of the main worship experience, en-culturated them in their own program, and robbed them of any touch points with the rest of the body of Christ. Another way of saying it: by segregating our kids out of worship, we never assimilated them into the life of the congregation. They had no touch points. They had no experience. They had no connection with the main worship service—its liturgy, its music, its space, its environment, and its adults. It was a foreign place to them. And so…once they finished with the kids/or youth program, they left the church.

In other words, parents who forced their kids to sit through boring church services and eat broccoli at Sunday dinner reared people who vote — wait for it — for Ted Cruz.

Doh!

Baking Bread the Manly Way

The Harts have been doing their fair share to help the economy. Having gone from apartment living to a house, we have added a number of time-saving devices lately, such as a 12-cup coffee maker, a vacuum cleaner, and most recently, a break maker. For some reason the economy still struggles.

I made our first loaf this weekend, the cinnamon swirl number from the booklet that came with Cuisinart’s machine. The bread was good but butter, like bacon, makes everything better. As Homer would say, bacon sauteed in butter — mmmmmmmmmmm.

But I was disappointed that I had to purchase the ingredients, measure and put them into the machine, and even roll out the dough at one point to add the cinnamon and sugar and then roll up the dough. I expected the machine to do everything since it was supposed to save time.

I know the Baylys would disapprove of a godly man making bread. But I hope the use of the machine shows that I am not a sissy all the time.

Is Creation for Evangelicals and Neo-Reformed what Donuts Are for Homer Simpson?

I am noticing a trend, trend-spotters that historians are, and it does not appear to be promising.

Over at Christianity Today, Scott Sabin, author of Tending to Eden, connects the dots among – hold on to your baseball cap – evangelism, “compassionate justice ministry,” and earth care.

On a global scale, restoration is a monumental task. We are unlikely to achieve it this side of Christ’s return, any more than we are likely to bring about world peace by turning the other cheek. However, kingdom thinking can serve to guide our planning and our individual choices. At Plant with Purpose, we have seen restoration happen. Rivers and streams that had withered have begun to flow again due to upstream solutions. They have become powerful illustrations of God’s ability to redeem and restore, both for us and for the farmers with whom we are striving to share Christ’s love. . . .

Much of the world is either directly suffering as a result of environmental degradation or reacting in numb despair to gloomy predictions. Both groups desperately need the hope of Jesus Christ. It is the hope they long for, a hope that speaks directly to the redemption of all creation and reminds them that God loves the cosmos.

The gospel is for everyone—from dirt farmers to environmental activists. It is good news that God cares about all that he has created.

Pete Enns picks up on those same connections between creation and redemption in a piece for Biologos.

Psalm 136:1-9 is similar. The psalmist praises Yahweh for creating the cosmos using language reminiscent of Genesis 1. But in v. 10, without missing a beat, this “creation psalm,” brings up the exodus. Then in v. 13 we read that Yahweh “divided the Red Sea asunder.” Again, this calls to mind Genesis 1:6-8, where, in creating the world, God divided the water above from the water below (see also Psalm 74:12-17 where God “split open the sea”). “Dividing” the sea is a theme the Old Testament shares with other ancient creation texts, as can be seen in the link above.

Creation and exodus are intertwined. The creator was active again in delivering Israel from Egypt. . . .

What we see in the Old Testament is raised to a higher level in the New. God’s redemptive act in Christ is so thoroughly transformative that creation language is needed to describe it.

John’s Gospel famously begins “In the beginning was the Word….” The echo of Genesis 1:1 is intentional and unmistakable. Jesus’ entire redemptive ministry means there is now a new beginning, a starting over—a new creation. This Jesus, who is the Word, who was with God at the very beginning, through whom all things were made, is now walking among us as redeemer (John 1:1-5). Those who believe in him are no longer born of earthly parents but “born of God” (vv. 12-13). They start over. The language of “born again” later in John (3:3) points in the same direction. . . .

Redemption is not simply for people; Jesus’ redemptive program is cosmic, as we can see in Romans 8:19-21. Creation itself awaits its chance to start over, its “liberation from bondage.” Cosmic re-creation finds its final expression in Revelation 22:1-5. In the beautifully symbolic language that characterizes the entire book, we read that the cosmos has become the new Garden, complete with not one but two trees of life, where there is no longer any curse.

The Bible ends where it begins, at creation. The goal of redemption all along has been to get us back to the Garden, back to the original plan of the created order. To be redeemed means to take part in the creative work of God. The hints are there in the Old Testament, and the final reality of it is ultimately accomplished through the resurrection of the Son of God.

To round out the redeeming creation line-up, David Koyzis yields the especially helpful service not only of connecting creation and redemption but also neo-Calvinism and Roman Catholicism.

Perhaps readers of Evangel also read On the Square, but if not, permit me to direct your attention to a wonderful article by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, which, but for a few sentences here and there, could easily have been written by an evangelical Christian of the Reformed persuasion: Fire On The Earth: God’s New Creation and the Meaning of Our Lives. I am struck by his redemptive-historical reading of scripture, which many of us may tend to think is the exclusive preserve of the Reformed tradition. Archbishop Chaput is to be commended for disabusing us of this misconception. Here’s an excerpt:

A simple way of understanding God’s Word is to see that the beginning, middle and end of Scripture correspond to man’s creation, fall, and redemption. Creation opens Scripture, followed by the sin of Adam and the infidelity of Israel. This drama takes up the bulk of the biblical story until we reach a climax in the birth of Jesus and the redemption he brings. Thus, creation, fall, and redemption make up the three key acts of Scripture’s story, and they embody God’s plan for each of us.

To be sure, the God who creates is the deity who redeems. But to miss the difference between creation and redemption, and to rush to identify them with a Homeric blessing – “mmmmmmmm redeemed creationnnnnn” – is to miss the import of this little thing we call sin. The creation was and is good. It did not fall. It does not need to be redeemed. Only fallen creatures need redemption. In which case, to miss the ways that creation and redemption differ is to repeat the same collapsing of categories that Protestant progressives effected one hundred years ago when they threw out the distinctions between natural and supernatural, divine and human, sacred and secular, to brew an ideology that would save the world.

For that reason, two-kingdom and spirituality of the church advocates are eager to either warn evangelicals and progressive Reformed types about the danger of their view, not only because confusing the creational and redemptive functions of Christ blurs a category that has been crucial to the Reformed tradition. It is also because such confusion inevitably mistakes improvements in standard of living for the fruit of the Spirit.