Tag Archives: Kevin DeYoung

The Other Issue with Kevin DeYoung and “Game of Thrones”

10 Aug

Kevin DeYoung wrote an article this week on The Gospel Coalition website that has caused a firestorm in the comments section. DeYoung’s piece, “I Don’t Understand Christians Watching Game of Thrones” has more that 250 comments at this point. Many people agree with DeYoung, that watching this sexually explicit and violent HBO series is a no-go for Christians, while others are harshly critical, accusing DeYoung of being judgmental or worse.

My take on this issue is that the controversy reveals a deeper issue with Christians: we have bought into the lie that we must be entertained. Our culture reveres, and revels in, entertainment. Our hours are to be devoted to it, so much so that a leader with the streaming service Netflix recently said that the company’s chief competitor was sleep. Their goal was to hook their subscribers free time to such an extent that they would only put the remote down when physically exhausted.

But does the Bible give us any theology of entertainment? To be sure, we can look to verses which celebrate God’s good gifts. We can look to the ethos of the book of Ecclesiastes, which directs us to enjoy life under the sun. We can see that the Bible is not against food or drink or enjoyment. But the Bible is strongly against idolatry. And I think that is where some Christians go in their need for entertainment. In this regard, the choice of entertainment is not my focus (though I think we should be careful about the kinds of things we choose to watch/listen to). Instead, I am thinking about the volume of entertainment we insist on and the ways we bring ourselves constantly to the throne of sensory stimulation.

What we are doing is not good for us. I would be the last person in the world who would want us our attitude as Christians to fit H.L. Mencken’s definition of a Puritan: “The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, might be happy.” But I am concerned with my own heart and, in reading the comments in DeYoung’s article, I am concerned with many other Christians with regard to our entertainment obsession.

Why do we feel the need to occupy every free moment with some form of entertainment (often entertainment that isolates us from others)? Why do we give so much time to cell phone games and social media and streaming services and sports and so little time to Scripture and prayer? Why do we eschew opportunities to edify our souls and embrace opportunities to stimulate our senses? We reach for what feels good rather than what is good. This is idolatry, plain and simple.

What is not so simple is how we walk this out day by day. There is not a biblical prescription or command (“30 minutes of entertainment and no more”). Each believer has to work out their entertainment theology with fear and trembling. “You shall have no other gods before me” is really the flip side of the greatest commandment “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” So idolatry is unacceptable in any form to those who want to love God. But how this looks for each believer will vary slightly from person to person and from season to season.

But I also want to say that I think there may be a deeper issue at work here as well. I believe many Christians in America have rejected a theology of suffering that is much more explicit and developed in Scripture than a theology of entertainment. In other words, while the Bible doesn’t tell us to pursue entertainment or to expect entertainment as part of our lives, we are told to expect suffering. In fact, in some way we are to count trials joy for the good they produce in us. But our culture is allergic to not feeling well. If you have a sniffle, get a pill. If you are lonely, fire up Netflix. If you are hungry, the drive-thru beckons. We have created a culture that caters to our whims so when the inevitable empty hours arise, we fill them with entertainment. The problem with this is that these empty hours are God’s will for us. They are the hollow places of life where God shapes us and fills us. Our disconnection from the reality of God is owing not to a lack of God’s presence but to our pushing everything else into the spaces God should fill.

We understand, I think, the need for Christians to embrace suffering in the big things, but we are reluctant to embrace the hundred little sufferings we face every day. A personal interaction that falls flat, an effort at work that is less than stellar, overactive and irritating children, bad news in the world, aging parents, there are dozens of things every day that we face as part of life in a fallen world. How do we handle these things? I think for many of us, we go to entertainment as a way to escape our pain. There is a place for entertainment and we certainly need to choose wisely. But sometimes we need to allow pain to do its work, even the pain of loneliness or emptiness or concern. Maybe we never get far with God and never make much progress with our problems because we medicate our symptoms instead of treating our disease. Applying gospel truth to our hearts, waiting on the Lord, talking to Him, these are all things which are not flashy or immediately stimulating, but they bring to our lives a richness and depth we can find nowhere else. In the end, our lives will be fuller if we empty them a little bit.

Kevin DeYoung — Why Idolatry Was (and Is) Attractive

18 Apr

Some people may wonder why the people of the ancient world were so drawn to idols, particularly idols of wood and stone of their own making. Kevin DeYoung has written an excellent and brief article addressing this topic. It is well-worth your time.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/04/18/why-idolatry-was-and-is-attractive/

A Great Article on the Presidential Race

25 Jan

One of the things I have noticed in the last two presidential elections, is the massive number of debates leading up to the nomination for either party. These debates serve to winnow the field of candidates and sometimes they provide pivotal moments in the race, propelling a candidate to the top. Kevin DeYoung has written an excellent article about the debates and what they tell us about our country. The observations he makes are outstanding.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/01/25/what-the-debates-say-about-america/

“Why Then Must We Still Do Good?”

15 Dec

Kevin DeYoung nails it once again with his recent blog article by this title. One of the chief objections to the biblical teaching of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone is that people believe it gives us license to sin. But DeYoung’s article answers that objection strongly and is well-worth your time to read and ponder.

Here is the link . . .

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/12/15/why-then-must-we-still-do-good/

 

All Out of Whack: An Article from Kevin DeYoung

23 Jun

Kevin DeYoung writes so many good articles.  I love his latest article and am sharing it below.  I encourage you to check in on his blog often.  It is really excellent.   http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/

Here is DeYoung’s article from Tuesday . . .

All Out of Whack

 

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the average reader of this blog is a fan of theology. Most of you are thoughtful, doctrinally attuned Christians. I also imagine a few of you might be a wee bit opinionated. It takes one to know one.

I don’t use “opinionated” as a bad word. We should be immovable on some matters, absolutely convinced of others, and it’s not bad to have strong informed opinions on all the rest. But let’s be honest: sometimes in conservative evangelical circles the intensity with which we hold to our convictions (let alone our opinions) is all out of whack.

See What I Mean

The Lord has been gracious over many years to preserve the unity at our church. So I’m not writing about the members of University Reformed Church. But I’ve seen and heard enough—from other church leaders and from church visitors who end up not staying with us—to know that some conservative Christians can make things that are secondary (or tertiary or whatever words come next for four and five) into things that are primary.

There are Christians who want homeschooling to be the top agenda for the church. Others insist that every church leader must embrace private Christian schools. I’ve met Christians whose number one passion seems to be age-integration in church ministries. Others are adamant that kids should be in all church services and aren’t allowed to draw pictures or look at books. For others, paedocommunion is a must. For some the issue is the Ten Commandments every Sunday or the presence of two services (morning and evening good; two in the morning bad). I’ve heard of other Christians getting up in arms about Christmas trees, the use or non-use of wine during communion, and whether infants should wear white garments or black when they are baptized. And too many have taken the regulative principle, which as a general principle is helpful and scriptural, and made the detailed application of this principle the end all and be all of church life.

Please hear me out. I like Christians who know what they believe and why they believe it (I’ve never been criticized for having too few convictions and opinions). So, I’m not saying the items above are unimportant issues (okay, a couple might be). The problem is not that we care about all sorts of issues or that we want to think carefully about every aspect of church ministry. The problem is we haven’t always thought carefully about how we express and hold to our careful thoughts.

And Here’s Why

First, we are not always gracious in the way we talk about secondary issues. Most Christians speak kindly and calmly about their convictions. But sadly it often feels like the less important the issue the more intensely someone will hold to it. We make up for the lack of gravity surrounding the issue by promoting that issue in the gravest possible terms. And even if we are right and someone else is dead wrong we should still correct our opponents with gentleness and grace (2 Tim. 2:25), not with hand grenades.

Second, some of us have never considered that certain issues in the Christian life belong in a Romans 14 category. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in polemics. I believe in dying on some hills. I believe in standing fast on doctrine, even on “non-salvation issues.” But on some matters we should say with Paul, “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind” (Rom. 14:5). And sometimes we must ask, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother?” After all, “we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (14:10-11). It’s okay on some matters (not all!) for Christians to agree to disagree (even if you know you’re right like Paul did!). It’s not a failure of theological nerve to recognize that some good believers we’ll make different decisions than other good believers. The mature Christian can hold strongly to his opinions without insisting strongly that all other Christians do the same.

A third problem is that some Christians inquire too early and too often about their particular hot-button issues. When a brother visiting the church for the first time asks where I stand on Rushdoony, I’m a little freaked out. It’s like taking a girl out on a first date and asking if her parents have digital cable. What?! Don’t you want to know a few other things first? In checking a church I hope you’d be interested to hear about the role of prayer, the importance of missions, the understanding of the gospel, the integrity of the leaders, their view of Scripture, and a dozen other things before launching into the rareified air of Rushdoony. Besides, I would also hope visitors, as a matter of courtesy, would not land at a church ready to insist on items 16-25 on their theological checklist.

Finally, we must be careful our passions are not out of proportion. There is no problem with Christians who feel strongly about schooling, the placement of the congregational prayer, or the frequency of communion. The problem is when our passion for these issues exceeds our passion for the gospel, for the cross, for the lost, for the afflicted. Not every issue matters as much as every other issue. Not every position deserves out fieriest passion. Save the big guns for the big ones. Get the heart pounding for the doctrine of the Trinity or penal substitution or God’s sovereignty. If your “thing” is Christmas trees or the kind of beverage in the communion cup, it’s time to get a better “thing.” The Christian life allows for lots of passion, discourse, and detailed application—as long as we don’t get everything out of whack.

This article first appeared in the June issue of Tabletalk.

Why the Internet is Great

14 Jun

There are many horrible aspects to the internet.  But there are also incredible blessings there.  One of the blessings I have recently run across is a series of articles from Kevin DeYoung and Tullian Tchvidjian.  The basic subject of these articles is the place of effort in the Christian life, but the discussion goes much further than that in the end, to deal with the question of what a Gospel-centered life looks like.  Here are the three articles for those who are interested.  Leave comments here if you read the articles and we can use their discussion as a starting point for our own discussion.

I really appreciate the approach both men take in their writing.  This is not a blogging shout fest but a great exchange of ideas on this important topic.

The first article was by DeYoung and was called Make Every Effort.  It can be found at . . .

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/06/07/make-every-effort/

Tchvidjian’s response is called Word Hard!  But in Which Direction?

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/06/08/work-hard-but-in-which-direction/

DeYoung has responded with another article, entitled Gospel-Driven Effort.

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2011/06/14/gospel-driven-effort/

These are not theoretical discussions but are intensely practical and of incredible importance as they affect our whole approach to Christian living.  These articles are well worth your time.

 

 

 

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