Archive for September, 2011

Towards Conservative Christian Churches – 26 – Encouraging Reflectiveness

September 30, 2011

Ours is not a particularly reflective age. When a pastor begins speaking of the meaning of the media, devices and technologies that surround us, he may receive something of a puzzled, if not combative reaction. Many today are oblivious to the meanings of the things they read, the music they listen to, the films they watch, the technologies they use, or the very words they use. The ambient culture tends to scoff at reflectiveness as impractical philosophising. The pace of urbanised culture discourages serious consideration of the meaning of things. Further, our lives are populated with media which serve the end of perpetual distraction, with its background noise drowning out the clarity and curiosity that come with silence. A pastor can attempt to cultivate a spirit of reflectiveness in his people through several measures.

First, if he is doing the kind of reading suggested in the last post, it is inevitable that his sermons will end up applying Scripture with a broader range of examples. At the same time, those examples will become more incisive and particular, often surprising and awakening parishioners with the meaning of things they had ignored, passed over or simply failed to consider. With these applications, he will be explicitly or implicitly calling for discernment and a careful use of technology, media, and other cultural phenomena. Discernment, or judgement, is only possible when people understand the meaning of the thing or activity under consideration. True discernment comes about by encouraging the examined life. Eventually, parishioners may begin to realize that applying Scripture takes some work on their part: the work of understanding the world, so as to apply the Word.

A bolster to this kind of thinking would be a Sunday School-type class on biblical ethics. A study of gender issues, bio-ethics, war, justice, economics and other such matters encourages people to consider the meaning of these things in our world, so as to rightly apply the Scriptures.

Second, he can teach the doctrine of vocation. Gene Veith has done helpful work on this doctrine. This important teaching, recovered largely by Luther, insists on the truths of 1 Corinthians 7:18-24 that every person has a calling. I spent many years in a church where the pulpit teaching seemed to suggest that the only two God-pleasing career options for a Christian are pastor and missionary. By contrast, Scripture makes it clear that God calls people to various stations in life for His glory. While pastor and missionary are honourable callings, the world needs Christians who are plumbers, lawyers, composers, horticulturalists, soldiers, farmers, nurses, and mechanics. This is not merely so that we can witness to others in the professions we are in. It is because God is glorified by the industrious and creative work of men. Christians ought to excel at learning the meaning of a section of God’s world, and bring Him glory through their useful and valuable work. Here the pastor also has the opportunity to learn from his members, as they explain meanings discovered from their particular callings. Against this biblical view, people are encouraged by their culture to simply ‘get a job’ so as to have enough money to spend on their pleasures. While one’s income may not always coincide with one’s calling, this approach generally pushes out any real pursuit of meaning. Pastors can resist this mindlessness in the Christians they teach by encouraging them to value their callings, learn within them, and excel at them.

Third, he can teach the doctrine of true leisure. Partner to an unbiblical view of vocation is an unbiblical view of leisure. Leisure is seen by the world as respite from ‘the job’, and essentially an opportunity to ‘goof off’ or ‘veg out’. This kind of idleness has the paradoxical effect of filling the soul with an empty boredom, which requires more distraction to satiate it. Josef Pieper argues that the real point of leisure is freedom from the constraints of servile work, to be able to reflect on ultimate ends. Leisure involves a passivity which considers the meaning and value of things as they are in themselves, and not merely for their function. This requires stepping outside our routine to look upon the world as a gift from God. This ultimately depends on worship, and the act of corporate worship.

This happens to be close to the biblical idea of sabbatical rest. For God’s Old and New Testament people, there exists the principle of coming apart from the world of servile work to worship, meditate and ponder. This has implications for how we use the Lord’s Day. If the Lord’s Day services are a brief pause in an otherwise secular use of leisure, we have missed the point entirely. If Sundays contain nothing of reflection, contemplation and meditation, but are filled with the usual distractions, albeit punctuated by a service or two, then God’s people are not resting in the way He intended. If Sunday is a chance for Christians to do what unbelievers mean when they speak of  ‘unwinding’, then we ought not to be surprised when Christians do not grow in their ability to perceive meanings. Nothing wrong with hobbies, games, or distractions in their place. But the aim of leisure is not mere distraction; it exists for the reflection that makes sense of life.

I have occasionally pointed people to Tozer’s thoughts on simplicity and solitude:

The need for solitude and quietness was never greater than it is today. What the world will do about it is their problem. Apparently the masses want it the way it is and the majority of Christians are so completely conformed to this present age that they, too, want things the way they are. They may be annoyed a bit by the clamor and by the goldfish bowl existence they live, but apparently they are not annoyed enough to do anything about it. However, there are a few of God’s children who have had enough. They want to relearn the ways of solitude and simplicity and gain the infinite riches of the interior life. They want to discover the blessedness of what Dr. Max Reich called “spiritual aloneness.” To such I offer a brief paragraph of counsel.

Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it be only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don’t try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind—short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Never let your mind remain scattered for very long. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration.

 All the above is contingent upon a right relation to God through Christ and daily meditation on the Scriptures. Lacking these, nothing will help us; granted these, the discipline recommended will go far to neutralize the evil effects of externalism and to make us acquainted with God and our own souls.

(A.W. Tozer, Of God and Men)

The fourth way of encouraging reflectiveness is for a pastor to become aware of how form shapes meaning. We will consider this in our last exploration of the seventh mark of a conservative Christian church.

Towards Conservative Christian Churches – 25 – A World of Meaning

September 23, 2011

Once a pastor has it settled in his mind that sola Scriptura does not require him to ignore, dismiss or reject extra-biblical sources of knowledge, he may safely walk through God’s world and examine it, knowing that it is, indeed, his Father’s world.

A pastor should become personally fascinated with meaning. How could it be otherwise? He communicates truth as a vocation! He cannot communicate truth effectively if he becomes provincial and narrow in his knowledge. He must have an insatiable curiosity, which scans the breadth of the created order.

Because he is a communicator of religion, two areas of meaning should be his special focus: language and culture. Language is the tool of his trade, so he cannot afford to be careless of the meaning of words. The man who gives us all a rod to the back in this regard is Richard Mitchell. Mitchell is relentless is telling us that disordered speech represents disordered thinking, which in turn represents a disordered imagination. Careless writing or speaking ultimately represents a carelessness with meaning and truth. Yes, Mitchell is lewd in certain places. Yes, he is a modernist, who denies the transcendant. However, once again, where he speaks truly, that truth is true for a Christian.

Since culture cannot be divorced from religion, pastors need to understand what culture is, how it is formed, what it produces, and what its relationship is to religion and faith. Practically, a right view of culture touches the core of a pastor’s work: worship, communicating and applying Scripture, discipleship, evangelism, missions, so-called “contextualization”, and a host of other ministry concerns.

I am personally distrustful of some evangelicals when they begin to speak on culture, for their definitions seem novel, partial and rather vacuous. I think we find more helpful guides in those who perpetuate the classical view of culture. T.S. Eliot defended this view in Notes Toward the Definition of Culture. Richard Weaver does much the same in Ideas Have Consequences and Visions of Order. Other helpful guides on culture include Joseph Pieper, Theodore Dalrymple, Roger Scruton, Philip Rieff and Jacques Barzun. If you are looking for a Christian whose take on culture is helpful, J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Culture sketches some of the right views on a Christian relationship to culture. Beyond this, part of the reason for this study of culture is also because a pastor communicates to people within a cultural context. As Ed Hirsch has shown in Cultural Literacy, knowledge of the culture you labour in gives you shared information with others in that culture.

Inevitably, an interest in culture will provoke an interest in the history of culture and its intellectual ideas. How did we get here? Why do people think the way they do? A pastor without a knowledge of the intellectual history of the West will be a perpetual tourist in his own culture. His evangelism and discipleship will be greatly hampered by misunderstanding the presuppositions of the people he meets. Again, men like Weaver, Barzun, Scruton, Christopher Dawson, Russell Kirk, John Lukacs will help us orient ourselves in the Great Conversation.

The study of culture is important, but what cultures produce affects church life dramatically. After all, we have to sing. But what music shall we use? We must use psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, but what poetry shall we use? We must meet, but what architecture shall we use (assuming we’re in a position to do so)? We might care nothing for the other artifacts of culture (to our own detriment), but a pastor must give attention to these three, for they form part of the church’s worship. Again, we are not remiss in consulting men learned in their field, men like Leonard Meyer, Owen Barfield, Cleanth Brooks, and Francis D.K. Ching.

Beyond that, our people are listening to music outside of worship. They are reading books. They are watching television or movies. If we are to be helpful guides to our people, we need to understand something of the meaning of literature, the plastic arts, theatre, and the many different media, technology and devices that now populate our lives. A pastor needs to guide his people to be discerning in what they read, watch and listen to, and how they use books, the Internet, television. To do this effectively, he must understand these media, how they work, how they communicate, and how their use affects a Christian worldview. Further, a pastor need to understand the world he and his hearers live in. That includes something of politics and government, economics, law and science.

Once we’ve looked through all this, the question becomes, where does a pastor find the time to do all this reading? A few suggestions are in order.

1) I have come to part ways with those who say that a self-respecting pastor spends 25-40 hours a week on sermon preparation alone. While I admire the sentiment towards expository preaching, I wonder if it ends up producing richer sermons, or just longer sermons. Truthfully, how can one have enough time to pray, read the Scriptures, prepare or write other materials, visit the flock, do church administration, build relationships with unbelievers, plan services, counsel those in need, meet with church leadership, disciple the young, take care of home and family, as well as do the kind of reading suggested in this post, if 40 hours of the week are spent exclusively on sermon preparation? I would agree that 25-40 hours ought to be spent on study, but that would include the kind of reading we are talking about, alongside sermon preparation. In truth, reading widely (though this is not the primary reason for doing it) only helps sermons, filling them with a richer variety of illustrations and applications.

2) It may help to divide one’s reading time by subject or type of literature. Systematic and biblical theology, practical ministry books, devotional works, history, classical literature and poetry, philosophy, and general knowledge might be some categories to use. Some men are more able to work through several books simultaneously, while others motor through one at a time. Know yourself, and what works well for you, but find a way to have more than an accidental relationship with all these kinds of reading, without neglecting the Scriptures.

3) Subscribing to quality print, web or audio journals or magazines may be helpful. Interviews and articles often give condensed explanations and introductions to subjects that help a busy pastor.

4) If you are like me, then you graduated from college or university with very little in the way of a liberal arts education. The Internet is proving a boon to those of us who wish to catch up on what we missed. Companies like The Teaching Company or Academic Earth offer courses in everything from music to quantum physics by well-respected lecturers. For comparatively little, one can hear lectures from highly-trained professors.

In the next post, I would like to consider further ways that a pastor can grow in his pursuit of meaning, and encourage this attitude in the church he leads.

Towards Conservative Christian Churches – 24 – The Pastor and Sola Scriptura

September 16, 2011

If pastors are to shepherd churches in which there is a desire to understand the meaning of the world and apply it to worship, obedience and ministry, some will need to adjust their understanding of their doctrine of Scripture (or their theories of applying Scripture).

A strange paralysis has come over many evangelical pastors. They are immobilized when it comes to speaking on certain matters which require knowledge acquired outside the Bible. If they need to consult non-biblical sources to apply biblical principles, then somehow the Bible is beholden to the opinions of men. For them, this is mingling iron and clay, inspired revelation and fallible human information. They do not want to ‘go beyond what is written’, and so where the Bible is silent on applications, they do not speak. They do not want to be (rightly or wrongly) associated with ‘legalism’, a term broadly used by many to mean binding men’s consciences to applications without biblical warrant. This leaves them voiceless on a plenitude of matters, for Scripture is certainly nothing like the thirty-nine volume Jewish Talmud, which sought to apply the Torah to just about every conceivable event in life (albeit sixth century Jewish life).

There is something in the attitude of such pastors to be commended. First, it is often motivated by a protective attitude toward Scripture. Scripture is never to be considered on the same plane of authority as the judgements and opinions of men. It is natural for every Christian who believes in the inspiration of Scripture to adopt a defensive posture against anything that seems like competition for Scripture’s authority.

Second, it is willing to muzzle its own voice. Considering the willingness of some to say in the Lord’s name what He has never said, one does appreciate men who consider the warning of James 3:1 before publicly teaching something.

On the other hand, there are also things in that attitude to be censured. First, it is inconsistent. Every pastor makes applications using non-biblical knowledge. The simplest of applications must supply some modicum of knowledge about the world outside the Word for the application to make sense. Preaching against speeding, gambling, drug abuse or Internet porn requires some knowledge from the world (speeding breaks the law, gambling is a frivolous use of money, drugs destroy and enslave the body, Internet porn provides images of people to lust after). Most often, this information is such common knowledge, or so obvious, that we hardly notice that we obtained it outside the Scriptures. We imagine that we went from Scripture to application with nothing in-between. The inconsistency is seen when the same men who would regard such applications as “clearly taught” by Scripture balk at providing applications where the extra-biblical information required demands a more critical judgment, or the opinions of those who have earned the right to hold such opinions.

A second reason for censuring such an attitude is that it is often simply fearful. In an era where sola Scriptura means avoiding enlisting any human knowledge outside the Bible when preaching or teaching from the Bible, and where anyone who makes sermon applications that are specific to contemporary life runs the risk of being called ‘legalist’, some just want to avoid the controversy, and know how to do it. They know where people’s cherished idols are, and they skirt around those issues to avoid the pitch-fork wielding legalist-hunters, or the inevitable disgruntled church member, or “the limiting of our Gospel-influence by majoring on minors”.

But as I’ve argued elsewhere, this overreaction to either Roman denials of sola Scriptura or more modern pulpit abuses has not produced a sleek, supple Christianity, but an emaciated one, that can barely speak to its own generation. A secularized church is both implausible and irrelevant.

Fully Christian churches and those who lead them must recover a right understanding of sola Scriptura. The teaching of sola Scriptura was never meant to limit all of human knowledge to the pages of the Bible. A pastor who accepts the primacy of Scripture does not have to reject information obtained from the world around us. What sola Scriptura means is that all the facts we collect from the world, and from unbelievers, must be interpreted within the framework that the Bible establishes. Within the ‘grid’ of God’s special revelation, we should not fear to allow the facts to speak for themselves.

Conservative Christian pastors are, in so doing, not trying to elevate human opinion, or demote Scripture, so that they have equal authority. They are seeking to understand the meaning of the world, its inhabitants, and their creations within the framework that God Himself has provided. We can safely listen to unbelieving economists, doctors, lawyers, composers, engineers, critics, scientists or other people skilled in their fields. We may disagree with them when they interpret some of the facts of their domain of knowledge according to a secular worldview. Being unregenerate, they will not be able to speak cogently on how their expertise could be applied to worship and the service of God. But if they are serious, diligent and skilled at what they do, they can be valuable sources of knowledge regarding their field of expertise. A pastor need not fear that he is dishonoring Scripture when he consults them or their writings. Rather, he elevates Scripture by making it the final bar of judgement for all human knowledge – even that knowledge which he reads from unbelievers expert in their fields.

Towards Conservative Christian Churches – 23 – The Christian and Meaning

September 9, 2011

Two propositions summarise why a conservative Christian church is concerned with meaning: Christians are humans, and Christians live in the world. What is the world? The world Christians live in is a world that is the handiwork of an intelligent Being, filled with all His purposes and designs. What is a human? A human is a creature made in the image of God, who echoes and reflects His Creator in creating things that are likewise meaningful.

The implication of these propositions is that the universe as a whole is meaningful. Meaning permeates everything we experience. As much as the unregenerate use meaninglessness as a cover for their disobedience, they are without excuse. Creation shouts and proclaims that all things have significance, invested by the art and craft of a Designer. There is a Mind behind all the empirical data of the universe, and it is that Mind’s purpose, plan and design which makes sense of that data.

To live as fully Christian is to desire to understand the meaning of this creation and its creatures. This is necessary for three critical areas: worship, obedience, and ministry.

First, if we are to do all things to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31), it presupposes that we understand what it is we are doing. Understanding is a prerequisite of worship (1 Cor 14:15). I cannot do what I do heartily as to the Lord, and give thanks to the Lord fully, if I do not understand the activity I’m involved in, its place in God’s universe, or its overall significance. I cannot give thanks for every good gift that comes from above, if I do not understand it, recognize it, or appreciate its significance in the interconnected universe God has made. Understanding the meaning of something allows me to love it rightly (ordinate affection) and use it correctly. The more we understand the world we live in, the better we are able to glorify God in our work, our leisure and our enjoyment of His world.

Furthermore, in the act of worship, we are called to do at least two things which are part of the created order: make music (sing), and use poetry (Eph 5:19, Col 3:16). If nothing else, Christian leaders need to learn something of what these two creations are, and how they function.

Second, and related to the first, if we are to obey God and apply His Word, we must understand the world in which we apply it. Every command, precept or principle has to be worked out in a context. Scripture does not supply my contemporary context for applying its timeless principles. It is up to me to work out what returning my neighbor’s straying ox looks like in a 21st century city, or how ‘do not steal’ applies to the Internet, or how Leviticus 18 (or 1 Corinthians 6) applies to people who have undergone a sex-change operation. Usually, to make these applications, one needs to learn about the world. Properly applying the truth of Scripture means obtaining truth about the world. No lie about the world can be brought into the service of the truth. If we misconstrue what is true about the world, it will mean we fail to properly apply the truth of Scripture. When we refuse to learn about the world in supposed service to the principle of sola Scriptura, we then ironically keep Scripture locked within its covers, and declawed when it comes to the world.

Third, if we are to truly love our God and our neighbour, we must understand who our neighbour is. We cannot rightly love what we do not understand. Therefore, Christians are interested in humanity. To understand humanity means we must be interested in human concerns – that is, the humanities. We want to understand languages, history, economics, government, jurisprudence, poetics, art, music, and philosophy. Scripture is our primary and final source of anthropology, but it is not our exhaustive source. Given the framework which God’s Word supplies, we can evaluate human history, law, government, culture and its artifacts, all of which are external expressions of what humans are internally. We see from all these things that humans are made in the image of God, and order their world into systems of meaning.

While those meanings may be warped, sinful or perverse distortions of God’s mind, Christians cannot afford to ignore them or dismiss them. These are our neighbours, the ones we are called to reach with the Truth. We must take them seriously, understand them, even if we oppose their ideas. It is a hard sell to say we love the greater good of God and His gospel whom we have not seen, when we have nothing but dismissive contempt for our neighbour whom we have seen.

This is not about ‘redeeming culture’. It is about understanding the meaning of what it is to be human. Christians, of all people, should be the most humane.

For these reasons, Christians ought to attempt to discover the meaning of the world God made, the people in it, and the things they create. In the next few posts, I would like to consider how a pastor can encourage such an attitude in the Christians he shepherds.

Towards Conservative Christian Churches – 22 – A Christian Imagination

September 2, 2011

Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feel about the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible”, describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”: make us say “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please will you do my job for me”.

– C.S. Lewis 1

Shaping the affections of parishioners feels like trying to make your children grow taller. There are some factors completely out of your control. There are some things which they do which can help or hinder the process. There are a few things you can do to encourage healthy growth.

A pastor who wishes to see ordinate affection in his church is able to do a limited number of things. You cannot re-grow a Christian culture. You cannot recover the sensibilities of our Christian forefathers and transplant them into the hearts of modern Christians. You cannot make people love what they do not love. You cannot do in your church in a few years what is meant to be done through culture over centuries.

You can pay attention to the five matters mentioned earlier. You can become aware of how the moral imagination functions, and do your best to help the formation of a Christian imagination in your people. What follows is a somewhat eclectic set of practical suggestions to this end.

  1. Perhaps the most helpful article I’ve come across to help busy Christians to understand how the imagination informs all else is A.W. Tozer’s “Why We Must Think Rightly About God”. It is the first chapter in The Knowledge of the Holy, and I’ve sometimes used it as a mini-study or discussion.

  2. As preachers, we need to spend far more time considering how analogical language is to shape our preaching. C.S. Lewis’ words bring the point home: we cop out when we keep announcing, “God is awesome! God is, like, totally, amazing!” It is the job of the writer, and in this case, the speaker, to so fire the imagination that the affections of awe and amazement are raised in contemplating God. When we take the imagination seriously, we will spend as much time, if not more, on exposition as we do on exegesis. Our word pictures, analogies, illustrations and overall rhetorical form ought to move the heart to feel rightly about God. Jack Hughes’ book Expository Preaching With Word Pictures considers how Thomas Watson did this effectively. Warren Wiersbe’s Preaching and Teaching with Imagination considers how the imagination is used throughout Scripture, and how preachers can pay attention to this. Finally, from time to time we all need to read a master like Spurgeon, to drink in sermons baroque in their imagery.

  3. We need to think carefully about the imagery and the language used in the hymns we sing. Is it trite? Is it helpful? Do the songs employ vacuous cliches? Are they nothing more than rhyming doctrinal statements set to music? Assuming we are choosing superior hymns, we need to take the time to point out the imagery, and why it is useful. There will probably need to be some polemic work done from time to time, pointing out why the imagery or language in certain hymns or songs is trivial, shallow, sentimental or merely functional. If you church uses printed hymnals, if it is within your power, choose one which has a minimum of shallow hymns, for the average church goer does not suspect that hymnals contain both good and bad.

  4. The same is true of the music we use in our worship services, or encourage as music helpful for ordinate affection. Abraham Kaplan helps us here:

In a fully aesthetic experience, feeling is deepened, given new content and meaning. Till then, we did not know what it was we felt; one could say that the feeling was not truly ours. It is in this sense that art provides us with feeling: it makes us aware of something that comes to be only in the intense and structured experience of the awareness. We become selves as we come to self-consciousness, no longer unthinking creatures of feeling but men whose emotions are meaningful to us. But popular art provides no such mirror of the mind, or if we do find our feelings dimly reflected in it, we cannot pass through the looking glass to confront our hidden selves. We are caught up on the surface, and our feelings remain superficial and deficient, as unreal as their reflections. The shades with which the world of popular art is peopled seem to us substantial when we ourselves are still only fictitious characters. Superficial, affected, spurious-this is the dictionary meaning of sentimental. So far as feeling goes, it is sentimentality that is most distinctive of popular art. 2

  1. There are authors and poets who represent a Christian imagination, and their books are accessible to most. Authors like C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Flannery ‘O Connor, come to mind. While we do not need to produce ‘approved books’ lists, some pastoral guidance can be helpful in nudging parishioners towards some of the classics and away from popular literature or television which does exactly what Kaplan describes. This is particularly important for children, whose imaginations are hungry and being shaped. George MacDonald’s defense of fairy tales in his chapter “The Fantastic Imagination” can be very helpful for people to see what part these play in shaping a Christian imagination.

  2. Perhaps many church-goers will be unable to make sense of poets like John Donne or George Herbert (at least initially). However, they could probably benefit from reading Frederick Faber, or a collection of hymns by Isaac Watts or Charles Wesley. A.W. Tozer did the church a favor in collecting a modest, but extremely helpful, set of Christian poetry in his book The Christian Book of Mystical Verse. This is probably a must-have for your church library.

  3. We could talk of architecture, ritual, and ceremony, but it is beyond the scope of our discussion. Suffice it to reiterate that a pastor eager to see ordinate affection growing in his people must give thought to these things. He is responsible to inform his people that the imagination is shaped by a multitude of things, and that Christians have a responsibility to nourish theirs with what is excellent so as to be without blame on the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10)

For all of this to be any more than an odd set of prejudices, the meaning of these things has to be explained. The meaning of the poetry, the literature, the music, the painting or sculpture, the architecture, or the technology has to be made clear. We must understand form, and explain how form communicates meaning. In fact, we must become interested in the meaning of all things, if we are to rightly shape the affections, and rightly apply the Scriptures. This leads to the seventh mark of a conservative Christian church: a conservative Christian church is committed to understanding the meaning of the world, so as to rightly understand worship, affections, and the correct application of biblical principles.

1. The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3: Narnia, Cambridge, and Joy, 1950 – 1963, New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2007.

2. Abraham Kaplan, “The Aesthetics of the Popular Arts”, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 24, No. 3 (Spring, 1966), 358.