Friday, November 25, 2005

Morality of the World

The New Testament is never interested in conduct and behavior in itself. I can go further to say that the New Testament does not make an appeal for good behavior to anyone but to Christian people. The New Testament is not interested, as such, in morality of the world. It tells us quite plainly that you can expect nothing from the world but sin, and that in its fallen condition it is incapable of anything else. There is nothing, according to the New Testament that is so fatuous and so utterly futile, as to turn to such people and appeal to them to live the Christian life…. The Truth is that it only has one message for people like that—the message of repentance.-Martin Lloyd-Jones (Faith on Trial)

I mentioned this quote in passing last week, (not super sure if anyone caught it though) and it has been challenging me. I have two questions relating to it:
1. What does this quote imply for Youth Ministry, especially for teens parents who hope that youth groups/summer camps will produce such morality?
2. Without giving much credit to the religious right, does this effect our role in politics as voting Americans? Do we vote for morality that will be regulated on others?


Tim said...

I've never understood myself why Christians get so upset with unsaved people when they do "bad" things. Why do Christians automatically assume such a critical and judgemental role? My thought has always been, "They're not believers, so why should we expect them to act as such?"

Parents who expect youth ministries to produce morality in their students have a wrong understanding of the role of youth ministry and their role as parents. Morality naturally stems from a genuine relationship with Christ. Principles for living should be taught at home, not pawned off to others to teach their kids. It is the parent's responsibility to teach and train the children entrusted to them by God. It is the role of youth ministry to reinforce that and equip the parents to be successful.

Of course there's much more to it than this, but this is probably what pertains mostly to your blog entry. Thanks for the insightful questions!

mhkingsley said...

Hey not to stir the pot or anything (OK maybe a bit) but I recently read this review of Oliver O'Donovan's book The Ways of Judgment in which he actually argues for Christendom. I say this with surprise for two reasons: 1. The bad rap that Christendom has gotten from people like myself, and its normal liking to right-wing politics. 2. The fact that Oliver is pretty much THE top Christian ethicist writing these days. While I must admit that I've never sat at ease with politics (meaning usually when I vote it's on a lesser of two evils basis rather than a "this one's got the answer" basis) I do think it is an area we must engage in. And this creates an issue with this post. I think Oliver would agree that the New Testament does not make an appeal for good conduct to anyone except a Christian but I think he'd argue should we be upset if people actually take on moral acts? Should we be upset if a young girl in our youth group decides to pass the bong up at the party or if a young man in the group decides to actually help an elderly lady with her grocery shopping?

I'd have to agree with some of the reservations William Placher has concerning O'Donovan (you can find them in the book review) but at the same time when we're addressing issues like the Christian's place in culture it would be a shame to ignore someone who has given it so much thought.

Jeff Frazee said...

I love that quote. I have said the exact same thing a hundred times before, but I've never said it that well.
Tim said, "Morality naturally stems from a genuine relationship with Christ." I agree that righteousness stems from a relationship with Christ. But, in all honesty, it seems morality has been relatively effectively produced through such means as fear tactics and peer pressure. Even summer camp usually works for a couple of months.
I guess that I'm trying to point out that I don't think morality is the goal.
I'm with Kingsley on the voting thing. I find it completely overwhelming. My mind is still swimming over all of the Christian leaders, men I really respect, that said it was a sin not to vote during the last presidential election. I guess they got what they wanted, Bush.
I'll leave you with a pot stirring comment, like Matt's. I'm still glad I voted for Bush.