Thursday, December 30, 2010

Essay Rewind: Why I Do What I Don't

[2010 In Review]

Perhaps revealing intimate personal idiosyncrasies lurks as just another risk that comes with blogging, or writing in general. I like to talk, but not necessarily about myself.

In my two-part essay back in September, "Nice or Vice?" I went out on a limb and described the reasons for why I choose not to flaunt certain activities which other believers enjoy under the blanket of grace. Although I don't do so to make fellow Christians feel maligned, nor to create a false piety on my part, I know my position in these matters is a lonely one.

So it was with considerable encouragement that I read a review yesterday on TouchStone Magazine's website of the book, Without God, Without Creed, the Origins of Unbelief in America by James Turner.

Not that I need buy-in from other people for me to continue my lifestyle, but it doesn't exactly hurt to hear other people reaching similar conclusions about what God may be expecting people of faith to do with the freedoms He's given us.

In his review, Ken Myers broaches the same scripture I did, 1 Corinthians 10:23, in which Paul cautions that while all things may be permissible, we still need to evaluate whether they're beneficial. Myers goes on to quote Paul from Ephesians 5:15-16, in which believers are instructed to be careful and wise in how we live and what we do.

Particularly in Reformed theology, for example, with its emphasis on church fathers who met in pubs, and its virtual beatification of Martin Luther, who bragged about his penchant for alcohol, freedoms like drinking only seem bizarre when people like me abstain. While I'm not advocating that all believers need to swear off their lagers, champagnes, and vodkas, I do think that those who drink need to have a better rationale for risking inebriation than vapid pleasure.

I suspect one reason all things are lawful but not necessarily useful involves our obligation to discern between essentials and luxuries. Not that there's anything intrinsically wrong with the latter, but the extent to which we prioritize the former, we might find ourselves freer for things which point others to the One Who is our Sufficiency in the first place.

But now I'm preaching, which I don't want to do. Instead, click on Part 1 and Part 2 for "Nice or Vice?"

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