The Pendulum Swing: Legalism to Liberalism and Back

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Legalism and liberalism are both roads that lead to hell. And I truly believe it.

This may be a pretty bold statement but let me tell you why I feel compelled to make it. At the root of both legalism and liberalism is the belief that Scripture alone is not enough; it lacks the authority as the Word of God. Legalism says Scripture is not enough, so it seeks to add to the Word. It imposes on Scripture additional rules and limitations because salvation through faith in Jesus Christ is not enough; there needs to be more. Liberalism, on the other hand, says Scripture is too much, so it seeks to detract or take away from the Word. It softens the commands of Scripture and refuses to accept all of Scripture because salvation through faith in Jesus Christ seems too harsh, too limited.

What is interesting is that these two extremes feed off of one another, almost in a parasitic-type of way. Or, like I put it often to my husband, they hit against each other like a pendulum swing. Legalism reacts to liberalism and liberalism reacts to legalism. And the more they hit at each other the further away they go from each other and from the authority of Scripture.

As Christians I think it is our goal to stay in, what a seminary professor of mine used to call it, the center of truth. The center of truth affirms that Scripture is the Word of God and submits to the authority of Scripture. I think this is where most of us Christians reside. We want to be good exegetes of Scripture (drawing ones ideas from the text) instead of eisegetes of Scripture (reading ones ideas into the text).

Hermeneutic of reaction

Now going back to legalism and liberalism, these two camps have been around for a looooong time – centuries in fact. But I have been observing for some time that young “evangelicals” are being pulled into either of these two currents as if it is some new thing. What I want to caution evangelicals my age and younger, then, is not to get persuaded into a hermeneutic of reaction, interpreting Scripture through a reactionary lens of the tradition you grew up in or the one you dislike.

One popular example of this is Rachel Held Evans. In her book, One Year of Biblical Womanhood, she talks about the legalist tradition she grew up in, noting primarily the limitations it placed on women. The rest of her book is dedicated to reacting against legalism. But in her reacting she leaves behind core Scriptural, gospel truths, such as salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone. She writes, “I … am no longer convinced that everyone different from me goes to hell.” What happened to John 14:6 here? This is just one example of many in her book where she reacts so hard against legalism that she engages in a pendulum swing and goes to the other extreme. She trades one hermeneutic for another. She grew up in a tradition that added to Scripture; now she takes away or softens Scripture. In both cases the authority of Scripture is on trial.

Another example is that of a preacher I heard one time in church. He had witnessed many families destroyed by the abuse of alcohol, so he preached a sermon that forbade any drinking of alcohol and made it as primary an issue as salvation. He made a rule out of his reacting against those who abuse alcohol and imposed it on Scripture. Now salvation in Jesus was no longer enough, you also had to maintain an alcohol-free life to be truly saved.

I have heard some say, “Well I would rather err on the side of legalism than liberalism.” But my answer is, “I would rather not err on either side!” If you don’t think legalism is such a bad thing, then just read about all the encounters Jesus had with Pharisees and what he had to say about them adding to the Law. That might change your mind.

Remember my bold statement at the beginning? Look at Revelation 22:18-19. It says, “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” Basically both who add and who take away from Scripture will be left out of the new kingdom, also called the new Jerusalem.

My proposition is this: Let’s make it our aim to be in the center of tension of truth and to come under the submission of Scripture even if there is tension, even if we aren’t sure of a proper interpretation, even if it makes us feel uncomfortable. Sure, we will react to legalism and liberalism. (I’m doing it even now!) The difference is whether we are reacting out of a belief that Scripture is the Word of God and I am going to submit to it, or out of a belief that Scripture is too soft or too harsh and I, because I live in the 21st century, know better.

This is the first post of what I hope several that will take us even deeper. I would like to talk about: what are signs or red flags of legalism and liberalism; how do we stay in the center of truth; what are some interpretive guidelines to use when reading Scripture; how reactionary language can or cannot be helpful; etc.

So what are your thoughts or questions? Have you encountered either of these two currents?

Let me just say that it is natural for us to veer a little to the left or right of the center of truth in our interpretations of Scripture. There are primary issues and then there are secondary issues found in Scripture to which we can disagree but still be gospel-centered believers. But our belief of Scripture will determine whether we are pointed to the gospel which says salvation is in Jesus Christ alone or whether we are pointed away from this gospel and, sadly, to hell.

Two Franks, Tres Leches and One Desperate Housewife

Have you ever had a day that left you understanding why some people really lose their minds?

I did. This past Friday to be exact. And I almost did lose my mind so much so that if you had seen me by the time I went to bed around 11 p.m. on Friday night you would have seen a woman with hair like Mel Gibson’s after coming out of a battle in Braveheart and a face like Frodo’s every time he heard the winged nazgul coming in Lord of the Rings. Not a good combination if you have ever seen both movies.

So Friday morning starts off great; in fact it was one of the best.

Cue flashback music: Ozzie, Philip and I are sitting at the table and eating breakfast together for the first time in forever. I read Scripture aloud for a family devotion, and not even Philip peeps during the reading. Ozzie wraps up breakfast and heads off to work, while Philip and I get ready for the day. I start laundry and the dishwasher. Philip plays. It’s a big and busy day for us.

I work for an organic baby/tot/children’s food company and represent them at events where I do sampling, handing out coupons, etc. I have a very big event the next day (Saturday) for which I have to leave at 6:30 a.m. So I must do all my preparation that day. Plus, Ozzie had invited a new family from the Hispanic church over to eat at our house that evening. It’s a family of five, and they are supposed to come at 7 p.m.

So I map out the schedule. I’ll run Philip to the park and let him play for about 30-45 minutes so he’ll take a good nap later. Then we’ll go to Publix and buy what we need for our meal. Ozzie is making rice and beans and I am going to make Cuban steak in the crockpot. It only requires 5 ingredients and all I have to do is put it in and let that magical pot do all the work. While I’m there, I’ll also pick up some frozen maduros that I can pop into the oven. Easy, schmeasy. Dessert? Well I’ll make a quick and easy version of Tres Leches (Three Milks). So I’ll need a yellow cake mix, heavy cream, evaporated milk and, wait for it, sweetened condensed milk. Oh and yes whip cream. Again, easy. Once I shop, we’ll go home and eat lunch. I’ll start the meat and put P down for a nap. While P sleeps, I’ll prep for my event, clean the house and take a shower. Ozzie will be home several hours before so he can help me with whatever I don’t finish. We’ll welcome our guests, eat, and visit. Then we will all go to bed full and happy. I love schedules!

Park is a great idea. Philip has so much fun with all the kids; it’s hard to pry him away. But like every great mom I bribe him with a cookie from the grocery store. We go to Publix; I get him the cookie I promise and he really is a perfect kid. Things are going just according to the schedule.

Then the first thing happens that should’ve alerted me to the rest of the day. Maybe I was getting a little too confident, maybe I was a little naïve, or maybe both! But I empty out everything in my cart; there’s a line behind me. I have the cart with the “car” in front that Philip can sit in and pretend he’s driving. This thing is like a bus. And all you moms who have ever “driven” one can testify to this truth. So I put the last item on the conveyor belt and realize I forgot the whip cream. I can’t make the Tres Leches without the whip cream! Oh man. I put the last item I just took out back in my cart. I stop the cashier lady, “I’m so sorry but I forgot one necessary item.” Blank stare. To the women behind me, “I’m so sorry; forgot that one item you know. I’ll be out of your way in a jiff!” Blank stares. So there I am getting red and sweaty. It’s a good thing I wore my workout clothes to the store! (I don’t know about you, but when I have a busy day where I have to get a lot done, I like to wear my workout clothes. Not because I’m going to workout but if I’m going to sweat doing chores then I’d rather do it my gym clothes.)

I get all my items back into the cart, make everyone back up behind me, turn the bus around and go to the frozen food aisle. This has put me behind schedule, but at least Philip is still being the perfect child for mommy today! (1. If you ever start thinking your child is perfect, you’ll soon be reminded that they aren’t. 2. Don’t count the eggs before they hatch.) Son and groceries are loaded up; we arrive home. I get everyone and everything out of the car. I put up the groceries; I empty the clothes dryer; I make Philip and me lunch; and we eat. I then put Philip to bed. Whew! What’s next on the schedule? I think it’s time for that second cup of coffee!

It’s about 1:30 p.m. and I pull everything out I need for the big event. It takes longer than I realize. What were you thinking, Kristen? I really hope Ozzie gets home early. I start working away. Cutting boxes open, organizing containers, setting out all my supplies. I look up at the clock and note that it’s 3 o’clock. Okay, 3 o’clock, wait, nooooo! I haven’t put the Cuban steak in the crockpot yet! Don’t panic. Open up computer; go to Pinterest; find my food board; scroll down. Where’s the recipe? Oh there it is. Scroll down some more. “4-5 hours on high in crockpot.” The race is on; there’s no time to lose. My fridge door stands open as I rip the steak out; my fingers are in danger of being cut off as I go at the bell peppers and onions. All my spices are out of the cabinet as I look for the cumin and oregano. Of course they are at the back. As I am literally throwing everything into the crockpot I’m praying that it takes only 4 hours not 5 for the steak to cook or else we’ll be eating at 8:30 p.m.! Whew. Well that was a close one but everything is still ok. I walk into the living room and look around. I look at the clean laundry piled on a chair.

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My event stuff is strewn everywhere,

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and the playroom is a disaster area.

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Don’t panic; you still have time.

I wrap all my event prep up by 4 p.m. Philip wakes up but I hear the garage door open. Ozzie is home! Breathing easier. Philip is settled; I start handing out commands to my hubs as he is walking in the door. I look at the clock and it’s 4:15 p.m. Oh no, wait, I haven’t made the cake yet and it has to cool before I put the Tres Leches on it! Really? Pull out the cake mix I bought; I need water, oil and three eggs. Open the fridge door and pull out the egg carton. Two eggs. Again, really?? What does a desperate housewife do in a desperate situation? Call the next-door neighbor. She doesn’t answer. “Ozzie, do you have Frank the neighbor’s number in your phone?” “Yeah, I think so.” I find Ozzie’s phone and find Frank. Call Frank. Frank answers. Me: “Hi Frank. This is your neighbor Kristen. I know this is crazy but can I borrow an egg? We have company coming to dinner tonight and I am one egg short.” (I tend to talk a lot when I get nervous.) Frank: “(Static noise. Inaudible sounds. Can’t make sense of words.) What? Excuse me. Hello?” Me: “Frank, you there? Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I was wondering if you had an egg I can borrow.” Again, glad I had on the workout clothes because I’m pouring sweat at this moment. Frank: “(Static. Inaudible sounds.) Hablas espanol?” Me, holding phone down and away from mouth: “Ozzie, I think I called Frank the mechanic! Talk to him!” Ozzie: “Kristen, just hang up.” Frank: “Hello, hello.” Me: “No you talk to him.” Frank: “Hello! Hello!” I hang up. Frank calls back. I throw the phone to Ozzie and head out the door. Lo and behold, there sits Frank the neighbor out on the bed of his truck talking to another neighbor. “Hi Frank! Can I borrow an egg?” I ask exasperatedly. Sure; not a problem, he tells me. Oh thank you Lord!

Frank comes out with an egg carton with three eggs. I take it and run. I promise I’ll buy him some new eggs. The schedule is now nil and I am operating in a survival/panic mode. I whip up the cake and attack the living and play rooms. Ozzie has started on the rice and beans. He asks me if I bought Coke or Sprite for tonight, to which I yell, No! He asks me if I bought cilantro. Again, No! Great; I hope they like water and cilantro-free beans! I was able to clean both rooms and vacuum. The cake is out and cooling. Things are looking up. I plan to do a quick vacuum of the hallway so I leave the vacuum out.

At this point I decided I didn’t have time to shower but I have sweat so much (more than I had anticipated) that I really didn’t have a choice. Ozzie decides to run to the store at 6:30 p.m. to grab some drinks for our meal, while I am mixing up the Tres Leches to pour on the cake. “I hope these Hispanics are late like most Hispanics and not early or on-time Hispanics.” We both laugh. “Most likely late Hispanics,” he yells on the way out the door.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse…

I pour about 1 cup of the Tres Leches over the cake and set the bowl aside with 2 cups remaining of the mixture. I go back to the computer to see what I need to do next. I remember reading that I wait for the cake to absorb some of the Tres Leches before pouring more of the mixture on it. As I am glued to the computer screen reading this recipe, Philip comes running in and grabs the bowl of Tres Leches and flips it over. You read right. He dumps 2 cups mixture of heavy cream, evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk on the kitchen floor at 6:30 p.m. – 30 minutes before company arrives.

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Without missing a beat, and while I am in a completely stunned stupor, Philip runs out of the kitchen covered in Tres Leches into the living room leaving little Tres Leches footprints on the wood floor.

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He jumps in the chair. Noo! I’ve got to stop him from spreading the mess! I carry him to my bathroom and take off his underwear. (Did I mention we are in the middle of potty training?) I then remember that Ozzie has left me with instructions to turn off the beans and cover them once they come to a boil. Oh no! The beans! I run to the kitchen. Oh no! This mess! I hear Philip behind me; he’s peeing on the floor! Nooooo! I’m screaming, “Let’s pee-pee in the potty” as I carry him back to the bathroom and as he leaves a trail of pee-pee on the floor. I tell him to stay in the bathroom. I run back to the kitchen and turn off the beans. Philip is behind me again and now has a truck that he’s sending through the Tres Leches. I grab my phone and call Ozzie. There’s no telling what my voice sounded like on the other end of the phone, but it was obvious that Ozzie was really concerned about my state of mind as he was sweetly telling me everything was going to be ok and to go take Philip with me to the shower. I plead with him to call our guests and ask them to come at 7:30 instead. But since Hispanics are never on time to things, he assured me not to worry.

I couldn’t leave the Tres Leches however, so I emptied my kitchen of every towel I could find and doused them in water and sopped up the milk. I run Philip with me to the shower. We are about three minutes in and I had just lathered my hair and his (because at this point there was no helping my hair except by washing it), and I hear noise. I left the TV on so that’s what I am hearing, right? My cell starts ringing. I open the shower door and it’s Ozzie. I answer on speaker phone, “Hey honey, we are in the shower. Everything OK?” “They’re here, Kristen.” “Hold the phone. What?” “They’re here. They rang the doorbell and no one answered so they called me. I told them to wait for me in the car.” “Please explain what happened,” I say before we hang up.

And as Philip pushed bath toys between my legs and as the warm water sent my shampoo down my back I stood there sobbing and laughing at the same time. I didn’t know which to do so I did both. I pictured my husband bringing in our guests only to find the vacuum cleaner still out and our bedroom (which is right off the living room) door open exposing all the junk that I threw in there from the living room. I thought of the guest bathroom that I had not cleaned, of the maduros (oh the maduros!) that I forgot to put in the oven and the Tres Leches, which I never finished.

So I did what anybody in my shoes would have probably done. I took a looong shower. At this point I wanted to prolong the inevitable of me coming out and greeting my guests with wet hair, no make up and a naked son. I wanted to prolong the embarrassment of walking across my kitchen floor and hearing the “crrrreak” of my shoes prying itself away from the sticky floor. And I secretly hoped that this was all a nightmare and my husband would walk in and say that our guests had rescheduled.

However none of that happened. And I finally had to come out and face the music. The family greeted me with smiles. I went ahead and started the oven and put the maduros in. I covered the cake in whip cream and stuck it in the fridge. When it came time to eat, I tasted the meat and it was a little chewy. I apologized for the chewiness of it and the wife exclaimed that they liked their meat chewy. (What a sweetheart!) When I cut into the cake it wasn’t very soppy like Tres Leches is supposed to be, so I apologized again for another part of the meal. But she said they don’t like their Tres Leches to be very soppy but just a little sweet. (Again, was she being honest or did she just know from one woman to another what to say? Either way, I was glad she did.)

We ended up having a very nice meal and a wonderful conversation. Ozzie and I felt like we were truly serving the Lord by having this family in our home. In fact at church today, one of the children came to me and said, “We had so much fun at your house. Can we come back again?”

In the end, it didn’t matter that my vacuum was left out, that my floors were sticky or that this family saw many of our imperfections. What mattered was that we welcomed this family with open arms and that we did it with a joyful spirit unto the Lord.

In the midst of the chaotic day, after I called Frank the mechanic, and I opened the egg carton that I just borrowed from Frank the neighbor (you just can’t make this stuff up!), there printed for me in the inside of the carton was Psalm 118:1. “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.”

Midway Point on 30 for 30 Goals

So I have been avoiding updating my 30 for 30 goal list for quite some time. Mostly because I have been busy but also because I don’t want to face the reality that I am not doing most of them. I wish I were better at goal keeping than I am. *Sigh* But here it goes, my 6 month mark.

  1. Run a 5K. 
  2. Get a massage. 
  3. Publish a second Bible study.
  4. Take Philip to a museum.
  5. Read and work through the Greek of one New Testament book. (Started but haven’t finished.)
  6. Take a trip to visit friends outside of Birmingham. (Will mark this one off with the next two weekends!)
  7. Read Lord of the Rings. (Of all my goals, this one I am working on diligently. I am almost done with the second book, Two Towers, and will be on to the last book about the Return of the King. Can’t wait to finish; I may even blog about it!)
  8. Tell someone new about Jesus.
  9. Lose one pant size. (Of all goals, this one I am actually going in the wrong direction!)
  10. Speak at an event, retreat or conference.
  11. Blog regularly. (Fail.)
  12. Learn to sew.
  13. Go on a weekend “date” trip with my husband.
  14. Finish mine and Osvaldo’s wedding scrapbook.
  15. Consistently update Philip’s baby book and scrapbook his first year.
  16. Have an international over to our home for dinner. (Does my Father-in-law count??)
  17. Do a jigsaw puzzle.
  18. Paint one room of my house.
  19. Take a trip with my Supper Club friends. (Thanks to my friend Kaylie for getting married, we went to the beach for a girls trip prior to the big day!)
  20. Go to a college or professional football game.
  21. Go to some place new that I’ve never been before. (We went to Pine Island in Florida this summer.)
  22. Learn Spanish.
  23. Volunteer with a ministry in town.
  24. Play Settlers often with friends and husband. (Of all goals, this one should happen more often as it is one of our favorite things to do!)
  25. Make a new friend.
  26. Get out of debt.
  27. Take lots and lots of pictures of Philip.
  28. Teach Philip a new truth about God.
  29. Give lots of kisses and hugs to my husband and son.
  30. Have a big 30th party — which is up to my husband.

 

Well, I guess I’ve crossed off more on my list than I realized! Thankful for another year of life to serve God and to spend time with family. I have 6 months to finish the rest of my goals now! I need you to cheer me on blogging community!

Kristen

“The Good Ol’ Days” (Part 2)

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A better or worse world?

I do agree that America has become more secularized. It is true that as Christians we face an America that accepts both abortion and same-sex unions. However, America is doing more than ever to stop and prevent evils like human trafficking and to protect many of the most vulnerable than it has in the past. America is a better place for women to work now that there are sexual harassment laws. Americans have done much to bring to light the issue of bullying and racism. So even though some things in our world or country have gotten worse, some things have gotten better. Evil and sin never die out; it just changes shape and form.

In the end I don’t think we can ever accurately measure if it was more evil then than it is today; nor do I think it is helpful. This world has been fallen for quite some time and I don’t need an idealized past to convince me that this day has enough trouble of its own. Nor do I want an idealized past to be my motivation for how I live in the present. Jesus is motivation enough for me.

Conclusions

  • I don’t think “the good ol’ days” argument/phraseology in relation to America or the world is helpful or accurate in making a statement about the present.
  • “The good ol’ days” can be insensitive and offensive to those whose past was not made up of good days. To go back to a time past, for blacks for example, would mean days of oppression, fear of death, opposition, and segregation. And to say that those were “the good ol’ days” is to minimize the evil of that day.
  • Scripture teaches us to remember the past faithfulness of God so that we can live faithfully in the present. Scripture does not teach us to idealize the past. If anything it teaches us to look ahead to a future where every day will be a “good ol’ day” after Christ returns.

My own blind-spot

Now I don’t want to give a bad rep to this preacher or all preachers. We all have blind-spots that cause us to be insensitive to others, and I pray that we all will be patient and forgiving with each other. In fact, this preacher’s blind-spot made me aware of my own in the same regard. Often times in seeing someone else’s sin, God reveals to us our own sin showing us that we are just as guilty and no better than the other person. (Isn’t it funny how God works!) You see, I had bought into the notion of “the good ol’ days” in my own life. My sister gave birth to her son a little over a year after I had my son. When she would tell me of her struggles of not getting a lot of sleep at night, breastfeeding, etc, I would say, “Oh, just you wait. It gets worse. Those are ‘the good ol’ days;’ enjoy them while you can because then you’ll have real problems. You will have to deal with walking, talking back, potty training, etc.” Unbeknownst to me, what I was doing was minimizing what she was going through because in my mind I just remembered the good things, like cuddling, rocking and kissing on a baby. The past seemed much better than my present troubles. But I was not being fair to her or the real struggles and pain she was going through, like her lack of sleep. So thanks to this preacher’s mistake, I realized a mistake of my own.

May we remember the past – those special memories with loved ones and those past acts of God’s faithfulness – and may they give us hope and encouragement in our present troubles that God is faithful, that He won’t abandon us, and that this is not the end. But may we not set up a memorial for an idealized past that never existed thereby making it into an idol.

I think Michelle Van Loon, who wrote an article for Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics called Who Raised These Millennials Anyway?, sums it up well, “… the pride embedded in our insistence that we did life better in our good ol’ days is counterproductive. And it’s simply not true. At midlife, we’re tempted to throw a rose-colored tint on the rearview mirror so that when we glance backwards, we remember only the best of our own youthful glory days.”

“The Good Ol’ Days” (Part 1)

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“Our world is changing,” began the premise of the preacher’s sermon. And the first example he gave to support his premise went something like this:

Back in the good ol’ days I lived in a subdivision where during the summers us boys could stay out all day playing ball, exploring woods, and going to the community pool and our parents never worried about us. Even after dinner us boys could go outside and our parents were not worried that we would not make it back home.  Let me ask you: would any of you let your children today do this?

The assumed response was no one. Why? Because times have become worse and it was safer then in “the good ol’ days” in America than it is today.

I looked around. While the congregation was made up of mostly white middle-class people, there were still a handful of African Americans in the room. My cheeks got red and I felt hot and embarrassed for the preacher.  You see, this preacher had a blind-spot. He spoke of the 1960s as “the good ol’ days” and he made these comments in a historically, racially-charged city of the South. I don’t think I need to tell you that the 60s were NOT “the good ol’ days” for our black brothers and sisters. In fact, a couple miles from the church sat 16th Street Baptist Church, a black congregation that was bombed on Sept. 15, 1963, killing four girls. Those were not “the good ol’ days.” In the 1960s, blacks were denied basic rights and were segregated from the whites. George Wallace, the infamous governor of Alabama in the 1960s, gave a “Segregation Forever” speech, which must have made life even “better” for black Alabamians living in the 60s. Not to mention the 1960s saw the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. Probably for most blacks in the south, the world that this preacher described was something they never knew in the 60s. Again, these were not “the good ol’ days” for blacks in America.

But not only were the 60s not “the good ol’ days” for African Americans, but it also wasn’t “the good ol’ days” for anyone in the congregation who grew up in poverty, who got swept up in the Hippie movement and experimented with new drugs for the first time, who served in the Vietnam war (America’s longest war), or women who worked outside the home and had no rights at the workplace.

His blind-spot was an assumption made out of his middle to upper-class, white, male, Southern background and presenting it as true for everyone. What happens when you don’t give hard evidence to support such a strong premise or statement but use tangential evidence is that you don’t have a strongly supported premise and you take the risk of offending someone. Now, I don’t believe this preacher purposely was being insensitive or rude. Rather I believe he is a kind and well-meaning person who would be sad if he offended a brother or sister of any race. But his blind-spot that the 60s were “the good ol’ days” and therefore these days are worse than past days, I believe, was insensitive and potentially offensive.

“The good ol’ days” vs. “I remember the day..”

Scripture gives us plenty of examples and commands to remember – an act that was not cognitive alone but that affected how one lived. In Deuteronomy 8, God tells the people “you shall remember the whole way the LORD your God has led you these forty years… .” The theology of remembrance is tied to obedience, faithfulness and belief in God, while those who forget His past faithfulness are likely to forget God and live accordingly. The Psalms are another example of remembering the past. Psalm 137 begins this way, “By the waters of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion.” We learn from the New Testament that our faith is based on a past event that has ramifications for the present and future; therefore, we are constantly retelling a story that happened in the past as we believe it has eternal significance! In addition to Scripture, my own experience of losing two grandmothers who I loved very much, showed me that I sometimes long for those days past with them and I recall those past days favorably.

“The good ol’ days” mentality and phraseology, however, is different because it is usually juxtaposed with present day evil. The past becomes idealized as the standard for which we should pattern our present and future. I can’t find examples of this done in Scripture for support for us doing it today. In fact, I often see in Scripture the idea that the best is yet to come (Suffering Servant, new kingdom, supper of the Lamb language/texts.) But many preachers love using this phrase in support of a belief that the world is getting worse, which therefore would mean Christ is coming sooner. And the only reasons I can think of preachers using this phrase is a) to convince people that the world is truly bad; b) to possibly scare people into accepting Jesus; or c) to emphasize present day sufferings and evil as worse than yesteryear. I really can’t come up with a good purpose for using this tactic. Can you? (Tell me in the comments what you think!)

Either way, “the good ol’ days” mentality plays off our human tendency to want to idealize and live in the past. I think this is a tendency of ours because the present is difficult, it is hard. And so we escape in our minds to a place in the past where only the good things existed but not the bad. It’s an alternate reality but it is not a true reality. I don’t know of anyone who has all good days, who goes through a time with no suffering, or who doesn’t complain about how evil the world is. The simple truth is  there are no “good ol’ days” as long as we live in a fallen world, and this mentality that America at some point had “good ol’ days” is false. Was it good for Native Americans when we wiped them out by the thousands? Was it good for blacks when they were our slaves or lived in a world of hate and segregation? Was it good for Japanese living in Hiroshima and Nagasaki when we wiped out 100s of thousands with atomic bombs?

I’m baaaack!

Babe is asleep. House is quiet but messy. Latest writing project for WMU’s mymissionfulfilled is finally complete; I am breathing freely again. And I’m here to tell you I’m baaaaack. Can’t wait to get back to blogging! New blog post coming soon….

Love,

Kristen