(Please note the use of the continuous present in the title.)
Lesson #1: Sarcasm is a weapon of the weak, whereas irony is a tool of the strong.
Corollaries to Lesson #1:
1.1 I am deeply chagrined by my own surrender to the impulse to score an easy hit with the send key. Too much like drone warfare—technologically clever, but too remote and impersonal for limiting collateral damage.
1.2 Irony is not sarcasm. Among the differences: irony sparks a wry grin through growth in wisdom, while sarcasm draws a grimace through diminished tenderness. Irony is paid homage by sarcasm posing with the gesture of victory amid certain defeat.
Lesson #2: There is real, indispensable truth on every side of this multi-faceted discussion.
Corollaries to Lesson #2:
2.1 Advocates of the formerly-termed NL2K are so very right about a number of things, like the centrality of the church and her worship; the essentiality of the church’s life and ministry for redeemed sinners making it to heaven; and a lot more. I’m being serious—serious enough to have focused much of my vocational activity on the life of the church. For the past twenty years, “pilgrimage” has been a constantly recurring theme in my preaching, teaching, and writing.
2.2 Any response to perceived error, therefore, must acknowledge such truth as exists on the various sides, while seeking simultaneously to articulate anew and afresh the received truth of one’s own position.
Lesson #3: Because this is as crucial a discussion as any other that has hit the Reformed/Presbyterian community in the last generation, and because an increasing number of “users” are (or ought to be) investing in this discussion, the terminology software needs upgrading.
Corollaries to Lesson 3:
3.1 Because faith, religion, church, and Christianity comprise different-though-related realities, moving the discussion forward will require steadfast clarity about these differences. For example, to argue for a kind of separation between church and state is not to argue for the separation between faith and politics, or between religion and politics, or between Christianity and politics.
3.2 Perhaps this may be a safe and helpful claim: just as “the” two kingdoms doctrine exists nowhere in Reformed, Protestant church history, so too “the” Christian answer to public social policy regarding __________ (you fill in the blank) exists nowhere. Keep in mind that because policy is not the same thing as principle, good people can disagree about the former while agreeing on the latter.
3.3 I think “users” are ready for version 2.0 of the terminology software. So download this upgrade and take it for a spin. Version 2.0 is entitled GDCO—Gospel-Driven Cultural Obedience. Version 2.0 will guide us in engaging others who are talking about how worship affects living, and how cultural obedience can display a style that is recognizably Christian without being religiously uniformitarian or unbiblically triumphalistic. I’m thinking of the need to engage seriously those works in the area of “gospel culture” written by authors like James K. A. Smith, James Davison Hunter, David K. Naugle, N. T. Wright, and others. Are there questions? Lots of them! (Like: Can a social ethic be Christian? Is there such a thing as “cultural obedience”?)
Enough to keep us busy applying what we’re learning.