After deciding after much deliberation as to whether or not I would indeed join the blogging world… this is the result. I was thinking about what it is I should title my blog and really had no idea where to begin despite my occasional creative moments, so I did what anyone would do and looked at popular blogs and what they have going for titles. I was immediately reminded of some of my favorite bloggers such as D.A. Carson, Michael Bird, Koinonia, Heidelblog, TheResurgence (Mark Driscoll & hipster Reformed stuff), Prof. Rah, and others. (It might not be of much concern to some of you with how I came about deciding what to call this particular blog, but being that it is the subject of this post which you are reading I suppose you can suddenly be interested if you are not already or I suppose you could just leave and wait to read a post you deem to be more worth your time.)
Now, I was thinking about various titles by some of my favorite bloggers which have things like For the Love of God, and Between Two World. I decided at first to go with a part of The Lord’s Prayer and call the blog, Thy Kingdom Come. Being that this blog is about faith and culture, I figured that something explicitly named ‘thy kingdom’ would direct the attention of the reader to another world while still having both feet firmly planted within this one. However, Tullian Tchividjian has beaten me to the punch by titling his blog found at The Gospel Coalition site, On Earth as it is in Heaven. That is an excellent title, but I don’t want to jump a wagon that someone else has already taken. Then, I was thinking about something overtly theological and Reformed like, For the Glory of God. I decided that would be a little too boring, though I sign off to that statement 100%. I noticed some bloggers use a play on their own name such as DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed. I tried something with Gladd, but that isn’t even worth discussing. So, I started to just think about faith and culture things, but my eyes began to gloss over.
I looked at one blog’s title by a Joshua Guilbeau again, A Thousand Tongues. I thought this was Mark Driscoll’s blog originally, but was mistaken and found that it was merely a post about Driscoll on TheResurgence. As for the title, I was thinking it sounds rather charismatic, “not that there’s anything wrong with that,” but was reminded of that great hymn by Charles Wesley, O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing, and was at first surprised I thought of tongues in the theological sense before the hymn, but then began to think of hymn titles that might be representative of this blog. I searched for Isaac Watts, Fanny Crosby, and Charles Wesley. They all have great hymns and some of the best ever written, arguably, but I wasn’t quite seeing one that stood out. I was reluctant to really consider Wesley because Joshua G. (whoever that guy is) had already done that, however, when I began looking at Wesley’s hymns there was one that stood out to me. I hadn’t heard this hymn in some time and was reminded of how great it is when I looked at the lyrics.
It is a hymn that resounds with the spirit of the Reformation, though written later. It begins with great fragility and brokenness. “And can it be that I should gain?” This is a hymn that begin with ‘who am I?’ and ‘I am a man of unclean lips.’ The overwhelming presence of almighty God and the depths and richness of his grace resound after the beginning as one first experiences conversion and is taken back by the thought of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ dying on the cross for the sins of a broken, withered piece of wheat. Then, the hymn ends with a realization of the promises of God coming to fulfillment as we are proclaimed heirs with Christ. Not only is the glory given to Christ who receives the crown, but by grace we bask in the infinite glory and splendor of the presence of God. So this hymn moves from our brokenness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his substitutionary atonement to the fulfillment of all things.
You might be asking, if you are asking anything, what does this have to do with faith and culture? We live in two world, two kingdoms. As Christ has come, lived, suffered, died, and resurrected a new kingdom was introduced into this present evil age. The first fruits of which is the risen Lord. The Spirit is a sign of the new age that is breaking into the old, presently, and is also a sign that God is faithful to his promises. Wesley’s hymn begins in the old age, the evil age, and acknowledges who we are as sinful humanity. It concludes by showing what the new kingdom looks like, not in it’s fullness, but in part. There is a culture of sin and a culture of grace that is represented in this hymn by the author which both take place in the life of the one converted. The Christian who has been redeemed by Christ stands with one foot in a culture of sinful humanity and the other foot in the threshold of a new kingdom.
This blog is about faith and culture and by that it is about what it means to live in the midst of a broken and dying world as broken and dying people who have been saved by grace. It is about how the old kingdom and the new interact with one another. It is about how we can live transforming missional lives in a world where the foundation of our faith is mocked and unbelieved. This blog is not meant to dwell simply on the theological nor simply on the cultural, but is to be a merger of the two. When I post anything on this blog, it is my prayer that I would not post anything out of pride or arrogance, but that I would seek to be a testimony of the grace given me in Jesus Christ. May it be that myself and all of us continually contemplate as Charles Wesley has, “And Can it Be That I Should Gain?”