Third Way Values: The Reconciliation
Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:41 PM

Third Way Values: The Reconciliation

Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:41 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2018 6:41 PM

By Dr. Darrell L. Bock 

Second in a series

First, there is the Great Commandment, which is love God with all your heart, soul, mind

There is no Democrat or Republican in the third way. It is directed by the relational concerns of the Savior. He is confessed as our Messiah, our Christ, for a reason. He is the believer's one and only King. The mirroring of his work is our chief concern. So what does that work look like when it comes to relating to others?

First, there is the Great Commandment, which is love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:29-34). This was said to be even more important than worship with burnt offerings! Luke 6:27-36 includes the call to love our enemies as a part of this distinctive love. It is a third way. When we live and react in ways that look like the world as we interact with those who think differently than us we take away our distinctive. We empty ourselves of a visible rationale for the gospel.

So when Paul came to summarize his ministry to the world, he chose a single term to build it around, reconciliation. Two texts describe it. In 2 Cor. 5:17-20, we are ministers of reconciliation between God and people. That is our political manifesto. Our message in v. 19 is an invitation, an urging that people be reconciled to God. There is a vertical reconciliation that is central to our relationships.

We also are described as ambassadors. An ambassador represents a country and its values in a foreign country in which he or she resides. This is true of all Christians anywhere. Whether they are in the USA, Australia, Kenya, Korea, Germany or Turkey, believers represent the ways of God where they are, the third way. Their citizenship and allegiance is to their heavenly homeland (Phil. 3:20-21).

They are part of a community of the reconciled that relativizes a nationalistic patriotism, because they have many brothers and sisters in many countries. That means they should care about what goes on elsewhere in the world and what actions mean for others outside their own political country. The ambassador for God puts that relationship first and seeks to reflect its greatness by seeking that which can bring people together, not tear them apart.

The second text is in Eph. 2:11-22. Here God brings former diehard enemies, Jew and Gentile, together. In other texts other estranged groupings become linked as one in what God has done (Gal. 3:29; Col. 3:8-10). This is the horizontal reconciliation that also is central to the gospel as it grows out of the vertical reconciliation we have with God. Such work reflects what it means to love your neighbor, for that is a goal of our activity as believers as commanded by our one and only King.

The pursuit of justice is an extension of such love that has ultimate reconciliation as a goal and that reflects the honoring of God (Micah 6:8). Sometimes social justice is proclaimed as a political ideology, bone that belongs to the "other" side, but it really is a biblical concept tied to the goal of showing what real reconciliation is like.

It sits under the Great Commandment as a reflection of it and as promoting the respect of what it means for each person to be made in the image of God. Each person is worthy of the dignity that comes with that image of God status. It is why Christians so deeply value life from start to finish and all the way through its journey on this earth.

So it is no accident that Paul summarizes his ministry in one word, reconciliation. Vertical and horizontal reconciliation shows that in God people who were apart can be brought together. It is a reconciliation that stands as a corporate destination for the gospel, one of the goals of which is peace or shalom, where people get along before God.

When we model and mirror such broad human concern for others in our community and outside of it, we show what we are about. We point people in the direction of what the gospel yields, not individually in our salvation, but corporately in our relationships. That makes it a core value of the Third Way and a target to keep in mind as we engage in our contentious political world. For the Third Way, making reconciliation great again is a driving value.

Dr. Darrell L. Bock is Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary as well as Senior Research Professor of NT Studies. He is an author or editor of over 40 books, including a New York Times Best Seller in non-fiction. He is host of the Seminary's Table podcasts (voice.dts.edu).


Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today. CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).
The Third Way Is Less About Power or Fear - It's More About Relational Values and Finding Hope
Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:48 PM

The Third Way Is Less About Power or Fear - It's More About Relational Values and Finding Hope

Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:48 PM
Sunday, February 11, 2018 5:48 PM

By Darrell L. Bock | 

I often look at how the church responds to what goes on and how it reacts, and what I sense is fear. But hope gives perspective.

The third way is neither Democrat or Republican. It is less about politics and more about relational values. How do we best live together and honor God? There are core values that drive this perspective. In the next series of posts, I will look at three terms reflecting the core values at the center of the third way. These terms give perspective to the third way, our lives and the circumstances around us. These terms come from passages that summarize the faith with a single word. The first term is hope.

In 1 Peter 3:15 believers are urged in the midst of their engagement to set Christ apart as Lord in their hearts and always be prepared to give a defense for the hope that is in us. The believers' life centers around the divine hope that gives them comfort in the midst of the world's chaos. In fact, the previous verse says believers may well suffer for doing what is right, but the one reaction they are not to have is to be terrified or shaken by those who do such things. To be honest, I often look at how the church responds to what goes on and how it reacts, and what I sense is fear. But hope gives perspective. It tells us our identity and hope reside in our secure relationship with God in Christ.

Many people place their hope elsewhere. It may be in politics, power, possessions or patriotism, but Peter says the north star for the believer is hope. The fact that hope resides in us means it has our hearts and souls. It means we care about how we represent God in the world and how he stands with and behind us, even in the face of injustice. It also means we are able to prioritize our passions in terms of our walk of faith and how much weight we place on the circumstances around us.

We reside in hope because we know that ultimately it truly awaits us in God's presence and return. In other words, hope shapes perspective and works as a lens that keep us from exaggerating the often contentious situations our culture throws our way. The one thing we are called to defend in our engagement is our hope. It is a hope we are to invite others into experiencing because the things that truly last reside in what God has done through Christ. The third way is often different, and hope is one of the reasons why.

Dr. Darrell L. Bock is Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center at Dallas Theological Seminary as well as Senior Research Professor of NT Studies. He is an author or editor of over 40 books, including a New York Times Best Seller in non-fiction. He is host of the Seminary's Table podcasts (voice.dts.edu).


Engaging views and analysis from outside contributors on the issues affecting society and faith today. CP VOICES do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).

Commissioner Draws Heat for Praising ‘the birth of our King, Jesus’ in Christmas Letter
Friday, December 15, 2017 3:48 PM

Commissioner Draws Heat for Praising ‘the birth of our King, Jesus’ in Christmas Letter

Friday, December 15, 2017 3:48 PM
Friday, December 15, 2017 3:48 PM

A Miami-Dade County commissioner praised “the birth of our King, Jesus” in a Christmas message mailed to constituents on county letterhead, offending some constituents and a civil-rights group for injecting a religious endorsement into official county correspondence.

Commissioner Javier Souto’s office mailed the message to residents in District 10, which he has represented since 1993.

“We are approaching the happiest and most significant days in our calendar: Christmas and the Holidays,” he wrote. “The Brotherhood of Men is never felt stronger than during these last days of the year when we commemorate the birth of our King, Jesus, the Son of God. It is now when we see with enormous clarity what is truly important and what is not.”

Souto, a Republican holding a non-partisan seat on the 13-member commission, did not respond to an interview request, and the County Commission’s press office also did not respond to a request for comment on Souto’s behalf.

The letter was criticized by the American Civil Liberties Union for violating the separation required between church and state, even in messages tied to the celebration of a Christian holiday. The group called Souto’s letter to constituents “inappropriate” for official communication from a county official.

“Christmas is one of the two sacred holidays on the Christian calendar — we all understand that,” wrote Howard Simon, director of the ACLU’s Florida division. “But it is inappropriate for a public official to use the trappings of his office to promote religious views to the exclusion of others.”

Barbara Sangetti, a real estate agent who lives in the Kendall portion of Souto’s suburban district, said she received the “Dear Friends” letter in the mail this week. One side had the message in English and the other in Spanish. A photo of Souto, who faces reelection next year, sits near the top.

“You don’t think about recognizing the rest of the season that people are celebrating? It’s wrong on so many levels,” Sangetti said. “This is an elected official … And I’m Catholic.”

What a Stupid Bumper Sticker Can Tell Us About American Christianity
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 12:49 PM

What a Stupid Bumper Sticker Can Tell Us About American Christianity

Tuesday, December 12, 2017 12:49 PM
Tuesday, December 12, 2017 12:49 PM

By Russell Moore

I usually pay little attention to bumper stickers, especially those posted on social media. Last week, though, I found my ire raised by a photograph posted online by journalist Kelsey Dallas. The image featured a car at a post office near her, placarded with the message: “If Jesus Had a Gun, He’d Still Be Alive Today.” My first reaction was to roll my eyes and sigh, “Jesus is alive today.” After a while though I wondered if this bumper sticker might be about more than just a silly slogan. Maybe it encapsulates something frighteningly true about American evangelical Christianity.

Some would say that the bumper sticker isn’t meant to be biblically or theologically accurate. The driver is attempting to make known his views on gun control. I probably agree with the driver, mostly, on his views on that subject though I lack his passion for it (and recognize that many good people hold differing views from mine for good reasons). If one were to ask this motorist, probably a professing Christian, about the message on his car, he would probably wave the discussion away and get to the point: guns shouldn’t be outlawed. The message about Jesus was just the means to the end of the main point: a political argument.

That’s the problem.

In our time of political religion, passionate intensity is reserved for the “important matters,” which are inevitably political. Who cares if one misses the point of the Bible, as long as the message props up the slogan? Often even the “theological” debates Christians engage in, mostly now via social media, aren’t actually about God or the gospel, but about the identity politics of seeing “our side” as better than some other group. In those debates, what is being defended is not Christ and his church but “Christians”—sociologically and politically defined.

We can tell what we care about by what prompts us to lament or to anger. Our ancestors of old were angered by the loss of their land and their temple to foreign conquerors, but weren’t angered at all by their own placing of idols within the temple of God (Ezek. 8:1-18).

Jesus, on the other hand, is not triggered by the all-consuming passions of the arguments around him—whether one should pay taxes to Caesar, whether the Pharisees or the Sadducees were right. He certainly wasn’t angered by his own treatment by those around him. But he was visibly enraged by those who would wall off the temple or the Bible from those seeking God (Matt. 21:12-17; 23:1-36).

A stupid bumper sticker is a stupid bumper sticker. I wouldn’t even mention it if the only problem here was that the combination of biblical illiteracy with temporal obsessions too often sums up American evangelicalism. The problem is that the message of that bumper sticker often does too. The idea is that Jesus would not have been victimized had he just had the power to defend himself.

And yet, that assertion is what Jesus repeatedly refuted. No one took his life, he said; he willingly laid it down (Jn. 10:17-18). The Apostle Peter agreed with the sentiment of this bumper sticker, taking a sword to the head of the guard attempting to arrest Jesus. Jesus rebuffed his disciple. Who needs a sword when one could call twelve legions of angels (Matt. 26:47-56)? Jesus was not overwhelmed by someone else’s power. He was showing us what power is—the power of the cross that seems weak to the world. Indeed, Jesus told Peter that the power he sought to hold back his enemies would ultimately consume him (Matt. 26:52).

More importantly, Jesus knew what the real crisis was, and is. The crisis was not the threat of external harm. The crisis was a world under the just condemnation of God. The resolution of this crisis could not come from human effort, but from the sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Peter thought his biggest enemy was the Roman Empire. Jesus could see past the Roman Empire, to Satan falling like lightning from heaven.

American evangelicalism is old and sick and weak, and doesn’t even know it. We are bored by what the Bible reveals as mysterious and glorious, and red-in-the-face about what hardly matters in the broad sweep of eternity. We clamor for the kind of power the world can recognize while ignoring the very power of God that comes through Christ and him crucified. We’ve traded in the Sermon on the Mount for slogans on our cars. We’ve exchanged Christ the King for Christ the meme. And through it all, we demonstrate what we care about—the same power and self-leverage this age already values.

Often our cultural and moral and political debates are important. Offering one’s opinion is fine and good, sometimes even necessary. But if our passions demonstrate that these things are most important to us, and to our identity, we have veered into a place we do not want to go. The most important word we have for the world around us, and for the soul within us, can indeed fit on a bumper sticker: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

And, I might add, he doesn’t need your gun.

To Go Deeper - You Must Go Deeper
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 10:45 AM

To Go Deeper - You Must Go Deeper

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 10:45 AM
Wednesday, December 6, 2017 10:45 AM

This short message will inspire you. Challenge you. Encourage you. If you're in a deep place right now, it's time to go deeper in God.

Enjoy this incredibly inspiring message from Dr. George M. Hillman, Jr., Vice President Student Life, Dean of Students and Professor of Educational Ministries and Leadership, Dallas Theological Seminary.

Enjoy and be blessed!

< view previous