New Here?
     
Posts tagged "Low Anthropology"

Mission: Difficult

Mission: Difficult

The following was excerpted from Nick Lannon’s fantastic new book Life Is Impossible: And That’s Good News—a fundamental distillation of the law and the gospel in everyday life. This comes from the third chapter “Mission: Difficult.” I have heard the Christian life described in many different ways. Some have compared it to a race, or […]

Botched Convocation for the Handsome Boy Modeling School of Ministry

Botched Convocation for the Handsome Boy Modeling School of Ministry

“Why is everyone scowling at me?” I had a week(s) where every time I made eye contact with someone, invariably, they would have this pained look on their face. I had to look into a mirror, like Boris Karloff in Targets, before realizing what was causing it: my face. Every time a certain subject came up, […]

Into the Spider-Verse: Anyone Can Wear the Mask but Web-Slinging Is Another Matter

Into the Spider-Verse: Anyone Can Wear the Mask but Web-Slinging Is Another Matter

Thrilled to share this review from superhero expert Jeremiah Lawson: Last week, Into the Spider-Verse won the Oscar for best animated feature film. Of the contenders, even though I loved Incredibles 2, I would be willing to say that for sheer fun Spider-Verse deserved its win. The film is a high-octane sugar-buzz film with a dense, complex array […]

What Happens When You Finally Quit Social Media

What Happens When You Finally Quit Social Media

An anonymous confession. A recent study reported by The New York Times suggests that people are people with or without Facebook. People without Facebook have mood swings; people with Facebook have mood swings and access to thousands of pictures of people they might only kind of know. Examining the study, Benedict Carey explains how “heavy […]

The Brake Fast Club: Low Anthropology in Defensive Driving School

The Brake Fast Club: Low Anthropology in Defensive Driving School

This one comes to us from Kate Campbell. I wake up early one Saturday morning and drive over to the tiny strip center where my day’s worth of self-imposed detention awaits me. When I walk into the office, a home-makeover show is playing on the tiny TV screen. A stocky man at the front desk […]

We're All Right? Phil Harvey Spector, “Sign of the Times”, and the Horror of Pop

We're All Right? Phil Harvey Spector, “Sign of the Times”, and the Horror of Pop

The following was written by our friend, Rachel Gaffin. A version of this article was originally published in The Ruckus last September. The year my brother Richard discovered rock and roll, his Christmas gifts shared a common theme: one uncle bought him a giant red Visual Dictionary of Rock and Roll; another bought him a set […]

Consider the Grasshopper

Consider the Grasshopper

There are more than 11,000 species of grasshopper. The Acrididae family comprises about 10,000 of those species, accounting for nearly all grasshoppers in the United States. They’re harmless creatures, really. Plant-eaters, the lot of them, and many produce a gentle, familiar sound by rubbing the ridges of their hind legs against the edges of their […]

Distinguishing Between Law and Gospel: A Brief Guide

This handy guide comes from the first appendix to our newest book, Law and Gospel: A Theology for Sinners (and Saints), coauthored by Will McDavid, Ethan Richardson, and David Zahl. Hope you enjoy:

The distinction between law and gospel is the highest art in Christendom
–Martin Luther

Mbird LAW AND GOSPEL Cover options4A strong belief of Luther, and those who follow in his footsteps, is that people should not be enticed to church by the Gospel and then, after believing, turn toward self-improvement. The Law always kills, and the Spirit always gives life. This death and resurrection of the believer is not a one-time event, but must be repeated continually: It is the shape of the Christian life. On Sundays, therefore, some form of the Law is ideally preached to kill, and the Gospel to vivify—“the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life” (2 Cor 3:6). But in many situations, the Law is mistakenly preached to give life, on the assumption that the believer, unlike the new Christian, has the moral strength to follow the guidelines. This leads to burnout, often producing agnostics or converts to Eastern Orthodoxy. Words like ‘accountability’ or ‘intentionality,’ for example, are sure signs that the letter, rather than the Spirit, is being looked to for life. To help distinguish this form of misguided Law from the Gospel, here’s a handy guide:

1. Listen for a distortion of the commandment: Anytime a hard commandment is softened, such as “Be perfect” (Mt 5:48) to “just do your best,” we’re looking to the Law, not the Gospel, for life.

2. Discern the balance of agency: If you’re in charge of making it happen, it’s misguided Law. If God’s in charge, it’s Gospel. If it’s a mixture, it’s Law.

3. Look for honesty: If you or others either seem ‘A-okay’ or ‘struggling, but…,’ then likely it’s because the Old Adam is alive and well (there will also be a horrible scandal in the next three months). If people are open and honest about their problems, such freedom shows the Gospel is at work.

4. Watch for exhaustion: If the yoke is hard and the burden heavy week after week, then the letter’s probably overpowering the Spirit.

5. Examine the language: If you hear ‘If… then,’ ‘Wouldn’t it be nice…,’ ‘We should all…,’ or anything else that smacks of the imperative voice, it’s implicit works-salvation. If you hear the indicative voice—‘God is…,’ ‘We are…,’ or ‘God will…’—then it’s probably Gospel.

6. Watch for the view of human nature, or anthropology: If human willpower, strength, or effort are being lauded or appealed to, it’s Law. High anthropology means low Christology, and vice-versa.

7. Finally, keep an eye out for the ‘Galatians effect,’ summarized by St. Paul:

Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? Did you experience so much for nothing?—if it really was for nothing. Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard? (Gal 3:2-5)

If how you’re approaching or being told to approach Christianity now feels different from “believing what you heard,” we’re in Galatians territory. Christianity is Good News, and it never ceases to be Good News.

Grab your copy of L&G today!

Low Anthropology Is My Love Language

Low Anthropology Is My Love Language

Often, when I try to explain what Mockingbird is I am faced with the daunting task of articulating a “low anthropology”. That is, an unflattering view of humanity. People accuse me of being negative or of losing sight of the fact that human beings are “mostly good.” So I pause and consider their opinions. And […]

The Dodgers Went Swimming (and We Would Too)

The Dodgers Went Swimming (and We Would Too)

Major league baseball, perhaps more other professional sports, has intricacies that are taken very seriously. This manifested itself last week, when various Los Angeles Dodgers players began to celebrate their win against the Arizona Diamondbacks by jumping into the pool at Chase Field, home of the D-Backs. The Dodgers’ victory over the Diamondbacks clinched the NL West, […]

Need Self-Improvement? Just Read the Signs!

Need Self-Improvement? Just Read the Signs!

It’s pretty common here at Mockingbird to find a sympathetic review of recent findings from the worlds of sociology and psychology. There’s often a lot to like as these fields frequently help to illuminate somewhat obtuse theological concepts like the problem of the law and the bound will. But this compatibility between theology and the […]

Low Anthropology According to John Darnielle

One of my favorite bands, The Mountain Goats, has gotten a lot of love from Mockingbird in the past; John Darnielle has a way of expressing low anthropology like few other songwriters that I listen to. His songs about dysfunctional couples are particularly good, in my opinion, and while “No Children” is a fan favorite […]