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White Horse Inn: The Radical Reformation

On this program, the hosts continue their discussion which began last week on the influence of the Radical Reformation. How did the theology of the Anabaptist and Pietist movements end up influencing so many forms of Protestantism, both here in America and around the world? And more specifically, how did these views shape the founders of the Enlightenment and help create what we know today as Protestant Liberalism? Join us on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Christianity & LiberalismHost Quote:

“We are continuing our discussion of the impact of the other reformation we hardly ever talk about, the Radical Reformation, on liberal Protestantism. Radicalism didn’t come from the Reformation. It’s often called the ‘leftwing reformation’ but it actually came from the late Middle Ages. A movement that came to be known as radical Anabaptism was millennial and utopian, expecting a radical age of the Spirit that would wash away all history and tradition and all external authority.

“This radical impulse has been part of Protestantism down to the present day. And if you look at Protestant Liberalism today, it looks very similar to this radical Anabaptist movement, as do many evangelical movements. And so, in a really profound way, even though evangelicals and liberals are at each other’s throats, they are more engaged in a sibling rivalry than they are successors of Luther and Calvin. In this program, we want to look at the ongoing influence of this radical element in Protestantism that is totally different from the 16th century Reformation led by Martin Luther and other reformers.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Liberalism”

In the sphere of religion, in particular, the present time is a time of conflict; the great redemptive religion which has always been known as Christianity is battling against a totally diverse type of religious belief, which is only the more destructive of the Christian faith because it makes use of traditional Christian terminology. This modern non-redemptive religion is called “liberalism.”

This movement is so various in its manifestations that one may almost despair of finding any common name which will apply to all its forms. But manifold as are the forms in which the movement appears, the root of the movement is one; the many varieties of modern liberal religion are rooted in naturalism—that is, in the denial of any entrance of the creative power of God (as distinguished from the ordinary course of nature) in connection with the origin of Christianity. (Adapted from J. Gresham Machen, Christianity & Liberalism)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The Radical Reformation

According to a recent Pew study, 53% of American Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation, and fewer than 30% of white Evangelicals were unable to identify Protestantism as the faith which embraces the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

On this program, the hosts will attempt to show that contemporary Christians, whether liberal or conservative, have more in common with the theology of the Anabaptist reformers than they do with the views of Luther and Calvin expressed in the great Reformation solas. Join us as we continue to think about the Reformation on this edition of White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“Much of the hoopla surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this year has been, well, let’s just say, blather.  At a joint service in Lund, Sweden, on October 31st, 2016, Pope Francis and the president of the World Lutheran Federation exchanged warm feelings. Reverend Martin Junge, general secretary of the mainline Lutheran body said in a press release from the joint service, ‘I’m carried by the profound conviction that by working towards reconciliation between Lutherans and Catholics, we’re working towards justice, peace and reconciliation in a world torn by conflict and violence.’  Clearly, the focus wasn’t on truth.

“Acknowledging Luther’s positive contributions, the Pope spoke of how important Christian unity is to bring healing and reconciliation to a world divided by violence.  But he added, ‘We have no intention of correcting what took place, but to tell that history differently.’ Perhaps the most evident example of missing the point is the statement by Swiss Pastor and President of an ecumenical church convention in Berlin last year, Christina Aus der Au.  She said, ‘Reformation means courageously seeking what is new and turning away from old familiar customs.’ That’s what the reformation was all about, why average lay people and archbishops gave their bodies to be burned and the western church was divided – a lot people just got really tired of the same old thing.

“The Wall Street Journal reports a Pew study showing that 53 percent of U.S. Protestants couldn’t identify Martin Luther as the one who started the Reformation.  Oddly, Jews, atheists and Mormons were more familiar with Luther than Protestants. In fact, fewer than three in ten white evangelicals correctly identify Protestantism as the faith that believes in the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Three in ten. Many today who claim the Reformation as their heritage are more likely heirs of the radical Anabaptists.  It might sound crazy, but here is my thesis. The Reformation isn’t over because it hasn’t begun in America. Protestantism is definitely over and the radicals won.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Inner Light”

The “Inner Light,” also called “Inward Light,” is often thought to be a distinctive theme of the Society of Friends (Quakers). This Inner Light is understood to be a direct awareness of God that allows a person to know God’s will for him or her. This expression is often attributed to the teachings of George Fox in the 17th century, founder of the Society of Friends, who had failed to find spiritual truth in the English churches. He experienced an inner light and voice within, “that of God in every man.” The Inner Light should not simply be a mystical experience, but should also result in a person’s working for the good of others.

The practice of Inner Light is believed to be the direct path of ascension towards the divine nature within man. The theme of Inner Light appears in various spiritual traditions as well as in the main religions of the world. Buddhism believes that the one experiences the highest nature of the mind, reaches enlightenment and liberation from the Wheel of Samsara (i.e. bodily existence).

The Society of Friends was influenced by a pivotal figure, Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), a German mystic who was raised in Lutheranism. Böhme had considerable influence on Pietism and various mystical sects including Rosicrucianism and theosophy. Böhme sought a melding of various alchemical and Kabbalistic traditions that focused on the inner path to God, which finds parallels with the ancient heresy known as Gnosticism.  Böhme was also an important source for German Romantic philosophy, influencing F.W. Schelling. Böhme is also an important influence on the ideas of the English Romantic poet, artist, and mystic William Blake. The German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was profoundly influenced by him as well. The tradition of the Inner Light reaches back into ancient mystical philosophies which have come to profoundly shape modern thinking. (Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica, s.v. “Inner Light;” “Jakob Böhme”)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Do I Have to Go to Church to Be a Christian?

Many Christians in our time seem to think that church attendance is optional, particularly in an age like ours with so many online options. But is this a healthy outlook? Is it even biblical? On this program, the hosts discuss this question and offer numerous reasons why it is not only important but also crucial for Christians to be under the care and supervision of pastors, teachers, and elders at a properly-ordered church. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Do I Have To Go To ChurchHost Quote:

“Do I have to go to church to be a Christian? We’re used to hearing the contrast between a personal relationship with Jesus versus going to church or joining a church. We are familiar with evangelistic presentations where that’s actually said. ‘I’m not inviting you to join a church, but to have personal relationship with Jesus.’

“The thing that we need to think about here is about the role of the church in God’s plan for creation, redemption, and eternity. The Father chose each of us to be part of the church. That is Christ’s bride and body. To be united to Christ is to be united to his church. First of all, the church is the heart of God’s plan from before time. Secondly, Christ gave his life for his church. Thirdly, the Spirit unites us to Christ, the head, and therefore to his body. You can’t be united to Christ without also being united to his visible church. Fourthly, Christ delivers himself to sinners now by the ministry of the church. We never leave that ministry until we die. And then finally, the church is the everlasting society of God, our forever family. The church never goes away.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Of the Catholic (Universal) Church”

We believe and profess one catholic or universal Church, which is a holy congregation of true Christian believers, all expecting their salvation in Jesus Christ, being washed by His blood, sanctified and sealed by the Holy Spirit.

This Church has been from the beginning of the world, and will be to the end thereof; which is evident from this that Christ is an eternal King, which without subjects He cannot be. And this holy Church is preserved or supported by God against the rage of the whole world; though it sometimes for a while appears very small, and in the eyes of men to be reduced to nothing; as during the perilous reign of Ahab the Lord reserved unto Him seven thousand men who had not bowed their knees to Baal.

Furthermore, this holy Church is not confined, bound, or limited to a certain place or to certain persons, but is spread and dispersed over the whole world; and yet is joined and united with heart and will, by the power of faith, in one and the same Spirit. (The Belgic Confession, Article 27)

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Addressing Popular Misconceptions of Faith

Addressing Popular Misconceptions of FaithOn this program, the hosts interact with a number of man-on-the-street interviews concerning the nature and meaning of faith. As they have discussed throughout this series, faith is often seen as a kind of leap in the dark. According to the surveys we’ll air on this program, this belief seems to be held by Christian and non-Christian alike.

The Christian misunderstanding of faith appears to be rooted in an often-misinterpreted passage from Hebrews chapter 11, so the hosts also spend some time explaining in what sense “faith is the essence of things unseen.” Join us as we continue our series, What is Faith?, on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“So, the assumption for most people is that when religious people go to church, mosque, synagogue, whatever, they are switching their furniture from the intellect to the emotions. Basically, they’re switching it from knowledge to opinion. They’re otherwise using their commonsense and their reason and appealing to evidence and relying on their senses and so forth in their everyday lives and evaluating other claims. But when it comes to religion, they switch off their minds and go to autopilot, just sort of flying by the seat of their heart as it were.” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

Faith”

Q. 21 What is true faith? A. True faith is not only a certain knowledge whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word; but also a hearty trust, which the Holy Spirit works in me by the Gospel, that not only to others, but to me also, forgiveness of sins, everlasting righteousness and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits. (The Heidelberg Catechism)

The Reformers were unanimous and explicit in teaching that justifying faith does not justify by any meritorious or inherent efficacy of its own, but only as the instrument for receiving or laying hold on what God has provided in the merits of Christ. They regarded this faith primarily as a gift of God and only secondarily as an activity of man in dependence on God. (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 497)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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Guidelines for Interpreting Scripture

How should we respond when someone asks, “Do you interpret the Bible literally?” This can be a little confusing at first, since the Bible isn’t a single book, but a collection of many different kinds of books written in a variety of styles such as poetry, historical narrative, and prophecy, each with its own unique interpretive rules. We should also be on the lookout for important motifs of Scripture, such as the difference between law and gospel.

On this program the hosts are wrapping up their two-part series on “hermeneutics,” or the science of biblical interpretation. Join us as we grow in our understanding of Scripture and its interpretation on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:Guidelines for Interpreting Scripture

“The New Testament either presupposes, quotes from, or the passages in it echo the Old Testament. So, it’s very clear the New Testament grows right out of the Old Testament, from promise to fulfillment. It is a do-over as some would say. We can’t use the allegorical method because the biblical writers themselves saw the New Testament as fulfilling what was promised or left incomplete in the Old Testament. There is a hand and glove relation. There’s an organic relation that we can’t pull apart.”– Kim Riddlebarger

Term to Learn:

“The Covenants of Grace in the Old and New Testaments”

  1. 34 How was the covenant of grace administered under the Old Testament? A. The covenant of grace was administered under the Old Testament by promises, prophecies, sacrifices, circumcision, the Passover, and other types and ordinances, which did all foresignify Christ then to come, and were for that time sufficient to build up the elect in faith in the promised Messiah, by whom they then had full remission of sin, and eternal salvation.
  2. 35 How is the covenant of grace administered under the New Testament? A. Under the New Testament, when Christ the substance was exhibited, the same covenant of grace was and still is to be administered in the preaching of the Word, and the administration of the sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; in which grace and salvation are held forth in more fullness, evidence, and efficacy, to all nations.
  3. 36 Who is the Mediator of the covenant of grace? A. The only Mediator of the covenant of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ, who, being the eternal Son of God, of one substance and equal with the Father, in the fullness of time became man, and so was and continues to be God and man, in two entire distinct natures, and one person, forever. (The Westminster Larger Catechism, Questions 34–36)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The New Adam Has Not Yet Arrived

As we saw in last week’s program, the Bible traces the story of God’s promise to rescue the world from the consequences of the Fall. Yet as we follow the lives of characters such as Abraham, Moses, and David, we find not only sinners but also those who sin in spectacular ways that remind us of Adam’s original sin. In other words, it quickly becomes clear in these stories that the new Adam has not yet arrived, and that the new creation is still on hold.

On this program, the hosts continue to unpack this way of reading Scripture as they make their way through the Old Testament prophets and finally point to Jesus Christ as the true “Son of Man.” Join us as we begin this new series on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“One of the things that plagues much of American Christianity is the tendencies to read Old Testament texts moralistically and a couple of examples are Ezra and Nehemiah. It gets pretty boring reading about the Jews rebuilding the walls on a political entry unless you turn it into principles to help me become a better insurance salesman. Even in Nehemiah and Ezra, even those books are showing the sinfulness of their own potential messiahs and the figures in these books even as they are preparing the way for Israel to be back in the land and for the temple to be rebuilt.”– Rod Rosenbladt

Term to Learn:

“Old Testament Types and Shadows”the new Adam has not yet arrived

Old Testament events, offices, and institutions (hereafter OTEOI) are invested by God with spiritual significance as integral steps in his history-long project to reverse sin and its effects… these OTEOI point beyond themselves, symbolizing the comprehensive, eschatological salvation that is God’s purpose for history and that has been inaugurated by Christ in his first coming and that will be consummated by Christ in his second coming. To understand how any OTEOI preaches Christ and finds its fulfillment in him, we first must grasp its symbolic depth in its own place in redemptive history. Then we need to consider how the OTEOI’s original symbolic depth (the aspect of redemption to which it pointed in shadow-form) finds final and complete fulfillment in Christ. Finally, we must identify and articulate how its message applies to ourselves and our listeners. The apostles’ proclamation of Christ as the fulfillment of all God’s promises provides abundant direction for the grateful outworking of this good news in personal discipline, family life, church life, and public life in the marketplace—and, if necessary, in a prison, like Paul. (Adapted from Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim, pp.234–237)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The Search for a New Adam, part 1

In many ways, the Bible is the unpacking of God’s initial promise recorded in Genesis 3:15, that though death entered the world through man’s fall, one day a child would be born who would restore all things and crush the serpent’s head. Therefore, the primary question that we should ask as we make our way through the pages of Scripture is whether any new character that emerges might actually be this child of promise.

What we see again and again, however, is that all of these potential messiahs end up not being anything new at all, but actually end up being mirror images of the old Adam. Join us as we begin this new series on the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:The Search for a New Adam

“We just don’t want to look at how far East of Eden we actually are… I remember years ago, I was walking along the path of the college with our universal genius, Professor of Math, Robert Marion. He said, ‘What do you think is the greatest doctrine that came from the 16th century?’ I said, ‘Well, that salvation is by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone on the basis of his merits alone.’ He said, ‘I used to think that, too.’ I said, ‘What in the world do you think now?’ He said, ‘I think it’s a doctrine of a real Fall, because without it, you don’t even look.’ He had a point. We have a whole western civilization of theologians who have just not wanted to talk very much about the Fall of man. Where are we? We’re East of Eden.” – Rod Rosenbladt

Term to Learn:

“Original Sin”

6.2 Our first parents, by this sin, fell from their original righteousness and communion with God, and we in them whereby death came upon all: all becoming dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body.

6.3 They being the root, and by God’s appointment, standing in the room and stead of all mankind, the guilt of the sin was imputed, and corrupted nature conveyed, to all their posterity descending from them by ordinary generation, being now conceived in sin, and by nature children of wrath, the servants of sin, the subjects of death, and all other miseries, spiritual, temporal, and eternal, unless the Lord Jesus set them free.

6.4 From this original corruption, whereby we are utterly indisposed, disabled, and made opposite to all good, and wholly inclined to all evil, do proceed all actual transgressions. (1689 London Baptist Confession, chap. 6, Sections 2–4)

(This podcast is by White Horse Inn. Discovered by Christian Podcast Central and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Christian Podcast Central, and audio is streamed directly from their servers.)

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The Church’s Role In Making Lifelong Learners

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, he didn’t tell his disciples to go into all the world to induce authentic worship experiences with the proper use of stage lighting, fog machines, and powerful sound systems. He also didn’t encourage his followers merely to make one-time converts, but rather He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19).

On this program, as we’re concluding our series on “Creed or Chaos,” the hosts will be looking at the church’s role in making lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ. Join us for this edition concluding this series. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.The Church’s Role In Making Lifelong Learners

Host Quote:

“How gracious a God we have, who’s worked through the church to make Himself so easily found! You don’t have to go hike the Himalayas and squat in the lotus position and chant your mantra to try to find where God is. He’s right here in these words that emerged from Scripture, preserved by the church responsibly and then recited for us each and every week. This is how God draws even children to Himself who commit this simple creed to memory.” – John Bombaro

Term to Learn:

“The Keys of the Kingdom”

83 Q. What are the keys of the kingdom?

  1. The preaching of the holy gospel and Christian discipline toward repentance. Both preaching and discipline open the kingdom of heaven to believers and close it to unbelievers.

84 Q. How does preaching the gospel open and close the kingdom of heaven?

  1. According to the command of Christ: The kingdom of heaven is opened by proclaiming and publicly declaring to each and every believer that, as often as he accepts the gospel promise in true faith, God, because of what Christ has done, truly forgives all his sins. The kingdom of heaven is closed, however, by proclaiming and publicly declaring to unbelievers and hypocrites that, as long as they do not repent, the anger of God and eternal condemnation rest on them. God’s judgment, both in this life and in the life to come, is based on this gospel testimony.

85 Q. How is the kingdom of heaven closed and opened by Christian discipline?

  1. According to the command of Christ: If anyone, though called a Christian, professes unchristian teachings or lives an unchristian life, if after repeated brotherly counsel, he refuses to abandon his errors and wickedness, and, if after being reported to the church, that is, to its officers, he fails to respond also to their admonition—such a one the officers exclude from the Christian fellowship by withholding the sacraments from him, and God himself excludes him from the kingdom of Christ. Such a person, when he promises and demonstrates genuine reform, is received again as a member of Christ and of his church. (The Heidelberg Catechism, Questions 83–85)

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For the last two thousand years the church has crystalized various summary statements about the Bible’s most important teachings into clear, short, and easy-to-memorize statements that outline the most crucial and non-negotiable aspects of the Christian faith.Creeds & Confessions

On this program the hosts will discuss the importance not only of affirming the substance of these creeds and confessions but also of making it a regular practice to recite them publicly during our weekly worship services so that “the pattern of sound words” (2 Tim 1:13) becomes part of our new identity. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“A couple of points to make. One is every phrase, every clause from the Apostles’ Creed emerges directly from Holy Scripture. It’s as simple as that. The second thing is what we get here is a distillation of the most core things that each Christian, or anyone who’s been exposed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, should and must know and this is why the content is Trinitarian and it comes to us in a Trinitarian form or structure. We’re talking about the one and only, true and living God – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit – who is the maker of Heaven and Earth. So we move from that grander, perhaps more nebulous general statement now to great specificity when we say, ‘And his Son, Jesus Christ, conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.’ Now we’ve gotten to the very specific God, the one who has acted in human history on our behalf.” – John Bombaro

Term to Learn:

“Inhibiting Factors of Catechesis”

The first and biggest factor that inhibits catechesis, and the hardest to counter or circumvent, is the turn away from external authority in Western culture… [L]eading thinkers in the West began to see themselves as pioneers of a new, post-Christian era in which the Christian heritage of belief might be questioned and critiqued like any other human point of view. This was a radical turn from a millennium and a half of acknowledging the truth and authority of God’s written Word as set forth in and by the church…

The second inhibiting factor, a corollary of the first, is resistance to authoritative instruction within the Christian community… In children’s and youth work across the board, today’s agenda is learning Bible stories rather than being grounded in truths about the Triune God. In group Bible studies generally, participants are led to look directly for personal devotional applications without first contemplating the writers’ points about the greatness, goals, methods, and mystery of God.

A final factor inhibiting catechesis emerges here: preoccupation. In most evangelical churches, Sunday and weekly programs are already as full as can be reasonably managed. (J. I Packer and Gary Parrett, Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way, pp. 10–12)

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What are the beliefs and assumptions of contemporary American spirituality? Why do so many people pick and choose religious beliefs based on that which makes them happy, rather than by evaluating truth claims?

Recorded before a live audience in Vail, Colorado, the hosts discuss these questions and more as they outline the characteristics of pluralism and the American Religion. They are joined once more by Greg Koukl, founder and president of Stand to Reason and author of The Story of Reality: How the World Began, How It Ends, and Everything Important That Happens in Between. Join us for this edition of the White Horse Inn.

Host Quote:

“The gospel is ultimately what is relevant in the sense that it answers questions, the very existence of which we suppress in unrighteousness. We obscure our humanness as much as we can because it reveals the image of God and God having an ultimate claim on us. The deepest instinct of being human that we continually cover over is really what the Gospel does address.

“When we turn now to Jesus’ external authority over the authority of the sovereign self, one of the obvious texts we go to is the Great Commission where Jesus says, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and to all the world preach the gospel, baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teach them to observe everything I’ve commanded and lo, I’m with you to the end of the age.’  Here he says, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth. You don’t even give your heart to me. You don’t even let me have my way. You already belong to me. Look, I have the keys of death in hell. It’s not in your hands. It’s in my hands. I am the one who possesses all authority in heaven and on earth.’” – Michael Horton

Term to Learn:

“Church as Counter-Culture”

Pluralism & the American ReligionCultures enact and uphold certain ritual practices that act as liturgical formations of identity through imaginative means. Such ritual forces of culture are not satisfied with being merely mundane; embedded in them is a sense of what ultimately matters (compare Philippians 1:10). ‘Secular’ liturgies are fundamentally formative, and implicit in them is a vision of the kingdom that needs to be discerned and evaluated. From the perspective of Christian faith, these secular liturgies will often constitute mis-formation of our desires – aiming our heart away from the Creator to some aspect of the creation as if it were God. Secular liturgies capture our hearts by capturing our imaginations and drawing us into ritual practices that ‘teach’ us to love something very different from the kingdom of God.

By the same token, Christian worship needs to be intentionally liturgical, formative, and pedagogical in order to counter such mis-formation and misdirections. While the practices of Christian worship are best understood as the restoration of an original, creational desire for God, practically speaking, Christian worship functions as a counter-reformation to the mis-formation of secular liturgies into which we are ‘thrown’ from an early age. We must learn to consider Christian education (and worship) as a counter-pedagogy of desire. (Adapted from James K.A. Smith, “Love Takes Practice” in Desiring the Kingdom, pp. 88)

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