David Kinnaman & Gabe Lyons have authored GOOD FAITH: Being a Christian when society thinks you’re irrelevant and extreme, because they believe that American culture is becoming hostile to people of faith. There is a tendency for people to think that Christianity is out of step with the times. After conducting surveys with thousands of people they offer practical suggestions as to how to relate to people with different convictions from your own.
They compare the popular morality of self-fulfillment with the Christian belief in self-denial and the consequences for marriage and parenting where self-sacrifice and service are required. They present a model for how Christians can think and act when engaging the culture.
- When we discover something that we consider wrong we should have the courage to confront it without being judgmental.
- When there is confusion about key issues in our society we ought to bring clarity to a situation and then compel others to act.
- When we find something that is good we should celebrate and cultivate it.
- When we identify something that is missing we should be creative and be catalysts for a new and better way.
True tolerance is defined as the ability to acknowledge and permit other people’s views. This is sometimes called principled pluralism. In contrast, “fake tolerance” is defined as “We will tolerate you as long as your opinion falls within the range of what we deem acceptable.” Divergence from this and you are a bigot! This kind of attitude means that you don’t want to be around anyone who disagrees with you, and you don’t want to allow them the freedom to disagree with you. Freedom of speech has become an issue today. Groupthink wants to prevent anyone with contrary opinions to be heard on college campuses or to be employed. This creates a chilling effect on the ability to differ and relate to people with different convictions. This kind of censorship wants to confine religious convictions to religious institutions and private discourse. Before he became President, then Senator Obama in his “Call to Renewal “ address defended religious convictions in the public square by citing noted American reformers. “So to say that men and women should not inject their ‘personal morality’ into public policy debates is a practical absurdity. Our law is by definition a codification of morality, much of it grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
However ‘personal morality’ has now become a problem in the public square if you disagree with changes in sexual morality and the definition of marriage or gender issues.
Kinnaman and Lyons confront the hot button issues of the sanctity of life, sex, marriage, and race. Good Faith requires Christians to be respectful of those with whom we disagree while remaining faithful to biblical convictions. We must learn to love one another as made in the image of God. We must relate to others as people to be loved not as issues that we cannot agree with.
The authors disagree with the growing number of Americans who believe their feelings should dictate their identity. Christians believe their identity is found in Christ. Philosopher Charles Taylor in The Ethics of Authenticity claims that “We set an overwhelming high value on self-fulfillment, on the idea that each of us should find some way of life that satisfies us and is authentically our own.” This is antithetical to Christianity which believes that life is about glorifying God and fulfilling his purpose.
We glorify God when we love other people no matter what their self-professed identity. We don’t call them names, vilify them or avoid them. I must confess that Good Faith convicted me of bad faith attitudes. Self-denial, or taking up my cross and following Jesus, means going outside my comfort zone to love my neighbor when he or she is very different from me. Can we extend that love in the Church to those who differ from us in their lifestyles, race, and politics? That is the challenge of this book.