Mark Bertrand says that the world he "had been led to fear growing up in the Church is not actually the world we live in." It turns out that the moral relativism that we feared would turn the world to anarchy and chaos never materialized. Much of what we feared actually came to pass, just not in the way we thought it would.
The new world has turned out to be a world that loves "the social gospel, but without the gospel," to paraphrase Joseph Bottum.
Mark talks with host Mike Schutt about this strange turn of events. We now live in the midst of "an irreligious culture" that still "behaves in fundamentally religious ways." As Mark says, "The moralist of today is the irreligious offspring of the mainline Protestants who dominated the society of yesteryear."
How did we get here, and what are thoughtful Christians to make of this state of affairs? It seems the best way to respond to the New Moralism is likely not to return to the Old Moralism. But what role does the Church have to play in all of this?
J. Mark Bertrand is a novelist and pastor living in South Dakota. His crime noir works are Back on Murder, Pattern of Wounds, and Nothing to Hide. His book [Re]Thinking Worldview:Learning to Think, Live, and Speak in this World (Crossway 2007) is a great primer on Christian thought and action, and he serves on the faculty of Worldview Academy. He blogs at the world-renowned Bible Design Blog, sharing thoughts and photos on a multitude of design issues. His initial claim to fame was that he was interviewed by Ken Myers on Mars Hill Audio Journal, volume 90, which also features Mike Schutt talking about Redeeming Law.
Mark was also a guest on Episode 46 of Cross & Gavel, the most downloaded episode in the podcast's history.
John Inazu's book, Confident Pluralism: Surviving and Thriving Through Deep Difference (Univ Chicago 2016), "is an argument for mutual respect and coexistence" as we live, work, and speak in the world. In Inazu's words, "shared existence is not only possible, but also necessary."
Right now, our country seems to be more polarized than ever. Whether in debates over homosexual rights, in challenges to religious liberty, or in recent tensions between law enforcement and minority communities, we live in deep disagreement on fundamental issues. Confident Pluralism, in Inazu's words, "suggests a modest possibility: that we can live together in our 'many-ness.'"
Join host Mike Schutt and Dr. Inazu as they discuss Confident Pluralism and its two-fold prescription for a robust and hopeful shared existence. The book is divided into two main parts: Constitutional Commitments (the "legal dimension") and Civic Practices (the "personal dimesion").
First, the "legal dimension" of Confident Pluralism focuses on: (1) protecting the voluntary groups of civil society through the rights of assembly and association; (2) facilitating dissent and disagreement in public forums; and (3) ensuring that generally available government funding is not limited by government orthodoxy.
Second, the "personal dimension" of Confident Pluralism aspires toward tolerance, humility, and patience in three civic practices: (1) our speech; (2) our collective action (including protests, strikes, and boycotts); and (3) our relationships across difference.
Listen in for some conversation around these issues and a taste of Professor Inazu's hopeful vision.
John Inazu is the Sally D. Danforth Distinguished Professor of Law and Religion at Washington University in St. Louis and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia. He teaches courses in criminal law, law and religion, and the First Amendment. His scholarship focuses on the First Amendment freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion, and related issues of political and legal theory. John’s first book is Liberty's Refuge: The Forgotten Freedom of Assembly (Yale 2012). He has written broadly for mainstream audiences in publications including USA Today, CNN, The Hedgehog Review, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. He received his academic training at Duke (BSE and JD) and UNC-Chapel Hill (PhD), but he remains an avid Duke fan.
Watch Dr. Inazu's Q Talk here.
Browse of list of his shorter pieces on pluralism here.
Visit JohnInazu.com for more information and links to his scholarly work.
Pick up a copy of Confident Pluralism from Hearts & Minds Books.
Mike Schutt is the host of Cross & Gavel audio, and an Associate Professor at Regent University School of Law, where he has taught Professional Responsibility and Torts, among other things. He is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law. He currently teaches American Legal Thought in the Regent MA program and directs Attorney Ministries for the Christian Legal Society. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Trinity Law School Dean Myron Steeves has a vision for lawyers in ministry across the country. He says we ought to be looking for attorneys in the mold of the great reformer John Knox, who famously said, "Give me Scotland or I die," to gather and encourage lawyers in their mission in every city and every county. In this episode, Dean Steeves articulates this broad mission: addressing injustice, pursuing law reform, engaging in prayer ministry at the courthouse, encouraging church-centered mediation, and heeding the vocational call to minister to the client as a "whole person," among other things.
The conversation begins with host Mike Schutt asking how Christian attorneys might encourage their pastors, who have some anxiety in the wake of the Obergefell decision. Dean Steeves, who also advises non-profits, has some wisdom on the question of what Obergefell does and does not do, and why he is optimistic, at least in the very long term.
As the discussion moves to discuss the calling of Christian lawyers, generally, the topics range from the beauty of contract law ("it goes directly to the heart of what it means to be human") to the limits of litigation ("litigation is good for only one thing") and beyond. Schutt and Steeves touch on how groups of lawyers meeting in various places might better encourage one another to be "ministers to the whole person" and why "talking amongst ourselves" as attorneys is a pretty good idea.
You can find out more about Trinity Law School here and the Dean here. If you are interested in downloading early episodes (i.e., before iTunes) of Cross & Gavel Audio, they are available at the Christian Legal Society website, here.
Bill Jack thinks Christians suffer from swimming in the waters of secularism and that we're hooked on being popular. After Colorado baker Jack Phillips was punished for declining to bake a cake for a homosexual wedding, Bill asked an LBGT-friendly bakery to bake some cakes with Bible verses on them. Yet he doesn't believe cakes are the issue.
Listen in as Bill talks with host Mike Schutt about the Obergefell decision, the Colorado cake capers, and the Church's challenge of proclaiming truth to those who don't wish to hear. Careful: He might step on your toes . . . and we sure wouldn't want to offend anyone, whould we?