I walked into a conversation between two mature Christ followers the other day, and the essence of the back and forth was how to engage various issues and contentions being thrown our way with a clear sense of true North in terms of a Christian mind, worldview and biblical base.
Again, these were mature Christians. But when you hear a popular Christian podcast claim that a certain person or event in the Bible wasn’t actually historical, or you hear something like “Critical Race Theory” being debated, you can feel overwhelmed as to who to listen to, where to turn and, as a result, how to think.
So how do you sort out the facts, sites, blogs, links and feeds in relation to truth, the Bible and clear thinking? To purposefully oversimplify it, it comes down to two things: understanding culture through a biblical worldview and understanding the teaching of the Bible through a high view of Scripture.
So how do you ground yourself in those two things? What are your resources?
Again, let me purposefully oversimplify. First, in terms of cultural ideas and events and issues, get a “gold standard” source of information about thinking Christianly about culture. A source that you are confident will bring a biblical worldview to bear on the issues of the day. On that, I would offer three: Colson Center, Christianity Today and Church & Culture.
Chuck Colson was a friend and mentor to me, and one of his great legacies was the Colson Center which continues to be ably led and engaged regarding the issues of our day. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with everything you might read on their site – even they would acknowledge where thinking Christians might disagree – but you can count on it giving you good introductions to the issues and events of our day and what a solid biblical worldview might offer in response.
Christianity Today (CT) is not only the flagship publication of historical Christian orthodoxy, but also a family of resources that serves critical thinking as a Christian. There are few times when reading a CT article is not the best place to start on any given issue.
And, of course, I’ve devoted much of my life to the interplay of faith and culture, resulting in books such as Serious Times, A Mind for God, The Rise of the Nones and Meet Generation Z. The website housing many other resources (including this blog) – churchandculture.org – is designed to be an ongoing resource. Put any subject of interest into the search engine, and hopefully you will instantly find relevant and helpful articles.
These three sites are solidly Christian, unwaveringly orthodox, holding to the highest views of the inspiration and authority of the Bible. Make any and all of them your cultural starting point.
Then there is understanding the Bible itself. Where to begin there? Beyond involvement in a church that teaches on all things with an eye toward what the Bible has to say – and with a high view of the Bible itself – get a mini-library of helpful texts. And again, make them “gold-standard” so that you don’t have to approach them with an element of suspicion, but like the three sites mentioned above, with a sense of trust.
What would this entail? When I said “mini,” I meant it. Just three volumes will, in most circumstances, handle your needs: a good study Bible, a good Bible handbook and a good Bible commentary. Here would be my recommendations for all three:
*The NIV Study Bible
*The Holman Bible Handbook (In full disclosure, I served on the editorial team and wrote its section on the Gospel of John, but despite that, it’s still good.)
*The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (abridged two-volume edition)
So three sites and three books. I can’t recommend enough getting some baseline, gold-standard, “go-to” sources of information like these on both cultural issues and biblical questions or claims. Like no other time in recent memory, Christians are being exposed to, seduced by, and lobbied for sites and blogs and feeds that are akin to the Wild West. It is lawless and unaccountable, reckless and filled with falsehood. Yet time and again, presented as truth. Which means you need trusted, biblical, orthodox places to turn.
You can turn to these.
James Emery White
About the Author
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.