The pain and suffering among even the most devout followers of Christ is a sign not of His abandonment, but of a greater story at work. At the end of the day, our material comforts are of little consequence to this story. Why, then, does the New Testament appear to make charity a fundamental aspect of the Christian life? We might forget that good deeds benefit both parties, and it is likely that Christian charity has much more to do with the giver than the receiver. When we give, we display love and sacrifice. Charity is a way for us to practice these virtues and constantly lay ourselves down for another as Christ has done for us. We give not merely because someone is in need—anyone can do that—we give because we are in need.
Here we come to the unifying feature of contemporary challenges to religious freedom—the desire to limit the influence of religion over public life. In the world envisioned by Obama administration lawyers, churches will have freedom as “houses of worship,” but unless they accept the secular consensus they can’t inspire their adherents to form institutions to educate and serve society in accordance with the principles of their faith. Under a legal regime influenced by the concept of public reason, religious people are free to speak—but when their voices contradict the secular consensus, they’re not allowed into our legislative chambers or courtrooms.
We in America have spent too many years trying to explain evil and bring order to what is essentially non-order. We have tried to reason with it, bring context to it, deny it, reconfigure it, befriend it, and negotiate with it. Our trust in logic and order and even moral neutrality is so great that we have convinced ourselves that evil must have these qualities as well. There must be some reason why Adam Lanza killed all those beautiful children in Newtown. There must be some reason why Nidal Hasan shot up soldiers at Fort Hood. There must be some reason why Islamists killed 3,000 people in New York in 2001. If we can just find the reason, we can “fix” it. We can stop it from happening.
I think the argument being made is a bit incoherent: “She has a point. There is something absurd about the designation of particular words as profane. And yet, neither table nor elbow is in the curse category, and the majority of swear words have earned their designation according to a certain logic. Other than words associated with deity, most profanity involves associations with biological function in the areas of sexuality and waste elimination. The God-related curses are right off the table, if one takes the third commandment seriously at all. But what is a Christian to do with the remaining “strong language”?”
Unless you’re inside the prosperity gospel or word-faith movement, you’ve probably been concerned with the reach of these teachers. They operate impressive (I mean that!) multimedia empires and export their brand of the “gospel” to the most distant corners of the globe. That media savvy and reach has made it difficult for others to stand against the rushing tide of their teaching. But Christian hip hop has a developing, media-rich, and savvy reach of its own. It’s reaching a younger generation of believers and reaching the corners of the globe. Christian hip hop may be the first medium by which orthodox voices can effectively push back against the titans of word-faith and prosperity “gospel” teaching. When Prop, Lecrae, and shai are able to stir the ire, accolades, or pushback of theologians, secular awards panels, or ministry offices of word-faith teachers, something is happening on a different scale. We may be observing Truth’s reach being extended in a helpful and hopeful way.