Many of those on the official rolls of American churches believe, as Christian Smith and Melinda Denton have observed among Christian youth, that it is good to attend church like it is good to take your vitamins or eat your vegetables, but that going to church is really just one option among many for good health and prosperity. Therefore, whenever church attendance enhanced their success and happiness it was a priority, but their children have grown up thinking of religion as another hobby. In the best cases these church members practiced a shallow or inconsistent Christianity, but often their children profess what Smith and Denton call “moralistic therapeutic deism” (MTD). MTD holds that the chief end of humanity is to feel good and be happy and that God welcomes those who are good into heaven when they die, but unless facing something like serious medical issues you do not need God in everyday life.1 Thankfully, Reformed churches already possess the best resources and most fruitful tactics to combat the tenets of MTD as well as a shallow Christianity in their historic Christian liturgy.
It should come as no surprise that MTD believers, as well as many professing Christianity with shallow roots, will not cling to Christ when suffering starts nor push back against the reigning liturgies of our culture. Those without deep roots may endure for a while but they will immediately fall away when tribulation or persecution arises on account of Jesus. But Christian children subscribing to MTD have even less keeping them in the church when they leave for college. Notice first that in MTD there is no need for Christ, which is why it is better understood as a form of deism than a shallow form of Christianity. Thus Christ and the church are both dispensable by definition. Additionally, it will not take much to convince a young person, who probably harbors their own suspicions already, that the church is an obstacle to the purpose and goal of feeling good and being happy. However, reigning liturgies like consumerism can easily grip their imagination since MTD possesses none of the resources necessary to resist such compatible world-views. In fact, MTD would never inspire a person to lay down their life.2
It is not enough for the church to simply address this problem with a thought-provoking newsletter article or by sharing the audio of a well-reasoned sermon concerning it via social media. We are more than what we think. James K.A. Smith notes, “before we are thinkers, we are believers.”3 We are “moral, believing animals,” as Christian Smith calls us.4 We are liturgical beings – created to worship. And ever since the fall of Adam the worship offered by these liturgical beings has not always sought its chief end in glorifying the true and living God and enjoying him forever. Instead, Steve Garber would have us to remember that our minds, our vision, and our will have all been bent or broken. Indeed, he says, “we love the darkness of our imaginations.” So the last remaining objections to the Christian faith “are never primarily intellectual,” as he tells us, “Words have to become flesh” (emphasis his).5 Therefore, it would be insufficient to clearly delineate every difference between MTD and Christianity, let alone even prove the truth of the latter. Appeals limited to the mind of the shallow Christian may prove just as fruitless. After all, the purpose and goal of feeling good and being happy is very alluring.
In order to contend for the Christian faith against an unreasonable love for the darkness of MTD, as well as to shore up anyone who weakly testifies to Christ, we must know that the most fruitful tactics do not neglect the intellect but they do include a kind of ‘preparatory school’ shaping the desires and imagination to receive the truth and a kind of ‘after school program’ where the truth becomes habit. This is not to be confused with the way that playing video games and enjoying similar forms of entertainment might stimulate what Roger Scruton calls the “pleasure switch” with a rush that short-circuits the mind.6 Nevertheless, this formative process may not always impress instantly on the mind. Many prodigals had been unwittingly equipped to repent by years of “just going through the motions” mouthing catechism or creeds and confessions of sin. Thus while recklessly chasing pleasure in order to feel good and be happy they came to their senses.7 Moreover, someone might not even be fully aware of the shaping that is happening. C.S. Lewis became a Christian through conversations with J.R.R. Tolkien and Hugo Dyson about what they called the true myth of Scripture. But not every child absorbing Lewis’ children’s books would be consciously aware of the extent those books woke up their imaginations to the glories of God’s story or aroused within them a yearning for a world beyond the one we can see. These fantasies can function in a pre-apologetic fashion.8 Furthermore, the kind of faith that will stand firm in the face of the hard knocks of reality must become so ingrained that our learned responses become habits largely done without thinking, like the example James K.A. Smith gives of driving home from work each day.9
The answer is Christian liturgical practices, ideally done in at least three settings, that are robust enough to potentially transform supporters of MTD or shallow Christianity into lovers of the depth and beauty of the Christian faith. Perhaps the most obvious time to practice the faith is while gathered for corporate worship on Sunday mornings (the arithmetic of the faith). But since regular attendance is not yet a habit but a hobby for many, each Sunday the church must be sure to use what the business world would call “best practices.” Yet little more than an hour a week will hardly counteract the reigning liturgies to which every American is daily inundated nor remedy this problem. A second context would be session meetings, the meetings of its committees, youth group, praise team rehearsals, and the like. Indeed, whenever someone is meeting on the church premises the primary activity should be a liturgy. A third context would be the regular ritual of private and family worship. The Christian education in these three settings would include reading the Scriptures carefully and devotionally as well as our equivalent to writing – prayer. This reading, writing, and arithmetic would not be an end in and of themselves but tools for transformation.10 Liturgical practices in this school of Christ would aim at shaping your desires to love God more, developing your eschatological imagination11 to see yourself seated now with Christ in the heavenly places and yearn for the new heavens and earth, molding your habits so that you choose the right and reject the evil often without thinking, instructing your mind to think the thoughts of Christ after him, and hearing your calling12 from God.
Sunday morning worship is not a tourist stop for visitors but it is a pilgrimage that should transform your week. In Ancient Israel the faithful would sing psalms as they went up to Zion and then a prophet would challenge them to repent at the Temple gate. Often worship, especially when it involved sacrifices or celebrating certain liturgical feasts like Passover, was a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Likewise, Christian worship today is a mountaintop experience where the congregation Spiritually is lifted up into heaven for a glimpse of the new Jerusalem. The people are invited and encouraged during corporate worship to imagine seeing themselves in Christ in the heavenly places, to join in a conversation between God and His people, and to receive healing and blessing from God. In other words, the entire liturgy is sacramental, bringing together heaven and earth.13 Observing this corporate liturgy, therefore, is not a religious duty done in order to check it off your to-do list each week but a redemption-event that rocks your reality with more than just hints of hope.14
On Sunday morning the adventure officially begins with a call to worship summoning the assembled congregation to gather at the foot of the heavenly Mount Zion. James K.A. Smith says that the “scandal” of it all is that not everyone is even there to hear it – the neighbor down the street may be working in their garden or tidying up around the house, the neighbor next door may be away at work, a family member may still be fast asleep. The realization that not everyone is there is a reminder that not everyone responds to God’s universal call because not everyone belongs to this chosen people. But those who do come out of their homes and neighborhoods to meet for worship become a community. Thus the very act of gathering for worship is an exercise of eschatological imagination. And those who have heard and heeded the call that went out before the service even began, now hear it publicly proclaimed at the opening of the liturgy.15 But what about all of those who have drifted away from attending church on account of practicing MTD or shallow Christianity? Drew Dyck points out that these “drifters,” as he calls them, do not have intellectual objections to Christianity. Therefore, an important tactic is to invite them to church and to other places where they will hear the gospel and be around Christians.16 This is a good first step to engage their imaginations, but when they come through the door we need to use best practices to see that it continues starting with the call to worship.
In many churches it is not unusual to hear the same verse or two from the Psalms each Sunday as the call to worship, but otherwise far too many churches today neglect the Psalms. If that is the extent of the exposure a congregation will get to the Psalms on any given Sunday morning, that is a tragedy. Consider instead leading the congregation to read responsively through digestible portions of this divinely inspired litany in lectio continua as a call to worship. After all, the Psalms are one of the best liturgical resources (given by God himself) for use by churches to produce people with an increasingly mature faith. Remember that worship is a conversation between God and his people. What makes the Psalms so effective is that they are simultaneously the written word of God and words intended for the people of God to speak to him. James K.A. Smith notes that the Psalms even serve “as a sort of language training manual—an affective means of training our speech, which is so centrally constitutive of who we are and how we imagine ourselves,” teaching the very “vocabulary and grammar for worship.” He also rightly observes, “Angels could never have written the Psalms!”17 Indeed, when we learn to speak to God using the Psalms we learn a rich vocabulary and grammar and how to express the full range of human emotions, which is why worship without them can be so impoverished and sometimes even superficial. The Psalms meet us where we are. Could it be that so many people confuse MTD for Christianity because of the neglect of the Psalms? Sadly most contemporary Christian music avoids laments and many hymns are no better, but the Psalms do not shy away from the reality of suffering in the midst of the journey of faith. Clearly then the Psalms are an excellent antidote for those who practice MTD in church because they are looking to live without suffering and sacrifice. For all of these reasons, the Psalms are not only appropriate for corporate liturgy but also every other context – especially your own personal daily use.18
Thankfully those standing at the base of the invisible mountain of God then can climb it with prayers of adoration expressing your love for God because he is God and not for what you can get out of him. Such prayers are very counter-cultural for the MTD disciple. Consider what Drew Dyck says,
Since Drifters usually practiced a brand of MTD, Christianity was all about what was in it for them. Jesus was a genie in the sky, a power invoked to get them out of a pinch or bring personal gain. When they see us loving Jesus for Jesus’ sake—not because we want better things, or even to become a better people—we expose them to an authentic, and more compelling, kind of faith.19
Yet you do not want to simply show this kind of faith to those who usually practice the MTD brand. You want to lead them to practice praising Jesus for Jesus’ sake. Prayers of adoration can be spoken or sung, but singing them is much more powerful than speaking them because singing engages the whole person (heart, mind, will, body, imagination, etc.) in the praise of God and it is difficult to completely disengage. For example, singing aids in memorization and stays in the imagination. James K.A. Smith says, “song seems to get implanted in us as a mode of bodily memory” and “a song can come back to haunt us almost, catching us off guard.”20 And over time singing prayers of adoration can have the cumulative effect of pointing your desire to God and away from yourself and all the other things you were apt to seek. Thus if you want to plant seeds that will bear the most fruit, you must usually use the tool of song. However, there are many young people at home in the world of MTD who enjoy Christian praise music as much as anyone but now would describe themselves as ex-Christian. They may ascend with you the holy hill to take a look but they do not enter the holy of holies in heaven.
The way into the most holy place to sit with Jesus is through the liturgy of confession, which is a time for Christians to rehearse their infidelity to God and hear the gospel message of forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ name. A basic outline might include a call to confession, prayer of confession, the pronouncement of pardon in Jesus’ name, the reading of the law as a guide for grateful living, and the passing of the peace. Such exercises shape your desire for God, encourage you to long for the new heavens and earth, remind you who you are, mold your habits to increasingly choose the right and reject the evil without thinking, and invite you to practice being an eschatological community.21 James K.A. Smith gives us some insight into how this works for individuals. Smith says, “the key to directing and increasing one’s desire for God is the acquisition of the virtues” and he defines virtues as “non-cognitive ‘dispositions’ acquired through practices” like confession. Moreover, through the weekly pattern of corporate and personal confession and pardon, your imagination learns to yearn for the day when you will be unable to sin and reside fully in the coming kingdom not tainted by sin.22 Like a pronouncement of marriage for a man and woman, the pronouncement of pardon reminds you, as Jim Belcher discovered, that Christians are not defined by the law but by their relationship with Jesus. Repentance even gives you what Belcher calls “psychological distance” from your sin so that you learn that you need to repent of your sin but it is not who you are.23 Similar observations could be made concerning the way hearing the law molds your habits, as does the whole confession liturgy, and concerning the way passing the peace is reconciliation practice for heaven-bound forgiven people.
The liturgy of confession is entirely superfluous in MTD. Yes, one of the basic tenets of MTD is that the Deity wants everyone to be nice and do good.24 However, MTD does not appreciate the seriousness of sin in the eyes of the true and living God, nor demand his standard of perfection. Thus it fails to realize that sin creates a chasm between all human beings and God that no person can jump by being nice and doing good things. In other words, MTD does not see any need for Christ and his death on the cross. Dyck shares the example of Jenny, whose religion sounds more like MTD than Christianity. Jenny normally turned to God whenever she had a problem, she viewed the purpose and goal of life as “self-actualization,” and when she used drugs she did not feel guilty about seeking satisfaction in something other than God but instead felt bad because “she was wasting her potential.” Here is a daughter of the church who badly needs, as Dyck says, to be challenged “to make a complete and lasting commitment to Christ.”25 The loving thing for the church to do is to challenge Jenny to repent and find her identity in Jesus alone. Nothing demonstrates the differences between MTD more clearly than this part of the liturgy. Thus visualizing yourself in Christ you now can enter the Temple where you will hear the word, respond to it, and hopefully see it.
Many in the Reformed tradition believe the hearing of the word is the most important part of the service, but the only way the Scripture reading and sermon will have staying power is if it not only serves to form the intellect but also the heart, will, and imagination. Steve Garber, in light of current technological trends like “hyperlinking,” laments how people today are less likely to read carefully and critically. Ideally, Garber wants you to read for transformation in the tradition of lectio divina “where words are taken into the deepest places of the heart.”26 Another way to describe this approach to hearing the text is that kind of listening when you die to yourself through meditation.27 Therefore, appropriate tactics include putting the sermon introduction before the Scripture reading to help the congregation to listen carefully and devotionally and then modeling this dying-to-self way of reading the passage throughout the sermon. Speaking of the sermon, the preacher can use several tactics to engage the heart, will, and imagination. Some examples might include the use of refrains,28 delivering the main point with a cadence, and using illustrations to help the congregation imagine applying the text in their lives during the week. Since those who buy into MTD do not see God as relevant to their lives and treat self-sacrifice like the plague this last idea is particularly crucial. Garber is right, “no one has ever learned to throw a Frisbee by reading a book about it.” We can only learn it “through-the-heart…when we come and see.” As he says, “Words have to become flesh” (emphasis his).29 No doubt this is at least part of the reason that God uses human beings to preach his word. Yes, the sermon should also change the way that you think so that you learn to think God’s thoughts after Him. But it is no accident that Scripture often attributes thinking to the heart. Intellectually deep sermons might create Pharisees but genuinely deep sermons show the heart a new way to live and shape the will to want it. In other words, the sermon needs to be internalized in order to lead to real and lasting change.
If you could summarize the Reformed church’s desired response to hearing the good news in a single word it would be gratitude, which is totally missing in descriptions of MTD. Notice that this is not first a change in behavior but a non-cognitive disposition or attitude that will lead behavior. In other words, this is a transformation of the believer in Jesus from the inside-out. Sure MTD ethics call for being nice and doing good so that you will feel good and be happy. But such ethics Dyck rightly describes as “coldly utilitarian” and “self-serving.”30 Only Christianity has the resources necessary for wholehearted obedience to God and thus self-sacrifice. Such good works then are not in order to go to heaven but a natural reaction to the deep internalization of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. A liturgical pattern of following the sermon with a prayer of thanksgiving trains the heart and will to learn this response—to form this as a habit—just as the reading of the law did after the proclamation of pardon. And for reasons mentioned earlier, the best prayers of thanksgiving are sung. It is no accident that after major salvation events in Scripture the people then sing such prayers.
Another important reaction to hearing the good news is to profess your faith or renew your baptismal vows to the true and living God. Proponents of MTD and shallow Christians alike view God and gathering with his people as optional. Therefore, the Apostles’ Creed is an opportunity to call them to renew their commitments. James K.A. Smith insightfully suggests that the Apostles’ Creed serves the role that the pledge of allegiance does in America’s national liturgy. Regular recitation of the Creed encourages you to imagine yourself as a citizen of “one nation” in heaven and to long for the day when that nation will come down and replace the kingdoms of earth. Thus the people of God not only become a community when they gather together but an alternative commonwealth and given the content of the Creed they become a people with a history and tradition. Not to be lost in this analysis is the character of the Creed as a profession of faith. In this light, for example, the regular recitation of the Creed trains your imagination pre-cognitively to push back against rival demands for loyalty.31
A third reply to hearing the good news are the intercessory prayers of the people, which are practices for character formation. A consistent prayer life is essential for the development of Christian character, but it is nearly nonexistent when things are going well for someone who exhibits the symptoms of MTD. The prayers of the people pre-cognitively train you to expand your prayer horizon beyond self as does their purposeful placement in the overall liturgy after the prayers of adoration, confession, and thanksgiving. But more than having a very short prayer list, MTD thrives in Christian circles when suffering and sacrifice are foreign ideas.32 Thus intercessory prayer can challenge MTD believers who wrongly think suffering means you just need more faith or to confess hidden sin that, in fact, suffering is normal for Christians and sometimes even the consequence of faithfulness.33 During this time the people come together in prayer in order to serve Christians who are suffering. Unfortunately, it is easier to proffer petitions for physical healing than to pray for the Christian in the midst of his or her suffering. Yet if prayers for sufferers are only for physical healing, then many are likely to become disillusioned. But if prayers for the sick and dying actually minister to them and their families, then they can lead everyone together to long for the new heavens and earth and inspire everyone by watching their witness. Indeed, this time of intercessory prayer not only encourages you to die to yourself as you watch and pray for the sick and dying to willingly take up their crosses, but it can even shape your desire for God in such a way that you come to love your enemies. The practice of praying for politicians in positions of power (especially those whom you do not support) and praying for persecutors causing Christians to suffer will go a long ways in forming a Christ-like character.34
Another opportunity to respond to hearing the good news is the presentation of tithes and offerings to God. Within the larger liturgical context, asking for your offering early in worship can send the signal that it is necessary to pay a fee to enter the invisible Temple. However, collecting it after the sermon shows that any and all giving is an act of gratitude for the good news. The liturgy often involves a call, the actual collection of monetary gifts, the Doxology, and a prayer of dedication. James K.A. Smith stresses the importance of money to this, saying, the offering “embodies a new economy, an alternative economy” even “an economics that refuses the assumptions of the capitalist imagination.”35 His description is helpful since the pursuit of happiness and prosperity in MTD is more at home in a capitalist liturgy than Christianity. Indeed, MTD has no appreciation for self-sacrifice but the offering is a joyful thanksgiving sacrifice that can be a training exercise in dying to self. Meanwhile, when you bring a tithe you are admitting that all of your possessions belong to God – even yourself. Thus the giving of both tithes and offerings are acts of self-denial. Therefore, these gifts are practice for the daily gifts of our time, talents, and treasures. And in the midst of all this then the members of the church hear their commissioning to their vocations for the rest of the week.36
Although their significance often goes overlooked, it is worth briefly reflecting on the influence of the Lord’s Prayer, Gloria Patri, and Doxology before moving onto the sacraments. While some churches do put the Lord’s Prayer to music, the Gloria Patri and Doxology are songs. The combination of brevity and singing ensures that the Gloria Patri and Doxology quickly become part of a new Christian’s worship vocabulary and grammar. Nevertheless, all three are short and often exposure to them for a few weeks leads to memorization without even trying whereas the Apostles’ Creed may take longer before it becomes imprinted on the memory and imagination. Contrary to MTD, the Gloria Patri and Doxology each mention the three persons of the Trinity. The Lord’s Prayer, Gloria Patri and Doxology all point to what we have called the invisible or eschatological. The so-called Lord’s Prayer was what the Lord Jesus Christ taught his disciples as a model for prayer. It was, properly speaking, to be the disciples’ prayer and as a model it only has one personal petition of supplication: “Give us this day our daily bread.” This model prayer then is in stark contrast to MTD. Given everything said heretofore, may it suffice to say that when a church uses these often that church is training its members to love differently, live differently, and pray differently.
Observing the sacrament of baptism is a special opportunity for every member of the congregation to resist any lingering MTD or shallow Christian inclinations. As a microcosm of the whole worship service retelling the gospel story,37 baptism shapes your desires, develops your imagination, molds your habits, and sets you apart for your calling from God. Often there is a call for the members present to remember their own baptisms, which is meant in a liturgical and not an intellectual sense since many were baptized too young to recollect it. Thus one of the best practices is to encourage each member of the congregation to renew their own baptismal vows – not just the Apostles’ Creed. These oaths include the “renunciations,” and to be active in the church’s worship and work. The first set of vows are practice in dying to self, which James K.A. Smith calls an exercise in “counter-formation.”38 The latter vows regarding the worship and work of the church are important since MTD looks at church attendance as a hobby. When the pastor applies the water to the candidate, the congregation sees a death to self and the creation of a new brother or sister in Christ. Baptism is an adoption ceremony for a new child of God, which means that the sacrament is the creation of a new family.39 Thus with the baptism of infants the whole church promises to help raise the children of others. No doubt the reason that there are sacraments in the first place (rather than only the hearing of the word) is that the other senses, like sight, aid in building Christian character and imagination.
In the Lord’s Supper, the people are able to taste and see that the Lord is good as they remember his death until he comes. Like baptism, this sacrament’s liturgy is a microcosm of the service and gospel story40 now including seeing the bread broken and the cup poured. Therefore, many of the same themes noted earlier could be repeated here. What is dramatically new with the Lord’s Supper is the way the physical body of each baptized worshiper participates using their mouths to taste, as James K.A. Smith says, “with a sort of sanctified salivation.” He describes the meal’s impact this way:
The tangible display and performance of the gospel in the Lord’s Supper is a deeply affecting practice. Its sights and smells, its rhythms and movements, are the sort of thing that seep into our imaginations and become second nature. Just as a song makes words stick in our memory, so the sights, smells, and rhythms of the Eucharist seem to make the story both come alive and wriggle into our imaginations in a way that it wouldn’t otherwise.41
The Lord’s Supper is eschatological imagination. We eat together a foretaste of the wedding feast in the new heavens and earth with former enemies now forgiven – a glimpse of how things should be ahead of time.42 The meal shows us the true meaning of “words have to become flesh”43 as not only do we Spiritually feed on Christ, and not only is the sacrament a visible word of God, but also as we practice living the gospel eating and drinking together. Any recommendations for best practices would necessarily encourage the observance of the Supper more often – even weekly.44
The final element of Sunday morning worship to discuss is the pronouncement of God’s blessing where the people prepare to disperse from the mountaintop to return to the world. This is a performative declaration – the act of speaking it makes it so – like the pronouncement of pardon (not merely an assurance of pardon) and the pronouncement of marriage. This is so important to the formation of the imagination of someone captured by the vision of MTD because of what Tim Clydesdale calls the “identity lock box.”45 MTD believers, like many Christians with shallow roots, may participate in a church service but then put their faith inside a “lock box” where they keep it until the next time (if there is a next time). It is compartmentalization. However, the pronouncement of God’s blessing invites you to continue the journey of faith throughout the week knowing that God is with you. This is a matter of shaping your identity because the kind of people the church wants to make continue being the church during the week. But not only do you keep on being the church during the week but doing “church” (i.e. liturgy) during the week. It would be helpful to explain to the congregation that this blessing commissions each of us as priestly liturgists – even, for example, empowering parents to be worship leaders in their homes with common meals as mini-sacraments.
As Belcher came to appreciate when pondering the example of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the next step is to create “a daily liturgy of worship and life to go along with the weekly corporate liturgy of the gospel.” Sure someone may accuse the pastor who leads such a thing of starting a seminary that stank with an “odour of a monastic eros and pathos,” like Karl Barth said of Bonhoeffer’s work at Finkenwalde. But as Bonhoeffer understood then, “a new kind of monasticism” is necessary now.46 This is no invitation to a life of legalism, but a plea to regularly and deeply use the means of grace in ways that will complement the elements of corporate worship. The major three means of grace are the hearing of the word, the sacraments, and prayer. Consider prayer. On Sunday you learn to praise God as God, confess your sins, give thanks for the good news and your many blessings, lift up the sick and dying, and intercede for your enemies. Dying to themselves, children taught to pray in a similar way during the week will build up the antibodies necessary to fight off MTD. This is what it will take for it to really stick.
Thanks be to God, Reformed churches do already have the best resources and most fruitful tactics to combat MTD tendencies and shallow Christianity. We have been well equipped to address this crisis by such things as our heritage of catechizing, studying Scripture in native languages, turning everyone into monks, and, of course, our Sunday morning liturgical habits. Nevertheless, it would be all for naught except that the Holy Spirit is at work. It is God’s Spirit who calls you to follow, circumcises your heart, illuminates your imagination, instructs your mind, develops your desires, forms your character, trains your reflexes to sin and the good, and more. Let the Spirit move!
1Jim Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith: A Pilgrimage into the Beauty, Goodness and Heart of Christianity, Kindle edition(Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013), p.27-28.
3James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation, Kindle edition(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009), p.43.
4Christian Smith, Moral, Believing Animals: Human Personhood and Culture,Kindle edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), location 33, cf. Locations 158ff.
5Steven Garber, Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good, prepublication draft edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), p.121-122.
6Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.152.
7James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, location 5140, footnote 29.
8Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.92-93, 100, and 103.
9James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.50, location 805, p.56, location 905, p.80, location 1320.
10See Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.115.
13Garber, Visions of Vocation, p.25. Garber is saying that we can learn to see all of life as sacramental. I would argue that worship helps us to learn to see life that way. Consider for example that what the apostle Paul says about Christians being seated in Christ in the heavenly places – this was not just during the worship service but all the time.
14There are insights throughout this paragraph inspired by Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.36-37. Garber mentions the phrase “hints of hope” in a different sense: see Visions of Vocation, p.188.
15James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.159-161.
16Drew Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Faith…and How to Bring Them Back, Kindle edition (Chicago: Moody Pub., 2010), locations 2030-2032.
17James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.139, 172.
18See the examples of George Whitefield, C.S. Lewis, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.70, 97, and 235.
19Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian, locations 2021-2023.
20James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.170.
21On the corporate dimension cf., Richard J. Mouw, When the Kings Come Marching In: Isaiah and the New Jerusalem, Revised edition, Kindle edition (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2002), location 1010ff.
22James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.71, 176-179; Garber, Visions of Vocation, p.201.
23Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.82-83.
24Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian, locations 1998-1999.
25Ibid., locations 2007-2013, 2036-2037.
26Garber, Visions of Vocation, p.66.
27See the example of Bonhoeffer in Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.199.
28Garber models this throughout his book Visions of Vocation. On Easter I use a responsive refrain during the sermon: “He is risen. Risen indeed.”
29Garber, Visions of Vocation, p.120.
30Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian, location 2004.
31James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.107, 190-192.
32Dyck, Generation Ex-Christian, location 2035.
33Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.31.
34Example of Bonhoeffer in Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.200.
35James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.204-205.
36See Garber, Visions of Vocation.
37James K.A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom, p.182.
43Garber, Visions of Vocation, p.120.
44Thankfully the session agreed to hold communion on Easter Sunday, thus we will have it more often this April.
45Belcher, In Search of Deep Faith, p.28.
46Jim Belcher, “The Secret of Finkenwalde: Liturgical Treason,” in Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture,eds. Keith L. Johnson and Timothy Larsen (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013), p.198, 201-202.