Is the primary danger “out there”?

by Jonathan Trotter

Note: this post was inspired by this article by David French.

As a homeschooled-in-the-80s kid, I’m well versed in the terrified cry, “The danger is out there! The danger is out there!” I can remember watching The Village and feeling like M. Night Shyamalan had just made a film about my life. (My parents didn’t yell this too loudly, but we were Gothardites.)

But is the primary threat “out there”? No. It is not.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve received a fraction of the pushback that David French has, but still, I resonated deeply with this:

“I get an enormous amount of criticism for not critiquing the secular left more than I do. Yet if I’m concerned for the health of the church, then corruption at the highest levels of the world’s largest Christian university, sexual predation by arguably Christianity’s most influential apologist, widespread conspiracy theories, and disproportionate disregard for the health and well-being of neighbors do more harm than the worst of Joe Biden’s culture war regulations or the most radical developments in the sexual revolution.”

The whole article is excellent, but here are a few more quotes worth pondering:

“If your reaction is that the greatest threat to human souls or to the church itself comes from without—from the external forces attacking Christianity or from the cultural temptations buffeting our children—then that dictates a very different posture to the world and approach to politics than if you believe the true threats lie within.”

A different posture indeed.

I have seen this fear, this alarm:

“If you believe the most dangerous threats come from without, fear can rise in your heart. As you lose political and cultural power, and you see others shape the environment in which you live, then you start to have genuine alarm that other people are destroying the souls of those you love. What a terrifying idea.”

There is hope, of course.

At the end of the day, the Church remains his, and he still loves her. He still calls her to remember her first love. I want to still love her too. I want to build more than I tear down. I want to heed with every fiber of my being Jesus’ call: “Your business is life, not death. Follow me. Pursue life.” (Matthew 8:22)

I want to love more than I fear.

I haven’t always done this, for sure. But I want to. I want to know Jesus more. I’m a few chapters in to Dane Ortlund’s new book, Gentle and Lowly, and it’s helping. It’s not about The Chosen, but it’s explaining, in theological terms, why the Jesus portrayed in The Chosen is so fascinating and healing and loving. He’s helping me understand why I cry every.single.episode.

Turns out, it’s because the stories are real. Ortlund writes, “Jesus is not trigger-happy. Not harsh, reactionary, easily exasperated. He is the most understanding person in the universe. The posture most natural to him is not a pointed finger but open arms.” He goes on to say that Jesus’ “deepest impulse, his most natural instinct, is to move toward” sin and suffering, not away from it.

Jesus is really like that.

And that is Good News indeed.

*Contains Amazon affiliate link.

The Podcast of Madagascar

by Jonathan

😎 The folks over at The Clarity Podcast just released a new interview I did on marriage that was recorded in Madagascar. My part starts around the 10-minute mark, and although my audio’s a bit wonky, I hope it’ll be helpful to someone. (I’ve since upgraded my mic in hopes that future podcasts sound a bit better. Still working on upgrading my voice, though.) Listen here, or wherever you podcast.