Favorite Quotes from On the Road with Augustine by James K.A. Smith

I’ve loved the last few books by James K.A. Smith (You Are What You Love, How (Not) to be Secular, and his trio of cultural liturgy books). He combines church history, movies, music, philosophy, theology, cultural references, apologetics, and the Christian life in a way that connects the disconnected. He pushes you to think and feel. In On the Road with Augustine, Smith uses Augustine’s writings (particularly The Confessions) and life to help us navigate 21st century life.

Both Augustine and Smith prove to be trustworthy travel partners. Together, they help us think through our longings and desires in a realm of issues (freedom, ambition, sex, friendship, mothers, fathers, friendship, enlightenment, justice, story, and death). It’s an apologetic offering rest to the restless in the same source Augustine found rest: Jesus. While some of Smith’s best material is too lengthy to put here, I’ve provide a few of my favorite quotes from the book.

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“That’s a Political Issue” and Other Conversation Killers

There is a growing tendency within the church to call any issue a “political issue.” Examples include how we treat refugees and immigrants, racial reconciliation, climate change and creation care, gun control, care for the poor, sexuality, gender, and marriage issues. My problem isn’t connecting faith and politics (which should be done), but that this often is a way of stiff-arming contemporary issues from the Bible. Rather than approaching a topic from our faith, everything is viewed through its political angle, party disputes, and social divides.

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A Missing Part of our Theology of Jesus

If you’ve been in the church for a while, no doubt you’ve heard a lot about Jesus as Savior, Lord, King, and Teacher. All these glorious truths are essential and should be held up. But there is a core reality of who Jesus is that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves. There is a benefit to the gospel and believing in Jesus even deeper than forgiveness. There is a key truth motivating our walk with Christ just as important as viewing Jesus as our Lord. And this wonderful biblical truth is that Jesus is our friend.

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The Lion King and God’s Protecting Love

Early in Disney’s The Lion King, Mufasa perches high on Pride Rock, overlooking his African territory. Next to him sits his beloved son, Simba. 

Mufasa tells Simba, “Everything the light touches is our kingdom.” 

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Do Your Doctrine & Culture Clash?

As a church, does our culture match our doctrine? As an individual or as a family, does our culture match our doctrine?

Gospel doctrine – gospel culture = hypocrisy
Gospel culture – gospel doctrine = fragility
Gospel doctrine + gospel culture = power”[2]

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Resources on Complementarianism Applied

This Sunday, our church begins a four-week series on biblical manhood and womanhood. That could raise dozens of questions to answer and a person’s understanding of manhood and womanhood is applied in many ways. There’s a lot we won’t get to cover, but we’ll consider what it means to be made in God’s image, what biblical manhood and womanhood looks like, and how that applies to singleness and roles in marriage. Our church holds to the theological position known as complementarianism, and this will show up throughout the series.

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What Does it Mean to be an Image-Bearer?

“The glory of God is a human being fully alive; and to be alive consists in beholding God.” Irenaeus

“Thus humans may be said to have a reflexive identity. In some sense they find meaning outside themselves by virtue of what they reflect.” Richard Lints

There are few questions more significant than what it means to be an image-bearer of God. It’s at the heart of what it means to be human. It governs our ethics, calling us to see every person (not just those like us or those we like) as valuable and treat every individual with dignity, respect, and honor. It helps us answer questions like these:

  • Why do we exist? What is our purpose?
  • What makes human life valuable?
  • Where does our worth, dignity, and value as human beings come from?
  • How should I talk to, treat, interact with, and relate to this person or group?

Identity has (rightfully) received more attention in recent years. We all want to know who we are. Every human person’s identity question (Who am I?) is fundamentally answered by what it means to be created in God’s image. We must factor in how sin scars, mars, and wrecks the image of God in us without eliminating it, and then how in Christ we’re remade into God’s great design for us as his image-bearers, but we can start with some simple thoughts on what it means to be an image-bearer.

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Seven Elements of Biblical Repentance

I know, repentance isn’t your favorite word. It’s not mine either. No doubt it conjures up something like an angry turn-or-burn “preacher” (either pounding the pulpit or screaming in the streets) letting people have it or an ultra-fundamentalist family member unhappy with your choices of what’s right or wrong. Despite the bad taste that might be lingering in your mouth for words like “repent” and “repentance”, let’s together seek to move past those barriers and rediscover what God actually says about repentance. It might never be for your favorite word or your favorite part of being a Christian, but as we look into God’s Word I think we’ll see that repentance is meant to be a life-giving, sin-replacing, gospel-rooted posture of the Christian life. Easy? No. Good? Yes.

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Celebrating Ascension Day: 4 Things Jesus is Doing Right Now

The Ascension of Jesus has become a forgotten doctrine in most churches. We think of Jesus in terms of his past work at the manger, cross, or empty tomb but neglect his ongoing work from the throne. Jesus has not kicked up his feet to enjoy the retired life until his return. Reclaiming our understanding of the ascension helps us answer what Jesus is doing right now, and why his reign gives us rest.

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Roles in Sanctification

Yesterday’s post reminded us the decisive break with sin allowing us to fight our sin already happened at conversion. I stated that rather than this making sin excusable or causing us to be spiritually lazy, it should actually motivate us to live in the freedom from sin and the fellowship with God that we get in Christ through definitive sanctification. I thought it might be helpful to consider how 20th century theologian John Murray summarized our role versus God’s role.

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