The Secret Behind The Chosen and Four Other Interesting Things I Read this Week

Not Giving Up on Racial Reconciliation, Tim Keller on Social Media, Tim Challies on the Mob, and Nancy Guthrie on Biblical Theology.

I’m writing this from the atrium of the Gaylord Texan hotel in Grapevine, Texas, having just finished the NRB Convention. It’s been a really busy two weeks for me, with the SBC and NRB back to back. If you are not aware of what NRB is, it’s an association of Christian communicators. I enjoy conferences and gatherings. I’m a raging extrovert and I love being with people. And yet I’m liking this quiet moment of solitude to catch up on some writing. I’ll have to really get cracking on my forthcoming book, The Characters of Creation, due to Moody this fall.

Nevertheless, I wanted to share some things I’ve been reading. One of the coolest parts of this convention was the presence of The Chosen, the multi-season dramatization of the life of Christ. Have you watched it? If not, you should. My friend Dallas Jenkins is the director and he was here along with his crew. So in that spirit, I’m sharing this cool article about the origin of this series.

What Social Media Does To Us

Tim Keller has an incisive piece, that’s actually a book review, about the way social media rewards extremism. There are some surprising data points in here that are counterintuitive to what I assumed motivates bad behavior. Here’s a great quote:

So social media is not primarily a place of public discussion of ideas. The ideas are ways to define oneself and signal belonging to a group, as well as to assign identities to others by associating them with groups you oppose. This is the reason social media has perfected the art of ‘bad faith readings’—interpreting a person’s words in the most uncharitable sense possible. There is no effort to understand the argument in its strongest form and respond to it. Rather, the goal is to associate the thinker with shameful ‘out-groups.’

Read the whole piece. It’s so good.

Tim Challies on The Mob

I didn’t intend for this to be a theme of this update, but another prominent Tim I admire has some important things to say about a kind of mob mentality that develops online:

But as Christians we ought to do better. In place of mob rule, we need to carefully distinguish between matters of clear biblical principle and matters of conscience, between issues where there is only one correct course of action and those where believers may disagree. Far be it from any of us to afflict the conscience of a brother or sister. Far be it from any of us to confuse matters of absolute clarity with matters of principled disagreement. Far be it from any of us to confuse unity with uniformity, to cause division by negating distinction. Far be it from any of us to lead a brother or sister into an action that would be a sin against their conscience.

Shameless plug, if this topic interests you, my book, A Way With Words might be helpful.

Biblical Theology and Bible Teaching

Nancy Guthrie is one of my favorite Bible teachers. Here is a very helpful workshop from TGC on the way Biblical Theology should inform Bible teaching.

Not Giving Up on Racial Reconciliation

My friend Matt Hall, provost at Southern Seminary, writes about the frustrations and failures of our attempts at racial reconciliation . . . and why he’ s not giving up. I’m with Matt. I’m not giving up either. Another shameless plug: my small group series on this with Trillia Newbell is available from Lifeway.

Two more bonus reads:

I haven’t read much in the last week, what with my back to back conferences with their early mornings and late nights, but two books I want to commend:

Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa Teurkerst. Lysa has gone through extraordinary suffering and hurt and writes about what true, biblical forgiveness looks like. It’s so good.

Lament for a Father by Marvin Olasky. I had the privilege of writing an endorsement for this book. I admire Marvin so much. This is his story of working through his experiences with an absent father.

One more thing

Unless you were under a rock, you know there were some significant issues debated and decided at the Southern Baptist Convention. At USA Today I had the chance to explain what went down and why I’m optimistic.


My latest podcast is with Dave Harvey, who returns to chat about the importance of plural leadership in churches.

photo credit: Karen McCutcheon