An interesting turn has happened in our culture. Several decades ago we saw the rise of moral relativism as post-modernity challenged claims to objective truth. However, the truth is, not only has moral relativism failed, it has been replaced by its polar opposite. Emerging in its place is a strict moral absolutism evidenced in consumer boycotts, social media shaming, and cancel culture for those who dare to think differently than today’s social norm. On university campuses today, student handbooks include policies guiding what students may post on social media, how they may speak to fellow students, clubs they may or may not join, and what they may engage in off-campus.[1] And these are not the student guides of conservative Christian universities, but liberal, elite institutions. Rosaria Butterfield, for example, is one voice regularly silenced on American campuses. Today’s culture substitutes the Church’s traditional “means of grace” such as confession, repentance, and the Lord’s Table, with a public “name and shame” approach toward absolution. Nearly five decades ago in Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death, he writes of modern man’s dilemma: “a sinner with no word for it.” Yet we cannot deny our intrinsically “moral” nature. We are intimately and painfully aware of the human condition. We easily see the personal, cultural, and institutional sin outside of us; and sometimes even remind ourselves of our own. Yet, in spite of today’s rejection of God, our culture remains a religious one; but as Samuel James argues, with a “religion without God … a religion with grace.”[2]

In light of both the story of Jonah and our upcoming Sunday text (Genesis 11,12), I want us to consider this week God’s judgment: its purpose and source, and that which points us to God’s perfect execution of ultimate justice, the cross of Christ.

Something to See:

In seminary, I was often encouraged to hear the “question behind the question” when speaking to non-Christians. In general, this approach helps me to discern things beneath presenting surface issues. What is behind our current culture’s cry for social justice and the means they use to bring it about? How, as Christians, can we point to Christ and Calvary as the only true answer for our longing for justice?   

He loves righteousness and justice;

the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord. (Psalm 33:5)

[1] An interesting look into this is Lukianoff and Haidt’s work, The Coddling of the American Mind

[2] Samuel James, We’re all Fundamentalists Now, The National Review, 1 February 2019