In his book, The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, Jonathan Haidt argues that we all have an intuitive framework of morality – what we feel is right and wrong – that is largely shaped by our tribes and cultures and not by reasoned arguments. We just know that certain things are right and wrong, and reasoned argument is largely ineffective in changing our views. We seek out arguments that support our intuitions and find ways to poke holes in any arguments that challenge them.
And not only do we possess a largely intuitive and pre-rational web of moral views, but we all feel pretty righteous about them and look down on others who see and feel differently. Now it’s one thing to be unable to grasp how others could see things the way they do. That already creates a distance which is hard to bridge. But it takes it to a whole new level when we feel a sense of superiority to anyone who inhabits a different world of moral sensibilities. The gap becomes a chasm that seems impossible to bridge.
Where do we see our moral intuitions most often brought to the surface? In politics and religion. It’s no secret that our culture is painfully fractured along the lines of our tribal and cultural moral frameworks. But why do we so often see the same fractures in the Church, among Christians who claim to believe the same things about ultimate reality?
Yesterday, Pastor Joel preached on the topic of Unity Forged (listen here). There’s a shallow and fragile semblance of unity when we keep our moral views and sensibilities out of the conversation. “Let’s not talk about divisive topics like politics,” we say. But is it possible that the gospel informs and even transforms our deepest moral intuitions, even when our views have been firmly shaped by our respective tribes and cultures? And does the gospel have the power to defuse our self-righteous sense about what is right so that we can instead engage in the humble and respectful back-and-forth of honest dialogue?
To be honest, I’m not always so sure this is possible. On a human level, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Church’s fracturing to reflect precisely what we see in the broader culture. But the Church doesn’t have to operate only on a human plane. We have the gospel, and we have the Holy Spirit with us. Real unity is hard work, but that hard work is necessary and urgent when the truth of the gospel and the character and witness of the church are at stake.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:20-21
W83 – Our Home in The City
Join us on Friday night, May 13 for an evening of celebration as we give thanks to God for all He has done in and through our W83 church home.
Join us on Sunday afternoon, May 15 for a luncheon about innovating ministry in the CIty. RSVP necessary.
- Bring lunch and picnic with us, May 22: Bring a blanket and your lunch and come hang out with RWS staff and your fellow Redeemerites in Central Park. (W. 81st entrance, south of the boulders just past the Diana Ross Playground)
- Apply to Gotham Fellowship until May 31: The Gotham Fellowship equips Christians to connect God’s kingdom mission to their everyday work, relationships, and more. Dream of a revitalized New York City. Envision how God is at work healing the past year’s wounds. Then ask yourself: what is my part in this task? Join a community of New Yorkers seeking the good of the city. Applications are due May 31.
- Sign up for the RWS Membership Class, Jun 5: This class helps potential members learn the gospel theology and ministry of Redeemer West Side so you can join the church. We cover what’s behind the five membership vows, how a PCA church is led, and how members step into our sacred call to love our neighbors and heal our city.
- Volunteer at All Angels’ Community Meal once a month: Serve along West Siders to set up, distribute, and clean up meals for our neighbors experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity.
- Volunteer at Youth Group on Friday nights: Build involvement with our amazing youth by joining a weekly pizza dinner at W83, leading small group discussions, and being a Christ-like presence in their lives.
- Hope for New York’s Spring Benefit: This annual event is back in person at Midtown Loft and Terrace! Join HFNY on Thursday, June to celebrate community and understand how we can pray, serve, and give toward New Yorkers in need.