Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Edification: What is it?

Yesterday, we began thinking through the question of Christian engagement of worldly ugliness through a principle an astute reader brought up: edification. This was of course touched on in last week’s discussion, but it was only one of a number of ideas we touched on. It definitely merits more discussion, especially when one considers the important role edification plays in New Testament Christianity. Put simply, one could say that this quality is to characterize every aspect of the faith-filled life.

Okay, that’s all fine and good. Oftentimes, Christians can quickly identify what is right (edifying) and what is wrong (not edifying). This is an essential part of the “obedience of faith,” to use Paul’s potent summation of the Christian life. We are to train our minds to identify the good and evil in this world. Read 1 John. John sternly assures us that failure to do so consigns us to a dark and terrible way. On the other hand, success in this enterprise means we sight the narrow path those on the broad path to destruction cannot see. This is clearly a high-stakes affair. Our very soul is at stake.

But this is all easily applied when we are faced with the desire to watch pornography or not. Never, no, and not even. It’s not an option. So with slandering another person. Always wrong. And stealing music? Not a chance. These are easily sighted as immoral. They do not edify. But what about watching a movie that has some bad elements—language and some heated passion?

Well, speaking personally, I can’t say that I find these things edifying. I don’t. But what if the movie is engaging, enlightening, or even just entertaining? How do I weigh its relative edification factor? Or what if I go to an art gallery and there’s a bunch of cool art but there’s some funky stuff that pushes my moral categories? Some of the art, let’s say, makes me think about the nature of existence. That would seem to be edifying. Some of it displays the lewdness of sin. That is not edifying. Or take fiction. Let’s say I’m reading a powerful drama that tackles the great philosophical questions of life. That’s cool, and it builds me up as it causes me to consider the world God has made. But then there are some naughty passages. Well, the philosophy is cool and the naughtiness ain’t. What am I to do as a Christian seeking edification in my life? More on this tomorrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! My mind is swirling...I think I need to meditate on this "edifying."


9:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ESV 1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.

Obviously the Bible records sin, non - edifying actions, words, etc, as an example of what is not to be copied and the consequences of these sins.

ESV Ephesians 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.

Part of work of edification is the exposure of the deeds of darkness for being what they really are. In my opinion an actor would be sinning if in a production he actually did have sex or engages in 'lustful' action with another person. However, to protray sexual unfaithfulness and some of its ugly consequences in such a way that the audience knows what is going on (with the sexual details) may be edifying. Art that shows the ugliness of this sinful world should be a part of a Chritians overall statement. We should not paint just the beauty of this world or life. We do neeed to expose sin as being sin against God and some of the ugliness of the fractured relationships on all levels.

ESV Romans 8:23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Lastly, without sinful complaining we need to groan - be a man of sorrows - in this world because we are hoping for something better.

Keep up the good work.

Grace and peace in the Lord.


4:17 AM  

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