Graceful Beginnings

Thanks to Mark Galli and his October cover story ["In the Beginning, Grace"] for so exquisitely diagnosing the dysfunctional horizontal focus plaguing the North American church. His summons back to the word of the Cross—God's ever-new word of judgment and grace—was good medicine for evangelical activism run amok.

In my Lutheran tradition, preaching is defined precisely (some would say narrowly) by this two-edged sword of law and gospel; discussion about what to do in response is better had over coffee. Whether such a vertically disciplined understanding of the pulpit actually empowers us to behave more like Christians during the week, God knows. But hearing the message of grace afresh each week, and receiving it anew each morning, can make one more humble and good-humored. And that's a start.

Mark D. Williamson
Pastor, St. Paul Lutheran Church
Wheaton, Illinois


While finding many notable challenges in Mark Galli's article, I have two significant concerns.

Galli misrepresents my perspective by taking a quote from my book [The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity] and my interview out of context. While I believe that diversity is an important part of the growth of the church in the United States, my perspective is that God is bringing that diversity and that the church needs to live into the work of God. A more careful reading of the book would lead to that conclusion.

In addition, by not mentioning my name or my book, the article does not allow the reader to find this out for himself.

Soong-Chan Rah
Professor, North Park Theological Seminary
Chicago, Illinois

Following C.S. Lewis (see The Abolition of Man), not naming a title and author is a way to offer critique without ...

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