Speed Kills the Christian Soul–Part 1


If you’ve been a longtime reader, you know that one of my pet peeves is the speed at which our lives today fly by us. Too many Christians are caught in a perpetual hamster wheel of activity. None of that benefits us, the Church, or the Lord.

But what to do about it?

Al Mohler asked the same question earlier this week, lamenting the “sound byte-ing” of classical music. Even on a classical music station, you can’t hear an entire symphony anymore, just its best passages. As a classical music fan myself, I know exactly what he means. Speed KillsStations have ratcheted up the speed to fit leisurely classical music pieces into hectic schedules. Next thing you know, they’ll be time compressing the “Moonlight Sonata.” You can read his post here.

I blow hot and cold with Mohler, though. While he’s a big name in the Reformed Baptist camp, his posts and writings usually tell people what they should be doing, but without the means or info needed to do those things. Again, consistent readers know that I loathe that kind of “do this, but don’t ask me to help you do it” mentality in so many parts of the church.

But Mohler, usually quick with an answer, has no response to fixing the blatant hurriedness quagmire we find ourselves in. That’s also pretty typical of large swaths of the Church in America—recognize the problem, but offer no way to deal with it other than to say that we need to slow down.

Part of the problem here is that the Church, at least in this country, may have created the problem—or at least abetted it.

I’ve long contended the way to fix our issues with time is to correct the way we work. Ten hour days with additional two hour commutes is a good place to start repairing. People can’t have normal lives devoting twelve hours a day to work far away from home. Sadly, the very Protestant work ethic this country was founded on powers our work ethic today.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Protestant work ethic that arose from the Reformation’s freeing of workers to know that their work honors God. Where it goes astray is when it is removed from local economies and translated into the typical “drive downtown to the office” kind of work we grew used to working during the Industrial Revolution. If you’ve read my series on “The Christian & the Business World“, you’ve got the basis for understanding the depths of the problem. (Read the series—you won’t read anything like it anywhere else in the Godblogosphere.)

So here’s what I recommend to Al Mohler. He’s a big name and has a large readership, far larger than mine. The plea:

Dr. Mohler,

Please use your considerable base of readership to start challenging the entire concept of how Christians should work. Throw out every assumption about work that’s been foisted on us by “The System.” Start asking what a genuine expression of Christian work should look like in the 21st century. Start asking how we can revitalize local economies and restore the simpler joys of working cooperatively with our neighbors. Read a book by Wendell Berry and ask if even a single thing he says makes sense for Christians today. Take the “red pill” and help others break out of the Matrix.

Don’t just concede and say, “It’s a tough problem and I’ve got no answers.” Christians are supposed to have answers. You expect your readers to have answers to the questions you raise and to solve those issues you point out in their own lives. Why not expect it of yourself?

Help us to institute the kind of life God desires of His children from the very first day He placed them in the Garden and gave them the command to work and steward the Earth.

Thank you. May God give you and other Christian leaders the vision to help us break out of the rat race and live life like the human race, the life God intended.

Speed Kills the Christian Soul—Part 2.

14 thoughts on “Speed Kills the Christian Soul–Part 1

  1. Dan, I sincerely loathe the mentality which Jesus denounced in the Pharisees. He condemned them on one occasion for adding to the burden of others without ever lifting a finger to try to share a burden. And as a preacher, I know from experience that it is much easier to point out the ills of sin rather than point out the nitty-gritty practical ways to overcome it (John Piper is great at the practicals, that’s why I love him). I have listened to Mohler’s program and read his blog quite extensively. While I do think you are right, I do not think that Mohler is unaware. I know, at least on his radio program (which is where most of the blog info lands), he encourages Christian conversation about the issues addressed. He is always asking, “What are you doing to [insert verb] this?” So, perhaps for this reason, I’m not so upset with Mohler.

  2. I’m not upset with Mohler. I just wish he’d go to the next step on this.

    In the past, he’s castigated parents who elect to have smaller families, pointed fingers at singles for not marrying at an early age, and so on. He says there are no excuses for either of those positions.

    Yet here, in an area that he struggles with, he says the issue is a difficult one. Well, aren’t there difficult issues behind those others, too? Or are they only difficult when they apply to him?

    Not saying any of this in anger, only for the want of consistency.

    He’s got a great opportunity here to go beyond saying the issue is a tough one! He says he doesn’t have time to think about it, though. That’s a terrible cop-out, even if it does reinforce his point.

    We could use a man like Al Mohler standing up and not only questioning the reasons for the problem, but also providing answers. If he thinks this is a huge issue, then he should speak to it. He’s got a bullypulpit, use it!

  3. Francisco

    I don’t understand the fast-food mentality of America. Do you think it is only an American phenomenon or happens everywhere around the globe? Don’t the japanese suffer the same illness? Or the chinese at Shanghai? Or the europeans? Nevermind…
    A last question to ponder: Who do we want to get ahead of, as a nation and as individuals? I’m sad that some -I include myself- have a tendency to miss the mark.
    O, come Lord Jesus, come!

  4. Chad

    A great little story that illustrates the “killer effect” of modern life is found in Henry and the Great Society.

  5. Once again, a fine, Biblical insight! Thank you for your genuine approach to an extremely serious and difficult problem. The concept of “Sabbath” and “finished” are largely unknown in our protestant mindset of Christianity. I say “concept” because in Christ these two understandings are available to be appropriated into the heart and life. We try to boil His heart down to a law about a day, when He was speaking of the rest of life in the heart of Christ all along. The Sabbath in the OT was simply a revelation of Jesus Christ — a gift of living in rest.

    These are understandings of rest and that rest coming out of a heart that has truly learned that all is “finished.” Not just the redemption part, but every part of my life. The ability to rest, truly rest in all things in Him, is a by-product of receiving in mind and heart the truth that all I am to be and do in His Kingdom is finished. My joy is to rest, listen, and move in the power that His Spirit gives in the totalness of “it is finished.”

    This will change everything in life and begin to order it according to His provision, not my world’s needs.

  6. ccinnova

    Thanks, Dan, for another excellent post. I look forward to your next post on this topic.

    There is one question I’d like to ask: do you honestly think Dr. Mohler will take you up on your challenge? I recall that his crticism of singles was long on rhetoric and short on practical advice, even after Camerin Courtney’s firm but respectful rebuke gave him an opportunity for a response.

  7. I’ve thought a lot about this kind of issue, but more from the angle of Shallom, Saboth rest, spiritual disciplines etc. But the Jewish concept of Shallom really speaks a lot about the way we often fail to live our lives today.

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