In many American pulpits, you could preach the Arian heresy and no one would notice. But if you preached in favor of gun control, you’d be looking for a new job by Monday.
That’s not to say our pastors should be preaching a particular position on gun control. It’s to say many Christians carry their political and cultural convictions much more firmly than their theological views. The way to change that problem is to openly debate those political and cultural convictions from a theological perspective inside the church.
That’s the goal behind The Gospel Coalition’s Good Faith Debates, which we hope will help churches navigate tough topics together. We launched this year with five episodes and hopes for more in future years. We might think that if our churches only preach the gospel, Christians will prioritize the gospel. Instead, other media like Twitter, cable news, and talk radio stir our affections and anger toward whatever latest controversies will promote their bottom line. Sadly, in our era of ubiquitous media, silence in applying the gospel to all of life sidelines the gospel from any of life.
When we show how the gospel applies to all of life, including how we live here and now, then we worship God “who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6). We see that the cross and resurrection inaugurate a new way of living in this world but not for this world. Jesus is the Lord of salvation. And he reconciles all things, “whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20).
When we debate cultural and political issues in the church, when we refuse to confine our faith inside the sanctuary, the world’s hold on us weakens. We’re less likely to be swayed by outside, partisan voices. And the power of the gospel strengthens, because the resurrected, ascendant Christ intercedes for his church as his living apologetic: “That they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (John 17:21). We don’t divide the way the world does, over temporal matters. We cling to each other and above all to our Savior, looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth amid this fallen world full of dangers, toils, and snares.
So if you’re looking for help in applying the gospel to all of life, and you’re longing to experience the unity of the church, then TGC is eager to help through initiatives such as our Good Faith Debates. Would you consider a year-end gift so we can produce more debates as well as articles, books, and videos?
The following list compiles our best resources from 2022, at least in my estimation as the editor in chief. Without your generosity, none of this work would be possible. So thank you for reading, watching, listening, sharing, and giving in 2022.
Escape from Kabul
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Probably nothing TGC has published since 2010 is more important. How easy for all of us to miss the real story of God’s work in the world. Marvel at the miracle of the underground church in Afghanistan and their divine deliverance from destruction in 2021.
The Gospel Coalition Bible Commentary
It’s easy to think of biblical commentaries as dense volumes collecting dust on the shelves of seminary graduates. But I love what the internet allows us to do with them today. For example, interspersed with the text, we can view the very places where Jesus walked and talked. That’s why we’re so excited for the release of The Gospel Coalition Bible Commentary, featuring the best insights of world-class scholars such as Christopher Ash on Job and Douglas O’Donnell on Matthew. Imagine what the Lord will do with these commentaries, available for free to anyone connected to the internet. It’s ideal for anyone preparing a sermon, leading a Bible study, or facilitating a small group. Nothing is more relevant, more needed, in any era than God’s Word. This year, after I talked with Bill and Will Kynes about their new book on Job, a recent widower reached out to them for counsel. The Bible never fails to give us what we need.
Let’s Talk: When Others Fall Away
By Jackie Hill Perry, Jasmine Holmes, and Melissa Kruger
This year we concluded Let’s Talk, a tremendously popular podcast hosted since 2020 by Jackie Hill Perry, Jasmine Holmes, and Melissa Kruger. It’s a sign of the times that this episode on friends and leaders falling away from the faith became one of the most popular podcast episodes in TGC history, with more than 175,000 downloads so far.
Augustine Could’ve Written ‘City of God’ in 2022
By Christopher Watkin
If you don’t want to tackle his new Biblical Critical Theory, Watkin offers a preview in this ode to Augustine’s classic work. In this article, Watkin also hints at an exciting new venture coming from TGC in 2023. We’re praying that God will make such deep analysis the norm and not an exception for a Western church in decline.
‘I Lost My Mom to Facebook’
By Patrick Miller
The title alone deserves mention as the best of 2022. Too many readers can relate. The content of our media diet will remain a consistent focus for TGC in future years. It doesn’t much matter what we say from the pulpit when smartphones and their social media algorithms have already captured the imaginations—especially of older Christians.
Keeping Your Children’s Ministry on Mission
By Jared Kennedy
TGC published 12 books in 2022, the most for us in one year. The titles covered everything from social media to screen time to decision-making to contentment to children in church to the Jesus we see through the eyes of women. This new book by Jared Kennedy, one of TGC’s newest editors, helps churches in planning children’s ministries that stay focused on the gospel. I’m hopeful that it will have the same kind of long-term influence as our earlier work on youth ministry.
Transformation of a Transgender Teen
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Parents and their pastors are desperate for guidance amid the social contagion of rapid-onset gender dysphoria. Now we’re beginning to hear the stories of young people who can testify to the cult-like grip of this cresting trend. Next year look for a short work by Sam Ferguson that will help church leaders navigate these complex dynamics with compassion and conviction.
Does My Son Know You?
Interview with Jonathan Tjarks by Collin Hansen
This spring, professional basketball writer Jonathan Tjarks wrote one of the most compelling testimonies to Christian faith that I’ve ever read in mainstream media. When we talked one month later, he didn’t tell me until after the interview that he had just received grim news about his cancer’s spread. Just 34 years old, he died on September 10, 2022, and left behind a wife and young son. Though dead, he still speaks to us about the only hope that endures forever. Praise God that his faith is now sight.
In Praise of the Boring, Uncool Church
By Brett McCracken
As a published expert on hipster religion, Brett McCracken warns us that “relevance-focused Christianity sows the seeds of its own obsolescence.” Don’t forsake long obedience in quiet humility. And make sure your church sometimes makes you uncomfortable in its demands of holiness. Brett has it right: “Maybe a Christianity that doesn’t appeal to my consumer preferences and take its cues from Twitter is exactly the sort of faith I need.”
How One Uncool Youth Pastor Reached the World for Christ
By Brad Buser
Speaking of the uncool, sometimes God uses them to change the world. Such is the story of E. G. Von Trutzschler, who won kids to Christ because he wouldn’t pander to their immature desires. The formula for faithfulness isn’t complicated.
Sexual Liberation Has Failed Women
Review by Andrew Wilson
Signs suggest the tide may be turning on at least some aspects of the sexual revolution. Wilson describes this feminist critique as “brave, excoriating, and magnificent.” Since the promises of sexual liberation can’t be kept, we should expect more wounded and betrayed women to turn up looking to Christians for help. We could be seeing biblical morality become a benefit rather than a perceived liability in the West.
What Affect Theory Teaches Us About Christian Growth
By N. Gray Sutanto
Information transfer alone doesn’t equate to discipleship. Sutanto describes affects as “those unconscious ways the body is moved and influenced by social relations and the embodied embeddedness of everyday life.” He wisely commends the means of grace for spiritual transformation: singing, eating, exhorting, and imitating. As we follow Christ we do not merely change our confession and profession. We practice a different way of life.
Choosing God over College Basketball
Interview with Leah Church by Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
We can expect more such stories of Christian consciences clashing with progressive demands. Leah Church walked away from her dream as a basketball player for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Life’s not supposed to be easy for Christians,” Church said. “Before you go in [to a secular environment], decide what matters, which is the Word and your witness.” Wise words from a courageous young woman.
Strength in Weakness
By Sam Allberry and Ray Ortlund
The most popular episode of You’re Not Crazy in 2022 covered one of Ray Ortlund’s most compelling themes. The Lord comforts us the way he did Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So let us boast in our weaknesses if they force us to depend on God alone.
Bill Kynes’s Long Obedience in the Same Direction
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
Bill Kynes retired in 2022 after 36 years as the pastor of his church in northern Virginia. His career didn’t follow a traditional path, at least for someone who quarterbacked in the Southeastern Conference and studied with a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford. You might have expected him to helm a Fortune 500 company. Instead, he shepherded his flock without much fanfare. With a shortage of pastors today, I hope many young men will look to Kynes’s example and follow in his steps.
The Abolitionist Hero You’ve Never Heard Of
By Steve Bateman
Guilty as charged: I had never heard of Granville Sharp. But what a life he led! You know we’ll like the article at TGC when you can weave antislavery activism with composing Remarks on the Use of the Definitive Article in the Greek New Testament. Bateman offers a worthy tribute by introducing the other Granville Sharp Rule: “When asking God for protection from the injustice that comes to you, repent of all the injustice that comes from you.”
Everything Sad Is Untrue
Interview with Daniel Nayeri by Collin Hansen
I still can’t believe it took so long for me to discover this book. The interview might’ve veered at times into publisher insider baseball, especially when we discussed Harper Lee as an inspiration. But Nayeri has written a story of hope and perseverance for everyone. I can’t think of any explicit Christianity testimony, at least in recent years, that has more deeply penetrated secular circles such as library reading groups and public schools.
Remember Your Joy
The Gospel Coalition 2022 Women’s Conference
I’m cheating by including a whole conference. But this was our first “normal” national conference since 2019. I loved sharing three days with friends around the world as we searched for salvation in the Old Testament. Melissa Kruger has assembled the best team I know. They help me remember my joy in the Lord.
‘Jesus Has Left the Building’: Scotland’s Secular Slide—and Signs of Hope
By Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra
This story covers so much of what we’re trying to do at TGC. It’s a story about the power of the gospel, about the secular decline of the West, about the strength of the church, and about an esteemed theologian who headed home to help. I’m rooting and praying for Sinclair Ferguson, David Gibson, and all the other saints at Trinity Church in downtown Aberdeen, Scotland. You can also listen to the Recorded podcast account of Ferguson’s story.
How Should Christians Think About Gun Control?
By Bob Thune and Andrew Wilson
I admire Andrew Wilson for sticking with his pacifist convictions and Bob Thune for pressing him to face the consequences of those views. We released this debate amid yet another round of mass shootings. I don’t know the answers. But I know we need to be seeking the Lord together for any solutions available.