In his day job for the last 15 years, Daniel Strange taught church leaders about culture, worldview, and apologetics. He studies worldviews and philosophy. He talks about “plausibility structures” and “social imaginaries” and “cultural liturgies.” But it’s not some kind of vain philosophical exercise. He’s trying to help people grow in how they present the person and work of Jesus to their skeptical neighbors.
After years as director of Oak Hill Theological College in London, he now directs Crosslands Forum, a center for cultural engagement for mission. And he’s the author of the new book Making Faith Magnetic: Five Hidden Themes Our Culture Can’t Stop Talking About and How to Connect Them to Christ (The Good Book Company). In this book, he tries to help non-Christians find their way to God through the darkness of a skeptical age. He writes, “In the 21st-century West, in our version of this history, God is the one who has done the hiding and we are the seekers. And God must have found a great place to hide because we’ve looked for him everywhere but he’s nowhere to be seen.”
Strange features five magnetic points he thinks can help non-Christians connect to Jesus. His book explores totality, norm, deliverance, destiny, and higher power. In this episode of Gospelbound, we talked about J. H. Bavinck, the totality, Goth culture, disenchantment, and more.
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Collin Hansen: In his day job for the last 15 years, Daniel Strange has taught church leaders about culture, worldview, and apologetics. He studied worldviews and philosophy. He talks about plausibility structures and social imaginaries and cultural liturgies, but it’s not some kind of vain philosophical exercise. He’s trying to help people grow in how they present the person and work of Jesus to their skeptical neighbors.
After years as director of Oak Hill Theological College in London, he now directs Crosslands Forum, a center for cultural engagement for mission. And he’s the author of the new book, Making Faith Magnetic: Five Hidden Themes Our Culture Can’t Stop Talking About… And How To Connect Them to Christ, published by The Good Book Company.
In his book, he tries to help non-Christians find their way to God through the darkness of a skeptical age. He writes this: “In the 21st century west, in our version of this history, God is the one who has done the hiding, and we are the seekers. And God must’ve found a great place to hide because we’ve looked for him everywhere, but he’s nowhere to be seen.”
Strange features five magnetic points that he thinks can help non-Christians connect to Jesus. His book explores totality, norm, deliverance, destiny, and higher power. And in this episode of Gospelbound, we’ll talk about J. H. Bavinck, the totality, goth culture, disenchantment, and more.
Dan, thank you for joining me on Gospelbound.
Daniel Strange: It’s great to be with you, Collin. Hi everyone.
Collin Hansen: Let’s just start with J.H. Bavinck. Who is he? How did he help inspire this project?
Daniel Strange: So J. H. Bavinck was a missionary really. He was the nephew of Herman Bavinck, So some of you may have heard of Herman Bavinck, who wrote the dogmatics and the a hundred other things, but his nephew was J. H.
He was a missionary in Indonesia in the first half of the 20th century. He ended up teaching at the Free University of Amsterdam. He did some lectures in the States towards the end of his life that was posthumously published in a book called The Church Between Temple and Mosque, which I’ve just found out is going to be redone by Westminster Press next year.
Collin Hansen: Oh, great.
Daniel Strange: And I think there’s a bit of a lineage as Gospel Coalition readers listeners will know that J. H. Bavinck influenced Harvie Conn, and then Conn was of course Tim Keller’s teacher. So there’s a kind of a lineage that goes down.
But I found his writings incredibly helpful on this issue of religious consciousness and theological anthropology. His focus, Bavinck’s focus was always on, I think, what we’d call other world religions. So what I think a number of us have been trying to do is to try and transpose that into a more post-Christian secular context because I’d still think the same truths are there about human beings. So I continue to find him a very stimulating thinker, and a very godly thinker as well.
Collin Hansen: Let’s jump into one of those magnetic points of the totality. Explain the tension in this magnetic point. Give us some of the background on that.
Daniel Strange: Yeah, so all of the magnetic points, and Bavinck says there’s five of them, these kinds of itches that human beings have to scratch. They all come from Romans 1 where it says that God has revealed his eternal power and divine nature. And Bavinck says, “Why does Paul focus on those two qualities?” And he says, “Eternal power has to do with the fact that as human beings, we are dependents, and divine nature is that we are accountable to not a something or an it, but to someone.”
So these ideas of dependence and accountability, we suppress it. We suppress the truth about God with those, but we can never escape them. They’re part of what it means to be human. We always know at some level we’re dependent upon something or someone, and we’ve always accountable. And the magnetic points are just an articulation, an anatomy of what comes out of that revelation that God has revealed in his being, his image bearers.
So totality, this question of is there a way to connect, is the first of those points. And it trades on the idea that we want connection as human beings to something, someone, some group, and it’s this tension that you can be expressed at the highest philosophical level, but also a kind of street philosophy as well.
On the one hand as human beings, we know that we are individually insignificant. We’re just specks. Who are we? Those kinds of existential, angsty questions that we can have.
On the other hand, we know that we’re significant. And when we connect with everything else, we can sense almost a sense of reality flowing through us.
And it’s that kind of tension between significance and insignificance that Bavinck picks upon. And then what I’m trying to do in the Making Faith Magnetic book is just to show in the normal lives that Western people lead especially, they’re always kind of itching that totality scratch.
We want connection, whether it’s a sports event or a music event or a Comic-Con convention or a LGBTQ pride march, the way that we want to look at family histories, because we want a sense of rootedness of significance and an identity. And we oscillate between significance and insignificance.
And again, Bavinck is just making the point that people wouldn’t call those activities religious, but they are very religious as we struggle with this question of connectedness. So that’s that point of totality.
Collin Hansen: Let’s look at the sporting match as an example there. How do we convey that the transcendent experience of that type of event is nothing compared to what Christians experience in church? So how do you bridge to that point to say, ” Hey, this is part of a longing that you have, but that longing is better suited for the church and what Christians experience there.” How do you go about helping people to see that?
Daniel Strange: So I think on the one hand, it’s the recognition that those experiences that people have and long for, we know don’t we when the people have those experiences, that the next day, if they have it on the weekend, Monday morning it’s back to work again, and then you’re waiting for that experience again.
You crave that connection, and how do you find it again? And people look for that connection in all kinds of things. I think I would want to then be making the point about and if our identity is linked to that, if we crave for it, in the long-term, it does not satisfy. And so I’d be wanting to look at other ways to explore what identity means, especially not just communion with God, but community with the church in terms of, those sporting events or those things where we feel a part, it’s often because there’s sameness.
But of course, the amazing thing about the church is that it’s unity and diversity at the same time. What other human organization brings together such a diverse group of people, but also a united group of people? And I think that that idea of connection, especially if this idea of identity, where do I find my identity?
And this is where the Christian gospel as a phrase that I’m sure will come up in the conversation, this idea of subversive fulfillment, where we’re looking… In order to find our identity, to becoming Christ, we have to die to ourselves. So it’s that idea of dying to live.
And even this concept of the image of God. Remember, if connection, if this idea of we’re insignificant, but we’re significant at the same time, this is where good theology just really helps us.
The doctrine of the image of God deals with that issue completely. On the one hand, we’re not God. We’re only images, but we’re images of God. We both have significance and insignificance. And I think any big kind of sporting event or any idea where we want to seek roots and rootedness, the idea to be able to say that, as it says in 1 Peter that our family tree could be traced back before the foundation of the world. I mean, that’s a great lineage.
The fact that we’re ingrafted into a new community, all those things are wonderful truths for people who are spending their time, because they don’t know who they are, they’re grasping on for meaning and identity in their soccer club, in their own maybe sexuality and gender and social group. And they’re not going to find lasting fulfillment there, but we can show another identity. But it does mean a dying to self and a rising to eternal life.
Collin Hansen: Where do you stand on the question of whether or not this world, this modern world is disenchanted?
Daniel Strange: Yes, a great question. Yes. Yes.
Collin Hansen: Well, it doesn’t seem like the desire for the supernatural has diminished, but it does seem like there’s not much of a hunger to direct that toward theism.
Daniel Strange: Yes. So the way that I’m talking about it at the moment, it’s a little bit trite, Collin, but I say it’s not that we’re disenchanted, it’s that we’re differently enchanted.
Collin Hansen: Right.
Daniel Strange: In the book, and I’m sure you’ve picked up about this. I try and juxtapose Charles Taylor who I know you’ve done a lot of work on with the idea of disenchantment, but also someone like Rodney Stark. Rodney Stark makes this comment about Taylor. All the research Stark does seems to point to the idea that we’re as enchanted as we’ll ever be. People believe all kinds of crazy stuff. And Stark makes this very cutting comment that Taylor’s research just shows how one has a limited view of things from the faculty lounge. It’s quite a cutting comment.
But I think in some ways, what I want to say is both are true. There’s certainly a way in which we are more disenchanted and this idea of exclusive humanism. And I do think that’s the case.
But even Taylor, towards the end, it’s the idea that the secular is haunted. And we find as human beings, it very difficult to go with the John Lennon, “above us is only sky” Imagine song.
And so it’s more where we look. And I think when we start looking, we do see, and I think that the magnetic points bear this out, that people are differently enchanted. There is a striving for transcendence, and it comes out in weird and wonderful places. It doesn’t necessarily come out in conventional religion, but if we’re humans made in God’s image, then I want to argue theologically that that kind of running to and running away from God, that sense of the divine that Calvin talks about, the people of Athens, you’re very religious that Paul talks about, will always come out somewhere.
And we just have to know where to look in our particular context. But there’s always traction. There’s always a way to get in there. And so I respect Taylor a lot, but I also want to recognize the biblical truth about human beings and their religiosity that I think is really important. And that is meant to encourage us to say, “Look, your non-Christian friends may have no time to talk about any of the things you want to talk about, but we have to look with a biblical lens. These are religious people living religious lives, and the magnetic points are the way that is a framework for us to understand how they express that religiosity.”
Collin Hansen: Dan, I would have thought that death would be considered the great leveler. I would have thought that’s the thing that causes a great deal of consternation or concern among skeptics of religion. That could be one of these points that we draw to, to say, “Hey, we all know how this is going to end, but let’s talk about what this means.” Why doesn’t that seem to be working?
Daniel Strange: I wonder though whether, Collin, the pandemic especially has raised that question a little more than it has in terms of our mortality, especially. I mean again, I think the one way of suppressing the Romans 1 truth is to say death. We just kind of ignore death, especially in our Western context. But I think that there is a recognition, or there can be a recognition that we are mortal. And in some ways, because people haven’t known how to deal with life, then the bare preservation of life at all costs becomes almost this, what I think Rusty Reno talks about, the idolatry of life, that you just preserve life at all costs because you are worried about death.
Collin Hansen: I can see that. Just to jump in here, I can see that, but the way at least in the American context, the pandemic has been largely understood is it has been mapped not on a societal or individual fear of death, but on the blaming for unnecessary death or hindrances on the people you already hated going into the pandemic.
So I would have thought something like this would make everybody sit and think, oh, wow. How capricious life seems to be. And yet what it seems to have done for them is say, “No see my enemies, I knew they were bad, but now they’re so bad that they actually just want to kill me. They’re actually trying to kill me actively because there’s some sort of death cult.” It just surprised me that there hasn’t been more of a, wow. Okay. So I could die. What does that mean then? It could be different in your context.
Daniel Strange: It might be well, though. I’d be interested to know whether people think that they… One of the magnetic points is this idea of destiny, which is really talking about the relationship between our freedom and responsibility or whether things are determined. And I wonder whether it’s interesting that the way that you articulated, how people want to blame others in some ways that is a shifting of responsibilities away from myself and my own personal responsibility towards blaming others. And to say what can I do about this?
So interestingly that kind of power dynamic maybe speaks to another magnetic point as much as it does about this idea of deliverance. And so, maybe that’s another way. Death, you maybe think the subject of death might fit the deliverance kind of magnetic point. I wonder whether it hits more than that. It hits a few of them. But yeah, very interesting comment in that American context.
Collin Hansen: Well, I had a question about your deliverance point there, and I’m wondering, do you think broadly speaking people expect deliverance, or is it really the fight, the pursuit, what keeps us going with a sense of purpose and infuses our lives with meaning?
Daniel Strange: Well, I don’t think it has to be an either or. I think there’s, obviously… I think we look for many deliverances all the time in the sense of there’s a way. Deliverance can be just any way that we think the world isn’t as it should be. As soon as you say the world isn’t as it should be, you must have a goal as to what you think the world should be. And the hope narrative, or the hope part there is an existence.
So whether it’s a mini-deliverance of, can I just get through the day, how am I going to sleep through the night to what happens to me when I die? I mean, there is deliverance there. But yeah, I think along with that then is I think as soon as you have some kind of quest or story, then you you’re living through it. So I wonder whether it’s a both and.
But the idea of the deliverance, or not just looking forward, but a longing, a looking back. That’s a very ancient tradition. The illustration that I always think about is the romantics who used to build ruins. They built ruins because it was… This was going back to the Arthurian legends and there was a sense of history and a world that has been lost.
What I find interesting with the deliverance thing is how that fits in with a love for dystopia. And we love our dystopia, and maybe that’s because there’s a lot of mixed things going on there about I want to be free from the world as it is at the moment. Even in this dystopian world, the idea that I could make up my own rules, I could make up my own laws. There’s a kind of a freeing of oneself, even in an anti-law, dystopian society.
But it’s very interesting that people seem to crave after those dystopian narratives, you’d think people would want some kind of utopian narrative. But I think there’s a lot of complex things going on there.
Collin Hansen: We never imagined ourselves in the dystopian stories as the billions who were wiped out.
Daniel Strange: Yeah, exactly.
Collin Hansen: That’s the issue. We’re always the lone hero who survived.
Daniel Strange: Yeah, exactly. And that heroic quest is perennial, isn’t it? In terms of who we think we are. Yeah.
Collin Hansen: Right. So, well, that leads to the question about destiny. Do you think it’s more comforting for people to know that they control their destiny or that they don’t?
Daniel Strange: Well, again, I think it’s a both/and. I think this is what Bavinck puts his fingers on. He has this great little statement where he says, “We both think that we lead our lives and undergo our lives.” We want autonomy, but on the other hand, because we’re not God, and we’re not the masters of our own destiny in that sense, sometimes we like to know that we don’t have the responsibility.
So that idea of determinism, sometimes it’s very attractive to us because, in the illustration you gave before, it’s not my fault. It’s the government’s fault. It’s my education. It’s my genes, as in my biological genes, as in I can’t help it. And again, it’s always that going back to Romans 1, it’s always that tension between dependence and accountability.
We want to be accountable, but we don’t want to be accountable. And it’s how then the Christian gospel says, “God is sovereign. God is in control, not as a despot, but as a loving heavenly father.” But also that we do have responsibility.
And it’s, again, in some ways that destiny magnetic point is just another version of the sovereignty responsibility thing that theologians discuss. But that’s a very theological magnetic point.
So I think in answer to your question, I think when it suits us, sometimes we want to think that we are free completely of anything. On the other hand, sometimes it’s very convenient to say, what could I do? It’s just the circumstances that I couldn’t do anything other.
And I think it’s only a Christian worldview that can really break through that to show that one, God is sovereign. And two, we have responsibility, and both of those things have to be believed and trusted.
Collin Hansen: Let’s talk about another tension here. And maybe you could now then explain some of what you mean by subversive fulfillment and apply it to this issue. How does our society reconcile this need, this right to freedom, our desire for an inclusive society marked by tolerance while at the same time demanding justice be done?
Daniel Strange: Yeah. So subversive fulfillment is, again, I can’t claim all the credit for it. I was phrased by, just used one by a very famous missiologist called Hendrik Kraemer, who was writing at the turn of the 20th century in these big missionary conferences. And he was really concerned that people were starting to say that Hinduism and Buddhism and Islam, Christianity was the fulfillment. These were stepping stones in the right direction, but Jesus was the fulfillment.
And Kramer says, “Jesus is completely different. He’s radically different. But if you want to use the word fulfillment, talk about subversive fulfillment.” And as a theological concept, I found it very pregnant to be developed. And really I’ll go back to the 1 Corinthians 1 passage where Paul says, “We preach Christ crucified, which is foolishness.” It’s the radical rejection of everything the world thinks. So there’s confrontation, but there’s also connection.
So why does Paul spend time talking about Jews and Greeks who have different worldviews, different desires, hopes, dreams? And there’s a sense in which we can say how Greeks are looking for wisdom and Jews are looking for power, Jesus Christ crucified is the opposite.
A crucified savior is disgusting for both Jews and Greeks, but Paul can still say Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. So it does connect, but it also confronts.
So subversive fulfillment is this idea that the gospel both confronts and connects at the same time. I think some of the problems, some of the problems that Christians have, evangelicals have sometimes, is that sometimes they major on the confrontation and not the connection. And at other times they major on the connection, but not the confrontation.
Collin Hansen: Right.
Daniel Strange: But I think we need to do both. So in answer to your question, it’s to see how all of those cultural themes that we are dealing with, the gospel, the Christ crucified says something completely opposite, but it also connects. It does give, so inclusivity, only the gospel gives the inclusivity. Without that, there would just be a horrid exclusivity.
One of the things I’ve been looking at recently, I did it for Themelios editorial. It was the theme of disappointment, and there’s a strange, great game in the UK. You may have heard of it called cricket. You don’t need to worry. There’s a guy who’s been playing for the British, the English team. And he got suspended. He’s a 27-year-old, and he got suspended because when he was 19, he’d kind of written two Tweets that were racist and misogynist. And people were saying, just because of those two Tweets, eight years later, he should never be able to play cricket again.
And it was interesting at that same time as that was going on again, Charles Taylor wrote this really interesting essay called “A Catholic Modernity?” where he says the problem with humanism is that it thought he was doing humanity a service by taking away the doctrine of sin and totally depravity. But what it does, if you take those things away, the bar then for humanity is so high that when we can’t meet it, the only way that we can do it is eventually through coercion because we can’t deal with any kind of failure.
And so in this cultural example of the cricketer, to understand that the Christian worldview in this way, failure and disappointment, is actually a life-giving thing because it recognizes that there can be failure, but there is also restoration. Jesus is the norm, is both the standard, but the savior from the standard.
So I think in all of these ways, we start to see how a full Christian anthropology in terms of creation and fall and redemption, and the concept of forgiveness can answer the issue of cancel culture, can answer these issues because it wants to say there is a standard, of course, but there’s also a savior as well.
So in any one of these issues, I think it’s trying to show how the gospel turns the issue on its head subversively. But it also then does want to answer the questions. It does want to deal with issue because I do want us to live in a peaceful, inclusive society, but it’s where are you getting your norms or your standards to judge where those things are?
And Jesus says, he is the standard, and he’s the Savior when we don’t meet the standard. And that’s the wonderful thing, which I think does affect apologetics in some ways because I think 20 years ago, I think people would have understood that there was a norm, Ten Commandments, and then you fall from them and then you need someone. Now you need to do a double shift. It’s to show that Jesus gives us the standard around all these other standards that people want, but also he’s the Savior to the standard as well. So I think that’s where it’s particularly helpful.
Collin Hansen: You also do a great job in Making Faith Magnetic of going after the concept or engaging with the concept of expressive individualism. I’m not sure if you use that concept, but where I saw it come through, or use that term, because I saw it come through in what you wrote about goth culture.
And so the way you describe this is that goth culture is counter-cultural. And yet by definition also conformist because there is a standard by which everybody must dress. Goth culture doesn’t mean you do whatever you want. It means you have to dress this certain way or use this kind of eye shadow, or listen to this kind of music. You can tell I’m somebody who grew up in the ‘90s. I’m well familiar with goth culture and Marilyn Manson and all that kind of stuff right there.
But it really communicated to me. Just explain what you mean by that illustration. Again, you didn’t use the concept of expressive individualism, but it’s that same idea that everybody’s being individual. They’re all doing their own thing, expressing that and being accepted that way. And in the end, they actually all look the same, so they’re not really individuals.
Daniel Strange: So the magnetic point at the end of the day says there are always norms that we want to seek to conform to, and even counter-cultural rebels have their own rules for rebellion. And so this was an illustration that students sent me about the goth culture where goths are trying to be non-conformist, but they have to non-conform in exactly the same way.
And then it gets quite intricate because the illustration I use is, I didn’t know this at all. Apparently if you’re an “in” goth, an accepted goth, you could wear baby pink. But if someone who isn’t a proper goth wears baby pink, they’ll be seen to be out of the group.
C. S. Lewis writes this about in “The Inner Ring.”
Collin Hansen: Right. Inner ring.
Daniel Strange: It’s just a version of that, but it’s this constant idea that there are norms. Now these aren’t always biblical norms. They’re norms that obviously sometimes we socially construct, but I think that idea of the norm, is there a way to live, even in a very radical counter-culture way, there still has to be some kind of conformity because we still want to conform.
And so again, that’s one of these perennial human truths about what it means to be human in God’s image, that those kinds of standards are there. That what the concept of a standard is there or a concept of wanting to conform.
Collin Hansen: We still want to fit in.
Daniel Strange: Yeah, exactly.
Collin Hansen: We still want to have a home. We still want to have a community where we are accepted. I think you could have applied this in the same way to different aspects of the gay community.
Daniel Strange: Yeah.
Collin Hansen: Very similar. It’s non-conformist in certain ways, and you have to conform to those ways, or else you’ll be expelled from that community.
Daniel Strange: And again, this is where the church is so crucial, Collin, because I think then it’s trying to show that there is kind of come to Christ and live, become a Christian being grafted into Christ. But then there is still amazing diversity and unity at the same time. In a way that respects difference as well as, yeah. That there’s a respecting of difference that I think sometimes people don’t see because they think, well, being a Christian, you just have to conform in exactly the same way.
Of course, it is much more the unity and diversity idea is amazingly seen in the church as it should be, which is why it’s such an amazing witness to that unity and diversity to inclusivity. Yeah.
Collin Hansen: Well, I think you’ve already covered my last question here, but maybe this will be a good way to put a cap and maybe put a focus on it. What you’re describing here, Dan, is a culture that’s been shaped by Christian values, and yet has rejected in large measure, the crucified Christ. So what’s the result when you pair those two things together?
Daniel Strange: Yeah. So I think on the one hand, I want to celebrate the influence that Christianity has had in the West. So it’s interesting. I sometimes hear people say oh, isn’t it great. It’s just like the first century. We can go back to the beginning. I find that sad in that the influence that the Christian gospel has had on Western culture has been amazing, and we’re seeing it as the tide goes out, what that means. And I don’t think it’s particularly very good.
On the other hand then, there is then how do you deal with nominal Christianity and an inoculation to what people think Christianity is. And what I don’t want to do, and this is why I think Taylor and others are important. I think they are saying we need to factor in the 2,000 years of history that have gone on and what that means.
But I still think that some of the values that the West still wants to lord or say are important, peace and honesty and diversity and equality, dignity, human dignity especially, they are fundamentally Christian values. And in fact, they can only really mean what they really mean based on a Christian worldview.
Without that, well, as we’re seeing. Don Carson wrote The Intolerance of Tolerance, which is quite true. Tolerance has completely changed its meaning. Inclusivity means something different. All of those things we need to get, and especially human dignity. It’s interesting doing a little paper recently on the history of the concept of dignity and Kyle Harper writes this great article that meant something completely different in Roman and Greek civilization. It’s only Christianity that really talks about the worth of human beings just because they’re human.
Collin Hansen: Right.
Daniel Strange: And I think we need to understand that and proclaim that.
Collin Hansen: Well, I’ve got final three questions, quick ones here for Daniel Strange, author of Making Faith Magnetic: Five Hidden Themes Our Culture Can’t Stop Talking About… And How to Connect Them to Christ. Dan, how do you find calm in the storm?
Daniel Strange: I think in the book, I use this illustration. In the film Free Solo, which won an award. Alex Honnold free climbs El Capitan. I’m not a climber at all, but I’ve become fascinated with that film. And there’s a bit of the climb, which is called Freeblast. It looks as if he’s climbing glass, and you think, how does he do it? And then when you focus in, you realize that there are little nubs and indentations. And I think one of the things I would want us to take encouragement from and calm is that because of the way that God has made human beings, there’s always a point of contact. There’s always a traction point.
I do worry that we might despair to think, look, how can the gospel really make any connection with people who are just living their lives? They’ve got no time for anything that I want to talk to them about. But at that point, we need to keep calm, carry on and just say, well, look, if Romans 1, if 1 Corinthians 1, if Acts 17, if this is truth, then there’s always a point of contact.
We may have to do hard work. We’ll have to build trust and relationships. We’ll have to really understand where people are coming from, but there will always be a way in. And I think that is an encouragement. That does keep me calm because you can just get… I think my life and my life…
I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea of traction, but also this idea of tethering. I suppose it’s how do I, I want to be a Reformed orthodox Christian who says orthodox truth is solid and is foundational is as important, but also recognizing the contingency of history and where we are in our particular moment.
And I think a lot of theological life is trying to wrestle with both wanting confession and contingency, wanting traction and wanting to be tethered. And I think the calmness I would want to see is you can have both, it’s not one or the other. You can have the tethering to historic orthodox Christianity, and you can find traction in any culture. And if we have that, then I think we can go on an adventure rather than panicking about falling off or just slipping down. And that’s where I find the calm in recognizing that the Bible really is the way in which we see the world in a way that reveals the world as it really is. And that gives me confidence.
Collin Hansen: That’s great. I love that. Traction and tethering. That’s really helpful to me. Where do you find good news today, Dan?
Daniel Strange: I find good news in that I want to, sometimes we can have such a downer on ourselves. I do want to believe that every day people are becoming Christians. And sometimes I think, especially in the UK anyway, we only hear bad news, or we don’t hear some of the wonderful stories that are going on in terms of people becoming Christians.
And I always want to give students a global perspective in those lectures before I go on about how the West is going downhill. In a global sense, people are being saved every day. There are very incredibly faithful Christians. Yes, there is so much suffering and persecution, especially in the last two years with everything that’s going on. So that’s where I find good news.
And I think, especially in this book, I mentioned it to someone this morning, Jesus Christ fulfills the magnetic points subversively before, not simply because he died on the cross for our sins, which he did, but in his person, he fulfills them.
And it’s the person and personality of Jesus that I think is such good news because my relationship is not just with a doctrine, it’s with a person Jesus Christ. And he is good news, and I can know him personally. And that’s amazing good news. And it does put a relational angle to all of this. I want to introduce people to a person, and that’s the person that I’ve met who’s changed my life, and he can change yours as well. And I think that’s great news.
Collin Hansen: Amen. Last question, Dan, what’s the last great book you’ve read?
Daniel Strange: The last great book I’ve read. Well, I know I keep going on about him, but I think that the J. H. Bavinck book on religious consciousness is I think a great book. It’s in the J. H. Bavinck reader. And I think that’s the most mature of his writings where he talks about this idea of religious consciousness. And I’ve been inspired by that. I mean, in terms of theological reading, I mean, lots of stuff that I read that I really enjoy, but I think in terms of a book that I think, wow, there’s a lifetime of exploration here. Bavinck’s book on religious consciousness, I’d recommend that in the Bavinck reader.
Collin Hansen: Great. Well, thanks Dan, author of Making Faith Magnetic: Five Hidden Themes Our Culture Can’t Stop Talking About… And How to Connect Them to Christ, published by The Good Book Company. Thanks, Dan.
Daniel Strange: Thanks Collin. Thanks everyone.