• Ed Shaw

Don't skip steps

Updated: May 31, 2021

One of the highlights of my time at theological college was a set of lecture courses given by Dan Strange on contemporary culture and apologetics. The fruit of his labour were recently shared with the wider world through his short book, Plugged In: Connecting Your Faith With Everything You Watch, Read and Play. [1]

In this excellent book Dan encourages Christians to follow four steps in our engagement with our culture in whatever shape or form we encounter it – all modelled by the apostle Paul in Acts 17:

  1. Entering: Stepping into the world and listening to the story: ‘For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship…’ (Acts 17: 23).

  2. Exploring: Searching for elements of grace and the idols attached to them: ‘People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: To an unknown God’ (Acts 17: 23).

  3. Exposing: Showing up the idols as destructive frauds: ‘Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone – an image made by human design and skill’ (Acts 17: 29).

  4. Evangelising: Showing off the gospel of Jesus Christ as ‘subversive fulfilment’: ‘So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship – and this is what I am going to proclaim to you' (Acts 17: 23). [2]

I want to suggest that when it comes to our response to the increasingly prominent experiences of transgender people, most Christians have rushed to attempt step three without bothering to do the necessary groundwork of steps one and two. The result is that our words and actions too often show that we don’t really get the painful experiences of those who genuinely experience gender dysphoria. We consequently fail to effectively connect them with the hope of the gospel (step four).