Mars Hill and The Tension of Morality

A few years ago, I got in a long debate with a friend about a Christian article written as a critique of the TV show Game of Thrones. My other friends at the dinner table quickly became annoyed as the debate stunted conversation for the rest of the table. I’m not going to get into the specifics of the debate or what my argument was, but instead, I want to look at one point the author of the post made. The author, Dr. Jim Denison, was criticizing Game of Thrones and warning Christians against watching it. One of his reasons is as follows:

Two: The show embraces amorality. “Good” characters make horrific mistakes, while “bad” characters act redemptively. One psychologist lauds the “progressive tolerance” the show legitimizes. In a postmodern culture that views all truth as personal and subjective, the characters legitimize our rejection of right and wrong.

I remain puzzled by Dr. Denison’s objection, especially his being upset that protagonist characters make mistakes – this isn’t inherently amorality. In the bible, Kind David is referred to as a man after God’s heart, and yet David made horrific mistakes, most notably sleeping with Bathsheba, and having her husband sent to the front lines of war to be killed.

So, was David a good king?

We must answer both yes and no. We wrestle with this idea of two seemingly contradictory things being simultaneously true, but we must embrace this tension.

I say all of this because this tension is front and center of the popular podcast, The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill, which yesterday morning, was the 7th most popular podcast on Apple Podcasts. As the title implies the podcast follows the rise as Mars Hill Church became a megachurch that would later collapse and cause serious carnage. The podcast raises many important topics that I plan to discuss over the next few months, but before I do, I want to address the tension of morality that I introduced earlier in this post. This is a quote from the first episode of the podcast.

“[This] contradiction is the center of the Mars Hill story. Stunning life change and stunning pain. Radical transformation and wounds so deep they drove people from the church or from the faith altogether.”

The narrator of the podcast is addressing the tension we just discussed. As I dive into the podcast, I will be focusing on the negative side of what happened at Mars Hill, but as I do, please remember this tension. Just because horrific things are occurring doesn’t mean God can’t be using those atrocities to accomplish his story.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. Genesis 50:20

2 thoughts on “Mars Hill and The Tension of Morality”

  1. Listening to the Mars Hill podcast has been extremely thought-provoking and has led me to also consider the tension that can exist in ministry. It all just makes me grateful for God’s grace and mercy that works despite our sin! Looking forward to your thoughts as you dive in to the podcast!

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