Destroying the Sacred-Secular Divide

Destroying the Sacred-Secular Divide

Dancing. Sports. Caffeine. Rock and roll. Food and drink. The college campus is a kind of microcosm of the flashpoints we face “in the real world,” just with the volume turned way up. And lots of video games.

For over a decade, this has been the everyday life and ministry context for Matt Reagan, Campus Outreach director at the University of Minnesota and elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church. Into such potentially contrasting environments, he has sought to bring an old, old story with all its biblical textures and hues and the mind-defying life-change it boasts. It’s emphatically not an easy day-to-day parish for gospel ministry, but some love it. Matt does.

Over the years of laboring to press the gospel deeply into students of increasingly postmodern orientation and sensibilities, Matt has discovered that one of the most important topics to tackle with freshman collegiates and new believers is the so-called “sacred-secular divide.” We all participate in this to certain degrees, and the lessons are relevant far beyond the college campus and this perhaps strangest of life’s seasons. It quickly gets us into realities as central as our hearts and as important as the realization that God is not boring.

With such application far beyond the college campus in view, we sat down with Matt to have him explain what is this sacred-secular divide, and how Christian theology and the biblical gospel takes it head on.

In this new episode of Theology Refresh, Matt helps us navigate away from what the apostle Paul calls “deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” (1 Timothy 4:1–3). Matt cautions us against assigning badness to God’s good gifts and reminds us, like Paul, “Everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4–5). Elsewhere is this massive ethical injunction: “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

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David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.