Category: spirituality

They Hyper-Defense of God: Reprise

God has chosen to operate through people and tangible, physical stuff like sound waves (the Word), water (baptism), and bread and wine (the Eucharist). (Some will object to baptism and the Eucharist, but at least people and the Word should be conceded). To attack such things in the name of spirituality is to attack that which the Spirit is actually using. In fact, this line of attack sounds an awful lot like Gnosticism, which considers matter inherently corrupted and only the spiritual things pure.

As a quick, pointed example, the accusation that the Christian community abhors all things concerning sex isn’t an entirely fabricated. There are indeed Christians who will talk about sex as though it were some base, physical act that only serves to get in the way of spiritual pursuits. But God made us as sexual beings, and marriage was God’s way of creating godly children (Mal. 2). One gets the idea for some Christians that God permits people to have sex, but only reluctantly- so we should try very hard not to enjoy it and participate in it only as duty requires. Yea, compare and contrast that with the Song of Solomon, why don’t you!

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The Culture War is Over and We Lost? So… guerrilla warfare…

Something I’ve been pondering for awhile is this: Is the culture war over? And did we lose it?

I part company with those who seek to Christianize the culture as though this in itself is a noble goal. It seems to me that this would in effect merely make our culture a ‘white washed tomb.’ More important than the culture are the people within it and their state of mind and eternal fates. Nonetheless, people are strongly influenced by the culture at large whether they know it or not or admit it or not. An unfriendly culture will make it harder for people to receive the Gospel.

I believe that. To an extent. I note, however, that the Christian Church itself exploded into existence within a culture that was not yet, by virtue of the fact that there wasn’t a pervasive Christianity to Christianize, Christian.

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Reflections on culture, evangelism, and apologetics

I’ve been thinking about the culture wars lately. I have a real problem with Christians who seem to be driving for a change in the culture just for the sake of having a ‘holy’ culture. I think we’d have to call that a legalistic culture. I believe that the Christian church should be about something more than creating white-washed tombs.

On the other hand, the nature of ‘culture’ is that it perpetuates itself, feeds itself, fuels itself. The culture is the air we breathe and the water in which we swim. It has the ability to mold us into its image, and once so molded, we mold others in that same image. Resistance isn’t exactly futile, but it is difficult. Conformity to the culture is the path of least resistance. It would behoove us, therefore, to ensure that the culture is not toxic. If the culture is healthy, the path of least resistance will more likely result in healthy beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors.

You all will have experienced this. I remember when I worked construction for awhile. After just a month or so, I found myself talking like those guys.

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Number One Thing Killing the Church: Lovelessness

Below is a 20 minute clip from a presentation I delivered in Michigan this last October titled “Five Things Killing Christianity.” This is the segment describing the number one reason I believe is harming the church and the main reason it is in decline in America.

Direct Link: http://www.apologeticsvideos.net/videos/62/killing-christianity-lovelessness

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Atheism as ‘Gateway Drug’ to Drifting Away

As of this writing, I am facilitating a course/discussion regarding the decline of Christianity in America. Someone made a point in the discussion that is similar to one I’ve made previously… but I can’t find where I made it so I’m making it anew. 🙂

The question begins with a look at the measured increase in self-identified ‘religious nones’ in America since around 1990. (This data can be found linked to here.) In 1990, some 8% of Americans identified themselves as having no religion. Today, that figure has doubled. In the meantime, there has been a drop in those identifying themselves as Christians, from about 86% to 76% of the nation’s population. Some back of the napkin calculation suggests that some 30,000,000 fewer people call themselves Christian than did in 1990 with a significant portion of these falling into the ‘religious none’ category.

However, of note, the number of outright atheists has seen only a moderate increase. Even many of the ‘religious nones’ say they believe something.

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Five Things Killing Christianity: Is the End of Christianity At Hand?

The number one thing killing Christianity in America today:

Lovelessness.

All the rest of the things on the list tie back to this. The Christian Church exhibits constant lovelessness in much of what it does. Many readers will jump to the idea that Christians are very loving, and to an extent, I agree. Many readers will find the assertion nauseous because they think of ‘love’ as some wishy washy sentiment. Both sets of readers misunderstand me. One of my contentions is that Love itself is misunderstood, because unlike other doctrines, this one has not been systematically explored from the Scriptures. We all act as though we intuitively know what ‘love’ is. In fact, we have culturally driven notions that are derived from hundreds of years of romanticism. The Bible- the New Testament in particular- portrays a love that is much different. It is earth shattering, and embodied in the activities of the early Christian Church.

None of this should be construed (though it will be, to my chagrin) as a repudiation of all the things we currently do to ‘show’ we love God. It isn’t. If we were doing those things AND loving our fellow Christians… to the death… there would be no problem.

But, I contend, we aren’t doing that. God tells us that if we love him, we’ll love the brothers. We have it stuck in our head that if we love him, we’ll love him.

But that’s not what he said, and that is why outsiders, ultimately, do not find Christianity credible. Indeed, it is why Christians themselves are dubious, and in fact, sometimes falling away altogether.

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The Christian and his God Appointed Sphere of Influence

Important caveat: the following is written BY A CHRISTIAN and pertains ONLY TO CHRISTIANS, and then, ONLY THE CHRISTIANS THAT TAKE THE BIBLE AS THEIR FINAL AUTHORITY. I hope that is sufficiently clear.

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1 Peter 4:17: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

Sprinkled throughout the Scriptures is evidence of God’s fondness for a certain order of interaction with the human race. The idea that judgment begins with the family of God is not isolated to Peter and the idea that there are stages in judgment is not isolated to the apostles. For example, Jesus himself alludes to it in Mark 7 when he at first refuses to minister to the Syrophoenician Woman, saying, “First let the children eat all they want.”

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Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge and PZ Myers

Here is a short story I wrote inspired by the comments in this thread on PZ Myer’s blog. Enjoy!

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Adam and Eve and the Tree of Knowledge of Knowledge

“I got here as fast as I could!” gasped the old man. He put one hand on the hood of the squad car and bent over as he tried to catch his breath.

The annoyed chief stared at the man waiting for him to explain who he was because the chief didn’t recognize him at all. At last, the balding and sweating gentlemen stood erect and stared back at the chief expecting some word of thanks or gratitude from him. But the chief was silent.

“Well, don’t you want my help?” the old man snapped.

“I don’t know who you are,” the chief grumped back.

“Don’t you know who you’ve got up there?” the old man gestured in the direction of the top of a seven story building that was the object of all the attention.

The chief shrugged, irritated, “Two people threatening to jump?”

The old man scowled.

“This is what I’ve been trying to tell you, chief,” said a police officer standing nearby.

“What? Just tell me already!” the chief cried out, slapping his hand on the hood of the car.

“That’s Adam and Eve,” the old man snarled, “and I’m Dr. Stein Franken.”

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Obama and the National Day of Prayer

Some Christians I’ve read have been disappointed by the fact that Obama didn’t do anything for the National Day of Prayer.  I don’t know why.  This is who Obama is.  He has given us no reason to think he is otherwise.  I’m glad that he didn’t continue the illusion in some minds (more accurately, self-delusion) […]

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Should Churches Adopt a No Child Left Behind Approach?

What I mean is this: we know that the Church in America is in decline by survey and personal experience, and we can suppose that this is because of ‘the way we are doing things’ but we can’t be sure what is producing strong Christians or weak Christians unless we have some sort of assessment.

Of course, you have to actually want to know, don’t you? If a 100 kids leave your congregation and 98 of them fall from the faith within 5 years and 90 never return that is something that I would want to know if I was the leader of a congregation. Then I would want to know what kind of framework those kids had when they left and how they received it. If I learned that my programs were actually setting them up to get smacked around like a pinata at college, I’d want to know.

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The Forgotten Doctrine: Love

Now, we Christians think we’re loving. This is because we have never opened up the Bible to perform any kind of deliberate study on the topic of Love. Oh sure, you can find theological treatise after treatise in all the denominations over things like Communion/The Lord’s Supper, baptism, Christian unity, worship, predestination, justification by faith, inerrancy, inspiration, on and on and on, but not on Love. These topics, though important, occupy a tiny fraction of the New Testament when compared with how often and how extensively the New Testament discusses Love. [More…]

Do you want to know why Christianity continues its decline in America? Ultimately, it is a failure to love as the New Testament models it.

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Study: Religion in Decline. What do we do about it?

I am just a lone voice out in the wilderness, on the front lines between belief and unbelief, a scout if you will. I am reporting to you generals that that situation is dire, and worse, you are currently sending troops to fight over hills that the Enemy has long abandoned. You continue to defend the Maginot Line while the Enemy blitzkriegs right around it. The only difference is that the French knew they had been flanked, while you continue to face the troops east. They’ll be in Paris before you know it and I am convinced many leaders of the church will be shocked: “What? Didn’t we send reinforcements to our line of fortresses? How can this be?”

In the face of this counsel I have been accused of all sorts of things- legalism, self-righteousness, hubris, and even heresy. Well my friends, the proof is in the pudding. Barna has been warning us about this for some time and as the article above illustrates, he isn’t the only one.

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Christianese and Shibboleths as Roadblocks to Faith and Brotherhood

Here is an excerpt of a blog entry I posted at the ChristianPost. It was probably a good time to poke the boys at Godisimaginary.com in the ribs, anyway. I know, cheap thrills.

In Judges 12, the Gileadites find a way to distinguish between friend and foe by compelling captured refugees to say the word ‘Shibboleth.’ Evidently, Ephraimites couldn’t pronounce it correctly, saying instead ‘Sibboleth.’ Those that said that latter were struck down while those who said the former were allowed to pass.

‘Shibboleths’ abound in society, including among Christians. Unfortunately, even among Christians, a Shibboleth isn’t simply a quick way to distinguish where a person stands in relation to you but is used in a manner akin to the Gileadite’s use, thankfully, of course, without the resulting slaughter.

In other words, Christianese is a Shibboleth in the ears of the nonBeliever. The moment you begin engaging in Christianese you are at risk of being dismissed or marginalized in the eyes of the person you are talking to.

The Internet is filled with skeptics and scoffers poking fun at various aspects of Christianity as though they were the substance of Christianity when in fact they are slogans and phrases that are more part and parcel of Christianese- how the things are communicated- rather than the actual substance of Christianity.

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Review of Keysor’s Hitler, Holocaust, and Bible

Due out on Hitler’s birthday (April 20th, 2009), Joe Keysor’s book, Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Bible: A Scriptural Analysis of Anti-Semitism, National Socialism, and the Churches in Nazi Germany is an important book counteracting the growing clamor that Christianity was the driving ideology behind Hitler, the Nazis, and the Holocaust. It is very important- for obvious reasons- for secular humanists and atheists to show that brutal tyrants were not operating on their principles but rather on Christian principles. In some cases such as Mao and Pol Pot the operation cannot even be attempted. In others, such as Lenin and Stalin, more headway is made. In Hitler, secularists consider the matter a slam dunk.

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