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Posts Tagged ‘Biblical worldview’

John StonestreetIn my vocation of helper, I sometimes have to do difficult things.  It’s not easy for me as a Christian to point out that the Church has failed the culture, but it has.  Keith Getty’s song “In Christ Alone” and Rachel Held Evans’ blog on why the millennials are leaving the church were already added to my Facebook page.  John Stonestreet’s commentary reminds us that Jesus — as He defines Himself and what He has done for us — is all that matters.  Thank you, sir!  As for the rest of you, tell me.  Do you agree with John who writes:

Recently, the Presbyterian Church (USA) dropped the hugely popular hymn, “In Christ Alone,” from its hymnal after its authors, Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, refused to omit a reference to Jesus satisfying the wrath of God.

In a powerful response over at First Things, which we’ll link to at BreakPoint.org, Colson Center chairman Timothy George quotes Richard Niebuhr who, back in the 1930s, described this kind of revisionist Protestantism as a religion in which “A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.”

The response from the PCUSA, that their problem was not with God’s wrath but with the idea that Christ’s death satisfied God’s wrath, doesn’t change the fundamental problem of what George calls “squishy” theology. Theology is supposed to be true, not palatable.

Along these lines, maybe you’ve seen the recent viral opinion piece on CNN by my friend, Christian blogger and author Rachel Held Evans. In it, Evans offers her answers to the truly important question, “why are millennials leaving the Church?”

To counter the exodus of young people from American churches, Evans says it’s time to own up to our shortcomings and give millennials what they really want—not a change in style but a change in substance. The answer to attracting millennials, she writes, is NOT “hipper worship bands” or handing out “lattés,” but actually helping them find Jesus.

Amen. I couldn’t agree more.

Then she goes on, “[the Church is] too political, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to [LGBT] people.” Well, okay—anytime political programs co-opt our faith, or we ignore the needy and fail to love those with whom we disagree, we do the Gospel of Christ great harm.

But when she writes that attracting millennials to Jesus involves “an end to the culture wars,” “a truce between science and faith,” being less “exclusive” with less emphasis on sex, without “predetermined answers” to life’s questions, now I want to ask–are we still talking about the Jesus of biblical Christianity?

The attempt to re-make Jesus to be more palatable to modern scientific and especially sexual sensibilities has been tried before. In fact, it’s the reason Niebuhr said that brilliant line that I quoted earlier.

He watched as the redefining “Jesus Project” gave us mainline Protestantism, which promotes virtually everything on Evans’ list for millennials. The acceptance of homosexuality, a passion for the environment, prioritizing so-called “social justice” over transformational truth are all embodied in denominations like the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (USA).

But religious millennials aren’t flocking to mainline Protestant congregations. Mainline churches as a whole have suffered withering declines in the last few decades—especially among the young. What gives?

Well, in an another essay which appeared in First Things over twenty years ago, a trio of Christian researchers offered their theory on what’s behind the long, slow hemorrhage of mainline Protestant churches:

“In our study,” they wrote, “the single best predictor of church participation turned out Newsletter_Gen_180x180_B to be belief—orthodox Christian belief, and especially the teaching that a person can be saved only through Jesus Christ.” This, said the researchers, was not (and I add, is still not) a teaching of mainline Protestantism. As a dwindling denomination rejects a hymn which proclaims salvation “in Christ alone,” this research sounds prophetic.

Evans is right that evangelical Christianity is responsible in many ways for the exodus of millennials. But ditching the Church’s unpalatable “old-fashioned” beliefs to become more “relevant” to the young won’t bring them back.

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Please check out Ezerwoman’s new page entitled “Titus 2 Talk.”  I’ve been encouraged to record portions of the Titus 2 Retreat and certain Ezerwoman blogs.  Sometimes, I was reminded, it can be helpful to hear a personal voice, a “plea,” or a word of instruction and hope.

This is a new experience.  Please pray that it honors the Lord of Life.

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Question: Where would society be if Christians stopped practicing charity and compassion outside the church walls?

Professor Alvin Schmidt has the answer.  His entire book, How Christianity Changed the World (Zondervan, 2001, 2004) is worthy of your read.  For now, I would like to provide you with excerpts from my friend’s book most appropriate for this discussion of the health care mandate.  Alvin is a very respected acquaintance of mine who has, over the years, been a popular pro-life workshop and keynote presenter.  He has been kind to encourage my speaking and writing.  Alvin is a retired professor of sociology, faithful Biblical Christian, and involved U.S. citizen.  Considering the times in which we find ourselves, I highly recommend your read of Professor Schmidt’s meticulous documentation of Christianity’s influence on the world.

From the earliest years of Christianity to the ninth century, charity needs in the West were regularly provided for by the church.  Church-dispensed charity declined sharply after the death of Charlemagne in 814.  Feudal lords were to take care of the poor on their lands, but they did so inadequately.  By the sixteenth century, charity had become largely secularized.  By the twentieth century, state welfare payments replaced much of the churches’ charity.  Today, millions who receive state welfare payments in the Western world probably know little or nothing about the fact that the payments they receive are largely the result of Christianity’s influence.

Modern state welfare grew out of the Christian practice of charity, but it’s important to note that government programs, welfare, and even health care cannot be equated with Christian charity.  State programs operate on the basis of coercion; funds are involuntarily gathered by means of enforced taxation.  This violates the spirit and method of true Christian charity.  Christian-based charities and organizations serve others by using funds that are donated or freely given as love-offerings.

Government welfare programs are at odds with Christian charity because they often produce unintended harmful effects by unintentionally encouraging the loss of individual responsibility and even rewarding it.  One such effect has been the continued rise in the rates of children born out of wedlock, a trend that has steadily increased from the mid-1960s to present day.  In 1960 the out-of-wedlock birth rate was 5.3 percent of all births in the U.S., while in 1998 it was 33 percent (an increase of nearly 600 percent).  Another consequence of government welfare has been the rewarding of the indolent, which nullifies the Christian admonition: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10).  Imprudent charity is not a good thing.  Another effect of government welfare programs at odds with Christian charity is that they often foster political demagoguery by pandering to the voters who are recipients of social welfare.  Political demagoguery, or appealing to the emotions of a certain group of people, clearly violates Christian charity, not only because it uses deception, but also because it benefits the selfish interests of the demagogues or leaders who reap political gain by presenting themselves as advocates of welfare.  This is Roman liberalitis, not Christian caritas.

Christian charity fosters freedom from all forms of slavery.  Government welfare tends to create a permanently dependent class.  The essence of slavery is being dependent on someone or some entity for one’s livelihood.  This demoralizes human beings.

Government welfare induces many people to think that government should pay for their needs that they feel they cannot afford.  Apparently when the government pays for people’s needs, it does not appear as though others are paying for them. Such thinking forgets that the government has no funds except those taken by means of compulsory taxation.  And that is what distinguishes state welfare programs from Christian charity.  Remember Christ’s example of the Good Samaritan?  He gave, not because he was coerced, but because he had a heartfelt, voluntary desire to help someone in need.

Finally, government programs are different from Christian charity because Christ said that His followers were to give “a cup of water in My name” (Mark 9:41.  Government welfare is not offered in the name of Jesus Christ.

Note: The second printing of How Christianity Changed the World
includes a Bible study for personal or group use.

THANK YOU PROFESSOR SCHMIDT!

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On September 14, a lone man with a gun walked through the doors of the Family Research Council (FRC) in Washington, D.C.  He did not have good intentions in mind.  When confronted by the security guard, the man took aim and shot.  Thankfully, the security guard was not fatally injured.

Apparently, the young man who opened fire was involved with a LGBT group.  It’s been reported that he held a grudge against the FRC because it exposes the homosexual lifestyle as harmful.  The FRC takes a strong stand for Biblical marriage and family.

A faithful friend of our family is on staff at the FRC.  Upon learning of the shooting, I was quick to text my friend.  I wanted to know if he was safe.  As God would have it, my friend was working on a manuscript from home.  He had made contact with his fellow staff members and, later, his friend the security guard.

What follows are excerpts from my friend’s e-mail to me on August 16.  His thoughts are of the young man who pulled the trigger.  My friend wrote:

. . . First, it should be obvious the fellow needs a refresher course in the Golden Rule.

Second, don’t throw your life away, young man, for such stupid stuff.

I visit a friend in prison regularly.  It’s an eye-opener.  I doubt we’d have much crime in this country if everyone visited prisons.

This wretch will not have a good time as a gay activist or volunteer in prison.

The logic of his stance is we are hateful so he shoots us.

Now all the gay groups have rallied to say their “thoughts” are with us.  Fine.  Good for them.

And we don’t support “hate crimes” legislation, so we’re not hollering “hate crime!”

All crime is hate crime.

It would help if the gay groups would agree to stop calling us a hate group just because we oppose them overturning marriage.

We’re not going to stop backing True Marriage.

No, my FRC friend for life, we’re not.  We can’t.  Why?  Because the God who instituted marriage and family defined them.  We either stand on the created order of His Word, or fall into chaos.

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For now, I’m putting discussion about sex education aside to consider another life issue.  Michael Cook of MercatorNet writes:

“The classic 60s family-friendly cowboy TV series Bonanza, about a patriarch and his three sons on a half a million acres in 1870s Nevada may not seem like a place to look for lessons about euthanasia. But this episode, which screened on November 17, 1963 is an example of how far society has changed. A friend of Little Joe confesses to him that he administered a mercy killing to his future father-in-law after a mining accident. Little Joe has misgivings, but is sympathetic. Then he talks to Dad — Ben Cartwright — who explains to him why no one ever has a right to take a life. Very nostalgic.  ~ Thanks to Walter Pless.”

Please watch the Bonanza episode here.

My appreciation to Careful, a MercatorNet focus blog on euthanasia (8/9/12),
Editor Michael Cook

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I’d like to encourage you to help break the “spiral of silence.”  In the face of conflict or potential persecution, Christians too often say nothing.  Do nothing.  We don’t want to be labeled “judgmental” or “intolerant.”  But, our silence compromises the living Word Jesus Christ.  It would appear that we fear displeasing man more than we do God.

I propose that we are silent about homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” because we Christians have been influenced by the world.  We see ourselves the way the world sees us.  We let the world define us.  Then, we fall into silence.  The world tells us that we are “sexual beings.”  “Sexual from birth.”  If that is true, then those who are intimidating and bullying Chick-fil-A right now for taking a stand on the Biblical definition of marriage have sound reason to be angry.  If we are — first and foremost — sexual beings, then any kind of sexual needs, behaviors, or relationships should be not only justified, but legal.  If our identity is “sexual,” then it should come as no surprise that Chick-fil-A — or a church body or an individual — will be labeled “intolerant,” “bigoted” and “homophobic.”  Who, after all, would dare discriminate against the very core of a human being?

But, you see, sexuality is not our core.  It is not our identity.  It is not “who we are.”  And, until we Christians identify ourselves as God does, we will be hard-pressed to deal with issues such as sex education, homosexual rights, same-sex “marriage,” and adoption of children by gay couples.

Let what I’ve written here be the preface to Eric Metxas’ article published in Breakpoint (July 27, 2012).  The article is titled “A Price to Pay.”  There is a “price to pay” for taking a stand on our identity as God’s holy possessions — vessels for honorable use — called out of darkness into light .  Please read it as re-printed below.

Then, join with Eric, the late Chuck Colson, Biblical thinkers across the country, and me in helping to break the spiral of silence.

“A Price to Pay” by Eric Metaxas

If you’re even a semi-regular BreakPoint listener, you’ve no doubt heard Chuck Colson — and me — talk about “breaking the spiral of silence.”

We’ve warned about the dangers of remaining silent on critical issues even when our opinions are unpopular or counter-cultural — probably especially when they’re unpopular and counter-cultural.  Even when it appears that the argument is “settled,” that the public has “moved on,” and we’d better “get with the program.”

And we’ve pointed out that, sometimes, breaking the spiral of silence can come with a price.

Well, as you know by now, Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy told the Baptist Press recently that his family-owned company “operates on biblical principles” and therefore “supports the traditional family.”

He spoke out, and now he and Chick-fil-A are paying the price. Certain voices in the media and government are lashing out — and seeking, basically, to intimidate and bully Chick-fil-A, and anyone who shares their views, back into silence.

For example, an Alderman in Chicago is seeking to block Chick-fil-A from opening an already planned restaurant in the city. He has declared that Chick-fil-A’s position is “bigoted” and “homophobic” and that the company discriminates against homosexuals, which is just a crazy, baseless charge.

The mayor of Chicago, Rahm Immanuel, however, is backing the Alderman, and he told CBS Chicago, “Chick-fil-A’s values are not Chicago values . . . And if you’re going to be a part of the Chicago community, you should reflect Chicago values.”

Really? So, all you Chicago churches and mosques and synagogues that do not share the mayor’s interpretation of “Chicago values” had better pack up and leave town.

The bottom line is that if you dare say you believe that marriage is between a man and a woman only, you run the real risk of being called a “homophobe,” a “bigot,” and a “hatemonger.” If you own a business and take such a stand, you may be targeted.

But my question to you now — and to myself — is: So what?

Do we or do we not have the courage of our convictions to defend marriage, to defend free speech, to defend freedom of religion? Do our freedoms, does our faith, matter to us more than the opinion of some others? Will we allow our reputations and our profits to suffer before we will allow our freedoms to erode?

Chuck warned us long ago that a free society can remain free only so long as dissent is tolerated, only so long as opinions and ideas can be debated freely in the public square.

Which is why, as Chuck would have said, the proponents of so-called gay “marriage” and sexual “freedom” are sawing off the branch they’re sitting on. By doing all they can to deny those who disagree with them access to the public square, by their intimidation tactics, and by their — sad to say, intolerance — they are helping to make this country, this society less free. And that hurts everybody.

Folks, we have no choice but to speak out. Not to lash out, but to speak out, winsomely but firmly. We must break the spiral of silence.

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