One of the most profound problems of American society in general, and of American evangelical Protestant-dom in particular, is that we are all so driven by activity and busyness that we let it define us, to the extent that we are identified by what we do rather than by who we are. In that regard, we can be said to be “human doings” instead of “human beings”, and this is not a good thing.
Another side of the coin is that some people are so passive that they just sit around and do nothing, live nothing, and experience nothing in life. They just let it all pass by while living vicariously in the experiences of others who are more actively engaged in the world, in community with other people, in doing the things that make up a life well-lived. These people can be said to be “human beings” instead of “human doings”, and this is not a good thing either.
That’s right folks; it is springtime here in the ATL.
The Bradford pears have been gorgeous here for the last couple of weeks. When they bloom, that usually means that spring is here in earnest. The cherry trees are just starting to bloom, and the azaleas and dogwoods which mark the climax of spring here are not far behind.
Here is some of the best of what we have been experiencing over the last few weeks, just to make those of you who are not from here jealous.
Continue reading “It’s Here”
We have now reached the end of the apologetic portion of Mere Christianity, consisting of Lewis’ argument for the existence of God and for Jesus Christ being who he said he was. But before we go any further, I want to digress and offer you an explanation of my problem with apologetics.
You see, I have this problem with apologetics.
Not with apologetics as such. I believe that it is vitally important to know what you believe and why you believe it, and to be able to give a reasonable answer to people who ask you why you believe what you believe. I believe that people like Lewis, McDowell, Strobel, and others do us a valuable service in equipping us to be able to know what we believe and why we believe it. I would heartily recommend the resources offered by these people as essential to the growth of anyone who wishes to know what we believe and why we believe it. Continue reading “My Problem with Apologetics”
Today I would like to offer you a little something that I found over at Jared Wilson’s blog.
Last year Eugene Peterson, who is best known for his translation of The Message, did an interview with Christianity Today editor Mark Galli, in which he talked about how Christianity interfaces with culture. When it first came out it got a lot of attention in the blogosphere, but since then Christianity Today has moved it to a place where only paid subscribers can access it. Not to fear though, Jared Wilson has found it and posted it in its entirety over at his site.
I strongly recommend that you go over there and read it. It will challenge you in a lot of the ideas you hold about spirituality.
Read Spirituality for All the Wrong Reasons
It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these. And I think it’s appropriate that this is coming out on Good Friday.
Last time we left off where Lewis had just introduced the idea which we all know and love as the Trilemma: Jesus Christ was either Lord, a liar, or a lunatic. He didn’t use those words exactly; others such as Josh McDowell have developed it into the form we all recognize nowadays. The argument goes like this: Anyone saying the things Jesus said about himself would have to be crazy–on the same level as the man who claims to be a poached egg–or else a deceiver from the pit of hell. If we are unwilling to accept that Jesus is exactly who he said he was, then these are the only options left to us.
And I gave the caution that anyone using this argument nowadays must take into account an additional option: legend. The Discovery Channel, the Jesus Seminar, DVC, and other things have all given rise to the view–just within the last couple of decades–that Jesus never really claimed to be the Son of God, but instead had those words falsely attributed to him by church leaders who tampered with the original Gospels so that they would fit their own personal and political prejudices, and suppressed other gospels which were more truthful but which did not fit those prejudices.
So at any rate, we have Jesus who is God in the flesh, come down to earth. But what did he come to do? To teach? Well, he certainly did a lot of that. To work miracles? He did a lot of that as well. But if you look at any of the accounts written about Jesus, you will soon find that they speak of another purpose altogether–to die. Continue reading “Mere Christianity 7: The Perfect Penitent”
Today I would like to offer you this piece that I found over at The Resurgence, Mark Driscoll’s blog site. It is actually not by Mark Driscoll, it is by J. D. Greear. (I don’t know the name, but some of you out there may be familiar with it.)
This article looks at all of the reasons why evangelicals choose to get involved (or to not get involved) in community service. I would recommend that you read it, and perhaps examine your own thinking on this issue.
Read: Should Evangelical Churches Be Involved in Community Ministry and if so, WHY?
My aversion to “wretched urgency”–that impulse within evangelicalism that the only thing that matters is telling as many people as possible about Jesus in order to get them saved–is well documented here on this blog.
One consequence of our fetish with “getting people saved” is the notion that until someone has made the decision to accept Christ, they are going to hell, no matter what, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. We are not guaranteed a single moment of the future, so the only thing that matters is that you make the decision to receive Christ NOW!!! Because we believe the only thing that matters is getting people across the line of faith in Christ, some of our evangelistic efforts can become quite pushy or confrontational.
And in some instances, quite bizarre. I remember going to a church several years ago where the pastor said that because he was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading he would sometimes mix things up and have the invitation midway through the service rather than at the end, as is usually done. As if a few minutes could make the difference between whether a certain person (or people) receive Christ and go to heaven, or not receive Christ and end up in hell.
The decision to receive Christ is the most momentous decision that a person can possibly make. For this reason, I think it is foolish to expect people to make this decision instantaneously the moment we hit them with our preaching or evangelistic spiel. The quality of converts that we get as a result of such hasty decisions is generally not very good, and most of these impulse converts are likely to reject the faith just as impulsively as they received it when they encounter their first hint of real adversity.
One of the things which I appreciate about my church is that it is intentionally set up to allow people who have not yet received Christ the space to consider, ask questions, and move at their own pace toward making a decision. Explicitly evangelistic appeals are few and far between, and they are delivered with class and respect for all who are hearing the message, wherever they may be spiritually. There is no attempt to pressure people into making decisions to receive Christ. Also there are environments which are specifically set up so that people who are seeking but have questions or doubts can ask their questions and express their doubts in a nonthreatening place. All in all, I believe that this results in a much better quality of believer for the ones who do decide to follow Christ.
Today I would like to offer you a post from Josh S. over at the Metalutheran blog about his views on doctrine.
Doctrine is important, morality is important, but it is not the fundamental stuff behind the Bible. In other words, if you read this or that text of the Bible and your primary purpose for reading is to see what doctrine the text supports or what moral principles it illustrates, then you are not reading it correctly.
I believe he’s got it right on this one. So many of us approach the Bible from the standpoint of what doctrine does this or that bit of Scripture support, or what moral or life principle does it illustrate. Yet the Bible was not given to us to give us doctrine, or moral principles, or life principles. It was given to us to give us an announcement of the new order of things that is coming now that Christ has come into the world.
You all need to go over to Alastair at Adversaria’s blog and check out this post on preaching. Alastair makes the case that the evangelical emphasis on preaching as the central event of the service has affected the church in many ways that are not good. Church is no longer a place where we engage in community with our fellow believers before Christ, it is now a place where we go to hear fine biblical preaching and learn from it. We no longer hear the word of God, instead we hear the words of men teaching and explaining the word of God to us.
Read it, people. Prepare to be challenged, and to wonder if maybe we’re doing it all wrong.
I just found out what “Fight Club” is really all about.
It’s a movie based on a book by Chuck Palahniuk about a thirtysomething man who is disenchanted with his life as a pawn of corporate America. So he forms an underground fight club where other disenchanted young men take out their aggression through boxing matches and harmless pranks. It grows, with other fight clubs springing up in cities all over the country, and the whole thing spirals out of control as the pranks grow more and more destructive. The movie came out in 1999 and did terribly at the box office, though it was nominated for several awards. It was released on DVD and since then has grown into an underground cult classic.
This seems to me to be an intriguing idea for what I’ve been trying to do with this series, namely to take down the most deep-seated and essential ills of evangelicalism through excruciatingly potent diatribes. (Although I must confess that I am a bit intrigued by the idea of starting fight clubs to vent frustration with evangelicalism.)