Don’t Be Afraid – Russell Moore
It is a sad day … no, not about health care. It is sad to see so many, I would even venture to say a majority of fellow believers (many possibly assumed believers of the verbally violent conservative bent) controlled more by their affections and longings for a temporal, earthly kingdom that will pass away, yes, even America with all of its greatness, instead of the eternal kingdom ruled by Jesus with His might and power that will never pass away. It is sad to see fellow believers more mournful for the loss they feel of their “rights” or privileges that are gifts of grace to begin with, than upset about the tragedy of sin in their own hearts or the tragedy that a great majority of people around us will go to hell under God’s just punishment (think Jesus looking over Jerusalem and weeping). It is sad to see believers more willing to voice their outrage, anger and fear over legislation that will come and go (all the while ignoring His sovereign authority over that legislation to begin with) than voice their commitment to the Gospel and commitment to solid doctrine.
I am not without fault in these areas. I’ve learned the hard way in the not-so-distant past. This isn’t to say I didn’t struggle with these affections during this recent process even. This does not mean I don’t hold the same convictions I’ve always held. And it doesn’t mean I withhold commentary on points of conviction or withhold my involvement in the political process. If anything, we need more and improved discourse concerning all these issues and more to come. It is unfortunate public discourse has devolved into “tweet” snippets of useless rhetoric that does little to address actual issues.
This is an excerpt from J. Gresham Machen, in his excellent concise work Christianity and Liberalism, chapter 2, first published in 1923. It is amazing how words from the past apply in the same manner to today’s evangelical movement. If the practice of our faith consists merely in our feelings, emotions and experience without knowing any spiritual knowledge or substance of our faith, it becomes non-moral, as Machen argues.
DISCLAIMER: this is not speaking of modern political liberalism, but rather modernist theological liberalism. However, it aptly applies to our day’s evangelical movement.
[Liberalism] is opposed to Christianity, in the first place, in its conception of God. But at this point we are met with a particularly insistent form of that objection to doctrinal matters which has already been considered. It is unnecessary, we are told, to have a”conception” of God; theology, or the knowledge of God, it is said, is the death of religion; we should not seek to know God, but should merely feel His presence.
A new study by The American Religious Identification Survey (PDF) is reporting an even greater decline of Christianity in the US and a marked increase of those with no religious preference at all. This is so saddening and should cause all believers every where in this country to stop and pray for their salvation and consider the cost of following Christ. A time seems to be fast approaching when there will be an uptick in persecution in various ways. If it’s not outright violence, then it will certainly be social exclusion, legal slaps, financial distress, or good old fashioned slandering.
The trend we are seeing, however, should not be that big of an alarm, as it has been going on for a while and has exploded over the past several years. Other studies have come up with virtually the same findings. It will likely continue to head in its current direction based on the methods and teachings of much of evangelicalism now (which are very quickly resembling the principles of 19th and 20th century liberals in trying to win modernists; now evangelicals are trying to win postmodernists with the same techniques).
Some people are just now catching wind of these rather daunting statistics and trying to find solutions. The author in the quote below, Bruce Feiler, seems to be one such person. What I wanted to hone in on was this FOXNews commentators’ solution to the problem in his article entitled Where Have All the Christians Gone?:
America has a rich history rooted in the Christian faith, drawing many principles from Scripture. And while this is true, it does not lend us the conclusion that America was a “Christian nation,” even at our founding. Such an assumption is absurd and presents a misguided interpretation of history and a misunderstanding of the nature of how people are converted and saved. Many of the founding fathers were deists, an ideology which runs counter to the Biblical portrayal of an all-sovereign God, which necessarily affects our understanding of the Gospel.
The assumption that this was a Christian nation, displayed prominently within this Bible version, will hurt the cause of the Gospel in that it delivers the understanding to the unconverted that if you are an American and support the Constitution, you are a Christian and are “in” God’s favor. This is blatantly fallacious and patently unbiblical. American Religion is opposed to the Biblical Gospel. The Biblical Gospel critiques American Religion much in the same way Jesus critiqued the Pharisees.
American Patriot’s Bible: combining God’s infallible Word with the idolatry of American nationalism.
If there is anything that really gets my blood boiling, it is any piece of merchandise or any program or movement that holds up the idea that being an American equals being a converted, born-again Christian, something plaguing many of our churches to this day. And this Bible version (particularly as it pertains to the commentary contained within) is no exception, but in fact, is the ultimate example of exactly what I am talking about.
Don’t get me wrong here on this point: I love this country. In addition, this in no way negates my support for our troops or my desire to see this country continue in its current (hopefully improved) state. If you have read any of my political entries, you will know this is the case. This is merely about God’s Word being used as a platform for another agenda.
There are so many reviews that have done a fine job of explaining the pros and cons of this book that I don’t feel I need to go into this for very long.
First, I’ll just say that after reading it, the picture of God’s sovereignty and reasons for ordaining that suffering be are attractive, though in my view, insufficient (see the book of Job or Romans 8 or John Piper for a better explanation). Also, the concept that God the Trinity is eternally happy in Himself (see Jonathan Edwards’ works) is refreshing. The emotional tug of the book (which made me cry at points, it really is a heart breaking story) gives great weight to its attractiveness in a culture absorbed in emotional appeal and presuppositions. Those emotional aspect of the book really caught my attention and I thought Young did a good job of making Mack’s situation enrapturing. I was really able to put myself in his shoes. And it is overwhelming considering the weight of that pain.
(Original): The Gospel and the Gosselins
(Archived): The Gospel and the Gosselins
Reality shows honestly make me ill, kind of like Jerry Springer shows in the middle of the day when you are sick and nothing else is on so you just wind up turning the thing off. The concept is worn out, over-used, uncreative, trivial, trite, shallow, and mind-numbingly boring. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather not watch on television than reality shows, because they are anything but what they claim to be and cheapen the very concept of … well, reality. TV becoming “reality”? I don’t get it and fail to understand how an entire culture is okay with this stuff.
Huxley’s vision of the future, portrayed in Brave New World, is coming to pass and we’re okay with the mundane, the brainless, coming to love our servitude to nonsense and emotionalism. Instead of having an outside oppressor like a totalitarian regime control us by brute force, as portrayed by George Orwell in 1984, instead what we love is killing us and holding us captive (Amusing Ourselves to Death … read it, everyone). Coincidentally, that is exactly what sin does. I honestly believe these shows are all loosely scripted to give the portrayal of “reality” and lack any level of depth that would give them some form of lasting cultural value (you know, like a Shakespeare work or Homer’s Iliad). They are trivial and a giant waste of time to be involved in.
But that’s all just an opinion. On the basis of someone else’s taste preferences, the same could probably also be said of shows that I like such as 24, The Office and FoxNews. My taste preferences are not the same as others. TV in itself is a waste of time (in general) … and I honestly like some of it. Guilty as charged.
Regardless of what I think concerning reality shows, many people like them, and can’t wait for the next episode to come around. Okay, fine and good, I don’t take issue with that. However, the “reality” show Jon and Kate Plus 8 on TLC has brought to light something evangelicals really don’t want to talk about (which the fact we don’t want to talk about it is a whole other issue in itself): our acceptance and absorption of the cultures’ worldly, materialistic, narcissistic, self-absorbed values; the slow (or fast, depending on the timeline we’re talking about) slide toward the secularization of the evangelical church in America.
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Today Show Reports Yet Another Gem – Spanking Makes Your Kid Dumb
By David Westerfield
On September 25, 2009
In Christian Culture, Commentary, Culture, Theology, worldview
Religiously convicted parents’ disciplining techniques make their kids dumber than more “enlightened,” secular parenting techniques, according to “new” analysis; that is, parenting techniques are better for your childs’ intelligence coming from a worldview and presupposition that denies the inherent wickedness of a persons’ heart, or rather, just denies the very existence of sin in general.
Okay this research didn’t say that out-right, but using deductive reasoning, one can easily fill in the blanks about where they are coming from in their broader worldview assumptions that always seems to “inform” the scientific method they employ.
Please give me another heaping dose of misinformation, NBC.
So should I go with this researchers’ “finely tuned,” humanistic, enlightened analysis of parenting? (Emphases and bracketed insertions mine)
Or should I go with the Word of God, despite the unpopularity or difficulty of doing so?