Wednesday, July 26, 2006
This is the question that I was asked recently after a friend of mine read the "mission statement" of this blog.
"Why should we care so much about what the 'Postmodern' world/culture thinks about God, Jesus or whatever...that's a matter of personal belief and preference."
The truth is that postmodernism/postmodern thought can be a hard thing to define at times. Much of this (I believe) is due to the fact that it is an extremely convoluted worldview by nature; at least, in the "popular" sense, that is.
This is a question that plagues many. Others really don't care. But for the Christian, it is important to realize what cultural contextuality and faith have to do with one another; what impact one should have or not have on the other--where they should meet and where they should divide. After all, a quick survey of scripture will show that Jesus and the apostles were always engaging the culture of their day with the gospel. Shouldn't we be following that example? Shouldn't we be aware of the advantages and disadvantages that said context may have?
Since I'm still making sense of it all my self, I've decided to leave the definitions to the professionals (although they would probably hate the term). David F. Wells, professor/author of the book, Above All Earthly Pow'rs: Christ in a Postmodern World and John Piper, pastor/author of Desiring God, do an excellent job of defining postmodern thought (Wells) and explaining the nature of its effect--specifically on the Church (Piper).
These are interview clips for their upcoming conference. As always, enjoy:
David F. Wells - Postmodernism Defined
John Piper - The Nature of Postmodernism
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper he amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and pow'r are great,
And armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
That word above all earthly pow'rs,
No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours
Thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
This mortal life also.
The body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still:
His kingdom is forever
-Martin Luther, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God"
Soli Deo Gloria,
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
"I know that you need to believe in Christ to go to heaven. But, what about the innocent native in Africa (or some other far off place) who's never heard the gospel; are you telling me that if he dies, he still goes to Hell?! I can't accept that--if God is love, then I can't believe that he would send someone to hell without ever giving them a chance to believe..."
However valid the question may appear to be, it is faulty on many different levels when held up to the light of Scripture. The clip below is of a preacher who shares his experience in the mission field and how he came to understand this by the grace of God. He does an excellent job of presenting the truth of God's Word up and against the humanistic "gospel" that is so prevelant in our day. It also has a warning against a grave error that can potentially be made by all who share the gospel: Putting too much emphasis on what we do and not what God does through us. We must always remember that we are merely runners--never to attempt to improve on God's justice but to reflect His glory.
The preacher in this clip is not named, but his words are true. If anyone recognizes his voice, please let me know. Enjoy:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. - Romans 1:18-20 ESV
as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.""The venom of asps is under their lips.""Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.""Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.""There is no fear of God before their eyes." - Romans 3:10-18 ESV
What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means! For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory-- Romans 9:14-23 ESV
And he said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father." - John 6:65 ESV
Soli Deo Gloria,
Monday, July 24, 2006
If you've ever wondered what the truth of the Gospel looks like in the face of staunch criticism, wonder no longer- Here's a great clip from Larry King Live with John McArthur (Pastor/Author, Grace Community Church in California) contending for the Gospel up and against a panel of opposition. As you watch this, you may be struck with the same sadness as I was when you realize that the dumbing down and domestication of Christ and the Gospel is not just being done by "other" religions, but as you can see (by way of the two most vocal opponents to McArthur's stance) it is coming from within the Christian community (Prostestant and Catholic) as well.
My prayer is that what you see and hear from John McArthur speak to you and give you courage to stand in the face of adversity and proclaim the Gospel in boldness.
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:8-9 ESV
knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. - 2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. - Acts 4:11-12 ESV
"Unless I am convicted by scripture and plain reason--I do not accept the authority of popes and councils for they have contradicted each other--my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. HERE I STAND, I cannot do otherwise, God help me. Amen." - Martin Luther
Soli Deo Gloria,
Friday, July 14, 2006
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to meet? - Amos 3:3 (ESV)
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
I've been a real slacker about blogging over the past couple of months (hey, what can I say- I'm on summer vacation). But I have been doing a lot of reading, so I have many things churning through my head that I'm sure will manifest themselves into the blogosphere sometime in the near future. This should make the 10's of my blog fans very happy...
One of the books that I recently finished was Jesus Mean and Wild by Mark Galli. I loved this book!! This is something that all Christians can benefit from reading. Galli takes readers back to the scripture (particularly the Gospel of Mark) to show that the Jesus of the Bible differs greatly from many of the images of him that are held so dear in the 21st Century Evangelical Church.
Seeing as how I'm still on vacation, a formal "book review" would be inappropriate. I'll just let Mr. Galli speak for himself. This is a snippet of the wealth of knowledge that comes from the pages:
There comes a time in the life of faith when Jesus must die. For many people, the Christ who dies is an analgam of their fantasies and our culture's fancies. In our time, that often means this Jesus: The nicest person we could ever imagine. He is a kindergarten teacher of a humanity that is as vulnerable as a group of five-year-olds. So, of course, he does not raise his voice. He affirms and re-affirms our fragile self-esteem. We may paint an awful picture with the sinfulness of our lives, but we needn't worry. Remember? Jesus refused to lift a rock of judgement against the woman caught in adultery. So, like the nonjudgemental teacher, he simply asks, "So, tell me about this painting, this life of yours," and without pressure lets us figure out on our own how we might improve.
This Jesus puzzles us, of course. He seems so nice; we can't imagine why he doesn't answer all our prayers or why he allows evil to run free. Consequently, we have our doubts like everyone else in this age, wondering how a congenial Lord can be, well, so inattentive. Maybe he's really not in charge after all. Then suddenly our faith is bolstered by an inspirational best seller about the best life or the purpose-driven life or the border-expanding life, and we're ready to be patient with Jesus a little longer--as long as he keeps feeling good about ourselves and optimistic about tomorrow.
Hyperbole to be sure, but not all that unlike my imagination some days. This Jesus may be a comfort, but in the end he is a bore. He is the product of our culture's paltry imagination. He is a Jesus without substance, a mere shadow of the Jesus who roamed the hills of Gallilee...
The first step in finding the real Jesus is to recognize that he is not here, he is not in one's life as he should be. He is gone. It is to realize that we have been following a fake Jesus, a charlatan, an imposter. And that imposter is as good as dead. The real Jesus is long gone and waiting for us in Gallilee.
Death to the imposter; may we all come to know the real Jesus. I'd also like to send out a big thank you to my boys, Dustin and Mike-- for the good wine, tobacco and conversation that inspired me to get off my duff and actually post this. Here's to many more of our infamous "Balcony Sessions" to come. Cheers.
"Come what may..."
If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. -Mark 8:34-35 (ESV)
But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. -Mark 13:24-26 (ESV)
"And up to the very moment in which I was to become another man, the nearer the moment approached, the greater the horror did it strike in me." - St. Augustine of Hippo
"I want to know this Jesus, though he scares me a little." - John Ortberg (about the book, JM&W)
Soli Deo Gloria,