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Author Archive

[340] Bobby Bowden

Fortunately, much was made of the life of the recently retired football coaching icon, Bobby Bowden. According to his son, Tommy, the openly Christian and ragingly successful (411 wins, 12 ACC titles, and 2 national championships) Bowden coached until he was 80, because “he wanted to coach as long as he could to advance the kingdom of God. 

And advance it, he did. Former Florida State and NFL quarterback Danny Kanell said, “You could not go through a week at FSU without hearing the gospel message.”

Bobby Bowden’s Christian legacy is among the most admirable. It is characterized by a public faith, a professional excellence that gave him enormous credibility, and a love for others. Well done, Bobby, you have been a good and faithful servant. DC

[339] Multiculturalism

There seems to be a growing interest in multicultural Christian institutions. In a pro-diversity society, churches and Christian colleges seek multiethnic populations. But being multiethnic is not the same as being multicultural. In a recent Barna study called Beyond Diversity, 29% of blacks claimed to have experienced racism in a diverse church. That is not a surprising finding, as there are always people who are slow to open their hearts and minds to people different from themselves.

More important is that 27% of blacks felt pressure to give up a part of their cultural identity, with 28% finding it difficult to build relationships, and 33% feeling there are barriers to moving into a leadership position. I suspect one would find very similar sentiments at Christian colleges.

The punchline to all this is that demographic diversity is not synonymous with being multicultural. Too often what looks like multiculturalism is a can’t-tell-the-book-by-its-cover situation. Institutions like these practice what sociologists call forced assimilation. Non-whites are welcome to the extent that they blend in with the majority white culture. It may be unintentional but it is real and subtly oppressive. One civil rights leader–when innocently asked about cooperation–said that too often cooperation meant blacks doing the co-ing and whites doing the operating. Demographic diversity is often no more than skin deep and Christian institutions–colleges and churches–need to do better than that. DC

[339] Sociology of US Religiosity

George Barna and his Cultural Research Center has sounded the alarm bell with respect profound changes in the nation’s religious and cultural landscape. He notes a 30-year decline in Christianity and confidence in religion. “In its first 200 years, America could count on the consistency of its people’s faith commitments, and with that, common views about morality, purpose, family, lifestyle, citizenship, and values,” says Barna. “But as my recent worldview research clearly shows, the United States has become one of the largest and most important mission fields in the world.”

Here are some key shifts since 1991.

–86% of US adults held a biblical view of God; the number is 46% now

–Regarding the Bible as the “accurate word of God from 70% down to 41%

–Muslims have gone from 0.5% to 3%

–Percent of Nones among Hispanics has leaped from 3% to 31%  

–Eastern religion adherents are double what they were a decade ago

–36% self-identified Christians believe in the possibility of reincarnation

–Confidence in religion is now at 40%, down from 67% in the 1970s

Barna does not see a bright future. “Christian ministry as practiced [in America] for the last five decades will be ineffective in meeting these new challenges.” He believes churches need to focus on equipping parents and reaching children with “absolute moral truth,” reviewing current church services and practices, while generating “bold and creative leadership.”

DC

[338] Exvangelicals

In the taxonomy of religion and theology we now have a fresh term: exvangelical.  The term is new, but the it labels is not. Exvangelicals refer to to former evangelicals who may be almost anywhere on the theological spectrum. Some claim they still believe in Christ, others have chucked the faith entirely, and others, well, they are just not sure.

In almost every instance those carrying the label exvangelical claim to have “deconstructed” their faith, another new term for an old practice. Apparently, this involves dissecting one’s religious beliefs and questioning and re-examining them. I realize there are spiritual imponderables as we see through the glass darkly (1 Cor. 13:12), but that is not what I think is going here, because almost invariably this re-examination results in less faith.

I suspect these people, many being “professional Christians” (often Christian entertainers), have long ago become lax in pumping spiritual iron–practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and scripture reading–only to find themselves entertaining doubts and alternative belief systems.

Truth is not a static commodity. It will slip away amid false teaching if believers do not commit themselves to staying strong in the Lord. There are forces and counterforces in the spiritual world, and in an increasingly cunning, secular culture the forces of unbelief are particularly powerful. Paul urges believers to put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18) so they can thwart “the devil’s schemes,” one of which is deconstruction. DC

[338] Burn, Baby, Burn

Harsha Walla, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has advocated torching churches in response to uncovering unmarked graves on the properties of former church-run boarding schools for Indigenous children

“Burn it all down,” she tweeted in response to the report of two more Catholic church burnings.

While some Canadians have condemned the torchings, others view it as “understandable.”

Persecution is breaking out. The implicit hatred of the gospel is becoming explicit. DC

[337] Religious Illiteracy

A blog by Ken Chitwood on “Men’s Network” website discussed a recent Pew Research report addressing Religious Knowledge. It used a 32-item quiz with questions ranging from the Hindu Pantheon to who started the Protestant Reformation. The findings were startling.  

We are a religious and religiously diverse nation, but even professing Christians have a woeful lack of religious knowledge. Worse, non-believers are more religiously literate than believers. Religious literacy, particularly among Christians is important. It helps people know what they believe, how to reach those of different faiths, and most likely will create more tolerance and peace in a crazed world. DC

[337] Secular Freedom II

I used this space recently to discuss the concept of secular freedom. That the result of total, unfettered, freedom for fallen humans, is the loss of freedom.

Freedom was almost lost a few months back for Oral Roberts, Loyola, and Liberty University. During the NCAA basketball tournament, USA Today columnist, Hemal Jhaveri called for the expulsion of ORU from the tournament field because of its stand on homosexuality–one shared by Liberty and Loyola’s Catholic Church. Jhaveri rooted his argument for ORU’s removal in the notion that its biblical values were not only “a relic is the past, but wholly incompatible” with the NCAA’s emphasis on equal treatment.  Though Jhaveri conceded that Christian universities have a right to impose whatever restrictions they regard as appropriate, such standards of behavior violate “the basic values of human decency.”

Don’t miss the point here. This is not about homosexuality. Indeed, there is much debate among Christians on that. It about penalizing an institution for beliefs the secular Jhaveri does not share. Jhaveri’s rant would be troubling enough were it just that, a rant. But it wasn’t. It was a call for expulsion, a call to remove the freedom of a Christian college’s right to compete in a basketball tournament. It was secular freedom in action. DC

[336] Secular Freedom

The forces of secularism have been pushing hard to establish their own concept of freedom. Secular freedom is characterized by being liberated from traditional norms of thinking and behavior. It advocates escaping from the constraints of the nuclear family, community, and God in pursuit total individualism. Freedom actually becomes rootlessness. And rootlessness leads to lawlessness and social chaos. And ultimately, tyranny.

Expressions of secular freedom were played out before our very eyes throughout 2020, as parts of urban America became ungovernable, universities became havens for revolutionism, and public civility evaporated. Social groups shouted down those with whom they disagreed. Cities erupted in riots, and any respect for the past crashed as loudly as statues regarded as objectionable.

What you saw was secular freedom–a removal of all restraints in quest of total, individual liberation.

Christians will say that all this is not freedom.

And they will be wrong.  It is freedom.

The question is whether total freedom is good for anyone.  It would be if we were not fallen and fallible organisms. You see as long as our natures are sinful. we cannot handle total freedom. Instead of leading to fulfillment, total freedom leads us sinners to chaos, violence, and oppression–ironically things that ultimately remove the very freedoms their practitioners have been seeking. Ironically, when the forces of secularism are unleashed, might makes right, only the strong survive, and the casualty is freedom. DC

[336] Blacks’ Spiritual Practice

Christiannewsnow.com recently reported a study from Pew Research on race and spiritual practice. Here are a few findings.

Blacks attend church more often than Americans overall.

Blacks pray more frequently.

Of blacks, 66% are Protestant, 6% Catholic, 3% other, and 21% unaffiliated.

Blacks favor racially diverse churches.

Among blacks, there is a concern about not being “as bold and courageous as we used to be,” with respect to social evils.

So what can we conclude from all this? Black people are a spiritual population. The worship and pray more than the average American. They are particularly holistic in their faith. It is not just a vertical (relationship with God) phenomenon. It is horizontal as well, with a call to be prophetic to the society of which it is a part. DC

[335] Teach It

We need more evangelism. In the church, in the university, and yes, in the Christian college.

Everywhere.

James Emery White, from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, reported in curchandculture.org that church membership has–for the first time in 80 years–dropped below 50% in the US. In 2020 just 47% in the US said they belonged to a house of worship, whether it be a church, synagogue, or mosque. 

That is a 23% drop in two years.

But simply telling Christians that they need to evangelize more is not very helpful.  It may generate some guilt but I question whether it stimulates more missionary activity. Why?  I submit that one of the reasons is that many don’t know how to communicate the gospel to others in the everyday flow of life.

It is harrowing enough knowing that so many feel faith is personal, not anyone else’s business. With that shadow hovering over potential interaction, many well-meaning believers wonder how they can bring a casual conversation around to the person of Christ.

We need to teach people how.

I would lay some heavy odds that were you to ask ten believers how they would witness to their unbelieving friends, at least seven would be less than helpful. Look, there are ways to bring others to talk about things in which we have an interest–whether it be football, cooking, movies, art, or current news.  We do it all the time. Salespeople are regularly taught the skill of moving the discussion needle from the weather to life insurance. I am not saying we have to sell the gospel. The Holy Spirit will close that deal. I do say we need to develop the skill of engaging others in a comfortable conversation about the faith.  Who will teach us that? DC