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Archive for the ‘F & L Insights’ Category

[213] Education

Education is not good.  It is not bad.  It is just education.  It is simply the objective process of transmitting knowledge and developing the capacity to think critically.

Education becomes good when it stimulates a Christian worldview.  It is also good when it is transmits knowledge to Christian learners, and teaches them to think critically.  No other education is inherently good.

My father use to say, to educate a Christian person is to create a potentially powerful disciple.  To educate an evil person is to create a devil. DC

[212] Intolerance

Religious persecution is like never before. It is a major issue around the world. It also exists here. In the US it hasn’t taken the form of lopping off heads, or imprisoning parishioners, but it is going on, and figures to get worse. Here is why. The gospel of Jesus Christ has the temerity to claim that it is the Truth. No elbow room. No place for customized, individual versions of faith—the predominant nature of religiosity in an age ideologically ruled by postmodernism.

No. For Christians, the gospel is as true as water being two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.

Hence, those who proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ are open to the ugly charge of being intolerant—unwilling to accept theological hybrids and substitutions. If that is the definition of intolerance, then indeed those who advance the gospel are intolerant; as intolerant as their God who says there should be no other gods before him.

As you can then see, postmodernism—with all its claims to freedom of thought, belief, and expression—is the primary enemy of the Christian faith. It marginalizes the Truth of the gospel by rendering it optional, one choice among many equivalently valid belief options, something many people choose to believe for whatever reason. It is not the only way to have a relationship with sovereign God. To claim Truth is to be intolerant. That is a violation of the only real doctrine of postmodernism.   DC

[211] Irked in Prayer

I take prayer seriously.  I spend a lot of time praying each day.  Prayer takes energy—focus and concentration.  Yet, it doesn’t seem that many churches take prayer seriously at all.  First, there isn’t really much of it.  A few minutes here and there, seemingly serving as boundaries for the various activities of worship service.  Where this not taking prayer seriously really stands out is during the offering and at the conclusion of the sermon.  Here, while the pastor is praying, any number of people may be marching down the aisle to the front of church or moving to their designated platform spots setting up the final song.  All of this while the pastor is speaking directly to Sovereign God.  Clearly the prayer is just for us parked in the pews; not at all for those involved in the conduct of the service.

None of this walking and setting up would ever be permitted while the pastor is preaching.  If you were scurrying around some grim-faced usher would pull you over to the side of the ecclesiastical road.

But it’s just fine during prayer.  Maybe they think we won’t notice with our eyes closed.

Maybe they really don’t take this means of grace seriously enough.  DC

[210] Diversity

“We have a diverse campus church. You will really like it.” You will hear that more and more these days—particularly at college churches–and hence, it begs the question: Just what is a diverse church? First, I notice most of the diversity proclaimers are white. So what do I black or Hispanic people say? With issues of race and diversity one of my specialties, I can answer that.

First, diversity is not about how many different groups are visible in the sanctuary for a worship service. It is about the substance of the worship experience. More specifically, how evident are the various cultures in the actual service? Are there any soulful solos sung? Negro spirituals sung by the choir? Gospel songs performed with a Latin beat? The answer is few at best, and usually none.

Most churches offer a culturally snow white worship service, conducted by people of various colors leading a mixed congregation in worship.

Legendary urban pastor, Bill Leslie, used to say that everyone needs to hear their own sound in the worship—whether that is in music, preaching style, or other venue. Not every Sunday. Not ever service. But regularly. That is what makes a church diverse. DC

 

[209] Secular Privilege

Mary Poplin teaches at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. She was interviewed for Christianity Today by Andrea Palpant Dilley. The link for this interview is http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/september/lets-save-university-from-secular-privilege.html?share=pHjigdVEUe8xbGWiBaFAwEykQok7NvnX.

Poplin, who has experience in secular research universities, isolated five characteristics of the secular university system that severely undercuts its effectiveness.

First, while the university sees itself as a free and open marketplace for ideas, is free and open only to those ideas that come from a secular worldview.

Second, it claims to value pluralism, a co-existence of many ideologies and mindsets. It is not.

Third, its secular worldview does not prepare its graduates to enter a world that is filled with religious belief of varying sorts, with Christianity the dominant one. Their graduates’ distorted view renders many ineffective.

Fourth, it establishes “speech codes,” a political correctness in which one can say some things but not others.

Fifth, in its feeble attempt to mollify religious groups, the university has taken an “interfaith” approach, one that enables students of varying religious traditions to engage in “so-good: activities. This is totally ineffective as it fails to account for the distinct nature of religious frameworks—the basis of their identities. DC

[208] Millennials

Bruce Wydick, professor of economics at the University of San Francisco, made a salient point published by Christianity Today (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/september-web-only/elishas-prophetic-message-for-millennials-stop-leaving-your.html?share=pHjigdVEUe/oDFhRmAFPL1VGzmyzBKo6&start=2). He notes that millennials are caught in a major dilemma. On one hand, they are looking for existential meaning, a non-material justification for life. On the other, they flee commitment.

These forces are at war with each other. To find meaning—to live a life of meaning—requires commitment.

Yet commitment is difficult in an age of jaded thinking and among a generation characterized by skepticism. He points out that millennials are characterized by wanting to keep their options open. Wydick notes that among millennials, only 26% are married, 29% are religiously unaffiliated, and half are politically independent.

Wydick sees millennials as approaching life with an eye toward cutting ties and opting out when a decision does not yield “value,” He states that this thinking is pervasive among university students “in decisions related to graduate school, careers, marriage, and even spiritual commitments. …It’s all about keeping the options open.”

This is not an effective life strategy.

Wydick says he does not know a single student “who has been successful in college by keeping all of their academic options in play. There is no older adult I’m acquainted with that has had a successful career while perpetually keeping their career options open. I am unaware of any married couple with a happy marriage without narrowing their relationship options.”

Commitment brings meaning. Wydick recalls sociology professor Tony Campolo stating that “continually searching inwardly for meaning is like peeling away the skins of an onion. We keep peeling and peeling, ultimately finding that there is not a whole lot there except that little pale bulb inside the onion—not the most impressive part of this vegetable…We are defined by our commitments.”

For the faith-and-learning community, scholarship begins with humility, and that humility generates a commitment to the leading of the spirit of God. Faith and learning, then, is a humble enterprise. It trusts that the spirit of truth will lead us into all truth (John 16:13)—a truth that brings meaning and purpose.

[207] Eyes

By most current standards, Michael Douglas has been an amazing success. He has excelled in a variety of aspects in both television and film, particularly acting. He has been able to all but select his roles, rather than settle for a script tossed on his coffee table. He has uncountable wealth and a stunning wife, Catherine, Zeta-Jones, a first-rate actress in her own part.

Michael Douglas is the gold standard for success.

That is, if you look at him through secular eyes.

But what if you don’t? What if you don on some spiritual lenses. Is he still successful?

First, there is no evidence that he is a believer. He has a father who lived a dissolute moral life, one after which young Douglas patterned much of his behavior, conduct that destroyed relationships. He has gone through a savage divorce with an ex-wife, Diandra, whose actions suggest she despises him. That marriage produced a child who descended into the chasm of drug dealing and drug abuse, spending six years in prison. Douglas took responsibility for his son’s plight, calling himself “a bad father,” while stating that as devastating as life in the slammer can be, prison may have saved his son’s life. His current wife, with whom he has had one separation, suffers from bouts of depression.

So just how successful is Michael Douglas?

This blog is not really about Douglas. He is nothing more or less than a sinner like you and I, and one for whom I regularly pray. This is about us. For those of us see Douglas as a success, who celebrate and revere him, a question awaits: With what eyes are we going through life?

Spiritual eyes lead us to a life of purpose and direction as Christ’s disciples–success in this life and the next. Secular eyes make us no different from Douglas and those like him, eyes that may lead us to professional achievement and considerable wealth, but ones that yield a bitter harvest. DC

[206] Anger

Trump-loathing, road rage, stand-in-line arguments… People are angry today, seemingly like never before. Television news programs occasionally do features on public displays of anger.

Why so much?

Here are two reasons. From a social psychological standpoint, despite the pervasiveness of social media aimed at celebrating individuality, people are increasing aware of how little control they have of their lives. Terrorist attacks, sudden economic downturns, and the conglomerating of businesses and corporations are just a few examples of how easy it is to become a victim through no action of one’s own. When we run into a problem there is rarely a genuine decision-maker to whom we can turn for resolution. There is no local bank president who can straighten out that error. When we want to call a company about a problem, we either get a recorded message, or worse, discover the institution only accepts email.

We may have a social media presence, but not much in the face of the social forces with which we are confronted.

But there is a larger spiritual reason. We live in a faithless, secular culture. We are reinforced with the secular notion that life’s only meaning is what we give to it. There is no truth, and maybe more important, all we have for sure is now—our three scored and ten—and that 70-year span is running out a day at a time.

An angry culture is not an accident. Neither is an angry home, and I know of many of these—among professing Christians. The call to faith for all Christians—from parents to members of the academic community–to seek humility and grace has never been louder. DC

[205] Culture Audit

I think the church needs a cultural audit. I look at how married it is to middle class culture rather than a more sober view of scripture. Here is what I mean. Many evangelicals are not welcoming to homosexuality, abortion, or the removal of the death penalty. I am not taking issue with them on that. There is much to studied, discussed, and prayed over with respect to these matters. I take issue, however, with the church’s more permissive posture toward divorce, racism, gossip, and ignoring the poor.

In short, the church seems to pick and choose the sins on which they focus, being much more tolerant of the transgressions long-practiced within their own culture and tradition, than those outside their own demographic heritage.

That is a selective gospel. It is a “create your own” discipleship. It is a somewhat comfortable discipleship. It is not a call to genuine discipleship.

Please understand, I am not suggesting where exactly the church boundaries need be on these matters. I am suggesting that its posture on each should not be so easy to predict. DC

 

[204] Trivialization

It is important to realize that the goal of the secular-progressives is to drive God out of the culture. They do it stealthily, largely through the courts, perverting the separation of church and state doctrine as they attempt to erase any recognition of the divine from our major institutions—government, education, media, etc. When confronted with charges of atheism, their adherents quickly circle the wagons and argue that they are all for religious freedom, just none of “that God thing” in the public arena.

Here is the issue, my friends. To the extent that they are able to succeed in their repeal-but-not-replace God quest, they accomplish a much larger and demonic goal: They trivialize religion as a meaningless component of human life. Once religion is out of the Pledge of Allegiance and public school system, millions of children can matriculate through our educational system scarcely encountering even the thought of God.

It is that trivialization that generates much of the spiritual apathy in the culture. God is not bad. God is not good. He is functionally dead. With work to do, lunch to eat, and movies to watch, God is simply unimportant.

My biggest concern is that millions of Christians are unaware that this is going on. And the longer they remain asleep the more religious freedoms will erode. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News, in her speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention, stated that the rights of Christians are being undermined and persecution already exists from just these types of initiatives.

She knows. I know. You know. I presume some clergy know. Yet, I almost never hear a sermon about this. No alarm clock is ringing. And nothing will further the secular-progressive march than continued slumber. DC

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