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Archive for the ‘F & L Insights’ Category

[344] Ego and Sin

Ego=Easing God Out.

Sin=Self-Indulgence Now. DC

[343] KRT

Tony Evans is concerned about the debate over Critical Race Theory (CRT) and its implications. Though he accepts the validity of much of CRT thinking, Evans is concerned with the subject of race becoming an idol amid constant race-centric dialogue.

Evans proposes an intriguing alternative: Kingdom Race Theory (KRT). His formulation, based on Ephesians 2:11-22, is about “the reconciled recognition, affirmation, and celebration of the divinely created…ethnic differences through which God displays his multifaceted glory, as his people justly, righteously, and responsibly function personally and corporately, in unity under the lordship of Jesus Christ.”

He cites the ruckus in Ephesus over Jew and Gentile differences and how Paul made clear they were now Christians and “going to the same church. So it’s time for new rules.” In short, Paul was pushing them away from being ethnic-centric to being “Christo-centric.”

For Evans, “If you’re spending more time discussing CRT than you are KRT, then you’ve been tricked by the world. Now in Christ there are new rules,” and by following them “we will create something new.” DC

[342] Counterfeit Christians

Frank Powell, on Churchleaders.com wrote an article provocatively entitled, “7 Signs You are a Counterfeit Christian.” I want to use this space to offer a derivative to two of them. Powell’s second sign was “A counterfeit Christian believes the Bible is more important than Jesus.” This is somewhat arguable because we meet Jesus through scripture.

I grew up in an intensely doctrinal environment, one that made assent to the central doctrines more important than a commitment of the heart to Christ; people who knew and spouted all the right things but were deficient in the fruits of the Spirit.  This making theology more important than Jesus is counterfeit Christianity. Sound theology points the way to Jesus, not the other way around.

Here is a related one. “A counterfeit Christian thinks Christian maturity is more about how much people know than what they do.” This is the problem with so many Bible Studies. They degenerate into a sharing of content, opinion, and experience rather than a basis for living out discipleship.

The purpose of knowledge is action. Nowhere is that more important than in the Christian faith. DC

[341] Knowledge is Not Power

We often hear people say, “Knowledge is power.”

Don’t be fooled.

The statement is only true in the earthly, factual sense. Otherwise it is a bold lie. Think about it. The world is filled with intellectual fools, people with a vast command of facts, but without a life direction, because they have said in their heart, there is no God (Ps. 14:1). Secular academe has a near corner on this proud yet foolish, deluded demographic.

Wisdom–not knowledge–has power, and that wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord (Pr. 9:10). We get that wisdom by walking in the light of truth (Ps. 36:9) Knowledge without the light of truth is darkness, because it denies the creator of all knowledge. Knowledge gained in the light of God’s revelation is sure and has eternal power. DC

[340] Who Am I?

I was walking on Irving Park in urban Chicago, approaching a bus stop that would help take me downtown for an appointment.  As I approached the stop, to my right I saw a relatively young man stretched out on the pavement, lying next to the front door of a business. He was obviously drunk. Next to him were evidences of alcoholism, including a partially consumed bottle of hard liquor. 

Looking at his unhealthy face, it was clear that the man was in trouble, Intervention was needed.

But I didn’t intervene. Neither did any of the others waiting for the bus.

Perhaps they, like me, had appointments for which they did not wish to be late. Perhaps they did not want the inconvenience of “getting involved.”  Perhaps they had simply become hardened to the plight of society’s victims in a city awash with scenes like these.  I don’t know, but the whole thing bothered me.

Wasn’t this all-too-common urban scene a modern-day replication of the situation the Good Samaritan encountered?  And if so, who was I?  The priest?  The Levite?

What I was not, was the Good Samaritan. 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

[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

[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

[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