Daily Archives: October 12, 2010
In my previous post, I took a peek at six of the twelve points that the Resurgence cites as ways to turn Christian writing into anti-Christian writing. Unfortunately, I’m guilty on some points. Let’s look at the final six.
Hell is real, but don’t let that concern you or your hearers and readers. It’s more important to have a good theology of evangelism than to actually tell others about Jesus, his cross, and his resurrection.
Actually, I think that it is more important to talk about the cross and the Resurrection than it is to mention hell. I don’t think that hell is really the best way to evangelize. It shouldn’t be avoided completely, but neither should it be over-stressed.
People just aren’t comfortable with a judging God. Most likely because people know, at the core, that they have sinned and are under condemnation. Instead of browbeating them with that, let’s focus on what God has done through Christ.
But we’d just be unkind if we didn’t talk about hell at all. People also need to understand the consequences of their choices.
Talk about technique a lot, because techniques are concrete. Miracles like regeneration, God turning haters into lovers, and the fruit of the Spirit are too abstract to be helpful.
Here we see Christianity capitulating to culture. Scientism seems to be creeping its way into the popular culture. People are believing the lie that they can only know what they can touch, taste, smell, or see.
Scientism is a philosophy, not a scientific conclusion. Since philosophies can’t be proven, only believed, scientism refutes itself. If you believe scientism, you’re already being inconsistent.
Everyone believes something on the basis of pragmatism alone, in the absence of empirical evidence. Everyone. Our minds are capable of knowing and understanding things in the abstract, without requiring evidence of their existence.
That means that speaking of love, hate, or the fruits of the Spirit are helpful. Speaking on technique is good, too, but sometimes it is necessary to speak of the abstract.
Guilt is a great motivator. Use it wisely.
I think we all know someone who falls into this category. I’ll move on.
In their sanctification, people should fake it till they make it. Tell them how.
Believing something on the basis of pragmatism is vital to constructing a coherent worldview. Obviously, you can’t see some of the abstractions that underlie your philosophies. If you hold to a theistic worldview, where the material plane is a battlefield for angels and demons influencing the minds and hearts of humans, you can’t see the immaterial beings nor can you see the deity, so pragmatism comes to the forefront in determining the rationality of your suppositions.
But pragmatism is not a good measure of the effectiveness of the gospel, nor is sanctification ever going to work if you fake it until you make it.
The New Testament consistently refers to the church as “the Bride of Christ.” In marriage, you are giving yourself wholly and completely to your spouse; that goes for husbands as well as wives. It is expected that you will put your bride first in all your considerations. Everything should change, and this is meant to be a permanent change.
So it should be in giving yourself to Christ. It should bring wholehearted change into your life. You won’t be the same person afterwords. The Bible declares the faithful a new creation. Just telling people to “fake it until you make it” doesn’t do justice to the gospel, and it trivializes Christ’s promises to make you whole.
Be condescending. Make sure your theology is un-gracious in content and tone.
Yeah, I know, this is my deepest sin in writing this blog. Anyone who wants to throw it in my face, go ahead. Search some past posts. I’m sure you can find plenty of examples of me being ungracious to commenters. But I’m going to really try to move past it, and give my apologetic answers with gentleness and reverence. No more sarcastic bite.
People really want Good Advice instead of Good News, so be a people-pleaser and only give lots of advice.
Yes, Joel Osteen, we are looking at you!
- Why Is Anyone Surprised That Icp Are Evangelical Christians? (metalsucks.net)
- Christ Centered (anointedplace.wordpress.com)
- Guest Article: Does Scientism Equal Faith: Combating Misconceptions (alexblog.com)
The folks over at the Resurgence have a great article on how to turn Christian writing into anti-Christian writing. They’ve itemized twelve errors, some of which I’ve fallen into. Let’s take a look at the first six.
Downplay the law of God and his grace. Tell people God is not that angry about cosmic treason, and grace isn’t that amazing.
It’s nice that they’ve started off with something that I, too, have railed against. It’s fairly common among skeptics (and far too many Christians!) to get really bent out shape when we mention God’s Law. Most of the resistance comes when we talk about punishment (hell is discussed later in this list). But the revulsion is inevitably there.
We can’t let that deter us.
It’s really important that our hearers understand both law and grace. The Law exists, and we ignore it at our peril. Both Paul and Peter charge us to act like we’re called by God to do great things! Simultaneously, we have to understand that the great things we’re called to do do not add anything to our salvation. We do them because they are the moral thing to do, and acting in accordance with our new, heavenly nature brings glory to God.
Don’t mention God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Assume that people already know enough about them.
I’ve probably fallen into this trap. I tend to mention “God” without actually defining that concept in a particularly trinitarian fashion. God isn’t a nebulous concept, but a personal being with whom we can have a real, dynamic, give-and-take relationship with. I should mention the relationship of the divine Persons more often so that readers get a better grasp on who’s who in the Trinity.
“The Little Engine That Could” should be the foundation of your theology.
Another one that I’ve railed against: you can’t possibly read the Bible and come away with the understanding that you can do it on your own, if you only think positively! The Bible wants us to depend more on God, and less on ourselves.
This is Word-Faith theology, or Name-It-and-Claim-It. If you believe enough in yourself, anything is possible! Makes a great self-help book, but it isn’t biblical Christianity by any stretch of the imagination.
Remember that God is passive, so you better be really active… or else.
Orthodoxy (right belief) is very important. Orthopraxy (right practice) is also very important. But a balance must exist. Only Jesus can save you.
If you think that God saves only those who remain faithful to the end of their days under their own power and who do their own good works, you have Pelagianism: salvation by works.
This is related to the next error, which leans on orthodoxy to save you.
Remember, no other Christians get it right except for your tribe, of which you should be chief.
Yeah, I’ve done this. A lot. I resisted Calvinism at first because I thought that Calvinists were intellectual snubs. Then I realized the biblical truth of Calvinism, and became a passionate Calvinist–and an intellectual snub!
The rub of it is that I should consider myself a Christian first, and a Calvinist second (if at all). I was saved from the moment that I professed faith in Jesus for my salvation, and renounced the use of my own faculties to obtain God’s favor. I didn’t become “more saved” the day I read Chosen by God and realized the Sproul was conveying the absolute biblical truth.
A Christian relies only on Jesus for salvation, and seeks a cooperative sanctification by God in order to become like Christ. Nothing more, nothing less.
If a person believes that only the Calvinist is saved because he properly understands predestination as an unconditional choosing of God’s people by God for God, then you have gnosticism: salvation by secret knowledge.
All denominations (including we Calvinists) seem to lean to far one way or the other. Orthodoxy is important. So is orthopraxy. But they are designed to compliment each other, not to compete with each other. Striking a balance is important to the life of the Christian.
Only use Scripture as a proof-text—don’t actually teach it.
Now this is an error that I fall into quite often. I tend to propose most of my own philosophies on this blog, and back them up by using relevant Scripture passages. Never do I exegete a passage from the text.
I’ve been considering for a while doing just that. From time to time, maybe each Sunday, selecting a passage of text from Scripture and actually run through it verse-by-verse and expound on the deep, spiritual meanings of it. Kind of like a written sermon.
I could even “preach through” an entire book, section by section, each Sunday. That would help me understand it better, and it would definitely give my unbelieving readers a more through understanding of Scripture.
So far, it looks like I commit as many errors as I rail against. So I’m coming out nearly 50-50 after six. Tomorrow, I’ll look at the remaining six, and I’m hoping that I do better!