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)
On a recent Dividing Line podcast, James White reviewed a Christian’s reply to an atheist from the Unbelievable radio program. The Christian told the atheist to earnestly pray to Jesus something to the effect of, “Jesus, I don’t believe in you, but I know that you’ll do something to change my mind.” He then told the atheist that Jesus would provide all the evidence needed to believe.
That may be the crappiest presentation of the gospel ever heard.
James White was, of course, outraged. But should he really be surprised that someone would speak this way of the gospel?
Commitment to Christ in the New Testament is repeatedly likened to marriage. Marriage isn’t viewed the same way now as it once was. The colloquialism “starter marriage,” a marriage that ends within five years before the couple has children, is now common parlance thanks to a book of the same name.
Given that marriage is a lifelong commitment, it should be entered with that in mind. It should entail a total change–or at least the willingness to change–in personality, behavior, and attitudes. It should be a willingness for both parties to leave themselves behind for the betterment of both. In other words, the two should become one flesh. But that isn’t how people enter marriage. They get married for a variety of weak reasons. They get married because it’s the socially acceptable thing to do. They get married because they want an extra income to move out of mom and dad’s house. They get married because they’ve been dating so long that it’s easier than breaking up.
Many atheists argue that marriage should only be viewed as a contract, demeaning its origin as a divine covenant. And why shouldn’t they feel that way? Look at all the celebrity divorces and cheating scandals. Adultery used to be viewed a serious issue, maybe even a crime in some jurisdictions; now it’s regarded a mere trivia. It’s socially acceptable to be divorced, and adultery isn’t a crime anymore.
The book I referenced earlier, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony, concluded that the divorce of a starter marriage is actually a good thing. Which leads back to the question I just asked: Why shouldn’t a secularist argue that marriage has only the level and enforcability of a man-made contract?
Now let’s connect this discussion to the issue raised at the beginning of this post. Since marriage is marginalized, and marriage is the metaphor for embracing Jesus, why is that pragmatic approach to the gospel a surprise to James White? White, after all, has been blogging about attacks on traditional marriage for as long as I’ve been reading his blog. Culture has adopted a pragmatic approach to marriage, so why wouldn’t the gospel be next?
The issue is, as White correctly states on The Dividing Line, is that becoming a Christian requires a complete and utter surrender of self to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The apostle John wrote, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 Jn 4:20). If we can’t submit ourselves to a person that we can see and touch, there is no hope for us to submit to someone that we can’t see or touch.