The Collapse of Evangelicalism

I just picked up a recent copy of The Baptist Messenger and one of the articles immediately caught my attention.  It was originally written last year by Michael Spencer, known in Cyberspace as the Internet Monk.  Sadly, Michael went to be with the Lord earlier this month.

The article is entitled The Coming Evangelical Collapse. It is a thought-provoking and somewhat chilling read.

Here is an excerpt:

Many who will leave evangelicalism will leave for no religious affiliation at all. Others will leave for an atheistic or agnostic secularism, with a strong personal rejection of Christian belief and Christian influence. Many of our children and grandchildren are going to abandon ship, and many will do so saying “good riddance.”
This collapse will cause the end of thousands of ministries. The high profile of Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Hundreds of thousands of students, pastors, religious workers, missionaries and persons employed by ministries and churches will be unemployed or employed elsewhere. Visible, active evangelical ministries will be reduced to a small percentage of their current size and effort.

Nothing will reanimate evangelicalism to its previous levels of size and influence. The end of evangelicalism as we know it is close; far closer than most of us will admit.

Click on the link above for the full article.

Divisions Among You

“Those who think that unsound ministers ought never to be exposed and held up to notice, and men ought never to be warned against them, would do well to study this passage. No class of character throughout our Lord’s ministry seems to call forth such severe denunciation as that of false pastors. The reason is obvious. Other men ruin themselves alone: false pastors ruin their flocks as well as themselves. To flatter all ordained men, and say they never should be called unsound and dangerous guides, is the surest way to injure the Church and offend Christ.”

–J.C. Ryle, on John Chapter 10

HT: Crosstalk Blog

This quote is a sound refutation of the idea that criticizing professing ministers only brings division and dishonor to the body of Christ.  Yes, sometimes pointing out the wolf among the sheep will create a dividing line where factions will take sides, but Scripture addresses this issue in 1 Cor 11:18-19:

For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. Continue reading

The Cornerstone Commandment – Can We Keep It?

While driving back to work after lunch one recent afternoon I happened to hear a commercial on a Christian radio station that supposedly endorsed an evangelical gospel message.  However, the message fell woefully short of its purposed end and actually accomplished the opposite of what it intended.  This blurb clarified in my mind why the free will view of salvation is so damaging to the church.

The ad began like this: A cheerful lady’s voice rang out that people should love God as much as he loves us.  After all, God has done everything within his power to make possible a relationship with him.  Again, she encouraged listener’s to just love God because he loves us.

What?  That was it? I couldn’t believe my ears.  She did not bother to communicate the good news of the hope of salvation.  She did just the opposite.  She gave listeners an imperative that no person can possibly keep.  When she says to love God she is invoking the cornerstone commandment of the entire moral law; the commandment that Jesus called the first and greatest.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength‘ ( Mk 12:30). Continue reading

My Take on Pipergate

Surprised that I haven’t commented on this brouhaha yet?  Actually, so am I. My longtime readers know what an outspoken critic I am of Rick Warren and his purpose-driven pragmatism.  For those few who may not be in the know, pastor John Piper, a highly respected preacher/teacher both inside and outside of the reformed community has recently invited Rick Warren to his Desiring God conference this year.  Outrage and dismay ensued upon this announcement.  Piper made a video justifying his invitation to Warren, saying among other things that he believes at root that Warren is theologically and doctrinally sound. I’m biting my tongue as I write – so much I could say…  Maybe that’s why I haven’t said anything.

Bloggers responded immediately, resoundingly condemning John Piper’s discernment in allowing this man a platform at his conference.  Some bloggers went over the top and unfairly attacked Piper’s character and his ministry.  In certain circles John Piper has been declared anathema.  Honestly, If I had posted an article immediately following the announcement I may have crossed that line too as a knee-jerk reaction.  I held back, seeking to see the whole picture first.  I guess the Lord is maturing me after all.  I was beginning to wonder about that.

Anyway, at this point I don’t feel the need to address the issue other than to commend to you an article from Phil Johnson over at the Pyromaniacs blog.  After giving the controversy some thought, I can honestly admit that I agree with Phil’s balanced post in about every way possible. And since he can articulate himself much better than I ever could, I will simply point you over to his blog for a thoughtful take on Pipergate.  Enjoy!

On the Piper-Warren Connection

Book Club Recommendations

I’ve recently been in discussion with one of the fine deacons at my church about starting a book club  to help encourage reading.  We sincerely desire for people in our congregation to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  My friend Jim has recently established a public access church library where people can check out all kinds of books on theology, Christian living, parenting and so forth.  We even have a limited selection of commentaries as well.

We both have a passion for reading.  It has helped us to mature in our Christian faith.  Reading has fallen on hard times overall in our media-driven society of sight and sound. I find very few people who read anything more than what they can pull up on their web browsers.  I find this trend very disturbing.  I have four kids and the mere mention of reading a book for leisure is met with scoffs and eyeball rolls by all but one. They can’t conceive why anyone would read a book at all- whether for fun or (gasp) for education.  It is completely beyond them.  They think I’m from another planet when I joyfully pick up a book and hunker down for a good long spell.  I’m afraid my children are just a microcosm of young people in general throughout America.  I mean, who has time for books when you’ve got Youtube, iTunes and Xbox 360 to blitz the senses and occupy the mind.

Now, I thought this problem only affected the youth and perhaps to a lesser degree, my generation, but Jim informs me that he knows very few people of his generation who read at all.  Now, Jim is a much more seasoned veteran of life than I, so this remark surprised me.  How long has reading been out of vogue? Since the invention of the television?

Whatever the cause may be, we are looking to remedy the situation by holding a once-a-week book club meeting during the summer break.  My idea is to pick a book and assign a chapter or two every week and then hold meaningful discussions on the content.  My preference is to read established Christian classics.  Now I would love to go over some Calvin, Luther and various Puritan works but these might intimidate those who may not read a lot due to the harder-than-average readability.  I’m willing to read contemporary volumes, (for there are a great many good ones out there) but would generally like to stay away from ‘hot-off-the-press’ books until they are established as doctrinally sound and helpful. So, basically, I’m looking for contemporary Christian classics that work to supplement the daily absorption of the word, which should always be our main source of reading.

I turn to you now, my readers, for help on a couple of issues.

1.  I would welcome any advice on how to effectively facilitate this book club so that it will attract  and maintain a core group of believers who will commit to weekly reading and discussion.  Anybody out there have experiences as a facilitator or as a member of a similar type of church group?  I’d love to hear your input.

2.  I would appreciate any recommendations on great contemporary Christian books that you have found eye-opening and instructive in your Christian walk that would fit in well with the format I’ll be working from.  Really thick volumes and ones that use highly technical language are probably not what I’m looking for.  I have several books in mind but would welcome any ideas.

Thanks in advance.

Fanatical Fundamentalism

Over the years of searching the internet for information on various biblical topics or on certain men of God, dead or alive, I’ve occasionally come across self-proclaimed ‘fundamentalist’ websites that perplex me. They perplexed me back in my Charismatic/Arminian days and they still perplex me as a Reformed believer.  These sites appear solid at first peek.  They often contain tons of articles on biblical subjects that go in-depth.  But once I begin reading the material the red flags of discernment pop up. Has this ever happened to you?

Now, when I speak of fundamentalism I’m speaking of a specific niche in the Christian world.  It isn’t just someone who adheres to the ‘fundamentals’ of the faith as the term meant when it first entered the American lexicon a century ago.  No, it has devolved into a term describing a group of people who mercilessly denounce every doctrine that is even at slight variance from their own well-groomed, polished theological system. They can be legalistic, cruel, judgmental and condemning.  Digesting this grace-deficient rot can make you gravely ill, like the time I ate that pizza pocket with black olives.  And like that pizza pocket you will do well to never consume such garbage again.  From my experience, here are a few tell-tale signs that you’ve stumbled onto a fanatical fundamentalist site: Continue reading

Dialogue with a Satanist

I recently received the following comment from an adherent to the Satanist religion on the post Will Atheists Go to Hell? With his permission we’ll be having  a public discourse, interacting with each other’s worldviews.  First, I will post his entire comment.  My reply will follow.

Prism writes:

Sorry, but I feel I have to disagree with you that God is the one true way. Who’s to say that the Muslims or Jews aren’t correct, and you’re wrong? This is simply your belief, not truth, and I feel you should let your daughter decide for herself. There are many religions, each professing to be the only one with the path to Salvation. What if every Christian in the world is bound for eternal torment because the Sikhs were correct? Surely a forgiving God would understand that in a place with so many religions, it would be human nature to make mistakes and choose incorrectly? Would he send people to Hell for making a simple mistake? Or agnostics, who aren’t sure which deity to pledge their allegiance to? Or atheists, who simply try to make sense of things using logic which leads them (possibly mistakenly) to believe that there is no higher power? Again, if they’re wrong, it’s an honest mistake on their part. Surely a just God wouldn’t send people to a place of eternal punishment for using their supposedly God-given brains to try and understand things.
And for those in places like Chad, where Christianity has not arrived, yet the people may live perfectly good lives. You’re saying God would send them to Hell for an accident of birth? Something they can’t control? Think about it.

Thoughts of a LaVeyan Satanist.

Prsim, first of all, thank you for presenting your thoughts openly and civilly.  I will endeavor to do likewise.  Next, I would like to enlighten my readers as to the worldview that you hold as a practicing LaVeyan Satanist.  Please feel free to correct me if I misrepresent your beliefs in any way. Continue reading