Archive for the ‘evangelicals’ Tag

THE TURNING TIDE…

Another news item for you – David Booker was recently sacked from his job as a charity worker. His crime? He engaged in apparently friendly discussion with a colleague regarding his religious beliefs – including a biblically honest answer regarding his views on same-sex marriage and homosexual clergy.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/5140133/Charity-worker-suspended-over-religious-debate-with-work-colleague.html

I mean, really?! Well, first off, I’d better point out that any of the millions of Christians who have remained true to the gospel under threat of torture and death would have cause to scoff if I too liberally used the word ‘persecution’ to describe our current state of affairs. After all, Christianity is still (I think) the state religion, and bishops sit in the Houses of Parliament, for all the good it does… But, the first signs are there – they really are. This one will probably be reversed – I mean, surely?? A man talks to a friend at work, honestly and calmly answering questions regarding his faith-informed views. If that’s a crime at work, then why not on the street? In the pub? In the church, even?? But this is not a one-off and, as atheists in the past week have announced the intention to begin targeting school assemblies and hospital chaplains, we must again understand that a battle is being announced. The other side is really very keen indeed – are we?

Without any great insider insight, I can see a logical progression to this, leading us to a point where we could be genuinely despised by many. The issue will continue to be homosexuality. Once the current anti-homophobia law is passed, without any ‘free speech’ clause, it is only a matter of time before a preacher is prosecuted for preaching that practising homosexuality is a sin. It is hard to see how the new law can fail to urge conviction under such a circumstance. Once it is deemed unacceptable for such views to be voiced, then there is no reason to see why society should permit them being written down and sold to children. Thus, opponents will look to censor the Bible of Leviticus 20:13, for example. Once this happens, and once Bible-believing Christians fight bitterly for the defence of unaltered Scriptural integrity, then, make no mistake; we will not be what we always envisaged when asked to consider future persecution – that is heroic martyrs, admired as we’re bullied for our truth by a cruel despotic regime. No, we’ll be the ‘hate-mongers’ who are fighting for inclusion of a verse about gay-lynching. That’ll put us right up there with the BNP in terms of our reputation.

It’s horrible isn’t it? But I can see little real reason why it’s unrealistic. To endorse biblical Christianity is increasingly seen as negative, fundamentalist, pushy, arrogant and, most damningly to our world, as homophobic. Occasionally, particularly for us under the Co-Mission leadership of Richard Coekin, we are asked why we get obsessed by the ‘gay issue’. We’re not – really we’re not. Well, I’m certainly not. Same-sex sexual sin is no more or less serious than any of the other million sins we have found to separate us from God. Jesus has dealt with it by his substitutionary death on the cross, thus meaning the law of Leviticus has been fulfilled and no longer practically applies. My gay unbelieving mate is no different to me than my straight unbelieving mate – both need Jesus in order to gain any measure of righteousness in God’s esteem and are doomed without him! But Leviticus is in the Bible and should thus very much remain there – we may sometimes struggle with it, but begin picking and choosing which bits of God’s Word to keep, based on whether they suit our current world-oriented culture, and we will be neutered and irrelevant in moments – tossed to and fro on the prevailing winds.

I will finish with the advice of 2 Timothy 3 – great guidance in anticipation of any tough times that may await us.

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

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IT’S ABOUT THE CROSS, STUPID!

gettingreadyforthecross2 posts for the price of one today – and both with the same tagline.

 

REGARDING THE INTERNET MONK

 

I very much enjoy reading the blog of Michael Spencer, aka The Internet Monk. He is often a reminder that I have a long way to go in terms of both wisdom and blogging expertise (compare for example his reasoned and practical response on abortion compared to mine!). However, I should technically be affronted by his standpoint. He is, after all, ‘blogging from the post-evangelical wilderness’ and has left ‘our’ branch of the church.

 

But is that really the case? Let us see what he really opposes. It is certainly not the cross of Christ! By way of quick summary, I would say his evangelical baiting (generally framed within an American context) is aimed at the likes of; the health/wealth ministry, an obsession with prophetically-enlightened end-days theology, rigid Old Testament literalism (eg 7-day creation), a ministry of hate and rage towards the lost (particularly regarding abortion), the aggressive corporate approach of ‘mega-churches’, the hypocrisy of some Christians’ conduct and, to round off, their generally anti-intellectual/academic approach. Looking back over this list, would we really disagree with him??

 

It is important, therefore, to remember that, particularly in the global forum of the internet, if we venture apologetics under the label of ‘evangelicals’, it is often the politically loud American brand of that movement with which we will be assumed associated (I’m British, in case anyone wondered!). The result will be that the battle will be pitched along the lines covered above, at least if we allow others to set the agenda. Some of these issues are very significant, yes, and our voices should be heard when appropriate. However, none of them should represent our primary focus. Because, after all, no-one will ultimately be saved by guessing right when it comes to the Rapture; no-one will be saved by putting their faith in a young Earth; no-one will be saved by opposing abortion.

 

It is the cross that saves. The gospel is Christ crucified; God incarnate, a perfect man dying in our place so we are spared the wrath of judgement. This is most important, and this is what we should be known for as Bible-believing Christians. Our message, along with our righteous conduct as we deliver it, will make us a true light to the world. At the end of the day… It’s about the Cross, stupid!

 

GOD OR JESUS?

 

A quicker one now. Looking back over my recent apologetics efforts, I have realised the problem with engaging the Dawkins crowd. The issue is always, in their eyes, ‘Atheism vs Theism’. It’s all very well, but it means we’re forever arguing whether or not there is a God – issues of morality, creation, order, uniqueness of humanity etc. This is the current water-cooler debate, particularly as the ‘atheist buses’ roll around our streets. There’s a problem here, however. Even if we win this battle, for the same reasons listed in the paragraphs below, we have still fallen short of giving the gospel. It is a long old route to get from proof of God to His purposes, His coming in human form, and His sacrifice on the Cross. Most of the time, we’ll never make it there. If we argue exclusively to prove God’s existence it’s a pyrrhic victory we seek as ‘even the demons believe – and tremble’ (James 2:19). Eventually we have to challenge them towards faith in Christ.

 

I’m wondering therefore… the common wisdom is that, without a foundational belief in a creator God, getting them to believe in Jesus as His son is hopeless. But perhaps there is another way? Perhaps a conviction of Jesus’ role in history, his affect on humanity, the worth of his teaching, the authenticity of the gospels and the wonder of his works really can lead others to new belief in the God revealed in Christ? At least with this approach we will have shared the gospel. It’s also worth remembering that, whatever way we go, nothing’s going to happen without the Spirit’s help. However, lest we ever get too caught up in endlessly discussing the Big Bang, it’s worth remembering… It’s about the Cross, stupid!