06 January 2010

The Battle for Scripture- The Right Flank

It appears to me the battle for scripture has shifted in concentration from the left flank (liberalism) to the right flank (sufficiency of scripture).  Consider this quotation from David F. Wells,

"The Church is, therefore, awash in strategies borrowed from psychology and business that, it is hoped, will make up for the apparent insufficiency of the Word and ensure more success in this postmodern culture. Today, the issue is not so much the inerrancy of Scripture but its sufficiency and this at the very moment when a robust confidence in its sufficiency is precisely what the Church needs to have if it is to live out its life in proclamation and service effectively." (Wells, D., http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/rejection.html)

The battle for the left flank was critical.  Without the inerrancy of scripture, the Christian faith has little objective meaning and no power (Rom. 1:16). While we still need to guard the left flank from attack (most of the attacks come from within the ranks, by the way), the bigger attack from the culture is on the sufficiency of scripture.  Is the gospel, as given in the Word of God, sufficient to meet the needs of our present-day postmodern culture, or not?

I say it is, but it won't unless we teach it and preach it effectively, shying away from our fears about offending others with God's message.  Too many people don't know what a believer needs to believe to live the Christian life, so they don't do a very good job living a Christian life.  We've had too many years of fluffy Sunday School literature with little or no doctrinal meat in the weekly lessons, and as a result we are Mark Noll's worst fear- a scandalized evangelical church.  And instead of a reactionary return to doctrine, we see a lurch in the opposite direction, toward experientialism, in the so-called Emergent Church.  Unfortunately, our response to pressures from this emergent movement (no more than a postmodern form of liberalism) is to make our worship a bit more postmodern and "culturally relevant" rather than a return to a strong emphasis on doctrine.  People are desperate for something to believe, and we give them more pietism.  It won't work.

J. I. Packer, in a recent Modern Reformation article, says it thusly- “It has often been said that Christianity in North America is 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. Something similar is true, by all accounts, in Africa and Asia, and (I can testify to this) in Britain also. Worshipers in evangelical churches, from the very young to the very old, and particularly the youth and the twenty- and thirty-somethings, know far less about the Bible and the faith than one would hope and than they themselves need to know for holy living. This is because the teaching mode of Christian communication is out of fashion, and all the emphasis in sermons and small groups is laid on experience in its various aspects. The result is a pietist form of piety, ardent and emotional, in which realizing the reality of fellowship with the Father and the Son is central while living one’s life with Spirit-given wisdom and discernment is neglected both as a topic and as a task. In the Western world in particular, where Christianity is marginalized and secular culture dismisses it as an ideological has-been, where daily we rub shoulders with persons of other faiths and of no faith, and where within the older Protestant churches tolerating the intolerable is advocated as a requirement of justice, versions of Christianity that care more for experiences of life than for principles of truth will neither strengthen churches nor glorify God.”

What is Packer's answer to this?  Teaching of the truth of the gospel, of course!  He says, “The well-being of Christianity worldwide for this twenty-first century directly depends, I am convinced, on the recovery of what has historically been called catechesis—that is, the ministry of systematically teaching people in and coming into our churches the sinew-truths that Christians live by, and the faithful, practical, consistent way for Christians to live by them. During the past three centuries, catechesis as defined has shrunk, even in evangelical churches, from an all-age project to instruction for children and in some cases has vanished altogether. As one who for half a century has been attempting an essentially catechetical ministry by voice and pen, I long for the day when in all our churches systematic catechesis will come back into its own.”

I agree.

04 January 2010

My Own Top Ten List for 2009

Since everybody is creating a top ten list for the past year and/or decade, mostly in order to generate readership/viewership/ad revenue, I thought I'd create my own.  Now, the purpose of these lists isn't to inform, rank, taxonify, or any other big word that means rank, but to generate controversy in order in increase readership (or whatever).  So my list will be as controversial as possible.  So, my list will be the top 10 most narcissistic personalities of 2009.  Here goes.

1.  Barack Obama

Hmm.  I couldn't think of any others to top that one.  Oh well.