30 November 2010

The Tyranny of the Contemporary

A year or two back, Al Mohler gave a talk at one of the conferences he regularly speaks at which he titled, The Tyranny of the Contemporary.  He had many good points (as usual), but a couple were especially relevant to our culture today, and particularly to this part of the country.  One of these points was about how we are told that the gospel is offensive to folks today, and that this is a new problem.  Funny.  I think the New Testament writers made clear that this problem existed two thousand years ago, and Christian leaders since that time have continually reinforced the idea that the gospel was offensive to non-regenerate folks ever since.

Another point that Dr. Mohler made was in regard to the idea of full churches and empty preaching.  At least in the Southern Baptist denomination (in which I participate), this is true to some degree.  We measure pastoral success by baptisms, giving levels, and above all, attendance levels.  One will often hear pastors and laypersons alike asking each other at state or regional meetings how 'big' their church is.  "Whatcha runnin' these days?" is a common question.  I've never been asked how deep the church is.  Just how big.  Maybe it happens, but not when I've been listening.  And on top of that we keep reading about how we are losing our youth to secularism.  As Michael Horton puts it, we are not only not reaching the lost, we are losing the reached.  I won't say this is completely due to poor preaching and the abandonment of the gospel in preaching, but I'd be willing to bet some lunch money a good statistician could find a fairly strong correlation between these things.

Dr. Mohler also talks about the universality of these issues.  Citing John 6, he notes that 'seekers' never seek what ought to be sought and needs to be found.  He reminds us that after Jesus fed the five thousand, those in attendance looked not for spiritual truth from the source of this miracle, but rather they looked for more food.  Physical food.  Bread.  Not the bread of life.

And people say the offense of the gospel is a new problem?

So in response, we look to new ideas and programs to try and outfox the problems.  We look to contemporary technologies, contemporary worship styles, contemporary dress and mannerisms, contemporary programs, contemporary advertising campaigns, contemporary church names, and on and on it goes.  But where'd the gospel go?  I don't recall Paul saying anywhere that contemporary ideas were the power of God unto salvation, but we certainly tend to live like he did.

Every time we are tempted to buy into a new idea about anything, we ought to run it past Romans 1:16-17 four or seven times just to make sure we are keeping the main thing, the main thing.


What Was Stevie Johnson Thinking? (Nothing to do with the dropped pass!)

Erik Raymond had a nice analysis of what Stevie Johnson said on his twitter account after dropping the pass against the Steelers Sunday.  Before we jump all over Johnson, we need to read the analysis carefully, because we will see some of ourselves in what Johnson said/did if we are honest.

Here's the link.


29 November 2010

Doug Wilson GETS IT

Once again, Doug Wilson has posted on the TSA nonsense in a way that I simply can't match, so I'll send you directly there (pass Go, collect $200).

Wilson's Latest TSA Post

My family went to the Cowboys (er, Cowgirls?) vs Saints game in Dallas.  Guess what?  Wilson was right...we were separated into lines of males and females and were patted down upon entering the stadium.  But then, it shouldn't surprise anyone that if the TSA can be associated with noncompoopery, Jerry Jones can also.  That's a bit nicer than I'd like to put it, but this is a family blog.

Right now, I'd put a professional football game (if it happens to be in Dallas) as the biggest waste of money in America, right after the federal government, that is.   And on top of that, rather than a sporting event, it was more like a pagan worship service in a billion-dollar temple, complete with temple prostitutes (the pole dancers...yes, they have pole dancers at Cowboys games) and meat sacrificed to idols (what else can you call a ten-dollar hot dog?).

Billy Graham was right...if God doesn't judge the United States of American, he's going to owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology.

23 November 2010

Krauthammer Gets It Right

Charles Krauthammer says it simply and about as well as it can be said- the latest TSA nonsense is, well, nonsense.

Read it here.

19 November 2010

TSA = Too Stupid (to be) Alive

When faced with the incredible stupidity of some people responsible for air security, I wonder how stupid the terrorists must be to not have killed off ten or twenty thousand air passengers by now. Read this if you don't believe me. TSA=Too Stupid (to be) Alive!

18 November 2010

Engaging the Culture

I recently read a very thought-provoking blog about engaging popular culture.  The post is by Ted Turnau, a professor at the Anglo-American College in Prague.  Here is a paragraph from his article, and by itself an absolute key for we who are raising children to understand the effects the culture around us has on those kids-

"Popular culture works not by blurting out a message, but through appealing to the imagination. A television show does not simply convey a message, such as ‘Life is meaningless, so have all the fun you can while you can’. Rather, it tells a story in which someone discovers the ‘truth’ of that message; it tells it in a style that underlines that message, and it invites us along for the journey. Popular culture works indirectly, suggestively, not like a slogan at a political rally, but like a poem or a song. It draws you in and gets under your skin. Therefore, you must be intentional in your approach to popular culture so that you understand its effects on the imagination (including the imaginations of your friends and neighbours)."

The whole article is here.  I encourage you to read and think about these things as you ponder how to effectively raise children, live as a family, and proclaim the gospel in a postmodern, secular culture.

Gate Rape

Here's some more fallout on the TSA adventure.  I'm beginning to think we might be able to get some things changed, especially if Drudge, et al., keep it up.

I picked up the term Gate Rape from a blog where it was so named by an airline captain.  I think it'll stick.

17 November 2010

TSA and Liberty

I'm joining a growing list of bloggers who are urging air travelers to resist the TSA's attempt to take naked pictures of them, or grope them as an alternative.

Here are a couple examples from Ed Stetzer and Doug Wilson.

I don't plan to let them see my wife and children naked, nor grope them like some kind of pervert.  We just won't fly for the forseeable future.  But what about people who fly for a living, either as airline employees or travel regularly for their jobs?

This kind of treatment by the government is immoral and wrong.  We (the people) must stand up and change it.

Gordon Lightfoot

Today in 1938 one of my all-time favorite songwriter/musicians was born in Orillia, Ontario.  My top-ten list of GL songs-

1. Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald
2. Daylight Katy
3. Sundown
4. Carefree Highway
5. If You Could Read My Mind
6. Don Quixote
7. Me and Bobby McGee
8. Song for a Winter's Night
9. Summer Side of Life
10. Ghosts of Cape Horn
11. Minstrel of the Dawn
12. Cotton Jenny
13. Go-Go Round
14. Miguel
15. Rosanna
16. Songs the Minstrel Sang

OK, Gord's too good for just ten.  You can always download singles on Amazon.com for 99 cents each.  Here's Gord's page(s).   (No compensation for mentioning this.)

15 November 2010

Two Minutes? (Is there really hypocrisy in the gay-marriage debate?)

Every once in a while, a response comes along that is so good (or important) that it needs to be shared, even if the original document to which it is responding wasn't on the radar screen.  We have one here.

In this blog post by Frank Turk (on the Pyromaniacs blog, which I recommend you follow on a regular basis), he responds to an op-ed in the USA Today newspaper early last week.  The piece, by Kirsten Powers, is important only because so many people read USA Today.  (USA Today intentionally writes its stories at the 6th-grade to 7th-grade reading level...that should say something about its value, but that's another story.)

If you want to read the article first, it is right here.  The article is called, "Hypocrisy shrouds the gay marriage debate."  It is a great example of shallow thinking and how to use emotional manipulation and ad hominem attacks to deflect people away from actual thought.  (And people wonder why the print media has fallen on such hard times?)

If you've heard folks throwing around ideas about what's wrong with Christians who oppose gay marriage, and known the arguments were hollow, but you weren't sure how to answer them cogently, then read Powers' article followed by Turk's response.

It is amazing what a little clear thinking can produce, if we try it.

12 November 2010

Some Problems that Need Addressed

With apologies to Gary Gilley (because I heavily edited his list to make mine), here are some problems of the contemporary church that need serious attention these days-

  • Emergent Christianity is a sentimental religion
  • The view is that doctrines are unimportant and experience, not truth, is what matters
  • Tolerance is more important than truth
  • We should not seek to know God but to feel Him  
  • Sin is not a great problem 
  • The enjoyment of life is the primary purpose for Christianity
  • The Bible is not what it claims; authority rests in the individual and in pragmatism 
  • Jesus is simply an example for us, not a redeemer
  • The resurrection was not a historical fact
  • The Christian doctrine of salvation is to be criticized because it is narrow and exclusive
  • The doctrine of salvation presents a cold, cruel and unloving view of God
  • The betterment of the earth and the people and animals living in it is the church’s agenda

These are serious issues in need of a great thinker to evaluate them and give an answer from scripture, right?  Well, been-there-done-that, as they say.  All these issues come not first from the postmodern liberalism of the emergent church, but from classical liberalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  J. Gresham Machen addressed each of these (and more) in his classic book Christianity and Liberalism, written in 1923.

If you've never read that book, and the problems of contemporary church culture bother you, you need to read it.  If you don't know much about Machen, I can recommend a book that might be hard to find, but is worth the effort- Toward a Sure Faith: J. Gresham Machen and the Dilemma of Biblical Criticism, 1881-1915 by Terry Chrisope.  I used to work with Dr. Chrisope...he teaches history and religion at Missouri Baptist University in St. Louis.  The book came from his doctoral dissertation at Kansas State University.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.  And the more new problems we find, the more we realize there is really nothing new under the sun.  As Chesterton once said, "The wit of man is insufficient to invent a new heresy."

Friday Follies- Obamanation (Ed Montana)

This one's been around a couple years, but I don't think I've mentioned it here before.  This feller is a local cattle rancher who happens to be a pretty good singer and musician.  This song is his take on our culture today.

Ed Montana- Obamanation


10 November 2010

Getting Your Theology From Rap Music?

I've been listening to rap music, most of the time involuntarily, since the mid 80s. Not all rap was distasteful to me...I actually bought Run DMC's King of Rock (the vinyl LP version) in about '86, and owned a few others (Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys, etc.) back then. The rise of gansta rap (Cop Killa, etc.) in the 90s turned me off to the genre as a whole, and I mostly ignored it for the past 20 years, with the notable exception of DC Talk. One thing I thought for sure...I'd never use rap music to get theology to my kids.

Boy, was I wrong!

The recent arrival a new set of folks on the Christian rap scene has changed everything. I've heard some of their stuff recently and found the theology in the music was better than probably 70% of what I've heard from pulpits in churches in the last 10 years. Wow.

Here is a blog post from CT's Collin Hansen on the new groups, along with some links to recent songs/videos on YouTube. Don't blow these off...take a listen, and pay attention to the lyrics. They are gospel-centered, gospel-focused, and gospel-saturated in a way that makes Top 40 Christian Pop almost a waste of time.

Yes, I'm buying the new LaCrae album when it comes out on CD. You should, too.

08 November 2010

New Style on Classic Hymns from Page CXVI

A few months back, I found a new musical group (band?) called Page CXVI.  They do a variety of things, but one of the best is their spin on old hymns.  It is a refreshing new style, without copying pop rock.  If I can make the embed code work, here's a player with one of the hymns off their newest album (coming out later this month).

If this thing doesn't work, here's the link to the song on their page.

02 Be Thou My Vision by PageCXVI

05 November 2010

Sending Kids off to Christian College (or, Be Prepared, and Know Your Stuff)

Because I have made a career out of being a college professor and administrator, I find myself feeling somewhat responsible for the mess many parents get in with their children when they send them off to college.  Not that I'm at fault for their choices, but because I don't think those of us who know what's going on sound the alarm loud enough or often enough to parents who don't know what's going on.

What's going on, you ask?  (There's no shame in not knowing...most of it has happened as quietly as possible...can't afford to offend donors and parents of future students.)

How about the complete secularization of many formerly Christian colleges, without any changes in the name, mission statement, or even the statements of belief (for those schools that still have them) to reflect the secular nature of the schools. 

R. C. Sproul offers this short essay from Tabletalk Magazine about this very issue.  If you are about to send your kids off to college, and want them to have an experience that is at the least friendly to the Christian worldview and orthodox Christianity, you need to read this article.  (Also, at the Tabletalk link, you'll find a whole series of articles on Christian colleges and Christian education.  I highly encourage you to subscribe to Tabletalk magazine...it is the real deal for serious believers.)

But more importantly, as you'll see in the article, you need to ask some direct questions of some faculty and administrators at those colleges you are considering.  Don't assume that because you had a good spiritual experience there a generation ago, that your child will have the same opportunity.  Things change, and usually not for the good.  (That's an unfortunate consequence of the reality of the doctrine of total depravity.)

(I've mentioned a few scary and eye-opening articles in the past...this one on college professors in particular relates to the topic at hand.)

03 November 2010

Why Do Athletes Sometimes Act Like They are God?

I'm on a blog-roll today.  But when I read this story on Dr Laura's blog, I couldn't help but pass it on.  As the dad of four athletes, two of whom are in high school, it is frightening to me what can happen when these kids are put on a pedestal because of their physical abilities.  This is an example of that very thing run a muck.

I'm not even sure where this happened (her blog doesn't say).  But if it was anywhere near me, I'd be calling some school board members and giving them an ear full.  Is it any wonder why we see the behavior we see in professional athletes, if they've been coddled like this since high school (or even earlier)?

A Reminder to Parents of College Kids

Burk Parsons wrote this article, Deus Pro Nobis, in the current edition of Tabletalk magazine.  It is a scary (but accurate) picture of the constant lowering of the bar for both academic and parental expectations for the college student; but it is also a reminder of the fact that, "greater is he that is in me than he that is in the world."

That's an important reminder, and a clue that we continually need the gospel in our lives.